Sunday, February 26, 2017

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The Bicentennial Best Picture

The moment you've all been waiting for. Well, the moment you would have been waiting for 40 years ago. Before we see who the Academy honors as the Best Picture of 2016 tonight, let's take a trip back to 1977, and the Best Picture of 1976:

The nominees, after the jump.

All the President's Men

Genuine suspense, even when you know the end results going in. Fantastic delineation of information without coming off like a checklist of factoids and events. I go back time and again to Jane Alexander's terrified interview, to Robert Redford's single-take phone call, to Stephen Collins weighing his options, to Hal Holbrook suddenly challenged by a pissed-off Redford.

Bound for Glory

The early days of Woody Guthrie, ending before we get to the "glory", though we do see how he's bound for it. Just a solid all-around movie, one more concerned with its environs than it is with the particulars of the man himself - though that was Woody, wasn't it? He was a man concerned with what was happening around him. Can't help but feel a certain remove from it, though.


Probably the most consistently funny film of 1976, which is interesting given its cynical take on both the television industry and modern America. I could watch it over and over again - indeed, it's the only Retrospective movie that I watched twice. Perfection.


The great American film, an underdog tale about people pulling themselves up by finding a community (it takes a village to raise each other). That's what I got out of it. It may be one of the great sports/boxing movies of all time, but at its heart, Rocky is about the love story. Also? Just genuinely freeking great.

Taxi Driver

Like a fever dream, with a soundscape both ominous and disarmingly romantic. You are in the headspace of Travis Bickle, an idealistic young man, about to become very, very dangerous. We talk a lot about the presence of Network, or how All the President's Men is a great example of history repeating itself - but give Taxi Driver another look. It nails a certain subset of young men, and we ignore that at our own peril.


My rankings:
5. Bound for Glory 
4. Rocky
3. All the President's Men
2. Taxi Driver
1. Network

Mom's rankings:
4. Network
3. Bound for Glory
2. Taxi Driver
1. Rocky

Rocky won, of course, and my mom certainly agrees with that. But take a look at these rankings. With All the President's Men out of the way, Bound for Glory has a combined eight points, Rocky and Network tie with five, and Taxi Driver four. And since the lower the number, the better your chances of winning, the SSR vote officially goes to.....


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