Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Robscars

I love the Oscars. But my choice for best picture rarely wins. So here's my choice for best picture for every year I've been alive.

What Should Have Won:

2016: Moonlight (Rotten Tomato Score: 97%)
What won: Moonlight (97%)
Top of the Box Office: Captain America: Civil War (90%)
I was completely willing to give some affirmative action to my best picture choice in 2016 after the previous year's #oscarssowhite scandal. But then a movie came along that didn't need it. Moonlight was perfectly crafted, down to the selection of color and framing and every single cast member's acting. The use of sound and music. The use of silence. The subtle intimations in the script about what happens offscreen. That's all before you even consider how important a film it is, and how infrequently we hear stories like this one.

2015: Room 
What won: Spotlight (96%)
Box Office: Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens (92%)

I was basically a sobbing mess by the end of this. It's Plato's allegory of the cave, but told through a pair of stellar and complicated performances. It speaks to abuse, and also to anyone who's had to escape from anything, and possibly leave both their loved ones  and their captors behind.

2014: Wild (90%)
What won: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (91%)
Box Office: Transformers: Age of Extinction (18%)
It's a really tough call for me between Wild and Birdman. Both feel like perfect films to me. In the end Wild felt so personal. I know those trails. I was on those trails on some of the same days that Cheryl Strayed was in the 90s. The setting, the earnest soul searching, and the redemption all stole my heart, while the nonlinear plotting and cinematography were everything I could hope for. A gorgeous, meaningful film.

2013Before Midnight (98%)
What won: Twelve Years a Slave (97%)
Box Office: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (89%)
I still have't seen the slave movie. I never even saw last year's slave movie [note: as of 2017 I have seen both of the slave movies. Both very good; no changes to my list]. Gravity (97%) was also in the running, and while I loved that movie (and Frozen [89%] even more), the slow burning, no-frills Before Midnight is the most anxious and moving movie of the year by far. The follow-up to two movies (100%, 95%) all made a decade apart, this movie joins the other two as a must-see.

2012: Beasts of the Southern Wild (86%)
What won: Argo (96%)
Box Office: The Avengers (92%)
Beasts was the underdog, and really it's an honor just to be nominated. Argo was a fine film, and there was some stiff competition this year, but Beasts stole my heart with its unconventional story and a breathtaking performance from an incredible child.

2011: The Tree of Life (84%)
What won: The Artist (98%)
Box Office: Harry Potter 7.2 (96%)
I get that this movie split audiences. Roger Ebert said he couldn't rightly review it because it was less movie and more prayer. But it changed everything I believed about the potential of film. There was a rumor at one point that there would be a 16-hour director's cut. I'm the guy who would watch that.

2010: Incendies (92%)
What won: The King's Speech (94%)
Box Office: Toy Story 3 (99%)
Sorry, I didn't buy the king of England as an underdog. Incendies was a French-Canadian family drama set in the Middle East that had such a strong message about cruelty and forgiveness and the fact that we are all one. I sat there and wept through the last ten minutes of that movie. Toy Story was also incredible, but everybody has seen it, so my vote is Incendies.

2009: Where the Wild Things Are (73%)
Oscar: The Hurt Locker (97%)
Box Office: Avatar(83%)
I know most wouldn't agree with me. I actually loved both Avatar and the Hurt Locker. But Where the Wild Things Are was a movie with a clunky elegance, a simple nobility, a warm message about the need to adventure and fight and then come back home and be loved.

2008: Slumdog Millionaire (94%)
Oscar: Slumdog Millionaire
Box Office: The Dark Knight (94%)
Dark Knight was the finest (and only great) batman film. But for once I side with the academy. I laughed and I cried with Slumdog. It's such an impossibly optimistic movie. Through its ingenious script, it shows us that all the crap we go through in life is for our own good. Sometimes literally.

2007: Atonement (83%)
Oscar: No Country for Old Men (94%)
Box Office: Spider-Man 3 (63%)
I get the feeling that I'll appreciate No Country fully when I'm an old man. Not even going to touch Spider-Man. Atonement had that incredible score that incorporated diegetic sounds, it had the amazing twist ending, the impossible tracking shot along the beach, and the best use of the c word ever put on film.

