Best Picture Winners Part 41 (of 87): Oliver!


Title: Oliver!
Year: 1968
Starring: Mark Lester, Ron Moody, Shani Walls
Runtime: 2 hrs 33 mins
What It Is: A musical adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens’ novel about an orphan boy that leaves the orphanage he calls home. Upon leaving, he becomes associated with a group of ruffian young boys whose whole goal is to pick the pockets of Englands well off. This is the last musical to win until <em>Chicago </em>which would be 33 years later. This has some iconic songs in it, but for me it does not really work. Consider Yourself and Oom-Pah-Pah are both standouts among the group. For such a young man, you have to give kudos to Mark Lester who holds the whole thing together as Oliver Twist.

Memorable Quote: Bill: Hand it over, you avaricious old skeleton.

Competition: First up we get Funny Girl which is William Wyler continuing his roll of good flicks with this Barbara Streisand comedy. This role led her to an Oscar and her famous speech that followed. In fact whenever she isn’ on screen the film falls sort of flat. The Lion in Winter is led by steady work from director Anthony Harvey. He gets Oscar-worthy work out of Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn (who did win). This movie touches on the relationship betwixt King Henry II and his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine. Directed by actor and famous salad dressing peddler Paul Newman we have Rachel, Rachel. In this Newman’s real-life wife Joanne Woodward stars. This is a character study in which we get to know a 35-year-old school teacher who has not yet found love. This is until she meets a man from the big city who (whether purposefully or not) sweeps her off her feet. Lastly, we get perhaps the best film of this year’s nominees Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet. This Shakespearean adaptation is not Zeffirelli’s first. He had previously adapted The Taming of the Shrewd a year earlier. Instead of relying on two married (to each other) actors we get two fresh-faced leads. He leads them to what many consider the best version of this Shakespeare tragedy. Just don’t tell Baz Luhrmann that!

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