The Anniversary

I graduated college exactly 10 years ago today. May, 23, 2010. On May 24th, I was back home, unpacking all the things I’d kept constantly ready for transport over the summers that now weren’t gonna go back to campus anymore. The biggest task in this, of course, was putting my many DVDs back into their cases from the binders they’d lived in for the past four years. I don’t remember what day I did this exactly, but I know for sure it happened within the first week of my being home. I have two vivid memories of unpacking that have conflated into one over the past decade. It’s possible both are true.

What I remember is, all my stuff is everywhere, slowly being absorbed by the room, I’m surrounded by stacks of DVD cases and watching Lawrence of Arabia. Now, I also have a vivid memory of being surrounded by DVDs and watching The Snake Pit. So, one of two versions is true: either I watched Lawrence of Arabia earlier in the afternoon and Snake Pit later on OR these are two separate days; I watched Lawrence of Arabia as I unpacked some stuff and did the DVDs another day. That version makes the most sense. But hey, it’s an afternoon a decade ago. Who remembers specifics?

Anyway the point of the story is, I’m putting my movies away, and I’m thinking about Oscars and yada yada yada, the Oscar Quest is born. Over the next 13 months, I watch just about every movie ever nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and the four acting categories. During that time, I started this site, which required content and got me to start other lists of movies to watch. In November of 2012, I posted my “Films I’ve Watched Since Graduation” list, which covered every movie I’d watched in the two-and-a-half years between graduating college and that date. There were 2,307 films on it at the time. Which, while inflated based on the fact that I had nothing to do but watch movies during that time, was an average of over 900 films a year.

The average evened out as the decade went on, but in the past year, I started noticing that it was getting close to 700. I also knew my ten-year reunion was coming up. So I figured, since that is a nice concrete marker, why not try to hit 7,000 films by the time I hit 10 years? That way I could say that I officially averaged watching 700 new movies per year for an entire decade.

I’m happy to say that I did manage that goal. I’m sure I probably hit it even sooner than I think I did, since there is no way that over ten years I didn’t forget to add some stuff as or after I watched it. But still, I have empirical evidence that I’ve watched 7,000 movies for the first time over the past ten years. That’s pretty cool. Or whatever adjective you want to use in its stead. Also, by the time you read this, I’ve probably already added to that total and am in the middle of watching something else. Because that’s what I do.

Of course, now that I’ve hit that number, all I can think is that quote from Wolf of Wall Street. Because if I managed to watch just 300 more movies before today, then my average would be 730 per year, which is two movies per day for an entire decade (‘three shy of a million a week’). The point is, I can never win. I’ll always up my own stakes. But hey, 700 per year is still pretty sweet. And nothing says I can’t still hit that two-a-day benchmark at some point in the near future. Ten years is an arbitrary (if easily understood) marker. Plus, this is only ten years since graduation, not ten years since the site started…

The other — and more substantial — update is about the Oscar Quest. I’ve covered this elsewhere, but once I finished that initial run, I made an informal list of a handful of other categories, I guess to either expand what I’d already done or just as a guidepost for movies to focus on, should they come across my path on another list. Usually I had other things I was working on (the Directors List, Fun with Franchises, Top Ten lists, actual life stuff), so I really never actually did anything with it. But it was there. Plus, part of me knew that I couldn’t just work on some of the categories if I was gonna go back to it. So I waited until I was absolutely sure I was ready to go back and do them all before I did. Which ended up being this exact weekend three years ago.

That’s when I officially announced I was coming back to ‘finish’ the Oscar Quest. Instead of the ‘big six’ that I did the first time, this time I was gonna watch everything in all the technical categories as well. So, basically everything except Documentary, Foreign Language and the three Shorts categories. Apart from those five categories and anything I’d be unable to find copies of to watch, when I finished, I’d essentially have seen every movie ever nominated across 19 of the (at the time) 24 categories.

When I made that announcement, I posted all the films I had left to see, which was about 780 or so. And, over the past three years, that list became my focal point whenever I had time to watch something that wasn’t from the current year. I’ve been whittling away at it little by little ever since. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna tell you that I finished it. I’m not quite there yet. But I will be soon.

As of right now (the time I write this, not necessarily the moment you’re reading it), I have 92 films left to see before I can essentially say that I’ve seen every film nominated in the categories of Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, Editing, Cinematography, Score, Song, Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Animated Feature (a.k.a. all categories except Foreign Language Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short, Live Action Short and Animated Short). For a full list of remaining films, you can check here.

Of the 92, 15 are films I’ve yet been able to obtain copies of. They either only exist as prints in archives or never were released on DVD, etc. They all have their reason. But there are 15 that I can’t, as of now, watch. Which leaves 77 that I can. Of those 77, 28 of them will get watched, honestly, within the next week or two at the latest. They’ll be done almost immediately and would have been done before now if I had the time before this self-imposed deadline to watch them.

The other 49 are foreign language films. Those I deliberately saved for the end of the list, because they just require an extra amount of effort for me to watch. For every foreign language film I can get myself to fully focus on, I can crank out 4 or 5 studio era films. My brain is just wired for those. So I figured I’d knock out as many ‘easy’ films as I could and leave the ‘effort’ ones for the end, since they don’t feel like that much of an effort if it’s just them between me and the finish line. So, I’ve got 77 films left to watch (as I keep looking for the remaining 15) and I’m gonna chop away at them, with the goal being to have everything done by Labor Day (which, we all know what that usually means with me). So we’ll see.

For now, I’m still working my way through all the Top Tens of the Decade lists, which are scheduled to go up through the end of August. If all goes well there and everything syncs up… well, you can infer what may or may not happen at that time. But, I’ve yet to officially announce anything in case of ‘shit happens’ (and because it’s really unlikely to actually become a reality before next year), so don’t infer too hard or too loudly, okay? Let’s all just hope things work out for the best. In the mean time, let’s all continue trying not to die.

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