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Oscar Nominee Meme
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Doing the rounds in abbreviated form from various people. I've decided to mutate the meme, because 1980 feels like a very artificial start date for film-watching. The full list is taken from here; for each year, the first film listed won the Oscar. Titles in bold are ones that I've seen.

1920s

1927-1928: Wings; The Racket; Seventh Heaven

1928-1929: The Broadway Melody; Alibi; The Hollywood Revue of 1929; In Old Arizona; The Patriot

1929-1930: All Quiet on the Western Front; The Big House; Disraeli; The Divorcee; The Love Parade

1930s

1930-1931: Cimarron; East Lynne; The Front Page; Skippy; Trader Horn

1931-1932: Grand Hotel; Arrowsmith; Bad Girl; The Champ; Five Star Final; One Hour with You; Shanghai Express; The Smiling Lieutenant

1932-1933 Cavalcade; 42nd Street; A Farewell to Arms; I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang; Lady for a Day; Little Women; The Private Life of Henry VIII; She Done Him Wrong; Smilin' Through; State Fair

1934: It Happened One Night; The Barretts of Wimpole Street; Cleopatra; Flirtation Walk; The Gay Divorcee; Here Comes the Navy; The House of Rothschild; Imitation of Life; One Night of Love; The Thin Man; Viva Villa!; The White Parade

1935: Mutiny on the Bounty; Alice Adams; Broadway Melody of 1936; Captain Blood; David Copperfield; The Informer; The Lives of a Bengal Lancer; A Midsummer Night's Dream; Les Misérables; Naughty Marietta; Ruggles of Red Gap; Top Hat

1936: The Great Ziegfeld; Anthony Adverse; Dodsworth; Libeled Lady; Mr. Deeds Goes to Town; Romeo and Juliet; San Francisco; The Story of Louis Pasteur; A Tale of Two Cities; Three Smart Girls

1937: The Life of Emile Zola; The Awful Truth; Captains Courageous; Dead End; The Good Earth; In Old Chicago; Lost Horizon; One Hundred Men and a Girl; Stage Door; A Star Is Born

1938: You Can't Take It with You; The Adventures of Robin Hood; Alexander's Ragtime Band; Boys Town; The Citadel; Four Daughters; Grand Illusion (La Grande illusion); Jezebel; Pygmalion; Test Pilot

1939: Gone with the Wind; Dark Victory; Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Love Affair; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Ninotchka; Of Mice and Men; Stagecoach; The Wizard of Oz; Wuthering Heights

1940s

1940: Rebecca; All This, and Heaven Too; Foreign Correspondent; The Grapes of Wrath; The Great Dictator; Kitty Foyle; The Letter; The Long Voyage Home; Our Town; The Philadelphia Story

1941: How Green Was My Valley; Blossoms in the Dust; Citizen Kane; Here Comes Mr. Jordan; Hold Back the Dawn; The Little Foxes; The Maltese Falcon; One Foot In Heaven; Sergeant York; Suspicion

1942: Mrs. Miniver; 49th Parallel; King's Row; The Magnificent Ambersons; The Pied Piper; The Pride of the Yankees; Random Harvest; The Talk of the Town; Wake Island; Yankee Doodle Dandy

1943: Casablanca; For Whom the Bell Tolls; Heaven Can Wait; The Human Comedy; In Which We Serve; Madame Curie; The More the Merrier; The Ox-Bow Incident; The Song of Bernadette; Watch on the Rhine

(at this point, sanity prevails and the Academy only accepts five nominations each year)

1944: Going My Way; Double Indemnity; Gaslight; Since You Went Away; Wilson

1945: The Lost Weekend; Anchors Aweigh; The Bells of St. Mary's; Mildred Pierce; Spellbound

1946: The Best Years of Our Lives; Henry V; It's a Wonderful Life; The Razor's Edge; The Yearling

