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Sunday, August 9, 2020

Movies nominated for best picture

Best Picture Nominees


Nominated in years ending in 8

7th Heaven (1927 - Winner: Best Director): This was beat out for Best Picture but won Frank Borzage the first ever Academy Award for Best Director. Janet Gaynor, the female lead, also won the first ever Best Actress award but, weirdly, it was for three different movies. I'm never enthralled by silent films, but this was pretty good, if a bit too long.

The Accidental Tourist (1988): It's a fine movie, but nothing special. It dragged in places.

Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938): For someone with little interest in either the evolution of music or jazz, this had no real appeal for me.

BlacKkKlansman (2018): I thought this was a fantastic movie. If it wasn't based on a true story I would have called the premise outlandish and insanely contrived. I laughed a lot more than I expected, though it's usually very dark humor. Like all of the Spike Lee movies I've watched, it provides an important, if very depressing, perspective on race relations. It was weird to see Topher Grace playing David Duke. The end was especially depressing.

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018): I really liked enjoyed this. It's nice to be watching some fairly recent movies now.

Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1958): I wasn't very impressed.

Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness (1927): Maybe this was an impressive film at one point, but to me it mostly seemed like people torturing animals for no reason.

The Citadel (1938): This was pretty good. About a doctor seduced by the money in medicine and then disgusted with the result. Apparently the book this was based on was considered a major driver of England's NHS being founded.

The Crowd (1928): So, so boring.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008): This was an okay movie, but felt a little long.

Dangerous Liaisons (1988): Glenn Close was great, but I think I like Cruel Intentions better, on the whole.

The Favourite (2018): Odd how my method of ordering movies put two lascivious period dramas back to back. I enjoyed this one more.

Four Daughters (1938): Nothing seems to actually happen in this movie.

Frost/Nixon (2008): I enjoyed this movie. I was unaware of this interview. I had seen All the President's Men, but that cuts off pretty much right after they first break the story.

La Grande Illusion (1937): I liked The Great Escape better.

Green Book (2018 - Winner: Best Picture): From a pure enjoyment perspective, it was okay, if fairly bland. I do think it comes across very much as a white savior movie, which is especially problematic given that Don Shirley's family seems to have been completely cut out of the process. The title seems incredibly ill considered, given that it references a publication that probably kept black people alive and then has white people mention it a couple of times. BlacKkKlansman had an incredibly important message about race relations, where this just appropriated a black man's story to let white people feel better. As a portrayal of the African American experience, the scene with the flat tire towards the end is utterly horrible.

Hamlet (1948 - Winner: Best Picture): There have been many, many adaptations of this movie. While Sir Laurence Olivier is good, I don't see anything particularly compelling about this one. And it was kind of weird for Olivier to cast someone 11 years younger than him as his mother.

Heaven Can Wait (1978): Intellectually I find this movie pretty stupid, but it has an irresistible charm.

Johnny Belinda (1948): This is a rather horrifying and depressing look at a deaf woman struggling to cope after a man rapes her and does numerous other things to ruin her life, but it is a good movie.

Life Is Beautiful (1997): I honestly don't know how I feel about this movie.

The Lion In Winter (1968): An excellent period drama about King Henry II. The dialogue is excellent.

Midnight Express (1978): I'm guessing this is what made Turkish prisons the de facto terrible place to be.

Milk (2008): I enjoyed this movie. I do think it was straight-washed, to an extent, by portraying Milk as monogamous, but I don't think that they hid his real flaws. He could be as manipulative as any other politician and he was much more willing to out people that I'm comfortable with, but he did important work.

Mississippi Burning (1988): An incredibly depressing but good movie. It's weird to see Willem Dafoe as playing the fresh faced young cop that nobody will respect.

Oliver! (1968 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): It's fine, but The Lion in Winter should have won.

Pygmalion (1938): Basically My Fair Lady scene-for-scene, but without the music. Just like that movie, I detest the ending.

Rachel, Rachel (1968): This is a pretty bizarre and disorienting movie about the fantasies (both romantic and otherwise) of a schoolteacher having a midlife crisis while appeasing an overbearing mother. I think this movie is the first time I've seen a wicker casket.

The Racket (1928): I'm not a fan.

The Reader (2008): I thought this was a good movie, though the relationship seemed incredibly unhealthy.

The Red Shoes (1948): I just don't care enough about dance generally or ballet in particular to really feel engaged by a film like this.

Roma (2018 - Winner: Best Director): More artsy that I'd prefer, but a good movie.

Romeo and Juliet (1968): I didn't find anything terribly compelling in this movie.
Separate Tables (1958): I mainly found this stupid.

Slumdog Millionaire (2008 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): A Solid, enjoyable movie.

The Snake Pit (1948): Cerainly not a typical Hollywood film.

