I have professed my distaste for many a Top 5 list in the past but there are always exceptions to the rule and, having watched a fair few of the Best Picture Oscar winners I feel I am in a good position to state the Top 5 Best Picture Winners, according to Screen Insight is …
5. The Departed
Martin Scorsese should’ve won an Oscar much earlier in his career – losing out to Dances with Wolves when he had Goodfellas was shocking. The Departed is proof that filmmakers can not only remake a foreign film exceptionally well, but additionally, if they are good enough they will eventually win an Oscar. An incredible cast, a hugely entertaining film – this is an example when Oscar gets it right and everyone who watches the film will agree with their decision
4. Annie Hall
Oscar is not a big fan of comedy. I am a huge fan of Woody Allen and Annie Hall is much more accessible than the vast majority of his work. Even with Manhattan, Woody Allen has the semi-pretentiousness of a black-and-white palette whilst one of the female love interests to Woody is a 14-year-old girl. You get none of this in Annie Hall, just some incredible jokes and some facsinating innovative techniques in use – subtitles to expain what the couple really mean, tthe ghost-like Diane-Keaton leaving the bed as Woody tries to seduce her whilst the opening and closing direct-to-camera monologues show how great a showman Woody Allen truly is.
Having recently mentioned this on the A-Z, there is only so much to say. It still remains a classic with stunning performances from everyone involved. Like the best classics – Gone with the Wind, Night of the Living Dead and Easy Rider – the end of Casablanca can never be remade, retouched or improved upon. It was made at a specific time, representing a period with actors that could only deliver those specific lines at that time in history.
2. West Side Story
Musicals and Epics dominated fifties cinema. Other winners during that time period were The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur. On one level, West Side Story is a musical which is very personal as Tony and Maria fall in love – but set on an epic backdrop as the two families are against each other. A remake of-sorts (based on Romeo and Juliet) it has energy, pace and tragedy. One of my favourite musicals… and one of my favourite Oscar winners.
1. The Godfather/The Godfather Part II
You can’t separate them first off. The only sequel to win Best Picture is only as good as it is because of its predescessor. Francis Ford-Coppola famously turned the films down when first approached. Mario Puzo needed the money. Al Pacino was unknown and Marlon Brando bailed on the sequel. So many stories behind it, so many personal connections and I think it is all these incredible facets that make the film even more watchable. It has class, it has style and it deserves its Best Picture win. As it also deserves its place as one of the Best Films of All Time.