10 on Tuesday: Favorite Oscar Winning Movies

I’m not much of a movie person. It’s not that I don’t like movies exactly, it just doesn’t often occur to me to go to the movies, or flip over to HBO, or pop a DVD in the player. As a result, the gaps in my movie-viewing knowledge are huge. I’ve never seen “Casablanca.” Or “Citizen Kane.” Or “The Godfather.” I’ve never seen a single “Star Trek” movie, and  I only saw my first James Bond movie a year or so ago. (I didn’t particularly like it and won’t be seeking out others.)

Thus, when I saw this week’s 10 on Tuesday topic, my first question was whether or not I had actually seen 10 Best Picture winners. I googled my way over to the Academy Awards website, and – much to my surprise – discovered that I had seen almost a third, though nearly all were films released in my lifetime. Overall, I would say that few of the movies I list below are what I would really call my favorites; they’re merely the best of what was on the winners list. And while the first half of the list is in order by how much I like them, the rest of the list is in no particular order, because I just don’t have especially strong feelings one way or another.

1. “West Side Story” (1961) – My dad and I used to watch this on tv all the time when I was a kid, and the stage version was the first live theater I ever saw. It’s the origin of my love for musicals, and I’m pretty sure I still know the words to all the songs.

2. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) – To me, this is really a cumulative award for all three movies in the LOTR series, and they really are a triumph. Peter Jackson created a gorgeous, entirely believable Middle Earth, and also managed to take the most excruciatingly boring books ever written and make them into incredibly enjoyable movies. Also: Viggo Mortenson. Need I say more?

3. “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991) – I lack the suspension of disbelief necessary, in most cases, to find scary movies frightening. Not the case with this one – it scared the living crap out of me.

4. “Gone with the Wind” (1939) – I saw this in a theatrical re-issue when I was in the sixth grade, and it’s a big part of what made me a huge history geek. It may well also be the genesis of my loving characters on screen (though for me, usually tv) who I would not tolerate for one minute if I actually knew them in real life.

5. “Schindler’s List” (1993) – An absolutely epic achievement. In a film full of heartbreaking moments, the little girl’s red coat, the lone spot of color in an otherwise black-and-white film, is an image that will never leave my mind.

6. “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) – A brutal and uplifting look into a part of the world I know very little about.

7. “The Departed” (2006) – This might have made the top five if not for the last shot of the film, which all but ruined it.

8. “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) – I thought Russell Crowe was brilliant in this, and committed so thoroughly to both reality and his delusions that I found myself forgetting which characters were “real” and which were not.

9. “Titanic” (1997) – Unpopular opinion, but I liked it. I thought it was moving and that – unlike so many movies – the special effects were actually deployed in service of the story, rather than just to show how fancy they could be.

10. “Amadeus” (1984) – This is one of the few movies that I will always stop on if I flip by it on tv.

I’d love to hear your favorites – as well as any you think I’m crazy for having missed. (I know: “Casablanca.” I can hardly believe it myself.) The official list is here.

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5 thoughts on “10 on Tuesday: Favorite Oscar Winning Movies

  1. Eileen February 8, 2011 / 10:57 pm

    I’ve only seen 24 of the 82 winners and perhaps, like Sarah, its more telling what I haven’t seen (Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben Hur, Bridge on the River Kwai – I’ve even been there) than what I have seen. So here is my list with typical sibling overlap 🙂
    Btw, there in no order
    1. West Side Story
    2. The Sound of Music
    3. & 4. The Godfather & Godfather II (not sure how you escaped these – Dad watched them on A&E practically every time they were on)
    5. Out of Africa (I love Meryl Streep)
    6. Gandhi
    7. Slumdog Millionaire
    8. Amadeus
    9. Silence of the Lambs
    10. Schindlers List
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and A Beautiful Mind were tough choices to leave off…

  2. sprite February 8, 2011 / 11:11 pm

    I’d watch It Happened One Night with you any day you’d like.

  3. Joanne February 9, 2011 / 5:33 am

    My ten:

    LOTR: RotK (he really should have won for all three)
    Chicago–LOVED IT.
    Shakespeare in Love–it rekindled my volunteering in theater
    A Man for All Seasons
    Rebecca
    Schindler’s List
    Patton–hee, I just have to put this on my list
    The Sting
    My Fair Lady–much more colorful and extravagant that the Sound of Music, and there aren’t those kids. 😉
    Chariots of Fire–I was just thinking I wanted to watch this the other day

    My glaring oversights of movies I haven’t seen:
    The Hurt Locker
    Annie Hall
    The Last Emperor–I mean, seriously. I think I’ve seen parts, but not the whole thing.
    From Here to Eternity
    (Eileen, I also haven’t seen Citizen Kane. Really have no interest, frankly.)

    And just because its fun, these are the movies I still can’t believe won:
    Titanic–James Cameron is such an ass. I am SO glad Avatar didn’t win.
    How Green Was My Valley–the kid never grew up!!

  4. Gloria Larson February 9, 2011 / 9:04 pm

    I’m not much of a movie person either–to the best of my recollection I’ve only seen 20 of the winners. I haven’t seen any of the Godfather movies either! I actually have seen “Casablanca”, which didn’t leave much of an impression on me one way or the other; neither did “The Bridge over the River Kwai”. The others I’ve seen are Titanic, Braveheart, Forrest Gump, Schindler’s List, Dances with Wolves, Driving Miss Daisy, Rain Man, Amadeus, Gandhi, Chariots of Fire, Ordinary People, Kramer vs. Kramer (I THINK I saw that one, anyway), One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Oliver!, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, West Side Story, and Wings.

    My favorite of all of these was probably “My Fair Lady”; I also especially liked the other musicals on the list as well as “Wings”. I was surprised I liked Wings since it was a silent movie about WWI, but it turned out to be quite interesting. I saw it with live organ music, which helped too. I saw all the winners from 1979 to 1984 except for “Terms of Endearment” but I think I was too young to appreciate any of them and haven’t seen any of them in their entirety since then, though I would like to.

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