Today, Time magazine’s website listed the Top Ten Best Picture snubs in the history of the Academy Awards — no doubt inspired by what happened on Sunday night when The King’s Speech won the Best Picture award over nine other contenders (including The Social Network, which told of the creation of Facebook, where I already have an account). Which leads me to ask: what truly makes a great Academy Award-winning film, especially one that wins the Best Picture award?
The best films that’ve won Academy Awards over the past eighty years are the kind that continue to shine with quality — and the kind that are still popular today, like Gone With The Wind, which definitely has aged well since its original release in 1939, thanks in part to everybody who had a hand in its overall success. It also reminded movie audiences — then and now — of a difficult time in American history that could hardly be called innocent, given what we already know about the Civil War and what emerged from it afterwards.
Of course, many of the best films that’ve stood the test of time don’t win big come Oscar time — and Hollywood politics sometimes play a role in those (mostly) dubious decisions. There’s little question that Citizen Kane was and remains an excellent film — but one probable reason why it lost the Best Picture award to John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley (a great film, too) was due to the fact that it ticked off newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst (the inspiration for Orson Welles’ Charles Foster Kane) and upset many of the Hollywood moguls of that time (who were counting in part on Hearst’s chain of newspapers to insure the success of the Hollywood films that they already greenlighted). (Citizen Kane would end up winning its only Oscar for its original screenplay.)
Time‘s comparsion of The Social Network to Citizen Kane, in terms of losing the Best Picture award, might be a bit premature — but the same might be said of past Oscar upsets (and there are others that didn’t make the cut in Time’s Internet article on Top Ten Oscar snubs). In the end, however, only the future will determine if The Social Network is truly a masterpiece — in much the same way that films like Citizen Kane became classics in terms of creative vision and innovation. But then, you might say the same thing about The King’s Speech, which won the Best Picture award — but like The Social Network, only time will determine if The King’s Speech is fondly remembered decades from now, and not just by the next generation of film critics and historians.
John Lavernoich is the author of the novels Code Name: Chameleons and Chameleons To The Rescue, as well as close to three dozen articles and short stories that have been published in print and on the Internet — to learn more about Mr. Lavernoich and his writing achievements, please visit his official website (http://jlavernoich2008.web.officelive.com/default.aspx), as well as his pages on Windows Live Spaces (http://cid-ef88d131988ab38f.profile.live.com), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/john.lavernoich?ref=name), MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/jlavernoich), and Twitter (http://twitter.com/JLav65). Mr. Lavernoich also maintains his own video channel on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/user/JLav65?feature=mhsn).
©2011 John Lavernoich.