Tag Archives: Best Picture

Breaking Down the Best Picture Box Office

Our contemporary Best Picture nominees rarely are the year’s highest-grossing hits. We can chalk this up to many factors, some of which I’ll explore; but however we slice it, Best Pictures are no longer the movies that all Americans have seen.

Oscars Week: My Ballot for Oscars 2017

Here’s my final ballot for this Sunday’s Academy Awards. I predict La La Land will clean up with 9 wins, meaning this will be the most boring Oscars since Gravity swept the tech awards. Still, only one acting category is a sure thing (here’s looking at you, Ms. Davis!), so I’m ready for a good surprise or two.   […]

Hacksaw Ridge

There are two movies in Hacksaw Ridge: the well-meaning tale of good-natured pacifist Desmond Doss; and the brutal, otherworldly days he spent at war. These two pieces feel so disparate in tone and entertainment value that it’s easy to conclude the filmmakers are more fascinated by the battle story. A few critics have credited the director […]

Best Picture Revisited: From Here to Eternity (1953)

The Best Picture winner of 1953, From Here to Eternity, could have been a major failure. Burt Lancaster and Frank Sinatra were not known for dramas. Director Fred Zinnemann had to consolidate an 800-plus-page novel into two hours, and there were many unsavory topics in James Jones’s book to work around: adultery, STDs, homosexuality. The […]

BEST PICTURE REVISITED: AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)

The first time I watched American Beauty, in high school, I knew this was a movie for adults. There were clear similarities: my ordinary suburban house; my dad worked for a large corporation; I felt lonely, isolated. But even then, I sensed the broad strokes Sam Mendes and Alan Ball painted with: this wasn’t my […]

BEST PICTURE REVISITED: MY FAIR LADY (1964)

In 1964, most people couldn’t tell you who Marni Nixon was. She had dubbed Deborah Kerr in The King and I and An Affair to Remember, then Natalie Wood in West Side Story — and without screen credit. But when it came to dubbing Eliza Doolittle, Audrey Hepburn suddenly experienced the first noteworthy public backlash to not singing for […]

BEST PICTURE REVISITED: “OLIVER!” (1968)

1968 was a turning point for the movie musical. Voters had given Best Picture to three musicals so far in the sixties: West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and The Sound of Music. But then the Academy speciously nominated Doctor Doolittle, the Rex Harrison tuner that nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox and, rumor has it, was up for Best Picture […]

Best Picture Revisited: Rebecca (1940)

By the forties, Alfred Hitchcock was the leading creative force on his films, mostly lightweight spy capers like The Lady Vanishes. He had signed a contract with David O. Selznick for a series of American movies, with larger budgets than his British work. But from the outset, he wrestled with Selznick over control: Hitchcock pushed […]