Everybody usually always claims that the Academy always "get's it wrong" with the Oscars. They're never all please and I think have this built in response to not like or stop liking whatever is picked as best picture. Around Oscar time, you'll see writers who previously championed a film start destroying it because a film they liked just a smidge better may be trumped by it because voters didn't share their opinion. A shame really. BUT, here's a year they actually could make a very good argument about "getting it wrong". Looking back it looks easy, but I'm sure at the time this roster probably makes more sense.
The cute list of Best Pictures the Academy decided upon
WINNER - Oliver!
The Lion In The Winter
Romeo And Juliet
And my adorable picks
2001: A Space Odyssey
I mean, this is THE movie of 1968. Not even nominated for Best Picture (But yes, Best Director), this is the film most talked about, highly touted and remembered from this year. Its perfect in every single way. It changed sci-fi and bedazzled viewers (I think it played in theaters for almost a year) who went over and over again to witness this incredible spectacle. Personally, I've always found this film to be pretty scary. Maybe its that space "loneliness" again, but the sets of the film, the score and the ambiguous subject matter, not to be forgotten the monolith, all get me a bit unsettled. Of course, this keeps me constantly coming back for more. The effects work on this film is so damn good, most modern space films pale in comparison. Outstanding, this movie is!
Okay, so there were more good movies in 1968 aside from Odyssey, but its just crazy to think that Oliver! was considered the best film of that year. Here we have another incredibly influential film in Bullitt. What's this movie known for? Its really bad ass car chase. Besides that, this McQueen action flick was one for later filmmakers to take notes on for influence to replicate the successes this one had with its stunt work. Not only coming in terms of what was being shot, but the sound and editing were fantastic too. Everything sort of came together with excellence.
Night Of The Living Dead
Another influential film. This is the grand daddy of all things we've come to know as ZOMBIE today. Before this film they were more "ghouls" than anything else on film. The film is also one of the first to have a black actor in control as the lead of the film. Even more, this is low budget horror at its finest. What Romero did best here and his first three films is let the human personalities and conflict take center stage while the zombies hang in the background. Its so effective and makes the films so much more. He even makes the characters count for something. So many zombie films to come later in the seventies didn't have such a handle on these things and their movies would have great effects and make-up but a snoozer outline of "zombies-bullshit-bullshit-zombies-bullshit-bullshit-zombies-bullshit-zombes". This movie spooked me pretty good as a kid, and I got really into the characters and drama as it felt down to earth and real with its approach and behavior. A masterpiece of horror cinema, its also an all time favorite film in general of mine.
Planet Of The Apes
Not one, but two great sci fi legends were birthed in 1968. This great is one of Twilight Zone fun proportions. Charlton Heston commands and mingles with Apes as he journeys his way to an ending we're all way familiar with. This movie is fantastic and no matter how many sequels, reboots, remakes or anything, its likely not going to be topped anytime soon. That doesn't mean the rest are any sort of worthless, this one just stands really tall. Take a look to the right, as I wrote about all of them (Including Dawn) last year.
This may be the ultimate slow burn horror film of all time. But while you're itching at what's going on, this movie is beautiful to look at. The film is incredibly unsettling and the damn dream sequence with the devil getting down with Rosemary STILL haunts my mind today. Its also one of those movies that has the "every corner you turn there is nobody you can trust" sort of hopeless movies. Mia Farrow gives one of horror's all time great performances as she faces horrors of satanic pregnancy. Oh yeah, and a young Charles Grodin shows up here too. Chinatown will always be my favorite Roman Polanski film, but Rosemary's Baby is hanging right there in the next row.
aka The Conqueror Worm
This is one of Price's less campy more darker films. Its period horror, dealing more in the horrors of the reality that once was instead of supernatural or haunting affairs. Vincent Price is a real bastard in this movie too. I've read that he was unhappy during the filming of this movie, but hell, whatever, it worked quite well. This is very much one of his least campy bravado performances in his deck of cards. I wrote about this film a little more when I reviewed Scream Factory's Vincent Price Collection in 2013 for Why So Blu. You can check out that review, as well as some other films in that set by clicking HERE.