Film: Back to the Future
My earliest "Oscar" memory was watching the event with my parents and telling my dad that the best picture contest was absurd because Back to the Future was clearly better than "Out of Africa" and frankly, all the other nominees. To this day, I can't say that I was wrong, although I see why adults don't quite respond to the film -- frankly, it's pretty cheesy in tone. But the formal aspects of the story construction are absolutely brilliant and I say it without any sort of irony. Also, the film is quite taboo -- way moreso than The Color Purple or Witness or Out of Africa -- when you boil down the story to idea that Marty must make sure his own mother doesn't fall in love with him. I mean, that is a crazy fucking idea! Preston Struges probably rolled over in his grave cursing Zemeckis and Gale for coming up with that one.
I've heard Nic Refn talk about how Pretty Women is one of the most subversive movies ever made because they couch an incredibly dark tale of a rich man falling in love with a prostitute into this made-for-everyone romantic comedy. But think how much more taboo and subversive the idea of Back to the Future is -- a kid traveling back in time must make sure his mother and father fall in love -- so he and his family can survive and it's for KIDS!
The other element of the film which works fantastically is the score -- is rousing and simply perfect in spots -- the moment when Marty is on his skateboard and walks over the car, causing Biff to crash into the manure truck was as good yesterday as the first time I saw it in 1985. Pure cinematic joy and by the standards of most effects today, relatively simple and entirely based upon character. The movie also clocks in at 2 full hours - long for a movie for kids - but the story has so much going for it and is so perfectly constructed, the 2 hours is fully earned.
To me, Back to the Future far surpasses any Pixar accomplishment.