The Best Picture Coulda Been Contenders: 1990-2008

In 2009, the Academy underwent a change in the number of Best Picture nominees honored each year. The rule change allowed a fluctuation of five to ten nominees per year, as opposed to a finite five (all other categories stayed at that number).

As has been discussed on this blog, many felt the change was triggered by 2008’s The Dark Knight, the critically acclaimed comic book pic that was also highest earner of the year. It failed to a garner a Best Picture nod and the thinking was that it was time for more popular options to make it into the mix.

Since the change, the magic number has been nine nominated pictures in most years. This got me thinking: what if that rule had been in effect during prior years? What movies that failed to get a nomination would have certainly made it?

That brings us here. I have gone back to 1990 through 2008 and I’m listing two films from each year that I am confident would have made the shortlist. In selecting each title, here were some of the key indicators. If a Director was nominated for his work and the film failed to get nominated, that probably means it would have been included. Additionally, the screenplay races are a decent predictor of some titles that might have made the magic nine (or eight or ten). For reference sake, I am including the five movies that did get nominated.

So here goes! Two features from 1990-2008 that coulda and likely woulda been contenders…

1990

The Actual Nominees: Dances with Wolves (Winner), Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, GoodFellas

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Grifters, Reversal of Fortune

1991

The Actual Nominees: The Silence of the Lambs (W), Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boyz N The Hood, Thelma & Louise

1992

The Actual Nominees: Unforgiven (W), The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howards End, Scent of a Woman

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Malcolm X, The Player

1993

The Actual Nominees: Schindler’s List (W), The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Philadelphia, Short Cuts

1994

The Actual Nominees: Forrest Gump (W), Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Bullets Over Broadway, Three Colors: Red

1995

The Actual Nominees: Braveheart (W), Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino, Sense and Sensibility

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Dead Man Walking, Leaving Las Vegas

1996

The Actual Nominees: The English Patient (W), Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, Shine

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Sling Blade

1997

The Actual Nominees: Titanic (W), As Good as It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Huinting, L.A. Confidential

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boogie Nights, The Sweet Hereafter

1998

The Actual Nominees: Shakespeare in Love (W), Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Gods and Monsters, The Truman Show

1999

The Actual Nominees: American Beauty (W), The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Being John Malkovich, Topsy-Turvy

2000

The Actual Nominees: Gladiator (W), Chocolat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Almost Famous, Billy Elliot

2001

The Actual Nominees: A Beautiful Mind (W), Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge!

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Black Hawk Down, Mulholland Drive

2002

The Actual Nominees: Chicago (W), Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Far from Heaven, Talk to Her

2003

The Actual Nominees: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (W), Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit 

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: City of God, In America

2004

The Actual Nominees: Million Dollar Baby (W), The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Hotel Rwanda, Vera Drake

2005

The Actual Nominees: Crash (W), Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Syriana, Walk the Line

2006

The Actual Nominees: The Departed (W), Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Pan’s Labyrinth, United 93

2007

The Actual Nominees: No Country for Old Men (W), Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Away from Her, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

2008

The Actual Nominees: Slumdog Millionaire (W), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader

The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Dark Knight, Doubt

And there you have it! There will be a part II to this post. What if the rule change had never occurred? From 2009 until the present, what would have been the five nominated Pictures if only that number was allowed. Stay tuned…

 

Dracula and Uncle Buck Make a Movie Together

Confused by the blog post title?

I understand. The name comes from a rather ingenious movie game idea that came to my attention via my Uncle Steve over the weekend and I’ve been rather preoccupied with it ever since. If you’re a true movie buff, it’s quite a bit of fun and it’s something good to quiz your fellow movie buff friends on.

The concept is simple. Take the character names (real or fictional) of actors who’ve appeared in a film together and make your subject guess which picture they all appear in together. Still confused? This should clear it up:

Batman, Al Capone, Lois Lane, Chris Kyle, Katniss Everdeen, and Jeffrey Dahmer.

