Rethinking the Oscars is a favorite pastime every year about this time, and Thompson’s got a lot of really good alternates. It’s interesting to note that most of her picks (up until recent years, anyway) are from directors who were either “rediscovered” by French critics of the New Wave (Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, John Ford, Anthony Mann, Samuel Fuller) or came out of the New Wave tradition (Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, sort of Michelangelo Antonioni), or are genre films (musicals, films noirs, westerns, thrillers), which the Academy traditionally hates and were resurrected by the New Wave critics. It just goes to show what a watershed period the New Wave was in film history. In other words, many of the films she chooses would never have been considered by the Academy, because genre films and the directors who directed them (Hitchcock and thrillers, Ford and westerns, Fuller and crime films, etc.) weren’t considered prestigious enough for the Academy. You can also see the Hollywood/foreign film disconnect, as many of her choices are from France, Italy, Japan, etc.
Anyway. I was going to post my own list, but I actually think she’s got it pretty well covered. I might keep Mrs. Miniver over The Magnificent Ambersons (but I would really need to rewatch the latter before committing to that), Casablanca, West Side Story (though she’s probably right…I just LOVE WSS), Chariots of Fire (again, because I LOVE it), Schindler’s List (Groundhog Day? Really? I like Groundhog Day, but not vs. Schindler’s List), and American Beauty. A lot of the 1970s and 1980s ones I can’t comment on, not having seen either the winning film or her alternatives. I might also keep Lawrence of Arabia because it’s gorgeous, but I have to admit that Jules et Jim is pretty excellent. I’d need a rewatch on Liberty Valance.
In addition to being a good alternative Oscar list, it’s also (obviously) a really good list for building film literacy. I’m going to go add the ones I haven’t seen to my Netflix queue. (Speaking of Netflix queues, if any of y’all have Netflix accounts, let’s be friends! faithx5 AT gmail DOT com is my associated e-mail address.)