Saturday, May 06, 2006



Before we finally embark on the survey's results, I'd like to send out a universal note of thanks to everyone, not only for their participation but for their kind thoughts and their patience with the understandable delay in finishing this. I don't know even a small percentage of you in the real world, but you have been a great comfort over the past week.

Another note, since I went to the trouble to solicit quotes, I've decided to include at least one for every film, even the ones below which didn't appear on any ballots. When we get to the films that placed No. 21 or lower, it was harder, since many of them had multiple quotes, so I tried to share the wealth among those who sent comments as much as possible, a difficult task since the higher we got, the more great quotes there were to choose from. Of course, when we get to the top 20, pretty much everyone is getting in.

First, the list of the six films that failed to garner a single vote on any of the best best picture ballots, in chronological order:

Cimarron won best picture in '31, but is far from the best picture of that year. There's a good dozen, at least, that have weathered much better over the years. Still, this picture is worth seeing for a few big land run shots and to glimpse its bizarro world of 1931 progressive politics.

Was Cavalcade the best picture of 1932-33? Hardly. I haven't seen Smilin' Through or State Fair, but I imagine that I would have voted for any of the other nominees before Cavalcade (though it's a close call with Lady for a Day). Still, this adaptation of Noel Coward's play is not a worthless picture and I did enjoy it for its kaleidoscopic look at a British family through the years. Its one throwaway shot of a life preserver bearing the words Titanic foreshadowing some characters' fates for me was far more effective than all the technical know-how and bombast of James Cameron's version — and was accomplished in a matter of seconds.
Edward Copeland

The Great Ziegfeld
Historically interesting because of the appearances of original Ziegfeld stars — among them a Fanny Brice which doesn't look at all like Miss Streisand — it is a rather conventional, sugary biopic. The work by the players is competent, charming, but hardly awesome. Yet I can't help being fascinated by its elephantine musical numbers, which I suspect the film took to heights of excess that the original stage numbers lacked. I'm particularly haunted by "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody," with its gargantuan cake-like revolve, increasing its speed as it rotates its way through the "story of music" (as seen by Broadway), with the camera spiraling upwards to a close-up, then traveling majestically backwards as the curtain goes down. A tremendous, and yet wonderful pinnacle of kitsch. Just like the strain of a haunting refrain.
Gloria Porta

The Life of Emile Zola

The Greatest Show on Earth
OK, not a great movie; it apparently won the Best Picture award because of behind-the-scenes shenanigans to keep out the politically suspect High Noon. But it does have its moments, especially from the two of the female leads, who do what they always do (Betty Hutton, feisty and plucky; Gloria Grahame, bad girl) very well. Jimmy Stewart is pretty good with his
tragic clown, until mawkishness sets in in his last scene. The big circus set pieces are well done, including the train crash. The backstage dramas lack a certain authenticity — where's the elephant poop, for Christ's sake? All in all, not the Greatest Show, but not the worst by a long way.

Tim Footman

Around the World in 80 Days

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i'm a little curious of whether these films are unloved because they are unseen or because they are simply just unloved.

I didn't vote for any of these films (obviously) but i've also never seen any of them.

--RC of
I think being unseen is part of it but I think the deciding factor is that these six are best little more than OK and at worst, downright awful.
I've seen all six and 4 of the six are pretty awful. I was sorely disappointed that Cimarron and the Great Ziegfeld didn't make the worst list, until I realized it was probably because few have seen them, which is a good thing. Better to spend your time looking at other films.

The "non-awful" two, imho: the Life of Emile Zola which is the very definition of a slightly above-average biopic. And I've had a soft spot for Around the World in Eighty Days since I saw it at a rep. theatre as a kid. I refuse to see it again except on the big screen, and I don't expect to get a chance.
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