Archive for February, 2012

Top of the Charts…Ranking the Academy Award best Film Winners

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Oscars, for some weird psychological reason, has garrisoned itself in an obscure corner of my heart. The first time I saw the show, a very long time ago; “Tears of Endearment” made it to the top of the podium for the best Film of the year. I have always been hooked to it ever since. I was in grade three and we did not have a TV in the house back then and we saw a VHS recording of the show at the residence of a family friend. The sheer exuberance of the show caught on and it managed to keep me in the same state until now. It was the 56 Academy Awards then and it is the 84th Oscar this weekend. I suddenly realized I have been watching Oscars for the last 30 years and I somehow managed to watch each of these shows for the three decades.

Over the years I often come across the argument that, Oscars does not deserve importance it gets in the movie Industry. It is, but another over-hyped, magniloquent show in the US. I completely agree with most of the argument, but it still is special to me.  I am just another brick in the wall along with 39.3 million bricks who watched it live and millions others like me, who will watch a recording of the show.

It is not that I love watching award shows, in fact I hate watching award shows. I have never once sat through a complete awards show on TV, be it Filimfare or the abundance of the shows that we have on Indian television. They cannot keep me engaged for more than couple of minutes. I am not trying to be an elitist here by showing descent on anything Indian. I disdain Grammys, Emmys, Golden Globes  and all other awards with the same level of derision as Star Parivar awards.

It seems like I have been conditioned over the years to like the Oscars. In the times of Doordarshan, with such a dearth of content on TV and being fed up with Krishi Darshan and Humlog, the academy awards was an event that we all waited for. It was once in a year brownie that was offered by the national Television.  Compared to the rest of the content Oscars then was one of the few shows that engaged the entire family. Add to it my dad’s love for English movies and his conversations with his friends about the finer points of film-making always made a good evening pastime. Now I am the Pavlov’s dog, conditioned to wait for it every year. If I can’t watch it live, I would watch a recorded version or  downloaded the show, in the more recent times.

This year, is going to be no exception. I have not seen the show yet and missed it on TV. But with all the content that is available on the net, I will ensure that I watch the entire show along with the red carpet fashion and commentary and all knotty gossip out there .

From 1983 with the only exception of “Out of Africa” in 1985, I have watched all the movies that have won the Oscars “Best Film Award”. Some of them I loved and some I really hated. I have tried below to rank winners of Best Films from 1983 until 2011.

This is how I did it. I ranked all the movies according to how I would want to watch them and added to it the ranks of IMDB,, and a couple of other internet sources. Each source was given a weight according to my judgment, with the highest weight going to my personal ranking. (It is my list after all) Then for these movies I took the critic score and audience score from a article and coupled it to create an aggregate rank. This is what I have.

 Ranking the movies that won the Best film award

Bottom Eight







Forrest Gump



Out of Africa



Driving Miss Daisy



Terms of Endearment



A Beautiful Mind



Dances with Wolves



Shakespeare in Love



Well, these have been my least favorite movies; with the exception of, “A Beautiful Mind” which I thought it was an exceptional performance by Russell Crow and Jennifer Connelly on a difficult subject. But a lot of critics had a different view.

While a lot of people loved Shakespeare in love I was somehow not able to relate to the entire movie, it is in fact something I hated to watch.

I have not watched Out of Africa so it might have got an unfair deal.

I think Crash did not even deserve an Award.





The King’s Speech









Rain Man






The above list has some of the more popular movies. They have a universal appeal. All these movies have done great on box office, had I taken box office records into the ranking criteria, these movies would have been way higher on the pyramid.

I would like to mention King’s Speech. It is an elegantly crafted piece of work. Firth is superb in the lead role offering a perfectly observed blend of vulnerability and frustration alongside hints of royal arrogance. I loved King’s Speech and I thought it deserved a top 10.

