Friday, February 20, 2015

Top 5 Best Picture Winning Films

With the Oscars on Sunday, there is no better time than the present to rank the Top 5 Best Picture winning films. Even though the Academy have gone with safe picks for most of the last ten years, they did actually give the award to quite a few films that deserved it in my eyes in the past, and this will rank my five favorite. Of course, I have not seen ever Best Picture winning film, and these are my personal favorites, so please let me know what yours are in the comments.

5: The Godfather
Often considered one of the best films ever made, The Godfather might not live up to its reputation but is certainly a great film in its own right that revolutionized the crime drama genre.
Plot: 8.8/10- The Godfather's first 20-30 minutes are mostly setup the rest of the film by establishing the characters as well as the setting. Fortunately, however, the movie begins to pick up the pace a little as the story finally grabbed my attention by the 30 minute mark and after that, it was an entertaining experience. The plot took some unexpected twists and turns, and despite the long running time and occasional pacing issues, The Godfather did not feel like a long movie. Also, the conflict between the crime families is one of the more entertaining aspects as they each use calculated attacks to affect the other’s businesses or family. 
Characterization: 8.5/10- In general, the characters of The Godfather are mostly well established characters for the type of movie being made. However, only three or four of the characters are actually memorable and identifiable, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Vito Corleone, head of the Corleone family, is the most memorable character, and he has many unforgettable quotes. Michael Corleone is the character that receives the most development throughout the course of the film, and he is the one that the audiences can connect with the most.
Overall: 8.8/10- Despite being overrated to a degree, The Godfather is undeniably a well crafted film with excellent performances and surprising entertainment value, providing the long running time is not a turn off for you. (For my full review, you can click here to check it out).

4: Braveheart
While it not the most well liked film, Braveheart is a personal favorite of mine. Some of the appeal is that my ancestors fought on both sides of the real war that the film portrays, and even though the movie itself is grossly historically inaccurate, what matters in the end is that it is a great film. 
Acting: 8.7/10- Mel Gibson both stars in and directs the film, and his performance as William Wallace is all around great. He manages to balance the stoic nature of the character, while still providing the human aspect. Plus, no one else could deliver such an epic speech other than Gibson!
Soundtrack: 9.7/10- James Horner's score is one of my favorites. The main theme is easily the most memorable tracks, and it is fittingly epic and sweeping to fit the stunning cinematography.
Overall: 8.8/10- Braveheart might not be for everyone. However, Mel Gibson's historical (or rather fictional) epic is an inspiring tale of standing up against tyranny.

3: Gladiator
Much like Braveheart, Gladiator is the type of epically manly movie (not to say that it excludes the female audience in any way) that has both great spectacle and a well told story of revenge.
Action/Direction: 9.3/10- Ridley Scott's direction is superb. From the impressive cinematography to the thrilling gladiatorial battles, everything in Gladiator looks fantastic. Even though the opening battle sequence is often overrated, the rest of the action sequences throughout the film feature well choreographed battles and well framed shots. 
Acting: 8.9/10- Russell Crowe's Oscar winning performance as Maximus Decimus Meridius is still his most iconic role.
Overall: 9.0/10- Gladiator is an impressively filmed and well told tale of revenge that never fails to entertain, and yes, "We are entertained."

2: The Silence of the Lambs
The first horror film to win Best Picture, The Silence of the Lambs surprised me by delivering a disturbing thriller that does not forget about the characters or plot.
Plot: 9.5/10- Silence of the Lambs is one of the most perfectly paced films in the mystery genre. Despite a plot that can be perceived as slow moving with dialogue sequences progressing the majority of the plot, the direction and performances maintain the audience’s attention as details of the mystery are slowly revealed. The direction the story goes is occasionally predictable, and the main character can seem a little slow at figuring out the plot for herself, but it rarely detracts from the tension and intrigue of the film.
Characterization: 8.9/10- Even if you have never seen the Silence of the Lambs, you would be hard-pressed to have never at least heard of the legendary character of Hannibal Lector, and he certainly lives up to the legend, largely thanks to Anthony Hopkins' Oscar winning performance. 
Overall: 9.0/10- As thrilling and it is disturbing, The Silence of the Lambs is not necessarily an entertaining film, but rather an intriguing and exhilarating one. However, it is certainly not for everyone due to the disturbing nature of the film, and it is not one that I would want to watch again anytime soon. (A full review coming at some point)

