February 24th, 2012
01:05 PM ET
Where have all the good movies gone this year?
I know, I know - I'm sure "Hugo" is magical, "War Horse" is heartwarming and "The Artist" is a beautiful picture. But I find it appalling that the Academy has the nerve to nominate nine best pictures when there's been an overwhelming absence of good movies lately.
For the past few years, to me at least, Hollywood has not really produced anything on a consistent basis worth going to see in theaters. Instead, Redboxes are filled with tween fairy tales and pointless sequels, of which the originals weren’t that good in the first place.
There's been the occasional great film, such as "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and "Harry Potter," but neither of these were nominated for the big prize of the night this year.
The best movie of 2011 may have been "Win Win," this year's "Juno" and "Little Miss Sunshine." I guess Oscar is getting tired of honoring independent underdogs. Maybe we're just between film school generations, as it wasn’t too long ago that celebrating a year’s worth of movie achievements wasn’t a pure marketing platform.
The 62nd Oscars awarded "Driving Miss Daisy" as the best picture alongside nominees as stellar as "Field of Dreams," "Dead Poet’s Society," "My Left Foot" and "Born on the 4th of July." The category was so deep that classics like "Glory" and "Do the Right Thing" were left out.
At the 63rd Oscars, "Goodfellas" and "Ghost" lost to a true American epic, "Dances With Wolves." And of course, "Forrest Gump’s" box of chocolates and classic rock soundtrack upstaged "Pulp Fiction" and "The Shawshank Redemption." These were real contests.
To end this tirade, I humbly present the most awful list of overrated, over-hyped Oscar winners that I could think of, and the films that they snubbed in the process.
On this Oscars eve, let this list of (not-so-great) best pictures serve as a simple reminder of what happens when we begin to lower our standards. There’s no time limit to tell us what you think, so please take your time.
In the immortal words of Siskel and Ebert, "we'll see you at the movies." We can only hope!
1. "The English Patient" (69th Academy Awards) – This film is horribly boring, and I’d be stunned to learn that anyone has watched this twice, and if they did, they wasted their time twice. "Fargo," "Jerry Maguire" and "Shine" were far more deserving.
2. "Shakespeare in Love" (71st Academy Awards) – Another Spielberg snub in a long list of snubbing. "Saving Private Ryan" was the obvious choice for top honors that night. "Shakespeare in Love" is entirely forgettable as far as I’m concerned, and I’m still not sure how Ben Affleck managed to show up in scene after scene with a quasi-British accent.
3. "Chariots of Fire" (54th Academy Awards) – Yes, the film’s score and opening credits are iconic, and the film’s theme music is in my workout playlist. That being said, it’s the most boring sports movie ever made. Moreover, the fact that it somehow beat "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is reason enough to earn it this dubious honor.
4. "Ordinary People" (53rd Academy Awards) – This film about troubled youth and the trials and tribulations of an upper-middle class suburban family is worth watching if you’re interested in serious dramas of the early '80s, and are a fan of Judd Hirsch. However, it’s really no more than an after-school special with the addition of some profanity. How or why it managed to win best picture when "Raging Bull" was its competition will forever be a mystery.
5. "Crash" (78th Academy Awards) – I know this pick will be controversial because for every person I’ve ever spoken to about this film, the opinions vary. The film’s importance for furthering our discussion of American race relations is without question; however, "Do The Right Thing," "Boyz in the Hood," "Menace II Society" and other classics have accomplished the same goal, and with more style and originality. "Crash" seemed over the top, and forgot that a cohesive plot is necessary to drive a narrative forward.
Almost Not Worth (Honorably) Mentioning:
"Unforgiven" (65th Academy Awards) – Clint Eastwood got the Academy’s attention but his anti-hero Western seemed more about revising the Western genre than it did about entertaining audiences. "A Few Good Men" was the better film about good vs. evil that year and "Scent of a Woman" was also better than two hours of Eastwood’s dismantling of Hollywood’s mythic frontier.
"A Beautiful Mind" (74th Academy Awards) – Yes, he saw the world differently than the rest of us, but this story about a dysfunctional genius wasn’t anything that "Shine" or "Good Will Hunting" hadn’t already covered in previous years. "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" was by far the best picture of the year. The Academy must have chosen to recognize Ron Howard’s cumulative career by awarding his film the top prize but was in no way his best work.
"The Last Emperor" (60th Academy Awards) – Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic about China’s transition into Communism overcame "Broadcast News," "Fatal Attraction," "Hope and Glory" and "Moonstruck." "Wall Street" didn’t even make the cut for best picture that year. Instead, we were forced to wonder what that little Chinese kid did to lose all his power.
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