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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

The best Oscar-nominated movies of all time


As you could tell from my past countdown lists, I love movies, and it’s a love affair that is sometimes a hit or miss relationship. With the Oscars right around the corner, I would like to make a list of my favorite movies that were nominated or won the golden man statue. So here are my top five favorite films. I will put down the numbers of nominations and wins for these films. So here we go!

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” 1961 (5 Oscar nominations / 2 wins)

I just love this film to tiny bits! Audrey Hepburn sparkled like a beautiful Tiffany engagement ring when she played Holly Golightly, the chic and charming New York socialite who knows the ins and outs of the elites. Her charm and cuteness fit perfectly with the curious, but handsome writer Paul Varjak, played by George Peppard. 

The film was a fan favorite at the 1962 Academy Awards. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including one for best actress for Hepburn, but the film only won two that night. It was a shock that Hepburn lost since she was favored to win, but it did win best original song for “Moon River” and best musical score. I still think Hepburn should have won, but she was in a very tough category with top-notch actresses like Natalie Wood for “Splendor in the Grass” and Piper Laurie for “The Hustler.” But Sophia Loren won for “Two Women.”

I still think that movie is amazing. I have the DVD and play it on Hepburn’s birthday. She made it fashionable to wear a little black dress and created the desire for every lady to have a little blue box in her dressing room that is given to her by a special someone.

“Pulp Fiction,” 1994 (7 Oscar nominations / 1 win)

If you want to know what cool was during the 1990s and how it was done, look at Quentin Tarantino and how he showed the world how to handle dialogue and action on the screen while making it look so easy.

John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s chemistry in this film was amazing. Same with the sheer brute force of action and music and Uma Thurman’s portrayal as the sharp-witted, but sultry vixen Mia. 

What really made the film iconic, besides the French translation of a quarter-pounder or the high octave fight scenes, was the dance scene, which really stole the show. The movie was nominated for seven Oscars in 1994, but only won for best original screenplay. It’s a crying shame that Thurman or Jackson didn’t win for their grand performances. Overall, this is one brilliant film that everyone should see. 

“Goodfellas,” 1990 (6 Oscar nominations / 1 Win)

This is one of my favorite Martin Scorsese gangster films – along with “Casino.” Based on the real-life gangster Henry Hill and his life in the mob, this was one of those films that shows that being in organized crime has its dire consequences.

Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci were at their finest in this film, showcasing stories about power, family, betrayal and murder. Liotta’s performance as Hill was a brilliant piece of acting, from showing a tough life as a kid to being part of the mob, and a tumble from grace is in full scope. 

Pesci’s brilliant performance as the ruthless Tommy DeVito earned him an Oscar win for best supporting actor. He beat Al Pacino, who was nominated for “Dick Tracy.” It’s funny that in 2019, Pacino and Pesci would meet again in another Scorsese gangster film, “The Irishman.”

Overall, this film is one of Scorsese’s finest works and it delivered some of the greatest storytelling and actors, patching the two together flawlessly. You have to see this for yourself.

“Cabaret,” 1972 (8 Oscar nominations / 8 wins)

Life is a cabaret,” is the tagline to the poster and truly was the motto for this brilliant film. This film was based on the 1966 Broadway musical of the same name and stars Liza Minnelli as a cabaret singer Sally Bowles, which cemented her role in movie history. The film takes place during the rise of Nazi Germany and how it affected the people at the Kit Kat Klub.

Minnelli’s performance was top-notch, especially in the first scene the audience gets to see her. But her best performance was her final act of her singing her swan song to the viewers, and it pretty much sums up the film. The brilliant music that came from the musical was conducted and written by John Kander and Fred Ebb, with Ralph Burns. 

Bob Fosse put his artistic views and his brilliant choreographic performance to work as the director of this movie. There is something unique and brilliant about this film and it was groundbreaking. Joel Grey plays a brilliant performance as the emcee for the entire film. There is even great set design and beautiful cinematography by Geoffrey Unsworth.  

I fell in love with musicals because of this film, and it was this film that made me want to search the world for good movie musicals. Around this time of the Oscars, Minnelli had a TV special called “Liza with a Z,” which earned her a Golden Globe and an Emmy. She is a triple threat indeed.

Everyone in the movie was on their A-game and if you still don’t believe how good Minnelli and Grey were in this film, money should change your mind! It’s hard to top a good act like this film, even though a couple of years later “Grease” was nominated for an Oscar, but that film came out dry. You have to see this film and you really need to get the movie soundtrack! 

“Chicago,” 2002 (13 Oscar nominations/ 6 wins including Best Picture)

Here is another movie that was based on a Broadway musical. This one was a film that was nominated for 13 Oscars, which was pretty much a record-making feat.  

“Chicago” was based off of the 1977 musical that was written by Bob Fosse. Both are sourced from the story of Roxie Hart, who was charged with murdering her lover. With the blend of corruption of the justice system, celebrity status, press and fame. This film is just one of the rare occasions, where the film is nothing more, but musical and worked so well. 

Catherine Zeta-Jones’ performance of Velma Kelly, a Vaudeville veteran, who was arrested for killing her husband/manager and her sister after they were caught in bed together. The seductive and cool Velma is the polar opposite of Hart, a wannabe singer, who is willing to do anything for fame, including murder. 

The two divas are trying to top each other and get more attention. Richard Gere’s smooth performance as Billy Flynn was charming and flirtatious with the two dames, yet he is willing to lie and change the narrative to get his clients out of jail one way or another.

Zeta-Jones won for best supporting actress for her role, which she rightfully deserves. The film snagged the best picture award and awards for art direction and costume design. “Chicago” beat “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and “The Pianist.” I guess it did show that crime can play.

You can find these films on Amazon Prime, HBO Max and Hulu

With this list wrapped up, it will be interesting to see who will walk away with the golden statue this year.  All will be revealed at the 93rd Academy Awards on Sunday, April 25 on ABC. 

Follow Imani on Twitter @MsImaniEHill1.

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Imani Hill
Imani Hill, Graduate Contributor | she/her
Imani Hill is a blogger, YouTuber, Instagramer and a wannabe comedian. She is very passionate about theater, films and TV shows. Imani is in Suffolk’s master program with a major in global public policy (dual degree). She loves to travel and try new things, and she is living her life one day at a time. Follow her on Twitter @Joyqueen.
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The best Oscar-nominated movies of all time