1947: Gentleman's Agreement; The Bishop's Wife; Crossfire; Great Expectations; Miracle on 34th Street

1948: Hamlet; Johnny Belinda; The Red Shoes; The Snake Pit; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

1949: All the King's Men; Battleground; The Heiress; A Letter to Three Wives; Twelve O'Clock High

1950s

1950: All About Eve; Born Yesterday; Father of the Bride; King Solomon's Mines; Sunset Boulevard

1951: An American in Paris; Decision Before Dawn; A Place in the Sun; Quo Vadis; A Streetcar Named Desire

1952: The Greatest Show on Earth; High Noon; Ivanhoe; Moulin Rouge; The Quiet Man

1953: From Here to Eternity; Julius Caesar; The Robe; Roman Holiday; Shane

1954: On the Waterfront; The Caine Mutiny; The Country Girl; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Three Coins in the Fountain

1955: Marty; Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing; Mister Roberts; Picnic; The Rose Tattoo

1956: Around the World in 80 Days; Friendly Persuasion; Giant; The King and I; The Ten Commandments

1957: The Bridge on the River Kwai; Peyton Place; Sayonara; 12 Angry Men; Witness for the Prosecution

1958: Gigi; Auntie Mame; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The Defiant Ones; Separate Tables

1959: Ben-Hur; Anatomy of a Murder; The Diary of Anne Frank; The Nun's Story; Room at the Top

1960s

1960: The Apartment; The Alamo; Elmer Gantry; Sons and Lovers; The Sundowners

1961: West Side Story; Fanny; The Guns of Navarone; The Hustler; Judgment at Nuremberg

1962: Lawrence of Arabia; The Longest Day; The Music Man; Mutiny on the Bounty; To Kill a Mockingbird

1963: Tom Jones; America, America; Cleopatra; How the West Was Won; Lilies of the Field

1964: My Fair Lady; Becket; Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb; Mary Poppins; Zorba the Greek

1965: The Sound of Music; Darling; Doctor Zhivago; Ship of Fools; A Thousand Clowns

1966: A Man for All Seasons; Alfie; The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming; The Sand Pebbles; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967: In the Heat of the Night; Bonnie and Clyde; Doctor Dolittle; The Graduate; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

1968: Oliver!; Funny Girl; The Lion in Winter; Rachel, Rachel; Romeo and Juliet

1969: Midnight Cowboy; Anne of the Thousand Days; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Hello, Dolly!; Z

1970s

1970: Patton; Airport; Five Easy Pieces; Love Story; MASH

1971: The French Connection; A Clockwork Orange; Fiddler on the Roof; The Last Picture Show; Nicholas and Alexandra

1972: The Godfather; Cabaret; Deliverance; Sounder; The Emigrants

1973: The Sting; American Graffiti; The Exorcist; A Touch of Class; Cries and Whispers

1974: The Godfather Part II; Chinatown; The Conversation; Lenny; The Towering Inferno

1975: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Barry Lyndon; Dog Day Afternoon; Jaws; Nashville

1976: Rocky; All the President's Men; Bound for Glory; Network; Taxi Driver

1977: Annie Hall; The Goodbye Girl; Julia; Star Wars; The Turning Point

1978: The Deer Hunter; Coming Home; Heaven Can Wait; Midnight Express; An Unmarried Woman

1979: Kramer vs. Kramer; Apocalypse Now; All That Jazz; Breaking Away; Norma Rae

1980s

1980: Ordinary People; Coal Miner's Daughter; The Elephant Man; Raging Bull; Tess

1981: Chariots of Fire; Reds; Atlantic City; On Golden Pond; Raiders of the Lost Ark

1982: Gandhi; E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; Missing; Tootsie; The Verdict

1983: Terms of Endearment; The Big Chill; The Dresser; The Right Stuff; Tender Mercies

1984: Amadeus; The Killing Fields; A Passage to India; Places in the Heart; A Soldier's Story

