Best Picture #33: The Apartment

Each week this column will highlight one winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, progressing chronologically until all winners have been discussed. There will be a brief discussion of the film itself followed by a mention of what we wish won from the nominees in the given year (though in many cases there were films that were superior in terms of quality and/or impact that were not nominated). This week’s entry is The Apartment (1960).

With his second Best Picture winner, The Apartment, Billy Wilder became the first person to win Academy Awards for writing, directing, and producing the same film. Initially a story about a man C.C. Baxter, who lends out his apartment for his bosses to engage in affairs without their spouses finding out in the hopes that he can find greater professional success, the film begins quite humorous with such gags as neighbors thinking all of these men are Baxter and being amazed and appalled at his behaviour, before taking a dark turn and looking at the havoc that lifestyle can wreak on all involved and the loneliness that comes with always searching for professional success at the expense of personal happiness, while still maintaining an often humorous approach. It finds Wilder blending the comedic elements of the work he had been doing for years before with the darkness of his earlier noirs and, in doing so, he makes one of his best films and one of the best romantic comedies. It’s a rare film that can be such a joyous and depressing watch, often at the same time.

The Real Best Picture:

The Apartment

Best Picture Winners

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