The Oscar Quest: Favorite Films I Discovered

As has been established, I saw over 850 films for the first time during the Oscar Quest.

Of course, not all of them were films I liked. Some of them I downright loathed. We’ll get to those soon. For now, let’s stick with the positives that came from the Quest. That is, all of the films I saw because of the Quest that I fell in love with, many of which I didn’t even know existed. That’s what this is about: celebrating the hidden gems (as well as some others I just hadn’t seen before that were a revelation to me).

I’ll talk a bit about each of the films — I decided to list my top 50. Originally it was going to be just 10, but, with so many, 50 felt right. So, that being said, here are 100 films. (You know I can’t do anything within reason.) — and I’ll also specify just what I mean by “discovering it.” Don’t get hung up so much on the rankings (I gave up after the first seven or so). Nothing here is meant to be in any particular order. Just think of it as your chance to maybe find some great films you knew nothing about.

Here are 100 films from The Oscar Quest that were revelatory to me in some way:

1. Lili (1953)

  • I said every time I talked about this in the articles that this was going to be #1 on this list. This film was just so magical, so pure, so beautiful, that I’m amazed I hadn’t even so much as heard of it before I put it on to watch it. It’s one thing for me to not know anything about a film when I put it on, but at least I have some sort of knowledge of it. I’ve either heard of it or at least look up generally what it’s about so I can prepare myself. This one — all I did was, saw I had it, saw it was 83 minutes long, and figured, “Well, I need a quick one to watch, let’s put it on.” I didn’t even know so much as a log line for this one. And, wow, was it amazing. I fell in love with this movie within ten minutes. I’m going to love this movie for a long time. And the fact that so few people have even heard of this film really made it an easy decision to put this at #1. (And the fact that not everyone is going to love it as I do makes it all the more special to me.)

2. Arthur (1981)

  • I have to say, I knew nothing about this movie before I saw it. Which is amazing how a film like this could go unnoticed by me for so long. It’s so up my alley it’s insane. Not only that — it’s hysterical. How happy I am that I discovered this one is immeasurable. It’s already in my top 20 favorite films of all time and I’ve watched it at least six times since I first watched it. It’s so tailor-made for me, it’s kind of amazing I hadn’t known about it. Being that The Thin Man is my favorite film of all time, you’d think that I’d know about another comedy about a witty drunk. But no. Didn’t know about this until I put it on. I had known they were making the sequel, and was like, “Oh, the original is on the Oscar Quest. Maybe I should check it out. Hmm… it’s Watch Instant and expiring soon.” So I watched it, and five minutes in, I’m sitting there, going, “He’s a fall down drunk, gloriously so, witty as hell, making horrible rape jokes (only one, but still, it’s incredible) — and why haven’t I heard about this?” This is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, and there’s a reason it immediately shot into my top twenty favorite films of all time.

3. Love Story (1970)

  • Here’s another example of one of those films you see and go, “How have I not seen this earlier?” This is a film that is so tailor-made to who I am it’s insane. If I’d see this film four years earlier, I’d totally have ripped it off when I wrote one of my first “early-writer” scripts (you know — the ones that suck). Actually, this movie is so similar to me, I practically did write it! My second script is so similar to this (in terms of the first half hour, not everything else. No leukemia or anything), I was literally amazed that I had not seen this. Because, I make it a point to see films with good dialogue. And this film never came up on my radar. And yet, the writing was so good. The romance was so exactly what I like that I really am amazed it took 21 years for me to see this. Some people find it corny or whatever, but I focused on the dialogue and didn’t notice any of that. And the ending, despite knowing it was coming, still destroyed me. This is another one that instantly went on my top 20 favorite films after one watch.

4. Johnny Belinda (1948)

  • Here’s the first real film I consider when I think of Oscar Quest films I discovered. Because the first three — they don’t feel like Oscar films. They feel like awesome films you see and love and then you find out they were nominated for a bunch of Oscars. You know? Like when you see Silence of the Lambs at 15 or whatever and then you find out later, “Oh shit, it won Best Picture too?” That sort of thing. Maybe not Lili. But even so, Lili doesn’t feel like a film you discover from the Oscars. This one does. This film is an Oscar film, through and through. And was also probably the impetus for this list. This film is just amazing. I know it’s melodrama, but the story just drew me in so quickly, and I fell so in love with Jane Wyman in this movie that I can’t help but love it. I think Jane Wyman gives one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen, and that alone makes the film worth seeing. And since the movie is about her, it just goes without saying that I love it. I’m really glad I found this one. This is definitely an Oscar find. I’d never have seen this otherwise.

5. I Remember Mama (1948)

  • I’m not sure if I’d ever have seen this without the Oscar Quest. But I don’t care. I saw it, and I’m grateful. This is a film I am going to watch at least once a year for the rest of my life. It’s just so good. This, to me, is like The Godfather without all the criminal elements. Like, if the whole movie were about Robert De Niro in Part II, but only if he weren’t Vito Corleone. This film is simply a story about a family of immigrants. And the whole thing is shown through the lens of a girl remembering her mother. And it’s beautiful. The way it’s told through vignettes, the way a person remembers their childhood, and the nostalgia of it all — normally nostalgia is something I don’t really like seeing in a movie, but here it works. This is just a beautiful, beautiful movie. If this is on, I will always watch it from start to finish.

6. Skippy (1931)

  • Another film that was the impetus for this list. Wow, am I glad I saw this one. It’s amazing how much these choices really do reflect who I am. This one is one of those — this appealed to the five-year old in me. Because I remembered what it was like to be this kid’s age. And that’s what was so fantastic about it. In a way, I’m still this age. And to see a film not only about someone that age, but told from their perspective — I am so glad I found this. Jackie Cooper is so amazing in this movie, and the story is so universal. I’m gonna show this to my child one day, and I bet they’ll end up liking it, because this film really is about what it’s like to be a child.

7. The Rainmaker (1956)

  • It took me a little while to get into this film, but once I did — oh boy. This is a special, special film. See, at the beginning, you know — Burt Lancaster is a dude who scams people by selling inventions that don’t work, and Katharine Hepburn is a girl who is probably going to become a spinster. And then he shows up and convinces her father and brother that he can make it rain for $100, or their money back. And you think, “Okay, it’s a scam, but he’s going to fall in love with Katharine Hepburn, and it’s all going to work out in the end.” But it’s not. It’s not about that at all. And that’s why this film is so special. You think that’s what it’s about, and then you realize — it’s about self-confidence. Lancaster does fall for Katharine Hepburn, but more so, what he does is explain to her that once he used to not believe in himself, and then he adopted this whole personality, and now he has all the confidence in the world. And he teaches her to believe in herself. And, for a film to defy expectations in order to say something so profound and so simple in such a beautiful way, and then create such a beautiful moment at the end of the film — this film really is special. I will cherish this film for the rest of my life.