1985: Out of Africa; The Color Purple; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Prizzi's Honor; Witness

1986: Platoon; Children of a Lesser God; Hannah and Her Sisters; The Mission; A Room with a View

1987: The Last Emperor; Broadcast News; Fatal Attraction; Hope and Glory; Moonstruck

1988: Rain Man; The Accidental Tourist; Dangerous Liaisons; Mississippi Burning; Working Girl

1989: Driving Miss Daisy; Born on the Fourth of July; Dead Poets Society; Field of Dreams; My Left Foot

1990s

1990: Dances with Wolves; Awakenings; Ghost; The Godfather Part III; Goodfellas

1991: The Silence of the Lambs; Beauty and the Beast; Bugsy; JFK; The Prince of Tides

1992: Unforgiven; The Crying Game; A Few Good Men; Howards End; Scent of a Woman

1993: Schindler's List; The Fugitive; In the Name of the Father; The Piano; The Remains of the Day

1994: Forrest Gump; Four Weddings and a Funeral; Pulp Fiction; Quiz Show; The Shawshank Redemption

1995: Braveheart; Apollo 13; Babe; Il Postino (The Postman); Sense and Sensibility

1996: The English Patient; Fargo; Jerry Maguire; Secrets & Lies; Shine

1997: Titanic; As Good as It Gets; The Full Monty; Good Will Hunting; L.A. Confidential

1998: Shakespeare in Love; Elizabeth; Life Is Beautiful (La vita è bella); Saving Private Ryan; The Thin Red Line

1999: American Beauty; The Cider House Rules; The Green Mile; The Insider; The Sixth Sense

2000s

2000: Gladiator; Chocolat; Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon; Erin Brockovich; Traffic

2001: A Beautiful Mind; Gosford Park; In the Bedroom; The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; Moulin Rouge

2002: Chicago; Gangs of New York; The Hours; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; The Pianist

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Lost in Translation; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; Mystic River; Seabiscuit

2004: Million Dollar Baby; The Aviator; Finding Neverland; Ray; Sideways

2005: Crash; Brokeback Mountain; Capote; Good Night and Good Luck; Munich

2006: The Departed; Babel; Letters from Iwo Jima; Little Miss Sunshine; The Queen

2007: No Country for Old Men; Atonement; Juno; Michael Clayton; There Will Be Blood

2008: Slumdog Millionaire; The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Frost/Nixon; Milk; The Reader

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Wow. I can bold absolutely none of those this side of 1994.

I mean, I've been in the same room as, say, Lord of the Rings, but I doubt it counts as "watching" it when I've reached for the laptop within the first five minutes. And I only saw Schindler's List because it was mandated in Religious Education class or somesuch. Heavy-handed, pretentious dross---i.e., pure Spielburg.

The Fugative was OK, though.

Also, the absence of both Back to the Future and The Terminator highlights that Oscar nominations are, in fact, useless as a resource for compiling the best films of any given year; possibly drawing attention to this was the purpose of the exercise?

What, not even Aliens? Sheesh! Looks like the Academy hates it some pop-sci-fi.

You might as well complain that very few foreign language films are nominated, and that essentially none have won (you could count Slumdog Millionaire, since it's partly in Hindi, but that's debatable).

You and I probably agree that there are quite a few good SF films out there, but we're not Academy members, nor are we even likely to be.

Even then, consider the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation (also the long form awarded since Torcon 3 in 2003). Not all of the 'good' films win - Gattaca lost out to Contact (as did The Fifth Element).

