Shoulda Coulda

John Nolte does an interesting service for all of us in examining which movies should have won Best Picture awards during the 1960s.

I only took issue with a couple (and I agree with his scorn for the Academy’s inexplicable yen for big-budget musicals like Sound of Music, West Side Story and [the weakest] Oliver! ).

Kim’s List of the Shoulda-Wons:

1960:  BUtterfield 8  (over The Apartment ).  Liz Taylor won Best Actress, and the movie was just as good.

1961:  The Misfits  (over West Side Story ).  At the end of this movie, my emotions felt like they’d been pulled through a roll of barbed wire.  Gable and Monroe, both unbelievably good.

1962:  Lawrence of Arabia  (which did win, and deservedly so).  The only other possible contenders could have been Cape Fear  and What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?

1963:  Lilies Of The Field  (over Tom Jones ).  This one’s not even close.

1964:  Becket  (over My Fair Lady ).  Once again, not even close.  The only other movie which could ever be considered that year was Zorba The Greek.

1965:  Doctor Zhivago (over The Sound Of Music ).  Or maybe The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, if we’re going to consider Cold War noir  movies as Oscar material.

1966:  A Man For All Seasons.  Which won, and considering it’s one of the greatest movies ever made — bar none — there’s no argument from either me or Nolte.

1967:  Nolte makes this a tie between In The Heat Of The Night  (which won) and Bonnie and Clyde.  I would fuzz the issue up by arguing for Cool Hand Luke  and Belle Du Jour  (even though it’s furrin;  good is good, and it’s magnificent).

1968:  This was the Year Of Oliver!  — and while Nolte recommends Rosemary’s Baby  in its place, I would choose The Lion In Winter  (even though it’s really just a filmed play like Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet — also from 1968).  It was actually a terrible year for movies, and the only other way to go is for the quirky (e.g. Lindsay Anderson’s if… or Once Upon A Time In The West ).  That’s five alternatives to Oliver!, and each of the five is better that that syrupy slop.

1969:  Midnight Cowboy  won, and deservedly so.  My only possible alternatives would be Anne of the Thousand Days  or The Wild Bunch, but in truth, they’re far behind.

Lots of fun.  Feel free to nominate your favorites, in Comments.

Afterthought:  Nolte has done the same for the following decades, but they’re less interesting — both in terms of the movies themselves and how time changed the criteria for Oscar-winning films.  (Braveheart?  Titanic?  Seriously? )


  1. It’s still just a bunch of industry types patting themselves on the back. That’s why movies about the film industry itself have a better chance of winning. (for example, 3 winners in 4 years: Argo, the Artist, Birdman; not to mention nominees: La La Land, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, etc.)

  2. They Live 1988 -Roddy Piper should have won best actor also !

    Shaun of the Dead 2004 -Lovely London pub scene.

  3. Wow, a list of movies, I saw all of them in the theaters at the time they were released, the good old days when we watched movies. These were released during the decade I was finishing high school, in college and in the Army and going to the movies was what we did just about every week.

    1960 ~ Butterfield 8 (Peak Liz)
    1962 ~ Lawrence of Arabia (Incredible camera work)
    1963 ~ Tom Jones (Lusty Eating Scene.)
    1964 ~ Becket (My Fair Lady was good fluffy stuff)
    1965 ~ Doctor Zhivago for sure ! (acting, music, rape, war)
    1966 ~ A Man For All Seasons (Fantastic cast, pivotal history)
    1967 ~ Cool Hand Luke ~ (One of Newman’s best,)
    “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
    1968 ~ Oliver! (I saw this in London first release.)
    “Please sir, can I have some more?”
    1969 ~ The Wild Bunch (I am a gun guy, this movie was fantastic.)

  4. Lion in Winter is the wife’s favorite Christmas movie. Mine is Die Hard. We watch both every year.

    I think 1998 is easily the biggest travesty. Shakespeare in Love is awful, A Civil Action is mediocre. Saving Private Ryan is a no brainer to win. The Big Lebowski easily beats the first two if you don’t want Spielberg to have another Oscar. (The Big Hit is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but there’s no way I can argue it for best picture.)

    Update: just read through the rest of his list. He blew it with Parasite. Nothing else that year competes, especially not the dry handjob to Hollywood he picked.

    I think right now Parasite is high in contention for best film of the 21st century, in no small part that you can’t get anything good made in Hollywood today.

  5. The only one I’d quibble about is The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.
    Maybe I caught an edited, cut-up copy of that movie but the best phrase I ever saw
    used to describe it was – ‘totally incomprehensible’ !

  6. Man for all Seasons has been ruined for me by the “muh principles” people with their fake quote.

  7. Never oscar material but Sergio Leone ” man with no name” trilogy. 50 + years hold and not a wrinkle.

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