“They don’t make movies like this anymore.” That’s a thing you hear sometimes from film fans. Usually, they are wrong. Sometimes, they are right, but movies in that vein don’t exist anymore for a good reason. Like, have you ever seen a movie from the ‘30s? A lot of those movies feel strikingly different from anything getting made these days, and with good reason. So when I am making my Oscar-themed viewing recommendations for you, I don’t want to pull a full-on “They don’t make movies like this anymore.” However, I feel like at least these movies are of a different vintage.
First up, is 1957’s winner Bridge on the River Kwai. Now, you might be saying, “Dude, it’s a war film, and 1917 is literally the favorite to win Best Picture this year.” To that I say those are two very different kinds of war films. Bridge on the River Kwai is the quintessential old-school war movie. It’s past the days of all war films being rah-rah and hawkish, but it’s not a message movie. It’s a gripping, intense film. A group of POWs are conscripted into building a bridge. I don’t want to say anything more than that, because I don’t want to spoil it. However, let me just say that if you only know Alec Guinness as Obi-Wan, see this movie. Guinness is incredible in Bridge on the River Kwai. Apparently it was Ron Swanson’s favorite film on Parks and Recreation that means something.
The French Connection is such a ‘70s film. Not just because they filmed the car chases without permits, which these days would get you arrested. It’s the early days of those antihero cop movies. Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle is legitimately a bad guy, and the movie knows that. It doesn’t ask you to root for him. The French Connection is thoroughly grimy. However, it doesn’t feel precious or forced. There is an ease to it that makes it work. These are two Best Picture winners that definitely deserved their wins.
So if you have a little time before the Oscars on Sunday, watch these two films. They will be throwbacks, but they will still be riveting watches.