40 Films that you should watch instead of the last 40 Best Picture winners at the Oscars

Published: 16th Feb, 2018

Literally the last time they didn’t mess it up

Here’s a fact: ever since the so-called Academy correctly chose Rocky as Best Picture ahead of Taxi Driver and Network in 1976, they’ve got every single Best Picture vote wrong. Every single one. What’s going on with these people?

With that in mind, here’s how the last 40 years should have looked…

1977

BEST PICTURE WAS: Annie Hall

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Saturday Night Fever

This isn’t anything to do with the recent attempts to re-shame Woody Allen, Annie Hall just isn’t even his best film (that accolade belongs to Crimes and Misdemeanours). Saturday Night Fever, meanwhile, remains one of the greatest studies of youth and masculinity ever beamed onto a big white sheet.

1978

BEST PICTURE WAS: The Deer Hunter

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Big Wednesday

A far less preachy and po-faced take on friendship and the Vietnam war can be found in the surfing drama Big Wednesday. Other great movies from 1978 include Jaws 2, Animal House, and The Stud starring Joan Collins.

1979

BEST PICTURE WAS: Kramer vs Kramer

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: The Jerk

Hoffman/Streep’s ode to divorce wouldn’t even make a “Top 20 movies from 1979” list. Apocalypse Now, The Warriors, Alien, Mad Max, The Bitch starring Joan Collins, Rocky II. These are all much better films. Then scan all the way at the top of the pile, and look at that – you’ve got Steve Martin being magnificent in The Jerk.

1980

BEST PICTURE WAS: Ordinary People

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: The Empire Strikes Back

Not just the best sequel of all time, but probably the best intergalactic love story there will ever be. Just to really hammer the point home here, Leia said I LOVE YOU, Han Solo said I KNOW. Talk about a nerf herder.

1981

BEST PICTURE WAS: Chariots of Fire

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Body Heat

1981 was a very sweaty year, with Harrison Ford dripping profusely in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mel Gibson unashamedly sweating throughout Gallipoli and Mad Max 2. But they don’t come clammier than Kathleen Turner and William Hurt moving from one steam room to another in Body Heat.

1982

BEST PICTURE WAS: Gandhi

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: E.T

Forget everything else, this is Spielberg’s true masterpiece, the best family film ever made, steeped in nostalgia and magic, while simultaneously tapping into our inexplicable need to love and be loved. Gandhi himself would be fucking livid that this didn’t win.

1983

BEST PICTURE WAS: Terms of Endearment

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Trading Places

Watch Terms of Endearment now, and it’s like an episode of late-night Hollyoaks, while Trading Places – or just PLACES to movie buffs – is a well-observed study of class and race but with JOKES. Eddie Murphy’s finest, and Jamie Lee Curtis’s perkiest, performance.

1984

BEST PICTURE WAS: Amadeus

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: This is Spinal Tap

Orwell’s nightmare vision of 1984 couldn’t have been further from the truth – it was all feathery haircuts, Ghostbusters, soda streams and body popping. It was also the year of the best music biopic ever made – can you see where this is going?

1985

BEST PICTURE WAS: Out of Africa

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Back to The Future

Bloody hell, 1985 was great for teen cinema, with Goonies, Weird Science, Teen Wolf, European Vacation and The Breakfast Club all pushing hard to oust Back to The Future as the one to watch. Oh, and while you’re here, here’s one you shouldn’t watch: Out of Africa.

1986

BEST PICTURE WAS: Platoon

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Aliens

For once The Academy almost got things right, Platoon is an excellent movie, featuring a pinpoint Martin Sheen impersonation from Charlie Sheen. But then in strolls Aliens with a much bigger willy, and the whole thing becomes moot.

1987

BEST PICTURE WAS: The Last Emperor

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Predator

1987 was another humdinger. The Lost Boys, Robocop, Trains Planes and Automobiles, Dirty Dancing, Lethal Weapon, Angel Heart, and Predator, where Arnie somehow turns a friendly handshake into an arm wrestle. Not a single nomination among them.

1988

BEST PICTURE WAS: Rain Man

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Coming to America

Rain Man is genuinely one of the worst things ever made (in any walk of life), with Dustin Hoffman unwatchable as a mumbling gambler. A far worthier best actor would have been Charles Grodin in Midnight Run, or, seriously, Eddie Murphy in Coming to America – he’s astonishingly good in those barbershop scenes.

1989

BEST PICTURE WAS: Driving Miss Daisy

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Do the Right Thing

Race relations in America came into sharp focus in 1989, but the story of a dotty old bat being surprisingly nice to her chauffeur was ultimately rammed off the road by Spike Lee’s juggernaut. Rosie Perez dancing to Fight the Power is the greatest movie intro of all time.

