... AND THE AWARD FOR "BEST PICTURE" GOES TO..."


1935    MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY   (Frank Lloyd / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Charles Laughton is in full bastard mode here with a frighteningly brilliant performance as Captain Bligh, the commander of the HMS Bounty whose ship is on a journey to the South Pacific when the crew rebel against his torturous methods and create a mutiny. Clark Gable co-stars as Master's Mate Fletcher Christian who rallies the men to otherthrow Bligh. The on-board scenes are very entertaining but the long sequence on the island is the point in the film where you are likely to get distracted. Necessary to tell the full story, but really slows the pace down considerably. However, it soons picks up again and you have to wait until around 85 minutes before the shit hits the fan!
Rated: 7/10

1937    THE LIFE OF EMILE ZOLA   (William Dieterle / Warner Bros.)
Paul Muni stars as Emile Zola, a 19th century French author who gets dragged a into a scandal which saw an innocent Captain Alfred Dreyfuss imprisoned for treason. When evidence comes to light regarding the real culprit, the higher-ups bury it for fear of their error being exposed and the reputation of the French army being tarnished. The film takes an age to get going but picks up after about the hour mark when we enter the courtroom drama part. The scene where Dreyfuss is finally released from his jail cell and he walks out looking bewildered was a particular scene I found rather moving. Slow start but a strong finish to the film.
Rated: 6/10

1938    YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU   (Frank Capra / Columbia)
A banker's son (JAMES STEWART) falls in love with the daughter of an eccentric family. Unfortunately for him, his snobbish parents take an instant disapprovement of the girl and her family. A stellar performance from Lionel Barrymore, who has a memorable scene where he receives a visit from an income tax collector who asks him why he has never paid any tax. To which, Barrymore replies "I don't believe in it!" The second half of the film explodes with a fantastic courtroom scene which provides some excellent dialogue which ultimately leads to a feel-good ending. The comedy elements are bizarre at times but keep the pace of the film on track despite the occassional slow sections. Third Oscar win for director Frank Capra too.
Rated: 6/10

1939    GONE WITH THE WIND   (Victor Fleming / David O. Selznick-Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Quite frankly... one the greatest films of all time and one which boasts such quality that it will never be beaten. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, this beautifully crafted masterpiece tells the story of the struggles, the marriage and family life of Scarlett O'Hara (the beautiful Vivien Leigh) as she forms an uneasy relationship with the handsome stranger Rhett Butler (the on-form Clark Gable). The Max Steiner score, the brilliant cinematography, the nearly 4-hours running time, and a production which is still talked about today. Based on the huge novel from Margaret Mitchell. It's an incredible film and one which deserved every one of its eight Academy Awards. Mind you, it's not a film you would want to watch on a repeat basis!
Rated: 10/10

1952    THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH   (Cecile B. DeMille / Paramount)
Wait just a minute there!! James Stewart as a CLOWN? I just can't get past that. Anyway, what we have here is a grand spectacle of circus life offered in glorious Technicolor and with a little bit of plot thrown in for good measure. Charlton Heston stars as the circus manager who has to keep order between two competing trapeze artists who each want to perform on the centre stage. Seems for the most part that the showcase is more on the inner workings of the circus and its performers and that what little storyline there is simply gets in the way. It's also 2 and a half hours long! For its time I suppose it's an okay film but certainly not one of the better Best Picture winners I have seen although to be fair the last half hour is probably the best section.
Rated: 5/10

1967    IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT   (Norman Jewison / The Mirisch Corporation)
Sidney Poitier is made to feel about as welcome as a fart in a crowded elevator as he stars as the black detective who is wrongly accused of murder in a racially hostile town. He is reluctantly pursuaded by the police department to co-operate with the white racist cops of the town in order to find the real culprit and solve the case. There is a decent chase sequence which takes us across the Mississippi river and a stand-out performance from Rod Steiger who begrudgingly works with Poitier on the case. It's an okay film with above average performances but not one of those kind of movies you would get addicted to watching. Average.
Rated: 5/10

1975    ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST   (Milos Forman / United Artists)
Jack Nicholson won his first Academy Award for Best Actor in this brilliant film about convicted felon Randal P. McMurphy who acts insane to avoid being sent to prison. Believing that he will have an easy ride in a mental institution instead he hams it up and plays mad, trying to convince staff and patients that he has lost the plot. Unfortunately for him he meets his match with Nurse Ratched (LOUISE FLETCHER) who isn't as easily fooled. A terrific cast, which includes a young Danny De Vito and Christopher Lloyd, and a screenplay which is practically perfect in every way. A film that is impossible not to love. Massively recommended.
Rated: 10/10

2017    THE SHAPE OF WATER   (Guillermo del Toro / Fox Serachlight)
Oh dear god. Where do I begin? Set in 1962, a mute cleaner (SALLY HAWKINS) falls in love with a half-man, half-fish.... thing who is being kept at a top secret research facility. She then kidnaps it, takes it back to her home and gets jiggy with it. Full frontal nudity within 5 minutes of the film, no big named stars and led by Guillermo del Toro who somehow managed to win Best Director for this!?!?!?! One critic called this, and I quote, "a masterpiece"? It bloody ain't, mate. It bloody well ain't! A really odd film. Must have been a very slow 2017 because surely this couldn't have been the best film of the year?
Rated: 5/10

2018    GREEN BOOK   (Peter Farrelly / Participant-DreamWorks)
The story of a white American-Italian bouncer (VIGGO MORTENSEN) who finds himself working temporarily as a chauffeur for a black classical pianist (MAHERSHALA ALI), who hires him for a two month tour of the deep South as he fulfills a series of gigs in the early 1960s. Racial issues and hostilities become an everyday issue as the two men slowly turn their business relationship into a friendship. An outstanding performance from Mahershala Ali, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and rightly so. This isn't a film I would have wanted to watch ordinarily and did so only for my desire to see every Best Picture winner, but I'm so glad I did. One of the best films I have seen in years. Great story. Incidentally, the title refers to a motorists' handbook for negroes.
Rated: 8/10

2023    OPPENHEIMER   (Christopher Nolan / Universal)
Seriously? If you made it through the entire film in one sitting then you did better than me. An absolute convoluted mess of a movie. Boring doesn't quite cover it. One of the worst, most overrated films I have ever seen.
Rated: 3/10