A Star Is Born (2018): I really enjoyed this. I think Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were both great. This is the second version of A Star is Born that I've watched, and I have one more. I do wonder if there are people unaware that this has been made at least a half dozen times who think this is a bio-pic on Lady Gaga's origin.

Test Pilot (1938): Not a fan. These movies are starting to run together.

The Thin Red Line (1998): A good movie, but there's nothing in it that distinguishes it from other movies that show the horrors of war.

An Unmarried Woman (1978): Not an amazing movie, but not bad. It does seem to end abruptly without a real conclusion.

Vice (2018): I wasn't really aware this movie had been made. It's interesting, but I don't feel like you can trust it, since there's definitely speculation and insinuation. A lot of the casting choices struck me as odd.

Wings (1927 - Winner: Best Picture): I tried, but just could not care about this movie.

You Can't Take It With You (1938 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): Another Jimmie Stewart movie where he stumbles stupidly through life and everything works out for him in the end.

Nominated in Years Ending in 9

Born On the Fourth of July (1989 - Winner: Best Director): To me, Born on the Fourth of July is basically a less charming Forrest Gump, with Tom Cruise playing a depressing amalgamation of Forrest and Lieutenant Dan.

The Broadway Melody (1929 - Winnder: Best Picture): I didn't see anything in here worth watching.

The Cider House Rules (1999): This was a good, albeit depressing, movie.

District 9 (2009): As an enjoyable sci-fi movie, this is middling. I do think that it covers an important issue in a unique way without being preachy.

An Education (2009): I really feel like I must be missing something here. This movie has 94% from critics and 80% from general audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. To me, it's utterly boring. It's a tired cliche that has happened in a thousand films. Other than making it seem like a classy film by setting it in England, I saw nothing that made this interesting or distinct from what's come before.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939): This has not aged well.

The Green Mile (1999): I really like this movie, even though the ending is profoundly sad. One of those rare three hour movies that never feels too long.

The Heiress (1949): I thought this was going to be terrible, but I enjoyed it. Especially the ending.

Hello, Dolly! (1969): Barbara Streisand is amazingly talented, but none of her movies that I've watched have ever struck me as amazing.

The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929): I don't this would be considered a real movie today. The star power is undeniable, but it's little more than a filmed talent show.

The Hurt Locker (2009 - Winner Best Picture & Director): I didn't expect to, but I really liked this movie. I'm really surprised, given the subject matter, that it didn't come across as preachy.

In Old Arizona (1928): Not my cup of tea.

Inglourious Basterds (2009): I mainly just found this movie weird.

The Insider (1999): This was a pretty good movie, but nothing spectacular. It was weird seeing Dumbledore as an evil tobacco executive.

A Letter To Three Wives (1949 - Winner: Best Director): This isn't terrible, particularly given its age, but it's definitely not something I'd bother watching again. I don't get the ending where the glass falls over.

Love Affair (1939): This has not aged well.

My Left Foot (1989): This is a really weird movie, but not bad.

The Nun's Story (1959): I'm curious as to whether this is an accurate portrayal of becoming a new nun. It wasn't as cliched as I expected, and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

Precious (2009): I thought this movie was incredible, even though it basically ripped my heart out of my chest.

Room At the Top (1959): A really round about way to say be careful what you wish for.

A Serious Man (2009): A few really good moments but, on the whole, not much happens. Like most Coen brothers movies, it's very, very weird. The ending might be the least satisfying in film, after Gone With the Wind.

Twelve O'Clock High (1949): This seems rather cliched, as war movies go.

Up In the Air (2009): I wasn't expecting to enjoy this, but I really did. Personally I would prefer a neatly tied up happy ending, but I think it's a better movie as is.

Z (1969): Before I watched this, I had assumed that foreign-language films weren't eligible for Best Picture, since I hadn't encountered any on my list. This was okay, but not amazing.

Movies Nominated in a Year Ending in 0

127 Hours (2010): It would have really surprised me if a movie about a guy stuck to a rock for over five days made for a very entertaining movie. I was not surprised.

Airport (1970): Having watched Airplane! several times, it was utterly impossible to take this seriously. It is also way too long for no reason. Basically nothing happens for the first hour.

The Alamo (1960): Entirely too long, too boring, and too Western.

All This, and Heaven Too (1940): So, so boring.

Awakenings (1990): This is based on the true story of the doctor who had limited success treating catatonic Parkinson's patients with L-Dopa. It's pretty good.

The Big House (1930): Apparently this is the first prison break movie and it served as a model for all of those that followed. I like Shawshank much better.

Black Swan (2010): I can see the appeal of this movie, but it's not really my cup of tea.

Chocolat (2000): This was interesting, and well made, but not my cup of tea.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000): This was certainly a pioneering movie in terms of style, but now it just seems overdone.

The Divorcee (1930): This mostly seemed to be terrible giggling and yelling, all to no real purpose.