If you were to watch one of the movies of the list above; Kings Speech or Platoon is your best bet. Platoon is a brutally realistic look at a young soldier’s tour of duty in Vietnam, drawn from the directors own experiences in the war. It moves away from the bang bang Vietnam war movies and concentrates on the human side of the war. The movie has not lost it relevance even today.











The English Patient



The Last Emperor



American Beauty



  I loved American Beauty, Flawlessly cast and brimming with dark, acid wit, smart, provocative and a high point of late ’90s mainstream Hollywood film. With powerful acting by the cast and great storytelling, it is not a movie you would want to miss; and not a movie that you can watch with kids.

I always loved historical movies and gladiator was no exception. But the movie is anchored by Russell Crow by his awe-inspiring acting and without him the movie would have been mentioned as a great costume drama. If you like Russell Crow and this movie is worth a watch.

I thought Chicago did not deserve an Oscar, but a lot of people really loved the exuberance of the movie. I slept through the movie. But do not take my word on it you might just love it.

The Top League


The next five movies are the top of the league  and all of them are highly recommended. If you fancy to skip one of the above I would have trouble to decide and probably layoff Million Dollar Baby. While it is a great movie it made me sad and just not my genre




The Departed



The Hurt Locker



Slumdog Millionaire



Million Dollar Baby






The crown jewel in the above list is Amadeus. It is a movie that has not been as popular as it fellow companions on the list, but it is a brilliant movie. Find it and watch it.

For this film adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s Broadway hit, director Milos Forman returned to the city of Prague that he’d left behind during the Czech political crises of 1968, bringing along his usual cinematographer and fellow Czech expatriate, Miroslav Ondrícek. Amadeus is an expansion of a Viennese “urban legend” concerning the death of 18th century musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. From the vantage point of an insane asylum, aging royal composer Salieri recalls the events of three decades earlier, when the young Mozart first gained favor in the court of Austrian emperor Joseph II.

Departed is a Personal Favorite, it has the sensibilities of a Bollywood movie and some fantastic acting by the cast. Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality that has infused director Martin Scorcese’s past triumphs.

The top 5




No Country for Old Men






The Lord of the Rings:



As both director and star, Clint Eastwood strips away decades of Hollywood varnish applied to the Wild West, and emerges with a series of harshly eloquent statements about the nature of violence. Unforgiven is an entertaining western that pays homage to the great tradition of movie westerns while surreptitiously expressing a certain amount of scepticism.

The lord of the rings is a treat for anyone who loves JRR, it is visually breathtaking and emotionally powerful, The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King is a moving and satisfying conclusion to a great trilogy. The Best Picture award for Peter Jackson’s final chapter in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was really an award to recognize the work done on all three films since it was in essence one giant project. It is one of four films to sweep the categories it was nominated in, going 11 for 11, tying the record of wins held by Ben-Hur and Titanic

The runners up




Schindler’s List



One of the most powerful movies that I have seen in my entire life, Schindler’s List blends the abject horror of the Holocaust with Steven Spielberg’s signature tender humanism to create the director’s dramatic masterpiece. If you have not seen this movie, this should be your next weekend DVD rental.

 The top of the Podium




The Silence of the Lambs




Director Jonathan Demme’s smart, taut thriller teeters on the edge between psychological study and all-out horror, and benefits greatly from stellar performances by Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. It is a spectacular movie with spectacular performances from Hopkins and foster. For all the unbridled savagery on display, what is shrewd, significant and finally hopeful about Silence of the Lambs is the way it proves that a movie can be mercilessly scary and mercifully humane at the same time. If there is only one movie that you want to see this year and you have not seen The Silence of the lambs and thrillers are your genre then this is the MOVIE…


But saying this there are some 56 more movies that have won the academy awards for best films. Some of them are classics like Casablanca, Godfather, Sting and many more that did not make it to the list, because the cut-off year for this review was 1983 when I first saw an OSCAR… I hope to do a top 15 movies of all time that won a best film Oscar some time in future. But right now, I need to go and hunt for a recording of the 2012 Oscar awards…..

Sunil varma

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February 26, 2012 Leave a comment
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