Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Best Picture of 1986

The Academy's eclectic tastes are hardly more evident than in 1986's shortlist: drama and comedy, contemporary and period. Stylistically, these five films have very little in common with each other, yet they each excel in their own right. Nonetheless, choosing a favourite was not as difficult as one would expect.

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
The nominee with the most visible flaw is Children of a Lesser God. Despite its touching story, the general conceit of a hearing man repeating everything his deaf lover utters is hard to overcome, so Marlee Matlin's debut film is first to be struck off the list.

The next two to go are Hannah and Her Sisters, a fine contemporary comedy exploring the human condition (otherwise known as a Woody Allen film), and its polar opposite, The Mission, a fine adventure drama exploring politics, religion and racial relations.

Finally, we have two more immensely contrasting pictures, the graphically anti-war Platoon and the exquisitely period A Room with a View. Both are expertly produced and fulfil their genres' expectations satisfyingly. But, for me, it is Oliver Stone's Vietnam story that has the slight edge, so, just as the Academy did, I officially award Platoon top honours in the 1986 Best Picture contest.

Best Picture of 1986
Academy's choice:


Matt's choice:


Your choice:

Don't agree with me and the Academy? Make it known by voting in the poll above. We now move back to the 1950s, and as per your wishes, we will focus on the following five contenders.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1951 are:
  • An American in Paris
  • Decision Before Dawn
  • A Place in the Sun
  • Quo Vadis
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
Stay tuned...


  1. First let me get out of the way that I thought Blue Velvet was the best film of 1986. The Academy gave director David Lynch a nod, but wasn't ready to acknowledge this surreal blackest of comedies about the underbelly of an idyllic small town. Other potential nominees included Stand By Me and Peggy Sue Got Married. 1986 also gave us the cult favorite Manhunter by Michael Mann and James Cameron's testosterone-filled sequel Aliens.

    My rankings weren't too hard to determine this year either, Matt, although we arrived at different results:

    5. The Mission: Gorgeous looking but plodding story of a Jesuit mission's fruitless efforts to protect is native converts from Portugal and Spain's imperialistic plans.

    4. Children of a Lesser God: Touching story and romance of a teacher of the deaf and the former student he falls in love with. Marred by a screenplay structural flaw.

    3. A Room With a View: Impeccable comedy of manners set in Edwardian England, that's a little light in substance, but nonetheless captivating.

    2. Platoon: A grunt's view of Viet Nam, told by a person who was there and lived it. Both heartbreaking and frightening.

    1. Hannah and Her Sisters: Woody Allen at the top of his game. Superbly written and performed character study of three siblings from an show biz family who try to find contentment in their complicated lives.

    Now on to 1951 with its entertaining mix of the theatrical, epic and melodramatic to evaluate.

  2. Hey Matt I think this is a great undertaking and I can say as an avid movie fan that this is going to be a lot of movies and not easily done. I thought your idea to watch 6 movies a week was rather entertaining especially since you had to review them all as well.

    On a side I also absolutely loved your trivia game on sporcle and would love if you would consider making more(I realize thats not your main goal or anything, but it was just so much fun I want to play more and more of them). Thanks either way for sharing you wit and humor with the world(aka me).

  3. Thanks Torr!

    I have a couple of other Sporcle quizzes in the works, and I'll probably keep adding some every now and then whenever I get the urge. Best thing to do is to follow my Sporcle profile. On the quiz page at the bottom, where it says "created by MFN76" - that's me. Next to it, you can click on "Follow". That way, it'll let you know whenever I post a new quiz there.

  4. A Room with a View for me :)

    and Hannah quite close, from what i can remember.
    Platoon is just not my time of film.