1: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Could there be any other? The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King provides a fittingly epic and emotional conclusion to one of the greatest achievements in the film history. Despite being the first fantasy film to win Best Picture, the gateway to science fiction, comic book, and other fantasy films is, unfortunately, still closed in the minds of the Academy. Even though all of LOTR films should have won Best Picture, since they all are equally amazing, The Return of the King more than deserved it the year it won.
Characterization: 10/10- The Return of the King's large cast of characters all have their character arcs brought to a satisfying conclusion that reflects of the themes that Tolkien instilled in his original novel.
Overall: 10/10- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, along with the other LOTR films, are the closest thing we have seen to a flawless masterpiece of film in the 21st Century, and while others have made a valiant effort, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy still reigns supreme.

What are your favorites? Please comment below and let me know!

Honorable Mentions: Ben-Hur. The Bridge on the River Kwai, Casablanca, Dances with Wolves, The French Connection, The Godfather Part II, Lawrence of Arabia, Patton, The Sting, Rocky, Unforgiven,

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  1. Definitely agree with the top 2, Silence of the Lambs is amazing! And of course, Return of the King concludes the greatest trilogy of all time! 11 for 11 is crazy! My 3rd place would probably be 'One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest' from 1975. Have you seen that? Mostly a drama, but its pretty powerful and sad! Nurse Ratched is easily one of the greatest movie villains of all time!

    1. Silence of the Lambs really impressed, especially since the genre (horror) is not one of my favorites, although it seemed more like an exceptional thriller than a horror.

      'One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest' is on my watch-list. I really need to get around to watching the film. I have heard a lot of great things about it.


  2. My Top Five Best Pictures from 5 to 1: 5.) Lawrence of Arabia, 4.) All Quiet on the Western Front, 3.) The Godfather Part II, 2.) Schindler's List, and 1.) Casablanca. For me, there simply isn't a better film. I put Silence of the Lambs in my Top Ten, along w/Ben-Hur. Any you haven't seen, I urge you to see them ASAP.

    I was impressed w/Braveheart (though yes, historically inaccurate), but magnificent in its sweeping nature. Gladiator was good, but I still think Traffic was superior. LOTR:ROTK ends the story well, but I hated the multiple endings. My friend joked that it won an Oscar for every time the movie seemed to end.

    Finally, NEVER tell my brother Gabe you think The Godfather is overrated! The man LOVES this movie and can quote the entire film. I just have to say, "I believe in America..." and he's off and running. I think Godfather Part 2 (the first sequel to win) is superior, a journey into the lost soul of Michael Corleone.

    1. I may have seen a few minutes of All Quiet on the Western Front a very long time ago, but I need to get around to watching it in full at some point soon. I have not seen Schindler's List either, although I am waiting for a time when I want to watch something depressing, but I have seen the others.

      For a trilogy so grand and filled with content, the "multiple endings" never bothered me since we needed every bit of closure, or at least in my opinion.

      Haha, I remember you telling me about Gabe's love of The Godfather! As for Part 2, something about it seemed off compared to the first film. I liked it, but not as much as the first.


  3. This is a great list idea! I feel like taking a bow for getting you to see Silence of the Lambs XD XD XD XD Wasn't that a great watch, though I agree it's not one I'd like to rewatch for a long time.

    Godfather is rather overrated but it was still a good movie. Not one of my favorites though.

    I'm going to lump Braveheart and Gladiator together because I didn't care that much for either of them. Their good films and all but just not for me. I do LOVE Gladiator's soundtrack that though.

    Heehee, I am glad Return of the King got so many awards, but it's such a shame that sci-fi/fantasy films are still so neglected though.

    Ben-Hur and Rocky are already in my top ten films of all time, so they're probably my favorite of the best picture category. I should look up the list of all the ones who've won, though, and look at them more closely. :)


    1. Thank you again! XD You have scarred me for LIFE!!!! XD

      Something about Gladiator and Braveheart makes think of them as the same type of film.


  4. I hardly ever agree with the Academy's choices for best picture but Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King definitely deserved it's win- such an amazing film! :D

    1. I know! They often get it wrong, but sometimes they do get it right and that was the case for ROTK! :D



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