Come Oscar night, regardless of how much we love films, we always happen to park ourselves in front of the television to see which flicks we will be adding to the already long list of movies we want to see. But let’s face it, we know that it’s an impossible feat, considering the quality of films continues to improve as the years go by. So, while you sit there wondering why the hell you decided to invite your ex to watch, you eagerly await the award for best picture to be announced. Sometimes you cheer after the award has been given out, but most of the time you let out a large groan because the wrong film has just been awarded.
The Academy voters always seem to veer towards the safe choice, which usually comes in the form of some sort of biopic, or something along the lines of depressing and either taken from the headlines or historical, instead of awarding originality and innovation, which have dramatically improved the quality of movies we have the pleasure of viewing today. Last year was one of the very few years where the academy awarded the most creative and thought provoking film of 2014, which was Birdman. Although there have been many years where film fans from all over were ready to boycott the Oscars, long before #OscarsSoWhite because the wrong film took home the top prize. Here’s hoping our voices inspire the academy to add some young blood to the voting pool, so that these grave injustices hopefully never happen again.
12. Saving Private Ryan
Featuring one of the most realistic and powerful opening scenes in cinematic history, Saving Private Ryan tells the story of a group of soldiers who risk their lives behind enemy lines to retrieve a paratrooper, whose brothers have been killed in action. Losing to Shakespeare in Love, which is not nearly as good as this remains as one of the greater cinematic injustices in Oscar history. War veterans still consider this to be the closest depiction of the evils they faced while serving their country and if that isn’t enough to win best picture, I’m not sure what else Spielberg and Hanks could have done.
11. Toy Story 3
By the third film of any franchise, the filmmaking has usually decreased in quality because the passion has died down. Toy Story 3 manages to prove all those old theories wrong by exceeding our expectations and connecting on an emotional level with audiences of all ages. The toys haven’t been played with in years as the third movies finds Andy preparing to head off to college. Our favourite toys lead by Woody and Buzz accidentally get shipped off to Sunnyside daycare and its up to Woody to convince everyone that Andy didn’t abandon them. Never has an animated film packed such an emotional punch with a gripping storyline and a message that will leave any adult in tears.
This brilliant Coen brothers film tells the story of Jerry’s plan to get out of debt, which goes horribly awry thanks to two bumbling henchmen that he hires, and a very pregnant detective, persistent on solving the all the bizarre crimes being committed. The English Patient took best picture that year, which tended to move at a very slow pace, leading us to an ending we all saw coming the minute we meet Voldemort… I mean Ralph Fiennes’ character. The utter chaos of Fargo reminds us to let our imaginations run wild and that films should always play against an audiences expectations, because its so much better when we don’t know what’s coming.
9. Citizen Kane
Orson Wells’ masterpiece tells the story of news reports trying to determine the true meaning of the final words of a publishing tycoon and how he became such a presence in this world. The American Film Institute considers Citizen Kane to be the greatest film of all time and it lost to How Green is My Valley, a film about a family hoping their youngest son finds a better life outside of coal mining. Citizen Kane has stood the test of time and remains as one of our earliest examples of what it takes to make a film that isn’t direct, but causes you to reflect on what you just saw and maybe watch it again so that you may draw your own conclusion about the films underlying meaning.
I was truly pleased to see Spotlight win Best Picture, but I felt like Room didn’t get enough credit for being so groundbreaking and unforgivingly scary. Room tells the story of a woman who is captured and locked away in a room. She then ends up giving birth in captivity and teaching her son that the whole world exists in this one room. Featuring a flawless performance by Brie Larson and a magnificent performance by Jacob Tremblay, Room is possibly the closest depiction of what it is like living in captivity and the aftermath of what happens if you escape. This film hooks you the minute it begins, causing our stomachs to churn as we suddenly forget we are watching a movie and possibly looking into real life and just how terrifying it can get.
Losing to the film Dances With Wolves, which is more a painting than a film because sitting through it is equivalent to watching paint dry, Goodfellas tells the story of Henry Hill, a small time gangster with bigger aspirations. After helping two gangsters out with a robbery, a partnership is formed as the three of them work their way up the hierarchal food chain of the mobster world, hoping to achieve power and invincibility. Martin Scorsese crafts this near perfect gangster film (which may or may not be better than The Godfather) that perfectly depicts what it means to live the mafia lifestyle and how harsh it can truly get.
6. The Shawshank Redemption
Watching Forrest Gump run away with the best picture Oscar, The Shawshank Redemption’s loss was the beginning of its rise in popularity as the years went by, becoming one of the most beloved films of all time by audiences due to its dark, yet heartwarming story about a man sentenced to life in prison for a crime he claims he did not commit. He immediately bonds with fellow inmate Red, whom he finds solace in, through the cruel conditions at Shawshank prison. Director Frank Darabont truly captures the spirit of Stephen King’s short story with the help of its two leads, making this film a true reminder of how powerful hope can truly be.
The movie Her is a true example of how dependant we have become on technology and just how big of a role it plays on our daily lives. Joaquin Phoenix plays something along the lines of a more complex Leonard Hofstadter from The Big Bang Theory, as he falls in love with his new operating system, voiced by the lovely Scarlett Johansson. Never has a film been so accurate at showing us how new technology alienates us from the outside world, causing us to stay within the safe confines of our home, allowing our phones, or iPad’s to rock us safely to sleep, preventing us from experiencing a little journey called life. 12 Years a Slave may have won best picture, but Her was the true best film of the year enlightening audiences with a story that really hits close to home.
4. 12 Angry Men
Personalities clash as one juror causes a jury to rethink what they thought was a slam dunk decision, slowly turning his fellow juror’s his way as they realize how unclear this case was in court. Taking place within the confines of one room, this gripping drama is a true classic, which inspired numerous one room films, proving that dialogue and a fine set of actors can be enough to have the audience at the edge of their seats. Losing to The Bridge On the River Kwai, which is nowhere near as compelling, as well as overlong compared to 12 Angry Men is early evidence of the academy favouring history over something new and potentially groundbreaking.
3. The Social Network
This film serves as the best biopic to never win best picture at the Academy Awards. The Social Network gives us a glimpse at Mark Zuckerberg, creator of a little website called Facebook, which would change our lives in such a drastic way. Directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin this movie hooks us right away with swift direction and fluid dialogue revealing the man behind the curtain and how he created mankind’s first social media addiction in ways you wouldn’t ever expect, revealing how all it takes is one event to possibly change our lives forever.
Inception remains as possibly one of the most exciting cinematic experiences and creative films in history, which director Christopher Nolan wrote over the span of ten years. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of a thief who uses dream sharing technology to steal corporate secrets, has been given the impossible task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO. This film not only has a impeccable thought provoking storyline, but practical effects you wouldn’t believe are real. How this lost to The King’s Speech, which is about a stuttering politician, is beyond my understanding. Repeat viewings of this film will only make you appreciate every intricate detail Christopher Nolan came up with, leaving you breathless and wanting even more. This is a true cinematic triumph of what it means to craft the perfect movie.
1. It’s A Wonderful Life
Losing to The Best Years of Our Lives, which hasn’t stood the test of time, the timeless masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life tells the story of a man contemplating suicide, when all of a sudden an angel appears hoping to save his life. This truly inspirational movie inspired a countless number of films and reminds us that no matter the circumstances, all of our lives matter. This film only achieved its classic status in the late 1970s after it was screened on television during Christmas time. This films phenomenal script, brilliant performances by Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed and the films inspirational message are enough to make you add this to your list of classic movies you watch each and every Christmas.