Netflix Would Like To Thank The Academy

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Hugh Jackman hosting the Academy Awards

The 81st Academy Awards last weekend sent home Slumdog Millionaire and Milk big winners, but they’re only the latest in a long line of movies deemed Oscar-worthy by the Academy.

Many of these classics are available on Netflix through its “Watch Instantly!” feature, although they’re often hidden amid entire seasons of Hercules and Coach. Bwog knows you have midterms looming and papers piling up, so after the jump is a list of three Oscar-winning movies to help take your mind of classes.

You probably won’t find a better way to spend your time. (Other than, you know, actually doing those papers…)

CASABLANCA – Best Picture

Nightclub Rick’s Cafe Americain is the hotspot of Casablanca. Run by American Rick Blaine, the cafe draws Nazis, French, criminals, and finally, Ilsa, a former fling of Blaine’s. She needs Rick’s help to escape Morocco with her husband — a Nazi fugitive — but Rick must overcome his bitter memories of their past love before he can move forward, all while the Nazi occupiers are hot on the trail.

A relic of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Casablanca easily stacks up as one of the best Best Pictures and certainly among the finest American movies ever made. You probably know this already, though, since it shows up elsewhere in excerpts or as parodies time and again. Practically every other line of dialogue is quotable; the cinematography is iconic; and the film’s defining song “As Time Goes By” has become part of the American standards songbook. But all this aside, the smoldering chemistry between the film’s leads — Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman — is enough to drive Casablanca on its own.

NETWORK – Best Actor

UBS News is suffering from low ratings and needs a boost. Corporate executives decide to fire longtime anchor Howard Beale in hopes of retooling the program to attract a larger audience, but Beale will not go quietly. Hijacking the telecast, Beale launches a tirade against TV journalism that suddenly catches the attention of Americans everywhere. The program’s ratings skyrocket as Beale transforms himself into the “Mad Prophet of the Airwaves,” a ranting, delusional figure whose messages rock the nation.

Network’s star Peter Finch suffered a fatal heart attack only weeks before winning the Oscar for Best Actor, becoming the first — and until Heath Ledger, the only — performer to receive a posthumous Academy Award. Like Ledger’s rumored post-Joker decline, one must wonder while watching Network if Finch’s fierce intensity in the role also contributed to his death.  His raving is so vivid and so savage that it’s frightening. Perhaps more frightening, though, is the accuracy with which Network pinpoints the flaws of journalism in the age of sound bites. The satire is as fierce as Finch and holds up more than ever today.

RATATOUILLE – Best Animated Feature

Becoming a gourmet chef is the dream of Remy, a rat living in a small French cottage near Paris. As a rat, though, Remy doesn’t stand a chance competing for a spot in the top Parisian kitchens nor does he have the support of his family. After a near-extermination forces Remy to flee the villa for the sewers, he eventually meets the hapless Linguini, a young janitor with kitchen access. The two pair up hoping for greater success in pursuing their dreams, no matter whether they involve Remy at the stove or Linguini with his coworker and crush, Colette.

A fun film if not particularly deep, Ratatouille is a feast for the eyes in more ways than one. Food is gorgeously rendered via detailed Pixar animation and the kitchen cinematography manages to hold viewer interest despite being confined to a single, small space. Meanwhile, comedy ranging from slapstick to wordplay buoys the feel-good storyline, which easily appeals to adults without flying over the heads of kids. It’s an inspiring film for foodies — Pixar outdid itself on Ratatouille, an arguably better film than this year’s animated winner, WALL-E.

Images courtesy of IMDB.com

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  1. Fuck

    Milk!!! Mickey Rourke was robbed b/c the Academy has its head up its own ass and gave Milk a political handicap due to the anger over Prop 8.

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