Monday, February 1, 2010

Best Picture of 1964

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, the Oscar nominations will be announced. Over the last few posts, I've offered my thoughts on who will be recognised in the major categories. I have also toiled away behind the scenes to predict all the other categories as well (except for the Short Film awards), so for those who are interested in that sort of thing, I present to you my complete 2009 Oscar nominations prediction list. The most sure thing of all the categories: Best Visual Effects will be won by Avatar.

As a new year of titles vie for the top award, I am delivering a verdict on the 1964 race. I have previously commented on the absurdity of comparing family films to period dramas, so it boils down to personal preference, which made this decision relatively easy.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1964 are:
  • Becket
  • Dr. Strangelove
  • Mary Poppins
  • My Fair Lady
  • Zorba the Greek
Two family friendly musicals, a biting political satire, an intense period drama and one film that defies genre categorisation. If I were my wife, there is no doubt that I would be choosing between Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady, both superb examples of the musical genre that she adores. As it happens, though, I am unsurprisingly not my wife, and therefore, my appreciation of their worth notwithstanding, my affections lie in another direction.

Zorba the Greek, though gripping in sections, suffers from a lack of cohesion, so it is easy for me to strike that from the list, which leaves us with two films that I enjoyed immensely: the provocative Becket and the incisive Dr. Strangelove. Again, two films of incredible merit, yet clearly with different approaches. The intimately emotional exploration in Becket is extremely engaging (no alliteration intended), but I find it difficult to go past a well-made satire. It is that mixture of humour and depth that gets me every time, especially when its treated with such subtle precision as in Dr. Strangelove. So, the Academy may have lauded My Fair Lady but I will be giving my honours to Stanley Kubrick's cold-war black comedy Dr. Strangelove.

Best Picture of 1964
Academy's choice:

My Fair Lady

Matt's choice:

Dr. Strangelove

Your choice:

Vote for your own favourite with the poll above. For the next year of focus in Matt vs. the Academy, you have made your voice clear, by choosing 1981, another eclectic year of nominees. (But, really, is there a year that isn't eclectic?) I will honour that collective decision and so we shall tackle the following films over the next couple of weeks.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1981 are:
  • Atlantic City
  • Chariots of Fire
  • On Golden Pond
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Reds
And I will again let you decide on the next year of review, so look out for that poll coming soon.


  1. First to briefly comment on this year's AA Nominations:
    I only predicted the top 6 categories and missed one in picture (The Blind Side for Invictus), one and two in Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz and Maggie Gyllenhaal for Julianne Moore and Samantha Morton. You did very well on your predictions:

    Some thoughts:

    The Hurt Locker is looking stronger than Avatar for Best Picture: Both with 9 nominations, but Avatar lacks both acting and screenplay nominations. I think you'd have to go back to Grand Hotel to find a best picture winner that didn't have at least one nomination in either of those categories.

    Sandra Bullock seems a clear front runner for Best Actress with her film nominated for Best Picture (the poorest choice among the ten in my opinion.)

    Maggie Gyllenhaal's nomination now adds the Gyllenhaals to the list of sibling acting nominees (The Barrymore's, De Havilland/Fontaine, Beatty/Maclaine the Redgraves, the Fondas, and the Phoenixes.

    Up in the Air's lack of an Editing nomination stifles whatever Best Picture hopes it may have had.

    Now to 1964: First a quick nod to a few other films from that year I liked: Two musicals: A Hard Day's Night, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, the aforementioned Fail Safe and perhaps my most watched film from that year - the political thriller Seven Days in May.

    My rankings:
    5th place: Zorba the Greek
    4th place: My Fair Lady
    3rd place: Becket
    2nd place: Mary Poppins

    Best film of 1964: Dr. Strangelove. Frankly, most of Kubrick's films would make my best of the year lists. Unfortunately for him, his films rarely were nominated for Best Picture.

    1981: For me, it will be the battle of the art film and the escapist entertainment. Looking forward to watching these movies again.

  2. uh, this one's tough. I haven't seen Alexis Zorbas, but even so it's a tough choice. I hated Strangelove when I first saw it, but years later I'm reconsidering it. Even so, I'd probably go with My Fair Lady