Ranking the Best Picture Winners, Part VI

44.  Out of Africa (1985)

The best thing this movie has going for it is John Barry’s exquisitely romantic score, which is so good that it justifies the existence of the film itself.  Also, Meryl Streep.

43.  Shakespeare In Love (1998)
Like The Artist and The King’s Speech, this is another perfectly harmless, witty, “safe” comedy that seems to have won by offending no one.  The kind of movie that nearly everyone likes well enough but few people love, myself included.  Interestingly, this is a rare case of a little trifle of a movie beating out a big important one (Saving Private Ryan). 

42.  Wings (1927)
This silent WWI melodrama, which I suspect was Paramount’s attempt to follow on the heels of the success of MGM’s own WWI melodrama The Big Parade (dir. King Vidor, 1925), has its impressive moments.  It’s more comic than Vidor’s film, with some funny business involving Clara Bow passing herself off as a French girl in order to make a play for her childhood sweetheart.  Made one year before The Jazz Singer, it was the only silent film to win an Oscar for Best Picture until The Artist in 2012.    

41.  The Lost Weekend (1945)
Another one I haven’t seen in so long I can barely remember it.  The word on the street is that it hasn’t aged well.  At the time that I saw it, though, I was heavy into Billy Wilder, and I seem to recall being impressed with it.  Probably another one I would need to revisit before making a definitive claim.

40.  All The King’s Men (1949)
Discussed here.         

39.  All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
This adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s novel of World War I is still powerful.  One of the few war movies that manage to avoid cheap emotional effects or platitudinizing.

38.  Platoon (1986)
Speaking of war movies, Oliver Stone’s Platoon is considerably less subtle than All Quiet.  It’s also a useful reminder that there was a time when Oliver Stone was somewhat reputable/actually taken seriously by Hollywood.  Would you believe that he won Best Director twice in the ’80s?  I maintain that Born on the Fourth of July, for which he won the second, is a good film, and probably better than Platoon.  With The Godfather, this is also the only Best Picture winner to have inspired a video game.

37.  West Side Story (1961)
Discussed here.

36.  The English Patient (1996)
One of the better Oscar-bait movies of the last several decades, it manages to channel some of the epic romantic sweep of vintage David Lean.  I’ll admit that this made a strong impression on me as a young teenager, and while I don’t think quite so highly of it now I’m disinclined to trash it.  Plus, it won Juliette Binoche a Best Supporting Actress statue, so it can’t be all bad.   

35.  The Sting (1973)
Discussed here.  

Continues here.

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