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The Oscars are upon us, and we here at The Frida have some opinions! Not about this year’s nominees, but about our favorite movies to ever win the Academy’s coveted Best Picture Award. Some 100 years after the dawn of cinema, the notion of what makes a film “great” has been subject to discussion and change over the decades, as reflected in the movies here. Selected by each of our staff members, these titles run the gamut from 30’s slapstick comedies to modern historical dramas but all were recognized as exemplary instances of filmmaking at the time of their release. Consider this your invitation to a most special engagement: our Best Best Pictures series, screening all month-long!
Garrett’s Pick: Gladiator – Mar 3 – 5
Directed by Ridley Scott | 2000
In the year 180, the death of emperor Marcus Aurelius throws the Roman Empire into chaos. Maximus is one of the Roman army’s most capable and trusted generals and a key advisor to the emperor. As Marcus’ devious son Commodus ascends to the throne, Maximus is set to be executed. He escapes, but is captured by slave traders. Renamed Spaniard and forced to become a gladiator, Maximus must battle to the death with other men for the amusement of paying audiences.
Jill’s Pick: Chicago – Mar 7 – 9
Directed by Rob Marshall | 2002
Nightclub sensation Velma (Catherine Zeta-Jones) murders her philandering husband, and Chicago’s slickest lawyer, Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), is set to defend her. But when Roxie (Renée Zellweger) also winds up in prison, Billy takes on her case as well — turning her into a media circus of headlines. Neither woman will be outdone in their fight against each other and the public for fame and celebrity.
Reggie’s Pick: Midnight Cowboy – Mar 10 & 11
Directed by John Schlesinger | 1969
In Texas, a disillusioned man named Joe Buck (Voight) abandons his dishwashing job to pursue life in New York City as a male prostitute. He eventually comes to meet a man named Enrico “Ratso” Rizzo (Hoffman), a limping con man who quickly becomes a personal and business acquaintance. As the two become friends within the unforgiving streets of their city, they both begin to take to their dreams and newly surfacing identities as a refuge, even as one begins to succumb to their ailments.
Trevor’s Pick: The Silence of the Lambs – Mar 10 – 12
Directed by Jonathan Demme | 1991
In 1986, young FBI trainee Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) is pulled from training and straight into the case of a serial killer of young woman named Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb (Ted Levine). In order to extract more information, Starling is assigned to interview a man named Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins), another killer incarcerated underground for his unspeakable method of slaughter. The deeper she involves herself in the case, the longer her plunge lasts into the hellish capability of humans.
Bekah’s Pick: It Happened One Night – Mar 13 – 15
Directed by Frank Capra | 1934
Ellen ‘Ellie’ Andrews (Claudette Colbert) is a bratty socialite who has just run away from her wealthy father, hitching a ride on a Greyhound bus to meet with her recently eloped lover. On the bus, she is recognized by a freshly fired newspaper reporter named Peter Warne (Clark Gable), who forces Ellie to choose between having a story written on her or having her father know her whereabouts. It is only the first in a chain reaction of comically escalating occurrences that pulls these once-opposed bus-riders together into something much more romantic.
Martin’s Pick: On the Waterfront – Mar 24 – 26
Directed by Elia Kazan | 1954
On the waterfronts of Hoboken, New Jersey, corrupt unions and racketeering spread amongst the longshoremen working in the region. After former prize fighter Terry Malloy (Brando) is falsely lured into assisting the death of a colleague, he attempts to reconnect with Edie (Eva Marie Saint), the sister of the deceased, out of guilt. It is her aggressive seek for justice in which Terry realizes not only his feelings for her, but the growing danger his position puts him within.
Logan’s Pick: Amadeus – Mar 28 – 30
Directed by Milos Forman | 1984
Nearing the turn of the 18th century in Vienna, Austria, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) stands amongst the world’s most profound musical talents, as aspiring composer Antonio Salieri (F Murray Abraham) climbs up Vienna’s social ladder. Upon discovering Mozart’s immaturity and rampant troubles with alcoholism, Salieri, a devout Catholic, reckons with the morality of Mozart’s success whilst having to play second fiddle beneath him. Declaring this to be an almighty error of judgement, Salieri vows to destroy Mozart and claim the throne as Austria’s rightful musical heir.