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Best Picture Winner

The Artist Review

The Artist Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist is a crowd-pleaser through and through. The film is just bursting with wit and energy, and like some of the best and most timeless silent films of old, it doesn’t need to do much to bring a 100-minute-long smile to your face. In fact, it doesn’t do much. […]

West Side Story Review

West Side Story Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a sucker for musicals. The silly songs and choreography—on top of typically outstanding technical—generally sweep me up despite the inherent cheesiness of these affairs. Actually, the cheesier the better. I guess that’s why I enjoyed West Side Story so much. It’s beyond cheesy, but the […]

Marty Review

Marty Review

RATING: (3 STARS) In many ways, Marty is an atypical Best Picture winner—especially when you consider the time period in which it came out. Bridge on the River Kwai, Ben-Hur, Around the World in 80 Days—all these films are (for better or worse) big, lavish, and epic. Marty, however, is a small-scale romantic comedy. It’s […]

The Last Emperor Review

The Last Emperor Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) It’s somewhat ironic that I watched 1987 Best Picture winner The Last Emperor so soon after seeing 1996 winner The English Patient because the two share so many techniques, strengths, and weaknesses. It’s a gorgeous piece of work in every way. The way director Bernardo Bertolucci rendered this world is astounding. It’s […]

The English Patient Review

The English Patient Review

RATING: (2.5 STARS) Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient is exactly what one might expect out of a Best Picture winner. It’s a grand, sweeping, epic love story that covers a lot of ground. It takes place in an exotic land, against the backdrop of WWII. And its technical credits—though not very subtle—are quite impressive. It’s […]

Ordinary People Review

Ordinary People Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Ordinary People is one of those Best Picture winners that gets a bad rap. It’s easy to write the film off because it’s a simple, though powerful, vision, and it went up against one of the most highly regarded films ever (Raging Bull). But you can’t, or at least shouldn’t, completely ignore […]

No Country for Old Men Review

No Country for Old Men Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Has there ever been a more unlikely Best Picture winner than No Country for Old Men? It’s a dark, somewhat cold picture that will confound your expectations at every turn. I’ve probably seen it about a dozen times, and I find something different to love about it each time—from the brilliant performances […]

The King’s Speech Review

The King’s Speech Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) The King’s Speech has all the pieces necessary to be a masterpiece. The ensemble is as good as any this year. The writing is spot-on. The cinematography, art direction, and score are all fantastic. And Tom Hooper’s direction is confident and smart. The only thing missing is that little extra umph—the quality […]

My Fair Lady Review

My Fair Lady Review

RATING: (4 STARS) Movie musicals are a tricky thing to nail because while music is a nice easy way to inject some energy or emotion into a film, too often the music is injected unnaturally. This can cause characters to act ridiculously, and it usually begs the question, “How do all these people know the […]

The Best Years of Our Lives Review

The Best Years of Our Lives Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) Sometimes the hardest thing for a soldier isn’t surviving the war—it’s coming back home when it’s over. This theme has been explored dozens of times (including very recently in The Hurt Locker), but one of the first to do so was William Wyler’s Best Picture-winning The Best Years of Our Lives. The […]

Driving Miss Daisy Review

Driving Miss Daisy Review

RATING: (3 STARS) Of all the Best Picture winners I’ve seen, I think Driving Miss Daisy might be the one I’m most surprised won the award. There are some among the 82 distinguished films that are so ambitious and different that it’s a marvel they were acknowledged (Midnight Cowboy and No Country for Old Men […]

Platoon Review

Platoon Review

RATING: (4 STARS) I never thought I’d see a war film as brutal and uncompromising as The Deer Hunter, but Oliver Stone’s quasi-autobiographical film Platoon comes awfully close. The film’s you-are-there approach isn’t totally unique, but it has rarely been put to better use. Platoon gives you an idea of what war does to you […]

The Broadway Melody Review

The Broadway Melody Review

RATING: (2 STARS) “The Broadway Melody” won the Best Picture award at the second Oscar ceremony all the way back in 1930. It’s generally regarded as one of the worst films to take home that prize, and I can’t quibble with that sentiment. It’s easy to see why people would like this picture eighty years […]

Patton Review

Patton Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) There’s a four-star movie dying to get out of “Patton.” The first half of the film is some of the best stuff I’ve seen, and the central performance is larger-than-life, just like Patton himself. But the second half of the film gets bogged down in repetitive battles and character interaction. The film […]

The Godfather: Part II Review

The Godfather: Part II Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) It’s often called the greatest sequel ever and is as highly regarded as its extraordinary predecessor, The Godfather. Yet, I think Francis Ford Coppola takes a step back with “The Godfather Part II.” It’s a very good film—nobody can deny that. Like the original, it follows the trajectory of an epic Greek […]

Gladiator Review

Gladiator Review

RATING: (3.5 STARS) I don’t think the hate heaped on “Gladiator” for winning Best Picture is fair. Was it the best film of 2000? Absolutely not (the best film of the year was Requiem for a Dream, while the best nominated film was probably “Traffic). I think “Gladiator” is everything it should be—entertaining, exhilarating, and […]

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