21 February 2015

Saturday Speaks (and Links) - Twenty Years of Oscar: Best Picture Edition

Let's kill two birds with one statue. Whadda ya say?

I have a weekly rundown to do. I have a final "Twenty Years of Oscar" post to make...Best Picture this time. I'm gonna give you both at the same time.

Let me tell you about by week:

I pretty much sat on my ass in my pajamas. I watched Oscar acceptance speeches on YouTube. I blogged. I watched a few Oscar winners. I did not go to work once. Why?


Snow, Sleet, and Ice - Two Inches


Straight Snow - Two Inches +

Friday Night/Saturday Morning

Snow and Sleet - Two Inches

With all that and temperatures averaging well-below twenty degrees, needless to say, there was no school all week. Therefore, no work for me. Which was good, because...

...I got a sinus infection last Sunday and felt like crap until Wednesday night. I'm talking serious congestion, head ache, sore throat. How lucky can a guy be to get a week off the day after he comes down with the flu-like crud!?

C'est la vie. In a good way.

Broke out my "Back to the Future" Blu-ray set. Will be doing reviews on these classics as part of my "When I Was Thirty" Trilogy series soon, probably next weekend. These movies are pure bliss for me. So iconic, so much fun, so 80s. I miss Michael J. Fox.

Started feeling like crap on Saturday morning last week but got up and went to see "The Theory of Everything" with my Valentine, since it was Valentine's day. It's okay. The weakest of the BP nominees, in my opinion. If you haven't read my review, click here.

Watched "American Beauty" (1999) for the first time in probably 8 years. Just gorgeous. Look at that shot composition. Conrad L. Hall, I love you. Sam Mendes, I love you. Alan Ball, I love you. Kevin Spacey, I love you. More on this one in a minute.

Watched "Rain Man" (1988) for the first time in even more years. It's such a pleasing experience. So well acted. It made my Thursday Movie Picks

Watched "Shakespeare in Love" (1998) to remind myself how "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) got hosed by it for Best Picture. In all honestly, as an English nerd, this is a great movie. I love Tom Stoppard's writing. His screenplay for this is incredibly smart and well-structured. 

Watched "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000) after putting it on my Thursday Movie Picks as well. It is so stunningly beautiful and so much fun. That last shot. Goodness gracious!

Watched "No Man's Land" (2001), which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film that year from Bosnia/Herzigovina. Really excellent take on the atrocities of senseless wars.

Watched the Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films. All were incredible. Click here for my mini-reviews and prediction.

Watched "Brokeback Mountain" (2005) since Ang Lee was on my mind and Amanda had never seen it. I forgot how unreal great Heath Ledger is in this movie. Such a talented actor. So sad he's gone. 

Watched "The Wedding Singer" (1998). It didn't win any Oscars. 

My remembrance of Oscars gone by concludes here. The final category...Best Picture. 

I remember going to see "Forrest Gump" at a movie theater in East Knoxville that has since shut down. I was ten years old. It was a school night. My Mom used to take my sister and I to movies randomly. It was not unheard of for us to see two or three a week. Sometimes, as in the case of "Forrest Gump," we would see the same movie a couple times in one week. 

In honor of my younger self, my Top Five list below celebrates the Best Picture winners that, at the time, were the ones I wanted to win. A few of these remain my favorites. All of them are great movies no matter how my tastes have changed over the years. 

Here are my favorite Best Picture Winners since 1994: 

5. "Gladiator" (2000)
Douglas Wick, David Franzoni, and Branko Lustig, Producers

I remember watching "Gladiator" for the first time. I was in my room. I was a junior in high school. I couldn't believe how badass it was. Russell Crowe seriously became the coolest guy in the world, and, when he spouts off that line at the end about getting his "vengeance," I'm pretty sure I jumped three feet in the air. Wow! My Mom was out of town, and my friends and I partied at my house the night of that Oscar telecast. It was the first Sunday of Spring Break.

4. "No Country for Old Men" (2007)
Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers

Cormac McCarthy was as excited as I was when "No Country for Old Men" won the big prize for the year 2007. I mean, look at him up there. Dude was off his feet in no time. The Coen Brothers found a way to adapt his twisty, sprawling prose into a profound, cold-blooded study of the effects of violence on men. I couldn't believe this movie won. Movies like this never win.

