Which Oscar’s Best Picture winner(s) are great for repeat viewings?

Three more days until Oscar time! I was going to publish my Oscar chatter post on my winner picks vs. predictions on the major categories, but allow me to digress. I had an email conversation earlier today with a colleague/friend of mine and she confessed how The Hurt Locker is not something she’d enjoy watching because she finds war movies really depressing. Then another colleague who might be going to see Precious with her friends told me she was a bit reluctant about it after reading about how some scenes might be too painful to watch. This is the same colleague who couldn’t keep her eyes open during A Serious Man last weekend. All three of those movies I mentioned are up for Oscar this year, which begs the question: are the Academy Best Picture nominees the kind of films that are really enjoyable to watch? What I mean by ‘enjoyable’ is that they’re the kind of flix that don’t make your skin crawl or depress/bore the heck out of you that you actually don’t mind, or even look forward to, watching them again.

Looking back at some of the older movies that won Best Picture, the Academy is notorious for nominating ‘powerful’ movies that aren’t necessarily ‘entertaining.’ For me, there are only a handful of past winners that I actually enjoy watching them over and over again: Gone with the Wind (1939), Ben Hur (1959), My Fair Lady (1964), and The Sound of Music (1965).

But amongst the contemporary best picture winners (let’s just say those released in the 80s up until now), I only count Gladiator (2000) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) as those I can definitely re-watch again, in fact I have all of the dvds in my collection. I’m sure The Godfather (1972), Rocky (1976) or Titanic (1997) are popular picks in that category. As for the rest, either I don’t have interest in seeing them or they fall in the category of ‘great movies one would only watch once’ because they’re just too overwhelming, disturbing, emotional or a combination of all three. So for me, those would be something like Schindler’s List, The Last Emperor, Braveheart, and The Silence of the Lambs. They’re all worth-watching but I don’t think I can bear watching ’em again.

Of the ten nominees this year, three of them I wouldn’t mind watching again: Inglourious Basterds, District 9 and Avatar (which in fact I have watched twice!). You know how I feel about The Hurt Locker, so suffice to say no repeat viewing on that one for me.

Anyway, how about you, readers? Please do share which previous Best Picture winners you could really watch over and over again, or which one(s) fall under the ‘great movies you’d watch only once’ category.

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15 thoughts on “Which Oscar’s Best Picture winner(s) are great for repeat viewings?

  1. Samantha

    Looking at the list, some of my faves: Gigi (1958), Amadeus (1984), Shakespeare in Love (1998), and Chicago (2002). Not counting, of course, the four you pictured, plus Gladiator, of course. As a matter of fact, in a smaller DVD collection, I own 7 of those 9 … I think that your list and mine would probably get a lot bigger if we included films that were nominated, but did not win.

    1. Hi Sam, we kinda have similar taste. I gotta check out Gigi one of these days, Chicago is just ok for me, I’m more of a Moulin Rouge gal. But Gladiator, boy I can watch that one every month if I have time! And yeah, there are definitely more flix I’d watch repeatedly amongst those nominated.

      Hey, I’m glad I inspire somebody! 🙂 Tweet about it when you’re done, ok, I’d love to check it out.

  2. Marc

    I think sometimes a Best Picture film is the picture that made the biggest statement that year (plus a little political behind the scenes string pulling) and not truly the Best Picture and that kind of irritates me.

    Some Best Picture films, while they may have been all the rage that year, either don’t hold up, or as you put it, aren’t enjoyable to watch. That year’s “message” sometimes can become easily as outdated or irrelevant as a fashion trend.

    I watched Crash and thought it was great the first time but giving it a second spin, I find it preachy and very self-aware.

    I think Ingluorious Basterds will hold up should it win, but Hurt Locker will probably take the Oscar but I’d bet that the shine on that win will fade faster than Titanic or Lord of the Rings: Return of the King did.

    1. Marc

      The ones I would could rewatch any day of the week are of course Rocky, and Gladiator, but also, A Beautiful Mind, Forrest Gump, Dances With Wolves, Rain Man and and although heavy, I love Patton and Ben-Hur (especially at Easter).

      No Country for Old Men, Platoon, and Million Dollar Baby are not “pick-me-up” movies but they’re still very good and deserve the win.