8. Sleuth (1972)

  • This film is perfect. Normally I don’t go for plays on film (which is kind of what this is, but it does have enough cinematic flourishes to not be that), but this plays so well, and is written and directed so well, that it doesn’t matter that it’s basically just two characters talking for the whole movie. It really doesn’t. And the film is so well-structured, that I guarantee you, anyone watching this (and I beg you, go in totally cold. Just watch it. There’s no way you can hate this movie) will be riveted within the first twenty minutes. It’s just so captivating. (Also, the reason this is on here is because, while I knew of the film, sort of, I never really had strong intentions to see it. It wasn’t (and isn’t) available on Netflix, and I saw the newer version (and didn’t like it. And still don’t recommend it unless you’ve seen this one first), and wasn’t going to see this one. Thank god I did. This film is perfect.)

9. The Sundowners (1960)

  • Another one of those family films. This film has it all. It’s so not of the norm and it’s so good at the same time. It’s one of those films you wonder about how anyone ever agreed to make it. It’s about a family of Australians who go around, herding sheep, despite everyone but their patriarch wanting to settle down and get a house. And it’s sort of episodic — there are these random moments, like the sheep shearing contest, and the horse race — but they all have to do with this family, and more importantly, they’re all engaging. This whole film is just so fascinating to watch. You just get caught up in it, and you’re with this family all the way. I love this film so much, and I’m pretty sure I’d have never given it a second thought without this Quest (I can assume. Though I’m one of those people who believes everything you do builds to something, so it was probably only a matter of time before I did this Quest). Man, I love this movie.

10. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)

  • This film had to make this list. There’s no way it couldn’t. It’s a jolly old 50s Technicolor musical about Stockholm Syndrome. I am not kidding you. It’s so amazing. It’s about a dude who comes from a family of mountain men — they’re all the Brawny dude. And the oldest brother is going to get married to a woman. So the rest of the brothers, they decide they’re going to get married too. So they come and kidnap six women and bring them back to be their wives, not understanding that’s not the way it works. And they all get snowed in for the winter, so the women are stuck there. And over the course of the winter, all of the women magically fall in love with all the brothers, and they all get married. It’s fucking incredible. And they sing and dance throughout the whole thing. I’m telling you, this movie is perfect. Even if you don’t like musicals, the subject matter is so good you can’t not watch. How can you really say no to a film that’s a happy little film about Stockholm Syndrome?

11. Bad Girl (1931)

  • This is an old one, and, if people can get over the whole, transition to sound aspect of it, they’re in for a great time. This story is so good. It’s daring for the day. Because, it’s about a woman who flirts with every guy, but isn’t interested in any of them, because they all want her. And then, the first guy who insults her and isn’t interested in her — she immediately falls in love with him. This all happens within the first six minutes. That’s what’s amazing about it. A story that could have been stretched over 90 minutes is done over six. And then, the rest of the movie is about what happens after the Rom Com ends. We see what it’s like in the day-to-day lives of these people. We see them get together very quickly, and then find out they might not be right for each other. They fight a lot, almost break up, and we really see them deal with romance in a very realistic way (albeit, very much in a 1931 kind of way). It’s incredible. I loved every minute of this, and it’s because I’ve seen the kinds of films that came out during this time. This is not like any of them. It’s like Skippy. Those two films are real anomalies, in the best sense of the word. I really love this movie.

12. National Velvet (1945)

  • This is another one of those movies that appeals to the child in me. It’s just so uplifting. A little girl (Elizabeth Taylor, no less) wins a horse and decides she wants to train it to ride in the national horse race. And along comes Mickey Rooney, a former jockey, who helps her train the horse and get it ready. And the film is about going after your dreams. And they get the horse ready, but then have to get the entrance fee, and there’s this beautiful moment where Anne Revere goes upstairs and takes all her savings and gives it to Elizabeth Taylor for the race, and tells her it’s money she won as a child doing what she loved, and tells her to go for it. It makes me cry every time. It’s so beautiful. And the race itself is just so thrilling. It’s really just a fantastic film, all around. Very glad I found it.

13. Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)

  • This one is very similar to Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Even if you don’t like musicals (which is definitely not me. I love musicals. They might be my second favorite genre after westerns), you will enjoy this movie. Why? Because it’s a fun, happy musical about white slavery. I’m not kidding. That’s what’s so great about it. The film is about a lady and her Chinese manservants (one of which is played by Mr. Miyagi) who try to kidnap Julie Andrews and Mary Tyler Moore (mostly Mary Tyler Moore) and sell them into white slavery (which they’ve done to countless other girls). And the film makes it okay! It’s just part of the fun. Like, “Oh, you need to tap dance to get the elevator to work. Oh, I’m in love with my boss, but he’s not in love with me. Oh, watch out, the landlady is going to drug you and take you to an opium den in Chinatown. Let’s dance!” It’s incredible. Plus, the film is wall-to-wall funny. And is amazingly directed by George Roy Hill. It’s one of the most technically interesting musicals I’ve ever seen. Everything about this movie adds up to one of the most fun experiences I’ve had watching a movie for a long time.

14. Hope and Glory (1987)

  • Another film told pretty much from a child’s perspective. Love it. It’s a film that’s basically John Boorman’s own recollections of growing up in England during the blitz of World War II. And the film is basically about — I think the tagline is, “A World at war. And a boy at play.” That’s the film. It’s this boy going through the Blitz. And we see it from his perspective. And we get all these little moments, like all the boys in the neighborhood paying an older girl to get a look down her pants, and then setting off shell cartridges with hammers, then the moment when an enemy pilot parachutes into town, and everyone gathers around like people in the suburbs do when someone’s house is on fire. It’s really just an amazing film. It’s so great. And funny, too. It’s so much fun. It’s a comedy about World War II. That’s the best part. Because I don’t like World War II movies. To me, it’s an overdone war. I’m a World War I guy, myself. So to see a World War II film that’s fun and not, “Oh man, Nazis, killing Jews, it’s terrible,” is really great. I love how fun this is. I’d never have found this otherwise.

