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As I wrote about here, and here, I was less than thrilled by this year’s Oscar nominees. Not to mention the fact that the producers of the telecast seemed to be doing their darndest to ruin the whole thing. So, instead of focusing on this year’s ceremony, I decided to celebrate my twenty-five years of hosting Oscar dinners and pools with a “Best of the Best” side ceremony, looking at the films nominated in each major category from 1992 to 2017.

But that’s twenty-six years isn’t it? Yes, it is. Shout-out to the year 2007 when I inadvertently planned a trip to Paris in late February 2008. However, I didn’t want to deprive Roger Deakins of one of his best chances at victory. [Side note: In the end, I only provided Deakins nominations as options for cinematography so no one had any choice in the matter, really. Hashtag, no regrets.]

You might think that Bérénice Marlohe is plotting her next move but really she is wondering if anyone will make her look as good as Roger Deakins does in Skyfall.

Twitter polling provided the nomination lists in the categories of acting, directing, cinematography, editing, producing, and writing. In the case of Best Picture, all 166 films nominated from 1992 to 2017 were eligible. Then, previous attendees of my annual dinner and pool voted for their favorite in each category and ranked up to ten films for Best Picture.

And here are the results. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Best Actor Nominees:
Russell Crowe for The Insider
Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood
Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote
Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler
Denzel Washington for Malcolm X

And the winner is… a tie!
Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood and Denzel Washington for Malcolm X

Best Actress Nominees:
Holly Hunter for The Piano
Frances McDormand for Fargo
Hillary Swank for Boys Don’t Cry
Charlize Theron for Monster
Emily Watson for Breaking the Waves

And the winner is… (by far)
Frances McDormand for Fargo!

Best Supporting Actor Nominees:
Javier Bardem for No Country for Old Men
Tom Cruise for Magnolia
Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List
Samuel L. Jackson for Pulp Fiction
Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight

And the winner is…
Tom Cruise for Magnolia!
(This one was neck and neck with everyone except Fiennes right behind Cruise.)

Best Supporting Actress Nominees:
Juliette Binoche for The English Patient
Naomie Harris for Moonlight
Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids
Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird
Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave

And the winner is…
Laurie Metcalf for Lady Bird!
(Metcalf just edged out McCarthy on this one. You gotta love a lady who makes you laugh.)

Best Cinematography Nominees:
Roger Deakins for…
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Blade Runner 2049
No Country for Old Men
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Skyfall

And the winner is…
Roger Deakins for Skyfall! (A tough choice but the best man won.)

Best Editing Nominees:
Sandra Adair for Boyhood
Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road
Zach Staenberg for The Matrix
Dody Dorn for Memento
Sally Menke for Pulp Fiction

And the winner is…
Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road!

Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees:
L.A. Confidential (Brian Helgeland & Curtis Hanson)
Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson)
Schindler’s List (Steven Zaillian)
The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont)
The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)

And the winner is… another tie!
L.A. Confidential and The Shawshank Redemption

Best Original Screenplay Nominees:
The Crying Game (Neil Jordan)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Pierre Bismuth, Michel Gondry & Charlie Kaufman)
Memento (Christopher & Jonathan Nolan)
Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary)
The Usual Suspects (Christopher McQuarrie)

And the winner is (by far)…
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind!

“I’m just exactly where I want to be.”

Best Directing Nominees:
Joel Coen for Fargo
David Lynch for Mulholland Drive
Jane Campion for The Piano
Mike Leigh for Secrets & Lies
Paul Thomas Anderson for There Will Be Blood

And the winner is…
Joel Coen for Fargo!

This was the clearest winner of the bunch, with 60% of the vote. So, it’s perhaps not surprising…

Best Picture Nominees:
Boyhood
Fargo
Little Miss Sunshine
Mad Max: Fury Road
Moonlight
No Country for Old Men
Pulp Fiction
Schindler’s List
Unforgiven
Winter’s Bone

And the winner is…
Fargo!

In true Oscar preferential-voting fashion, Fargo received no first place votes, but more than half of respondents placed it in their top ten, with most placing it second. Votes were otherwise fairly scattered among seventy-five or so films, but the top five films (Boyhood, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, Schindler’s List, Unforgiven) were very clear. More than half the films on the list of 166 received no votes.

It was terrific fun looking back on all the great (and not so great) films that have come out and been nominated since the early 1990s, as well as seeing what everyone else selected as their top choices. It was also nice to be reminded that the Academy very often doesn’t get it right.

In fact, between this reassessment and the breaking down of the numbers by decade that I did in my Year in Film roundup of older films, I am more convinced than ever to undertake the Century of Cinema project I’ve been mulling over—spending each month of 2020 reviewing one particular decade in the history of film, starting with the early silents in January, then moving on to the 1920s in February, and each succeeding decade as the year goes on. Of course, my weakness in certain decades means I basically have to start on my “unseen” backlog now.

I can’t wait!