Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Movies - Best Picture Winners 1927-2011

It's almost time for Academy Award nominations to be announced (tomorrow!), so it seemed like a good time to launch the movie part of our reader's advisory blog. Get ready for some viewer's advisory!

To start with, did you know that you can check out every Best Picture winner since 1927 from Samuels Library? (The only exception is the 1932/1933 winner Cavalcade, which is currently unavailable on DVD.)

Following the jump ("Read more"), you will find brief annotations for all 84 of these films.

2011 - "The Artist"
A silent movie star meets a young dancer, but the arrival of talking pictures sends their careers in opposite directions.

2010 - "The King's Speech"
The story of King George VI of Britain, his impromptu ascension to the throne, and the speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch become worthy of it.

2009 - "The Hurt Locker"
Forced to play a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an elite Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb.

2008 - "Slumdog Millionaire"
A Mumbai teen who grew up in the slums becomes a contestant on the Indian version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" He is arrested under suspicion of cheating, and while being interrogated, events from his life history are shown which explain why he knows the answers.

2007 - "No Country for Old Men"
Violence and mayhem ensue after a hunter stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and more than two million dollars in cash near the Rio Grande.

2006 - "The Departed"
Two men from opposite sides of the law are undercover within the Massachusetts State Police and the Irish mafia, but violence and bloodshed boil when discoveries are made, and the moles are dispatched to find out their enemy's identities.

2005 - "Crash"
Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.

2004 - "Million Dollar Baby"
A hardened trainer/manager works with a determined woman in her attempt to establish herself as a boxer.

2003 - "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
In the final installment of the trilogy based on the novels of J.R.R. Tolkien, Gandalf and Aragorn lead the World of Men against Sauron's army to draw his gaze from Frodo and Sam as they approach Mount Doom with the One Ring.

2002 - "Chicago"
Murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

2001 - "A Beautiful Mind"
After a brilliant but asocial mathematician accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn to the nightmarish.

2000 - "Gladiator"
When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by an emperor's corrupt son, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

1999 - "American Beauty"
Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation for his daughter's attractive friend.

1998 - "Shakespeare in Love"
A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

1997 - "Titanic"
A seventeen-year-old aristocrat, expecting to be married to a rich claimant by her mother, falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.

1996 - "The English Patient"
Based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje, at the close of WWII a young nurse tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim. His past is shown in flashbacks, revealing an involvement in a fateful love affair.

1995 - "Braveheart"
When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier whom tried to rape her, a commoner begins a revolt and leads Scottish warriors against the cruel English tyrant who rules Scotland with an iron fist.

1994 - "Forrest Gump"
Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny, eludes him.

1993 - "Schindler’s List"
In Poland during World War II, Oskar Schindler gradually becomes concerned for his Jewish workforce after witnessing their persecution by the Nazis.

1992 - "Unforgiven"
Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.

1991 - "The Silence of the Lambs"
A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

1990 - "Dances with Wolves"
Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

1989 - "Driving Miss Daisy"
An old Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the American South have a relationship that grows and improves over the years.

1988 - "Rain Man"
Selfish yuppie Charlie Babbitt's father dies and leaves a fortune to Raymond, the institutionalized savant brother that Charlie didn't know he had. Together they set out on a cross-country journey of discovery.

1987 - "The Last Emperor"
A dramatic history of Pu Yi, the last of the Emperors of China, from his lofty birth and brief reign in the Forbidden City through his abdication, his exploitation by the invading Japanese, and finally to his obscure existence as just another peasant worker in the People's Republic.

1986 - "Platoon"
A young recruit in Vietnam faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.

1985 - "Out of Africa"
Based on the book by Karen Blixen, in 20th century colonial Kenya a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter.

1984 - "Amadeus"
The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told in flashback by his peer and secret rival Antonio Salieri - now confined to an insane asylum.

1983 - "Terms of Endearment"
Aurora and Emma are a mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage, Aurora shows how difficult and loving she can be. The movie covers several years of their lives as each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy.

1982 - "Gandhi"
A biopic about Mohandas K. Gandhi, the lawyer who became the famed leader of the Indian revolts against the British rule through his philosophy of non-violent protest.

1981 - "Chariots of Fire"
Two British track athletes, one a determined Jew and the other a devout Christian, compete in the 1924 Olympics.

1980 - "Ordinary People"
The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

1979 - "Kramer vs. Kramer"
A just-divorced man must learn to care for his son on his own, and then must fight in court to keep custody of him.

1978 - "The Deer Hunter"
An in-depth examination of the way that the Vietnam war affects the lives of people in a small industrial town in the USA.

1977 - "Annie Hall"
Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.

1976 - "Rocky"

A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

1975 - "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest"
Upon arriving at a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients to take on the oppressive Nurse Ratched, a woman more dictator than nurse.

1974 - "The Godfather Part II"
The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba.

1973 - "The Sting"
In 1930s Chicago, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.

1972 - "The Godfather"
The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

1971 - "The French Connection"
A pair of NYC cops in the Narcotics Bureau stumble onto a drug smuggling job with a French connection.

1970 - "Patton"
A depiction of the World War II phase of the controversial American general's career.

1969 - "Midnight Cowboy"
A naive male prostitute and his sickly friend struggle to survive on the streets of New York City.

1968 - "Oliver!"
A musical adaptation about an orphan who runs away from an orphanage and hooks up with a group of boys trained to be pickpockets by an elderly mentor.

1967 - "In the Heat of the Night"
An African American detective is asked to investigate a murder in a racist southern town.