15. The Ruling Class (1972)

  • This is one of the last films I saw on the Quest, but man, is it one of the best. This film is so incredible it’s beyond words. And what’s so great about it is, it lures you in one way, and then completely switches gears on you. First, you get an old, quirky aristocrat who talks directly to the camera. And then as he does so, he hangs himself while masturbating. He dies from autoerotic asphyxiation while on screen. Then, since he’s got a title, they need to replace him. And they replace him with Peter O’Toole, a man who thinks he’s Jesus. And the first hour and a half of the film is about Peter O’Toole thinking he’s Jesus, and going around this big estate. And it’s hilarious. This film is so fucking funny. O’Toole is wonderful and over-the-top, and bursts into song and dance for no reason, and there’s a scene where his wife does a striptease (while talking to the camera) on their wedding night, and he suddenly bursts in on a tricycle out of nowhere. It’s hysterical. And the rest of the family thinks he’s crazy, so they try different ways to “cure” him, all of which go horribly wrong. Until, they bring in the “electric messiah,” which I tell you is one of the most wonderfully batshit insane scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness. And they convince him that he’s “Jack,” which is his name. Only problem is, he becomes convinced that he’s Jack the Ripper. And then the movie takes a dark turn. A real dark turn. He begins to act like a complete sociopath. He kills a woman and has his most loyal servant blamed for it. He talks to himself in private (like, screaming and violent) and comes off as normal in public. He gets into Parliament and gives this sickening speech about how they need to bring back torture, which gets a standing ovation. It gets very, very dark. And then the film literally ends as he kills his wife. Just, ends. It’s fucking amazing. This is one of the best tonal shift movies I’ve ever seen. And you spend the last hour just deflating from the high they give you from the first two hours. I love this movie so, so much.

16. Paper Moon (1973)

  • This movie I did know about, but was never able to find. Plus, I’d seen The Last Picture Show when I was younger and didn’t love it. I respected it as a good movie, but didn’t particularly enjoy watching it. (Now, I do recognize it as a good film, but still, it’s not one I’m really gonna go back and watch very often. It’s a little on the boring side for me.) So I don’t think I really had plans to see this. And then when I did — wow. Just wow. It’s so fucking great. Tatum and Ryan O’Neal are just amazing on screen together. And the banter they have is just so well written. The film is just a great ride from start to finish. Some of the plot points I didn’t really care about, but with the chemistry they have, it didn’t matter. This was a great movie. I love the precocious child role (in case you haven’t noticed).

17. A Patch of Blue (1965)

  • The reason I love this film is because of how low-key it is. The relationship between Elizabeth Hartman and Sidney Poitier is so simple and beautiful, and the film really introduces racism on a level that most films just never have. And it was refreshing to me to see a film with a message about how racism is bad, and to do it so subtly and effectively. Something like In the Heat of the Night — you get it, already. But this — it’s so amazingly done. I really, really loved this movie.

18. Battleground (1949)

  • As someone who loves Band of Brothers, I’m surprised I didn’t see this film sooner. This film is basically a two-hour version of my favorite two episodes of the series — Bastogne. And it’s in there, too. You’re with the soldiers the whole time. On location (probably. Even if not, it feels like it), in the snow and the forest, as they sit there for the winter without any supplies. It’s really well done. You feel like you’re there with them. And unlike Band of Brothers, there aren’t a ridiculous amount of special effects (that shelling just looks way too CG’d for my taste). I really loved this one. This is a war movie I can watch all the time.

19. Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971)

  • Holy shit, this movie is amazing. The whole thing is stream of consciousness. There’s no plot, and none of it makes any sense. And it’s perfect. The first scene is Dustin Hoffman jumping off the roof of his building after writing a suicide note. And then there’s a credit sequence as he falls, making the whole thing seem very trippy, and then as he gets to the bottom, he lands in another scene at his shrink’s office, and the scene just continues as if everything’s normal. And things just get weirder and weirder from there. I can’t even explain it. All I’m gonna say is, it’s amazing, and it’s completely off-the-wall, and if you have no problem watching something completely nonlinear, with no plot to speak of, and crazy shit happening (people bursting into song and lip synching the whole time, talking in Jamaican accents for no reason) — this is a movie for you. Just, amazing.

20. The Stunt Man (1980)

  • This is a film about the joys of filmmaking. If you’re an aspiring director, watch this movie. The amount of camera tricks and techniques they use here are just incredible. And it’s fun, too. This is a movie about the Hollywood illusion. Nothing is what it seems, and they tell you it isn’t what it seems, too. I love the concept. A dude wanted by the police stumbles onto a movie set. A stunt man is killed because the director is a crazy authoritarian who makes his actors and stunt men do crazy shit. He hires the wanted guy as his stunt man instead. He puts him through some crazy shit, all the while convincing him that everything is okay. But it doesn’t seem okay. And then a bunch of weird stuff happens along the way, and the stunt man begins to think he might be killed by this director while performing a stunt. And the whole time you’re not really sure what’s real, what’s part of the movie, and what’s actually going on. It’s a very, very great film. The direction is the real star here. Richard Rush shot the hell out of this one.

21. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)

  • This is a film about a subject almost no one would think to make a film about, and then it takes a complete 180 and becomes about something else. It’s like if you’re having this argument with your girlfriend that seems really banal, like, “How come you always toss your dirty socks on the dresser where I keep my stuff?”, and then out of nowhere she goes, “Because I’m pregnant!” See? The 180. That’s what this film is. It’s about a simple dancing competition, with people vying to win to get $1,500 and willing to go through real torture for the entertainment of others. And these people go through hell. They make them stand on their feet past the point of exhaustion. They put them on roller skates. Make them have endurance trials. Like a reality show where they don’t give a fuck about safety regulations. And it’s engaging. And then out of nowhere, in the middle of an argument, he’s like, “Why do you act like this all the time?”, and she’s like, “Because I want to die!”, and out of nowhere the film is about assisted suicide. It’s great because you get so far in and now you’re like, “Whoa, whoa, I didn’t sign up for this,” and yet you can’t do anything about it. I love that. And it’s completely interesting on top of it. A really strong movie all around, and one that feels all the more special because it’s not the most typical of stories.

22. The L-Shaped Room (1962)

  • Another Leslie Caron film. This one I loved because it felt so raw and real. I love how simple the story is and how it never tries to be more than it is. Girl, goes to boarding house because she’s pregnant and for the duration of the pregnancy. She meets people there. That’s the film. It’s so simple it’s brilliant, and I loved it.

