2013 was, as we film critics have reiterated endlessly in the pages of
CraveOnline, an extraordinarily good year for movies. As such, all nine films nominated for Best Picture Academy Award this year are, at the very least, notable in some way, with some genuine classics mixed in; I have a feeling movies like , Her , and especially The Wolf of Wall Street will be referenced again and again in the years to come. We all have our suspicions as to what film will actually win the Gravity come March, but actually deciding between some of these movies will be tough.
And while some films are still baffling in the mere fact that they were nominated for Best Picture (
Seabiscuit? Really? Jerry Maguire? You sure about that?), there have been other years that have been veritably jam-packed with excellent nominees. If you think 2013 will be a tough call, take a look at some of the close-call races from the Oscars of yesteryears.
Witney Seibold is the head film critic for
, and a contributor on the Nerdist , and co-host of CraveOnline Film Channel . You can read his weekly articles The B-Movies Podcast , and Trolling , and follow him on “Twitter” at The Series Project , where he is slowly losing his mind. @WitneySeibold
The Toughest Best Picture Races in Oscar History
It's often said that 1939 is perhaps the best year in American film history. Nominated for Best Picture were excellent dramas like Ernst Lubitsch's
Ninotchka, a great adaptation of Of Mice and Men, Frank Capra's seminal Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, the touching Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and of course The Wizard of Oz, perhaps the most iconic film of all time. And what won the award? It would have to be something as big as Gone with the Wind.
The Best Years of Our Lives is an ironic war film about soldiers attempting to adapt to regular life after their combat experiences. It's a great film to be sure, but it stands tall amongst fellow nominees Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life, the dark The Razor's Edge, and Laurence Olivier's Henry V, one of the better Shakespeare movies.
Few people ever talk about George Cukor's
Born Yesterday anymore, and the bold adventure of King Solomon's Mines is largely forgotten, but 1950 provided us with three legitimate film classics that still play today. One is the original Father of the Bride, a masterful slow-burn comedy. The second is the ultimate winner, the catty, bitchy, unbelievably awesome All About Eve. And the third is Billy Wilder's showbiz noir Sunset Boulevard.
A diverse lot, the five Best Picture nominees from 1964, but all great. The ultimate winner was
My Fair Lady, one of the better movie musicals, but it had to go head-to-head with the equally fun Mary Poppins. There was the lively Zorba the Greek to bridge the gap to outright drama in the form of Becket and Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, or; How I Learned to Stop Worrying a Love the Bomb.
1972 - 1975
Four years, and at least a dozen legit classics. I'll just list some of the notable films to be nominated for Best Picture in this period:
The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Cabaret, Deliverance, American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers, The Exorcist, Chinatown, The Conversation, Lenny, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, Nashville, and The Towering Inferno. 16 classics. Your education begins now.
Forrest Gump was the sentimental favorite, and the ultimate winner, it had to overcome the rising power of Pulp Fiction to win. It also bested the lighthearted Four Weddings and a Funeral, the intense Quiz Show, and the now classic The Shawshank Redemption.
Titanic, so it was kind of a shoo-in for Best Picture, and it remains one of the best examples of pop filmmaking ever. It bested one of my own favorite crime movies L.A. Confidential, the charming comedy The Full Monty, the touching and clever indie hit Good Will Hunting, and James L. Brooks' second best film, As Good As It Gets.
I kind of wish that
The Lord of the Rings movies had been granted a special award, rather than running alongside other films. Return of the King is lauded by many, but its competition that year was nothing to sneeze at. It had to beat out the amazing romance Lost in Translation, Clint Eastwood's intense crime drama Mystic River, and the should-be classic Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. How Seabiscuit snuck into that lot, I'll never know.