Can a Comedy Win Best Picture?

The 2018 Oscar nominations have been hot news this week and the Best Picture race is tight. It was a great year for movies and especially movies that didn’t center around straight white dudes. And who knows, maybe they will play it safe and give it to The Post and everyone will golf clap in mild annoyance, but maybe they will do something great and give it to an outlier. Two underdogs that got a lot of buzz before the nominations, I, Tonya, and Lady Bird, were especially interesting. Even though I, Tonya was snubbed, female-driven prestige comedies are not something you see every year, and Lady Bird might change that.
It’s been a good year for comedy. With The Big Sick, Baby Driver, and the much smaller Ingrid Goes West, prestige comedy is coming back in a big way. And though the Golden Globes were wrong to call it a comedy, Get Out* snagged those sweet sweet Oscar nods for brilliant satirist Jordan Peele.
But can a comedy win? Historically, eleven have, but not all romcoms, dramedies, and musical-comedies are created equal. Which ones hold up, which ones aren’t all that hilarious in 2018?
1) The Artist (2011)
Billed as a romantic-comedy drama, whatever that is, this love love letter to the silent age is the last comedy that won. Since it is so recent it holds up, if you like an hour and forty minute movie with no sound.
2) Chicago (2002)
The first of many musical comedies on this list. Chicago is a perfect movie and I will not be told anything else. It definitely deserved the win, as the first musical to have done so since 1968. But more on that later.
3) Annie Hall (1977)
A pedophile slowly gaslights a woman into thinking she is dumb until she runs across the county to get away from him and the theme is the nature of loneliness. Is this a comedy? Diane Keaton has been amazing in everything she has ever done, but I can’t in good conscience tell people to see this movie. It’s faster to find a film student and have a 30 minute conversation about the nature of love– you’ll walk away with the same anxious and annoyed feeling.
4) My Fair Lady (1964)
It’s a classic; I can’t say that it is laugh-out-loud funny, but it has its moments.
5) Tom Jones (1963)
This one is a head-scratcher. It’s weird, some times trippy, and somehow both a product of its time and yet before its time. And I cannot stress enough that this has nothing to do with the singer of “Unusual.”
6) The Apartment (1960)
This movie is great, mainly because of Billy Wilder’s brilliant directing. It’s one of those films that reminds you that fucking around wasn’t invented in 1970. As the closest the early ’60s got to having a sex comedy, The Apartment feels much more recent than it is.
7) Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
Maybe the worst film on this, Around the World in 80 Days, is long, often racist and super-predictable. Given that 1956 also gave us such classics like Invasion of The Body Snatchers, The Man Who Knew too Much, The Wrong Man, and Lust for Life, it’s not only that Around the Word in 80 Days aged poorly, it was a bad idea at the time.
8) An American In Paris (1951)
Ladies has always loved Paris for some reason. This musical feels like a poster over a sorority girl’s bed, but in the best way possible. I was going to say, it’s the kind of movie that wouldn’t be nominated today, but then I remembered it is practically La La Land without the pretension.
9) Going My Way (1944)
Is this movie funny? Kind of. Is it a fun musical that has Bing Crosby? Yes. If you love The Sound of Music but don’t want to see Nazis, then this movie is for you. Just no Julie Andrews, and I am not sure I could sing one song from this.
10) You Can’t Take it with You (1938)
Frank Capra knew how to make a good romcom and while You Can’t Take it with You is not his best, it’s very satisfying.
11) It Happened One Night (1934)
If you like romcoms but haven’t seen this movie, you are wrong. Now, this is Frank Capra’s best. This movie predates the Hayes Code and there’s really nothing old-fashioned about it. It is so funny and so current and so good. It is a must see.
*Can a scary movie win? The list wouldn’t be enough for a full article: Silence of the Lambs (1991) and Rebecca (1940) are the only true horror films to win.
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