A while back, I picked up Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert. One section, which I had wrote about, included his favorite films to come out each year he was reviewing films. And there were some things I noticed about his preferences.
He liked films with strong female protagonists. One thing I’ve noticed about recent Oscar-winners is the lack of strong lead female performances. Since 2000, one Best Picture winner featured a winner for Best Actress: Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. One more featured a nominee in the category: Renee Zelwegger in Chicago. In that period, Ebert’s favorite films included Monster’s Ball (which got an Oscar for Halle Berry), Monster (which got an Oscar for Charlize Theron), Million Dollar Baby, Juno (which got a nomination for Ellen Page), Pan’s Labrynith and A Separation. He’s done better in this category than the Oscars, and he’s been dead for four years.
He liked films which explored racial issues. His favorite films of the year included The Color Purple, Mississippi Burning, Do The Right Thing, Monster’s Ball and Crash.
He made some unconventional choices, opting for David Mamet’s House of Cards in 1987, in addition to the science fiction noirs Dark City in 1998, and Minority Report in 2002.
He wasn’t a comedy guy. Juno and Being John Malkovich are among the few comedies to be rated his favorite films.
It is one person’s preferences, but it’s an interesting comparison to other measures of success, be it the Academy Awards or box office.