Redefining 'Best'


Oscar nominations are in the news and soon the glitterati will be donning their finery and having their picture taken in the hope of not making a fashion faux pas - later walking away with a statuette. This year will see 86th Academy Awards. With little gold statues to be handed out, I will soon be utterly bemused by a long line of unfamiliar faces, cleavage and stubbly beards owned by those whom I will never have heard of and probably never will again.

Perhaps I should clarify. My knowledge of the motion picture industry is limited, VERY limited. If I recognise an actor or actress it is a minor miracle, if I know their name they are part of a very exclusive club indeed.

Yet I know what I like and have always considered the addition of "Winner of the Best Picture Oscar" means it marks this offering in the 'avoid like the plague' category. So before I know which film I should make a mental note to shun at all costs this year, I decided to do a little research and see which recipients of the Best Picture Oscar I have actually seen and what I recall.

Note the following years relate to the years the films were released. I object to having an award for Best Anything 2015 in the first weeks of 2015. I should also add you will soon come to realise my knowledge of films is poor at best, which means you have absolutely nothing to worry about if you think you'll find any spoilers here.

2013 Twelve Years a Slave - Never heard of it. Probably would seem as if it was lasting twelve years if I ever did.

2012 Argo - Not heard of this one either. Looking at the poster image I'm guessing it is not a remake of Jason and the Argonauts. Even if it was I wouldn't be interested either way.

2011 The Artist - I might have seen the Already noted I am not the greatest fan of moving pictures and art leaves me ever more cold. (Incidentally, if the film industry's offerings are known as 'movies' shouldn't paintings and photographs be called 'stillies'?) So not ever going to see this either.

2010 The King's Speech - haven't seen it and, from what I understand, holds no interest for me whatsoever.

2009 The Hurt Locker and I have to admit I've never heard of it, which probably tells me I'm missing nothing.

2008 Slumdog Millionaire I actually know what this film is about, which is sufficient for me to know I have no interest in phoning a friend to see if they've seen it.

2007 No Country for Old Men is another I've never heard of (although I've been to the country)

2006 The Departed doesn't ring any bells either.

2005 Crash is the third in a row I've no recollection of.

2004 Million Dollar Baby I think this was about a woman boxing, not going out of my way for that then but at least I have a vague notion of what it was about.

2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and at last one I not only saw but went out of my way to see at the cinema! Liked this, although that was predictable owing to me having read the books. However, it was a pity to ruin a quite excellent trilogy with that dopey singing near the end.

2002 Chicago I think this might have been a musical, but then it might not and I shall never find out.

2001 A Beautiful Mind I've certainly heard of this, which must please the producers greatly considering my record thus far. However, they shouldn't celebrate too much, not seen it and unlikely to do so.

2000 Gladiator and another one I've seen! Didn't see this at the cinema, caught it on Sky, I think. Liked it, too, especially the decapitation bit.

1999 American Beauty I have a vague recollection of the title but not seen it nor will I.

1998 Shakespeare in Love might tell me what it's about. However, I loathed the bugger when I was forced to play Malvolio at school and certainly have no interest in his love life (and I'm certain he would have no interest in mine).

1997 Titanic yes, fabulous, three hours of film (I think I recall this being banded about) and we knew what happened at the end even before they released it. In case you haven't seen it, the ship sinks.

1996 The English Patient I do remember this title and that's about it.

1995 Braveheart another one I saw, not at the cinema but years later on the BBC (I think). I remember being bored senseless by it and some shouting at the end (shouting by an actor that was, not just me deliriously happy the thing had ended).

1994 Forrest Gump is another I saw, although it was at least ten years after release when I did. Rather liked it, too. I was convinced by someone to give it a chance and it turned out to be worthwhile.

1993 Schindler's List is one of those I've heard of, know little about and have no intention of seeing. If I need a list, I'll write my own.

1992 Unforgiven I have never heard of (hopefully I will be even though I won't see it).

1991The Silence of the Lambs I believe is something about a cannibal? Not going out of my way for that either.

1990 Dances With Wolves another I've heard of didn't see until years later when the same someone who convinced me to see Forrest Gump suggested this was a good idea. I probably should have watched it earlier and might have enjoyed it more when I hadn't watched Mrs Wolves squeaking inaudibly in the remake of Battlestar Galactica.

