Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, February 21, 2019

The best Oscar-winning movies you probably forgot about

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" won an Academy Award in 2004 for Best Original Screenplay.

It’s those five words that have us on the edge of our seats every year: “and the Oscar goes to…” We await in gleeful anticipation for who will carry that golden statuette. Will it be a surprise? Will it finally be someone who should’ve gotten it three movies ago? Will it be the newcomer?

The hype for these moments reach massive levels of excitement, yet after those five words are uttered, after the acceptance speech, after either the vows to see the awarded performance or cries over the legitimacy of the win, we’re over it. In the process we forget some great movies—movies that have won an Oscar! Movies that are absolutely worth our time. Here are some Oscar-winning films from the past 50 years that deserve a revisit. 

Lost in Translation (2003)”

Best Original Screenplay, Sophia Coppola

Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson headline this film that is required viewing for those who have ever felt lost in life. Taking place in Tokyo, Murray stars as washed-up action movie star Bob Harris who is promoting a Japanese whiskey for an ad campaign. He begins an unlikely friendship with 25-year-old Charlotte, played by then 18-year-old Johansson. This is truly one of those great movies that exudes pathos and humor. Don’t be mistaken, however, this is not a love story—it is instead a story of two people lost and trying to find their way in the world. Writer and Director Sophia Coppola snagged the Oscar for best screenplay and it’s easy to see why: you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll contemplate, but most importantly, you’ll remember how magical movies can be at actually teaching us something about our own humanity. Check this one out immediately.

Network (1976)”

Best Original Screenplay, Paddy Chayefsky; Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Faye Dunaway; Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Peter Finch

You will be stunned that a film like “Network” was made over 40 years ago—it feels that timeless. Chronicling the behind-the-scenes trials and tribulations of the fictitious television network UBS, this film is a satire for the ages. When notified that he will be fired due to poor ratings, UBS news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) has a nervous breakdown on live television—and his ratings go up and up. Head of programing Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) decides to keep him on the air to milk the ratings and what ensues is perhaps the most precise critique of the news industry to date. With all the discussions today around the state of journalism, this film is well worth a watch for all modern news media consumers. It also features some of the most famous lines in cinema, which I won’t give away here, but is worth watching to see for yourself.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)”

Best Original Screenplay, Charlie Kaufman

Most people think of Jim Carrey as that wacky and zany Canuck who never stars in serious roles. Enter “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” a movie that is the epitome of creativity and originality. The film centers on the relationship of Joel and Clementine, played by Carrey and Kate Winslet, and a new medical procedure that allows people to erase bad relationships completely from their heads, forgetting that the other person even existed. Without giving away too much, the movie is a poignant take on what it means to be in love and what it means to hurt. The ensemble cast, comprised of Kristen Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, and Elijah Wood deliver stellar performances in this movie that is both funny and heartbreaking.  

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)”

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Katharine Hepburn; Best Original Screenplay, William Rose

Before there was “ Get Out” there was “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Starring the first African-American to win an Oscar for Best Actor, Sidney Poitier, this movie shook Hollywood and the country upon its release. It is about the daughter of an affluent and liberal San Francisco couple beginning an interracial love affair with a widowed black doctor. The film lacks all of the supernatural horror elements of “Get Out” but touches on many of the same political and racial themes that are still seemingly a part of our pop culture. Real life couple Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy play the parents of Joanna, who has fallen in love with John. Many of the issues and conversations surrounding race and relationships that the film touches on feel incredibly timely. This was the last movie Spencer Tracy starred in before his death, and is worth watching to see the magnificent performances play out in this groundbreaking film that stills feels reverent more than 40 years later.  

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