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As part of our Best Pictures season, we gave our audience the chance to cast their votes and play a part in deciding which of the four films offered should win the Battle of the Decades and the winner was... The Apartment!

Billy Wilder

Won: Best Picture, Best Director, Best original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction
Nominated: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing

Billy Wilder’s New York set farce is one of cinema’s greatest comedies, as well as one of its finest romances. Jack Lemmon plays C.C. ‘Bud’ Baxter, an ambitious young man working in insurance who has taken to allowing nefarious executives to utilise his apartment for their extramarital liaisons. But when his boss Jeff D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) begins to use the apartment to see Fran (Shirley MacLaine), Baxter begins to question his priorities in life.

What follows is one of Hollywood’s most delightfully acerbic comedies, with Lemmon and MacLaine delivering career best performances, with Wilder’s scintillating dialogue effortlessly flipping between the hilarious, the romantic and the cynical.

One of the genuine greats, presented in a brand new 4K restoration.

Other contenders for Battle of the Decade included:

The French Connection (1972)
Won: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing
Nominated: Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing
One of the most hard-edged films ever to take home the top prize at the Academy Awards, William Friedkin’s nail-biting thriller follows detectives Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy ‘Cloudy’ Russo (Roy Scheider) on the trail of a French heroin smuggler known as Charnier (Fernando Rey). Friedkin, who would go on to make other classics like The Exorcist, brought the frenetic energy and nihilism of the American New Wave into the mainstream with what was his breakthrough film, one that serves up a heady combination of taut plotting, aggressive street talk and roughhouse violence. And in the infamous subway chase sequence, The French Connection delivers what is inarguably the greatest car chase ever committed to film. In the process, Friedkin created one of the great American films of the 1970s, and a vital slice of social commentary on what was at the time an uncertain, troubled nation.

Amadeus (1985)
Won: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup
Nominated:  Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing
The winner of an astonishing eight Academy Awards, Miloš Forman’s epic historical drama recounts the rivalry between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) and Italian composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham, who won a deserved Oscar winner for his performance here). Adapted by Peter Shaffer from his own award-winning stage play, the film’s incredible production design and the music of Mozart set the stage for one of the greatest onscreen rivalries in the history of cinema, one that leads the way of madness, and even murder. Powerful lead performances and a terrific supporting cast (including Simon Callow) make for compelling onscreen drama. But it is Forman’s direction, which exults Mozart’s music for maximum cinematic effect (making it a character and not just the subject of the story),  that is the true star of the show. Crafting one of the great films of the 1980s, it nabbed Forman his second directing Oscar, his first coming for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on 1976.

Schindler’s List (1994)
Won: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing
Nominated: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Sound Mixing, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling
A totemic achievement, Steven Spielberg’s devastating historical drama is one of the most important films of the 1990s, and deservedly won seven Oscars. Based on the novel Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally, the film recounts the story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), the German businessman who saved more than a thousand Jewish people from the Holocaust by employing them in his factories during World War Two. Led by phenomenal turns from Neeson, Ben Kingsley (as Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern) and a terrifying Ralph Fiennes (who plays SS officer Amon Goth), it is the moving and mournful tone created by Spielberg, cinematographer Janusz Kamiński and composer John Williams that sets the tenor for what is a vitally important tribute to resistance, humanity and hope in the face of one of history’s greatest crimes. Its haunting black and white imagery, punctuated in one scene by a little girl in a red coat fleeing the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto, is some of the most memorable in cinema history.


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