Best Picture #68: Braveheart

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 Braveheart (1995).

I think I first became aware of Braveheart because of Ricky Bobby but it eluded me for years after. It’s a shame because it seems like exactly the sort of film I would’ve loved as a young teen. Now, it’s still a thrill to watch, but the epic medieval battle scenes can get overbearing as the story stops for half an hour at a time while a bunch of Scottish men flail about with swords, even as they can be pretty exciting. The story itself is generally pretty interesting, if nothing particularly spectacular, as it explores the fight for Scottish independence and some of the anger that still lingers today, hundreds of years later. Just about a year ago, right before the pandemic sent me back from Britain, I briefly visited Scotland and seeing the country on screen, and being transported back to those final days was one of the highlights of the film. It brought a certain added context to museum displays and slogans I saw when I was there. 

The Real Best Picture:

It’s another of those years where all the films are pretty alright but I can’t really say I loved any of them, but I’ll go with Braveheart as the deserving winner. “They may take our lives but they’ll never take our freedom!” is enough to push it over the line.

Best Picture Winners

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