Saturday, May 06, 2006


And the winners are...

BLOGGER'S NOTE: Here are links to the other posts related to this survey: Number of ballots on which each film appeared, the rankings below the Top 20, the films that didn't get any votes and my 10 best ballot.

Once again, thanks to everyone who participated in this survey. We more than topped than 107 ballots for the worst best picture survey, finishing with 129 ballots. Thanks to you all. Whenever I knew the blogs or Web sites for the commenters, I included the links. If I mess any of them up or didn't include others, please either e-mail me or post in comments, and I'll fix them later.

When I launched this survey, I figured it would be easier to pick the 10 best because there was a much more limited pool to choose from, though many complained that it was harder to pick 10 good ones than 10 bad ones, though I think my inclination was right, since the top vote-getters showed up time and time again, ending with a huge vote drop in points from about No. 22 down to the lowest ones. A. Horbal wrote, "These films were also popular and largely uncontroversial. They had a broad base of support in the Academy, filled with representatives of a Hollywood that makes me uncomfortable." "The list of 78 winners frequently seems to go out of its way to avoid greatness, doesn't it? Many of them are deadly in their smooth competence and noble intentions, and a few are just plain bad. Others are fine enough films that are simply outclassed by other, maybe less pretentious films that were released in the same years. Overall, the list constantly reminds me of Pauline Kael's withering words: "Films Of Which The Industry Can Be Proud," dlfoil wrote. Whereas, Michael J.W. Stickings took an opposite position, writing, "Generally, what I found upon looking over the list again is how many solid Best Picture winners there were. I guess I'd call them ***1/2 star films." Anne Thompson, deputy film editor for The Hollywood Reporter, found this survey almost unnecessary, writing "Perhaps my reluctance to do this list comes from the lack of necessity for it. These films are so famous and popular that they don't need any help. And besides, they are resolutely mainstream, finally. The critic's impulse is to look for the diamond in the rough, to proclaim the marginal movie. Here there are no marginal movies. The great ones have been hailed as great for decades already!"

I think there will be little suspense over what the top two will be, but I'm counting them down backward anyway.

20. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (103 points)

"An amazing piece of film art. This film will have to be the example of how to take your imagination and use the tools that have been given you to make those images come to life. ... This is what I thought and hoped George Lucas would have strived for with Episode III of his Star Wars saga. Imagine Episode III with all the heart and soul and epic splendor of Return of the King. It makes me weep," Salvador Gomez wrote. Dennis Cozzalio also has George Lucas on his mind when he wrote, "Peter Jackson's feat of bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's novels to the screen with abundant integrity and vision, sustaining that integrity and vision over three films, and adding such overwhelming sorrow, yearning and, ultimately, joy to the third part is the kind of expansion of Lean's epic filmmaking into a fantasy realm that must still give George Lucas fits of envy and nightmares of what could have been." Many of the others who cast votes for Return of the King admitted that it was more personal choice than a reflection of its status among the 78 winners. Heather Kinion said, "Great movie, but not really great enough to top my list. Only snuck into the top ten because I have the most affection for it out of my other cusp picks." "This is where my list becomes a list of movies I like, but don't necessarily love. I very much enjoyed the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have seen the trilogy several times, and will undoubtedly see the trilogy several more times," Galen Sparlin wrote. Todd echoed the sentiments when he says the movie is "a personal choice. Removed from the excitement and heat of the years in which it was made, one can see that the LOTR trilogy has its weaknesses, but as a whole, I still think it holds together. It also gave brief hope that AMPAS could reward work in genres it wasn't as fond of. Alas." Griftdrift recognized that ROTK's win was more for the trilogy as a whole, writing that it's "really a lifetime achievement award. Fellowship was the better movie." Billy Black even admitted that the movie may not stand the time, saying, "In 10 years, I may be embarrassed for adding this; but it's a hell of a lot better than A Beautiful Mind or Gladiator."

19. The Bridge on the River Kwai (110 points)

Of the two David Lean epics to win best picture, each side seems to have its advocates, though both films appeared on some lists. "Most people seem to prefer Lawrence of Arabia to this earlier David Lean epic. Lawrence is a magnificent movie, but the Siren gives the edge to The Bridge, for its clearer and more pungent characterizations, its biting antiwar and anti-imperialist message and its satiric edge," Campaspe wrote. Mr. Middlebrow concurred: "Most people tend to favor Lawrence of Arabia over this, but it's my favorite David Lean film ... it holds up well to repeated viewings and never feels dated or quaint. I'm always awestruck by Alec Guinness' performance and the fine line he walks between honor and madness. As soon as my wife deems it appropriate, I plan to watch it with my son and, I hope, show him what it means to have principles, a code. There are very few films that put those abstract ideas into such compelling, wholly authentic action and manage to be so sublimely entertaining at the same time." John Ross followed the same line, writing that "I'm amazed that so many people think Lawrence of Arabia, great as it is, is better. Almost everybody acknowledges that both movies suffer a bit when their main characters (Alec Guinness here and Peter O'Toole in Lawrence) are off-screen, but I'm real confused by those who would rather watch Guinness and Anthony Quinn play Arabs than William Holden play an American." Daniel Fienberg prefers it on a more visceral level: "It's not really a war movie at all. It's a pure action movie. Action movies don't win Oscars. How did this one? It's almost enough to justify the fact that The Great Escape — perhaps the best action movie ever made — only received one nomination, for editing. Perhaps it isn't too late to get a retroactive Oscar of some sort for Die Hard?" Others are pithier with their love for Kwai. "Thrilling and powerful depiction of the death march!" Mike James wrote. "Stirring and suspenseful, with great acting and a great score," Louis P. said.

18. West Side Story (126 points)

After all the abuse heaped on musicals in the worst best picture survey, I was pleasantly surprised to see at least one musical have enough fans to make the top 20 — and having Stephen Sondheim write your lyrics never hurts. "Yes, it may be reviled by the sizeable segment of the population that despises musicals, but I love musicals and this is a great musical," Allison Stombaugh wrote. "It's chock full of talent, including several triple threats (I'm looking right at you Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, and Russ Tamblyn). The choreography is perfection. More than a great musical, it's a great film." Salvador Gomez said, "I am a sucker for a good musical. I'm an even bigger sucker when it is done with style and finesse. I remember taking in this film when there was a move to save the old Golden Gate movie palace in East Los Angeles. I had seen it several times on TV but this was the first time I had the joy to see it on a wide screen since it was shot on Panavision 65mm cameras and presented in 70mm." Mike James defended it as well saying, "Some people may think it's corny! But this film still packs a punch with it's stunning choreography!" Al Weisel summed it up with the name of four principals involved in the musical: "Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents and Jerome Robbins. The greatest American musical." "Maybe the most influential movie musical ever, even if they did miscast Richard Beymer and dub some of the songs," Anne Thompson wrote. Still, other fans couldn't bring themselves to put the movie on their ballot. Jennifer Dawson said, "I dithered a long time over the order, I guess I'll never be satisfied. My beloved West Side Story got the axe. Damn you Beymer!"

