Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Best Picture of 1966

The first five films of Matt vs. the Academy have been viewed, so now it's time to deliver the first verdict of the project. Perhaps working backwards may be the most efficient method of arriving at a conclusion. However, let me preface this discussion with the honest claim that I found all five nominees to be excellent examples of the power of cinema. They, each in their own way, managed to engage me in their stories. And I suspect that is a sentiment that may repeat itself many times during the course of this project.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1966 are:

A Man for All Seasons
The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming
The Sand Pebbles
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Three films based on plays and two on novels, the shortlist for 1966 is an impressive one. And quite a mixed bag, too. Everything from sweeping epic to intimate drama. Despite Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? leading the nominations race with thirteen citations, the Academy chose A Man for All Seasons as the winner of the Best Picture award. And I must choose just one favourite as well, so that is what I shall do.

The first film I knocked out of the running was The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. Despite being a wonderful comedy, it's contrivances slightly set it apart from the other nominees. Next to go was Alfie, mainly because of it's sprawling storyline. And then The Sand Pebbles, not for any particular reason.

Left with A Man for All Seasons and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, I genuinely had a tough time separating them. I was engaged in both films from beginning to end, but the eventual victor in my insignificant opinion is A Man for All Seasons. Without taking anything away from the other nominees, the story of Thomas More simply grabbed me with its focussed yet subtle storytelling.

Best Picture of 1966
Academy's choice:

A Man for All Seasons

Matt's choice:

A Man for All Seasons

Your choice:

Well, that's one down. Only 80 more to go! For the next round, I will be watching the films from 1992. Feel free to join me and post your comments. It's quite a collection of films.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1992 are:

The Crying Game
A Few Good Men
Howard's End
Scent of a Woman

Until next we meet...


  1. 1992 is an easy pick for me, and no it's not in line with the Academy's selection. Will be interesting to see your verdict.

  2. A Man for All Seasons was my pick in 1966 and remains so today. The only other of the nominees that I considered was, like you, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" The fact that I haven't re-watched Virginia Woolf since then seems to indicate that I admired more than loved it.

  3. A bit of very minute trivia. If you look closely at the poster for A Man for All Seasons, you will notice that the credits have a special mention of Paul Scofield as Thomas More at the end, and it's surrounded by a box. This was exactly as it appeared in the ads in 1966. I remember thinking that I had never noticed this before and it certainly peaked my curiosity, especially since I had only seen Scofield in The Train, with Burt Lancaster. Of course, after watching A Man for All Seasons, I could understand the special credit as he was mesmerizing in the role. It is unfortunate that Richard Burton's best performance came that same year, but I think The Academy made the right choice.

  4. I've seen all the films, but I've seen both A Man for All Seasons and Virginia Woolf in theatres. "Seasons" is too dry a film. It's what I like to call "Oscar boring." It's a way better play. "Woolf" crackles and delights on screen, so I have to go with "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"
    -- Martin Pal