To run down the intro quickly — this is a series of articles about what I would nominate in every single Oscar Quest category if I had a ballot. I always felt I should do them, but didn’t want to pull that shit everyone pulls of, “Here’s what I’d nominate,” even though it’s all the same five films they add on and they haven’t even seen half the stuff that was nominated. I know my stuff’s legit, because I’ve seen all the films, but I refused to start this discussion unless I was going to do it with the ability to tell people how to do it the right way, since unless you keep them honest, it’s fucking chaos.
So I decided to, along with picking what I’d vote for, create what I’m calling a Compromise List. The Compromise List is — aside from my personal nominations (which on the whole are pretty close to what would fit the typical notion of “Oscar,” since I’ve seen everything and know what is and what isn’t an “Oscar” movie and actually respect the precedents in place even though I don’t always agree with them enough to not be like, “I vote for Star Trek!”), a list of films that are basically a mix of my nominees and their nominees that I think everyone could live with. The idea is to make a list that works for everyone that’s great, and to cut out all the shit that so clearly shouldn’t be there.
The things to keep in mind: 1) if a category has five nominees, I’m only nominating five films. 2) The lists are only based on what I’ve seen. 3) Don’t bother me with your opinion unless you’re gonna go the full nine and do every single year. 4) If you’re going to attempt something like this — be honest. Don’t get too subjective, and DO NOT take off a film you haven’t seen just to put on a film you have seen. And most importantly, 5) YOU CANNOT take off a Best Picture winner. You can not vote for it on your list, but on your compromise list, the Best Picture winner MUST BE THERE. If it won, you have to include it. No exceptions.
Okay, let’s get to the next set of Best Picture years: (more…)
They don’t get any better than this first song:
1981: “ARTHUR’S THEME (BEST THAT YOU CAN DO),” FROM ARTHUR
I think we can all agree Chariots of Fire is probably the single worst Best Picture-winning film of all time. (I think it’s between that, The Broadway Melody and Cavalcade. Though those two have an excuse, being within the first six years of the Oscars. This one has no excuse.) There are many reasons why it won, but even so — it was a terrible choice. The film only won one major Oscar, showing that it won only because the Academy didn’t want to vote for the alternatives.
Best Actor this year went to Henry Fonda for On Golden Pond (talked about here), an Oscar that was 41 years overdue. Even though Dudley Moore was in Arthur this year, Fonda was a great choice. And Katherine Hepburn winning Best Actress for the film (talked about here) is a nice sentimental choice. It wouldn’t have been my choice (that would have been Marsha Mason in Only When I Laugh), but it works, and it doesn’t interrupt anything. So it’s a nice pair with Fonda. Best Supporting Actor this year was John Gielgud for Arthur (talked about here), which is just terrific. He’s awesome, and he’s awesome in the film. A perfect decision. Best Supporting Actress was Maureen Stapleton for Reds (talked about here). Another veteran Oscar (even though pretty much everyone else in the category was better than her, specifically Jane Fonda and Elizabeth McGovern). Warren Beatty also won Best Director for the film (talked about here), which was a good choice. He did do a good job, and it did get him an Oscar (plus Spielberg would later win two anyway).
So, really — 1981 is a terrific year… outside the Best Picture choice. Again, another example of how a bad Best Picture choice can screw up an entire year.
BEST PICTURE – 1981
And the nominees were…
Atlantic City (Paramount)
Chariots of Fire (The Ladd Company, Warner Bros.)
On Golden Pond (IFC Films)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Paramount)
Reds (Paramount) (more…)
1981 is considered the worst year in Academy history. It’s not. In fact, the only part about it that’s so bad was Best Picture. Chariots of Fire is a terrible film. In fact, it’s the only bad film to ever win Best Picture (it should have even been nominated). Every other film that has won Best Picture were (taking into consideration their era) was of a certain quality. (Though, maybe Cavalcade is the other film that could be considered on the level of Chariots of Fire.) Otherwise, all the other choices were films that were good films overall — they just might have been bad choices for Best Picture. This was a film that shouldn’t have even been nominated. That’s why people consider this year so bad.