1990

BEST PICTURE WAS: Dances with Wolves

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Goodfellas

1990 was a particularly magnificent year for the actor Jason Alexander – he was just coming into his own as George Constanza, he landed medium-sized roles in two of the best movies of that year, Pretty Woman and Jacob’s Ladder. But more to the point, how the fuck did Goodfellas not win an Oscar?

1991

BEST PICTURE WAS: Silence of the Lambs

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Point Break

Silence of the Lambs didn’t just win, it cleaned up. Actor prizes, director, the whole shebang. Point Break, meanwhile, got nothing. Nothing at all. Until now. Full of mindless violence, zen philosophy, and stoner talk about the sea, it’s everything that was good about 1991.

1992

BEST PICTURE WAS: Unforgiven

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Basic Instinct

If you were giving out prizes for Best Western from 1992, Unforgiven might edge it. But to really compete for iconic status, Clint would need to uncross his legs and show us his conkers. Be clear about one thing though, Basic Instinct is so much more than an over-rewound no-knicker reveal. Or is it?

1993

BEST PICTURE WAS: Schindler’s List

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: True Romance

Remember, this piece is about movies you want to watch over and over again, and fine though Schindler’s List might be, it doesn’t have you reaching for the popcorn night after night. Not like True Romance, with its Christian Slater and its Patricia Arquette, and its Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper facing off in the best movie face off since Face Off. (N.B. This movie was made before Face/Off)

1994

BEST PICTURE WAS: Forrest Gump

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Pulp Fiction

Forrest Gump – a cloying simpleton on a bench – taught us all that life is like a box of chocolates: shit. Pulp Fiction, on the other hand, was one of the most electrifying things that ever happened to a cinema.

1995

BEST PICTURE WAS: Braveheart

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Ghost in a Shell

Like with Woody Allen, this has nothing to do with Mel Gibson’s subsequent public shaming, it’s just that Braveheart goes on a bit, doesn’t it? Gets all shouty and face-painty? Much better movies include Usual Suspects starring the shamed actor Kevin Spacey, and Seven featuring the shamed actor Kevin Spacey. Fuck it, let’s go with Ghost in a Shell, starring lots of excellent, harmless drawings that never hurt anyone.

1996

BEST PICTURE WAS: The English Patient

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Scream

When The English Patient first came out, people wondered if it was a twisted endurance challenge, or a punishment of some kind. Fact is, even the English Patient wouldn’t want to watch The English Patient, and he’s bed-bound.

1997

BEST PICTURE WAS: Titanic

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Con Air

Okay, look, we all wept like drains at the end of Titanic. Rose floating along on a massive door, Di Caprio sinking to the bottom of the sea, wondering why she didn’t offer him a spot on the massive door. But it didn’t feature Nicholas Cage taking the delivery of a teddy bear to a child unbelievably seriously, did it?

1998

BEST PICTURE WAS: Shakespeare in Love

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: The Truman Show

In an ideal world, Dirty Work would have been featured here. Or Wild Things, or the student rite of passage The Big Lebowski, or even Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, which found Guy Ritchie really putting the oi oi in hoity toity. But Mrs Interestment’s second favourite film EVER is The Truman Show. So, that won. But the real point, if you’re here for spiritual enlightenment, is that Shakespeare in Love was crap.

1999

BEST PICTURE WAS: American Beauty

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: American Pie

Again, this is nothing to do with the sexual shame which has recently visited the Spacey household, this is solely about what we like to call watch-repeatedly-ability – and Jason Biggs sitting with his dad in front of a pie he’s just had sex with is cinematic gold.

2000

BEST PICTURE WAS: Gladiator

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Billy Elliot

My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the… OH BLAH BLAH SHUT UP! Billy Elliot’s from County Durham and he does fucking BALLET!

2001

BEST PICTURE WAS: A Beautiful Mind

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Zoolander

Here’s a question: what do you do if you haven’t seen A Beautiful Mind? Answer: you assume it was rubbish and tell the world that Zoolander was better.

2002

BEST PICTURE WAS: Chicago

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: 8 Mile

Chicago has since gone on to become a saucy West End production starring a forgotten pop star and the winner of X Factor, making it a massive improvement on the dreadful film. 8 Mile, on the other hand, basically took the Rocky template and improved it with rap music. The results were dope.

