Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Best Picture of 1962

The trend of incredible (and lengthy) films continues. I found all five contenders in 1962's competition to be thoroughly engaging. Yet another hallmark year for this project.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1962 are:
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • The Longest Day
  • The Music Man
  • Mutiny on the Bounty
  • To Kill A Mockingbird
My first move in this verdict is to split these fine films into two groups. In the bottom section is The Music Man, a spectacularly entertaining film, perhaps only disadvantaged by its lack of substance in comparison with the other four nominees, which all deal with very powerful material. Joining the musical, I have placed To Kill A Mockingbird. I know, I know. Most people love it. And I did, too. Just not as much as its competitors.

The three films on the upper branch, coincidentally or not, happen to be the three longest nominees - each running at least three hours - and are also all based on true stories. First, we have Mutiny on the Bounty, an intense battle of minds complemented by beautifully photographed scenery, shot on location in Tahiti. Then, The Longest Day, a compelling D-Day re-enactment complemented by beautifully photographed scenery, shot on location in Normandy.

That leaves us with the highly lauded Lawrence of Arabia, which was not a particularly difficult decision. However, I doubt my own ability to ignore the pressures of almost 50 years of critical acclaim. Aside from winning the Academy's Best Picture award and appearing on many critics' lists of the all-time greatest, the British film also inexplicably made it into the top 10 of the AFI's list of the greatest American films. It's hard not to be influenced by such widespread praise. In any case, whether I came to this decision independently or not, I am now declaring Lawrence of Arabia my pick for 1962's Best Picture of the year.

Best Picture of 1962
Academy's choice:

Lawrence of Arabia

Matt's choice:

Lawrence of Arabia

Your choice:

You may exercise your right to vote by using the poll above. Matt vs. the Academy now moves back to the 1980s with a very eclectic selection of nominees.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1986 are:
  • Children of a Lesser God
  • Hannah and Her Sisters
  • The Mission
  • Platoon
  • A Room With a View
Stay tuned...


  1. With three of the five contenders not receiving nominations for director, acting or screenwriting (The Longest Day, The Music Man and Mutiny on the Bounty), one can fault the Academy for their practice of rewarding the big studio epic films over the smaller, acting pieces or edgier stories. Some films of this latter type that were left out of the big race were The Miracle Worker, Long Day's Journey Into Night, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and most neglected by today's standards, The Manchurian Candidate. I would throw in a personal choice as well, Advise and Consent, give a thumbs up to David and Lisa and Divorce, Italian Style, and even tip the hat to two westerns The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence and Ride the High Country.
    However, looking closely at the actual nominees and there is some diversity to be found. Yes, they are mostly epic in scope and length, but they represent the war, adventure, musical, and drama genres; two are in black and white, two are filmed on back lots and three on location. Once again, I don't feel that The Academy embarrassed itself with any of its choices. So, how did I rank them?

    5. The Longest Day: Compelling war drama, with balanced screenplay, big stars not too distracting and a nice semi-documentary look.

    4. The Music Man: Stylistic, entertaining musical with interesting arrangements and a buoyant engaging lead performance from Robert Preston.

    3. Mutiny on the Bounty: Well paced adventure, with top production values and two lead performances that didn't disappoint.

    2. To Kill a Mockingbird: Low key coming of age story with a strong moral message, helped by Gregory Peck's stalwart lead performance and child actors that seemed real.

    1. Lawrence of Arabia: David Lean's masterpiece. A great adventure, a literate story and an enigmatic lead performance that ranks with the all-time bests.I do believe that when the project is over, if we were to list our top 5 all time Best Picture winners, Lawrence of Arabia would make my list.

    1986 has one of the best films of a contemporary prolific director and some diverse genre films as well. My formula suggests that it may be a tighter race than '62. The scores of the nameless contenders were 648, 630, 624, 558 and 484. I have to admit having seen all nominees, I would agree that it just may be a three horse race, but once again, revisits may yield surprising results.

  2. I've seen just Lawrence and Mockingbird.
    Lawrence never excited me, even though I admit its achievements. So I voted for Mockingbird because, as I remember it, it was a very well-told story. :)

  3. Lawrence of Arabia would actually get my vote for Best Picture among all 80-odd Best Picture Winners.