I’ll give you a moment… (DON’T READ ON IF YOU’RE TRYING TO GUESS)

That would be American Hustle, whose cast included Christian Bale (Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy), Robert De Niro (Capone in The Untouchables), Amy Adams (Lois Lane in Man of Steel), Bradley Cooper (Chris Kyle in American Sniper), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss in The Hunger Games franchise), and Jeremy Renner (Jeffrey Dahmer in Dahmer). Kinda fun isn’t it?

Or how about Elvis Presley, Andy Kaufman, Virginia Woolf, Ty Cobb, and Ernest Hemingway?

That would be Batman Forever with Val Kilmer (Presley in True Romance), Jim Carrey (Kaufman in Man on the Moon), Nicole Kidman (Woolf in The Hours), Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb in Cobb), and Chris O’Donnell (Hemingway in In Love and War).

There’s last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman with Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), The Hulk (Edward Norton), Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and Princess Diana (Naomi Watts).

And 2012’s Oscar winner Argo starring Daredevil (Ben Affleck), Walter White (Bryan Cranston), Fred Flintstone (John Goodman), Shawshank Warden Norton (Bob Gunton), and “Orange is the New Black” main character Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling).

This December’s eagerly awaited Quentin Tarantino pic The Hateful Eight boasts Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), Dorothy Parker (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and Magic Mike (Channing Tatum).

What 1991 Oscar nominated political drama features Robin Hood, Ren McCormack, Harvey Dent, Harry Lyme, Dracula, Carrie White, Felix Ungar, Albert Einstein, President Snow, Uncle Buck, and “Seinfeld” neighbor Newman? It’s Oliver Stone’s JFK and I’ll let you figure out who’s who… it’s part of the fun!

And many of you took in this weekend’s #1 pic Ant-Man with Brian Fantana, Liberace, Kate Austen, Congressman Peter Russo, and Papa Doc.

I could go on and on, but just thought this might provide some film buff fanatics with an enjoyable new way to quiz and frustrate your friends. And thanks to Uncle Steve!

This Day in Movie History: December 20

Continuing with my new blog series – This Day in Movie History – December 20th brings us three more important films celebrating their anniversaries and two celebrity birthdays.

It was seventeen years ago today that the influential horror flick Scream opened. Wes Craven was already a legend in the horror genre for The Last House on the Left and especially A Nightmare on Elm Street. Scream would turn into a smash unexpected hit that spawned three sequels and injected some much needed humor and irony into a genre that was growing stale.

22 years ago today marked the opening of Oliver Stone’s controversial JFK. The picture, no matter what you think of its abundant conspiracy theories, is brauvura filmmaking at a high level and earned Oscar nominations for Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor for Tommy Lee Jones.

Another heavily Oscar nominated pic, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, debuted eleven years ago today. It was considered an Academy heavyweight, but lost Picture and Director to Chicago. It would be four years later before Marty would finally be recognized at the ceremony for The Departed. The film is also notable for beginning the Scorsese/DiCaprio partnership that has since spanned to five films thus far.

Today marks Jonah Hill’s big 3-0! You may know him from some of your favorite comedies of the past near decade – The 40 Yr. Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 21 Jump Street, and This is The End. He also broke out dramatically in 2011 with an Oscar nominated turn in Moneyball and is again receiving Academy buzz for his role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. He’ll be seen next summer in the sequel 22 Jump Street.

Finally, today would have marked the 67th birthday of character actor John Spencer. Known to most viewers as Leo McGarry from TV’s “The West Wing”, Spencer also had a successful film career. He turned up in well-known titles including Sea of Love, Presumed Innocent, The Rock, and Cop Land.

Keeping with my theme of connecting the birthday actors in Six Degrees of Separation:

Jonah Hill was in This is the End with James Franco

James Franco was in City by the Sea with Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro was in Cop Land with John Spencer

And that’s today, December 20, in Movie History!