Saturday, September 4, 2010


Let me explain how this all started. Like countless people, I've long been an avid movie-watcher. Back in high school (early to mid-90s) I developed an interest in seeing those movies that one was "supposed" to see. I remember being enthralled (and confused) by Pulp Fiction at the theater. I caught The Shawshank Redemption on HBO and thought it was nearly perfect storytelling (an opinion I still hold).

In college I found some friends who introduced me to movies like Swingers and Beautiful Girls. I loved the idea of having favorite movies that the majority of your popcorn-munchers hadn't even heard of. I watched the final minutes of Chasing Amy with my mouth agape. I rose and staggered toward the TV drunk with awe when Keyser Soze's identity was revealed in The Usual Suspects. I drove my friends crazy poorly imitating Brad Pitt from 12 Monkeys ("Get out of my chair!").

During this time, the Internet was becoming a rapidly improving resource to find movie titles that I needed to watch. Though online searching was still followed by a trip to the video store.

Interest in the Academy Awards soon followed. The first ceremony I took an active interest in and actually sat down to watch was in early 2000 when the 1999 crop, led by American Beauty, was on stage. The following year, I was passionately championing Almost Famous over Gladiator heading into the awards season. After they each won their respective best picture category at the Golden Globes I was indignant when Almost Famous failed to make the Oscar nominee cut (curse you, Chocolat).

So despite not always agreeing with the Academy's choices, my initial movie quest become to watch every winner for best picture. Through a combination of the fledgling Netflix and a local Hollywood Video that still had a healthy VHS selection, I completed this task in 2003 when I watched 1948's Hamlet with Laurence Olivier and I've stayed current since, trying to watch nominees and winners as soon as possible, preferably before they are even announced.

Trying to watch every nominee hadn't even been seriously considered at this time. It seemed overwhelming and, honestly, I knew from watching the winners that some of those old ones weren't that great by today's standards (though Casablanca and On the Waterfront are two very notable exceptions). So my next task was to tackle the IMDb top 250. This is a little trickier as it is a living list, always changing to some degree. Earlier this year, I had finally seen them all, but I'm a couple behind again waiting for new additions How to Train Your Dragon and Toy Story 3 to come out on DVD.

So, this year, I officially declared my quixotic intent to track down and watch all 474 (and counting) best picture nominees.

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