Quick quiz! Which movie won the Best Picture at last year’s Oscars? How about the year before that? In 2008? (Gold star if you knew them by heart….answers below for the rest of us.
Despite the buzz Oscar nominees generate while their movies are in theatres and the hype leading up to the awards show, even the most dedicated cinephile might have trouble remembering every film that has taken home the top honour on Oscar night. While there are a few past winners that had such impact they live on as cultural touchstones (the likes of Casablanca, The Godfather and Titanic), it seems most Best Picture winners tend to fade quickly in the collective memory.
Here are 3 past winners that have been all but forgotten, but are worth a watch.
HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY – 1941. John Ford’s depiction of life in a crumbling Welsh mining town was notable for it’s expert use of sweeping landscape scenes and a well crafted family drama. But it’s perhaps more noteworthy for being the film that won Best Picture the same year Orson Welle’s masterpiece Citizen Kane was released, the now classic that was snubbed by the Academy in virtually every category.
TOM JONES – 1963. This British adventure-comedy isn’t the strongest movie to have won Best Picture, but it’s a fun film with an outstanding lead (Albert Finney, also nominated for best actor) that leaves you feeling good. And kinda naughty.
CHARIOTS OF FIRE – 1981. Another surprise winner (Reds and On Golden Pond were widely considered as favourites heading into the show) the docu-drama about the 1924 Gold medal winning British racing team is probably better known for it’s instrumental theme song (which also won for Best Song) But it’s an almost flawless period piece that takes a hard look at the ugly underbelly of the British class system and deploys some spectacular cinematography.
(Quiz answers! Birdman, 12 Years A Slave, No Country For Old Men)