The Oscar Quest: Reconsidered – The Best Picture Categories

We’ve gone through all the categories again and now it’s wrap-up time. I’ve decided that the proper way to wrap things up is to look at each of the six (original) Oscar Quest categories and compare how I voted the first time versus how I voted this time. The idea being to gauge where my tastes have changed over the past five years, as that was the purpose of going through and doing it again anyway.

We’ve finally hit the bit one. Best Picture. I’ve included a table of how I voted both times and color-coded the ones that are different so you can skim through easily. Then I’ll work my way through each of the categories where I changed votes, figure out why they changed and try to predict how it’s gonna go in another five years. 

Year The 2011/2012 Vote The 2016/2017 Vote
1927-1928 Outstanding Production: Seventh Heaven


Unique or Artistic Production: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

Outstanding Production: Seventh Heaven


Unique or Artistic Production: Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

1928-1929 The Broadway Melody The Broadway Melody
1929-1930 All Quiet on the Western Front All Quiet on the Western Front
1930-1931 Skippy Skippy
1931-1932 Bad Girl Bad Girl
1932-1933 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
1934 The Thin Man The Thin Man
1935 Top Hat Top Hat
1936 The Great Ziegfeld Dodsworth
1937 A Star Is Born A Star Is Born
1938 Grand Illusion Grand Illusion
1939 Gone With the Wind Gone With the Wind
1940 The Grapes of Wrath The Grapes of Wrath
1941 Citizen Kane Citizen Kane
1942 The Pride of the Yankees Random Harvest
1943 Casablanca Casablanca
1944 Double Indemnity Double Indemnity
1945 The Lost Weekend The Lost Weekend
1946 The Best Years of Our Lives It’s a Wonderful Life
1947 Gentleman’s Agreement Gentleman’s Agreement
1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
1949 Battleground Battleground
1950 Sunset Boulevard Sunset Boulevard
1951 A Streetcar Named Desire A Streetcar Named Desire
1952 High Noon The Quiet Man
1953 Roman Holiday Roman Holiday
1954 On the Waterfront On the Waterfront
1955 Marty Marty
1956 Giant Giant
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai The Bridge on the River Kwai
1958 The Defiant Ones The Defiant Ones
1959 Anatomy of a Murder Anatomy of a Murder
1960 The Apartment The Apartment
1961 West Side Story West Side Story
1962 To Kill a Mockingbird Lawrence of Arabia
1963 Cleopatra How the West Was Won
1964 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
1965 Darling The Sound of Music
1966 Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
1967 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner The Graduate
1968 Oliver! The Lion in Winter
1969 Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
1970 Love Story Love Story
1971 The French Connection The French Connection
1972 The Godfather The Godfather
1973 The Sting The Sting
1974 The Godfather Part II The Godfather Part II
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Dog Day Afternoon
1976 Rocky Rocky
1977 Star Wars Star Wars
1978 The Deer Hunter The Deer Hunter
1979 Apocalypse Now Apocalypse Now
1980 Raging Bull Raging Bull
1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 The Verdict The Verdict
1983 The Right Stuff The Right Stuff
1984 Amadeus Amadeus
1985 The Color Purple The Color Purple
1986 Platoon Platoon
1987 Hope and Glory The Last Emperor
1988 Rain Man Rain Man
1989 Field of Dreams Field of Dreams
1990 Goodfellas Goodfellas
1991 The Silence of the Lambs The Silence of the Lambs
1992 Unforgiven Unforgiven
1993 Schindler’s List Schindler’s List
1994 Pulp Fiction Forrest Gump
1995 Apollo 13 Apollo 13
1996 Fargo Fargo
1997 L.A. Confidential L.A. Confidential
1998 Saving Private Ryan Saving Private Ryan 
1999 American Beauty American Beauty
2000 Gladiator Gladiator
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 
2002 Gangs of New York Gangs of New York
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 The Aviator The Aviator
2005 Good Night, and Good Luck Good Night, and Good Luck 
2006 The Departed The Departed
2007 There Will Be Blood There Will Be Blood
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Slumdog Millionaire
2009 Inglourious Basterds Inglourious Basterds
2010 N/A True Grit
2011 N/A The Artist
2012 N/A Django Unchained
2013 N/A Gravity
2014 N/A Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
2015 N/A The Revenant
2016 N/A La La Land

Not a whole lot here. Of 89 Best Picture categories, I’ve changed my opinion on 11 of them. Less than 15%. That’s… well that makes sense. Picture is easy to stick to over an acting performance.

What I find interesting is that I’ve switched over to four winners and switched off of four winners. Leaving three categories in history where, in two go arounds now, despite changing my opinion, the actual Best Picture winner didn’t factor into my decision-making at all. Those are the ones I want to see about most.

