There will be duds
You’ve done it too. We all have. You’re watching The Oscars with friends and family, and some relatively unimportant category comes up, like, say, Best Costume Design. You don’t really care who wins, but it’s been an hour since they presented the Best Supporting Oscars, and another hour until they present the awards of actual consequence. So you boldly announce to whoever’ll listen not only your prediction as to what movie will win, but what movie should win–despite the fact that you’ve only seen one or two of the five movies nominated, and don’t remember anything about the costumes except that the movie took place a long time ago and you don’t recall anyone wearing actively anachronistic clothing. It’s a no-lose situation–if your choice wins, you look semi-brilliant, and if it doesn’t, well, whatever, who cares about stupid Best Costume Design anyways. But deep down, you know you’re even phonier than an actor trying to look excited about being selected to introduce the show’s Interpretive Dance segment.
Every year, as I continue to slack in my Oscar-geek duties in favor of catching Let’s Go to Prison or John Tucker Must Die on HBO2, I end up doing this more and more often. Well, no more, I say. In an effort to be absolutely fully informed for the first time in my Oscar watching lifetime, I have decided to watch every movie nominated for an Oscar this year in time for the 80th Academy Awards on Feb. 24th. Well, not every movie–in an effort to maintain something resembling sanity during this project, I’ll be forgoing movies nominated in Documentary, Foreign, or Short Film related categories. But besides those, I count 34 films nominated for at least one Oscar this year, only five of which I have seen and remember/understand enough to properly judge their Oscar credentials. That leaves 29 movies–or, roughly, one a day between now and the Big Show.
This journey will take me interesting places, no doubt. It’ll take me to movies that I’ve wanted to see but didn’t have time or opportunity to catch in the theaters (Gone Baby Gone, Michael Clayton, I’m Not There), movies I’ve seen but need a second viewing to eclipse their mind-blowingness (No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood), movies I know I should have seen but kind of dread watching anyway (Away From Her, Sweeney Todd), movies I was planning on waiting to catch on TBS or TNT in three years (Charlie Wilson’s War, The Golden Compass) and movies I was kind of hoping I’d be able to avoid for the rest of my life (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End). And oh yeah, there’s also Norbit.
Far be it from me to start playing favorites, though, and by this time next month I’ll have seen all of them (glorious invention, that internet). I’ll be writing about them intermittently, hopefully in alphabetical order, running down their merits as movies and as Oscar contenders. Which is a more deserving Academy Award receipient, Surf’s Up or Persepolis? Can Janusz Kaminski out Cinematograph Roger Deakins? For which of the three nominees from Enchanted shout Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz be stocking up on their gold polish? For once, we shall know all these answers, and more.
Join me, won’t you? It’s not like there’s anything else TV-related that should be grabbing your attention at the moment.