Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In a world where movies win awards, One Man must see them all...

Confession: I have a hidden resistance to watching good movies. They are frequently depressing. Or boring. Or shocking. Or something else. Good movies tend to make you feel things. Or think about things. I usually find it much more enjoyable, and comforting, to watch a rather silly flick and make sarcastic comments about it. Or, even better, make all kinds of pompous and pretentious claims about the 'symbolism' found within it as if it were some weirdo arthouse show. There's no real downside to well made cheesy movies. For example, I can watch Steven Seagal save the environment by beating the crap out of ugly mulleted dudes and enjoy it on face value for an hour, and then the rest of my days I can laugh at the inherent goofiness of the movie and enjoy watching it again in search of more goofy stuff to pick out.

Also, it turns out that I probably have terrible taste in movies. If I get bored in the near future, which is a distinct possibility since I talked myself out of asking out Paula at work today, I might blog just exactly how bad my taste is. For now, just know that I just clicked through the 100 worst reviewed movies on Rotten Tomatoes, and frequently found myself saying, "Come on, that one wasn't bad. It had plenty of entertainment value."

Lately, though, I've been passing up the Frankenfishes and Stay Alives of the world and been grabbing your critically acclaimed types instead. I think Rain Man caused the change, mainly because this is probably about the fifth time I've mentioned it in the past three months. Maybe, I thought, I should give these Oscar nominee type movies a shot. Perhaps I enjoy good movies more than I think I do.

And so began one man's quest to watch all of the Best Picture winners. Let's pull up the Big List (ones I've seen are in bold):

2006 The Departed*
2005 Crash*
2004 Million Dollar Baby*
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 Chicago
2001 A Beautiful Mind*
2000 Gladiator
1999 American Beauty
1998 Shakespeare in Love
1997 Titanic

1996 The English Patient
1995 Braveheart
1994 Forrest Gump
1993 Schindler's List

1992 Unforgiven*
1991 Silence of the Lambs
1990 Dances with Wolves
1989 Driving Miss Daisy
1988 Rain Man*
1987 The Last Emperor
1986 Platoon*
1985 Out of Africa
1984 Amadeus
1983 Terms of Endearment
1982 Gandhi
1981 Chariots of Fire
1980 Ordinary People
1979 Kramer Vs. Kramer
1978 The Deer Hunter*
1977 Annie Hall
1976 Rocky
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest*
1974 The Godfather Part II*
1973 The Sting*
1972 The Godfather*
1971 The French Connection
1970 Patton
1969 Midnight Cowboy
1968 Oliver!
1967 In the Heat of the Night*
1966 A Man for All Seasons
1965 The Sound of Music
1964 My Fair Lady

1963 Tom Jones
1962 Lawrence of Arabia*
1961 West Side Story
1960 The Apartment
1959 Ben-Hur
1958 Gigi
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai*
1956 Around the World in 80 Days
1955 Marty
1954 On the Waterfront
1953 From Here to Eternity
1952 The Greatest Show on Earth
1951 An American in Paris
1950 All About Eve
1949 All the King's Men
1948 Hamlet
1947 Gentleman's Agreement
1946 The Best Years of Our Lives
1945 The Lost Weekend
1944 Going My Way
1943 Casablanca
1942 Mrs. Miniver
1941 How Green Was My Valley
1940 Rebecca
1939 Gone With the Wind
1938 You Can't Take It With You
1937 The Life of Emile Zola
1936 The Great Ziegfeld
1935 Mutiny on the Bounty
1934 It Happened One Night
1933 Cavalcade
1932 Grand Hotel
1931 Cimarron
1930 All Quiet on the Western Front
1929 The Broadway Melody
1928 Sunrise
1927 Wings

Total: 32/80
*watched since Sept. 07
(Also note that this is a good opportunity to make "Oh my God you've never seen Gone With the Wind?" type comments.)

When the Academy Got It Wrong (also to be updated as I see more also-rans):

1999, American Beauty over The Iron Giant. The Iron Giant is as good as any movie on this list. It's considerably better than Shakespeare in Love, and Gladiator doesn't even come within shooting distance of it. I just say this to point out that if it had been released a little earlier or a little later, I wouldn't have to feel bad about ousting my favorite Kevin Spacey movie, and one of the few movies on this list that could give The Iron Giant a run for its money, from the list. Luckily for American Beauty, The Iron Giant is animated, and is therefore only for kids and can never, ever be taken seriously by anyone else.

1990, Dances With Wolves over Awakenings. Nothing against DWW, but Awakenings was just better. Also, for those keeping score at home, this makes two movies involving Vin Diesel that got jobbed out of an Oscar, and unlike most people I don't even count Saving Private Ryan.

1981, Chariots of Fire over Raiders of the Lost Ark. I base this on the fact that all of the Indiana Jones movies are fun to quote, and the only thing I've ever quoted from Chariots of Fire is the theme. Plus, Chariots of Fire is a movie about Olympic runners that somehow manages to be slow.

1976, Rocky over Network. I risk losing my share of the inheritance over this, but Rocky is one overrated movie. Underdog nobody boxer stands up to arrogant image-conscious champ. Well-made, inspiring, cool soundtrack, great movie all around, but pretty standard plot. Network, meanwhile, is witty, cool, and prescient in all its superbly acted lunacy.

1964, My Fair Lady over Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. As a rule, I don't make these decisions unless I've seen both movies, but God I hate My Fair Lady. I've never seen Dr. Strangelove, but the title alone is more interesting and better written than anything in My Fair Lady. The Musical Era is going to be tough to endure, I think.

As I see more, I'll update my list, and then maybe write a review of it or something.

Last movie: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Next movie: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)


Nick Steffen said...

You'll have to get a copy of Dr Strangelove. It's very much farce (in the vein of your favorite, Catch-22) on the military and use of nuclear weapons. It's hard to believe that you didn't grow up on that one. It's seems right down your alley.

Also, why use the Academy list and not the AFI 100 year list? The AFI list has the advantage of being able to "nominate" more than one movie each year.

liz said...

DWW suuuuuuucked.

I know, I worked in a movie theatre at the time that played it. And the manager's office? Was in a room next to the projectionist. And there was a tiny window that opened on to the theatre. And I listened that horrible movie 4 times a day for 3 weeks.

Almost as bad as Last Temptation of Christ (whine"I don't want to be the son of God. I don't want to die on the cross") Gah.

liz said...

And Nick is right about Dr. Strangelove. It's a fabulous film.

Andy said...

Liz, I saw Dances With Wolves in history class in high school, and much prefered it to listening to the teacher yak and hand out worksheets, so maybe that's why I gave it a pass. Also, DWW only played for 3 weeks in your theater? Or did it drive you to resign in protest?

Nick, Catch-22 is my favorite book. I've never seen the movie. Favorite movie is Rain Man. I'll probably use the AFI list to go back and fill in the gaps.

liz said...

I came into that theatre mid-run (covering the main manager's maternity leave) and then got transferred to another theatre before it left.