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Slide Show: The Nation's Oscars | The Nation

Slide Show: The Nation's Oscars

Images from the Oscar-winners of the past and reviews from Nation critics who loved/hated them.

  • It Happened One Night (1935) (1 of 25)

    The first film to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Screenplay), Frank Capra's screwball comedy causes a sensation with its ribald humor and the presence of a shirtless Clark Gable (pictured with co-star Claudette Colbert). The Nation's William Troy is charmed, describing the film as "exceptionally well put together from almost every point of view." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Gone With the Wind (1939) (2 of 25)

    This adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's best-seller is (at the time, and perhaps still today) one of the all-time big movie productions. The Nation's Franz Hoellering feels the weight of it all, suggesting it might have been a more interesting film had it been made by an "independent Eric von Stroheim." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • The Grapes of Wrath (1940) (3 of 25)

    Some in Hollywood fear that this version of John Steinbeck's Depression-era novel, starring Henry Fonda as Tom Joad, might be perceived as pro-communist. Yet the movie is widely embraced by audiences of all political persuasions. The Nation raves that the film "breaks out of the straitjacket of formulas and codes" and is "one...you cannot afford to miss." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Citizen Kane (1941) (4 of 25)

    The most celebrated American film ever made loses Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley? So much for the idea that the Academy always gets it right. In Nation critic Anthony Bower's opinion, this story of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane (inspired by real-life media baron William Randolph Hearst) is "probably the most original, exciting and entertaining picture that has yet been produced in this country." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) (5 of 25)

    The legendary John Huston wins his only Best Director award for this rollicking adventure that touches on themes of greed and violence. The Nation's James Agee is effusive with praise, saying "next only to Chaplin, [Huston] is the most talented man working in American pictures." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • From Here to Eternity (1953) (6 of 25)

    This iconic image of Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster embracing on the beach is among the most memorable and beloved in film history. However, The Nation's Manny Farber is not so smitten. He feels the film is too glamorous and entertaining in light of its subject matter: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • On the Waterfront (1954) (7 of 25)

    While this film is widely celebrated as Marlon Brando's method-acting peak, some, including The Nation's Bernard Nossiter, believe this tale of a washed-up boxer testifying about corruption on the docks to be an elaborate attempt by screenwriter Budd Schulberg and director Elia Kazan to defend their decision to name names of suspected communists before the House Un-American Activities Committee. (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • The Defiant Ones (1958) (8 of 25)

    Sidney Poitier and Tony Curtis play racially polarized fugitives from a prison chain gang in a melodrama that takes home the Best Screenplay Oscar. Critic Robert Hatch calls the film "first-rate entertainment" but pointedly reminds Nation readers that the film fails to delve deep enough into the ugly realities of racism and prejudice. (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Bonnie and Clyde (1967) (9 of 25)

    A breakthrough for Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty as well as for those behind the camera, this film kicks off a fertile period for iconoclastic auteurs like Arthur Penn, Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola, Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese and many more. But The Nation's reviewer finds the film "emotionally untrustworthy" and the cast "marvelously plastic." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Midnight Cowboy (1969) (10 of 25)

    This unusual buddy film about a would-be gigolo from the country (Jon Voight) and a crippled con man (Dustin Hoffman) in New York City is the first and so far only X-rated film to win Best Picture. The Nation praises the lead actors but savages the film, calling it "moistly indulgent and picturesquely amoral." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • MASH (1970) (11 of 25)

    This subversive antiwar comedy makes unlikely stars out of Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould, establishes Robert Altman as a major filmmaker and sets the stage for the popular TV series. Robert Hatch pans the film, saying it lacks wit and irreverence. Of the cast, he says, "this is a callow bunch." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • The Godfather (1972) (12 of 25)

    The most popular and acclaimed film of the 1970s rubs The Nation's Robert Hatch the wrong way. He believes the film's romanticization of gangsters is "deplorable," and while he praises the iconic performances of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, Hatch questions the intentions of long lines of people waiting to see the film in theaters. (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Chinatown (1974) (13 of 25)

