Thursday Movie Picks: Oscars Winners Edition – Best Picture

For the first Thursday Movie Picks of 2021, led by Wandering through the Shelves, we’ve been asked to select three to five films of our choosing that all won Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

I found it very tricky whittling my choices down to just five: honourable mentions go to Casablanca, The Godfather, Forrest Gump and Green Book.

Titanic (1997)

Spielberg’s epic romance and disaster film dominated the 70th Academy Awards, taking 11 Oscars home, including Best Picture, Best Effects – Visual Effects and Best Costume Design.

Showing the events of that fateful night through the eyes of an unlikely couple brought together by chance, Titanic was a masterclass in big budget filmmaking. The extraordinary effects are arguably the stars of the film ahead of the cast, which was ably led by DiCaprio and Winslet.

Gladiator (2000)

Crowned Best Picture at the 73rd Academy Awards, as well as taking home four other Oscars, including Best Actor in a Leading Role for Russell Crowe, Gladiator is a moving, intense modern masterpiece that doesn’t lose any enjoyment on repeat watches.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Peter Jackson’s trilogy – the films that made me a cinephile – were collectively nominated for 30 Academy Awards. The series eventually took home 17 Oscars, including Best Picture for The Return of the King at the 76th Academy Awards.

There aren’t enough superlatives in the English dictionary that I could use to describe my adoration of the trilogy, and it was fitting – and rightly so – that The Return of the King clinched Best Picture after its predecessors missed out.

Crash (2004)

Taking Best Picture at the 78th Academy Awards, I can still remember the first time that I watched this impactful film. I would have been around 16-17 years old and was blown away by what I’d seen: the high quality of the acting together with the interweaving storylines about racial tensions in Los Angeles.

I’ve only rewatched Crash once or twice since that first viewing so whether I would still be as impressed or whether I would now find it sensationalized or overdramatic, I’m not sure.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Although it took Best Picture at the 81st Academy Awards I was late to the Slumdog Millionaire fan party, not watching it until 2014.

For whatever reason it wasn’t on my radar, but after joining an Indian company in 2013 and visiting the country five or six times while in post, I gave it a go and fell in love with it. India holds a special place in my heart and watching Bollywood films – plus Hollywood films like Slumdog Millionaire and Lion – bring me much enjoyment.

20 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks: Oscars Winners Edition – Best Picture

Add yours

  1. I think Titanic is an awesome technical achievement but the romantic story is so much hogwash that the film didn’t pick up for me until the ship hit the berg. That sounds cruel but there is NO way in 1912 with the ironclad class restrictions in place that Rose and Jack would have become involved and that took me right out of their portion of the film. Kate Winslet was very good as was Gloria Stuart as Old Rose with over 2000 people on board Cameron could have found a real story to tell.

    Love Gladiator! Haven’t watched it years but an involving film.

    And that’s where we split. Your final three are ones who my feelings run from lukewarm (Slumdog) to flat out loathing (LOTR). Crash I thought was ordinary and unworthy of it’s win.

    I’ve used most of my favorite winning films (my top three From Here to Eternity, The Best Years of Our Lives and All About Eve in that order) before so I found it easier to go with the three that I think are the worst films to win the prize (though I must say there was a distressingly high number to choose from!)

    The Broadway Melody (1929)-It only took two years for the Academy to award the wrong film. Glue-footed musical that came out shortly after sound changed the industry won more out of the novelty of songs being able to be heard on screen than any kind of worth the picture possesses….which ain’t much!

    Cimarron (1931)-Stiff as a board adaptation of Edna Ferber’s classic novel of the settling of the Oklahoma Territory. Leaden direction, dull performances (incredibly Richard Dix won Best Actor) and a sluggish pace aren’t compensated by one great land rush sequence. The first Western to win Best Picture (in a year where The Public Enemy, Little Caesar and City Lights weren’t even nominated!) soured the pot and it took another 60 years until Dances with Wolves captured another.