2006: Children of Men (93%)
Osar: The Departed(92%)
Box Office: Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (44%)
Children of Men is tied for my favorite movie of all time. The director of Gravity made this movie that was sci-fi, pro-life, had intense tracking shots and strong female characters long before his latest turn with Gravity. Check this one out!

2005: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (76%)
Oscar: Crash (75%)
Box Office: Star Wars III (80%)
The big debate this year was whether Crash stole the Oscar from Brokeback Mountain (87%). Both were excellent movies, but neither totally sparked my interest. Narnia is my choice because I just love it. Screw you guys, I love Edmond and I wish I could live in Narnia.

2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (93%)
Oscar: Million Dollar Baby (91%)
Box Office: Shrek 2 (89%)
I never saw Million Dollar Baby. But I doubt it could be as timeless, as twisty and brooding and hopeful and INSANE as Eternal Sunshine. Really the perfect postmodern love story.

2003: Return of the King (94%)
Oscar: Return of the King
Box Office: Return of the King.
Love me some hobbits. So did audiences and the academy. And this year really had no competition. I did love Finding Nemo (99%), but after 3 years of maybe the most incredible movies ever made at that point, it was time for Peter Jackson to take home the gold.

2002: The Hours (81%)
Oscar: Chicago (87%)
Box Office: Spider-Man (89%)
I haven't seen Chicago (the LDS prophet at the time told us not to), and I love Spider-Man 1 with all my heart. But the Hours gets my brain as well. It's emotional, it's complicated, and it's got the best score of any movie ever. There, I said it.

2001: Amelie (90%)
Oscar: A Beautiful Mind (76%)
Box Office: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (80%)
The first time I watched Amelie, I then started it over immediately. In fact, I watched it three times that day. Every aspect of it is finely crafted and perfect. The coloring, the movement of the camera, the symmetry of the shots, the acting and the script.

2000: O Brother, Where Art Thou? (77%)
Oscar: Gladiator (76%)
Box Office: How the Grinch Stole Christmas (53%)
I was on my mission this year, but I gotta say I don't feel like I missed much. The Coen Brothers are always contenders for me, so I'm gonna give them the nod for what amounts to my second favorite movie they've done. They'll appear on this list more, though. Also, what the Grinch?

1999: The Iron Giant (97%)
Oscar: American Beauty (88%)
Box Office: Star Wars I (57%)
A lot of great movies came out this year. Also Star Wars Episode 1. But the movie that stole my heart was The Iron Giant. Never has a film better portrayed what I was like as a child. The way autumn was displayed, the way the snow fell, and that amazing flight sequence. This is my favorite animated movie of all time, and it never got the attention it deserved from audiences. It did launch director Brad Bird's career, however, and he went on to direct The Incredibles (97%) and Ratatouille (96%).

1998: What Dreams May Come (54%)
Oscar: Shakespeare in Love (92 %)
Box Office: Saving Private Ryan (92%)
In a year where every best picture nominee was set in either Elizabethan England or WWII, my vote goes to the movie set in hell. What Dreams May Come is a visually stunning film that explores the question of where we go when we die and the ways we create our own heaven or hell. Robin Williams has never been more low-key and effective.

1997: Gattaca (82%)
Oscar: Titanic (88%)
Box Office: Titanic
Gattaca is my favorite movie of all time. So inspirational. I love movies set in the not-too-distant future, as they have the ability to tell us so much about where we are right now and the direction we're facing. Plus everything was finely crafted about this movie, from the coloring to the names of the characters to that brilliant double helix staircase. Titanic was sappy and boring. I mean, after the boat crashed, that was great. But do they really think we have to have a romantic story thrown in in order to care about the Titanic?

1996: Fargo (94%)
Oscar: The English Patient (83%)
Box Office: independence Day (60%)
I will admit I saw Independence day in the theater. Twice. But upon the second viewing I noticed how not good it was. And Will Smith annoys me. The English Patient is the boringest film ever to win an Oscar. Fargo is unadulterated Coen Brothers goodness.