23. My Favorite Year (1982)

  • This is amazing for several reasons. The big one is Peter O’Toole’s performance. Holy shit, is O’Toole positively delightful in this movie. It’s just fun from start to finish. And the other reason this is amazing is because it’s essentially a Mel Brooks film. It’s based on an experience he had, working at the Sid Caesar show (which is really apparent when you watch), in which he had to babysit Errol Flynn for a week. And Brooks’ fingerprints are all over this. The other thing that makes it work is, as I was watching, I was on board, and I was laughing but I wasn’t fully on board, and then the climax of the film happened, and I actually got up and cheered. That’s filmmaking.

24. Giant (1956)

  • Now this is cinema. A three-and-a-half hour epic about oil. One of the most gorgeous films ever made. I was on board with this film from the first twenty minutes. It’s riveting. Whatever this film did, I was with it. Beautiful from beginning to end. This, to me, is a film I hope I’d have seen at some point, because it’s a masterpiece of cinema. Everyone needs to see this one.

25. Boyz N the Hood (1991)

  • This is one of those films you know you need to see, but just haven’t. And the Oscar Quest made me watch this. And man, was it worth it. What a great film. I didn’t expect to be half as invested in this as I was. You watch this and you know this is the film John Singleton set out to make. It’s rare to see a film so personal, especially post-1980. This is brilliant from beginning to end. Laurence Fishburne is a boss.

26. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

  • This is a film I had almost no intention of seeing. I’d probably have put it on at some point, but, I don’t like horror movies. I just don’t. And when people go apeshit over horror movies, it makes me less likely to want to see them. And the Quest made me see this. And it blew me away. It really did. Because it’s so banal. The best horror films are the ones that aren’t horror films. That’s what people don’t seem to get. Here’s a film where there’s one scary moment in the first half of the film, and even that is a dream that may or may not be real. And it slowly draws you into this situation, and then it turns on the juice. Riveting from beginning to end. What a film.

27. Breaking the Waves (1996)

  • I knew about this film, but had pushed back seeing it just because I had ideas of what this would be like (knowing nothing about the plot), and that made me find excuses to not see it. This got me to see it. And it was terrific. Emily Watson gives one of the best, and most raw, performances I’ve ever seen. It’s breathtakingly good.

28. A Thousand Clowns (1965)

  • Here’s a film that had me hooked from the start, because it seems to think the way I do. Jason Robards’s character is a guy who I can identify with. I understand his reasoning. And then, the film was so well-written and so funny, that it just snowballed from the start into one of my favorite movies from the Quest. I really loved this one a lot.

29. Peyton Place (1957)

  • All I knew about this going in was that it was a film that spawned a soap opera. And I knew it had a shitload of Oscar (and at that time, Golden Globe) nominations. Something like nine. So I figured — boring film, but right in the wheelhouse. But, I was with this film from the beginning. I don’t know why, but this was just engaging to me. I liked all (or most) of the plotlines, and I was really blown away by the performances of Hope Lange and Lloyd Nolan (as the doctor). I know this one isn’t for most, but I am really, really glad I discovered this one, and I’m the last person to like a melodrama (that isn’t directed by Douglas Sirk).

30. The Snake Pit (1948)

  • One of the very first films I saw on the Quest. Literally. Possibly the first. I remember coming up with the list only a few days after I got home. And then, the day after I wrote it, I went and put all my DVDs (all 700 of them) back in their cases (they were in binders I had with me on campus) and watched movies. And this just happened to be on TCM that afternoon. And it was amazing. One of the most realistic (in the relative sense) films about mental illness made before 1960. It’s so good. Here’s a film that doesn’t Hollywood-up the illness (again, relatively). I bet people who haven’t seen this would be shocked by how good and how clinical this film’s look at schizophrenia is. I really loved this one.

31. The Fallen Idol (1948)

  • Oh, man, this was a ride. Very simple story, so wonderfully evoked. And the way it builds! There’s almost nothing to say here, except — what a film.

32. The Hasty Heart (1949)

  • Here’s a film I thought would be a complete blank, and ended up surprising me beyond my wildest imagination. What really makes this film work is the performance of Richard Todd. Without him, this is a film that fails miserably. Because of him, this goes down as one of my favorite films I saw on this Quest. Very, very good. I think, what this has in common with a lot of these, is how offbeat their stories are. They choose topics to talk about that aren’t necessarily ones that most films would think to look at. Or situations that you don’t see. This one is literally about a dude in a military hospital who is dying, but nobody tells him about it to ease his remaining days, and yet he’s a total asshole to everyone because he doesn’t know. And the film does not take the easy road, either. You think you know how it’s gonna end, but it doesn’t end like that. And the fact that it never goes down the road you think it’s gonna go down, makes it feel all the more real. I loved this movie.

33. Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)

  • The reason this film works so well to me is because you keep thinking, “I can’t believe they’re actually showing me this.” Because here’s a film you watch and go, “Who allowed them to make this? And why aren’t they still running a major company?” Because a person who makes a film like this has major trust in their director and the material. Here’s a film that’s literally about a nymphomaniac kindergarten teacher who willingly puts herself in dangerous situations, sleeping with random men (who are all lowlifes) she picks up in shady bars. And it’s just a slow decline as she gets wilder and wilder until the eventual conclusion that we know is coming — one of these people is going to fucking kill her. And it’s just fascinating. And Diane Keaton is terrific in it. This is the film she should have won her Oscar for.

34. Detective Story (1951)

  • I love films like this. Set entirely in one location, over a limited amount of time. Here’s a film, set in a police station, over one day. And all these little stories develop. And at first it’s pretty small. Little thing here, little thing there. But slowly it builds. Characters come back, and things start to build. And major arcs start to come forward — it’s really great. There was a bit too much melodrama for my taste (mostly with the backstory to Eleanor Parker), but that’s just because the rest of the film was grounded in this realism and here’s the furthest thing from realism. But otherwise, this is really great film and I loved it a lot.

35. The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)

  • Holy shit, Liza Minnelli was incredible here. Here’s a film that’s so hard to find now, I barely knew anything about it when it started. And then you see what it looks like, and you go, “This can’t possibly be good.” And then Liza Minnelli starts talking, and — I’ve gotta tell you, there are few performances I enjoyed more over this Oscar Quest. Her performance was just so fully realized, and so perfectly done, that I don’t care about any faults this film has. I embrace this film, because, to me, this is one that so few people will like that I can celebrate it even more. The more people I can get to see this, the better. I love it.

