Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Most Deserving Oscar Winners of All-Time

There has been a lot of Oscar talk recently, so I guess it's kinda stuck on my mind right now. I was thinking about how many times people talk more about the films that didn't win or got snubbed a nomination, rather than the films and the performances that actually did win. I came up with this wonderful idea to try and list the most deserving Oscar winners of all-time in every one of the more significant categories. It's an ambitious attempt to sift through the 81 year history of the Academy Awards and try to define the perfect Oscar list, but I think I was able to do it. Look at how it turned out and see what you think:

Best Picture - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
I know I probably just ticked off many with this one. Out of the 81 year history of the Oscars, so many classics, I went with one of the more recent winners, but I truly believe that this is one of the more ambitious films ever produced. As well, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was one of those rare cases of a film becoming an instant classic. This is still considered to this day one of the Academy's more daring decisions in the past, being the only time that a fantasy film has ever walked away with the top honors, but if you go back and watch this film, it holds up way better than any other Best Picture winners.
(Nominees: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Godfather, Casablanca, The Apartment, and Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Actor - Marlon Brando, The Godfather (1972)
Even though Brando declined this award, when that envelope was opened back in '72 his name was on it, so he won it even though he never accepted it. Brando's performance in The Godfather is easily one of the more iconic of all-time, easily one of the more imitated, as well, if you go and watch Brando's other performances, you will realize just how fantastic of a transformation this was.
(Nominees: Marlon Brando, The Godfather; Robert Deniro, Raging Bull; Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man; Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood; and Tom Hanks, Philadelphia)

Best Actress - Vivien Leigh, Gone With the Wind (1939)
When I think of a powerhouse female performance, this is it. Leigh knocked it out of the park here as Scarlett O'Hara. No other actress has ever delivered a performance that is so moving, so powerful. Her performance anchored this film and is what makes it remain one of the finer films of all-time.
(Nominees: Meryl Streep, Sophie's Choice; Vivien Leigh, Gone With The Wind; Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs; Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday; and Diane Keaton, Annie Hall)

Best Director - Martin Scorsese, The Departed (2006)
Scorsese should have won this one way back in the '70s, but alas it is befitting that the film he finally did win for is my personal favorite from his entire filmography. Scorsese was at the top of his game with The Departed, he never seemed to miss a note at all here, playing the audience perfectly.
(Nominees: Martin Scorsese, The Departed; Steven Spielberg, Schindler's List; Frank Capra, It Happened One Night; Billy Wilder, The Apartment; and Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather Part II)

Best Original Screenplay - Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry, and Charlie Kauffman for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Hands down one of the more unique films ever made and it all started from this wonderful script. The script uses highly visual language and is kinetic, much like the film itself. It is one of those occasions where the script is literally the blueprint for the story, dialogue, shots, everything.
(Nominees: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Apartment, The Usual Suspects, Citizen Kane, and Annie Hall)

Best Adapted Screenplay - Philip G. Epstein, Julius J. Epstein, and Howard Koch from the play, "Everybody Comes to Rick's," by Murray Burnett and Joan Allison for Casablanca (1942)
Often considered the finest screenplay ever written, Casablanca is a master class in writing dialogue, some of the best dialogue ever written for the screen was in this movie. Casablanca would have been nothing without this script, just your typical by the numbers Hollywood production from the time, but luckily the right people came in and managed to write one of the more memorable films of all-time.
(Nominees: Casablanca, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Godfather Part II, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Slumdog Millionaire)

Best Animated Feature - Spirited Away (2002)
There is really no point in debating this one. This was the easiest one to pick. Japanese storyteller Hayao Miyazaki crafted what many believe to be his masterpiece with Spirited Away, which is saying a lot. It's a wonderful story of courage told through the eyes of a ten-year old brat in this odd fantasy world where just about anything is possible. It's highly original and deeply moving, definitely one of the Academy's better decisions of all-time.
(Nominees: Spirited Away, The Incredibles, Ratatouille)

Best Supporting Actor - Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects (1995)
Kevin Spacey jumped on the scene with The Usual Suspects. His performance is what makes or breaks the film. He went to great lengths to perfectly nail the skittish personality of Verbal Kint, and it is because of his marvelous portrayal the twist at the end of the film is never seen coming. It's safe to say that he is the hinge of the mystery.
(Nominees: Kevin Spacey, The Usual Suspects; Robert DeNiro, The Godfather Part II; Christopher Walken, The Deer Hunter; Sean Connery, The Untouchables; Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight)

Best Supporting Actress - Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
You can't do a list of the Academy's best without giving Meryl the recognition she deserves. Her role in Kramer vs. Kramer is one of her many fine performances within her career and was the performance that really got her on everyone's radar.
(Nominees: Meryl Streep, Kramer vs. Kramer; Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront; Cate Blanchett, The Aviator; Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity; and Judi Dench, Shakespeare in Love)

Best Foreign Language Film - Japan, Rashomon (1951)
One of director Akira Kurosawa's earlier works. This was the film that made Kurosawa an international sensation. It's simple premise of a crime being retold via multiple points of views has been replicated many times, but never to the same effect as it was here. This is one of those fine pieces of cinema, regardless of where you're from.
(Nominees: Japan, Rashomon; Italy, The Bicycle Thief; Italy, Frederico Fellini's 8 1/2; Taiwan, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Japan, Departures)

Well, that does it. What do you think?

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