CORY'S TOP TEN: The 'Best Best Pictures'

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The Oscars are this Sunday. KHQ Producer Cory Howard went through and picked his "Top Ten Best Best Pictures Of All Time (1972-Present)" The Oscars are this Sunday. KHQ Producer Cory Howard went through and picked his "Top Ten Best Best Pictures Of All Time (1972-Present)" -

The Oscars are this Sunday. Honestly, I never really watch them. But I do usually watch the movies that are nominated. At least at some point. I've only seen two of the nine films nominated for best picture this year, but I imagine at some point I'll catch the majority of them. I'm cheap. Going to the movies is expensive. So I usually wait until they are released on DVD to catch them.

This is the 86th annual Academy Awards this year. Meaning there have been 85 Best Picture Oscars awarded, with the very first one going to Wings in 1927. Remember Wings? Me neither. In fact, when I went to look at the list of all the pictures nominated each year, I found that I didn't really know many of the films pre-1969. Of course there were the classics of Gone With The Wind, Casablanca, Lawrence Of Arabia, etc., but again, in keeping with my honesty, I've never seen those films either. I'm aware of them. I know they exist. I've just never taken the time to watch them. Which I admit is sad. I could've sat down and watched West Side Story numerous times, but I always get distracted with AMC playing The Negotiator for the 99th time. Not that I'm complaining. I can never get enough of that movie!

So as I was looking at the list, I figured it was only fair when making my list of the Top Ten Best Picture Winners, that I only begin with the first movie I could honestly say I have seen, and go from there. Which is where we begin this top ten list of the "Best Best Pictures Of All-Time (Since 1972)."

10.) The Godfather (1972)

Now, most critics will place this not only at the top of this top ten list, but they will place this movie as one of the greatest of all-time. And it very well may be. But I'm not a critic. I don't want to be a critic. I'm simply throwing this list together based on what I know of the movies that won Best Picture from 1972-on.

The reason this makes number 10 on my list is that I saw it when I was very young, and don't remember the key intricacies that make it the amazing movie everyone claims it is. I do remember being intrigued. Despite its length, it captured my attention enough to leave somewhat of an impression. Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Abe Vagoda, Robert Duvall – the cast alone let's you know you're in for a treat. Plus, there's a horse head in someone's bed. That's awesome!

The Godfather didn't have much competition at the 1972 Academy Awards. The only movie that I could see offering any competition that still resonates today was Deliverance. Burt Reynolds going up against some determined "hill people"? How did that not win?

9.) Dances With Wolves (1990)

I'm a huge Kevin Costner fan. People always rib on me for that. The man is a great American actor. I even enjoyed Waterworld and the "on dry land" version, The Postman. There really wasn't a lot to not like about this movie. Kevin Costner plays a Civil War hero who has had enough of the front lines and wants something a little less… active. So he gets sent out to a frontier post. He makes friends with a wolf. He makes enemies with some Native Americans. He makes friends with some Native Americans. He finds love. He gains respect for and from the native people and eventually sheds his white-man ways. He is no longer Lt. John Dunbar. He's "Dances With Wolves." Though I never actually saw any dancing.

The saddest part about this movie when I was watching it was when the natives attacked the jolly wagon driver and he had to watch his precious mules attacked as well. "Please don't hurt my mules." He says this as he knows his life is about to end, but yet he only cares for his mules. It is sad.

The best part about this movie for me is no doubt Maury Chaykin's Major Fambrough's insane line: "Sir Knight? I've just pissed in my pants… and nobody can do anything about it." It happens early in the movie, but it stays with you for the duration. A true mad man.

Dances with Wolves was going up against Goodfellas in 1990, which in my opinion is a better movie. It was actually a good year for films in this category as Ghost and Awakenings were also in the mix. Godfather Part III was also in there, but as little as I know about The Godfather trilogy, I know enough to know that Part III was the worst. By far. Goodfellas should have won this year.

8.) Unforgiven (1992)

As much as I love Kevin Costner, I think I love Clint Eastwood even more. The man can do it all. He can act, he can direct, he even writes music! You can hear him singing along at the end of Gran Torino. But let's face it, "Get off my lawn," doesn't compare to "That's right. I've killed woman and children. I've killed just about everything that walks or crawled at one time or another. And I'm here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you did to Ned." Translation, Clint is much better as a badass western gunslinger than a crotchety old man. But only by a little bit.