17. The Silence of the Lambs (136 points)

While I like Silence a lot, I was surprised by its strong showing, mainly because I thought by this point its power had been dissipated by Anthony Hopkins basically turning Lecter into serial killer as stand-up comic in subsequent films, but its admirers are still ardent. "A guilty pleasure, but there's a lot that I love about this film — the acting, the direction, the pacing, the editing...The characters are sharply drawn, with a solid sense of background and motivation that's absent (or taken to caricature) in Harris' other work," Tuwa Baab wrote. Ben said it is an "incredibly well crafted thriller. Everything about the film is on point, the film rolls along to its terrifying finale like a well oiled machine. Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins both deliver great performance. Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter is one of the cinema's all-time great bad guys." Steve Cox is even more effusive in his praise: "The one great film in the mass of middlebrow OKness in the list of winners since Kramer vs. Kramer. The initial scene with Starling interviewing Lecter is as riveting as any on film." How high it landed on his list surprised That Little Round-Headed Boy who wrote, "I'm surprised this is so high on my list, but maybe I shouldn't be. I like genre pictures, and so does everybody, but we don't sufficiently reward the movies we like to pop in the machine, kick back and watch repeatedly." Still, it's the suspense that won many over like Peter Nellhaus who wrote, "Even after watching it in a theater all the way through, the sense of dread is still overwhelming in repeated viewings." The film put such a chill in Heather Kinion that she was afraid to rank it higher: "I just don't like to be scared enough for this to be any higher on my list. That it got on at all should just show how good it is."

16. Midnight Cowboy (137 points)

Ross Ruediger wanted to write something about Midnight Cowboy, but he never got one to me, so I hope he drops in to put his contribution in the comments. In the meantime, we have Ronny Brown who wrote, "Midnight Cowboy was light years ahead of its time and my pick for most underrated best picture. Hands down Dustin Hoffman's best film." Dusty agrees about Hoffman, writing "Another risky choice. My favorite part of this movie is Dustin Hoffman, whose work here is nearly as perfect as in Tootsie. Let's forget about Kramer V. Kramer (except for Meryl) and Rain Man (no exceptions), for which the man received his two Oscars." Ben admires the movie for its "innovative use of editing. One of the most formally interesting films to have won an Oscar for best picture." When Daniel Fienberg recently revisited the film, "Yeah, it's dated, but watching the newly released double-disc DVD a couple weeks ago, I was surprised at how well it held up." Mitchell has his own reasons for loving Midnight Cowboy: "Gleefully bleak, iconic acting and any movie with Sylvia Miles AND Brenda Vaccaro gets my vote."

15. The Best Years of Our Lives (139 points)

Even though it didn't make my own list, I was pleased to see William Wyler's 1946 winner land this high. "More than a valentine to returning servicemen, this is arguably one of Hollywood's first and only epic domestic melodramas, a film that depicts men and women existing at every layer of their society (a small town) and struggling to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of war," Matt Zoller Seitz wrote. Campaspe agrees, writing that it is a "peerless portrait of American family life. Not a weak performance in the movie. Full of moments to treasure, such as Myrna Loy's wordless reaction when she finally sees her husband, or Fredric March, contrasting a prewar picture of himself with the image in the mirror. And there's Harold Russell's homecoming to his family and his "swell girl" Wilma, as moving a scene as any Wyler ever filmed — and the prelude, as Dana Andrews watches Russell walk away and says sadly, "I hope Wilma is a swell girl." Julie Winklepleck hit on many of the same points when she wrote: "Sentimental, perhaps, but an examination not only of re-entry after surviving the war, but of the displacement we all feel and the struggles we have to fit in and find our place in the world. The scene where the fiance comes into the double amputee's room at night to prove that she can handle the changes in his life...that's love." Wagstaff's affection for the film dates back to childhood. "As a kid, I fell in love with this movie right at the beginning, with its long takes of our returning heroes looking out the front of a B-17 as it flies over the home they've been homesick for: Boone City. The audience might get homesick for the movies' portrait of Anywhere, U.S.A. There's great deep-focus camerawork from Gregg Toland, and William Wyler stuffs the screen with wonderful details. I liked the folks in this movie, and the bottom line is I believed it. Sure, this wasn't the whole story after the war (and how could it be?) but with Best Years a whole swath of Americana comes to life." Jennifer Dawson summed it up much more simply: "I'm just going to be an old person now and say they don't make 'em like this anymore."

14. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (178 points)

Even though it showed up on a lot of lists, very few people had much to say about Milos Forman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's controversial novel. "Jack Nicholson playing within his range, it may not be like the book, but it is still damn good," Joe Cox wrote. Michael Healey said, "Not in the same league as the rest of these films (on his list), but Jack Nicholson's iconic performance is strong enough — for me at least — to overshadow Cuckoo's Nest's occasional longueurs and terrible score." However, Barnaby Haszard Morris had no difficulty in spelling out his reasons why it made his 10 best: "Most of the films on (my) list had all aspects of the production click into place to produce something great. This is my favorite of them, a true masterclass in film storytelling. It never fails to satisfy me, to move me. It gave rise to my deeply felt notion that stripping a film back to its base elements — story and character — is paramount. Nail those two, and you've got a great movie. This is more than a great movie, though; it's a definitive movie, a movie that all other movies aspire to."

13. Gone With the Wind (187 points)

67 years after its release, Gone With the Wind is still a sensation. Jennifer Dawson wrote, "Not a fashionable choice, for a number of reasons I suppose. First, there are the racial politics, which are considerably toned down from the book's abominable views on slavery and emancipation. In spite of the source material, though, the movie in fact ended up featuring some of the few three dimensional African-American characters found in movies in the late '30s. Love ya Hattie. Second, the fact that the movie had three directors leaves it an orphan in the world of the auteur ... but of course GWTW had an auteur, and his name was David O Selznick. It's an irresistible epic that manages to be a tragedy and a comedy at the same time. It clocks in at 3 hours and 45 minutes and it moves along at such a clip you barely notice the length." Anne Thompson simply calls it, "The most satisfying historic romance of all time." For Ellen O'Neill, it is "the cinematic embodiment of the word classic. It is also a touchstone — whenever meeting someone, if they think the idea of comparing Titanic to GWTW makes even the slightest bit of sense, then no further conversation is possible. GWTW is very useful that way." John Ross can relate the movie to events today, writing "If Paul Wolfowitz had remembered the fate of the Yankee soldier who stumbles into Tara at a moment when it appears to be occupied only by two helpless women, he might not have been quite so sanguine about the mindset likely to be encountered by soldiers of occupying forces in strange lands, however just or unjust their cause and/or behavior." Still, for many the movie is all about Scarlett and Vivien Leigh. "Feminist before the term "feminist" existed; Scarlett O'Hara is the most interesting female protagonist in film history," Adam Bonin wrote. "Analyze the movie all you want, criticize it to pieces, but Vivien Leigh and her magnificent portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara has blinded me from whatever negative things "critics" like to say about this movie," LA PARADISE said. Still, for Matt Zoller Seitz, it is the movie as a whole: "With each passing year, it becomes less politically correct to admit liking this movie. The slave characters were more complex than others seen up to that point, yet still stereotypical, and the unabashed nostalgia for antebellum culture sticks in the craw. But contemporary attitudes are a poor yardstick for judging artistic merit. Scene for scene, minute for minute, line for line, this is 1930s Hollywood at its aesthetic and technical peak. Few American films, before or since, are as gorgeous."

