Oscar fever is in full effect, and before you watch this year’s Academy Awards, FilmStruck has a great opportunity for you to study some Oscar history with classic Best Picture titles.
Thanks to Filmstruck’s new partnership with Warner Bros. Digital Networks and TCM Select, the streaming service has added dozens of classic films to its catalog — meaning you can catch up on Oscar winners of years past any time you wish. The service’s vast back catalog now includes some of the most iconic films from the Golden Age of Hollywood — including five classic Best Picture winners that paved the way for modern winners.
They range from some of the most iconic films in Hollywood history (“Casablanca” and “On the Waterfront”) to the not-quite-as-ubiquitous (“The Best Years of Our Lives”). Check out five classic Best Picture winners from the 1940s and ’50s — smack in the middle of Hollywood’s Golden Age — all available on Filmstruck.
“Casablanca” (1943) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck
Witness Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman’s chemistry firsthand in one of the greatest romantic movies of all time. Bogart plays 1940s Casablanca nightclub owner Rick, who reconnects with his ex-lover Ilsa (Bergman) and vies with her husband, Victor (Paul Henreid) for her love. You already know who comes out on top.
The film, which was the duo’s only on-screen collaboration, contains classic lines — “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine,” — along with one of cinema’s greatest love triangles, and a closing shot not of a walk into the sunset but a stroll down a foggy airplane runway. It’s one of pop culture’s most-referenced films, including some very overt homages in 2017 Best Picture contender “La La Land.”
Director Michael Curtiz also took home a statue, along with writers Philip G. Epstein, Julius J. Epstein and Howard Koch for the screenplay, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck
This post-World War II story follows the adjustment of three soldiers returning home from war — Air Force bombardier Fred (Dana Andrews), petty officer Homer (Harold Russell) and platoon sergeant Al (Fredric March). Based on a novella by a former war correspondent, the film was one of the first to confront a litany of issues returning soldiers faced — from alcoholism and employment to ostracism and what would later be named post-traumatic stress disorder.
Though it might not hold the pop culture ubiquity of a film like “Casablanca,” “The Best Years of Our Lives” won seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for William Wyler, Best Actor for March, Best Supporting Actor for Russell, and Best Film Editing, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score. Star Russell, who was not a professional actor but rather an actual veteran who lost his hands in combat, also won a special honorary Oscar from the Academy Board of Governors “for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance.”
“An American in Paris” (1951) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck
The seminal movie musical, based on George Gershwin’s score, stars Gene Kelly, Oscar Levant and Georges Guétary as three friends in the City of Light (two of whom end up falling for the same woman, played by Leslie Caron), is perhaps most famous for its 17-minute ballet sequence that cost nearly a half-million dollars to produce.
The film ended up winning six Oscars (Best Picture, Set Decoration, Cinematography, Costume Design, Music, and Screenplay) as well as an honorary award for Kelly for his “versatility as an actor, singer, director and dancer, and specifically for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film.” It, too, was honored by “La La Land” (which paid tribute to Hollywood’s Golden Age).
“From Here to Eternity” (1953) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck
Set at a Hawaii Army base in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the film follows three soldiers, played by Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Frank Sinatra as they navigate military life. Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed and Ernest Borgnine also star in the film, based on the 800-plus page novel of the same name by James Jones.
The steamy kiss between Lancaster and Kerr on the beach is one of the most famous movie kisses of all time, and in addition to the film’s Classic Hollywood bonafides, it was preserved by the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress for its cultural and historical significance.
“From Here to Eternity” took home eight Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for Fred Zinnemann, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor for Sinatra, Best Supporting Actress for Reed, Best Black-and-White Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound (Recording).
“On the Waterfront” (1954) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck
Elia Kazan’s controversial film was released under the specter of the director and screenwriter Budd Schulberg’s testimony at the House of Un-American Activities Committee, and won eight Oscars (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for star Marlon Brando, Best Supporting Actress for Eva Marie Saint, Best Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Black-and-White Set Decoration and Best Black-and-White Cinematography).
The film stars Brando as a dock worker who fights back against his corrupt union bosses, a response by Kazan to those who criticized his HUAC testimony.
(It, too, contains one of Hollywood’s most iconic lines: “I coulda been a contender,” muses Brando.)
Watch some additional Best Picture winners on FilmStruck below:
*”Hamlet” (1948) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck
*”Marty” (1955) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck
*”Tom Jones” (1963) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck
*”The Last Emperor” (1987) — Click Here to Watch on FilmStruck