The town's name is Big Whiskey. Awesome. Some prostitutes put a bounty on the men who beat them up. Awesome. Retired gunslinger Bill Munny not only takes the bounty, but delivers some true justice on crooked Big Whiskey Sheriff "Little Bill," played by Gene Hackman. Awesome. Are they heroes? Are they villains? The choice is left up to the viewer. Munny has killed a lot of people. He's a bad man, but he has a noble cause. At least this time. Eastwood did a lot of westerns early in his career, but this one from 1992 is by far the best in my opinion.

Unforgiven was going up against The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, and Scent of a Woman. I'd say the right movie won.

7.) Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

Well there you have it. A pretty impressive string of Best Pictures, three years in a row. 1990-1992. Silence of the Lambs still holds onto the creepiness that made it amazing back in 1991. Anthony Hopkins plays the role of his already impressive career as psychopath Hannibal Lecter, and while he isn't the biggest, or most intimidating person, Hopkins makes sure you would never want to be left alone in a room with him.

As good as Hopkins is, the real star of the movie goes to Ted Levine as Jame Gumb, or as he is more commonly known, "Buffalo Bill." As crazy as Lecter is for eating his victims, Buffalo Bill comes off as even crazier because he's looking to make a new coat for himself, out of his victim's skin. And he makes sure that skin is in tip-top shape. "It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again. It does what it's told!"

You leave Silence of the Lambs not wanting to trust men with broken arms trying to move loveseats into their "I'm not a murderer" van, or anyone who wants to eat fava beans and a nice chianti, and a strange inclination to rub lotion on your skin.

Silence of the Lambs was up against the likes of Beauty and the Beast, Oliver Stone's JFK, and The Prince of Tides. The right movie won.

6.) Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump probably deserves to be higher on this list given the competition that it was up against: Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption. A tough year indeed. In fact, despite the Best Picture nomination, The Shawshank Redemption was considered a box office flop. However, it is now ranked as #1 in IMDB's Top 250, and I'm pretty sure TNT airs it at least once a day. Though that's not by mistake. Because of its box office failure, The Shawshank Redemption came cheap to TNT, so they can pretty much air it whenever they want. And come on, admit it, when you see it's on, you stop and watch it.

And then there's Pulp Fiction. Ranked #5 on the same IMDB list. There's really nothing wrong with this movie either. So the fact that Forrest Gump beat both of those films to take Best Picture speaks volumes. Yet, for whatever reason, I can't place it higher than #6. Probably because I'm spending more time talking about the competition that year than I am the actual movie. Sure, most of us can recite the movie front to back, and have even probably went out on a run with the intention of running across the country eight times, but I just think The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction are better movies. So you get #6 Forrest. "It happens."

5.) The Hurt Locker (2009)

This movie. Wow. From the very first second you are on the edge of your seat, and you never leave it. The very talented Jeremy Renner plays Sergeant First Class William James, who is not only smack dab in the middle of the Iraq War, but his job is to disarm bombs in the middle of combat. Renner's character reminds me of what I picture Mel Gibson's character Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon to be during the Vietnam War. He's a maverick. He plays by his own rules. He's not afraid to die. He's disarming bombs while getting shot at during the Iraq War! And even when he gets out and comes home, even his family can't keep him around. He has to go back for more! It's an absolutely crazy, suspenseful movie that grabs your attention and holds it tight for two hours. There aren't even any opening credits or a title. You sit down, and you don't blink for 131 minutes.

The only competition that I can see from 2009 would have been Inglorious Basterds and Up. And as good as Tarantino's Basterds was, I still have to say the best movie won in 2009.

4.) American Beauty (1999)

"Uh, whose car is that our front?"

"Mine. 1970 Pontiac Firebird. The car I've always wanted and now I have it. I rule!"

American Beauty is simply perfect. Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, who goes on the ultimate mid-life crisis spree. He wakes up one day and wonders what happened? What has his life become? His marriage is a front, his teenage daughter hates him, so he makes some changes. He smokes weed with the neighbor kid next door, he quits his job (in the most wonderful way imaginable), he buys his Firebird, and starts flipping burgers. All of this of course starts a chain reaction that doesn't end well for Lester, but it is that chain reaction that also finally allows him to see the beauty in this world. "You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry… you will someday."

Spacey is perfect. Annette Benning is perfect. Chris Cooper, Mena Suvari, Wes Bentley. The cast is amazing and everyone plays their part without any flaws.

American Beauty was going up against The Green Mile in 1999, along with The Sixth Sense. But unlike the ending to the Sixth Sense, everyone saw this coming. Or at least should have. The right movie won.

3.) Rocky (1976)

A part-time boxer, part-time "debt collector" gets a chance to fight the World Heavyweight Champion when Apollo Creed comes to Philadelphia. Creed's managers say they want to turn a "nobody" into a "somebody," while actually just feeding a local boxer to the Champ.They pick out Rocky Balboa played by Sylvester Stallone.

