Thursday Movie Picks #32: Oscar-Winning Movies

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy Thursday everyone! I’ve been seeing posts on the weekly Thursday Movie Picks that’s spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog, but I haven’t been able to participate. Well until now that is.

The rules are simple simple:
Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it, one of each. Today’s topic is…

OscarWinningMovies

The Oscar-winning movies can include winners of Best Picture, Best Animated Film and Best Foreign Film, but I ended up sticking with the main Best Picture winners. As I was thinking of doing a Top 10 list on this topic, you could say that these films would make my Top 5.

So, here are my picks of three films that deserve all the accolades they’ve received and I don’t hesitate calling each of them a masterpiece.

Casablanca (1942)

ThursdayPicks_Casablanca

Oscar Facts: Won 3 Oscars out of 6 nominations

I had the good fortune of finally seeing Casablanca for the first time two years ago (as I documented here), as part of TCM Theatrical re-release. Robert Osborne, the longtime TCM host, introduced the film and gave some background, which is cool. Unfortunately, he also spoiled the plot – I think he just assumed everyone had seen the film. But even with that snafu, I was so engrossed in the story right from the start. It’s got everything you could want in a movie – intrigue, romance, humor, great music, exotic setting, etc. But most importantly, at the heart of it is the engaging and unforgettable love story, beautifully-realized by Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman. There’s really so much to appreciate in this film that I can’t possibly write in a paragraph or two.

The world will always welcome lovers ♬ As time goes by ♪

 The world will always welcome beautiful stories, too and that’s why Casablanca will always stand the test of time.

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1959)

Oscar Facts: Won 11 Oscars out of 12 nominations

ThursdayPicks_BenHur

Here’s another Hollywood epic that shall stand the test of time. This is one of the first American films I saw as a young girl with my late mother and it made a huge impression to me then. I was in awe of the visual grandeur and all the epic action scenes, especially the chariot race. I have re-watched it countless times since and even with the technological advancement of movie-making, few scenes from today’s movies could match the intensity and the panoramic spectacle of the chariot scene, it’s 40-min of pure adrenaline rush that I wish I could witness on the big screen one day.

But visuals alone doesn’t make a movie and the personal redemptive story of Judah Ben-Hur is just as riveting. I love that it tells the story of Christ through the eyes of the protagonist and how an encounter with Him ultimately transforms his life in a profound way. It’s truly as epic as a film could get, a feast for the eyes as well as for the soul. Though it’s 3.5-hours long, it’s so well-worth your time and I know it’s one that I appreciate more and more every time I watch it. Both Charlton Heston in the title role and Stephen Boyd as friend-turned-foe Messala are superb, with a supporting cast

But this is truly William Wyler‘s towering achievement. He’s considered by his peers as a master craftsman of cinema, and rightly so. I just read on IMDb that Wyler was an assistant director on the 1925 version of Ben-Hur, who knew he’d go on to surpass that film in so many ways three decades later.

Gladiator (2000)

Oscar Facts: Won 5 Oscars out of 12 nominations

ThursdayPicks_Gladiator

I have dedicated a post for Ridley Scott’s magnum opus a few years ago and even today he still can’t reclaim the glory of this Roman epic. I’m going to self-plagiarize myself here as I still carry a torch for this film and each repeat viewing reminds me just spectacular it is. Gladiator is a visceral spectacle that offers a thrilling blend of intellect and physical strength.  Massively entertaining and memorable, it lived up to the promise of Maximus himself: “I will give them something they have never seen before.“ Oh yes, we’re definitely entertained.

I LOVE that both the hero and the villain are equally-matched in terms of how intensely they’re portrayed on screen. Both Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix gave tremendous performances, culminating to a thrilling and emotional finale worth cheering for. Like the two films I mentioned above, this film ticks all the right boxes to be considered a classic. Visually and emotionally satisfying, it also boasts one of the greatest soundtracks ever by Hans Zimmer. It’s the soundtrack that’s been copied many times over but never surpassed.

BONUS PICK:

Gone with the Wind (1939)

GWTW_OakTreeI just had to include this film as it’s also one of my earliest intro to Hollywood films and even eight decades later, this film is still being talked about. I’d call it a monumental classic, showing the best and absolute worst of American history during the civil war era. Some people didn’t care for the melodrama and it seems overindulgent at times thanks to producer David O. Selznick‘s constant meddling, but few films are as beautifully-shot and wonderfully-acted as this one. There are just too many iconic scenes and dialog from this film, some of them I have highlighted here on its 75th anniversary. Whether you’d end up liking it or not, this is one of those cinematic gems every film fan should be compelled to check out.


What do you think of my picks? Have you seen these films?

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36 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks #32: Oscar-Winning Movies

  1. I have yet to see GONE WITH THE WIND and CASABLANCA and I’ll probably never will. I just can’t sit through films from those eras.