      I do have to cry out why when I think of these winners and will still never be sold on Slumdog, The Departed, Titanic, or Shakespeare in Love…but I have come to like American Beauty.

    2. I agree, Marc, that is indeed irritating, that’s why for the longest time I don’t really care for the Award season. I’m with you that Basterds has that ‘timeless’ appeal, I mean I literally want to re-watch it again even though like you, I’m not a QT fan! It says something that he made a believer out of someone like me who aren’t even in his targeted demographic 🙂

      Oh Forrest Gump is a good one, I haven’t seen Dances with Wolves but isn’t it kind of long and tedious? Ben Hur’s message just resonates with me a lot, and yeah it’s definitely great for Easter! Would you believe it I have not seen Slumdog and The Departed yet … but I agree that ‘Shakespeare’ probably isn’t Oscar-worthy (boy aren’t those Weinstein brothers slick promoters or what?). But sorry Marc, I’d rate Titanic better than American Beauty. But maybe because I’m bitter that The Insider didn’t win that year instead.

  3. mcarteratthemovies

    I think feminism ruined me for “Gone With the Wind.” I’ve seen it twice and I appreciate all the things I’m supposed to appreciate — the epic scope, the costuming, all the barriers and records it broke — but I don’t love it. I find Scarlett to be fickle and wishy-washy and totally self-absorbed; I simply can’t forgive that in her character. Clark Gable, though? WOOF. What a hunk. I get why women were fainting in his midst.

    1. Ha..ha… Scarlett is all that you describe, M, but that’s kind of part of her ‘charm’ if you will. Of course she’s pompous & self-absorbed, not to mention heartless, I mean, stealing your own sister’s guy?? Sooo not cool! But there are some good characteristics that she possess: her resolve, courage, and tenacity for example, and her will to survive is admirable. But yeah, I probably wouldn’t be as forgiving as Melanie if I met her in real life! As for Clark Gable… WOOF is right, if he looked at me the way he looks at Scarlet at the bottom of the stairwell, I don’t think I’d make it down in one piece! 🙂

  4. rockerdad

    RTM, I empathize. I’ve watched my share of disturbing and emotional flix over the years. I naturally gravitate away from ‘drama’ most of the time even though I appreciate it in the context of a good story or performance. I’m not big on historical serious blockbusters like Ghandi. But yes, I probably will not go reaching for Platoon, The Deer Hunter, or Kramer vs Kramer to enjoy a Friday or Saturday evening. I will most likely go for Gigi, It Happened One Night, Out of Africa (I love the music and cinematography on that one) and Gladiator for some Ridley flavor.

    But to be honest, most of my favorites were never nominated or won Best Picture. My Kubrick, Hitchcock and Lynch DVD collection gets ecstatic play a few times a year.

    1. Ok, two people mention Gigi already, gotta add that to my Netflix. For some reason I feel like I have seen Out of Africa, but probably just bits and pieces. I absolutely adore John Barry’s score though. Yeah, my faves won’t get recognized either, though you have good reason for frowning that Hitchcock and Kubrick were not being nominated often enough!

  5. Definitely agree with Gladiator, just one of those movies that can be rewatched dozens if not hundreds of times. My list would also include Unforgiven, and Platoon.

    1. Glad to see all the love for Gladiator, but it’s hard to argue with a classic. It’s rare to see a movie that is spectacular on so many levels: story, acting, set design, music, the list goes on. Long live Maximus!!

  6. PrairieGirl

    Oscar winning pictures I’ve seen more than once: Casablanca, Rebecca, and Dances with Wolves (seen this one three times!). I’ve only seen Lawrence of Arabia once (except didn’t catch the ending, it’s a long movie), but certainly will watch again, all the way through next time.

  7. Interesting post, I have to say The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady along with Chicago for me, if your into musicals they really are a genre which can be watched over and over and never get old. I know a lot of people are not fans of Chicago but it is possibly the film I have watched the most. I had a full on obsession with it where I watched it over and over for weeks.

    I can see your point how some films while brilliant you either cannot or do not want to watch again, mainly because you remember them and the subject matter is too delicate to endure again. Like as you mentioned Schlinder’s List.

    I have watched Million Dollar Baby loads of times as well, but that is my number 1 film after all.

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