12. Amadeus (203 points)

Let's hear it for Salieri, the patron saint of mediocrity. That guy Mozart ain't much of a slouch either. Josh Flower wrote, "Forman frames the whole thing as one big joke on poor Salieri, which would be awfully mean if it wasn't such a good joke." For Sheila O'Malley, the movie proves that "there is such a thing as a perfect movie, that one has got to be on the list. Every scene, the way the score is integrated ... it's another character in the film (which is appropriate). Mozart's music is not used as a set piece, or as background. The way it is utilized shows us that this stuff is IN HIS HEAD. It is the actors who are able to show us the flaws, the darkness, the capacity for cruelty, the struggle — who really move me, who really insinuate themselves into my consciousness. They're the ones who can actually teach me things, who can reveal me to myself. ... Nobody embodies that better than F. Murray Abraham as Salieri. It's breathtaking. And he reveals a truth which is unpleasant, something most of us don't want to hear. And yet it's really that truth, that truth within all of us, that makes us most human. It's painful. It really is. And yet also — within it — is beauty. Redemption." Mr. Middlebrow admires "the way that it breathes life into the otherwise flat, abstract history of dead, European white men and makes the whole enterprise so sublimely worthwhile." Julie Winklepleck said the movie substitutes for other substances, writing "This movie made me high, like why do drugs when we have music like Mozart gave the world?" Leave it to Matt Zoller Seitz though to come up with the most hysterical analogy for the film when he wrote, "In its portrait of cagey mediocrity outmanuevering and destroying genius, it's inadvertently the best explanation of Oscar politics that the industry has ever come up with."

11. Unforgiven (213 points)
Clint Eastwood's film prompted some of the most passionate responses from voters, even though it didn't quite make the top 10 in the end. Josh Flower wrote, "Unforgiven is a tough-love corrective to about sixty years of Hollywood mythologizing. An old man limps back to his old ways and then away from them again, not redeemed, not a hero or a villain, and soon to fade from memory. Sure, it ultimately only leaves one myth in place of another, but that's all history is anyway, and Eastwood's surly pragmatism keeps it close enough to the ground that the mud and the shit are never too far from sight." Galen Sparlin resisted the film because of his past impressions of Eastwood. "Ten years passed between the time Clint Eastwood accepted his Oscars and when I saw this film. I grew up not caring for the Clint Eastwood mystique. Dirty Harry? Bleh. My generation was not force fed Westerns. John Wayne? Bleh. Then, my buddy loaned me a worn copy of Unforgiven on VHS. Through the grainy picture and the garbled sound, the wonder of this film was obvious." Dennis Cozzalio also sees the film as Eastwood commenting on his own work: "A summing up of and engagement with the dark underbelly of not only Clint Eastwood's career, but also with the nature of American life and history as well. The actor/director is likely never to make another western, but Unforgiven is such a rich, evocative, chilling and morose experience that it really does feel like the last necessary word on the subject, at least from this filmmaker. Campaspe sees it as "a grimmer and more violent pendant to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Like its predecessor, this movie asks the audience to look at how we know what we think we know about our heroes and our history." For Joe Cox, "Clint Eastwood boils the Western down to its barest bones and makes a movie about man's inability to change. I know a lot of people who disagree with me, but this is my favorite movie in my favorite genre. It was so spare, so understated, as though Eastwood, in the pantheon of Western heroes was so familiar with it that he knew exactly what to leave out." Kelley Baskerville thinks Unforgiven should be the final word on the genre: "After Unforgiven, there doesn't really need to be another western since the film made a point of tearing down the western archetypes built up for several decades."

10. On the Waterfront (233 points)

Josh R ranked this one higher than he otherwise would have for fear that it might not get its due over lingering resentment toward Elia Kazan's actions at the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the 1950s. He needn't have worried, as there were more voters who felt the Academy was correct in honoring the film than Amy Madigan and Nick Nolte, et al., who insist on taking their grudge against Kazan out on his art. "I'm putting this higher than it should be because I sense it needs my help (and some defense), whereas the films below it do not," Josh R wrote. "There are those who would criticize Elia Kazan's definitive work as an ill-considered exercise in McCarthyist propaganda, and they wouldn't be wrong — but to limit the conversation to the film's political underpinnings would be to overlook its genuine merits as a cinematic work of art. Putting aside Kazan's rationalization of his betrayal of friends and colleagues before the House Un-American Activities Committee (something which is admittedly hard to separate from one's feelings about the film itself), On the Waterfront is the best and the most compelling example of the new realism its writer-director helped to pioneer. Expertly crafted and indelibly performed, it deserves to be remembered for more than its politics — and even its detractors can't deny the power of the young Marlon Brando, showing what breathtakingly simple effects he was capable of before eccentricity and ennui overtook his talent." Indeed, those who voted and comment on the movie, almost always came back to Brando. "Brando's gives one of the great performances of all time, of course, but Kazan deserves a lot more credit than he often gets nowadays," Al Weisel wrote. Mike Phillips shared similar thoughts: "The motive doesn't ruin the movie for me. I know Kazan made it as a response to those who attacked him for naming names to HUAC, but he also ended up making one of the best films ever made. Brando continued to redefine acting, and Kazan, one of the best directors ever, was never better than he was here." "Politics aside, Brando delivers one of the most influential performances of all time," Ben wrote. Even those who recognize problems with the film like Matt Zoller Seitz can't help but praise it in the end: "Truth be told, Marlon Brando's lead performance has held up better than the work of his peers (except co-star Eva Marie Saint, who's just right) and the movie's problematic for a lot of reasons, including the too-obvious Christ imagery and the sense that this is, in the end, a veiled explanation of why director Elia Kazan named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee, but that's all context, and if you're not aware of it, nothing matters but Terry's moral struggle, romantic aspirations and emotional growth. I've seen this movie probably 50 times, more than any other film on the Best Picture list. There are better movies, but few that mean as much to me." Sheila O'Malley just finds a more emotional reaction to the movie: "Even just saying the name of this movie gives me the chills. I watch it now, and am still amazed at its relevance and at the power and timelessness of the acting."

