Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ranking the last 10 Best Picture Oscar Winners

The Oscars made headlines after this Sunday's broadcast culminated in the biggest gaffe in the history of the Academy Awards. After La La Land was mistakenly announced as the year's Best Picture, and its producers went on to offer their acceptance speeches, Moonlight was finally crowned as the true honorary of the prestigious award. Therefore, I've decided to devote February's Movie List of the Month to looking back and ranking the last decade's Best Picture winners (January's list).

#10. Birdman (2014)

The 2015 Academy Awards offered a heated battle in the Best Picture race between Richard Linklater's iconic coming-of-age story, Boyhood, and the eventual winner, Birdman. Alejandro G. Inarritu's superbly directed film delivered hard-hitting performances from Michael, Keaton, Emma Stone and Edward Norton, but Birdman falls short of the other phenomenal Best Picture winners of the past decade.

#9. The Hurt Locker (2009)

James Cameron's Avatar was a visual spectacle and box office smash. And much like this past awards season, most believed it was going to win the Best Picture race as well. Yet, Kathryn Bigelow's suspenseful war-drama, The Hurt Locker pulled off a major upset. It's a flawed film whose strongest aspect is its insanely intense story of an Army bomb squad who could experience a freak explosion at any moment.

#8. 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Steve McQueen's historical drama recounts the amazing true story of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from New York who's kidnapped and sold into slavery. 12 Years a Slave withstood the likes of the sci-fi drama Gravity and earned a Best Picture honor. There are some over-done elements to McQueen's direction, but a remarkable real-life journey transforms before your eyes.

#7. Spotlight (2015)

Last year's Academy Award winner for Best Picture staved off a repeat from the aforementioned Alejandro G. Inarritu, for the bloody revenge tale The Revenant. Spotlight endured the difficult job of cementing its early "frontrunner" status and fighting off the pack until the final ceremony. Tom McCarthy's dramatized depiction of the journalism team that uncovered the Catholic Church's decades long sexual abuse scandal is hard-hitting and completely engaging, making it a worthy Best Picture winner.

#6. Moonlight (2016)

Although I personally had La La Land rated higher, Moonlight is by no means a step down in terms of filmmaking and dramatic effect. Director Barry Jenkins is magnificent and his trio of actors that bring to life the character of Chiron, an inner city youth raised by a drug addicted mother as he struggles to come to grips with his sexuality, are all brilliant in their own right. Moonlight will always be remembered for this recent Oscar slip-up, but it's a small indie film that deserves a much wider audience and far more respect from the general public.

#5. The King's Speech (2010)

In a year flooded with top-flight film options, it was Tom Hooper's charming biographical drama, The King's Speech, that walked away from the Oscars victorious. Somehow eclipsing a field containing The Social Network, Inception, Black Swan and 127 Hours (just to name a few), this recount of Britain's King George VI (Colin Firth) who enlists the help of a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush) to overcome his impediment during the rise of Nazi Germany is a wonderfully blend of comedy and drama that stands the test of time.

#4. The Artist (2011)

If you would have told me that a black and white silent film was going to win the 2012 Best Picture, I wouldn't have believed you. But not only did Michel Hazanavicius' film earn the distinguished honor, The Artist proved to be an iconic and reinvigorating effort. The film uses delightful performances, a fantastic score and a pet dog to win over audiences with a natural ease. The Artist provides a unique viewing experience that caters to all the senses and reminds us of Hollywood's humble beginnings.

#3. Argo (2012)

If you ask me, the voting body of the Academy rebelled against its own omission of Ben Affleck from the Best Director race and awarded his film with the year's biggest honor. Argo ousted impressive competition such as Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings PlaybookDjango Unchained and many more, thanks to a suspenseful and engaging screenplay sprinkled with more than enough comedy to keep things interesting. Argo is an exceptional piece of entertainment that continues to stand strong after multiple viewings.

#2. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

The final two films on this list are not only the oldest two Best Picture winners of the past decade, but they're also in a class of their own. Danny Boyle's hypnotic story of a Mumbai teen (Dev Patel) who goes on his country's version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" in order to reconnect with the lost love of his life. Slumdog Millionaire takes the audience on an epic journey filled with romance, drama and redemption. It's basically a flawless film almost impossible to differentiate with the list's top selection. If you haven't seen this one, you don't know what you're missing!

#1. No Country for Old Men (2007)

Finally, the Coen brothers unveiled a true masterpiece with the 2007 hit, No Country for Old Men. Javier Bardem's Oscar-wining performance stands as one of the greatest movie villains of all-time in this slow-burning cat & mouse tale of a southern hunter who goes on the run from a mad-man after finding millions of dollars stashed in a satchel. The cinematography is second to none as the Coen's craft an unforgettable story that will forever stand as a classic piece of cinema.

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