Watching movies, like appreciating any art form, is a purely subjective experience. My idea of a great film could be your idea of a stinkeroo. After all, my two favorite directors are John Ford and Ed Wood! Keeping that in mind, I’ve decided to do something different here. Since I’ve viewed 61 of the 87 Best Picture winners, I’ve come up with a Top Ten list of the all-time best Best Pictures I’ve seen. And here it is:
- 10- *tie* REBECCA (1940) and ON THE WATERFRONT (1954). This may be cheating, but I really couldn’t pick between the two. Hitchcock’s American film debut is simply a masterpiece of suspense, while Marlon Brando leads a powerhouse cast in Elia Kazan’s powerhouse drama. Both deserve to make the list.
- 9- RAIN MAN (1988). I could watch this movie over and over and never get tired of it. Dustin Hoffman has never been better. “Uh-oh, two minutes to Wapner!”
- 8- WEST SIDE STORY (1961). The only musical on the list, only because SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN didn’t win the award. The Jets vs The Sharks in an American classic.
- 7- UNFORGIVEN (1992). Clint Eastwood’s elegy to the Western genre is timeless. Gene Hackman is fantastic as Little Bill. No matter what you may think of Clint, he’s one of our greatest living filmmakers.
- 6- ALL ABOUT EVE (1950). Deliciously bitchy backstage drama, from the poison pen of Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Fine performances all around, including a small role for young Marilyn Monroe.
- 5- GONE WITH THE WIND (1939). I was ambivalent about including GWTW at first, but finally decided it belongs here. One of the all-time great epics. Overlong, but it still delivers the entertainment goods.
- 4- ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (1975). Another movie I could watch over and over. Jack Nicholson nails it as McMurphy, supported by a top-notch cast and Milos Foreman’s direction.
- 3- THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI (1957). Probably the best anti-war film of all, and that’s saying a lot. When it comes to epics, nobody does them better than David Lean. Alec Guinness (pre-Obi Wan) is superb.
- 2- THE GODFATHER (1972). Brando again, with a cast of young actors who all rose to stardom due to this Francis Ford Coppola film. THE movie of the 70’s!
- 1- CASABLANCA (1943). Was there ever any doubt? Still my all-time personal favorite. If I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, this would be it! Here’s looking at you, kid!
And there you have it. Honorable mentions would go to GRAND HOTEL, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES, BEN-HUR, THE SOUND OF MUSIC (yeah, I’m a sentimentalist), THE GODFATHER PART II, ROCKY, ANNIE HALL, FORREST GUMP, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, MILLION DOLLAR BABY, and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. So how about you, Dear Readers? Agree? Disagree? Would you add or subtract any from your own personal Top Ten lists? I’d love to hear your reactions, so feel free to comment away!