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.