36. The Collector (1965)

  • I normally don’t do horror movies, but for some reason, this never seemed like a horror movie to me. It just seemed interesting. Maybe it was the fact that William Wyler directed it. But I was excited to see it. And sure enough — not a horror movie. It’s a character study, more than anything. Sure, it has tension, and thriller-esque scenes of her trying to escape and all, but it’s more a study of him and her, and it’s fascinating. Stamp and Eggar are terrific here, and this, to me, is better than almost any horror movie (minus the really big ones) that’s come out post-1978.

37. The Guardsman (1931)

  • Not the easiest film in the world to watch, even if you love films from this era like I do. It’s very stagy, and the audio and video on the existing print are not of the best quality. But the story was really great. And I’ve said that this is a film that deserves a (smart) remake (not a shitty rom com version that it would undoubtedly end up being). The story is perfectly suited for a comedy of remarriage (of sorts). And what I like best about it is that the film really only requires these two characters (you can see all the pitfalls a remake would end up taking. So maybe it’s best that they don’t make one). This is one where, I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on it, but I see the gem inside this, so I stick by my choice.

38. The China Syndrome (1979)

  • What a great film. The reason this appealed to me so much is because, by the end of it, I felt something. I was on the edge of my seat, I was tense. I was angry. Films generally don’t make me angry (in a good way). It’s a film with a clearly liberal-leaning point of view, which normally makes me recoil a bit. Anytime something is openly arguing for one side, I instinctively push toward the opposite side to balance things out. But here — this film managed to get me on the edge of my seat. Made me tense. No film dose that. And it made me be like, “Fucking corporations. Doing shit like this at the sake of people’s lives!” That never happens. Plus, the film is amazing.

39. David and Lisa (1962)

  • I loved this film. Such a simple, yet specific, love story. On the surface, you think, “Oh, a love story about mental patients,” and assume it’ll be one type of film. But it’s not. There’s very little actual “doctoring” in the film. That is — those scenes of “why do you think you are the way you are?” or whatever you’d normally see with doctors working with patients — those aren’t here. It’s mostly them trying to help them deal with their afflictions. And then, the love story is so tender, and is born out of the simplest of notions — the doctors can’t seem to get through to her, and he finds a way to get her to communicate, and because of his meticulous nature, he goes and does it. And then it grows. I loved that so much. This is a real hidden gem if I’ve ever found one.

40. The Bad Seed (1956)

  • Holy shit. What a fucking movie. You know this story. It’s been remade in various forms. Most people will know that shitty movie Orphan that came out a few years ago (if you thought that was a good movie, stop reading this blog right now. These aren’t the films you’re looking for). This is much better than that. The performance by Patty McCormack is crazy good, and the film does a great job of creating tension with nothing more than strong character development and the performances of its actors. More like this, please.

41. The World According the Garp (1982)

  • I actually credit my mother for this one. She’d been talking about this film for years and how good it was (the other being What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?, which is also an unofficial member of this list), and I had never seen it until the Quest. I was blown away by how good this was. There’s really nothing to say about it — it’s just riveting from the beginning. Great performances by Glenn Close, John Lithgow, Robin Williams — fascinating. Utterly fascinating. One of the most unique films I’ve ever seen.

42. The Moon is Blue (1953)

  • This one I consider forced ingenuity. That is — back in college, I’d known about this film because it was always brought up as a big factor in the decline of the Production Code, and how this broke down a lot of taboos about sex in the movies. So I’d always wanted to see it, but it was never available on Netflix or anything. And then the Quest came and made me seek it out. You know, through my various — methods. And I’m glad I did. Because this was utterly delightful. The writing was strong, Maggie McNamara was terrific, and David Niven has one of my favorite lines in all of cinema when he says, “The three things I live for are steak, liquor, and sex.” How can a movie with that line be bad?

43. The Big Chill (1983)

  • This is a film that’s obviously very well known, but I’d never seen it before this because I’ve never been a big fan of the 80s as a decade (almost no one is, really. And the people who are, are hipsters. And nobody really likes them), and the idea of the “brat pack” films (this isn’t one of them, but to me it fit in nicely with them, so it counted, based on my limited knowledge of it at the time) just did not appeal to me. But, the Quest forced me to watch this, and I fell in love with this film hardcore. I really loved this film. It just felt so real. And it’s a hangout film. I love hangout films.

44. A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

  • Holy shit, what performances here. I never was a fan of Cassavetes’ style, but I knew this film was highly regarded as his best. And I knew that Gena Rowlands delivered a good performance here. And I was expecting to like the performance. Just not as much as I actually did. There’s something about this film that draws you in and just keeps you watching. Like Blue Valentine. You just watch, no matter what happens, and (this, more so than Blue Valentine) feels real. That is, you don’t think you’re watching actors. And the film just puts you completely through the wringer. You feel drained after this film. Few films actually make you feel emotionally drained like this does.

45. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)

  • Oh, what a lovely film this is. I’d never read the book, and didn’t even recognize this as a film until I saw it. I mean, I knew it won an Oscar, yet — it still never registered to me, despite Elia Kazan having directed it. And then as I watched it, I fell in love with it. How small it is. How much heart it has. Johnny’s character. Just, everything about this film is lovely. This is a film I’m going to put on at least once a year, much like I Remember Mama.

46. Carrie (1976)

  • A definite recurring theme on this list is how I don’t like horror films, yet the ones nominated for Oscars are exceptionally good ones, and it took this Quest for me to figure that out. Here’s a film that — like The Bad Seed, and like Rosemary’s Baby, is not a horror film. It’s not. It has horror elements, sure. But it’s not, at its heart, a horror film. Here, the horror only happens for like ten minutes at the end. And even that is predicated on all that’s happened before it. Here’s a film about an outcast (who just happens to have telekinetic powers). If anything, here’s a film about how shitty it is (for some people) to go through high school. And what the film wisely does is make you feel for Carrie in order to make you understand (and not question) what happens at the end of the film. It’s really powerful.

47. Splendor in the Grass (1961)

  • Oh man, did I love this film. I love when films start off definitively, with characters who have very definite and resolute goals, and then have those goals get fucked up by outside forces, and then we see the film adapt, and change, and in a way, settle for different outcomes. Because what’s so interesting about those types of films is — each character has a different settling point. Here, Warren Beatty settles much earlier than Natalie Wood does. And I like when that happens, because it makes for more complex characters and story. I also loved the romance here. Natalie Wood is beyond terrific. I loved this film very, very much.

48. Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972)

  • Here’s a film that, much like its male lead, I didn’t think I liked very much at first. And then, over time, it grew on me. And I found myself thinking about it long after it was over. And it’s funny because that’s exactly how Matthau is in this film. You get the opening twenty minutes, and there’s some good banter between Matthau and Burnett, but it just seems — cute, but not memorable. It doesn’t seem like it can lead anywhere. And that’s what Matthau is. He’s funny, but he’s abrasive. He comes off like a dick. And then they start dating, after Burnett is worn down (as well has having some curiosity, like, “There’s no way this could work out, and yet…”). Which is what happened to me. I just got worn down by the film and found myself becoming more and more engaged with it. And then they get married, and the film becomes about something else (and then becomes about something else. Which is another thing I love in films, when they take you so far from where you started that it feels like a journey), and the whole time, I was with it, but not really feeling like this was definitively a film that I liked. And yet, months after seeing it, I’m still thinking about it. It managed to burrow its way into my brain. Very few films can do that. Normally you can put them down and forget about them. This one I couldn’t. And that’s a very good thing.

49. The Great White Hope (1970)

  • This film works because of a performance by James Earl Jones that, in almost any other year, would have won an Academy Award. He’s that good. He is so good here that he completely elevates this film. And he makes this one of the best sports movies ever made. It’s probably not on anybody’s lists, but it should be. This is tremendous.

50. Inside Daisy Clover (1965)

  • I heard not-so great things about this. I’m not sure why. I guess people thought it was too campy or something. Or maybe I read that it wasn’t well-received at the time. And I get that. Because it’s very offbeat. But I like that about it. It’s a very dark comedy, and that really culminates with that attempted suicide scene. Talk about morbid laughs. But — I really enjoyed this. Again, Natalie Wood. I always think I’m not gonna like her movies, but then end up enjoying them quite immensely. This is another one of those movies where not everyone’s gonna like it. And the more people respond vehemently against it, the stronger I’m gonna feel toward it

51. Breaking Away (1979)

  • This movie took me two watches to truly appreciate. The first time I was like, “Meh, it’s just there.” And then, when I went back to watch it again, and I really enjoyed it a lot. It’s so funny. And it’s also a hangout film. The first half of this film is just the guys hanging out. It’s low-key, funny, and just fun to watch in general. Add to that a thrilling final race (surprisingly so), and you have a really great film that I’m glad I went back and watched that second time.

52. Nicholas and Alexandra (1971)

  • Wow. Just wow. This is one of the last films I’d think to be one I’d fall in love with. And yet, here we are. It’s three-hour film about Czar Nicholas II and his wife (guess what her name is). And we basically follow them through their lives, leading to that eventual moment where they all got together for a family portrait, and — well, you know how it ends. And it’s utterly captivating throughout. I don’t know why, but I loved every minute of this film. And I’m glad I saw it, because I would not have seen this otherwise.

53. Darling (1965)

  • This film, to me, exemplifies the 60s. Julie Christie is incredible in it. A really mesmerizing performance. A much lower key film than The Sound of Music, and yet, I think I might have liked this more.

54. America, America (1963)

  • Brilliant film. Took me two tries to get into it — I got thirty minutes in the first time and realized I wasn’t paying attention — but, when I watched this all the way through, I really enjoyed it. This is a real personal film. And I like that about it. Kazan needs to tell this story, and doesn’t care if anyone enjoys it. And that majes it great.

55. Elmer Gantry (1960)

  • Burt Lancaster. What more can you say? He just destroys this movie. Rarely can you see a person command the screen the way he does here. I’ll rewatch this one a lot.

56. The Country Girl (1954)

  • The revelation for me here was not that Grace Kelly deserved to win Best Actress this year — the revelation was Bing Crosby’s performance. Holy shit, was he good here. Kelly is amazing too, and she was good enough to win, but I expected her to be good. Crosby, though — I was not expecting that. And I was not expecting this to be so good. This is one of those movies I’d imagine not a lot of people have actually seen. And it’s one I’m going to enjoy showing people who are familiar with both leads from other films and watching them be blown away by these performances. That’s what makes me most excited about this film.

57. Marty (1955)

  • I knew all about this film before the Quest, and just hadn’t gotten around to seeing it yet. But wow — wow. It’s so simple, and so brilliant. The romance is so sweet, and Borgnine and Blair give such great performances. I’m gonna watch this one a whole lot, and thank the Quest for showing it to me.

58. The Defiant Ones (1958)

  • I’d imagine that every film person gets around to seeing this one at some point. How can you not? It’s pretty obvious why this is a great film. It’s just one of those that I saw because of the Quest, so it goes on this list.

59. The Yearling (1946)

  • This is another one of those films that appeals to the child in me. I tend to really like films that evoke the feeling of childhood, or are told from a child’s point of view. This is one of them. It’s just so sweet, and so enjoyable for everybody. And gorgeous too. Grade A Technicolor here. This films makes me happy.

60. Heaven Can Wait (1943)

  • This is a tricky film. Because it has the same title of Heaven Can Wait, from 1978, which is actually a remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan, from 1941. This film has nothing to do with either of them. So it’s possible it can get lost in the shuffle. But this was really great. I saw that Lubitsch directed it, which, when I see that, I go, “Why have I not seen it yet?” He’s a dude who I can always count on to bring the goods. And then the story — it’s a great concept, well-told, is very enjoyable, and is a twist on the classic example of this very situation. Plus the film is gorgeous. The art direction and Technicolor here are just beautiful.

61. The More the Merrier (1943)

  • Holy shit, is this funny. Jean Arthur is one of my favorite comediennes of the 40s (along with Ginger Rogers), and Charles Coburn can do no wrong. And they have never been better than they are here. This is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.

62. Our Town (1940)

  • What I loved about this film was how simple and low key it is, and how there isn’t really a plot to it. It’s just a day moving around a small town. The camera moves with one person until it finds something more interesting to look at. And that third act — no one would have the balls to try that today, whether it’s a dream or not. This is a real hidden gem, because a lot of people are just gonna think it’s a crummy old rock.

63. Blossoms in the Dust (1941)

  • This, to me, is Greer Garson’s finest performance. I was with this film all the way. I saw a clip from it during a color class in college, and I recognized it from that. But that literally happens within the first twenty minutes or so. The film is so much more than that. Greer Garson’s performances feel like roles that wouldn’t be played for twenty years. That’s why I call her the Meryl Streep of the 40s. You know how Meryl takes roles that just seem to drip with class (and awards potential)? That’s what Garson has. I loved this film. Maybe it’s something with me and orphans, because I really loved Penny Serenade too. I don’t know. I just know that I loved this film.

