The Best of the Best Pictures: Part 3

The Graduate took on counter-culture themes that were representative of films from The Age of Revolution.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that Entertainment Weekly labeled the years 1967 to 1986 as the Age of Revolution when it put together its special Oscar edition this year. After all, it was one of their own, Mark Harris, the former Executive Editor and columnist for Entertainment Weekly, who wrote the informative 2008 book, Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood. The book detailed the 1967 Academy Award race for Best Picture and what it said about the changes that were going on in society and in Hollywood.

Movies began to reflect the political and cultural changes that were revolutionizing society. Three of the Best Picture nominees in 1967, The GraduateIn the Heat of the Night, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, began to take on issues that were moving to the forefront of society (racial prejudice & hatred, generational alienation).

Warren Beatty’s ultimately successful efforts to wrest control of the movie Bonnie and Clyde away from the Hollywood Studio system are also covered in the book. The story of the making of Bonnie and Clyde is the story of the revolution of independent film makers who separated themselves from the shackles of the studio system and began to create films that took chances.

The fifth nominated movie in 1967 was Doctor Doolittle. The movie become a financial and critical disaster. It brought to an end the Age of Musicals. For over twenty years movie musicals had been a safe staple of the studio system. The Doctor Doolittle boondoggle didn’t end musicals but it significantly slowed their volume.

So against the backdrop of the upheaval initiated in 1967, here are the Best Picture winners from the Age of Revolution ranked by their “really like” probability.

Top Objective Best Picture Winners
The Age of Revolution (1967 – 1986)
Movie (Award Year) # of IMDB Votes Rotten Tomatoes % Fresh Cinema Score Metacritic Objective “Really Like” Probability
Godfather, The (1972) 1,317,039 98% NA 100% 76.41%
Godfather, The, Part II (1974) 909,697 85% NA 97% 76.41%
Platoon (1986) 327,566 89% A 92% 76.39%
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)  767,877 95% NA 80% 75.96%
Rocky (1976) 434,259 93% NA 69% 75.96%
Amadeus (1984) 310,169 95% NR 93% 75.78%
Deer Hunter, The (1978) 263,422 94% NR 91% 74.59%
Gandhi (1982) 193,843 85% NR 79% 74.59%
Annie Hall (1977) 222,242 97% NA 92% 74.46%
Sting, The (1973) 200,775 93% NA 80% 74.46%
French Connection, The (1971) 92,665 98% NA 96% 73.84%
Patton (1970) 83,665 95% NA 91% 73.84%
In the Heat of the Night (1967) 56,103 96% NA 75% 73.84%
Midnight Cowboy (1969) 84,516 90% NA 79% 73.84%
Ordinary People (1980) 39,236 90% NR 87% 73.69%
Chariots of Fire (1981) 45,769 83% NR 88% 73.69%
Terms of Endearment (1983) 45,661 88% NR 79% 73.69%
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) 109,691 88% NR 77% 70.45%
Out of Africa (1985) 59,507 58% NR NA 65.92%
Oliver! (1968) 28,956 81% NA NA 64.65%

One of the “really like” criteria that I use is the number of IMDB votes a movie has attracted. Intuitively, most movie fans would place the two Godfather movies at the top of this list. The fact that so many IMDB voters have sought out these two movies provides objective reinforcement to what we intuitively know. The Godfather movies are special and in a class by themselves when compared to the other movies on this list.

The other thing to note from the list is that Platoon is the only movie from the era with a published CinemaScore. By earning an “A”, Platoon objectively moves ahead of movies not rated by CinemaScore that otherwise would have been higher. As I mentioned last week the lack of comprehensive scoring from CinemaScore is a little bit of a frustration for me and one that I have to address in the future.

IMDB Can Be a Trivial Pursuit

Recently I watched Lethal Weapon 2 for the second time. After rating a movie, I like to read a critic’s review, oftentimes a Roger Ebert review, and click on the trivia link on the IMDB sidebar. The trivia link is a good way to gather some behind the scenes information about the movie.

Recently I watched Lethal Weapon 2 for the second time. After rating a movie, I like to read a critic’s review, a Roger Ebert review if available, and click on the trivia link on the IMDB sidebar. The trivia link is a good way to gather some behind the scenes information about the movie. From the Lethal Weapon 2 trivia link, I learned that Shane Black’s original screenplay was darker and resulted in Martin Riggs’ (Mel Gibson) death at the end of the movie. Both Warner Bros. and Richard Donner, the Director, refused to kill off Riggs which would have meant the end of the profitable franchise. Shane Black, however, refused to change the script and left the project. He went on to screen write Iron Man 3 and is working on the remake of The Predator scheduled to be released in 2018. The Lethal Weapon franchise went on to produce Lethal Weapon 3 & 4, which took in a combined worldwide box office of close to $600,000,000. It isn’t the first time, or the last time, that the art of making movies lost out to the business of making movies.

Here is some additional trivia from some of your movie favorites:

  • The Shawshank Redemption, which is the number one movie on IMDB’s Top 250 Movies list, took in only a very modest theater box office of $28,ooo,ooo before becoming one of the all time leaders in the video rental market.
  • Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro are the only actors ever to win Academy Awards playing the same character (Vito Corleone) in two different movies (The Godfather, The Godfather Part II)
  • Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in the Lord of the Rings trilogy read the Lord of the Rings books every year from the year they were published in 1954 until the year he died in 2015.
  • In the Star Wars movies, Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) had to stand on a box for many of her scenes with Harrison Ford (Han Solo) because he was 6’1” tall and she was only 5’1″.
  • For the movie Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks agreed to not take a salary to help control the production costs of the movie. Instead he agreed to percentage points which netted him $40,000,000.
  • When the Wachowskis were pitching The Matrix to Warner, they proposed a budget of $80,000,000. Warner would only agree to a budget of $10,000,000. The Wachowskis spent all $10,000,000 on the 10 minute opening scene with Carrie-Anne Moss and went back to Warner and showed them the first ten minutes. Based on those 10 minutes, Warner approved the entire $80,000,000 budget.
  • In the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, the script required George Bailey’s future wife, Mary Hatch played by Donna Reed, to break a window by throwing a rock through the window. Director Frank Capra hired a marksman to shoot out the window on cue. To everyone’s surprise, Donna Reed threw the rock through the window on the first take. Capra didn’t realize that Donna Reed was an accomplished baseball player in high school with a strong arm.
  • For Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg cast Matt Damon as Private Ryan because of his All-American looks and more importantly because he was a relatively unknown actor. A few months before the movie opened in July 1998, Spielberg’s unknown actor won an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting and became an overnight A-List actor.
  • The iconic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the flamboyant swordsmen starts whipping around his sword and Indiana Jones pulls out his gun and shoots him, wasn’t in the script. Harrison Ford was supposed to knock the sword out of the swordsmen’s hand with his whip. Because a virus had infected Ford and much of the crew, they were having trouble executing the stunt. Finally Harrison Ford suggested “shooting the sucker”. The result was a scene that is ingrained in the memories of film fans ever since.

If you’ve had some fun with these trivial movie facts, visit IMDB and try out the trivia link for your favorite movies. Or, you can just wait for the next time that we play Trivial Pursuit with IMDB on this site.