So according to Esquire‘s Tom Nicholson, a British writer, the top two Best Picture Oscar winners — the most highly placed, best liked and most revered by today’s standards — are Moonlight and Parasite. This is how things are right now.
I’m telling you right now Nicholson needs to be straightened out and maybe even slapped around. This kind of thinking…words fail. I worship Hitchcock’s Rebecca but it can’t be proclaimed as the fourth-best…stop it! Amadeus and The Shape Of Water in the top 20? Get outta here! And Moonlight at #1? This is almost too asinine to take potshots at. Nicholson’s list is beyond ridiculous — an expression of woke mental illness.
Herewith is my own Best Picture Oscar Winner list, and I’m certainly going to use the criteria that most…okay, a significant percentage of winners have fulfilled or satisfied to some degree, at least in an aspirational sense in addition to the usual political motives and moment-in-time considerations…
Not just (a) films that sought to achieve (and in some cases DID achieve) a stand-alone, movie-craft refinement or at least a kind of declarative, honed-down clarity or wholeness on their own terms, or…
(b) Films that captured or reflected something poignant (at least in passages) about the times in which they were made, but most fundamentally…
(c) Political winners-of-the-moment that hit or touched certain emotional G-spots that moved large swaths of the culture (not just the Hollywood community but moviegoers all over), movies that said “this, to some extent, is a concise, respectable and in some cases profound presentation of who and what we are, or at least what we’ve recently been through or would like to be…this Best Picture winner contains pieces of our saga, shards of our collective soul, elements of who we believe we are or would like to be deep down.”
The difference between then and now, of course, is that the “large swaths of nationwide movie culture” aspect has been removed — today’s Oscar nominees are totally about the uncertainties and preferences of a small community of terrified political sidesteppers who don’t know what to say or think but are totally terrified by what might happen if they say (or even think) the wrong thing. The sentiments of the rest of the country has been a side issue for a good 20 to 25 years…be honest.
Reasons to disagree or tell the Esquire guy to go fuck himself…
In some respects Gone With The Wind is a racist relic, obviously, but it still matters and is, in fact, still great because of the last half of Part One (the agony of battered Atlanta to “I’ll never be hungry again!”) and because it is NOT, in a deep-down sense, a saga of the Civil War but a reflection of the deprivations and terrible hardships of the Great Depression. And so I will certainly include Gone With The Wind somewhere in the top 30….you can beat me with bamboo sticks all you want but Hattie McDaniel‘s Mammy, at least, was a vivid and passionate human being who took no shit from anyone, least of all from Scarlett O’Hara.
Green Book is not a great film, but I will not dismiss or degrade it in any way, shape or form. It also belongs in the top 30.
And I must again remind that the last third of Moonlight (and particularly the casting of Trevante Rhodes) doesn’t work at all (sustained for years by one adolescent handjob on the beach!) and that it won largely if not entirely because of a collective, politically-driven, industry-centric need to refute the #OscarsSoWhite meme.
And I will certainly not give Parasite a high ranking because of the stupidest plot turn in the history of Best Picture winners…because of that drunken family of con artists deciding to admit into the home THE ONE PERSON ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET WHO COULD & ALMOST CERTAINLY WILL BLOW THEIR SCAM OUT OF THE WATER…cut the shit and admit that Parasite won because the industry wanted and needed to celebrate a filmmaker of color as well as a charming genre purveyor (monsters! a giant pig! a runaway train!)…a director who was a much better fit in these times of necessary wokeness than Martin Scorsese and his aging goombahs and his “Wild Strawberrries with handguns”…nope.
HE’s Best Picture Oscar preferences:
1. The Godfather, Part II
2. The Godfather
4. On The Waterfront
5. No Country for Old Men
6. The Apartment
7. All About Eve
8. Midnight Cowboy
9. The French Connection
10. Schindler’s List
11. Silence of the Lambs
12. Annie Hall
13. Lawrence of Arabia
15. Gone with the Wind
16. 12 Years A Slave
17. Terms of Endearment
19. The Best Years of Our Lives
20. Ordinary People
22. The Departed
24. West Side Story
25. Green Book
26. Kramer Vs Kramer
27. The Lost Weekend
29. The Bridge on the River Kwai
30. The Hurt Locker
31. The Sound of Music
33. From Here to Eternity
35. Million Dollar Baby
36. Terms of Endearment
37. Patton (because of that ending)
38. Tom Jones
39. How Green Was My Valley
41. A Man For All Seasons
I don’t care that much about the other 51…well, I do somewhat but not really.