3. "Forrest Gump" (1994)
Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch and Steve Starkey, Producers

I haven't watched Robert Zemeckis' "Forrest Gump" in years. I really need to. I'm hoping it holds up for me. I LOVED this movie when I was a kid. It was the most powerful experience I had at a movie theater, probably until I saw #2 down there five years later. This movie was destined to win in a year of nominees that, for the most part, time has proven are better ("Pulp Fiction", "The Shawshank Redemption"). Even so, I will always have a soft spot for this win. It meant a lot to 10-year-old Speaks.

2. "American Beauty" (1999)
Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks, Producers

Of all the "suburbia" stories out there in the movie world, this is the best one. In fact, having just re-watched it, I can say it is one of my Top Ten of All-Time now. Something's getting bumped. Kevin Spacey's performance in this movie is so good. Alan Ball's script is "spectacular." Conrad L. Hall's cinematography is of the finest ever. And Sam Mendes' direction is perfect. This producing team from Dreamworks found the exact right people to make this thing, and they won big for it.

1. "The Departed" (2006)
Graham King, Producer

When Martin Scorsese finally got his Oscar, and minutes later, Graham King got his for producing this cop/criminal remake masterpiece, I was the most satisfied I had ever been by the Academy Awards. This was fully the Best Picture of that year. Sure, Scorsese, as a director, had made better movies and should have won in 1980 for "Raging Bull." But who cares? "The Departed" is the slickest, coolest mafia-type movie I've ever seen. And I love Boston movies, so that helped as well. What a shocker this movie is, as a movie and a Best Picture winner.

Honorable Mention

"Argo" (2012)
Ben Affleck, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov, Producers

You go, Ben Affleck! You got hosed for not getting nominated for Best Director. You truly deserved this one. I love you! And I don't care who knows it. And thanks Michele Obama, for calling this one from The White House. 

Now, it's time to plan my menu for the Third Annual Powers Homestead Oscar Party. 


Fisti loves the films of Xavier Dolan, a filmmaker I know nothing about. 

Sati cracked me up with her review of "Fifty Shades of Grey."

Wendell does some dirty "Quick and Dirties."

Ryan does a Best Actor and Best Actress rundown. 

Nathaniel remembers one of the greatest screen come-ons from Back to the Future. 

Irene wrote a great review of Birdman. So glad she finally got to it. 


  1. Mother Nature really gave you the hook up this week! I would have The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King on my list. To not only win Best Picture, but to be nominated for 11 Oscar and win them all is incredible, not to mention how amazing the trilogy is and how innovative it was.

    1. Yeah. We got lucky. LOTR: RotK is definitely a great movie that straight tore it up that year. It's still not my favorite of the three though.

  2. Egads! In my opinion, sinus infections (along with migraines) are the 7th level of Hell. I hope you're feeling better. On the positive side, you been watching a lot of great movies lately.

    I enjoyed checking out your Oscar picks -- I wholeheartedly agree with American Beauty and No Country for Old Men.

    1. Oh, I know. I get one or two a year, and they are the worst thing ever. Thank God I don't get migraines. Couldn't imagine. I did get to sit around and watch movies and blog, so that's a plus.

      Yeah. Those two are great winners!

  3. Thanks for the link! It's such a shame about Ledger, his work there is my favorite leading male supporting of all time

    1. No problem. Yeah. Ledger is majorly missed in the movie world.

  4. First off, thanks for the link! I've also been out of work all week because of snow, lol. My five fave Best Pics since '94:

    1. No Country for Old Men
    2. The Departed
    3. Forrest Gump
    4. American Beauty
    5. 12 Years a Slave

    1. Nice! 12 Years a Slave was great but wouldn't have been my pick last year. I was for Nebraska, which, of course, had no chance. Haha!

  5. I see you're getting ready for 'Four Ways a Best Picture'!!!!

    1. Yes sir. Haha! This one was really interesting. I liked it.

  6. Thank you for taking the time to publish this information very useful! Oscars 2019 winners