The Oscar Quest — One Year Anniversary

Today marks the one-year anniversary of when I “finished” my Oscar Quest. That is, my quest to watch every movie ever nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

When I graduated from college, I knew I was gonna take a year off before I did anything. I knew I wanted to move to LA at some point, and I knew I wanted to stay and hang out with good friends who were a year behind me and watch them graduate. Plus I figured I could always use the year to save up money for the eventual move.

But, since I’m me, I always need something to be doing. So, within a week of being home, I decided to watch all the Best Picture winners, having had that realization of, “I can’t really complain about something having won without having seen it.” Simple enough, since I’d already seen like half of them.

But, since I’m me, I thought, “Well, if I see all the nominees, then I can say what I think should really have won, without anyone calling me out on it.” I’m all about not being a hypocrite, especially when it comes to movies. So then it became all of those. Which was 730 movies, minus the ones I’d already seen. (So… maybe 500? 400?)

But, since I’m me, that quickly became, “Well, why not just watch all the major categories too?” So that became a giant list. I set out to watch all the movies ever nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. And I spent a good… 15 months, watching everything I could find there. (Right now, I’m down to just 6 movies, all of which only exist in print form in various collections, like AMPAS, UCLA, MoMA, Eastman House… One of these days, I’ll get around to actually trying to watch those too.)

But, since I’m me, I quickly realized, “What’s the point of watching all these movies if there’s no way for me to tell people that I did it?” So I decided to start a blog. Originally it was just for me to document this Quest. Since I generally dislike the idea of blogs, because I generally dislike the idea of public forums on the internet. Given how many stupid people are out there. I felt weird hating that stuff and also having one. But my love of movies won out, plus my desire to prove with irrefutable evidence that I did not, in fact, waste a year of my life doing absolutely nothing. (Unless you consider what I did to be nothing, in which case… find me something more productive. Watching a shitload of movies, writing constantly, and constantly creating something while doing it.)

The blog started on 1/1/11 (I couldn’t pass up that date), and, for the most part, the first year and a half was me documenting every single category from the Oscar Quest. (Every single day, too. Something has been posted on the blog every single day since it began. I’m proud of that.)

So, on a given day, I’d go through, say… Best Supporting Actress 1957.  And I’d go through each of the nominees… Miyoshi Umeki for Sayonara, Hope Lange and Diane Varsi for Peyton Place, Elsa Lanchester for Witness for the Prosecution and Carolyn Jones for The Bachelor Party 

(By the way, I still remember all of this from memory. This is now a part of who I am. I remember all of the categories, who was nominated and for what, who won, and I’ll be able to go through my feelings about all of them at the drop of a hat. I have this crazy Oscar/movie trivia ability. I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside year just about any movie was released, I remember who was in them, I know what was nominated for Oscars. I’m at the point where, if you gave me the character name of someone who was nominated for Best Actress over the last 40 years, I can tell you what movie that’s from and what actress played the part. It’s that crazy. Still can’t count toothpicks off the floor, though. So there’s that.)

— then, I’d list all the nominees, talk about the films, give my opinions on them, the performances, and then say who/what I thought should have won, what I’d have voted for if I had a ballot, what films I’d recommend you watch, and rank the films or performances so you could have an idea what I thought was the best in the category.

It wasn’t perfectly executed (I made a lot of mistakes, synopsis-wise, mostly due to throwing the articles together quickly, never proofreading, and only having seen a lot of the movies once, months earlier, before writing the synopses, and also writing a lot of the articles while in the middle of watching dozens of other movies), was a little too harsh in some of my opinions (for no real reason), and wasn’t 100% consistent in ranking things), but it’s all there. I did it. And that is now my record of what I did after college.

And, since I’m me, because of the blog, I ended up watching even more movies than that in the name of content. Because now that I had the blog, I felt obligated to continue with the content. (And used it as an excuse to give myself more projects. Since, now, I expect to be watching a bunch of movies along with maintaining a blog, writing scripts and working full time. So when I have nothing to do, I’m lost. It’s now weird for me not to be doing crazy amounts of stuff all the time.

So I created my Top Tens of the Decades list, where I went through each decade and each year and watched almost every movie that came out and listed my favorites. If you look at some of those lists, some years have like 30 movies listed for them. And that’s just 1/10th of the decade. Of 8 decades.) And all this added up to me watching something like, 2,000 movies in two and a half years since graduation.

I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. It was incredible. Plus, for the first year, I got to go visit my friends a bunch and drink a lot, on top of doing what I love, watching and writing about movies. (And writing movies.)

But, it was one year ago today when the very last Oscar Quest article went up. Which was such a rewarding day. I felt so good about that. I mean, I had all the articles finished like two months earlier, but once the last one went up, it gave me this great feeling of completion. A good feeling of completion. Not the feeling you’re supposed to get from graduation. That feeling is the, “I can’t believe the party is over” feeling. This is the, “Wow. I did this” feeling. And nothing can ever take that away from me.