9. It Happened One Night (242 points)

There is no Wall of Jericho separating fans from Frank Capra's classic comedy. "Colbert and Gable sizzle!" Heather Kinion wrote. "Maybe the slapstick high-jinks and the silly plot don't stand the test of time too well, but I would rather watch this movie again then most of the tripe trotted out as 'romantic comedy' since I've been alive." Odienator believes one scene alone earns the movie's place on his list: "This belongs here if only for the scene where Claudette Colbert literally stops traffic." John Ross sees a long trail of the film's influence: "The template for all romantic comedy from then to now. Only Preston Sturges at the top of his game and His Girl Friday have equaled it." Mr. Middlebrow recalls the film as his "introduction to screwball comedies, Frank Capra and Claudette Colbert. Needless to say, I was immediately smitten; as a bonus, I also got a whole new appreciation for Clark Gable, whom I'd known up to that point only as Rhett Butler. Pure joy, this brilliance never fades." Wagstaff similarly finds magic: "I have nothing to add that hasn't already been said about the laughs, the romance, and the charisma of its stars. I will add that this ain't no studio-bound production. This is a movie that gets out and sees some country. Much of it now works as docudrama. I love its sketch of the roadside sleeping cabins, with weary travelers standing in line to use the bathhouse. Perfect. A funny, sexy gem that is very modern in its pacing." Josh R admits it's not his favorite example of screwball comedy, but he loves it nonetheless: "Some have called it the crowning achievement in the oeuvre of screwball comedy, though in truth, it isn't as screwy nor as ballsy as the work of Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges. That said, it's hard not to fall in love with Frank Capra's lightest and most charming film. Now that Basic Instinct 2 is upon us (as if we needed any more proof of the impending apocalypse), it might do well for modern filmmakers to recall that Claudette Colbert managed to be sexier and more risque just by raising her skirt than Sharon Stone ever did by lifting it over her head." That Little Round-Headed Boy springs to the defense of the comic genre as a whole: "This is a great American movie, and one of Oscar's rare moments of lucidity. In general, Oscar and critics and some bloggers are just plain wrong in their theory that drama is deeper and more meaningful than comedy. I think the gossamer light step or totally bonkers touch of a perfect comedy is harder to achieve than a drama set on an epic scale with a vast cast of extras. I'm just as moved by Groucho Marx as I am by David Lean, and I do not understand why I have to choose one over the other." Dennis Cozzalio also points out how the film has usurped the definition of those fabled walls: "Unless you're a Sunday school teacher, you're more likely to think of this movie than the Old Testament if someone mentions the walls of Jericho. Seventy-two years later, whenever someone mentions great comedies, we're still thinking of this one." Sheila O'Malley wrote, "If you want to see what my friend Mitchell would call 'sheer liquid joy' — rent this movie." I'll wrap this one up by letting Mitchell speak for himself: "A movie that is 72 yrs old and is still funnier than most of the crap that passes for comedy these days is surely one of the best of the best."

8. Schindler's List (244 points)

"Many films have been made about the Holocaust, but this is the true masterpiece," Allison Stombaugh wrote. "It's heart-wrenching, but also entertaining. I feel slightly idiotic describing a Holocaust film with such a flippant word as "entertaining," but it was. Nothing in Spielberg's long and distinguished career should give him as much pride as this film." That Little Round-Headed Boy wrote, "A great, tragic, depressing, moving, spiritual, important movie. Spielberg's heart and soul is in this one, and it's impossible not to be swept up by its emotional tide." Many fans acknowledge the movie's minuses, but for them the strengths outweigh the weaknesses. "If there are one or two clunky notes in the final minutes, they can't really spoil what is otherwise a perfect movie up to that point," Jennifer Dawson wrote. Josh R also had qualms: "As much as I appreciated it, when I first saw the film, I had a serious reservation: There was then, as there is now, something slightly exploitive in depicting the horrors of The Holocaust in extremely graphic detail as a demonstration of a filmmaker's personal courage (and there was something very self-congratulatory about the way Spielberg spoke about this aspect of the film when he was promoting and accepting awards for it). But there's no arguing with the fact that Schindler's List is groundbreaking in its treatment of the 20th Century's greatest tragedy, and no denying the impact that it has when you're watching it. It's an incredible accomplishment, and one which will stand for many years to come." In the end, it's the film's emotional reaction that landed it on so many lists. "Rare is it that I am moved deep to the core. I love black and white and Spielberg made it horrifyingly beautiful. It recalls Yeats' 'terrible beauty,'" Griftdrift wrote. Odienator said the movie "tore at my soul the way Roots did. Spielberg's best movie continues to haunt years after I first saw it." Still, Galen Sparlin finds hope in the movie's pain: "Such a powerful, moving story. As dark and bleak as this movie can be, it also acts as a mirror of possibilities for hope — sometimes someone can stand up against injustice even with the risk of harm coming to oneself." However, I think Louis P. summed everything up with a single sentence: "One of the few movies I’ve loved but don’t want to see again."

7. The Apartment (283 points)

"This is my dead favorite movie on this list because it truly has everything — it's funny, it's touching, it deals with the very serious topic of infidelity from both sides of the issue in a realistic way that doesn't pull any punches or romanticize. It also has an evil Fred MacMurray! The original Absent-Minded Professor and the dad from 'My Three Sons' as a heartless bastard!" Barbara Schwartz Brus wrote. "I cried when I first saw this. This movie also gave me one of my favorite phrases: 'That's the way it crumbles, cookiewise.'" Campaspe sees beyond the surface of the film's story: "Next to The Crowd (a clear influence), the Wilder movie is the premier meditation on surviving as a cog in the capitalist machinery, a theme that is notably underexplored in American film. Office Space can't hold a candle to the honesty and wit of this movie." John Ross also finds more than meets the eye in the movie: "The plot revolves around Shirley MacLaine's willingness to attempt suicide over being rejected by a guy who won't leave his wife. Funny thing is, the guy's such a snake we can't figure out why his wife hasn't left HIM. It doesn't make any sense until you remember what that great movie critic, Henry Kissinger, once said: Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. And power is the thing MacLaine ends up having (not wanting) to trade in for love. Once you realize that, boy is it disturbing." Michael Healey even finds Hitchcockian echoes: "One of the greatest of all love stories, a Notorious set in the world of wage slaves. Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond's script moves from hilarity to despair and back again in seconds — when it isn't dishing out both emotions at once, that is." Josh Flower definitely believes the movie has earned its high spot: "The Apartment is in the conversation for having the most well earned happy ending in film history, with shades of Wilder's earlier Oscar winner, The Lost Weekend. But where the redemption of Ray Milland plays like an all too obvious and crude capitulation to censors, everything about The Apartment's beautifully structured script leads up to those last couple, perfect minutes." Anne Thompson nails the film more succinctly: "Still sharp as a tack; painful and hilarious."

