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With a total of 12 of the movies most loved by the Academy on ShowMax this month, February just got a whole lot more favourable in our book. Here they are, from films with the most awards to films with the fewest.
The English Patient: 9 Oscars (1997)
At the end of World War II, a man with no name, no face, and no country ends up in an Italian field hospital. He’s been badly burned in a plane wreck and can’t remember anything about himself, but because of his accent becomes known as the English patient. He is treated by Hana (Juliette Binoche), a capable Canadian nurse, who gradually starts to piece together the man’s background while slowly healing his wounds. Nothing will prepare her for what she uncovers. Binoche won Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for her role, and the film itself took 8 more.
Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Director (Anthony Minghella), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Music.
Watch this too: The Talented Mr Ripley, also directed by Anthony Minghella
Shakespeare in Love: 7 Oscars (1999)
This gloriously romantic film won 7 Oscars, including Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow as fiery noblewoman Viola, object of Will Shakespeare’s passion) and Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench as the scowling Queen Elizabeth). The movie is (very) loosely based on the life of the world’s most famous playwright. Viola, a fan of Will Shakespeare’s, starts disguising herself as a man so she can act in one of his plays, as women are forbidden on the stage. Will soon sees through Viola’s disguise, and the two start falling in love, even though they are as star-crossed as Shakespeare’s most famous lovers.
Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Writing, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Music.
Watch this too: Bounce, also starring Gwyneth Paltrow
Schindler’s List: 7 Oscars (1994)
Winner of seven Academy Awards, plus seven BAFTAs and three Golden Globes, Steven Spielberg’s historical epic relives the horror of the Holocaust years in stark black and white. The aim was for the film to come across as a documentary, which is fitting since it’s based on the true story of Oscar Schindler, the German war profiteer who saved over 1 000 Polish jews from the concentration camps by employing them in his factory. Starring Liam Neeson as Schindler, Ralph Fiennes as the SS Officer who accepts his bribe, and Ben Kingsley as Schindler’s Jewish accountant, all with consistently convincing German accents.
Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing and Best Music.
Watch this too: Amistad, also directed by Steven Spielberg
The Godfather II: 6 Oscars (1978)
The sequel to the blockbuster that became a classic in its own right (and the only sequel to ever win the Best Picture Oscar), this film continues the story of Don Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) as a Mafia boss in the late 1950s. It also gives us an insight into the early life of his late father, Vito (with Robert De Niro playing him as a young man), and his journey to becoming the original Don Corleone, so it is considered both a sequel and a prequel to the first film. At 200 minutes long, it is a gangster extravaganza.
Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro), Best Director, Best Writing, Best Art Direction and Best Music.
Watch this too: Jackie Brown, also starring Robert De Niro
The Artist: 5 Oscars (2012)
Winner of 5 Oscars, plus a whopping 146 other awards, The Artist is a revelation for modern audiences, showcasing all the best elements of silent films – actors with amazingly expressive faces, impeccable timing and physical theatre skills so impressive that they didn’t need dialogue to tell a story. Jean Dujardin won the Oscar for Best Actor (making him the only French actor to ever do so) for his role as George Valentin, a superstar of the 1920s’ silent-movie era who falls on hard times after the “talkies” take off. His friendship with dancer Peppy Miller, though, could change his fate.
Oscars: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Costume Design (Mark Bridges) and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures.
Watch this too: Be Cool, for which Mark Bridges also designed the costumes
Saving Private Ryan: 5 Oscars (1999)
The highest grossing film of 1998, this is a modern classic of a war movie, directed by Oscar-winning Steven Spielberg. It follows the eight soldiers who are sent to the front during World War II to bring Private James Ryan home to his mother, after his three brothers are all killed in action. It stars Tom Hanks as the company commander and Matt Damon as Private Ryan. The film won multiple Oscars, including for sound and cinematography, as well as a Grammy for its soundtrack, and its violently realistic battle scenes are a sight to behold.
Oscars: Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Film Editing and Best Effects Sound Effects Editing.
