Top 10 Oscar Winner Movies Made on a Low Budget
5. Chariots of Fire
Budget: $5,5 Million
Other Movies Nominated: Atlantic City, On Golden Pond, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds
As far as inspirational movies go, this one works just fine as it follows two Olympic runners; one is facing racism, and the other facing religious issues, as one-man runs to overcome Jewish prejudice in the form of Anti Semitism. His counter-part refuses to participate in an Olympic event that is held on the Sabbath, forcing him into a long distance event that he is not practiced in. In the stirring conclusion, both men overcome both races and personal demons to bring the movie to its ultimate, feel good climax.
Budget: $6,5 Million
Other Movies Nominated: Children of a Lesser God, Hannah and her Sisters, The Mission, A Room with a View
Willem Defoe’s portrayal of a dedicated war veteran who knows his stuff and tries to teach the new guys how to stay alive is top drawer. When he is murdered by a fellow veteran of the Vietnam bush for bringing charges against him for murdering innocent native villagers, it makes a strong statement and makes this an Oscar winning movie machine. The realism and action in this motion picture is the real star, however, as we get to see a small piece of the life of a Vietnam foot soldier. This is the kind of movie that makes you wonder what you would do if faced with a situation like this. Charlie Sheen is the primary star and narrator and we follow him through the booby-trapped jungle and the perils of knowing who killed his friend, a war crazed maniac played exquisitely by Tom Berenger. Sheen steps into the role of his fallen mentor (Defoe) as he becomes the veteran trying to keep the “rookies” alive long enough to get their heads out of their olive drab asses and learn enough to stay alive on their own.
3. The French Connection
Budget: $1,8 Million
Other Movies Nominated: A Clockwork Orange, Fiddler on the Roof, The Last Picture Show, Nicholas and Alexandra
The French Connection contains one of the best car chases ever filmed. The only one I have seen that even comes close is the car chase in the first Bourne movie, The Bourne Identity. Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider portray James “Popeye” Doyle and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo, two real life detectives that go after a French/American drug ring. What makes this movie so great is the single-minded determination with which Popeye Doyle pursues the bad guys. Gene Hackman absolutely shines in a performance to which the word brilliant does not do justice. I have to admit that I went into this movie skeptical. I disliked the first 0.11 millionth of one second of the movie and then sat at the very edge of my seat totally engrossed in the remainder of the flick.
Other Movies Nominated: Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Mister Roberts, Picnic, The Rose Tattoo
Yes, Ernest Borgnine actually starred in a movie without wearing a soldier’s uniform or a torn Tee shirt, if you can believe that. In Marty, Borgnine plays a 34-year-old bachelor that lives with his mother in the Bronx. When he finally does meet a girl, played cutely by Betsy Blair, the two hit it off. The funny part is, after badgering and pushing Marty to meet a girl, his friends, and his mother talk him out of contacting her, thinking he could do better. Alas, true love will not be denied. Knowing his mother fears he is abandoning her and that his friends do not like her, Marty calls her anyway for fear of losing the only love an ugly fat guy might ever find. This is a very touching movie with a lot of class and honesty.
Budget: $1,1 Million
Other Movies Nominated: All the President’s Men, Bound For Glory, Network, Taxi Driver
The little film that could, Rocky, was shot with a 1.1 million dollar budget because it was the only way the studio would let Stallone star in it. The studio wanted the script, which Sylvester “Sly” Stallone wrote, for either Robert Redford, Ryan O’neal, Burt Reynolds, or James Caan but Sylvester Stallone appealed to the Studio and producers, later saying that he would never be able to forgive himself if the movie had been made with someone else. The movie Rocky went on to be the biggest money making movie of all time in terms of starting budget to revenue. Stallone had to cast some family members in small parts to keep from having to pay actors for the roles. Five sequels have spun off this great Oscar winner and all-time movie classic.