As can always be expected in February the motion picture awards season is well and truly coming to a close and the big show is only a few weeks away. On 26th February the 89th Academy Awards will take place and we’ll all get to piss, moan and argue about why La-La Land probably shouldn’t have won…but let’s put that out of our minds for a little bit. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Being based in the UK, it can be a little difficult to fulfil my self-imposed obligation to see as many of the nominated pictures due to some frustratingly late releases. As a result I’ve been filling in my spare time by closing out some of the gaps in my knowledge of Best Picture nominees over the past ten years. I’d certainly seen all the movies that had won the award but I hadn’t necessarily seen each of the 68 movies that didn’t win get the honour.
But now I have.
So, without further ado, let’s re-examine how I think each race went over the past ten years and who I would have chosen. I’ll throw up a new evaluation from 2006 right up to 2015 before culminating in a prediction piece as to who will win big this year sometime during the week of the Awards.
And the Oscar goes to…
2006 Best Picture Winner: The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Out of all the runner’s up Babel might have come closest to snatching the prize but never really felt like it developed any sort of emotional resonance beyond a chilly miserly evocation. The Queen was a similarly solid, if cold, piece of cinema (bolstered by a career-reviving performance from Dame Helen Mirren) that managed to exceed even the stuffiest of its Brit-flick contemporaries.
The feature most deserving to challenge The Departed, though was Letters From Iwo Jima, the Japanese-language WWII masterpiece from Clint Eastwood that was unfortunately saddled with a simultaneously produced sister-film, Flags of Our Fathers, which not only didn’t stand particularly well as a movie in its own right but potentially dragged down the reputation of Letters at the same time.
All of which leaves Little Miss Sunshine standing separate from the pack. Sunshine is a movie clearly attempting to straddle the line between comedy and tragedy and proving only that the players involved should stay away from tight-ropes. I hated this movie and still ardently believe that it only ever scored a nomination as a ‘token Indie movie’, to this day.
Did The Departed deserve to win?
When The Departed received not only a Best Picture award but also a Best Director statue for Martin Scorcese a lot of people felt the awards were overdue conciliation awards for a masterful but largely uncelebrated career. I couldn’t disagree more. The Departed is still one of my favourite Scorcese movies and 2006 was one of the few years I well and truly agreed with the choice of the Academy. Truth be told, though, it didn’t really have a berth of deserving competition.
What nomination should have won?
The one that did: The Departed certainly has its flaws but is an unconventional and brilliant movie.
The Academy doesn’t tend to go for horror movies (the last one that won Best Picture was The Silence of the Lambs in ’91) but if you’d like to see them take a turn, it would have been fantastic to see The Descent, probably the scariest movie of the past couple of decades get some praise from a leading institution.
This one was actually pretty easy. Not only had I seen all of these movies previously but I actually agreed with the Academy’s decision which is rare to say the least.
A note on the Wild Card: They’re not meant to be taken as serious alternate suggestions so much as an excuse to say what my favourite movie of each year was. Because of course I’d give my favourite movie of the year the highest honour in motion pictures. Who the hell wouldn’t?
Check back here tomorrow for my evaluation of 2007’s winner.
Agree? Disagree? Have a better Wild Card? Drop me a line in the comments!