2003

BEST PICTURE WAS: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Lost in Translation

Return of the King should have got the Oscar for Most Endings in a Motion Picture. Seriously, that movie takes about five stabs at finishing before finally fucking off. Lost in Translation has no such problem, it arrives, it’s mildly racist, it tells its story, it politely leaves at the allotted time. Good boy.

2004

BEST PICTURE WAS: Million Dollar Baby

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Mean Girls

2004 – boot cut denim, listening to the latest 5ive album on your CD turntable, snogging a bunch of strangers, getting high on Smirnoff Ice. Man alive those were some good fucking times. You know what made them even better? Not watching Million Dollar Baby.

2005

BEST PICTURE WAS: Crash

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Brokeback Mountain

People go on about Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker, but it was those weeks spent erecting tents and penises up on Brokeback Mountain that were the real feather in his cap. And as for Crash – it isn’t even the best film called Crash.

2006

BEST PICTURE WAS: The Departed

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Borat

There hasn’t been a funnier British comedy than Borat, ever. Try and think of one. Go on, close your eyes and see if you can think of one. No, not Life of Brian, but good try. Keep thinking. That’s it. Keep going. Anything? Basically, the only two answers we’d have accepted were Carry On Camping and Withnail and I. And even those aren’t better.

2007

BEST PICTURE WAS: No Country for Old Men

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: There Will Be Blood

The problem with No Country for Old Men is that it’s unbelievably cumbersome, then just sort of stops, while There Will Be Blood bubbles away like a volcano getting ready to erupt. Or, if you want to use a more fitting metaphor, like an oil well that’s about to spurt. But then you’ve used the word “spurt”, no one likes the word “spurt”.

2008

BEST PICTURE WAS: Slumdog Millionaire

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Step Brothers

In a year that gave us Role Models and Pineapple Express, Step Brothers still triumphed as the bromance for the ages. It was also the year of the third best Batman film ever made, behind the 1960s one and the one with Jack Nicholson. Note no mention of Slumdog Millionaire. Until just then.

2009

BEST PICTURE WAS: The Hurt Locker

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Moon

Hurt Locker is army slang for what it feels like watching this movie, it’s like you’re in a locker and someone is hurting you. A much better choice is Moon, directed by David Bowie’s son Duncan, and starring the voice of the shamed actor Kevin Spacey.

2010

BEST PICTURE WAS: The King’s Speech

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: MacGruber

For a far more profound experience, skip The King’s Speech, and just watch Youtube clips of Musharaf from Educating Yorkshire. For a much better movie, watch MacGruber, which is one of the great comedies of the last three hundred years.

2011

BEST PICTURE WAS: The Artist

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Bridesmaids

The Artist harked back to a halcyon age when movies were silent, homes were freezing, and the threat of conscription putting an end to your miserable childhood was frighteningly vivid. No, forget that one, celebrate the art of speech and watch Bridesmaids.

2012

BEST PICTURE WAS: Argo

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Django Unchained

Argo tells the tale of an old warehouse full of tat, eventually sold to the masses in strange shops full of tiny little pens. In time the empire grew, pluralising to become Argos. Meanwhile, in the Deep South, Django was giving people-peddlers a punch-in-the-face sandwich. Watch that one.

2013

BEST PICTURE WAS: 12 Years a Slave

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Despicable Me 2

The law of averages dictates that you can’t enjoy two movies about slavery in succession – it’s not couth. But know this: 12 Years a Slave is a poignant, magnificent film. It’s just no Despicable Me 2.

2014

BEST PICTURE WAS: Birdman

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Obvious Child

Like if you put 4 million monkeys in a room full of computers and they will immediately write the entire Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, sometimes the Academy unwittingly gets it right – Birdman deserved to win, it’s bloody marvellous. But so is Obvious Child, the funniest abortion comedy yet.

2015

BEST PICTURE WAS: Spotlight

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Full disclosure, we haven’t seen Spotlight. Is it a movie about young actors really making a go of things? Because if it is that’s been done. Fame was doing that in the 80s, man, it’s hack. No, you should watch Star Wars. No one was doing Star Wars in the 80s.

2016

BEST PICTURE WAS: Moonlight

BUT THIS IS A BETTER MOVIE: Zootopia

Fact of the matter is, no one at the Oscars knew what the Best Picture was. Was it La La Land, Moonlight, what? Either way, Zootopia aka Zootropolis drifted ridiculously under the radar, despite being the best children’s animation since The Little Mermaid.

 

Josh Burt
About the author:
Josh has been a writer and journalist for the best part of twenty years and has written for modern staples like FHM and Cosmopolitan and The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. He has also written a small handful of so-so books that you can still buy.

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