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Your ‘Birth Film’ is the film that won the Oscar for Best Picture the year you were born.
If you’re born between 1960 to 2014 – then I know what your birth film is.
And if you haven’t seen it, that’s the film you must watch.
For some reason I can remember every movie that has won the Academy Award for Best Picture from the year 1960 to the present day.
I have no idea why I can remember them. I just do. I can’t remember my account balance on any of my bank accounts, or remember my passwords to log into most things on my laptop computer, but I can remember who won Best Picture in 1981 (which was Chariots Of Fire).
Some say its’ a curse. Some think its’ a neat party trick.
I recall one big house party where I had to tell every person in the room what their birth film was, and proceed to tell them what their film was about, and that they had to watch it.
By the end of the night, people were comparing their films to others. And I still hadn’t had a beer yet.
When one of my bosses asked me what his birth film was (he was born in 1962) I told him it was the great classic Lawrence Of Arabia. He was absolutely stoked. I was in his good books for a while.
Another one of my friends said he was born in 1965.
I looked at him with a grim look.
“Your film is The Sound Of Music“. His mates’couldn’t stop laughing.
He’s never spoken to me again.
So, you want to find out what your birth film is? Read on. Because I’ve written it all out for you.
Please note: and it’s a big note: In real time, these films won in the Awards ceremony the following year. For example, ‘Birdman’ won the Best Picture award in the 2015 awards ceremony. But is recorded as Best Picture for 2014. So this years’ winner will be recorded down in the Oscar annuals as the Best Picture for 2015, and not 2016.
To start off, I just write a year down and then write down the film that won immediately. Some cases I get it wrong, but its’ a good exercise in remembering. Well, for me anyway.
We’ll start with the films that won the Oscar for Best Picture in the 1960s. And I’ve written it all out as I try to remember them.
Looking at this list, the 60s was a mix of the old Hollywood Musicals (West Side Story, My Fair Lady and Oliver!) and epics (Lawrence Of Arabia, Tom Jones and A Man For All Seasons) but slowly, in the mid to late 60s, films with serious commentaries on society begin to be recognised, like the racial tension of ‘In The Heat Of The Night‘ which coincided with Martin Luther King and the black civil rights movement, to the lonely city existance of ‘Midnight Cowboy‘ – the only X rated film to win Best Picture.
They call these the golden years. And you can see why with this next list of Best Picture winners.
In fact, if you were born in the 1970s’ you came into the world when some great films were made. The old Hollywood studio system of the 50s and 60s was gone – and film-making power was back in control of the director. In this period you see the great directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Terrence Malick, William Friedkin, Stanley Kubrick, Milos Forman, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Brian DePalma, Michael Cimino, Woody Allen and Roger Corman be given free reign as they start to create cinematic masterpieces such as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Chinatown, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, and The Deer Hunter.
My younger sister Bev is the envy of some of my movie friends as she was born in 1974 when ‘The Godfather Part II’ won Best Picture. Sigh. In fact, if you were born in 1972 and 1974, you are the Godfather’s chosen ones. Because you were born under two of the greatest movies ever made. Lucky you.
I was born in 1971. So my birth film is The French Connection. Like my boss I mentioned previously, I’m pretty stoked that’s my film. One of the best crime thrillers ever made. Filmed in guerilla-documentary style by William Friedkin, which was revolutionary back then, had one of the greatest car chases ever put on film, and starred an Oscar-winning performance by Gene Hackman, playing the racist but tough New York Detective ‘Popeye’ Doyle – which made him an overnight superstar.
I could go on and wax lyrical about some other great films that were made in the 1970s but lets’ just savour this golden era and move straight into the 80s.
Despite the family drama Ordinary People beating the brilliant Raging Bull for Best Picture in 1980 (oh, the blasphemy), it’s a solid showing – films about famous people (Mahatma Gandhi, Emperor Puyi and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) famous sports people ( Olympic sprinters Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell in Chariots Of Fire) famous music themes (remember Vangelis?) and famous historic world events (The Vietnam War in Platoon) are recognised in this era. Born in this decade? You have some good films to choose from here.
In the 1990s we see the return to the historic – with the glorious Western (Dances With Wolves, Unforgiven), to the horrific Holocaust (Schindlers’ List) where Steven Spielberg wins his first Oscar for Best Director. More historic epics (Braveheart, Titanic) seem to dominate in the mid 90s until the modern suburbian nightmare of American Beauty ends it with a bang (in this case a bullet to Kevin Spaceys’ head). My nephews and nieces are born at this time (Vaughans’ birth film is Braveheart, Khyshions’ is The Silence Of The Lambs and Summers’ is Forrest Gump), so I’ve encouraged them to see their films. This era is also well known for an 11 year-old Kiwi girl by the name of Anna Paquin winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Piano, and kiwi Director Jane Campion winning Best Original Screenplay for the same film.
If you’ve had kids in the last 10 years – then this is the list you need to check, so you can tell your kids what their birth film is. Gladiator kicks off the millenium with a brilliant performance by Russell Crowe, and then again in A Beautiful Mind.
It’s also a great era for New Zealand film because this is the time when The Lord Of The Rings dominated – especially so in 2003, when The Return Of The King took all of the technical awards, as well as Best Film and Best Director for Sir Peter Jackson. My favourite Director Marty Scorsese finally wins an Oscar for Best Director for his work on The Departed, and Kathyrn Bigelow becomes the first woman to win Best Director for her work on The Hurt Locker.
2010 – 2014
The last five years is a mix of the historic (The Kings’ Speech, Argo, 12 Years A Slave) the nostalgic (The Artist which was a homage to the silent movies of the 1920s) to last years’ winner which was a strange but innovative comedy-drama (Birdman).
So there you have it. As it is written.
I hope you’ve looked through these lists and picked out your ‘birth’ film. If you haven’t seen your birth film – then I suggest you go and rent it out or search for it on YouTube. And if you’re a movie geek like me – memorise them. It makes for a great party conversation.
And I sincerely apologise to the people born in the 1950s – but I can only go so far. But Uncle Murray, your birth film is From Here To Eternity (1953).
The next blog post will be who I think will win Best Picture at this years’ Oscar Award ceremony (which will be recorded as the winner for the last year).
Watch this space.