Danve Castroverde ( Co-op Board member and housing resident) weighs in with his picks for Best Picture Oscars over the last decade. You’re not going to find any Transformers, Grown Ups or Avatar in this lot. Let Danve know what you think. Better yet, send in your own picks n pans.
I am sure that you still have an Olympic high after Canada’s victorious defence of its hockey gold medal this past Sunday in Sochi. But just after the Winter Olympics, another competition of a more exciting and more cutthroat nature is coming this weekend – the OSCARS!
Every year, rabid cinephiles, obsessive awards prognosticators and casual filmgoers alike wait (until almost midnight) to find out which film gets the coveted Best Picture of the Year. This year, the conversation has mostly been dominated by three films – the technically magnificent Gravity, the mildly enjoyable but ultimately trite American Hustle and the aesthetically masqueraded “slavery’s greatest hits” horror exhibit 12 Years a Slave. Six other films were also nominated but nobody seriously thinks that those have a shot for a win.
Sure, this Oscars chatter could all be meaningless – my Best Picture pick has rarely lined up with the Oscar winner – but there is something undeniable about the cachet of an Academy Award. I almost never agree with them but I always watch the ceremony. However, all this media hype has gotten me thinking about and reflecting on my personal Best Picture winners for the past ten years. What were they? How did they have an impact on me? Were they even nominated?
2013: Frances Ha – This one was such a wonderful surprise for me. I have never been such a huge fan of Noah Baumbach but this was absolutely a magical experience. Greta Gerwig plays the title character with such whimsy and charisma that you cannot help but root for her. This visually reflexive comedy is an accurate examination of what it feels like to be in your twenties in the 21st century. Oscars verdict: Not nominated at all.
2012: Laurence Anyways – One of the most magnificent films of the past decade, this tells the tumultuous romance of a couple grappling with one partner's gender transitioning. It devastated me to pieces with how it carefully observed relationships (and life itself). French-Canadian Suzanne Clément delivers a tour-de-force performance that is rarely seen nowadays. Oscars verdict: Not nominated (not released in the US at all!)
2011: The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick delivers one of his finest films after making fans wait for more than six years after The New World. I thought that this was a powerful meditation on existence, love, grief and family amidst our own insignificance in this seemingly infinite universe. I would bet anyone that this will especially endure the test of time. Oscars verdict: Nominated but beaten by the average The Artist.
2010: Mother – Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s most intimate film, but do not mistake “intimate” with “tame” because this is just as explosively suspenseful as his blockbuster The Host. This portrays to what great lengths a mother would go in order to prove her intellectually challenged son’s innocence. Kim hye-ja is phenomenal in this role. Oscars verdict: Not nominated.
2009: The White Ribbon – Michael Haneke’s deserved Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival is less of a literal portrayal and more of an allegorical sermon on the dangers of religious conformity and how it could have led to the rise of fascism. As someone who was raised Catholic, this surely sent chills down my spine. Definitely top of the class for that year! Oscars verdict: Nominated (but just in the Foreign-Language category)
2008: Waltz with Bashir – This animated documentary about the evils of war is up there with Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, with its groundbreaking visual style and unconventional storytelling. Oscars verdict: Nominated (but just in the Foreign-Language category)
2007: There Will Be Blood – Daniel Day-Lewis is perfection in this instant classic of American cinema, which is Paul Thomas Anderson’s detailed and penetrating exploration on power, ideology and ambition. I totally drink his milkshake! Oscars verdict: Nominated but lost to the Coen brothers’ also-excellent No Country for Old Men.
2006: Marie Antoinette – Sofia Coppola’s apotheosis as a creative genius, this film marries the director’s youthful vision with the sumptuous vibrancy (and luxury!) of Europe’s most hated (or loved?) queen. No other film will make you crave for French macaroons and champagne while listening to New Order’s timeless synthpop classic “Ceremony”. Oscars verdict: Nominated for the Costumes (and won!)
2005: A History of Violence – David Cronenberg’s figurative shakeup of small-town Americana in genre form. He is indeed a true master of the art form and directed Viggo Mortensen to his best performance ever as an actor. Oscars verdict: Nominated (for Supporting Actor and Screenplay only)
2004: Before Sunset – The sequel to Richard Linklater’s beloved Before Sunrise. This is a beautiful contemplation on the effects of time on relationship, romance and love. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are a match made in (Parisian) heaven! Oscars verdict: Nominated (just for Screenplay)