This week, the theme for Wanderer's Thursday Movie Picks Meme is Oscar-Winning films. These are of course movies that have won Oscars, specifically from Best Picture, Best Animated Film, and/or Best Foreign Language Film. I guess this should make sense, seeing as we are getting into Oscar season, though I never seem to be satisfied with the films that win anyway, at least most of the time. Interstellar and Under the Skin should both have been nominated, and why is American Sniper on the list when it didn't even come out in 2014?
Funnily enough, when going through Wikipedia's list of Best Picture winners, I discovered that The Towering Inferno was nominated. Really? Was 1974 just a really crappy year for movies? I'm curious how desperate the Academy would have to be to even consider giving the Best Picture award to something as boring as The Towering Inferno.
Still, I'm supposed to list three Oscar-Winning films. I've decided for this list to pick out three Best Picture winners that I actually agree with the Academy on. The following choices are all ones I would argue deserved that Best Picture Oscar and are worthy of recognition.
Incidentally, it seems a bit ironic for me, being an outspoken feminist who has gotten a lot of flack on IMDB for calling out two separate movies on having an all-male cast when there was no reason they had to do so, that a lot of my favorite Oscar-winning films (and for that matter, favorite films in general) are ones with an all-male or predominantly-male cast. I wonder why that is.
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
If we're going to discuss Oscar-winning films, it makes sense to go back and look at a few classics. One of the most iconic would arguably be the 1962 historical epic Lawrence of Arabia, directed by David Lean (who had previously won Best Picture for The Bridge on the River Kwai). It is a long movie to be sure, almost four hours long and lots of scenes of vast open desert. It has a somewhat notorious reputation for the lack of women involved (basically none outside of extras, and even they are extremely scarce), although that is somewhat justified by the nature of the historical events on which it is based. Even if the runtime is overwhelming the effort that went into production is admirable, with most of it being shot on location in Arabia and the rather large cast involved. Admittedly, there is some controversy nowadays for casting white actors as Arabs, but it's also worth nothing that at the time presenting strong sympathetic Arab characters in a mainstream production was a radical idea so to an extent this is actually quite a progressive film from a racial standpoint.
Clint Eastwood's brutal deconstruction of the classic American western is only one of three in its genre to successfully win Best Picture (it was preceded by Dances With Wolves a year earlier and 1931's Cimarron, with a possible fourth winner if you count No Country for Old Men). There's no denying it had an impact on the western genre as a whole, seeing as while Eastwood wasn't the first to look at it more cynically (he inherited a lot of the darker elements from his work with Sergio Leone and even dedicated this film to his memory) it was arguably one of, if not the first, to strip away any trace of romanticism. There's no hero, no villain, and it becomes impossible to tell the difference between the law and outlaws. Eastwood has played some anti-heroes, but the tragic hero depicted here is one of his darkest characters. Now if someone would make something like this for pirates...
The Hurt Locker (2008)
I have admitted on a few occasions to disagreeing with the Academy's decisions, but for once in 2008 I do not. Though I did not see Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker when it first came out I will agree that it was very deserving of the Best Picture award she received and became the first woman to do so. Kathryn Bigelow has made some good movies but The Hurt Locker is definitely her best without question. Its simplistic approach and focus on the day to day activities of three men make it a compelling psychological study of how war can mess with a person's head.