1995: 12 Monkeys (88%)
Oscar: Brave Heart (78%)
Box Office: Toy Story (100%)
12 Monkeys is Brad Pitt's best performance, and Terry Gilliam's finest film. A twisty time-travel post-apocalyptic movie that is an homage to Alfred Hitchcock films. Cast of Braveheart: everyone go home and take a shower and THEN we can make a movie. Fun fact: Babe (97%) was nominated for a best picture Oscar this year, though Toy Story wasn't.

1994: The Hudsucker Proxy (58%)
Oscar: Forrest Gump (72%)
Box Office: Forrest Gump
The recent movie This Is The End (83%) had the following dialogue:
jay:! no i'm not a hipster, at all
craig: yeah, yeah you do seem to hate a lot of things. and the bottom of your pants are awful tight
i bet you hate movies that are universally loved
jay: i...i don't even
craig: you like Forrest Gump?
jay: no, no that's a horrendous piece of ****
I'm with Jay on this one. I hate Forrest Gump. It's so dirty. And history is boring. And The Hudsucker Proxy is my favorite comedy. The Coen Brothers again, and they are geniuses. I watch this every year on New Years Eve.

1993: Rudy (84%)
Oscar: Schindler's List (97%)
Box Office: Jurassic Park. (93%)
Holy cow. This was a good year for Steven Spielberg, no? And while either of his 1993 movies could have topped my list, Rudy. Rudy! Rudy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy! You gotta cheer for the underdog, right? And Jerry Goldsmith's score to this film is gorgeous.

1992: A League of Their Own (77%)
Oscar: Unforgiven (96%)
Box Office: Aladdin (94%)
Now we're getting into territory where I didn't see or appreciate a lot of the grown-up movies that came out that year. And I was too cool to like Aladdin because my parents made me stay home and do homework while the rest of the family went to watch it. A League of Their Own was the first movie that made me cry. Don't ask me why. I definitely have a soft spot for sports movies.

1991: Oscar (13%)
Oscar: Silence of the Lambs (94%)
Box Office: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (92%)
This is another year where I really loved the Oscar and Box Office winners. But if you haven't seen Oscar, stop everything an watch it. It's a return to the screwball comedy and I don't think anyone has done it this well since. Sylvester Stallone proves his comedic chops and Tim Curry steals the show, as usual. And ignore that 13 %. Hardly anyone has ever seen this movie.

1990: The Lord of the Flies (61%)
Oscar: Dances With Wolves (81%)
Box Office: Home Alone (54%)
I hardly remember the movie of Lord of the Flies. But we watched all 3 hours of Dances with Wolves in the front row of the Cinedome, and all I remember is hella skinned bison and some American Indians having sex right next to Mel Gibson. Or was that Kevin Costner. Maybe I am the least qualified person to pick a best picture for 1990. Maybe the best picture was Ghost (74%).

1989: Dead Poets Society (85%)
Oscar: Driving Miss Daisy (81%)
Box Office: Batman (71%)
I'm such a superhero nerd. So maybe it's blasphemous to admit I don't like the Tim Burton Batmans (Batmen?) at all. I just really hate Tim Burton movies, with the very rare exception. Dead Poets Society, meanwhile is one of the best movies ever made. Also, how many Ethan Hawke movies are on this list?

1988: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (98%)
Oscar: Rain Man (90%)
Box Office: Rain Man
Wow, I guess I need to see Rain Man. That doesn't mean Who Framed Roger Rabbit wasn't incredible, though. The story is is a whip-smart metaphor for racial issues in Hollywood and the special effects were groundbreaking. And if you can get past the line "Toon killed his brother. Dropped a piano on his head" without cracking up, we don't have enough in common for this to work out.

1987: The Princess Bride (97%)
Oscar: The Last Emperor (91%)
Box Office: Three Men and a Baby (75%)
What was wrong with audiences in the 80s? Also, I never Saw Emperor. William Goldman's script is the real star of TPB, though all the actors were luminous. The guy who played Westley is in the TV show I was in now, putting me two degrees from House of Cards (88%). Bazinga.

