Monday, September 5, 2011

Best Picture of 1967

This is one of those nominees lists that seems overstuffed with films that have stood the test of time. Well, not completely overstuffed. There's one obvious misfit. But among the other four, it was a mildly difficult task to separate them. In the end, though, one picture pushed its nose in front.

The nominees for Best Picture of 1967 are:
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • Doctor Dolittle
  • The Graduate
  • Guess Who's Coming To Dinner
  • In the Heat of the Night
One of these things is not like the other. In making my verdict, I easily set aside Doctor Dolittle from the outset. While it has a fun vibe and a few entertaining moments, it is an essentially silly movie providing little competition to the other four contenders. In fact, if ever there was fodder for those critics who decry the Academy's weakness in allowing itself to be influenced by Oscar campaigning, Doctor Dolittle and its nine nominations is certainly it.

The four remaining pictures each hold a fairly high place in film lore as well as popular culture, and my own personal ranking of them leaves little room between each one. Thus, it is only with the slightest of margins that I release the next two films. Guess Who's Coming To Dinner is incredibly endearing with a heartwarming story, and Bonnie and Clyde succeeds as an exciting action flick with a fascinating central relationship.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), we are left with the Academy's Best Picture winner and its Best Director winner. In the Heat of the Night is a tense racially-charged drama with superb leading actors, but my pick is Dustin Hoffman's breakout film. With its witty script and subtle performances, The Graduate takes away Matt vs. the Academy's favourite Best Picture nominee of 1967.

Best Picture of 1967
Academy's choice:

In the Heat of the Night

Matt's choice:

The Graduate

Your choice:

Please go ahead and vote for your own favourite by using the poll above. Next up, we move to the 1990s to a group of films with an interesting connection. All five are period pieces and, between them, they only depict two time periods. Two set in the Elizabethan era and three set during World War II.

And the nominees for Best Picture of 1998 are:
  • Elizabeth
  • Life Is Beautiful
  • Saving Private Ryan
  • Shakespeare In Love
  • The Thin Red Line

If you want to play along with Matt vs. the Academy while supporting the project, check out Amazon's DVDs and Instant Videos of 1998's nominees.

1 comment:

  1. I was a little ahead of your schedule Matt, so I I was a little ahead of your schedule, Matt, so I wrote this 1967 summary a few days ago. It reads like I cut and pasted your comments. For the first time in a while, and perhaps ever, we agreed on the order of finish exactly. So, here are my thoughts, and although not presented as succinctly as you do, I’ll leave them unamended. You do write very well, Matt. Have you ever considered doing any screenwriting?

    I’ll start right off with my fifth place finisher and the omissions list. It’s no surprise that Doctor Doolittle came in last. I’m sure the publicity and old fashioned, if outdated big budget qualities led to the old guard votes. Most disappointed was probably the group that made In Cold Blood, from its nominated Director to Truman Capote. Cool Hand Luke, with its star performance and anti-establishment theme could also have been selected. The very popular The Dirty Dozen, avant garde Point Blank and hip contemporary look at a struggling marriage, Two for the Road, were also on my top ten list. The movie I saw the most times along with The Graduate was the theatrical thriller Wait Until Dark. I kept going with different people and waited for their reaction to the big “shock” scene. While on the subject of omissions, the Best Song category should have made room for “To Sir with Love” my pick for best of the year.

    4th: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Entertaining social comedy with all-around top notch performances.

    3rd: Bonnie and Clyde: Today, it probably ranks highest with the critics. There is so much to enjoy and it really set new boundaries, but its tonal shifts keep me from many viewings.

    2nd: In the Heat of the Night: The surprise pick going into the ceremony, but after its editing, writing and actor awards, it didn’t shock when it won. It holds up very well over forty years later.

    1st: The Graduate: Watching it again after many years, I still find it fresh and it brings out emotions that the other films just don’t. It’s a fairly easy choice.

    My Academy Picks:
    Picture: The Graduate
    Director: Mike Nichols, The Graduate
    Actor: Rod Steiger, In the Heat of the Night
    Actress: Anne Bancroft, The Graduate
    Supporting Actor: George Kennedy, Cool Hand Luke
    Supporting Actress: Estelle Parsons, Bonnie and Clyde (her screaming still annoys, but Parsons was very good).

    1998 is an interesting year with two Elizabethan themed movies and three WWII films, but each taking a different approach to the subject matter. In preparation, I took a look at the major critics groups choices for 1998, and found an unusually big disconnect between them and The Academy who didn’t even nominate these 12 winners.

    Gods and Monsters, Out of Sight – Picture
    Shekhar Kapur, Steven Soderbergh – Director
    Jim Carrey - Actor
    Ally Sheedy (2), Cameron Diaz - Actress
    Bill Murray (3) – Supporting Actor
    Christina Ricci, Joan Allen (2), Lisa Kudrow – Supporting Actress.

    A year earlier, in 1997, there was only one disconnect.