6. Lawrence of Arabia (393 points)

Now, proponents of David Lean's other Oscar-winning epic get their say. "Lawrence of Arabia is the most compelling movie about vision, ambition, and power this side of Citizen Kane," Josh Flower wrote. "Unlike Kane , our hero is thwarted not by his own greed and hubris but by his inability to make people share his vision, or more accurately, believe in it as he believes in it. Talk about frustrating. Tough medicine from a big budget adventure blockbuster." Wagstaff had plenty of praise to add: "Lawrence of Arabia is the ultimate in cinematic teletransportation. I had already fallen in love with it on badly cropped video, but seeing it in glorious 70mm was a true revelation, and I count myself one lucky s.o.b. to have seen it on the big screen twice in Dallas, once at the Castro in San Fran, and a few more times while operating the only 70mm projector in Oklahoma City. Once upon a time, I had to tutor and watch after some preteens. To entertain them, I just ripped off Lawrence and told large chunks of the first half in the first person. Those kids were on the edge of their seats. The sensory experience of Lawrence was so strong that it was easy to tell it like it happened to me." In fact, experiencing this film in a theater figures in many of the comments. "I actually saw this in the movies back in 1975. I said "wow" so many times that my mother told me to shut up. The first movie to astound me with visuals, an astonishment I still feel whenever I watch it," Odienator wrote. Dennis Cozzalio sees the film's scope as key to its hold on moviegoers: "Nine years after the introduction of CinemaScope and nearly a decade of gargantuan productions like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments, David Lean fulfilled the promise of the epic scale of motion pictures and the wide-screen image with this rousing, troubling, awe-inspiring adventure. Like most of the films on this list, it has made an imprint on nearly every movie of any measurable scale, regardless of genre, that has been made since." It's more than just the size of the image alone that touches some film lovers. "One of my all-time favorite films and quite possibly the best epic that ever there was. Lean's tendency to make things overblown is grounded by O'Toole's wonderful performance and some of the finest tech work ever put on screen," Todd wrote. Griftdrift concurs: "I am guilty of loving big epic movies about big epic characters. It doesn't get much bigger than David Lean's classic. Combine Peter O'Toole's subtle, tortured portrayal with a supreme supporting ensemble, put them in glorious settings and toss in a war and you have created legend." John Adair added: "It's complex, beautiful, frustrating at times, both epic and deeply personal at once. The exhiliration of the ride into Aqaba remains unmatched by any other Best Picture. The mystery of the central character, knowing everything about him, but nothing at all, is so appealing." While Daniel Fienberg defends the movie against would-be contenders to the epic throne: "The dozens of subsequent epics that undeservedly took the Oscar — your English Patients or Out of Africas do nothing to tarnish this particular winner."

5. Annie Hall (399 points)

Don't knock Annie Hall — it's sex with someone I love — and there is a lot of love out there for Woody Allen's comedy. "I've loved Woody Allen's films for a long time. I saw and loved Sleeper, Play It Again, Sam and Take the Money and Run before I saw Annie Hall, and all of those movies taught me to appreciate silly comedy, Galen Sparlin wrote. "Then Woody made Annie Hall, and I learned it was OK to make the transition from little kid who loved funny movies to become a young man who could appreciate movies with a more serious type of humor." Campaspe can't even fathom people who don't love this movie: "The Siren knows some people don't like this movie, but it's like telling her you don't like ice cream. Doesn't compute. I particularly love Diane Keaton's and Woody Allen's split-screen shrink session when, asked how often they have sex, Keaton blurts 'All the time. Twice a week!' and Allen laments, 'Practically never. Twice a week.'" Some can admit that past resentment of the film stemmed from what it beat at an impressionable time in their lives. "Woody Allen, it’s taken me about 20 years to forgive you for beating out Star Wars, but in that time, through many viewings of both, I’ve come to appreciate that this was one of those rare instances when the Academy got it right. In other words, the best picture for everyone but 12-year-old boys in 1977 was indeed Annie Hall," Mr. Middlebrow wrote. Dennis Cozzalio is thinking along similiar lines: "Because it was such an unlikely choice to best a phenomenon like Star Wars, and because it became itself the unlikely pinnacle of Woody Allen’s connection with an audience (i.e., the real world), this self-conscious, maddening, riotously funny and surprisingly sweet comedy makes the list. When I think of 1977 some 30 years later, I’m much more likely to conjure an image from this movie than of C-3PO or R2-D2, and for that, Woody, despite your output over the past 20, I thank you." For Josh R, the movie is sublime in its appeal: "Just give me Diane Keaton in a clashing vest and tie, fiddling with her hands and stumbling over her la-di-das, and I'm a goner. The film is a valentine to its leading lady, the quirkiest and most endearing of all romantic heroines, and who can blame the filmmaker for waxing sentimental over her charms? Annie Hall may not be the best film Woody Allen ever made, but it's probably the warmest and, in many ways, the most personal."

4. All About Eve (439 points)

For such a bumpy night, All About Eve is sure a helluva smooth ride. "Who writes dialogue like this now?" Wagstaff asks. "I'd say we're no longer worthy. Even today's best practitioners provide only a little fire or some music but never both the Fire and Music that Joseph L. Mankiewicz provided on a regular basis. This is one of the sharpest, most paradigmatic films about theater life, not that I'm in any position to know. And thank god these characters are in the theater, because if you made them all wear little Hitler mustaches and goose-stepped them through the plot, then the rest of the world had better watch out!" The elements are on Matt Zoller Seitz's mind as well: "More a verbal than visual pleasure, but the words have fire and music, and so do the performances. It was made to be quoted." Referring to something Wagstaff wrote in comments, Jennifer Dawson said, "Great performances, great dialogue, can't say much against it. I agree with Wagstaff that it is probably too long but I can't figure out what I'd cut. I wouldn't want to lose a scene from this movie." Al Weisel looks to a quote from another film as the perfect description: "a cookie made of arsenic." Like myself, Odienator admits to admiring George Sanders' character much more than we probably should: "My all time favorite movie. It's brilliant, it's bitchy, and I wish I were Addison DeWitt. I worship at the altar of this movie's script." I'll let Josh R wrap this one up in his inimitable way: "Despite the rarefied air of sophistication it tries to convey, at its heart, All About Eve is just good nasty fun — a juicy roman a clef laced with venom. Abounding with acidic barbs that might have rolled right off the lips of the viper-tongued denizens of the Algonquin Round Table, the film has a gleeful sense of cynicism that's just about infectious. There's so much to revel in: an absorbing storyline bracketed by the best framing device in film history, some of the wittiest, most literate dialogue ever written for the screen, and a gallery of unforgettable characters and performances. Most importantly, it has Bette Davis, offering the most visceral and compelling delineation of the artistic temperament ever captured on film."