    Around the World in 80 Days (1956)-The title says just about all about this insufferable, tedious, tiresome and endlessly bloated adaptation of a Jules Verne adventure dealing with a balloon trip circumnavigating the globe. Stuffed with cameos of stars of the day in either passing bits or meaningless parts it made a mint on release but this is the worst film to ever win Best Picture.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Joel – always enjoy reading your thoughts.
      I totally agree with your point about the romantic element of Titanic – I enjoy the effects, costumes and supporting performances more than the romance. That’s not to say Winslet and DiCaprio did a bad job though.
      Thanks for sharing your list of the worst films to win Best Picture. Around the World in 80 Days is currently available to watch in the UK via BBC iPlayer but I think I’ll steer clear.
      ‘Glue-footed’ – what an excellent turn of phrase 🙂
      Cimarron sounds quite dull then…

  2. We match with Return of the King! The entire trilogy is just sooooo brilliant, I rewatched the whole thing the other day. I swear, it gets better every time I see it, if that is even possible.

    1. Hello to a fellow Ringer! In my eyes – and by the sounds of it yours too – the trilogy is a masterpiece and I continue to take a lot of enjoyment from each film every time.
      What did you think of The Hobbit films?

      1. I enjoyed the first Hobbit film quite a lot but they lost some quality with each subsequent film. There was just not enough story to cover so many hours of movie. So, not as good as LOTR by a long shot, but I don’t hate it like some people do. It’s still a decent series of films. What do you think about them? 🙃

      2. I completely agree! Any chance to see more of Middle-earth is a plus in my book and while I do rate all three highly (four stars) they did draw it out for longer than it needed too and there is a lot of new information that was not in the book. Some of it I agree with – the addition of Legolas, for example, as it’s quite plausible that he was around – but Tauriel and Kíli? Not so much.

      3. I liked that the movies added some depth. As the book is geared more towards children it wasn’t that sophisticated with some aspects.
        I’m already curious to see what we’ll get when Amazon drops the new show!

  3. I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see you Crash! I didn’t even know it was a Best Picture winner when I first watched it and loved it. I’ve read so much criticism about it (so many people hate it) over the years that I decided to rewatch it and I still feel the same. It deserved to win.

  4. I love all of these except Crash lol. I didn’t care for the movie the first time I saw it, then I just turned into a bitter betty when it won over Brokeback.

  5. Of course I would like to participate in the email you sent me. You see I have the memory of a gnat…post menopausal brain. I will join. As for your film choices…I love the costumes and the special effects from Titanic but that’s about it. The acting was really good but Cameron made the Love Boat sinking. I agree with what Joel said and a much better film on the Titanic is A Night To Remember from 1958. It is a lot more accurate and it shows how many mistakes did happen before the collision. I love Gladiator and it is one of my hubby’s all time favourites. It’s so well acted and the action scenes are brilliant. I love…LOVE the Lord of the Rings trilogy and find all 3 instant classics. Slumdog Millionaire is really good as well but Crash was just OK for me. It didn’t grab me.

    1. Great to you have take part in the blogathon, Birgit!

      Thanks for your comment. A Night To Remember has been on my watchlist for a long while now – hoping I have the opportunity to see it soon. I’m glad we agree on LOTR! 🙂

  6. Hey Claire! Apart from CRASH I love all your picks! I almost picked Gladiator, one of my fave Best Picture of the 2000s, but I feel like I’ve talked about Gladiator too often, ahah. I actually was just ok on Slumdog Millionaire, and I watched it a bit later after it’s released too. But now I’ve grown to LOVE Dev Patel. He’s become one of my fave actors since LION and The Wedding Guest.

    1. Crash really sounds like a Marmite film – you either love it or hate it!
      Interesting how your views on Patel have changed. I still think of him from his early role in a 2007 British TV show called ‘Skins’! Nicholas Hoult was in that oto.
      I haven’t seen The Wedding Guest yet but I think Lion is marvellous.

  7. Great picks! If I had not gone the underrated route, I definitely would’ve picked Titanic. It’s one of my favorite films and definitely worth of Best Picture. Nice to see Return of the King on so many lists and that the franchise actually won one Best Picture.

    1. Thanks, Katy! Sure, the love story is ambitious and implausible, but the acting, effects, plot, pacing, etc. are all fantastic!
      And yep, completely agree about the LOTR. As a series it received 800 nominations across the various film festivals and awards ceremonies – it won 475!

  8. Titanic was just so-so. I saw it just once, thought it was sappy then.
    I do love Gladiator.
    As for LOTR, I prefer FotR to RotK.
    Not a fan of Crash, I don’t think the writers know how to do subtle.
    Slumdog was also just ok for me.

    1. Yes, it can be sappy! As I wrote, the star of Titanic for me is definitely the effects.

      My preference is The Two Towers then Fellowship then Return of the King, but I remember being so happy and relieved at the time that the series had finally received Best Picture recognition.

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