    Really enjoyed the chariot race in Ben-Hur, such a huge spectacle that no film could ever top. I think I told you this already but I didn’t care for Gladiator when I saw it in theater but it grew on me after I watched on DVD and Bluray. I still don’t think it should’ve won best picture of that year though.

    1. That’s a bummer, I think you’re missing out 😉

      Ben-Hur is truly a cinematic achievement that even modern movies w/ all the new tech still can’t match. It’s not just the chariot scene alone as it’s on a league of its own, but in terms of story and its unabashed spirituality that today’s filmmakers refuse to do. Glad Gladiator grew on you over the years, I was blown away right from the start. Gladiator is still an epic to this day, so I’m totally fine w/ it winning.

  2. Oooh what a superb list! I love every film you included. It’s especially interesting to see my favorite movie of all-time and my wife’s favorite movie of all-time mentioned. She has always adored Gone with the Wind!

    1. Hey there Keith!! Woo hoo, glad that I cover both yours & your wife’s fave on here. If I were to make a top 5, both movies would be on the list. I’m thrilled that I got to see Casablanca on the big screen and despite Osborne spoiling it, I still loved every minute of it. If only I could see the other three on the big screen too!

  3. Love seeing the love for Gladiator and Casablanca pop up here and there! Wonderful picks. I like, but don’t love Gone with the Wind or Ben-Hur, but I understand the love they get.

    1. I know we share a love for Gladiator! Oh you love Casablanca too? It’s really an enchanting film. I can see why some people aren’t fond of GWTW or Ben-Hur, but I do think they’re epic and timeless.

  4. I’ve never seen Ben-Hur, but love the others! Casablanca was my first true classic, so I’d definitely pick it too. All About Eve and The Apartment would probably be my other two picks.

    1. Hi Sofia! Ben-Hur is highly recommended, it’s the epic of all epic film 🙂 Oh I love All About Eve and The Apartment too, I didn’t realize they both won Best Picture, but deservedly-so.

    1. Hello Josh! Hmmm, Ben-Hur not quite a masterpiece? If that ain’t one I really can’t imagine what is, ahah. It’s a big epic w/ a big budget I know, but I feel that there’s an intimate story at the heart of it and I love how character-driven it is. Glad you love the other three though 😀

  5. I only seen GLADIATOR so far and it makes a love-hate attraction to this. The movie worked well as a piece of art with the shots and the scores as well as the quotable lines, but the plot is nearly cliche for me.
    But, thanks for your recommendation, especially the classic features. Haven’t watched any of them but I heard Casablanca got a beautiful heartbreaking story. So I think I gotta check them anytime soon.

    1. Oh no, cliched plot? Say it ain’t so. But yeah, both Casablanca and Ben-Hur are highly recommended. Both are a visual spectacle but it has so much heart in its story, too.

  6. Love Casablanca and Ben-Hur. There’s good reason that chariot race is so intense. Every second of it was organically filmed, all real horses, chariots, wrecks, and people cheering. It’s a marvel of film making. I like, not love Gladiator. I appreciate GwtW for the spectacle of it all, but I’m not a big fan of it.

    1. Hi Wendell! I know, it’s freakin’ amazing what they did before special effects. The used like 5000 extras or something like that and yes, real horses. I totally get that, GWTW shows some utterly despicable things in American history, and Scarlett is a tough character to love. But I think because I saw it as a young girl without any background of its history, I greatly appreciated it for its artistry.

      1. I never liked that film. I thought it was overrated. Especially since there were better films that year like Traffic, In the Mood for Love, and Requiem for a Dream which all came out that same year.

    1. Hi Abbi. Oy, it seems that there are a few of you who didn’t care for Gladiator 😦 I always think of that as Ridley Scott’s latest truly great work that he still can’t replicate yet.

    1. Glad you agree and that we both picked Gladiator for this post. It seems that it has some detractors but I have seen it many times are still impressed w/ it. Amen about that soundtrack!

  7. I love three of your picks-GWTW, Gladiator and Casablanca and like Ben-Hur. I will say in Ben-Hur’s favor that it has that epic sweep down. Modern filmmakers can’t replicate the feel of the real cast of thousands no matter how refined CGI becomes. The energy of the film is so different and Ben-Hur’s chariot race is unbeatable.

    I was also lucky enough to see Casablanca once in a theatre. It wasn’t my first time seeing the movie but it was a unique experience since audience reaction affects the way you perceive a picture. There’s a wonderful book about the making of the film and everything associated with it called Round Up the Usual Suspects by Aljean Harmetz.

  8. Pingback: Everybody’s Chattin’ + February Viewing Recap |

  9. Pingback: Musings on the first trailer of the new Ben-Hur (2016)

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