We've all seen this movie. We know how it ends, and sets up perfectly for Rocky II, which I think is a better movie. But this first Rocky won Best Picture in 1976, and it should have. It's the epitome of an underdog story, and even though Stallone keeps making more and more of them, we can't get enough. The Rocky franchise probably should've have died after Apollo Creed died in Part IV, but let's face it, even when he's 60+ years old, we still went to see Rocky Balboa because we just can't get enough of this character.

The music, the running up the steps, Burgess Meredith screaming "You're gonna eat lightin' and you're gonna crap thunder!" This movie makes you want get up off your couch and go fight the World Heavyweight Champion! But you probably shouldn't. In fact, you should probably just go rent Rocky II. Much safer.

2.) No Country For Old Men (2007)

If you've ever wanted to stumble across millions of dollars, watch this movie first. Because if you find a $20 bill on the ground, you're probably safe to pocket that, but if you find millions of dollars, someone will be missing that, and they will come looking for it.

The man who found it? Llewelyn Moss played by Josh Brolin.

The man who is looking for it? The eerily calm, cold-blooded killer Anton Chigurh played by Javier Bardem.

The man trying to stop it all? The "getting too old for this ___" Sheriff Ed Tom Bell played by Tommy Lee Jones.

This movie is classic Cohen Brothers who adapted Cormac McCarthy's brilliant novel into an equally brilliant screenplay. Bardem plays the perfect villain as he tracks Brolin while dispassionately murdering anyone who gets in his way, and often in very inventive ways.

The Cohen Brothers are in a league of their own. They are one of the few filmmakers where everything they touch is gold, and No Country For Old Men is absolute proof of that. Is it their best movie? I don't think so. It's hard not to argue that honor belongs to The Big Lebowski or Fargo, but No Country For Old Men was the best movie of 2007. However, a strong argument could be made for There Will Be Blood because much like the Cohen Brothers, anything Daniel Day Lewis does is simply remarkable.

Which brings us to

1.) The Departed (2006)

With Martin Scorsese's body of work, it is hard to believe that The Departed won him his first Oscar. I mean, we're talking about the man who made Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, Raging Bull, Casino, etc. But it was in 2007 that he finally won an Oscar for The Departed, and rightfully so.

A masterful performance from Jack Nicholson. "I got this rat, the gnawing…" Nicholson plays gangster Frank Costello flawlessly. Leonardo DiCaprio didn't win an Oscar, but he probably should have for his portrayal of deep undercover cop Billy Costigan. Mark Wahlberg was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role and probably should've won based solely on his catchphrases alone.

The Departed is simply a brilliant movie. You know which side everyone is on, but watching the webs weave, tangle and ultimately unravel is so much fun.

The Departed was up against Little Miss Sunshine and Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006, but it is clear that it not only deservedly won the Best Picture, but finally and rightfully gave Martin Scorsese the award that eludeded him for too long.

Now in closing, do I think The Departed is the greatest movie of all time? No. I don't. But I do think it is the best movie to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. There are plenty of movies that were nominated, but did not win. Notable Travesties:

2012: Argo beats Zero Dark Thirty AND Django Unchained. Unacceptable.

1998: Shakespeare In Love beat Saving Private Ryan. Seriously?

1996: The English Patient beat Fargo. Really?

1989: Driving Miss Daisy beat Field of Dreams. Are you kidding? "Wanna have a catch?" Come on!

1980: Ordinary People beat Raging Bull. "Hit Me."

1977: Annie Hall beat Star Wars. Wow.

And those are just the nominated ones! Don't get me started on why the Academy chose to snub Maximum Overdrive in 1986, or They Live in 1988! Ok, maybe not.

As for Sunday, like I said, I've only seen two of the nine films nominated: Gravity and American Hustle.

Dallas Buyers Club looks good based solely on Jared Leto's role.

Nebraska finally gives me more Bruce Dern! YES! I've been waiting for more Bruce Dern since The 'Burbs.

Her is something I don't completely understand. Joaquin Phoenix is in love with his phone? Ok.

Captain Phillips had the potential to be Die Hard 6, but since it's based on a true story, I understand why they didn't take it in that direction.

Ultimately, I think the Oscar will go to The Wolf Of Wall Street. I say this with complete faith. Truly. Trust me. I've never even seen the movie.

That's my 2014 Oscar Best Best Picture Roundup. Hope you enjoyed. If you don't agree with my list, or my way of choosing it, feel free to write your own. I never agree with these kinds of lists either. My favorite movies are Die Hard and Predator so, that's how much credibility I have. Cheers everyone!

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