Watch this too: Band of Brothers, produced by Steven Spielberg
Annie Hall: 4 Oscars (1978)
Written and directed by, and starring Woody Allen, this classic film won a total of 30 awards, including four Oscars. Allen plays Alvy, a comedian with issues (such as not wanting to date anyone who would want to date him; and having been divorced twice), who meets and falls for a charmingly insecure aspiring singer, brilliantly played by a beautifully dressed (in her very own clothes, of course) Diane Keaton. Look out for an early appearance by Jeff Goldblum as a party guest near the beginning of the film, and Sigourney Weaver in her screen debut as Alvy’s date near the end!
Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Diane Keaton), Best Writing and Best Director.
Watch this too: Because I Said So, also starring Diane Keaton
12 Years A Slave: 3 Oscars (2014)
This is the tragic, true story of a free man who is kidnapped from New York and sold into slavery. In 1841, New Yorker Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is drugged by two tricksters who sell him to a slave pen. He is sent to a plantation down South, where he is traded from one cruel slave owner to another. Solomon is determined to never give up hope of being freed, and after a chance meeting with a Canadian labourer (Brad Pitt), he is given his chance. This film launched Lupita Nyong’o’s astronomical career, and it took home three Academy Awards.
Oscars: Best Motion Picture of the Year (Brad Pitt and others), Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Writing: Adapted Screenplay.
Watch this too: Killing Them Softly, also starring Brad Pitt
The Godfather: 3 Oscars (1972)
Moviegoers had no reason to expect anything great from this film, made by an inexperienced director (Francis Ford Coppola) with a cast of unknowns and a past-his-prime Marlon Brando. But it defied expectations and became one of the most influential films of all time. It centres around a New York crime family – Don Vito Corleone (Brando) and his three sons, Sonny (James Caan), firstborn and underboss; Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), the family lawyer and Vito’s 'adopted' son; and Michael (Al Pacino), the war hero who undergoes a fascinating transformation to join the family business and eventually become its ruthless boss.
Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Writing (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola).
Watch this too: The 4400, also created by Francis Ford Coppola
Ghost: 2 Oscars (1991)
The movie that brought us that pottery scene might be the sexiest fantasy ever made. Patrick Swayze plays banker Sam Wheat, lover of Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), an artist. After Sam is murdered in cold blood by his partner because of a deal that went bad, his spirit roams the Earth, desperate to communicate with Molly to warn her of the danger she’s in. He contacts psychic Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), who agrees to help. You can expect a few laughs when his messages are mistranslated by Oda, and some pretty steamy moments when Sam’s ghost and Molly truly connect.
Oscars: Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress (Whoopi Goldberg).
Watch this too: A Little Bit of Heaven, also starring Whoopi Goldberg
Blue Jasmine: 1 Oscar (2014)
Who would you turn to if your wealth and privilege were suddenly snatched away from you? For socialite Jasmine French, the answer to that question is her sister Ginger. This proves unfortunate for both women – Ginger lives in a blue-collar neighbourhood in a seedy apartment in San Francisco, which Jasmine knows is way beneath her; and Jasmine comes with a load of baggage (literally: Louis Vuitton, naturally), some nasty habits, and a penthouse-suite-sized chip on her shoulder. Cate Blanchett is a joy to watch as the conflicted, shallow, callous Jasmine, while Sally Hawkins makes us fall instantly in love with Ginger.
Oscar: Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role (Cate Blanchett).
Watch this too: The Aviator, also starring Cate Blanchett
Cold Mountain: 1 Oscar (2004)
In one of her most acclaimed roles, Renee Zellweger plays Ruby Thewes, a rural woman who has lived a hard life in a North Carolina town. Ruby is sent to help Ada (Nicole Kidman), a city girl, to tend to her farm after her father’s death during the Civil War, and the two form a fierce friendship. Ada is desperate for Inman, the man she loves, to return from the front, and one of her letters encourages him to desert. He undertakes a dangerous journey, at risk of starvation, death by cold, and capture by the Guard, to get back to Cold Mountain.
Oscar: Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Renee Zellweger).
Watch this too: Chicago, also starring Renee Zellweger
Did you know?
The Oscars have been called that since the early 1930s, when the Academy Awards librarian Margaret Herrick said that the statuette trophy reminded her of her Uncle Oscar. Since 2013, the Academy Awards have been rebranded as The Oscars.
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