The last few verdicts have proved to be simpler decisions than most and that pattern continues with 1981's evaluation. One clear favourite emerged in my estimation despite some commendable competition.
The nominees for Best Picture of 1981 are:
- Atlantic City
- Chariots of Fire
- On Golden Pond
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
Right off the bat, it is easy for me to remove Atlantic City from the running. Mostly because it just wasn't my cup of tea ... or any other beverage, for that matter. I don't really know what it was. On Golden Pond is next to go. While it contains much that is praise-worthy, its melodramatic tendencies kept me at a distance. To continue the earlier analogy, it may have been my cup of tea, but someone just put too many lumps of sugar in it.
Being the well-crafted film that it is, it is easy to see why the Academy selected it as their winner. And although it is difficult to find specific fault with Chariots of Fire, there was nonetheless something undefined missing - not a particularly constructive piece of criticism, I know - so I am compelled to say goodbye to those slow-motion runners also. A nice cup of tea, but perhaps not quite enough milk ... or maybe honey.
The most action-packed and overtly entertaining of the five, Raiders of the Lost Ark comes in a close second. Pure spectacle from the start, but the conclusion lacked a certain substance. To switch to a different hot drink: Raiders is like drinking an amazing hot chocolate, but discovering that there are no delicious gobs of gooey chocolate to slurp at the bottom of the cup. That's the best part!
That leaves us with Reds, Warren Beatty's intelligent exploration of communism in America. It was a relatively easy choice for me. Reds moved me far more than any of its competitors with its witty script and fine performances. Hence, it receives the Matt vs. the Academy stamp of approval. A spectacular cup of tea, even if you don't like tea.
Best Picture of 1981
Chariots of Fire
Vote for your own favourite with the poll above. Next up on Matt vs. the Academy, we will be taking a look at 1937, a year of ten nominees. Appropriate, considering this year's ceremony (in a little under two weeks) will feature the return of the ten-way Best Picture race.
And the nominees for Best Picture of 1937 are:
- The Awful Truth
- Captains Courageous
- Dead End
- The Good Earth
- In Old Chicago
- The Life of Emile Zola
- Lost Horizon
- One Hundred Men and a Girl
- Stage Door
- A Star Is Born
Also, over the next few posts leading up to the Oscars show, I will weigh in on my picks for the awards.