By Matt Neglia
We’re back to our randomized format for Last Best Picture. During the Oscar season, we were choosing Best Picture Nominees/Winners to review on the Podcast that correlated to films in the Oscar race. Now, we have selected 10 random Best Picture Nominees/Winners for you to choose from. Whichever film wins the poll, will be the one we review on our podcast for March 2019, exclusive to our Patreon supporters.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
THE STORY: Bored with his wife (Janet Gaynor), their baby and the dull routine of farm life, a farmer (George O’Brien) falls under the spell of a flirtatious city girl (Margaret Livingston) who convinces him to drown his wife so they can escape together. When his wife becomes suspicious of his plan and runs away to the city, the farmer pursues her, slowly regaining her trust as the two rediscover their love for each other in this award-winning silent classic.
THE CAST: George O’Brien, Janet Gaynor & Margaret Livingston
THE TEAM: F. W. Murnau (Director) & Carl Mayer (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME: 95 Minutes
The Thin Man (1934)
THE STORY: The story of a retired detective who, while spending much of his time managing his wife’s considerable fortune and consuming quantities of alcohol, is asked to follow the trail of a missing inventor. Although reluctant to interrupt his holiday in Manhattan, he is persuaded to investigate by his wife‘s craving for adventure, and together they embark upon a case that leads to the disclosure of deception and murder.
THE CAST: William Powell, Myrna Loy, Maureen O’Sullivan, Nat Pendleton & Minna Gombell
THE TEAM: W. S. Van Dyke (Director), Albert Hackett & Frances Goodrich (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME: 93 Minutes
Kings Row (1942)
THE STORY: In the 1890s, friends from both sides of the tracks in the village of Kings Row look for love despite the barriers of family and class. Aspiring doctor Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) loves the mysterious Cassandra Tower (Betty Field), despite her dark family secrets. Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan) loses his trust fund and must go to work, but when his legs are amputated after an accident, his depression colors his relationship with feisty working-class girl Randy Monaghan (Ann Sheridan).
THE CAST: Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Betty Field, Charles Coburn, Claude Rains, Judith Anderson & Maria Ouspenskaya
THE TEAM: Sam Wood (Director) & Casey Robinson (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME: 127 Minutes
The King And I (1956)
THE STORY: In this film adaptation of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, widowed Welsh mother Anna Loenowens (Deborah Kerr) becomes a governess and English tutor to the wives and many children of the stubborn King Mongkut of Siam (Yul Brynner). Anna and the king have a clash of personalities as she works to teach the royal family about the English language, customs and etiquette, and rushes to prepare a party for a group of European diplomats who must change their opinions about the king.
THE CAST: Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Rita Moreno, Maureen Hingert, Martin Benson & Rex Thompson
THE TEAM: Walter Lang (Director) & Ernest Lehman
THE RUNNING TIME: 133 Minutes
All The King’s Men (1949)
THE STORY: Drama about the rise and fall of a corrupt southern governor who promises his way to power. Broderick Crawford portrays Willie Stark, who, once he is elected, finds that his vanity and power lust prove to be his downfall. The film is based on the 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Robert Penn Warren.
THE CAST: Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Mercedes McCambridge, Joanne Dru, John Derek & Shepperd Strudwick
THE TEAM: Robert Rossen (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME: 109 Minutes
The Apartment (1960)
THE STORY: Insurance worker C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) lends his Upper West Side apartment to company bosses to use for extramarital affairs. When his manager Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) begins using Baxter’s apartment in exchange for promoting him, Baxter is disappointed to learn that Sheldrake’s mistress is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the elevator girl at work whom Baxter is interested in himself. Soon Baxter must decide between the girl he loves and the advancement of his career.
THE CAST: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray & Jack Kruschen
THE TEAM: Billy Wilder (Director/Writer) & I. A. L. Diamond (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME: 125 Minutes
THE STORY: Repression is the rule of the day in this film that skewers Greek governance of the 1960s. Z (Yves Montand), a leftist rabble rouser, is killed in what appears to be a traffic accident. But given the political climate, the death of such a prominent activist raises troubling questions. Though it’s too late to save Z’s life, a postmortem examination suggests that the ruling party was behind his death. As the facts leak out, those who tell the truth pay the price for their honesty.
THE CAST: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Yves Montand, Irene Papas & Jacques Perrin
THE TEAM: Costa-Gavras (Director/Writer) & Jorge Semprún (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME: 129 Minutes
THE STORY: Writer-director Paul Haggis interweaves several connected stories about race, class, family and gender in Los Angeles in the aftermath of 9/11. Characters include a district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his casually prejudiced wife (Sandra Bullock), dating police detectives Graham (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito), a victimized Middle Eastern store owner and a wealthy African-American couple (Terrence Dashon Howard, Thandie Newton) humiliated by a racist traffic cop (Matt Dillon).
THE CAST: Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe & Larenz Tate
THE TEAM: Paul Haggis (Director/Writer) & Bobby Moresco (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME: 112 Minutes
Michael Clayton (2007)
THE STORY: Problem fixer Michael Clayton is brought in to clean up the mess after one of his law firm’s top litigators suffers a breakdown while representing a corrupt chemical corporation in a multi-billion dollar legal suit. Under pressure to appease the firm’s clients, Clayton finds himself torn between his desire to do the right thing and a pressing need to pay off spiralling personal debts.
THE CAST: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton & Sydney Pollack
THE TEAM: Tony Gilroy (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME: 139 Minutes
American Sniper (2014)
THE STORY: U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) takes his sole mission — protect his comrades — to heart and becomes one of the most lethal snipers in American history. His pinpoint accuracy not only saves countless lives but also makes him a prime target of insurgents. Despite grave danger and his struggle to be a good husband and father to his family back in the States, Kyle serves four tours of duty in Iraq. However, when he finally returns home, he finds that he cannot leave the war behind.
THE CAST: Bradley Cooper & Sienna Miller
THE TEAM: Clint Eastwood (Director) & Jason Hall (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME: 139 Minutes
You can follow Matt and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @NextBestPicture