Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In the Beginning

The first time I got this idea into my head, I was in high school.  I went to an old, prestigious boarding school somewhere in the cow fields of Connecticut, where one of the few things to do on a weekend was to watch a good movie with your friends in the dorm.  Very cool, I know.  But I had always loved movies, and it was a great day when I figured out that I could go to the school library and rent as many movies as I wanted for free! (And 30,000+ a year.)  The library had been saving up movies for the past decade or so, and was even beginning to have an extensive DVD collection.  Wow, I'm old.  Anyway, I couldn't get enough of the movies I now had unlimited access to, Netflix having not been invented yet, and I embarked on a plan to educate myself by watching the best movies ever made: the "Best Picture Oscars."  I tried to start at the earliest one the library had, Cimarron, and painfully sat through one of the worst movies I think I've ever seen.  After that, my desire to conquer great cinema noticeably ebbed, I grew up, and spent all my time and effort trying to get into New York City clubs with an ID made out of paper.

Flash forward to the present, and I find myself in a situation that 10 years ago I never could have imagined.  The economy decided to take a serious downswing right around my graduation from college, and job opportunities for a confused English major seem to be few and far between.  I can write, or I think I can write, but other than the several half-finished starts of novels and poems littering my hardrive, I can't seem to work up the enthusiasm for anything.  I'd even thought of a blog, but couldn't think of anything worthwhile to write about.  I knew it should be a challenge of some sorts; at the risk of enraging my peers, blogs had always seemed to me to be largely narcissistic.  Who could possibly care about the everyday trials of my life? Much better to focus on something tangible that others could relate to.

Then the idea occurred to me.  Why not now, armed with my Netflix account and an abhorrent amount of free time, attempt to do what had alluded me nearly 10 years ago?  Of course, with several film classes now under my belt, I have learned enough to know that the Academy Awards are not necessarily the arbiters of great filmmaking.  Many of the best films have been passed over by the Academy, or have lost out to other films that were later forgotten.  I briefly considered the AFI film list; surely if I wanted to watch the best films of our time, I should adhere to that.  But, while I may sometime try to conquer that list, I am still completely drawn to the "Oscars."  I enjoy the idea that I can watch them in order, journeying through time, in a sense.  There are drawbacks (witness Cimarron), certainly I could do without certain titles, but in general I think each movie will give me a sense of the time that it's portraying.  I've always loved old movies for their ability to connect us with the past, with what was important to that particular time.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  This first entry is my way of writing a forward, an explanation for all that's about to come.  I've decided to watch every movie ever to win an "Oscar" for Best Picture, from the silent movies of 1929 to whichever movie wins this year.  To give myself a guideline, I'll begin when the Academy Awards this year begin, and end with the Academy Awards next year.  To my estimation that's around 2 movies a week.  With each movie I'll write about my thoughts: what that movie was like, a little history of the film, and the reactions of those I can beg into watching them with me.  I'll watch them in order, every one, even those I've already seen.  Yes, even Cimarron.  God help me.

And last but not least, I've decided to rip off TBS and do Dinner and a Movie.  With each film, I'll use what skill I can muster to make something for everyone to snack on while they watch.  Be it popcorn, tacos, meatloaf or lasagna, I'll make something fun that somehow correlates with the particular movie I'm watching, and share it with all of you!  This is more bribery than anything else...I think if I make food, I won't be watching these all alone.

So that's it!  Here I go...the first two, both silent movies, and both winners of the 1929 award for Best Picture (I'll explain in my next post) will be watched by me on Saturday, March 6th and Sunday, March 7th, 2010.  After I've watched both, somewhat fittingly, I'll watch the Academy Awards.  So please read, and maybe watch, with me.  I'll enjoy your comments and support!  And the envelope goes to...
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