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There are only six films which have achieved the movie equivalent of a grand slam by taking the Best Picture award at the Oscars, Golden Globes, BAFTAs and the National Board of Review. They are The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Tom Jones (1963), A Man for All Seasons (1966), Schindler's List (1993), American Beauty (1999) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Tom Jones is another of those Academy choices that touched a nerve at the time but hasn't stood up. It's an uneasy mix of New Wave style (at its best in the fast editing and handheld camerawork shown off in the fox-hunt scene), historical costume drama (with a pleasingly grounded recreation of 17th Century England) and bawdy British sex farce. At a time when the French, Japanese and British New Waves were all breaking new ground I suppose it must have been exciting for viewers to see some of those techniques applied to the sort of traditional costume drama they were used to. Unfortunately, the complex story seems to spin out of control and becomes unengaging, while nowadays the humour seems unfunny and the eroticism insipid. I don't think any of the categories it won for were deserving, with the score being annoying and intrusive too. The acting was good, but were all those nominations deserved for the broad comic performances?
This has to be one of the strangest film ever to win an Oscar. A plot (and morals) worthy of a porn film, a visual splendor which reminds one of Barry Lyndon (though it does not rival it) and a host of brilliant actors. The 60s where so wonderful! Even a mess like this one is more interesting than most of the films nominate these days. Watching Tom Jones one sits in bewilderment and wonders, what where they smoking back then? One can easily trace the origin of films like Myra Breckinridge in this film (which is among the strangest things you will ever account in your life and a must see!)
I kept wondering, what the heck is going on? If I took my eyes off the screen for a moment, there was a different woman Finny was chasing, fondling or otherwise debasing. This isn't the worst film I've ever seen but it sure is up there.
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In 11 official lists
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This movie ranks #18 in BAFTA - Best Film
This movie ranks #32 in National Board of Review - Best Film
This movie ranks #37 in Academy Award Best Pictures
This movie ranks #39 in Golden Globe Best Picture Winners
This movie ranks #51 in BFI 100
This movie ranks #61 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown
This movie ranks #243 in Academy Award Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #634 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
This movie ranks #908 in The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made
This movie ranks #916 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #1103 in The Criterion Collection