Thursday, December 23, 2010

Top 3 -- Best Picture Oscar Winning Movies from the 1940s

With the exception of the movie that was always going to be ranked in first place, I found it very difficult to choose from what was a great decade of film. Here is my pick of the litter from the 1940s:

3rd place
1945 The Lost Weekend
Watching Don Bingham and the lives of his loved ones decimated by alcoholism is not exactly a fun filled experience. Alcoholism is a lonely and melancholy disease and this film about it is best watched when you are in a lonely and melancholy mood. It was far more brutal than I expected it to be, relentless in both its disturbing imagery and dialog. And with a truly outstanding performance from Ray Milland, this is a film that transcends time and may be as relevant to some today as it was to others over 60 years ago. 

2nd place
1940 Rebecca
What a fantastic film to start the decade of Best Picture Oscar Winners with! The fact remains that since seeing Rebecca I have felt somewhat obsessed or haunted by the film. It is no coincidence that obsession and the supernatural form two strong themes in Hitchcock’s masterpiece. There are some simple pleasures to be found in this psychological thriller/mystery: I enjoyed the fact that we never learned our heroines name throughout, I enjoyed how we never see the person who gives the film its name and yet she is very much a presence on screen, and I enjoyed how both Manderley house and its inhabitants intimidated me as much as they did our heroine. This is a film that has aged beautifully and I can imagine that the impressions I garnered are exactly the same as those taken away by film goers in the 1940’s. 

1st Place
1943 Casablanca
As fantastic as the other contenders were there is simply no beating what may be the greatest film ever made in my opinion. As a film Casablanca oozes as much confidence as Humphrey Bogart’s Rick does (that is before his cool demeanor is beaten upon by the return of his lost love). I spoke about The Lost Weekend transcending time and Rebecca aging beautifully but “as time goes by” I doubt there will be another film so ingrained in the fabric of our culture. How often have you found yourself quoting this film without realizing it? I know that I was doing so before I had ever seen the movie which is a fact that speaks for itself.


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