A question: if Brokeback Mountain wins, will it be the best film to win Best Picture since Annie Hall in 1977? That would be my tentative assessment, although I think most people would disagree. My guess is that three movies would be most cited: the Tolkien thing, Unforgiven, and Schindler’s List. All of which are actually good movies, I think, but also a little overrated, so granting that it’s idiosyncratic I think Brokeback is the best of the lot. (Schindler’s List is a good comparison, in the sense that it probably would have won virtually irrespective of its quality but had a reasonable case anyway. I certainly like Brokeback more, though–I can’t imagine Lee filming anything like the awful final act of SL. Or hiring John Williams for a serious picture.)
To ask a more snark-ready question: in the same time period, what’s the greatest (negative) gap in quality between a winner and one of the nominees since 1970? I would probably go with 1990–granting that GoodFellas is a notch below the also-robbed Raging Bull and Taxi Driver,
Masturbates With Camera Dances With Wolves…ugh. Rocky and Ordinary People are at least watchable middlebrow schlock. I’ll let Rob make the case for 1995; embarrassingly, I haven’t seen Babe. I suspect that Chicago beating The Pianist ranks up there, but since I haven’t seen the former I can’t say for sure.
I still need to see a few things before submitting an alternative list for this year’s Oscars, but I will cite the biggest omission: Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale) from best actor.