The rest of the year is actually pretty solid. Henry Fonda (finally!) wins Best Actor for On Golden Pond (talked about here). It had to happen, and was a great decision. Katharine Hepburn also wins Best Actress for the film (talked about here), which, while I’d have gone another way, is a fine decision. The category wasn’t that strong. John Gielgud wins Best Supporting Actor for Arthur (talked about here), which I absolutely love. Everything about that decision appeals to me (it’s one of my favorite films of all time, Gielgud was such a respected actor, and he was awesome in the role). And Best Director was Warren Beatty for Reds (talked about here), which is a fine decision, since Chariots of Fire could have won that too. I personally would have went with Spielberg (Raiders is awesome), but he won two later and Beatty is great.
Which brings us to this category. Supporting Actress is typically the weakest category in a given year, and this is no exception. There really isn’t a choice here, so the veteran win actually works out.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1981
And the nominees were…
Melinda Dillon, Absence of Malice
Jane Fonda, On Golden Pond
Joan Hackett, Only When I Laugh
Elizabeth McGovern, Ragtime
Maureen Stapleton, Reds (more…)
This has become a recurring feature here at B+ Movie Blog. Back in March, I posted my Top Tens of the 2000s, because, even though I don’t put much stock in them as be-all, end-all catalogues, I do love making Top Ten lists. So, three months later, I made a list of my Top Tens of the 90s. I liked doing it so much, I figured I’d try to do one for every decade (it gets murky past the 20s, but we have a ways to go before we get there). I’ll space them out every three months, so that way it feels like one of those “very special episodes” TV shows like to do.
What I like to do for each decade is, after listing the ten films from each year I like the best (as well as an 11-15, so that when I revisit the lists in the future (update them in five, ten years, or whatever), I won’t have look through at every film that came out over again), I like to put another list at the bottom for fun. For the 2000s, it was the “Terrible Ten” list of films I hated the most from each year. For the 90s, it was a list of “Films of My Childhood,” the films I grew up watching and loving. Now, for the 80s, I’ve compiled a list of “Awesomely 80s films,” movies from the 80s that are amazingly reflective of the decade. You’ll see what I mean when you see them.
Let’s get to the lists: (more…)
I hate 1981 as an Oscar year. I love it as a year for great films and performances. All of it stems from the Academy selecting Chariots of Fire as Best Picture, which is the single worst picture in terms of quality to win Best Picture. Nothing comes close. This film is not good.
Then, Warren Beatty wins Best Director for Reds (talked about here) and Maureen Stapleton wins Best Supporting Actress for it, both of which are pretty acceptable decisions. Then Best Actor (talked about here) and Best Actress (talked about here) were Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn for On Golden Pond. Fonda’s Oscar had to happen, and there was no other alternative. It’s a great decision by default. Then Hepburn’s Oscar is acceptable, even though I’d have gone another way. So that’s 1981. Pretty solid, except for the terrible, awful, soul-crushing decision for Best Picture.
Which beings us to this category. I love it. Jack Nicholson always brings class to a category. Then you have Ian Holm, great actor. James Coco, who was fantastic in the role and was also in one of my favorite movies of all time, Murder by Death. And then there’s Howard Rollins, which, it’s nice to see a black guy get in there. And then John Gielgud. A living legend. Not to mention — Arthur is legit one of my top 20 favorite films of all time. It’s so fucking funny. I love this decision so much.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1981
And the nominees were…
James Coco, Only When I Laugh
John Gielgud, Arthur
Ian Holm, Chariots of Fire
Jack Nicholson, Reds
Howard Rollins Jr., Ragtime (more…)
Here is my subset of The Oscar Quest Rankings, specifically for Best Actor. Just in case the one big article is too much for you and you just want one specific category.
(Underlined means that’s what won. An asterisk (*) means that’s what I’d have voted for. Anything in RED means I haven’t seen the film yet.)
2013 – 1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity *
2. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
3. Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
4. David O. Russell, American Hustle
5. Alexander Payne, Nebraska
2012 – 1. Ang Lee, Life of Pi *
2. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
3. David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
4. Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Michael Haneke, Amour
2011 – 1. Martin Scorsese, Hugo *
2. Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
3. Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
4. Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
5. Alexander Payne, The Descendants (more…)