3. The Godfather Part II (465 points)

Both halves of Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece (we'll pretend there wasn't a Part III) had its proponents and many listed both, but in the end it wasn't even close as the original clobbered the sequel. In most cases, voters couldn't mention one without the other. Campaspe wrote, "The Godfather movies began our fatuous romanticization of the Mob's vicious criminals, and therefore have a great deal to answer for. (The Siren agrees wholeheartedly with whoever was first to observe that The Godfather shows the Mafia the way they want to think of themselves, but the real Mobsters are the casually homicidal sadists of Goodfellas.) The first Godfather is perhaps more purely entertaining, but it's the second film that shows the escalating costs of violence. When Michael Corleone asks his mother whether it's possible to lose your family (Mr. C's favorite scene), she can't comprehend what he's talking about. It isn't possible, she tells him — but by that time, the audience knows it is not only possible, for Michael it is inevitable." Mr. Middlebrow found it difficult to choose, but prefers the sequel: "However absurd it might be to pick the latter of the two (films), there’s something about it that I find just ever-so-slightly more satisfying than the first. Maybe it’s a preference for De Niro over Brando. Mostly it’s the Michael story and the way Al Pacino delivers lines like “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart!” and “They came into my home. Into my room, where my wife sleeps and my children come to play with their toys.” Matt Zoller Seitz lands on the side of the sequel because of what it asks of the audience: "The equal of the original in every way, but in one respect, more demanding: it's an altogether darker movie about the main character's systematic and sell-willed moral disintegration. In Part 1, Michael breathes new life into the family business; in Part II, he gives his own soul to it." "Lightning in a bottle," is how Dennis Cozzalio characterizes it. "The one film sequel that has done what (arguably) no other film sequel has done — breathed new artistic life into a predecessor that was already considered about as good as it could be and expanded the scope, emotion, metaphorical power and ultimate horror of the most potent, self-contained vision of America ever made in this country. And in a two-film series stuffed with brilliant acting, John Cazale, as the doomed Fredo Corleone, turns in one of the great overlooked performances in American movie history." Josh Flower is one of the voters who preferred the original, but couldn't snub the sequel: "Not a better film than the original, though nearly its equal, and that's impressive enough in and of itself. Part of me has always resisted the sequel on the grounds that it merely makes explicit what is implicit in the original's last couple shots. But there's no denying the skill and passion with which Coppola expands the world of the original to create an even more profound connection between audience and subject. It becomes awfully hard to dismiss the Corleones as amoral gangsters, which makes Michael's final decision all the harder to live with." Allison Stombaugh similary refused to have one make her ballot without the other: "For a moment I considered not putting this on since its predecessor also made the list, but that's ludicrous. Both films are brilliant and one should not be penalized because of the brilliance of the other. There's a reason they're the only original and sequel to win Best Picture."

2. The Godfather (638 points)

As many predicted, this survey would end up being a battle of two films for the top spot and we now know that Vito Corleone was no match for Rick Blaine. "Yep, I like the original better than the sequel, Griftdrift wrote. "It seems you can't have a discussion of one without the other. But the first film was just tighter. Coppola painted a big impressionist landscape where every shade is represented and everything is fuzzy and clear at the same time." Josh Flower wrote, "The Godfather's been my favorite movie since I was about ten years old. I don't really know what to say except that it's probably the most perfect argument for the successful interaction of art and entertainment that any of us are ever likely to see." Louis P. suggests some tough punishment for those who haven't seen this movie: "This movie is just it. Everything’s great: the acting, the directing, the cinematography, the score. Everything. And hey, did you know Al Pacino could act without yelling? Anyone who’s graduated college in the last 30 years but hasn’t seen The Godfather should have his diploma revoked." Jennifer Dawson wrote, "I enjoy the sequel tremendously but decided to only let one Godfather on my list. I was tempted to pick II as I have often felt it a richer movie... but to be fair, it has the luxury to expand on themes, characters and situatons already established in the first. The first wins hands down, and Michael's journey is one of the great dramatic arcs in movies." Indeed, the debate between the two films is almost a chicken or egg argument. As Matt Zoller Seitz wrote, "This was a tough one; I do think Godfather II is a richer, subtler and in some ways more daring work, but it would not have existed without the original, so I have to give the edge to the movie that came first. It's as close to a completely satisfying film as I've ever seen. It's sweeping and suspenseful, the character arcs are cleanly defined and there's enough intrigue to keep viewers riveted even if they're not aware of the huge debt director Francis Coppola owes to Luchino Visconti's The Leopard and other movies he freely raided for inspiration. This comes closer to being both art and entertainment than all but a handful of Best Picture winners, and frankly, 35 years down the road, it has dated a lot better than many of its rivals." "Coppola can be a bit of a hamfisted filmmaker, but what may be his best movie sings all the way through. In many ways, this brought together the audience that just wanted sensationalism with the audience that wanted something to chew on. That audience would later split down the middle, but for a few, brief years, American film became something magical," Todd wrote. Billy Black emphasizes how it holds up on repeat viewing in an unsual comparison: "Maybe the most engrossing, rewatchable film ever that doesn't have Jedi running around." Josh R admires how Coppola transformed the novel: "The rare Hollywood epic that doesn't forsake the element of character-driven drama that allows big, sprawling movies to exist on a human scale. Coppola respects the nature of his source material, but imbues Puzo's pulpy multi-generational melodrama with a sense of genuine tragedy — in spite of better impulses, there's only so much a person can do to escape the life into which he was born." I think I'll close this one with what has to be one of the most interesting viewing stories I've heard, courtesy of Odienator: "The first time I got drunk was in Cancun, Mexico. I went back to my hotel room and The Godfather was on, dubbed in Spanish. "Es un mensaje siciliano. Se dice Luca Brasi duerme con los pescados," said my T.V. It's the only Best Picture Oscar winner I've watched shitfaced and in Spanish."