  • 1936, Dodsworth over The Great Ziegfeld

Yeah, this is one where I know The Great Ziegfeld should have won, but I love Dodsworth so much I had to take it. I’m okay with this. I’ll probably keep taking Dodsworth a bunch because of that, but I’ll always be aware that The Great Ziegfeld is the choice in that one.

  • 1942, Random Harvest over The Pride of the Yankees

Mrs. Miniver is never my choice, and that’s because while it is a great film and a solid film, there are at least three other choices in that category I truly love. Yankee Doodle Dandy isn’t even there yet. Random Harvest, though, is my favorite and will probably keep being my vote because I like it so much. Kind of like Dodsworth. It’s personal choice over what I understand as the film that probably should have won.

  • 1946, It’s a Wonderful Life over The Best Years of Our Lives

This one’s always a 50/50. This time I was feeling sentimental. It’ll come down to whichever film I lean toward more when I go over the category. The Best Years of Our Lives is the best choice here and that can’t really be disputed. Though It’s a Wonderful Life is such a classic, it becomes a legitimate conversation. I’ll be going back and forth between these two forever. No surprise here.

  • 1962, Lawrence of Arabia over To Kill a Mockingbird

Because Lawrence of Arabia is one of the two or three best winners ever and it’s entered my five favorite films of all time in the past five years. I always knew it was better, but I do love Mockingbird a lot, so I get why I took it last time. But from here on our, Lawrence of Arabia will be the choice. This was just a course correction. That movie is perfect.

  • 1963, How the West Was Won over Cleopatra

Oh, I saw this one coming. This is one where I’ll never take the actual winner. I don’t love Tom Jones enough to take it and I think it’s one of the weakest winners ever. So it then becomes about which film I prefer. And between Cleopatra, America America and How the West Was Won, I have choices to alternate between forever. Though How the West Was Won is my favorite here and is probably the film I’ll take, though I’m thinking I might end up on Kazan a bunch too. I’d expect lots of fluctuations in this one over the years.

  • 1965, The Sound of Music over Darling

I couldn’t deny it any longer. I love Darling, but I always knew it wasn’t really a proper winner. And Doctor Zhivago… I could just never love that movie enough to vote for it. The Sound of Music, I really love. And it probably should have won. So I went in and took it. We’ll see how things go in five years, but to me I went to where I should have been originally.

  • 1967, The Graduate over Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

There’s your third one where I didn’t take the winner. In the Heat of the Night is actually a good winner. I like that in the three here, one has a definitive winner, one has what I consider a terrible winner, and this one is just a category so strong where you could take anything and be justified in taking it. (Except Doctor Doolittle, because none of us are fucking monsters.) I get why I took Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner last time, and while I love that movie, I doubt I’d go back there in the future. This one for me seems more about The Graduate vs. Bonnie and Clyde. And I feel like I’d be more Graduate most times, but I honestly don’t know. I’d expect a lot of changes in this one in the future, and none of the choices to actually be in the winner in the category.

  • 1968, The Lion in Winter over Oliver!

1968 is a weird year because the film I’d take isn’t there. So I’m left with choices I don’t love. Wouldn’t take Rachel Rachel or Funny Girl at all. Oliver! is nice, but ehh. It feels like a cop out to take a musical I don’t really love. Leaving me with only The Lion in Winter or Romeo and Juliet. And the fact that I almost have to take Shakespeare should make me cringe. So at least The Lion in Winter, while stagey, is a movie I really like. And great actors are in it, and I can feel okay taking it because hey — they took A Man for All Seasons two years prior. So this is my slip up. At least I had to go here. I have no idea how I continue to vote here in the future, but this is definitely a category I dislike having to pick.

  • 1975, Dog Day Afternoon over One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

I think I felt fatigue toward Cuckoo’s Nest this time. Last time, it was a clear winner for me. This time, it felt like a tired choice. I felt more energy toward Dog Day so that’s why I went there. No idea what happens in the future, because Jaws is also in this category, and Barry Lyndon and Nashville are also nearly perfect films. So this could go anywhere

  • 1987, The Last Emperor over Hope and Glory

Went onto the winner, because it was the best choice. I love Hope and Glory a lot, but I went to the film that should have won. Maybe I go back to personal preference in five years, maybe not. But this was the film that should have won so this choice reflects that.

  • 1994, Forrest Gump over Pulp Fiction

Yeah, I think I wanted to do this one on purpose. I get that Pulp Fiction is what it is and love that movie a lot. It probably, for cinema’s sake, was the choice there, but maybe it’s just my age… I fucking love Forrest Gump. I grew up with that movie and I can watch that any time and watch it all the way through. I’m just gonna take the film I love more. That was how I did this. We’ll see where I’m at in five years. Let’s also not forget that this category also has Shawshank in it. So it’s not like it’s one for definitive choices. You can fluctuate on this one all the time.

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