With the 79th Annual Academy Awards only days away, we thought it was time to reflect on 15 award winning films (Okay, it's more like 16 but what does that say about the strength of the films on this list?) that span the years since this ritualistic ceremony started. These movies aren't in any particular order, rather they are just the winners that we feel are essential to any budding collector's collection.

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The Departed

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The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II

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Titanic

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Forrest Gump

Film's about simpleton's don't keep as well as most (Sling Blade, anyone?), but there is something about this tale of a fictional man who influenced history in spite of himself that is always winning. To think that amidst all the adventures Forrest gets in there really is an honest to goodness love story here, I think solidifies just how powerful movies can be in how they transcending themselves.

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Rain Man

While today it might be derided for not using "People First" language in dealing with someone with "Special Needs," Rain Man is the kind of movie that always plays well. The acting is superb, the writing flawless, and if the drive between the Babbitt brothers went on for 8 hours, I don't think anybody would care. This film is a must for your collection.

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Platoon

Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket notwithstanding, Platoon best captured America's seeming confusion over Vietnam. Like the soldiers in the film, we wanted to believe in what we were doing, yet something made us realize that this war was going to be more difficult to get behind. Some people may think Full Metal Jacket is the better movie (maybe it is?), but I can think of few War films that helped heal so many open wounds.

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Braveheart

Mel Gibson's maiden voyage as a director probably even exceeded his expectations. This film was big, it was bold, and it seemed to come from a deep place inside this artist. While Apocalypto showed that this director is quite comfortable making "major motion pictures," there is a humanity to Braveheart that has given that film an almost mythic status. Even amongst the biggest films in history, this movie still looms like a giant.

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The Deer Hunter

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Rocky

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Casablanca

Few films films capture the raw emotion of a man wronged like this one. Few films have as much class in their entire run time as Casablanca has in it's title. This movie is crafted so well that each time I watch it, I keep hoping Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) will end up together. However, everyone knows this movie would not be the film it is if Rick let that happen.

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The French Connection

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Unforgiven

When was the last time there was a western that was this good? Unforgiven is a remarkable film because there is all this build up to William Munny's (Clint Eastwood) confrontation with Little Bill (Gene Hackman), and when it finally happens we realize just how little words like "law" and justice mean. Few films seem like they are destined to win an Academy Award, but Unforgiven seemed to do it as effortlessly as William Munny seemed to come in and out of the town of Big Whiskey.

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Gone with the Wind

Known for Clark Gable's brilliant delivery of the line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," this film set a standard for big films to follow. Brought to us from an era when the producer really was king, David O. Selznick seemed to always know that he was creating a masterpiece. At it's heart, Gone with the Wind is a tale of unrequited love that today, even among all the big films that Hollywood producers, still holds up and distinguishes itself quite well. An Academy Award Collection would not be a collection without this film.

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On the Waterfront

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Ben-Hur

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Cinemark Movie Club
Evan Jacobs