1966 - "A Man for All Seasons"
The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.

1965 - "The Sound of Music"
A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower.

1964 - "My Fair Lady"
A misogynistic and snobbish phonetics professor agrees to a wager that he can take a flower girl and make her presentable in high society.

1963 - "Tom Jones"
Tom Jones, the adopted son of a British country squire, is a love-'em-and-leave-'em lady charmer who goes blithely from bed to bed, while managing to get into enough other mischief to come within moments of being hanged.

1962 - "Lawrence of Arabia"
The story of T.E. Lawrence, a flamboyant and controversial British military figure and his conflicted loyalties during his World War I service in the Middle East.

1961 - "West Side Story"
A musical adaptation of Romeo and Juliet set in New York City, where rival street gangs (the Jets and the Sharks) battle for territory and respect. Is the love affair between former Jets leader Tony and Maria, sister to Sharks' leader Bernardo, doomed to failure?

1960 - "The Apartment"
A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

1959 - "Ben-Hur"
When a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge.

1958 - "Gigi"
Weary of the conventions of Parisian society, a rich playboy and a youthful courtesan-in-training enjoy a platonic friendship, but it may not stay platonic for long.

1957 - "The Bridge on the River Kwai"
After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

1956 - "Around the World in 80 Days"
Based on Jules Verne's novel, a Victorian Englishman bets that with the new steamships and railways he can do what the title says.

1955 - "Marty"
Marty is a 34-year-old butcher whose Italian family is constantly after him to get married. He meets plain-looking schoolteacher Clara. They are both lonely, unglamorous people who have resigned themselves to their unloved lives. But they manage, in time, to grope their way to love.

1954 - "On the Waterfront"
An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

1953 - "From Here to Eternity"
Based on the novel by James Jones, in 1941 Hawaii a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team. Meanwhile, his captain's wife and second in command are falling in love.

1952 - "The Greatest Show on Earth"
Follows the dramatic lives of trapeze artists, a clown, and an elephant trainer against a background of circus spectacle.

1951 - "An American in Paris"
Three friends struggle to find work in Paris. However, things become more complicated when two of them fall in love with the same woman.

1950 - "All About Eve"
An ingénue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

1949 - "All the King’s Men"
Based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren, this chronicles of the rise and fall of a corrupt politician, who makes his friends richer and retains power by dint of a populist appeal.

1948 - "Hamlet"
This is Sir Laurence Olivier’s version of William Shakespeare's tale of tragedy of murder and revenge in the royal halls of medieval Denmark.

1947 - "Gentleman's Agreement"
A reporter pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and he personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred.

1946 - "The Best Years of Our Lives"
Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

1945 - "The Lost Weekend"
The desperate life of a chronic alcoholic is followed through a four day drinking bout.

1944 - "Going My Way"

Youthful Father Chuck O'Malley led a colorful life of sports, song, and romance before joining the Roman Catholic clergy. O'Malley's worldly knowledge helps him connect with a gang of kids looking for direction and handle the business details of the church-building fund.

1943 - "Casablanca"
Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

1942 - "Mrs. Miniver"
The Minivers, an English middle class family, experience life in the first months of World War II. Their idyllic life is shattered in September 1939 when England is forced to declare war on Germany and their son joins the Royal Air Force.

1941 - "How Green Was My Valley"
At the turn of the century in a Welsh mining village, the Morgans raise coal-mining sons and hope their youngest will find a better life.

1940 - "Rebecca"
Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, a naive young woman marries a rich widower and settles in his gigantic mansion, only to find the memory of the first wife maintaining a grip on her husband and the servants.

1939 - "Gone with the Wind"
Based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, a manipulative woman and a roguish man carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

1938 - "You Can't Take It with You"
A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.

1937 - "The Life of Emile Zola"
The biopic of the famous French muckraking writer and his involvement in fighting the injustice of the Dreyfuss Affair.

1936 - "The Great Ziegfeld"
This biography follows the ups and downs of Florenz Ziegfeld, famed producer of extravagant stage revues.

1935 - "Mutiny on the Bounty"
Fletcher Christian successfully leads a revolt against the ruthless Captain Bligh on the HMS Bounty. However, Bligh returns one year later, hell bent on avenging his captors.

1934 - "It Happened One Night"
A spoiled heiress running away from her family is assisted by a man who's actually a reporter looking for a story.

1932/1933 - "Cavalcade" (currently unavailable on DVD)
A cavalcade of English life from New Year's Eve 1899 until 1933 seen through the eyes of well-to-do Londoners Jane and Robert Marryot. Amongst events touching their family are the Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria, the sinking of the Titanic and the Great War.

1931/1932 - "Grand Hotel"
A group of very different individuals staying at a luxurious hotel in Berlin deal with each of their respective dramas.

1930/1931 - "Cimarron"
Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, a newspaper editor settles in an Oklahoma boom town with his reluctant wife at the end of the nineteenth century.

1929/1930 - "All Quiet on the Western Front"
Based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque, a young soldier faces profound disillusionment in the soul-destroying horror of World War I.

1928/1929 - "The Broadway Melody"
Harriet and Queenie Mahoney, a vaudeville act, come to Broadway where their friend Eddie Kerns needs them for his number in one of Francis Zanfield's shows. Eddie was in love with Harriet but falls in love with Queenie, who is also courted by Jock Warriner, a member of New York high society.

1927/1928 - "Wings"
Two young men, one rich and one middle class, who are in love with the same woman become fighter pilots in World War I.

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