The Oscar nominations came out today, and for the first time in my life I feel perfectly qualified to pick a winner. Because, through a combination of unemployment, boredom, and cheap movies at the local cineplex every Tuesday, I have actually seen all ten films nominated for Best Picture. I’d never accomplished that feat before, even when the field consisted of only five nominees.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had favorites – I was thrilled when The Hurt Locker beat Avatar last year – but I couldn’t give an honest and true assessment when I’d only seen a few of the nominated films in years past. I looked at last year’s list; on Oscar night I had seen five of the ten movies vying for Best Picture. I have since caught up on three more thanks to Netflix, but to this day have still never seen An Education or A Serious Man. So, as much as I loved The Hurt Locker and rooted for it during the telecast, I had no way of knowing whether it would actually, in my mind, hold up against the competition as the best picture of the year.
This year, however…this year I can compare all ten films and decide for myself which is most deserving.
And the Oscar should go to…
Well, hang on a minute. I should backtrack and talk about my love for movies. I consider myself a cinephile (which, I suppose, means I harbor a deep passion for films that may or may not cross the line into obsession). I watch a lot of movies. In fact, I’ve kept every ticket stub from every movie I’ve seen dating back to 2005. Not only can I track every film I’ve seen, but I can also chart the course of rising ticket prices. Ouch. The list begins with In Good Company on January 18, 2005 ($6.50) and ends with The Fighter one week ago ($5 only because it was Tuesday; matinee prices are $8.50 regularly). Breaking it down by year, here are a few comments on the movies that I saw.
- 2005: 16 movies. Highlights: Walk The Line, Sideways, The Aviator. Lowlights: Sahara.
- 2006: 14 movies. Highlights: The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, King Kong. Lowlights: An American Haunting.
- 2007: 13 movies. Highlights: Juno, Into The Wild, Ratatouille. Lowlights: Premonition, Transformers.
- 2008: 6 movies. Highlights: The Dark Knight, Wall-E, Iron Man. Lowlights: Indiana Jones & The Crystal Skull.
- 2009: 9 movies. Highlights: Gran Torino, Up, Star Trek, Slumdog Millionaire. Lowlights: Revolutionary Road.
- 2010: 12 movies. Highlights: The Social Network, Inception, 127 Hours. Lowlights: New Moon. (I was forced, kicking and screaming, to see that one. All because of a girl. Oh, the shame).
70 movies over five years. Seems like a lot, but maybe that’s just average? It works out to 14 a year, or one movie every 3.7 weeks. I can say that I’m well on track to breaking my own yearly record in 2011, having already seen three movies in the first four weeks of the year.
If I add up all the movies I’ve rented through Netflix, the numbers are really staggering! I watched 115 Netflix movies in 2008, which is probably a pretty good representation of my viewing history. One every third day? Sure. I won’t bother counting the rest…I’m already beginning to feel like I have no social life whatsoever!
So, without further ado. The Oscar should go to…
Wait. Since I’m such a movie buff, I should probably talk about some of my favorite films of all time, right? I love edgy dramas and independent films, but appreciate well-executed comedies, too. My faves include Goodfellas, American Beauty, Pulp Fiction, Little Miss Sunshine, Contact, Gladiator, Sling Blade, (500) Days Of Summer, The Usual Suspects, Swingers, The Lord Of The Rings, and Lady And The Tramp.
OK. Enough digressing. The envelope, please.
The Oscar should go to…
- Black Swan if you love seeing Princess Amidala all grown up and getting it on with another girl.
- The Fighter if you love any of the first three or the 6th Rocky movies but rightfully detest # 4 and 5.
- Inception if you love repeating “What’s going on NOW?” in your head every three or four minutes.
- The Kids Are All Right if you love lesbians and red wine.
- The King’s Speech if you love history; the R-R-Royal Family; and English accents.
- 127 Hours if you love blood.
- The Social Network if you love status updates; “likes”; and Farmville.
- Toy Story 3 if you love animated three-quels about inanimate objects coming to life and Randy Newman songs.
- True Grit if you love scene-for-scene remade Westerns; guys who wear eye patches but aren’t pirates; and endless comparisons to John Wayne.
- Winter’s Bone if you love backwoods Appalachian dramas that don’t feature banjos or squealing like a pig.
The truth is, I enjoyed all ten films, and it’s hard to pick a winner. But if I were a member of the Academy, I’d have to cast a vote, of course. And after a lot of thought and scrutiny, I would say…because of its gripping and contemporary story, amazing acting, and nonstop adrenaline-pulsing excitement…
The Oscar should go to The Social Network.