The 86th annual Academy Awards are imminent. The Oscars are the Super Bowl for film nerds and they can certainly cause just as much anguish and frustration as when <INSERT FAVORITE TEAM HERE> loses. Looking back over the Academy’s track record can be a dismal experience. There’s the year Driving Miss Daisy beat out Do the Right Thing for Best Picture, or when Crash took home the statue over Brokeback Mountain.
Even years when the winning film was great but not the greatest can be annoying. How Green Was My Valley and The Apartment are both fantastic films, but they’re not quite on the level of Citizen Kane or Psycho. But occasionally the Academy gets it right. Let’s bask in the glow of inarguable, unequivocal success. Perhaps a little magic will rub off on us.
The first Academy Awards ceremony back in 1928 did something never again replicated in the 85 years since: they gave out two Best Picture awards. The film everyone remembers from that inaugural year is Wings, the Clara Bow aviation feature, but another award was given out that night under the category “Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production” for F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, arguably the greatest silent film of all time.
There is a large swath of the public that is certain Star Wars was robbed back in 1977 when it lost to Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, but they’re wrong. (The Empire Strikes Back should have won over Ordinary People three years later though.) Annie Hall is not only the best film out of Allen’s forty-plus features, but the best romantic comedy ever made.
Finally, the best picture to ever win Best Picture occurred in 1950 when Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All About Eve won six awards. The story of a ruthless career climber in the world of stage drama works well as a commentary on the annual Oscar campaigning and chicanery. Pop it in this Sunday, I guarantee a less aggravating time than watching the telecast.