    On the surface, Roman Polanski's complex detective yarn, starring Jack Nicholson, is a tale of 1930s corruption in Los Angeles. But The Nation finds it to be as much about the murkiness of the '70s as any other era. Robert Hatch calls it a "pop masterpiece, bursting with vigor" and "ingenious as the devil." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) (14 of 25)

    After four previous nominations, Jack Nicholson finally takes home an Oscar for his indelible performance as Randle P. McMurphy, who tangles with Louise Fletcher's diabolical Nurse Ratched in the film version of Ken Kesey's novel. While Robert Hatch believes Nicholson deserves the Oscar, he calls the film "less than satisfactory." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Dog Day Afternoon (1975) (15 of 25)

    Sidney Lumet's telling of this true story of a New York bank robbery that quickly turns into a hostage crisis provides a memorable role for a young Al Pacino and makes for a film that The Nation's reviewer considers "less than perfect, but for the most part...astonishingly good."(Photo: Everett Collection)

  • All the President's Men (1976) (16 of 25)

    Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman play the roles of real-life Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in this adaptation of their book on the Watergate break-in. The Nation dismisses the film as "a splendidly proficient production of a woefully deficient script."(Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) (17 of 25)

    Steven Spielberg receives the first of several Best Director nominations for this thinking man's sci-fi adventure. Despite the filmmaking craft on display, Robert Hatch is underwhelmed, comparing the alien spacecraft that descends in the film's climax to "a gigantic replica of the central chandelier in some metropolitan motel." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Apocalypse Now (1979) (18 of 25)

    Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War-meets-Heart of Darkness odyssey is the most expensive film production to date. Robert Hatch feels that while much of the money was probably blown on sets and script revisions, quite a lot is reflected onscreen, leaving the audience with a sense that war is "one bloody huge circus, with clowns, acrobats, fire-eaters and a big brass band." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Raging Bull (1980) (19 of 25)

    Now hailed as one of the greatest films of the 1980s, Martin Scorsese's unflinching boxing melodrama loses Best Picture to the more commercially successful Ordinary People. Still, Robert De Niro's masterful method performance would not be denied. The Nation calls it a "brutal, discerning and bleakly beautiful picture." (Photo: AP Images)

  • Gandhi (1982) (20 of 25)

    Ben Kingsley's uncanny, Oscar-winning portrayal of Gandhi in this epic film is so iconic, he's still trying to shake the persona. Robert Hatch says Kingsley "reaffirms the Mahatma's legendary courage, moral purity and steadfast vision, and adorns these virtues with an ironic quickness of wit and a simple gaiety that add a beguiling humanity to Gandhi's popular image." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Fanny and Alexander (1983) (21 of 25)

    Ingmar Bergman's cinematic swan song tells the life-affirming story of the Ekdahl family. Robert Hatch says the film has something for everyone: "death and birth, terror, hope and triumph," plus a cast drawn from "the aristocracy of the Swedish stage and screen." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • The Killing Fields (1984) (22 of 25)

    The late physician-turned-actor Haing S. Ngor (pictured), takes home the Oscar for his portrayal of Cambodian journalist Dith Pran in this reality-based account of genocide in Cambodia during the 1970s. The Nation's Andrew Kopkind writes that while the film is "liberal and humane," it trips up by placing more emphasis on its leading character--New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg--than on the more compelling Cambodians. (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Platoon (1986) (23 of 25)

    Oliver Stone's personal experiences as a soldier during the Vietnam War inform this visceral Best Picture winner. Nation critic Terrence Rafferty says "its straightforward genre-picture intensity makes all the other film treatments of [the war] look evasive and superficial" in comparison. (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Unforgiven (1992) (24 of 25)

    Clint Eastwood's coming-out party as a critical darling is viewed by many observers as a mea culpa for the numerous unrepentantly violent films he had made over the years. The Nation's Stuart Klawans goes further, suggesting the revisionist western is at best a reflection of America, albeit an America that "is a drunk who can't stay on the wagon." (Photo: Everett Collection)

  • Schindler's List (1993) (25 of 25)

    Steven Spielberg's unforgettable Holocaust drama establishes the box office titan as a director capable of making more than just popcorn entertainment. Stuart Klawans admits the film has a "real and unexpected integrity," but laments that that the character of Schindler is far too opaque. (Photo: Everett Collection)

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