And now, I’ve seen almost every movie nominated for a major Oscar (and I’m sure I’ll eventually make my way through the other semi-major categories as well), have taken a medium-toothed comb through every single year dating back to 1930 (some more so than others. I should really go back over the 80s and 90s again, having taken my being alive for a lot of those years as a sign of having watched most of the movies for granted), and have probably seen more movies than 99% of the people my age. Not sure what that really does for me, but it does make me feel pretty good.

(By the way, I am actually a crazy person. Though, I will say — I am now the person who can recommend movies to anyone. I’m very good at learning people’s movie tastes quickly and picking out things for them to watch that I know they’re gonna like. I have a very high success ratio with this. And I think we all need that person. So I’m glad I can be that person.)

The other great thing that happened because of watching all those movies — it got me the blog, which allowed me to continue to be creative and generate content regularly. And, once the Quest articles we done, it allowed me to move onto something more “fun.” (Since writing those articles was like making a movie. You do all the work way in advance, but there’s still that long period of time before it’s gonna come out and other people will see it, so by the time it does, you’ve already mentally moved onto something else.)

I spent last summer watching all the Disney movies again (or for the first time, in a lot of cases), which reaffirmed my love for them. Still one of my favorite articles that I ever wrote was the one listing my favorite Disney songs, since it allowed me to spend five days doing nothing but listening to Disney music over and over. (Who wouldn’t want to do that? I kinda want to go back and redo those articles again just so I can do it again.) And I ended up turning all those Disney movie watches into a bunch of articles as well. I love being able to turn what I’m watching into content.

And, since I’m me, I decided to go and do the same thing again with the James Bond movies. And that time I was able to enlist a friend to help. And the articles got a little more complex, and they got exponentially more fun, since my friend and I play off of one another really well, and we both have a vested love of the material. There’s nothing better than joking around about movies with your friends. (Though I was pretty naive at the time. I thought it would be a good idea to do a movie a day, not realizing I could break it up into parts and get more content for the same amount of work. So I ended up doing a month and a half’s worth of work for only 3 weeks of articles. But whatever. It’s the most fun I had on the blog since I started it.

And, since I’m me, and since we had so much fun doing those articles, we decided to make it a recurring thing. Us watching movies and joking around. So now we have Fun with Franchises (which I apologize for promoting so much. I’m just so damn proud of those articles), and we watch all these movies and do nothing but joke around and have fun with them. It’s work, and sometimes we run a bit close to being on a tight schedule, rather than staying on top of things, but it’s worth it. The amount of fun and humor and enjoyment that I get out of them and that comes from them is something that can’t be put into a measure.

For a thing that began as something to do when I had nothing to do, it’s now turned into something greater than I could have ever possibly imagined. I’ve watched so many movies over the past three years, and have discovered so many movies that I will now cherish for the rest of my life. I now have movies to share with people and turn other people onto. It has taught me some valuable lessons — watch everything, even if you think it’s gonna be shitty. There’s no need to be a snob about any movie. I get more out of bad movies than I do out of most good movies now. And now that I’ve been able to completely remove myself from most preconceived notions, I find myself able to go into every movie as a clean slate, and reach a place of near objectivity going into everything. Which is such a great ability to have.

And this also has taught me the value of not making snap judgments. Watching a movie more than to confirm your feelings about it is something that cannot be overstated. There were a few movies last year I thought I didn’t really care for. And I watched them again. And again. And now they’re some of my favorite movies from the year. If I stuck to my initial feeling of “I don’t like that,” I never would have discovered how great they are and would have continued to be stubborn about something that doesn’t matter. Every movie deserves a chance. And a second chance.

There are some downsides to all this stuff I’m doing now, though. This Fun with Franchises thing has really taken away my ability to watch anything else until it’s all finished. Normally I watch everything that comes out each year (and I mean everything). This year I haven’t watched anything yet. I’m saving them all for when these franchise articles are done. I have six months of movies sitting on my desktop.

And I also haven’t written anything in a year. Normally I try to write one script a year, but this year, I haven’t been able to do anything else. I have like three or four things I really want to get to. Hopefully I can start one of them by the end of the year.

And of course, since I’m me, I also have this giant list of movies I still want to watch. This one, rather than going by the Oscars they were nominated for, or the year they came out, is going by who directed them. I have a giant list of about 200 directors (maybe more), and all the films they directed, and I’m planning on making that my next big movie-watching spree. It’s about 1,700 movies at the moment. And I have a lot of them just sitting, waiting to be watched. Waiting to unearth their celluloid treasures upon my eye holes and ear holes and my heart and my soul.

So much stuff I want to do.

And since I’m me… I’m pretty sure I’ll actually do it, too.

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