I've more mixed feelings on the SF stuff. How good is "Back to the Future" ? I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed Team America: World Police and nobody's suggesting that deserved a Best Picture nomination. If I was going to raise a broad genre-based objection it would be the absence of The Princess Bride. That's a good movie, arguably the best in its genre and it got just one Oscar nomination. With SF I feel like we're just fumbling around at the moment, if Citizen Kane was made today it wouldn't get nominated because film technique has moved on. SF needs to get to the point where the technique can reliably get out of the way of the story as as it does in a more conventional modern film. Let me give a few examples:

In Sideways to establish that two characters sleep together they just briefly show a single car at a junction turning left. The audience is not conscious of the fact that what they're actually seeing is a crane shot of some 2nd unit crew member driving a car. But more than that, the audience isn't even conscious of how they were manipulated into drawing such a conclusion from so little evidence.

In the Terminator movies, at every step you can see fakery. It's hard not to occasionally stop watching the story to either marvel at the cool visual effects, or get stopped in your tracks by a glitch, such as Arnie's bulging prosthetics for his "eye trauma". The result is still a fun movie, but in another decade or two it'll be unwatchable because of how poor the effects are. That's why Lucas keeps fiddling with his Star Wars movies. The originals are charming, but you can see the wires.

I'd argue that 2001 was SF's Citizen Kane, but I expect that several folk would have an objection.

SF film suffers in much the same way that SF literature suffers; its proponents judge it to be a literature of ideas rather than style, which leads to the mainstream literary establishment overlooking it (or even worse, appropriating its tropes for mainstream novels which are SF in all but name).

A lot of SF film (but not all) suffers from an excess of gee-whiz effects. I've heard it argued that these are really action films with SF tropes (a fairly convincing argument, if you consider most of Schwarzenegger's films), and that you really need to be looking at the high concept SF films: Gattaca, Solaris (the Tarkovsky), and so on.

Speaking of excellent '80s/early-'90s Arnie films, the idea barrel has run out again.

Well, it can't be a worse adaptation of We Can Remember It For You Wholesale than the previous version. Can it?

Arnie has been in some real turkeys; of his SF films, I only rate Running Man, The Terminator and Predator, and I wouldn't describe any of them as highbrow.

I've a bit of a love-hate relationship with Total Recall; the first third is excellent, and captures well the feel of the Dick, but it all turns into bog-standard action film fodder as soon as he commits to travelling to Mars.

It probably helps immensely that I've not read the novel, or---in fact---any Philip K, and thus can watch it in happy ignorance of any butchering that may be occuring.

Wot, no Eraser? Admittedly only "sci fi" in that the science to make handheld railguns work is pure fiction...

TheJim

(Anonymous)
You're very right - I think it helps to see the films first and be blissfully ignorant. The books will take on a life of their own regardless, and it might spoil the films for you.

Argh, that's reminded me of Affleck in "Paycheck". God help us - even Uma Thurman couldn't rescue that one, and she's actually pretty versatile.

TheJim

(Anonymous)
Ahh, The Running Man, host to the classic heavily-accented line "If we don't get out of here, I'll uplink your ass!"

I have just stumbled across a whole truckload of examples of "not" sci-fi (in some cases, "honest guv").

TVTropes is possibly worse than Wikipedia for inadvertantly bulk-loading the Internet into your brain. Hypertext and tabbed browsing, what breadth-first recursive carnage hath thou wraught?

Schindler's List was nominated partly due to the subject matter (which is much the same reason that Tom Hanks won Best Actor for Philadelphia in 1993), but also because it is a very well crafted film.

I think that I mostly agree with you about Spielberg. I think that he tends to the sentimental, and he can be very heavy-handed. However, he is very, very good at what he does (namely eliciting certain emotions from the audience) and is a good storyteller as well.

TheJim

(Anonymous)
I have to agree. Spielberg has gone off the rails somewhat of late, but in the past the Oscar committee has done the right thing for the wrong reason on several occasions. In the case of Schindler's List, minority-oppression guilt might have been the motivation, but it was pretty damn good. My only problem with it was that the combination of black-and-white and the similar-looking lead actors (Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson) meant that I was about forty minutes in before I could figure out what the hell was going on and untangle the two characters in my mind. Maybe I was having a slow night.

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