1986: Labyrinth (66%)
Oscar: Platoon (88%)
Box Office: Top Gun (55%)
I haven't seen either of those movies, but I don't really like war and soldiers and guns and stuff. Meanwhile, you want a formula for a winning movie? Take Rockstar David Bowie and Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly, drop them into a movie directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, and written by one of the Monty Pythons, set it in a fantasy land and make it the most concise textbook-to film adaptation of Freud's theories ever made. If this film were a person I would kill my step-mom to gay marry it. Labyrinth was 66th at the box office, but I was there in the theater with my family.

1985: Back to the Future (96%)
Oscar: Out of Africa (52%)
Box Office: Back to the Future
Out of Africa sounds important and everything, but Back to the Future. I don't even have to say anything else. Who thought of this whole concept? A kid gets the ability to travel through time and accidentally prevents his mom from falling in love with his dad. Because she's in love with him. Apparently lots of Freud comedies in the 80s.

1984: The Karate Kid (90%)
Oscar: Amadeus (95%)
Box Office: Beverly Hills Cop (83%)
Ok, I didn't see either of those movies, either. I recently went back and watched Karate Kid for the first time, and I can finally say I agree with the midget at Blockbuster who made fun of me for not having seen it as a kid.

1983: Return of the Jedi (78%)
Oscar: Terms of Endearment (88%)
Box Office: Return of the Jedi
I don't care what you say, I LIKED the Ewoks. And the opening sequence of Jedi where everyone is infiltrating Jabba's palace and then Luke comes in and for the first time he's a full-fledged Jedi and he's all sexy and confident and then he kills the Rancor? This is pure movie magic.

1982: The Dark Crystal (71%)
Oscar: Gandhi (87%)
Box Office: E.T. (98%)
Apparently 1982 was the year of the movies about tiny shriveled brown guys who aren't from around here. I personally think E.T. is scary and disturbing. Never saw Ghandi. Jim Henson was sort of our third religion growing up (after Mormonism and Taco Bell).

1981: The Great Muppet Caper (79%)
Oscar: Chariots of Fire (84%)
Box Office: Raiders of the Lost Ark. (95%)
Maybe my just-mentioned bias is showing here, but Caper is a top-notch Muppet movie. I would say it's the funniest of them for sure. Not a huge fan of Raiders. Really Last Crusade is the only Indiana Jones I truly love. I find my level of love for them is directly proportional to the love I have for the girls in them.

1980: The Empire Strikes Back (96%)
Oscar: Ordinary People (92%)
Box Office: The Empire Strikes Back
I am just realizing that the real winner as far as performers on my list is not Ethan Hawke but rather Frank Oz, at a whopping 5 movies. Well done, sir. Empire is probably the best of the Star Wars films, and all of the original trilogy fill me with a sort of nostalgia/longing for the future that no other film precisely can.

All right. Before that, I didn't exist, so I can't really be sure anything else did, either.


Arizona Girl said...

Since becoming a parent I have seen very few of the top box office hits or the actual winner or your top pick. I will value your top pick when it comes to future movie watching though. Never knew your love for GATTACA! When we both lived in Provo I would have invited you over to watch it. That is my favorite movie and back in college I seriously watched it almost every week. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading your commentary too.

Jeff Ricks said...

That was fun! I want to say SOOOO many things about this: 2001? A thousand times, yes. I love that movie. Amelie somehow changed my life, but I saw it YEARS later. 2004: Even though I've come to not like the movie quite as much upon later viewings, I really enjoyed Eternal Sunshine... especially because the first time I was so confused but completely compelled! 2000: I love O Brother, Where Art Thou, and though you seemingly didn't have much enthusiasm for it, you are correct that it deserved it. 1998: I remember seeing What Dreams May Come in the theater, and just being so confused... especially when the film broke and we had to wait for 10 minutes for them to get the movie rolling again. I might have missed something, but I wouldn't have been able to tell you. 1997: NAILED IT! I love Gattaca. I was OBSESSED with the history of the Titanic when I was younger, and I was brutally disappointed by how little of the movie was about the ship that happened to be sinking while Rose and Jack fell in love. 1989: Yup. A great film, but I am troubled slightly by you hating Tim Burton. I'm not obsessed, but I think he is great about half the time. So, not deserving of hatred. 1987: Three Men and a Baby had a real ghost in it! Also, "the guy who played Westley?!" You think I don't know Cary Elwes!? 1986: NO. A thousand times, no.

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