Ranking the Best Picture Winners, Part II

80.  Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)

Critical concensus is that this star-studded extravaganza—very loosely based on the Jules Verne novel—is pretty terrible.  I have only vague memories of seeing this on TV as a kid and being amused enough to sit through the whole thing.  I’ll go ahead and assume that it’s worse than I remember.

79.  Gigi (1958)

Now here’s one that I saw on TV as a slightly-older kid and remember actively disliking, and not because I was one of those adolescent boys who thought musicals were dumb.  The dumbness of this movie transcends genre.

78.  Patton (1970)

Oh God, this movie.  In spite of the campy brio that George C. Scott brings to the title role—he plays the controversial army general as a male diva with a penchant for flamboyant military theatrics—there’s not much here to like or even enjoy, and I’m not just saying that because war movies aren’t always my thing.  Part of the problem has to do with Patton coming out of Hollywood’s late-’60s/early-’70s awkward phase, when big budget studio pictures like this one had almost-but-not-quite-yet given way to the New Hollywood style.  (Two other Best Picture nominees that year were M*A*S*H and Five Easy Pieces.)  As such, it’s stilted and can’t seem to pick a tone.  Good opening sequence, though.      

77.  Crash (2005)

I don’t actively hate this movie as much as most people do, and at the time that it “stole” the Best Picture Oscar from Brokeback Mountain I wasn’t terribly invested in that film either; I remember being more surprised than outraged.  Still, this is the kind of “racism is bad, see!?” pablum that really should appeal to no one who has completed high school.      

76.  My Fair Lady (1964)

My Fair Lady is a delightful stage musical and an absolutely leaden film.  What should have been its saving grace—namely, its songs—are ruined by its two leading actors not being able to sing.  (Audrey Hepburn's voice was dubbed; Rex Harrison's should have been.)  The quintessence of what film critic Manny Farber famously termed “white elephant art”: big, pompous, junky.  The fact that Harrison was permitted to talk his way through “I’ve Grown Accustomed To Her Face” is criminal.

75.  The Great Ziegfeld (1936)

Reviewed here.

74.  The Life of Emile Zola (1937)

Reviewed here.

73.  In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Between this and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? 1967 was really a banner year for tasteful and boring Hollywood movies about racial integration, wasn’t it?  In spite of the many talented people who worked on In the Heat of the Night (Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, Quincy Jones and Ray Charles, Hal Ashby and Haskell Wexler) it’s kind of an embarrassment to watch and feels downright badly made in spots.  Interesting factoid: for all of the many Oscar nominations earned (and won) by this movie and Dinner, Poitier did not score nominations for either film.  Might that be because both films are arguably more about white characters coming to terms with their feelings about black people than they are about the black characters themselves?

Continues here.

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