64. The Awful Truth (1937)

  • Hands down one of the best comedies ever made. The film totally speaks for itself. I hadn’t seen it before the Quest, and it has to go here. ‘Nuff said.

65. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

  • Most people have heard of this one, because it has such a memorable title. But the Quest got me to see it. Or rather — experience it. This is one of the best sound films pre-1934. I consider 1927-1933 sound films to be their own genre. This is one of the best of that genre. It’s terrific. That final line is incredible.

66. Dodsworth (1936)

  • I bet if 100 people did this entire Oscar Quest, 75 of them would put this film on a list of the best films they saw that they didn’t know existed. This film is amazingly good. Walter Huston is absolutely phenomenal here, and the film is just so touching. Another true hidden gem if there ever was one. I know a lot of people haven’t seen this, otherwise this would be considered one of the greatest films ever made.

67. Lost Horizon (1937)

  • At first glance, a lot of people wouldn’t immediately think this is a Frank Capra film. I liked that it was fantastical, yet embracive of that fact. The film somehow got me to buy the fact that these people end up in Shangri-La. It’s a really great fantasy, and is another one of those films that makes me feel better.

68. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

  • This is a movie. This is a complete picture, and there’s nothing I can say about it except — see this. You’ll understand.

69. Days of Wine and Roses (1963)

  • In terms of films about addiction, this is one of the best. The fact that something this raw was made pre-1970 is amazing. This, The Lost Wekend and The Man with the Golden Arm are the three big addiction films. This one will surprise a lot of people. Especially those who only know Jack Lemmon from his comedies. I’m gonna enjoy showing this one to people.

70. Only When I Laugh (1981)

  • One of the hardest films to find on the Quest. I found this one available for rent on iTunes, which really meant one shot at watching it. So it got my full attention. And it earned it too. It had it, and still earned it. I love Neil Simon stuff. It’s always so good. Most people will have seen The Goodbye Girl and The Sunshine Boys or Murder by Death. This one is just as good, and half as well-known. And I’m gonna push for this one. It’s been unfairly forgotten.

71. The Three Faces of Eve (1957)

  • This and The Snake Pit are my two great mental health films from the Quest. This is such a terrific look at multiple personality disorder, and Joanne Woodward is amazing in it. A lot of people are gonna be blown away by this one, because it’s so unlike the rest of the films of its era. And that performance — wow.

72. To Each His Own (1946)

  • I’m a sucker for these films. I know it’s melodrama, but it’s great melodrama. Olivia de Havilland is terrific here, and it’s just a great, great film. I don’t care if you think it’s overdone — I think it’s perfect.

73. The Member of the Wedding (1952)

  • Julie Harris is amazing here. The best part is that you realize she made this at 26, and here she is, playing a 12-year old. It’s incredible. She’s mesmerizing. This is another one of those films without a specific plot. It just — is.

74. Baby Doll (1956)

  • Another brilliant female lead performance. Carroll Baker is just tremendous in this one. I am in awe of this performance. And you also get Karl Malden and Eli Wallach delivering great performances too. I’m not the biggest Tennessee Williams fan, but this is my favorite film adaptation of his stuff next to Streetcar.

75. The Best Man (1964)

  • A great backstage look at all the stuff that actually goes on in politics. What makes this film so good is that nobody is completely right and nobody is completely wrong. Both candidates are flawed, and both are people you want to root for. It makes for a very realistic film. And it seems to happen in real time. I like when films do that. Really great entry into the political films of the 1960s.

76. The Cardinal (1963)

  • Otto Preminger was a one-man anti-censorship beast. Here’s a film that looks at racism, fascism, abortion, premarital sex — you name a topic you absolutely couldn’t talk about in 1963, and this film talked about it. In detail. It’s incredible. This is a powder keg of a film. You don’t see many like this today.

77. Last Summer (1969)

  • Here’s a film I saw for the first time at 5 am one random morning. It was on TCM, and I couldn’t find it anywhere else, so I stayed up and watched it. And it starts in a pretty banal manner. A couple of teens, hanging out on the beach, drinking, having sex, etc. And then — honestly, it’s best not to talk about it. What really makes this film work is the performance of Catherine Burns. Holy shit. Because most people, upon watching this, will go, “So what’s so good about this?” And then you watch the performance by Burns, and you’re like, “Oh. Oh — she’s good.” And then it builds to that climax — trust me when I say you should watch this film for her performance. You’ll see why it’s on this list.

78. Penny Serenade (1941)

  • I loved this one. It’s a melodrama, but also not really. It’s weird. Normally a film starts normal and moves toward melodrama. This seems to do the opposite. You have the frame story, then the melodramatic opening, then this realistic second act with them adopting the child. That’s what sold me on this movie. The film just takes a sudden halt and just focuses on that. I really liked that. Maybe that’s the common thread among all these films — many of them deviate from the standard structure of classical Hollywood films. Not totally, but in very key aspects. And that’s what makes them extra interesting to me.

79. Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

  • I used to think I hated costume dramas, but it turns out — I hate modern costume dramas. The ones made today are (for the most part) boring as hell. These ones from the 60s, though — all of them are fascinating. Even the lesser ones, like Becket — even those I find interesting. Maybe it’s the embrace of theatricality, which modern films don’t do. They have these technical flourishes that make them feel more like films. This old ones don’t bother with that. Simple shots, simple framing, let the actors tell the story. And they work. They really work. This might be my favorite, along with A Man for All Seasons. I love Burton’s performance, and I love Bujold’s performance especially. There’s just something so captivating about this one. I can’t quite explain it, but I will watch this when it’s on.

80. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

  • This is one I knew I’d like. I just didn’t know how great it really was. Trial films are always captivating, and this film is almost all trial. Just spellbinding. This comes on — I find myself sitting there and watching it, wondering what I was doing two hours ago when I came into the room. You’ve never seen a courtroom movie as good as this. Trust me.

81. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

  • What makes this work are the performances. Newman, Taylor, and especially Ives — all incredible. I’m not a fan of Tennessee Williams, but I’m a fan of all these actors. They’re all terrific here, and really sell the story to someone like me, who isn’t predisposed to liking it. Plus, Elizabeth Taylor has never looked as gorgeous in a film as she does here. Oh my god!

82. An Unmarried Woman (1978)

  • The performance of Jill Clayburgh. Plain and simple. Here’s a film carried by a fantastic lead performance. Everyone needs to see this one.

