Streampix Watch: And the Oscar Goes to…Best Picture Winners and Losers

Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain" (Focus Features Home Entertainment)

It’s awards season again, and Streampix boasts a baker’s dozen movies that have been nominated for Oscars’ big prize, Best Picture, with six of them going home clutching filmdom’s highest honor, from “Casablanca” in the 1943 ceremonies, when it was dubbed “Outstanding Motion Picture” to “Driving Miss Daisy,” which won for its 1989 release.

Here’s a complete list of the Best Oscar winners:

Casablanca”: This 1942 classic with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman earned a total of eight nominations, including Outstanding Picture, Best Director for Michael Curtiz and Best Writing Screenplay for Julius J. Epstein, Phillip G. Epstein and Howard Koch, winning in all three categories.  Bogart was nominated for Best Actor, but lost to Paul Lukas in “Watch on the Rhine.” Also nominated that year: Gary Cooper (“For Whom the Bell Tolls” also with Bergman), Walter Pidgeon (“Madame Curie”) and Mickey Rooney (“The Human Comedy”).

An American in Paris”: This 1951 George Gerswhin-inspired, Vincente Minnelli-directed musical about an American painter (Gene Kelly) discovered by a wealthy benefactor (Nina Foch) who betrays her by romancing a woman (Leslie Caron) already in a relationship with his best friend (Georges Guetary), was nominated for eight Oscars, winning six, including Best Picture, Best Writing, Scoring and Screenplay (Alan Jay Lerner) and Best Musical Score (Saul Chaplin and Johnny Green). Minnelli lost out for Best Director to George Stevens for “A Place in the Sun.” Among the nominees in that category were John Huston (“The African Queen”)  and Elia Kazan (“A Streetcar Named Desire”).

Ben-Hur”: This William Wyler-directed 1959 epic still holds the record for most Oscars won in one evening with 11, alongside “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” Aside from Best Picture, the winners included Best Director, Best Actor (Charlton Heston) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Hugh Griffith), along with art direction, cinematography, costume design, special effects, film editing, music and sound recording.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”: This 1975 Milos Forman adaptation of Ken Kesey’s best-selling novel was a pet project of producer Michael Douglas, earning nine nominations and five statues, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Laurence Hauben and Bo Goldman). Supporting Actor nominee Brad Dourif lost out to George Burns in “The Sunshine Boys,” while Jack Nitzsche’s music score was bested by John Williams’ iconic “Jaws” theme. This was the second movie since 1934’s “It Happened One Night” to win all five of the top categories, an accomplishment not repeated until 1991’ “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Amadeus”: Milos Forman earned his second Best Director Oscar with this lavish 1984 adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play about Mozart and his rival composer, Salieri, with the film taking eight Academy Awards from a total of 11 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham, beating out fellow nominee Tom Hulce), Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay (Shaffer).

Driving Miss Daisy”: Jessica Tandy earned a Best Actress nod and playwright Alfred Uhry a Best Adapted Screenplay award among the four awards earned by this 1989 Best Picture winner about an elderly southern lady and her chauffeur.  Among the film’s nine nominations was Best Actor (Morgan Freeman, who lost out to Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot”) and Best Supporting Actor (Dan Aykroyd, who was beaten by Denzel Washington in “Glory”). Oddly enough, Bruce Beresford didn’t even cop a Best Director nomination, a category eventually taken by Oliver Stone for “Born on the Fourth of July.”

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Here’s a list of those nominated for Best Picture that lost:

Doctor Zhivago”:  This 1965 David Lean-directed blockbuster set in the Russian Revolution, based on Boris Pasternak’s best-seller, starred Omar Sharif and Julie Christie as star-crossed lovers, picking up 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Tom Courtenay), earning five, but losing out to, respectively, “The Sound of Music,” that film’s Robert Wise and Martin Balsam (“A Thousand Clowns”).

Cabaret”: Bob Fosse’s 1972 adaption about a brassy American cavatet singer (Liza Minnelli) and shy English writer (Michael York) embarking on a doomed romance in 1931 Weimar Republic-era Berlin, was nominated for 10 awards, winning eight, still the most without also taking home Best Picture honors (it lost to “The Godfather”).  Among its winners were Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Joel Grey), Best Cinematography and Best Original Song Score.

Dog Day Afternoon”: Sidney Lumet’s 1975 real-life comedy-drama earned a Best Picture nomination among its four other nods for Best Director (where Lumet lost to Milos Forman for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), Best Actor (Al Pacino giving way to Nicholson), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Chris Sarandon, losing to George Burns) and its only win, Best Writing—Original Screenplay (Frank Pierson).

The Color Purple”: This Steven Spielberg-directed 1985 film based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story tied the record for most nominations with a single win, a total of 11, with 1977’s “The Turning Point.” The movie was nominated for Best Picture (losing to “Out of Africa”), Best Actress (Whoopi Goldberg, losing to “The Trip to Bountiful” star Geraldine Page) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Margaret Avery and Oprah Winfrey losing to Anjelica Huston directed by her father in “Prizzi’s Honor”).

Born on the Fourth of July”: Oliver Stone’s 1989 true-life tale of Vietnam vet Ron Kovic’s anti-war autobiography garnered a total of eight nominations, including Best Picture (losing out to “Driving Miss Daisy”), winning two: Best Director and Best Film Editing.  Tom Cruise lost out to Daniel Day-Lewis in the Best Actor category, while Kovic and Stone lost to Alfred Uhry in the Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published or Produced.

TrafficSteven Soderbergh’s multi-layered 2000 epic detailing the world-wide drug trade racked up five nominations, including Best Picture (it lost to “Gladiator”), winning the other four categories, including Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Benicio Del Toro), Best Adapted Screenplay (Stephen  Gaghan) and Best Film Editing.

Brokeback Mountain” Best Director winner Ang Lee’s controversial 2005 epic about two cowboy in love was the front-runner heading into the Oscar ceremony, with eight nominations, including Best Picture, where it lost to upset winner “Crash.” The film was also up for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Heath Ledger losing to Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Capote”), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Jake Gyllenhaal, topped by George Clooney in “Syriana,” available on Streampix), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Michelle Williams edged out by Rachel Weisz in another Streampix feature “The Constant Gardener”) and Best Cinematography, winning for Best Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana) and Best Original Score (Gustavo Santaolalla).

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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