“When somebody asks me a question, I tell them the answer.”

This weekend I finally got around to seeing last year’s Best Picture winner Slumdog Millionaire (Boyle, 2008). I liked it a lot, but I couldn’t help wondering, “Was this really the best movie of 2008?” My first thought as the film was ending was “That was good, but not as good as Wall-E or The Dark Knight.”

Now, the Academy certainly shouldn’t be ashamed of honoring Slumdog. It may be a mistake, but its not nearly as embarrassing as giving the award to Forest Gump instead of Pulp Fiction in 1994 or giving the award to movies that are actually bad like Crash in 2006 or Titanic in 1997. This line of thinking got me wondering about how often the Academy has be wrong in recent years. Here’s my list of best pictures in retrospect, all the way back to the biggest recent goof in 1994. In my opinion, the only year the Academy got it right was 2007. (Note that these aren’t necessarily my favorite movies; they’re my vote for the best movies of that year. The only years my favorite movies were also the best movies were 2001 and 2002)

The Best Movies of the Past 15 Years
1994: TIE: Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994) and Three Colors: Red (Kieslowski, 1994)
1995: Toy Story (Lasseter, 1995)
1996: Fargo (Coen, 1996)
1997: Boogie Nights (Anderson, 1997)
1998: The Truman Show (Weir, 1998)
1999: Being John Malkovich (Jonze, 1999)
2000: Memento (Nolan, 2000)
2001: Moulin Rouge! (Luhrmann, 2001)
2002: Adaptation (Jonze, 2002)
2003: Dogville (von Trier, 2003)
2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondy, 2004)
2005: The New World (Malick, 2005)
2006: Children of Men (Cuarón, 2006)
2007: No Country For Old Men (Coen, 2007)
2008: The Dark Knight (Nolan, 2008)

Just for fun, here are my favorite movies of the year. For the most part, they are runners-up for the best movies of the year, though some are more like guilty pleasures. (In particular, I’m not sure I can defend the artistic value of Bottle Rocket, Shaun of the Dead, The Prestige, Hot Fuzz, and Speed Racer. I just think they’re a lot of fun to watch.)

1994: The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont, 1994)
1995: 12 Monkeys (Gilliam, 1995)
1996: Bottle Rocket (Anderson, 1996)
1997: Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki, 1997)
1998: The Big Lebowski (Coen, 1998)
1999: TIE: Fight Club (Fincher, 1999) and The Matrix (Wachowski Brothers, 1999)
2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Lee, 2000)
2001: Moulin Rouge! (Luhrmann, 2001)
2002: Adaptation (Jonze, 2002)
2003: Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (Tarantino, 2003)
2004: Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
2005: The Constant Gardner (Meirelles, 2005)
2006: The Prestige (Nolan, 2006)
2007: Hot Fuzz (Wright, 2007)
2008: Speed Racer (Wachowski Brothers, 2008)

And, while I’m making lists, here is my current Top 10 Favorite Movies of All Time. I try to make one of these lists every couple of years, and they inevitably change. (For example, 1 and 2 new on the list this time, having become favorites since I last made a list in 2004,)

1. Babette’s Feast (Axel, 1987)
2. F for Fake (Welles, 1974)
3. Princess Mononoke (Miyazaki, 1997)
4. Adaptation (Jonze, 2002)
5. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)
6. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead (Stoppard, 1990)
7. The Big Lebowski (Coen, 1998)
8. 12 Monkeys (Gilliam, 1995)
9. The Nightmare Before Christmas (Selick, 1993)
10. The Lord of the Rings (Jackson, 2001-3)

One thought on ““When somebody asks me a question, I tell them the answer.”

  1. I am very pleased that the only film on both your “best” and “favorite” lists is my favorite of all time. Good choice.

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