83. Separate Tables (1958)

  • Another film with standout performances. A simple ensemble film. For some reason I think that I don’t like films that are essentially plays. But honestly I’ve found that I very much enjoy a lot of those, based on this list. This one was very engaging because it was ensemble, yet in a limited space. I like films that take place over one small location. That’s probably the reason I liked this so much. But I know I wouldn’t have seen it without this Quest. So for that, it goes on.

84. Since You Went Away (1944)

  • I think it’s the David O. Selznick in it that makes it work. Here’s a man that knew exactly what the audience wanted, and gave it to them. Sure, the film overindulges a bit, but it’s still fascinating. And for a three hour film, that takes skill. Plus, I’m big on film history, and how films work within the context of world events, on top of how they work simply as constructions of cinema, so this film is a total package for me. I could talk about this for a long time.

85. Wild at Heart (1990)

  • Because it helped me discover perhaps the most fitting collaboration between a director and an actor — David Lynch and Nicolas Cage. This film is so fucking trippy, and so both of these men. If you like Nicolas Cage, you will love this movie. This is the gold mine you didn’t know was there.

86. Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)

  • One of the great films of 1939 — the “Golden” year. It’s a great film, and one I probably would have seen eventually, but the Quest got me to see it sooner. What a great film. It deals with the passage of time so sublimely.

87. The Fisher King (1991)

  • Here’s a film I deliberately didn’t see before the Quest started. And it’s questionable as to whether I’d have ever watched it were it not for this Quest. I’m like that with Terry Gilliam films. I don’t love them the way other people do. And he has the most vocal followers, who are almost all the wrong people. They’re people who speak passionately about films yet haven’t seen the right ones, so they come off like assholes and make me want to not see the movies. It’s like the person who says, “Vertigo should have won Best Picture,” and you know they haven’t seen any of the films that were up for Best Picture that year. So that makes me want to not like Vertigo when I see it.” (It’s a random example — who hasn’t seen Vertigo? — but you get the concept.) And this was just like that. But then I saw it — and loved it. I had to put it on here, because the Quest is the reason I saw this film. I discovered how great it really is.

88. The Search (1948)

  • I don’t know how to describe this one besides — great. Two parallel stories, both interesting, that converge into one beautiful moment. I’d never have seen this without the Quest. And it’s one of the best ones I did see. That final scene is just so wonderful.

89. The Last Angry Man (1959)

  • I knew about this film before I saw it. I was watching the (great) Don Rickles documentary Mr. Warmth, and Billy Crystal mentioned this film. And I naturally went and looked it up, and I saw that it was nominated. And the Quest expedited the process by which I found and saw this film. And it’s terrific. It’s one of those films where you totally agree with the main character, and the main character is someone nobody listens to. I love that. Paul Muni is so good in this. I’m gonna be him when I’m old.

90. The Elephant Man (1980)

  • Full disclosure — I hadn’t seen this before the Oscar Quest. And as such, this is technically a film I discovered because of the Quest. And I’m all the better for it.

91. Woman in the Dunes (1964)

  • This movie is so amazing and surreal. This is real filmmaking. I loved every minute of this movie. Captivating.

92. The Human Comedy (1943)

  • What I like about this one is how low-key it is. There’s no real plot. Yet it works completely. Mickey Rooney is one of those rare stars who was able to carry a film from a very young age. This is just a supremely interesting film. The lack of plot makes it stand out from the rest. Strong one, this one.

93. Educating Rita (1983)

  • The performances. That’s what sell this movie. This film is no more interesting than any other if not for the performances of Julie Walters and Michael Caine. They’re both terrific here, and make a standard film much, much better. I really liked this one.

94. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

  • I knew I needed to see this one, but just hadn’t. And the Quest got me to watch it. We know it’s a classic, and since I technically saw it because of the Quest, it goes on.

95. Moulin Rouge (1952)

  • I’m not the biggest fan of the Baz Luhrmann film. I like it a lot, it’s just that everyone else’s love for it has turned me off of it. And I didn’t expect much here. I knew it wouldn’t be remotely similar, but it’s just the idea of something that’s sort of like that. Yet — this film is utterly engrossing. It’s a film that tells you this will end badly, and then shows you as it ends badly. José Ferrer is fantastic here, and what really sells this film for me is the color. This is a beautiful, beautiful film. And I like recommending it because it couldn’t be further from the other “version” of this film, yet is just as good and just as captivating.

96. Marie Antoinette (1938)

  • I love the Sofia Coppola version of the film. I think it’s a very underrated film. And, having seen that one, this was just like watching the same movie done almost 70 years earlier. It was great. It retains the same interest as the other one, but for very different reasons. I really liked this one, and recommend it because — if people found the Coppola version interesting, you’ll feel the same way about this one.

97. A Man for All Seasons (1966)

  • This is a perfect film. If you want to see one of the best written films of all time, look no further. I watched this one real early because it’s a Best Picture winner. But even so — what I liked about this film is how a dude is put in an impossible, no-win situation, and sticks by his beliefs the entire time. It’s a Mockingbird thing. You know he can’t win his trial, yet, despite that, he manages to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that he’s innocent. And he knows that it’s more important to go down this way, because it will echo much more loudly in the future. Just terrific. Really, really terrific.

98. The Right Stuff (1983)

  • Another one of those films I’ll admit that I just hadn’t seen. I knew about it, and how badass it was, but just hadn’t gotten around to watching it yet. So, as it technically is a film I discovered during the Quest, I put it on. If only to tell people how awesome it is and how much they should see it.

99. Ninotchka (1939)

  • A classic comedy that the Quest got me to see sooner. What a great, great film. Glad I found it now, because it gives me more time to watch it again.

100. San Francisco (1936)

  • This film is generic for the first 90 minutes, and then amazing for the last 25. The set up is nothing new — but that’s what makes it work as well as it does. Because it lulls you into thinking it’s one of those standard musical dramas, and it holds enough interest to the viewer. It’s not totally generic, but its close. The presence of Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy elevate it into something more interesting than a programmer. But then — when the switch comes, and the earthquake hits — everything is out the window (literally). The special effects are second to none. You watch that scene and think, “There’s no way they made this in 1936.” And that, to me, makes this entire film worthwhile.

– – – – – – – – – –

The moral of this article folks, is — you can’t rule out any movie. Never have any prejudices, always go in with an open mind. And always — always — remember: just because a movie is bad, or mainstream, or you don’t like it, doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything from it and doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. Sometimes you find great things in the most unlikely of places. That’s why I love cinema.

Also check out (tomorrow and the next day): The Oscar Quest: Worst Films I Had to Endure

      The Oscar Quest: Criminally Underseen Films

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