1. Casablanca (703 points)
Was there ever any doubt how this survey would turn out? Really, no other ending is appropriate. It's still the same old story, a fight for love and glory, a case of do or die — and the one instance where the Academy got it unmistakably right.
"One of the things that I think makes a movie great, and not only great but LAST, is that there is a mystery about it. It cannot be too easily explained, labeled, pinned down. The discussion about it, the debate it, will continue on. I guess you could say this about the great movie stars, too. They don't give it all away. They hold their cards close to their chest, in some way, and keep us guessing about them. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman are perfect examples of this. We can never have all of them. In the same way, that we can never have all of ANYbody (at least anybody who is interesting.) There's an essential mystery about their screen presences. I will never get tired of this film."
Sheila O'Malley

Have a feeling that this will be — quite rightly — the slam-dunk, undisputed number one, so I wonder what, if anything I can say about it. I can tell you what makes it my favorite Best Picture (and number two, behind The Right Stuff, on my all-time personal best list): Peter Lorre and Claude Rains and all the little ancillary subplots and details that dart in and out of “the problems of three little people” add up to far more than a hill of beans. The brilliantly woven totality of it — the writing, the direction, the stars, the supporting players, the historic immediacy of the story — is what makes the golden age of Hollywood golden. Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.
Mr. Middlebrow

"One of many howlers in St. David Thomson's "The Whole Equation" is his agreeing with a quote from one of this movie's remarkably few credited screenwriters to the effect that it is "slick shit." This accidental bit of magic is a lot of things, but slick ain't one of 'em. It's probably the most earnest exercise ever committed to film. Personally, I think that's the way it ought to be when it's about fighting, you know, Nazis."
John Ross

"The Beatles of studio-era movies — often taken for granted but impossible to de-throne. There are better films, but you'd be hard pressed to find one that's infiltrated the national bloodstream to the same extent."
Michael Healey

"The ultimate studio picture, seemingly conceived on the fly out of providence, chemistry and sheer luck. But to fully accept this theory would be to discount the importance of director Michael Curtiz, a solid craftsman who, despite helming other classics like The Adventures of Robin Hood, Angels with Dirty Faces and Yankee Doodle Dandy, has never been one to stoke much auteurist heat. Overexposure and excessive popularity are other enemies against which this movie’s reputation has had to endure. But a clear eye reveals Casablanca to be one of the pinnacles of the studio system, proof that even too many cooks and conflicting recipes don’t spoil the soup every time."
Dennis Cozzalio

"Anyone who’s graduated college in the last 60 years but hasn’t seen Casablanca should have his diploma revoked."
Louis P.

"Wins the desert island test, hands down."
Jennifer Dawson

"Casablanca is, like several others on here, just about impossible to deny — a true triumph of craftsmanship in chaos."
Josh Flower

"Try to imagine the Hollywood of today making a bigtime, major melodrama with A-list Stars and a plot ripped from the headlines that also serves as a righteous piece of propaganda, urging people to CHOOSE A SIDE on the major events of the day, and the right side too. Now imagine that every line of dialogue and every plot point quickly becomes a popular cliche, and I mean cliche in the good sense, as in originality with staying power. Can you imagine all this? Are you in the Twilight Zone yet? In an age when most Hollywood movies tend to reverse that famous speech, by having world events and moments of great import not amount to a hill of beans when compared to the problems of three little people, this is the movie that got it right the first time. Casablanca works on so many levels it is mind-blowing."

"Casablanca represents the very best of what commercial cinema is capable of — a perfect synthesis of substance and style, romance and intrigue, noir-ish toughness and Hollywood glamour, character study and rollicking edge-of-your-seat entertainment. Play it again, Sam....and again, and again, and again."
Josh R

"At this point, after having watched this movie countless times, is it still a movie or just a succession of images that I absorb telepathically and words that I repeat back to the screen, endlessly annoying friends and family? This movie might be the greatest movie ever simply because it's a symbol of what Hollywood once did so well: creating a heightened artificiality of romance and suspense and setting and sweet characterization that you can get lost in over and over again. Either that, or I was misinformed. And, like the words of Shakespeare or Cervantes or the Bible, you can't ignore a script this filled with phrases that have entered the lexicon. Plus, the only Hollywood personality whose autograph I ever wanted, and got, was Casablanca co-screenwriter Julius Epstein, but only after he trashed Casablanca as hack work."
That Little Round-Headed Boy

"The ultimate triumph of the Hollywood studio system."

"The definition of a classic. I defy anyone to hate this movie."
Joe Cox

"When I younger I quoted this movie the way other kids quoted Monty Python."
Christopher Price

"This movie is a damn miracle. There's no way it should have worked as well as it did, given that the cast didn't really know what was going on during most of the scenes. It's funny, brutal, and doesn't give the audience a break."
Steve Cox

"I only saw this movie for the first time last year, and I loved it. I could watch it a thousand times. I don't care about technical this or that or script or whatever that make it good — the sum total is good, so I love it."
Heather Kinion

"Last year, housemate Pam destroyed her copy running it in her old VCR while she cooked, but we have my copy for spare. Moral, this is one film you should always have a spare."
Exiled in New Jersey

"I grew up watching the classics. The local independent television station played a summer film festival for many years of my youth, showing a classic movie every weeknight during the hot nights of June, July and August. It amazes me now that there were some of those movies I just never watched, but Casablanca was one of the many I never missed. As with The Godfather and Annie Hall, this is a perfect film."
Galen Sparlin

"The only great script ever written by a committee."
Al Weisel

"The most quotable movie just works..the character actors alone are worth the ticket..never mind Bogie and Bergman...the definition of chemistry!"

"THE great World War II romance, with a brilliant cast; I can quote most of it from memory, complete with my best Bogart impersonation."
Richard Christenson

As they say, that's a wrap. Once again, many thanks to all of you I know personally and only through this World Wide Web of ours for your thoughts, support and patience over the past week. Discuss.

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Take your time with the remainder, mate. Plenty of good reading here already.
Wow, I liked every movie on this list, except West Side Story which, despite having a great score and being the first musical I was ever in on stage, still makes me cringe more than The Sound of Music whenever I watch it.

I'm surprised Silence is here. I liked it primarily because of the lead performances, which elevate the film considerably. I don't think it is especially well done, and it is about as scary as Herbie the Love Bug.

I show Midnight Cowboy to my younger friends, to give them an idea of the Times Square I grew up with--the one that existed before Disney got there and ruined it. The movie itself is dated and overrated, but I still get a kick out of that craaaaaazy Oscar nominated editing.

It pained me to leave Cuckoo's, Best Years, and especially Unforgiven off my list, but I'm glad they made the top 20. As for Kwai vs. Lawrence, I watched Kwai a little more recently than Lawrence, and if I had not, I certainly would have chosen Kwai over Lawrence. In watching it this time, I noticed a few problems that I didn't recall before. Kwai is still a masterpiece though, and in a way, it was splitting hairs that I chose Lawrence.

