The film journey this excellent collection of Best Picture winners takes begins in 1929, with the musical, The Broadway Melody, winner of just the 2nd Best Picture Academy Award, and extends all the way to 2006 with Martin Scorsese’s crime drama, The Departed. In between are some on the best movies ever made, some of the most beloved, and a few movies that surprised and shocked audience when they walked away with the big award on Oscar night.
Among the great ones are Mutiny on the Bounty, the 1935 high seas drama starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, Casablanca, the Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman wartime romance that continues to inspire to this day, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1975’s Best Picture winner that certified Jack Nicholson as one of the greatest actors of his generation and one of its biggest stars, two Clint Eastwood masterpieces, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, and The Return of the King, the third and final film in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Also included are beloved classics like Gone with the Wind (on 2 DVDs), Ben-Hur (the Charleon Heston version, also on 2 DVDs), Mrs. Miniver and Driving Miss Daisy. And a set like this wouldn’t be complete with a couple of head scratchers – films that won Best Picture in years when other more noteworthy films were released. Representing that group are Around the World in 80 Days, which may have won because of the sheer spectacle of the film, and Chariots of Fire, a small English movie about God, country and English sprinters. Although a great film, many still believe that Raiders of the Lost Ark was the best picture of that year. The debate on that one will continue for generations.
However, that’s the great thing about large collections like this one. It exposes people to movies they’ve never seen, reminds them of the ones they loved, and creates a discussion about the art of motion pictures. I was most excited to see The Best Years of Our Lives included here. This post- war drama about WWII vets returning home remains one of the most moving and ahead of its time films ever made. This collection is worth it just for that film because it is a must see.
As far as the quality of these movies is concerned, all of the discs represented in this collection are pulled from the most recent, and therefore the best quality print available. Additionally, sound is excellent and fully restored. Each film comes with special features, whether it is commentary by film scholars or the filmmakers, insightful featurettes about the making of the films or historical footage of the era that gives the viewer context. A 12-page booklet is also included providing a brief synopsis of every film.
The Best of Warner Brothers 20 Film Collection: Best Pictures, available as of January 29, is broken into three chapters that look like this:
1929-1942 (A New Era)
The Broadway Melody (1929), Grand Hotel (1932), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), The Life of Emile Zola (1937), Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Casablanca (1942… 1943 Academy Award Winner)
1946-1959 (The Golden Years)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), An American in Paris (1951), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Gigi (1958), and Ben-Hur (1959)
1975-2006 (The New Classics)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Chariots of Fire (1981), Amadeus: The Director’s Cut (1984), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), Unforgiven (1992), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Million Dollar Baby (2004) and The Departed (2006)
For more information: http://www.bestofwb.com/