Top Ten Crime Films that won the Oscar For Best Picture
I know the Oscars seem to last forever, can be unforgivably corny, and those speeches or intros where celebs read from tele-prompters kind of make me want to scream, “Cut, you’re sounding like a robot.” But beneath that saccharine-like glitter, the Oscars have been awarded to some very good films and some great crime films, listed here in no order except that of a random voice in my head saying, “Type, Bob!’” Here’s my list:
I know The Godfather has been spoofed to the point where it has become a part of popular culture, and the next time someone turns to me and says, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer,” I might scream. The great lure of this classic is that it shows that crime may pay a lot of money but the dividend of happiness ain’t much of factor.
Double your pleasure, baby! With Vito Corleone dead, Michael consolidates his power and sets his target on a lot of those around him (sounds like the Republican debate on Thursday) including his brother, brother-in-law, and too many to mention in this page. If you asked me which of these two gems comes out on top, you’d get a politician’s answer: “I love all my constituents.” And you have to mention that score by Nino Rota— who would think that romantic theme would accompany garroting, gunshots, stabbings, and poison!
This one is a classic with an all-star cast of Robert Redford, Paul Newman, Charles Durning, and the wonderful Robert Shaw at his villainous best. Set during the Depression and full of double-crosses, twists, and turns, with an evocative theme by Scott Joplin and arranged beautifully by Marvin Hamlisch , this is one to relish and see more than once.
“I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti,” I happen to love fava beans and this quote did deter me from them for a few years, but the creepiness of Sir Anthony Hopkins will stay with even the most hardened person long after the final credits. Jodie Foster did a good job as the detective trying to make sure she didn’t fall prey to entering the twisted mind of Hannibal Lector.
In many respects, this one was my favorite—great performances by Danny DeVito,
Matt Damon, and Leonard DiCaprio. This gem by Martin Scorsese was based on how infamous gangster Whitey Bulger played one party off the other and I’ll leave it at that. And this must-see crime film doesn’t have the typical Hollywood ending, but the very realistic conclusion that the original sin of crime has a very long half-life.
This film features great acting by Javier Bardem and a tour de force by Tommy Lee Jones who stole the show with his understated performance as the cop who realizes that criminals and morals do evolve—sorry, I meant devolve—and that change in the world doesn’t always mean change for the good. One tip: see the film and don’t read the book; true, Cormac McCarthy is a very good author but his novel lacked the oomph of the film.
You’ve got to read Daphne du Maurier and you have to read more than Rebecca and see some great films based on her works including My Cousin Rachel, The Scapegoat, and Don’t Look Now. Sadly, a great performance by Joan Fontaine did not earn an Oscar, but don’t worry; the Academy later gave Joan the big prize for Suspicion. Laurence Olivier acted as the stiff Max de Winter and George Sanders was priceless as Jack Favell, who could blackmail someone smoothly while munching on a chicken leg.
A daring film that combined crime and jazz in Chicago during the Roaring Twenties. This film also managed to have a tinge of dark humor, plus some fine performances by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, and Renée Zellweger.
All great films have great quotes and who can forget Sidney Poitier saying, “They call me Mr. Tibbs.” Adapted from the novel by John Ball and costarring Rod Steiger as the prejudiced police chief, this film marked a turning point at a time when many films lacked sympathy for African-American struggles. Nowadays, we may watch this and feel that it’s dated, but as Winston Churchill, George Santayana, and other observers have noted, those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
This was one film that didn’t fit the mold of an Academy Award winner. For one thing, it didn’t give us any relevant message about life or a timely issue; there were no performances that could make a career; and it was the first R-rated film to get the Oscar nod since the start of the MPPA rating System. Budgeted under $2,000,000, we have Gene Hackman as Popeye Doyle with his sidekick Roy Scheider, one of the most underrated actors of the past generation, chasing a bunch of bad guys, drugs, and more bad guys! Oh, and that 2 million bucks turned into 58 million bucks, which just goes to show that quality can trump cash!
Don’t forget to watch the Oscars and brew a cup of coffee in case you fall asleep during the dance sequence!