1989 Driving Miss Daisy I have some recollection of the title character being an old woman? No, not seeing this either.

1988 Rain Man I believe Dustin Hoffman was in this, wasn't he?

1987 The Last Emperor I saw on the television years later. Liked it, although it was a bit on the lengthy side (although I'm sure the real emperor would have liked the beginning to be much longer).

1986 Platoon stunned to recall I saw this at the cinema, but then recalled I was dragged along by someone even less memorable than the film (*kneels and, raising both arms to the sky, implores any deity to tell me why I ever thought this person was ever a good idea). It was about a war (Vietnam?) and I think I liked it.

1985 Out of Africa no, not seen this and have no intention of doing so as I don't think it's a Sir David Attenborough creation.

1984 Amadeus don't even recall the film, yet I'm guessing it was linked with Mozart.

1983 Terms of Endearment, don't remember this either!

1982 Ghandi, now this I have heard of but not seen and unlikely to.

1981 Chariots of Fire, well I know the tune! Does that count?

1980 Ordinary People never heard of it!

1979 Kramer vs Kramer, now this I do know something about and I think I saw about five minutes of this where Dustin Hoffman was making french toast. I didn't hang around long enough to see anything more. (Did it go to a penalty shoot-out?)

1978 The Deer Hunter I know was a Vietnam War thing and Hank Marvin played a cover version of the theme tune at some time.

1977 Annie Hall was a Woody Allen creation, I believe. Not seen it though.

1976 Rocky I saw on television in the days before subtitles were commonplace, couldn't understand a word Stallone said but the fight scenes were reasonably good (for their day).

1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest I also saw on the television about 20 years after release. As a film it wasn't bad at all.

1974 The Godfather Part II I was forced to watch, along with the other two, about three years ago by the same person who pointed me in the direction of Forrest Gump and Dances With Wolves. I would have rather have endured every episode of Peyton Place back to back.

1973 The Sting starred Newman and Redford I think, never saw it though.

1972 The Godfather Part I (see 1974)

1971 The French Connection is a film I have heard of (mainly through quiz nights) but know nothing whatsoever about.

1970 Patton must have been about the general but I can't be certain as I never saw it.

1969 Midnight Cowboy I know from my days writing quizzes it was the first X-rated film to win this Oscar. Despite this the vast majority of my school chums claimed to have seen it (we would have been 13 in 1969) but to this day I never have.

1968 Oliver! was a film even I failed to avoid, which was a shame because the eponymous character was played by that irritating little sh*t.

1967 In the Heat of the Night rings no bells whatsoever.

1966 A Man for All Seasons I have heard of, but never seen.

1965 The Sound of Music I have seen most of it, although spread over a great number of years. I still have no idea of the storyline other than kids and a nun and some Nazis.

1964 My Fair Lady is another musical but not quite as bad as the previous effort. Like the original GBS version though. I admit my opinion of this celluloid offering decreased measurably when I discovered it beat Becket to the Oscar, Becket is quite simply the best film ever made (or, more correctly, the best film ever made and set on this planet).

1963 Tom Jones I have never heard of before.

1962 Lawrence of Arabia I have seen, many, many years ago, but remember nothing but the title character riding a motorcycle.

1961 West Side Story, another musical and I've never seen it.

1960 The Apartment of course I've seen The Apartment it's one of my favourites (which doesn't say a lot considering the total number of films I've seen in my life).

1959 Ben-Hur I know what it's about but I've never seen it (I believe there was a Chevrolet in the background, or is this the one with the Coke can?)

1958 Gigi I have heard of and, of course, never seen.

1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai, a war film, never seen it.

1956 Around the World in 80 Days, I've read the book, but I know that doesn't count.

I shall stop there as while the Oscars existed prior to 1956 I didn't and anyway I think that's enough to show my lack of appreciation for most popular films. However it doesn't explain why I've just taken out membership of the Odeon Premiere Club loyalty scheme.

Perhaps I should make a prediction for the forthcoming event? Having looked at the contenders (Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Whiplash, American Sniper, The Imitation Game) it seems I can't offer any great critical comment (and I haven't cheated by researching the so-called experts' opinion) and thus I shall have to resort to other means.

Putting them in alphabetical order (ignoring the definite article as 'the' just doesn't count in any alphabetical list) I realise there is only one in the latter half of the alphabet - hence I've opted for Whiplash.

It also qualifies as whiplash is something none of us ever wants to experience and when anyone else mentions they can't work because of whiplash invariably produces a series of sighs, shakes of the head and eye rolling. Just as it would if it were to receive the Oscar for Best Picture.

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