As I mentioned yesterday, New York City got a lot of snow this weekend, over 30 inches at JFK, in fact. And what did I do when faced with all of that snow? The blizzard canceled my ski trip so I sat on the couch, worked on the blog, went to two workout classes, and watched a ton of movies. And most of these films were not recent.
One of the items on my 101 in 1001 list is to watch every best picture since I was born and this weekend I finished the lofty task. Before I set out upon this quest I had seen nine of the 26 movies on the list – Schindler’s List, Forrest Gump, Braveheart, Titanic, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and 12 Years a Slave. The following 17 movies made me laugh, tear up, and shake my head in confusion. A few I had absolutely no interest in seeing but I was not going to back down from this challenge.
1990 – “Driving Miss Daisy” What a cute movie! I do not think I have ever seen a Morgan Freeman film I have not liked and I am glad I finally got around to watching this as my dad used to joke he was Driving Miss Daisy when he took me to all of my swim meets growing up.
1991 – “Dances With Wolves” In my mind I could not take Kevin Costner seriously because I kept alternating between thinking of him in Field of Dreams and of his role in Ghost. This movie was just fine, nothing special.
1992 – “The Silence of the Lambs” One of the most famous quotes in this movie is, “do you spook easily?” and I can resoundingly say yes. I hate scary movies and this one made my skin crawl. I can appreciate the plot, the acting, and the cinematography but I will never be watching this one again. And without seeing any of the other 1992 performances Anthony Hopkins won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role hands down, well done.
1993 – “Unforgiven” This is the definition of an old school cowboy movie and now if I have to name a country western this will be at the top of the list, especially after that shoutout scene. I also found it was amazing how unrealistic the gunshots sounded – we have come a long way in the last 24 years on that front.
1994 – “Schindler’s List” My mom had my brother and I watch this powerful movie growing up and I still rank it as one of the most moving movies I have ever seen, especially since it is based on a true story.
1995 – “Forrest Gump” Love. Love. Love. Honestly, what a great character and what a fun take on so many major events in American history. This kind of movie is my favorite type of historical fiction and I own a copy both on DVD and through iTunes. The only sad note, I think The Shawshank Redemption should have won too, this was not a fair year.
1996 – “Braveheart” – What a great movie, long living William Wallace! Even though he did not make my list of Hollywood Actors I would want to save me he was a contender and growing up with a brother, this was a classic I have seen at least ten times.
1997 – “The English Patient” It is amazing how little Ralph Fiennes has aged in the last 20 years and Kristin Scott Thomas was stunning – a good Netflix movie for a rainy Sunday. Or a blizzard named Jonas, take your pick.
1998 – “Titanic” Love, love, love. How can you not love this movie? This is one of the first non-animated movies I can remember going with my parents to see in the theaters and the paint me like one of your French girls was definitely an eye opening scene at age eight.
1999 – “Shakespeare in Love” I loved seeing a young Gwyneth and Colin Firth, he will always be Mark Darcy, plus Ben Affleck with a goatee – this was definitely a throwback. And if all Shakespeare was like this I would have definitely read more in high school.
2000 – “American Beauty” This was a weird movie. It was interesting to see Kevin Spacey in a role so different than Frank Underwood but ehh, not my favorite.
2001 – “Gladiator” Another favorite when you grow up with a brother.
2002 – “A Beautiful Mind” For some strange reason, I watched this movie in high school. I think it was an advanced math class and a substitute teacher. I did not pay attention in class but when I watched it again in college I was astounded by how good it was.
2003 – “Chicago” Not what I expected, even though I am not sure I know what I had in mind but I really liked it and it was so fun to see Renée in a role so opposite from Bridget Jones. Plus, Catherine Zeta-Jones really did deserve the Best Supporting Actress, well done Academy!
2004 – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” I watched the first Lord of the Rings when it came out and I must have skipped this one. Orlando Bloom is still really attractive (but weird as a blonde), Sméagol / Gollum is still creepy, and I think I will always have a soft spot for Ian McKellen but why was this movie so long?
2005 – “Million Dollar Baby” Not my type of movie but I can see why it won best picture and Hilary Swank took away the top honor.
2006 – “Crash” I had blocked this movie out but ten minutes in I realized I saw this when it came out and it is not one I should have watched at 15.
2007 – “The Departed” Leo looked like a baby and there are so many flip phones! I liked this movie and am actually surprised I did not see this one with my family when it was in theaters as this is a film we all would have liked.
2008 – “No Country for Old Men” I don’t know why but I found this movie hard to get through. I think I set myself up for it – watching it after a few great back to back episodes of Blindspot but it was slow moving and Javier Bardem is really creepy looking.
2009 – “Slumdog Millionaire” I saw this when it came out and thought it was a real feel good movie and told a great story of how it might actually be realistic for a kid from the slums to win the show.
2010 – “The Hurt Locker” Similar to scary movies, I don’t like war movies but this is an exception. This was really, really well done. And I am going to add Jeremy Renner’s character, Sergeant William James, to my If I Needed Saving I Would Want… list.
2011 – “The King’s Speech” Mark Darcy as king, well done, Sir. I really liked this movie and I am not usually a fan usually of Helena Bonham Carter but she was brilliant in this role .
2012 – “The Artist” There is something to be said for black and white movies but there are about 100 other films I would recommend to a friend before this one.
2013 – “Argo” I like that it was based on a true story but again, war movies are not my favorite. Ben did a great job, but ehh.
2014 – “12 Years a Slave” I watched this movie two years ago when I heard it was up for Best Picture and it was definitely very moving. Well done to everyone involved and Lupita definitely deserved the win.
2015 – “Birdman” For me, certain actors play a once in a lifetime role that I will always associate them and Edward Norton will always be the altar boy in Primal Fear. Always. Other than that this was a movie where I understood why it won but it was not my cup of tea.
– – –
So 26 movies later how do you rate these? It is really hard, especially since I am partial to certain genres but the fairest way, I think is to put them into two categories – movies I would watch again and movies I would not. These films I would watch again: Driving Miss Daisy, Schindler’s List, Schindler’s List, Braveheart, Titanic, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, The Departed, Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker, The King’s Speech, and 2 Years a Slave – the rest are a pass.
And with all that said and done, three parting thoughts after more than 50 hours of movies: the quality of movies has come a long way in the last 26 years, I will always hate scary movies, and Morgan Freeman has been never been in a bad film (at least that I have seen).
Have you seen any of these best picture winners?
What are your thoughts?