What if Elizabeth Taylor competed with Meryl Streep for an Oscar? Or if Matthew McConaughey was nominated alongside Marlon Brando? Here, they are: Film critic Rafer Guzman nominates the best actors, actresses and movies in all of film history, choosing just one winner in each major category. It's the Ultimate Oscars, in which he drills down to the very best of all time. See if you agree with his winners.
Best original song
Best original song nominees: "Over the Rainbow" from "The Wizard of Oz"; "When You Wish Upon a Star" from "Pinocchio"; "Moon River" from "Breakfast at Tiffany's"; "Theme from Shaft" from "Shaft"; "The Way We Were" from "The Way We Were." The winner: "Over the Rainbow." That's a no-brainer. You can probably hum a few bars from the other nominees (and perhaps mimic the waka-waka guitar of "Shaft"), but you can surely sing "Rainbow" from start to finish. Even after more than 75 years, its staying power hasn't dimmed a bit.
Best actress in a supporting role
Best actress in a supporting role nominees: Mercedes McCambridge, "All The King's Men"; Tatum O'Neal, "Paper Moon"; Linda Hunt, "The Year of Living Dangerously"; Tilda Swinton, "Michael Clayton"; and Mo'Nique, "Precious." The winner: Mo'Nique. You may not get all warm and fuzzy remembering this grim drama, but chances are Mo'Nique's performance as an abusive mother is still stamped on your brain. Jaw-dropping work from an actress known mostly for comedies.
Best actor in a supporting role
Best actor in a supporting role nominees: Karl Malden, "A Streetcar Named Desire"; Joel Grey, "Cabaret"; Louis Gossett Jr., "An Officer and a Gentleman"; Joe Pesci, "Goodfellas"; and Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight." The winner: Ledger, who turned the cartoonish Joker into a symbol of post-9/11 insanity and made us take Christopher Nolan's "Batman" movies seriously. Even in death, Ledger still casts a shadow over every actor playing the villain against a caped crusader.
Best actress in a leading role
Best actress ina leading role nominees: Vivien Leigh, "Gone With the Wind"; Elizabeth Taylor, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"; Liza Minnelli, "Cabaret"; Meryl Streep, "Sophie's Choice"; and Hilary Swank, "Boys Don't Cry." The winner: Streep, as a Holocaust survivor who had been forced by the Nazis to sacrifice one of her two children. Though we'd seen Streep before, this was the role -- a beautiful woman shattered by her past -- that confirmed we were in the presence of greatness.
Best actor in a leading role
Best actor in a leading role nominees: Marlon Brando, "On the Waterfront"; Jack Nicholson, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"; Dustin Hoffman, "Kramer vs. Kramer"; Robert De Niro, "Raging Bull"; and Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club." The winner: De Niro. The role of champion boxer Jake LaMotta was the ultimate acting challenge, requiring an athletic physique, screen-star charisma and a willingness to pack on 60 pounds of real flab -- still a Hollywood record. It's the performance not just of a lifetime but of an era.
Best director nominees: Elia Kazan, "On the Waterfront"; Mike Nichols, "The Graduate"; Francis Ford Coppola, "The Godfather"; Steven Spielberg, "Saving Private Ryan"; and Martin Scorsese, "The Departed." The winner: Coppola, for creating one of the most vivid worlds ever seen on the big screen -- and before the age of affordable digital trickery. Then again, who needs special effects when you're able to get bravura performances from the likes of De Niro, Pacino and Brando? Coppola did it all, and helped write the script, too.
Best picture nominees: "Casablanca"; "On the Waterfront"; "The Godfather"; "Unforgiven"; and "Titanic." The winner: "The Godfather." It's pretty much everything you want in a movie, from the epic scale to the colorful characters to the endlessly quotable lines. It's dazzling on the big screen but still pleasurable on an iPad -- the mark of a true classic. Scanning the list of best picture winners from 1929 to today, this is the obvious standout.