25 February 2008

The Academy Honors ...

While I don't agree that No Country For Old Men was the best English-language movie of 2007 -- that was Zodiac -- I consider it a commendable choice for the Oscar as Best Picture of the year. I would also have applauded a victory for There Will Be Blood, but I can't speak for the other three films that were nominated, since I haven't seen them.

No Country puts the Coen Brothers in a position similar to Martin Scorsese's last year. He finally won the Best Director Oscar for The Departed, which also won Best Picture. That film was far from Scorsese's best work. No Country is a better film than The Departed and is a better film within the Coens' filmography than Scorsese's winner is within his, but I felt the same sensation both times: the feeling that the director(s) should have been rewarded long ago for their very best work.

Because last night was the 80th Academy Awards ceremony, the TV show included a montage of all the past Best Picture winners. This was a sobering reminder that No Country had not exactly entered elite company. Considering myself a film buff, I tried to recall how many times the Academy had gotten it right -- how many of their Best Pictures were really the best films of their respective years, by my standards, or even by the consensus of posterity. I could not think of many.

To be brief, I think the Academy got it right in 1930 (All Quiet on the Western Front), 1934 (It Happened One Night), 1962 (Lawrence of Arabia), 1970 (Patton), 1972 (The Godfather), 1974 (The Godfather Part II), 1986 (Platoon) and 1992 (Unforgiven). That's eight times in eighty years, a .100 batting average, and I may yet reconsider some of the films I named here. If the mood strikes me, I may march through the years and tell you which films I thought most deserving, but that would have to be a slow news day.

1 comment:

hobbyfan said...

You might be better served debating the merits of the Academy with the likes of Jay Bobbin & Dan DiNicola, or at the least open a separate wing of this blog.