Best Picturesque: The 41st – The Funny Lion in Oliver!

In this project, I’ll be watching each Best Picture winner, regardless of if I’ve already seen it, at random years, and then watching the two nominees with the most Oscar nominations for that year to find out, in my pompous assessment, if the Academy made the right choice. If I’ve already seen the subsequent nominee, I’ll move on to the next most nominated for that year.

The 41st Academy Award Best Picture nominees I watched: Oliver!, The Lion In Winter (7), Funny Girl (8)
bold = winner italics = losers (nominations) ]

When I watched these:  January 1st, 2nd, and 6th

The snacks: mini-tacos and chips/cheese.  Had a Tex-Mex thing going, apparently.

The year: 1968.

Did I skip any of the movies?: Nope.

So why did the other movies lose?

The Lion In Winter and Funny Girl are strikingly similar: both leading ladies carry the film (particularly Streisand), both involved strained relationships, and both of them drag out at times. I liked them both for their respective qualities. Lion features some cutting dialogue, Shakespearean in delivery and eternally insulting; Hepburn dishes out the barbs with stunning regularity. Streisand is tamer and naive at times in Funny Girl. I thought I’d find her obnoxious, but she quickly became delightful, particularly in this skating routine:

[history] Funny Girl (1968) – Barbara Streisand from ReKiL on Vimeo.

Funny Girl has the ups and downs you’d expect in show business, but Lion bears high tension the whole film, which makes it not tense at all.  We’re ultimately relieved when the king sends his bride back to the tower at the end.

So why did Oliver! win?

Oliver! as a film knows what it’s doing from the opening scene onward.  Setting the tone with contrasting greys and blues, sharply choreographed moving and eating, and everyone on a marching cadence reminds us of the drab setting in Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In the Wall which would arrive over a decade later. And the film does not relent. The young but disproportionately mature Artful Dodger shows up and turns the film into something great, heading up the rousing number “Consider Yourself A Friend”.  The large scale choreography throughout might be the best I’ve ever seen in film, only rivaling the ballet sequence in An American In Paris; the director and choreographer collaborate to make each busy dance routine something magical and pleasing to the eye with careful editing and cinematography. The classic Dickens storyline remains intact, and we’re disappointed when it’s all over.

The movie that should have won: Oliver!

Oliver! turns in the finest musical performance I’ve seen apart from Singin’ In the Rain; the latter is more self-aware and satirical, but Oliver! holds its own with stunning performances from young to old, and features an array of colors and notes that resonate within your senses long after its closing.

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