As for GWTW, I tend to watch that within the context of when it was made. So it doesn't offend me as much as it should (and Jennifer D. is right about the book, which I read for a college paper assignment). I saw it in the theater during its 35th anniversary re- release (damn I'm old) and I can only imagine how people felt seeing it in 1939. And I always enjoy the subversiveness of Ms. McDaniel's performance. I get the feeling that Miss Scarlett knew if she pushed Mammy too far, Mammy woud break her foot off in her ass, slavery be damned.
Heck of a job and a heck of a lot of fun. And now a confession. I have never seen Casablanca. Hangs head in shame. Don't ask me to explain. Actually there is no good explanation. I'm going out to rent it right now.
Thank you for the time you spent into running such a fun and complete surveying.

--RC of
An impressive job, Edward. Pretty surprised that Gone With the Wind didn't make it in the top ten. And what? no love out there for the French Connection? All the comments for Casablanca pegged it, a loving tribute - in fact lots of good comments across the board.
Bravo, Ed. You did a wonderful job. Now get some sleep. These days, with Gone With the Wind, I just forget about the racism and all that stuff about it being a movie about the Civil War. The South here is a great special effects concoction more along the lines of that other great MGM fantasy world from the same year: Oz. You might not start out liking the characters, but by the end of this very long movie, you really care what happens to them. All in all, a very interesting list. And Griftdrift, get thee to a tv showing Casablanca, please!
EC, excellent compilation, and what a masterful job of weaving so many comments together. One thing, though, that first comment you attribute to me in the intro isn't by me. But, hell, since it sounds pretty intelligent, I'll take the credit.
I have been called on the carpet and exposed for the cheap charlatan that I am. Not even able to send Ed a few promised words on ONE movie.

Recently at the Morgue I wrote of MIDNIGHT COWBOY a variation of the following:

The whole tone of thing, both leads (especially Voight), all the various supporting players - it all just sings. I don't view as dated, as it's about a very specific time and place and it takes you there effortlessly.

Even more than that, there's something about the flashback scenes in particular that mean a lot to me.

I could psychoanalyze myself 'til the midnight cows come home, but it probably stems from growing up in small-town America, certain feelings of maternal abandonment, the white trash upbringing - it's all there in my own life to some degree or other - that it's presented so hazily in the film only adds to my ability to identify with it.

It's difficult for me to explain why I rate MIDNIGHT COWBOY above more traditional fare like CASABLANCA, the GODFATHER flicks, or SCHINDLER'S LIST in a way that would mean something to anyone else.

That it's my favorite of the Best Picture winners says far more about me than it does the film itself.

As always, exceptional work, Ed.
Mr. Copeland, you deserve an award for putting all these comments together into a compulsively readable pastiche.

I guess I was right: Casablanca didn't need my help to be #1. It took me about 8 viewings before I stopped thinking of it as an overrated movie. I used to think people loved it more for what they saw in their heads in hindsight than what was on the screen. Part of me still feels like that, but I have since become convinced that it is a bigger classic than I had first given it credit to be. It certainly deserved its Oscar, and you won't hear me complaining that it (predictably) topped this list.

"The Siren knows some people don't like this movie, but it's like telling her you don't like ice cream. Doesn't compute."

I love ice cream. I hate Annie Hall. Annie Hall does not taste like ice cream. Annie Hall tastes like a bad movie. And I hate the titular character more than most of the characters I've spent time with in all my years of watching movies. Thinking about this movie makes my skin crawl.

Mr. C., you'll recall that Annie Hall almost made my worst Oscar winners list. I don't see what people love about it, and I guess I never will. I've seen it three times since it came out, trying to force myself to like it so I could be "popular." Being an outcast has its privileges.
My apologies to both That Little Round-Headed Boy and Andy Horbal for the misattribution of the quote in the intro. That's what happens when you put this sort of thing together in an all-nighter following a weak of mental and physical exhaustion. I'm surprised that's the only goof I've made that's been discovered so far. Anyway, it's fixed now. Thanks for the headsup
Great work, Edward... an ambitious project beautifully realized, and it had to be an exhausting undertaking. Get some rest!!

Props to the people who voted - there's not a single film in the top ten that isn't damn good. The revolution is coming, citizens - soon we shall storm the gates of The Academy and liberate Oscar from the clutches of the corrupt Hollywood aristocracy. You know, the people who thought Braveheart was good. Lead Mel Gibson to the guillotine...I'll be the one in the front row knitting.
Great list, great work compiling votes and quotes, Edward.

I have only one thing to add: I know the record books all say WINGS (which actually won an award called "Best Production") was the first Best Picture winner, but I'd argue that SUNRISE has at just as great a claim, as it won "Best Artistic Quality of Production". Which automatically would make SUNRISE the best of all the BP winners, as I see it. SUNRISE and its award represent Oscar's "road not taken" in the art vs. commerce battle for Hollywood prestige.
Dear Ed:

Thanks for moving forward with this ambitious project. I appreciate the work you put into it during one of the darkest weeks of your life. I also appreciate that you quoted Jennifer Dawson in present tense, without any special introduction or explanation. That's how she would have wanted it. She was a movie buff, an Oscar hound, a tough critic and a fine writer who was always uncomfortable being in the spotlight and praised for her insight (which is why, five years ago, she specifically asked me to stop attributing great observations to her in my articles). She had a knack for making a significant contribution to any task she chose, and she never asked for thanks, praise or any sort of special attention. It is hard to imagine a more fitting tribute.

Love to all--
Nice job Edward. Most of the top batch are worthy movies. I'd probably disagree most with Annie Hall being ranked so high, not that its a bad movie, I just think there are better choices. Glad to see The Apartment and All About Eve ranked so highly, both all time greats. I did vote for one of those lonely films with one vote at the end of the list. Hey, Hamlet is Shakespeare after all, I'll take it over several of the top 10.
Nice list that I mostly agree with. I haven't seen all the films on there because some (like The Best Years of Our Lives) aren't out on DVD here (Australia) and others I just haven't gotten around to seeing. BUT, the top four are undisputably classics. I'd maybe move Eve to #2 and switch the Godfathers around tho. Annie Hall i just DON'T get. Sneazing on cocaine? hah hah?
I'm going to send you to Sing Sing! Sing Sing Copeland! Sing Sing!
Casablanca still reigns supreme! I thought it might of lost some of its "umph" after the AFI list years back and something else crept up instead, but I guess not!

There's quite a few that I really need to see. I've really wanted to see Lawrence of Arabia, especially if Peter O'Toole wins the Oscar tonight (I doubt it, but it would be great if he did). And now you've got me interested in both Annie Hall and The Apartment. Looks like I'll need to fire up Netflix again!

Oh and I'm glad to see Return of the King on here at least in #20. My own personal choice for all time greatest movie.
I was pleasantly surprised to see CASABLANCA win such a prominent place. Every time I watch it, I can't help but wonder if they knew they were making a classic. What a great, great film.
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