One of the Least Popular Best Picture Winners Is Being Remade

By  · Published on July 27th, 2015

Columbia Pictures

More?! Carol Reed’s Oliver! is hardly one of the most hated movies of all time, especially compared to other Best Picture winners such as The Artist, The King’s Speech and Crash, to name some of the more recent champs that were met with outcries. But the 1969 Oscars were such a strange event in historical retrospect that it’s easy to think it’s considered to be of low quality. That was a time when cinema and its audience were changing, and now cineastes consider 2001: A Space Odyssey to be the best movie of 1968. And they shun Oliver! for daring take that official honor away from Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece, which wasn’t actually even nominated for the award.

Oliver! does still continually rank on the lower side of lists of the best-to-worst Best Picture winners of all time, and therefore I doubt there to be much complaining that it’s now in line for a remake. The Daily Mail first reported last week that Sony, Working Title and Oscar-nominated producer Cameron Mackintosh (Les Miserables, which was an Oscar nominee two years ago) hired British TV director Toby Haynes (Doctor Who; Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell) to helm a new version of Lionel Bart’s Dickens-based musical. Now the search is on throughout the UK (no Americans allowed) for young actors to portray the titular orphan and his pickpocketing pal The Artful Dodger, played by Mark Lester and Jack Wild in the original.

While there’s little to improve upon Reed’s take, the redo will aim for a more realistic approach, using actual London locations rather than sets on a sound stage – not that London currently resembles its 19th century self in many ways to achieve that much authenticity. There’s also little reason to think we can’t have another musical movie based on “Oliver Twist,” a book that has been adapted non-musically at least 14 other times, the last being Roman Polanski’s feature from a decade ago. There was also Disney’s animated Oliver & Company, which is a musical though not linked to Bart’s stage production. However, it is odd to see old musicals remade for the big screen – Mackintosh has also been developing a new My Fair Lady movie – when the trend is now to throw them on network TV for a live broadcast.

Watch the original trailer for the original Oliver! movie below.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.