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The Sound Of Music 2

The Writer’s Room: Best Best Pictures

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This past Sunday, The Frida hosted a MEMBERS-ONLY watch party of the 96th Annual Academy Awards show. To commemorate the occasion, we asked our writers about their favorite Best Picture winners of all time.

Connor Davis, Blogger

No Country For Old Men

No Country for Old Men (2007):

It’s an undertaking to adapt a novel of high quality to the silver screen. And it’s even more difficult to translate the esotericism of a brilliant writer such as Cormac McCarthy to film. When alive, the author was often included among the U.S.’s greatest living novelists.

What makes McCarthy’s works so inimitable, so seemingly impossible to translate to cinema, is that much of it feels simultaneously insular and universal, grand and infinitesimal. Much of his work focuses on not just the actions of characters, but also the morality of those actions, the reflection of the finality and ramifications of those actions in the desolate aftermath. A meditation on voids. These are particularly difficult and abstract things to write, let alone to depict in a movie.

But the Coen brothers’ adaptation is the rare instance where the movie can stand alone and has even somewhat surpassed the critical praise of the source material. The lack of a soundtrack, the subtlety of dialogue and acting, the pacing, the images of desolation and emptiness… These elements combine to create a sense of thematic cohesion to the film that makes the finished product one of the greatest films of the 21st century.

Jen Schildge, Blogger

The Godfather

The Godfather (1992):

The Godfather producer Albert S. Ruddy accepted the much-deserved Oscar for Best Picture at the 45th Annual Academy Awards in 1973.

While I don’t really agree with some (most) award shows and their winners, this win was one where I know that if I was in my early twenties, as I am now, in 1973 I would have jumped at my colored television set.

When Ruddy accepted the award, he said, “America needs the motion picture business and the motion picture business needs the United States. Good audiences need good films as good films need good audiences.” And with that I couldn’t agree more. 

Movies help people escape from whatever reality they’re in or they can help someone through an emotion they didn’t know they had.

The Oscar-winning film is a mob drama that circles around betrayal and power, but it’s not only that. It’s gorgeous.

The Godfather is an excellent example of world-building and how much it means to character development. It throws you into the world of family, love, stress, and organized crime. A lot of people now are scared of long movies. I’ve heard “Oh gosh it’s nearly three hours” over and over, but I’m begging you to give it a chance if you never have before. Sometimes classics are a classic for a reason.

A lot of films on the list of Best Picture winners are lost in the archives, but The Godfather will never be forgotten.

Anthony McKelroy, Blogger

The Sound Of Music

The Sound of Music (1965):

At the intersection of song and image: the musical. A means to dance and be free. The brilliant widescreen psalms of Robert Wise’s Best Picture-winning musical, The Sound of Music, are not the stuff of fluff — they’re fury. A biographical sketch of a family who resists and ultimately escapes Nazi occupation, condemning what is being done to their homeland in their name. The hills are alive with the sound of marching. Fascism is on its way.

When The Sound of Music was released in the spring of 1965, it was billed as a spectacular event production, one of the first of its kind to be developed in a new 70mm “Todd-AO” color picture system. The results remain breathtaking, unlike anything seen in a studio film since. On-location views that constantly remind audiences of the stakes at hand: these hills, this land. Tall grasses meant to hold bare feet, not combat boots; streets paved for bicycles, not tanks.

Some of the first casualties of totalitarian invasion are often the poets — writers and artists — those who can speak truth to power and illustrate a better way to live. By the time Nazis arrive on the doorstep of the Von Trapp family in the film, their reputation as an all-singing, all-dancing troupe suddenly becomes a liability, but it’s also the source of their unique powers as individuals — these frolicking enemies of state. Cornered on all sides at the annual Salzburg music festival, the Von Trapps are able to escape the grasps of Brownshirts, armed only with song. Lyrical liberation that proves when the guns run out of bullets, music and dance will become weapons of resistance, evidence of our still-fighting spirits. It’s what gives the film its title, what brings the hills to life, the sounds we call music.


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