Escape January's cold and rain by watching a video
The question is, "What films should I rent to get me through the cold, dark days of winter?"
Here's a list culled from the 125 nominees for the Best Picture Oscar over the last 25 years. I've narrowed it to 10 that won the Oscar plus 10 that were nominated but didn't win. This wide ranging and clearly subjective list offers plenty to warm and enlighten your movie viewing at home this winter. Kvetch over what's not listed, if you must.
10 Oscar-winning Best Pictures from the last 25 years
'82 - "Gandhi" - Could you name an influential person more deserving of respect? This movie does some justice to the life of this incomparable man.
'84 - "Amadeus" - This is the way to experience opera, small injections amidst a highly dramatic and sadly funny depiction of genius.
'85 - "Out of Africa" - A continent and an era of epic shifts provide a grand backdrop for a privileged romance.
'87 - "The Last Emperor" - 5,000 years of history recedes into the humbling 20th century. Epic sweep channels through the dethroned life of one person.
'91 - "Silence of the Lambs" - Why do so few suspenseful, scary, graphic movies aspire to be this good?
'93 - "Schindler's List" - With this inspiring, heavy, Nazi-era story, the best director alive (Spielberg created a string of top quality, blockbuster movie entertainments) could not be overlooked for Best Picture.
'94 - "Forrest Gump" - It's not as good as how sweepingly lovable and unthreateningly meaningful it is, but this movie is like a box of chocolates.
'98 - "Shakespeare in Love" - Sustaining a cleverly complicated entertainment throughout this romance tips its hat to Shakespeare and then some.
'02 - "Chicago" - Though not nearly as good as Oscar winner "My Fair Lady," this stylish entertainment is the first Oscar-winning musical since the 1960s' musical heyday.
'04 - "Million Dollar Baby" - Don't let sad or rough keep you from a rich trio of characters doing the best thing about the movies: telling a story.
10 Oscar-nominated Best Pictures from the last 25 years
'81 - "On Golden Pond" - This formula film does a very endearing service to the sustaining love people can share in the light of old age.
'83 - "Tender Mercies" - We need more small, life-embracing stories like this one.
'85 - "Color Purple" - Spielberg was slighted when Best Director was not one of this film's 11 Oscar nominations. You will not be slighted in this story of enduring spirit.
'87 - "Broadcast News" - Great acting chemistry meshes great comedy, heart and biting commentary about the media.
'90 - "Awakenings" - Science and caring attention shine hope on human beings frozen for years by disease - a wonderfully personal story of possibilities and limitations.
'94 - "Pulp Fiction" - In one scene, I laughed out loud and averted my eyes at the same time. Start to finish, this film is high-quality movie perversity.
'95 - "Apollo 13" - Surprisingly adventurous and dramatic, this film crystalizes American character into mundanely transcendent human spirit.
'96 - "Fargo" - The Coen Brothers love to capture sick little worlds with unique sincerity and ever irreverent fun.
'98 - "Saving Private Ryan" - Soon, no World War II veteran will be alive. The director's name again: Spielberg. After drenching yourself in the weight of this film; there's time again for his "E.T.," "Jaws," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."