The Elephant Man (1980): This is a weird movie.

Elmer Gantry (1960): The main point of this movie seemed to be that we shouldn't have to live with consequences for our actions. At the end, Jean Simmons' character seems to transition abruptly from revivalist to failed cult leader as she tries to convince her followers to remain with her in a tent that's burning down because their faith will protect them. Even more bizarre is when those people apologize to her boyfriend for not having more faith after she ultimately does die because she stayed in the tent.

The Fighter (2010): I don't care for boxing, or even really understand how anyone can, but I still found this to be a pretty good watch. While I don't care for him or the character he portrayed, I did find Christian Bale's transformation for this movie to be pretty impressive.

Five Easy Pieces (1970): I got absolutely nothing out of this movie. Its only point seemed to be that Jack Nicholson can play a jerk really well, but it's not like that could have ever been in any doubt.

Foreign Correspondent (1940): Meh. I feel like there are basically three pre-1950s movies, and I've seen them over and over again.

Inception (2010): This is one of those movies that seems designed to get people to say they like it because they're confused and want to seem like they "get it".

The Kids Are All Right (2010): Well, if this isn't a supremely depressing slice-of-life, I don't know what is.

King Solomon's Mines (1950): I didn't really care for it, but apparently it's an enduring tale. This was the second of five film adaptations.

The King's Speech (2010 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): I really like this movie.

Kitty Foyle (1940): So pointless.

The Letter (1940): Not as good as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, but Bette Davis is still excellent.

The Long Voyage Home (1940) This movie seemed like a long voyage to nowhere.

The Love Parade (1929): I get that this is one of the first "talkies", but I still find it pretty lacking.

Ordinary People (1980 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): Another super depressing slice of life.

Our Town (1940): This was about what I expected, having seen the play.

The Social Network (2010): This was an interesting movie. I'm curious as to how accurate it is.

The Sundowners (1960): I expected this to be about Alzheimer's patients, but it was about Australian shepherds. I didn't care for it.

Tess (1979): It's a weird movie, but not bad. Certainly not as out there as I expected from Roman Polanski.

Traffic (2000 - Winner: Best Director): This was good, but I think the TV show The Wire tackled this topic better. It's still worth watching.

True Grit (2010): I thought this was pretty good, which is surprising, given that I generally don't care for Westerns or anything centered on a precocious child.

Winter's Bone (2010): I didn't think this was an amazing movie, but Jennifer Lawrence is great, as always.

Movies Nominated in Years Ending in 1

The Artist (2011 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): Not my cup of tea.

Atlantic City (1980): This was weird, but much better than I expected.

Blossoms In the Dust (1941): Not terrible.

Bugsy (1991): I'm honestly not sure if this was intentionally funny. If not, I think it's terrible. If so, it's mediocre and forgettable.

Cimarron (1931 - Winner: Best Picture): Ew, westerns.

Decision Before Dawn (1951): This didn't really grab my attention.

The Descendants (2011): Before I started watching this I assumed that it was about the children of Disney villains, based on the title. Once it started, I assumed it was the movie I remember people from Hawaii being upset about a few years ago because it was all white people. After some research, I think that movie was Aloha. I thought that this was actually pretty good, which I didn't expect. I'd be interested on hearing what my friends from Hawaii think about it.

East Lynne (1931): The premise is interesting, but this has not aged well.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011): I think this is a bad movie. It's not just that I didn't enjoy it, which I didn't, because I find the kid unbearably annoying. I think the film is trite, emotionally manipulative, and incredibly exploitative. Max von Sydow's performance was its only redeeming feature, which is impressive in a movie with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts
Fanny (1961): I found this to be pretty stupid.

The Front Page (1931): Another of those old movies that seem completely the same.

Gosford Park (2001): This is basically Downton Abbey with a murder mystery. Take that as you will.

The Help (2011): First: Viola Davis is amazing. It's an enjoyable watch, but this definitely has white savior overtones. I don't think it's as bad as Green Book, but I do think it focuses a lot on the light-hearted misadventures of a white lady while using the absolutely horrible things done to black people as a backdrop.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941): Now that I've watched two of the three of the movies based on the same story, there's something that really bothers me. The basic concept is that there are entities that take people to the afterlife after they die. When someone new to the job sees an athlete in peak shape about to die, he prematurely takes him to the afterlife. At that point, after lots of arguing, they finally check their master list and realize that the person they took is supposed to live another 50+ years. The problem is that their body is gone, so they get stuck in an out of shape rich guy. If there's a master list that says when people will die, why don't they send collectors out based on that list? The entire premise is fundamentally flawed. This version is better than the one with Warren Beatty. I haven't seen the one with Chris Rock.

Hold Back the Dawn (1941): I didn't know that green card marriages were a thing so long ago.

How Green Was My Valley (1941 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): I actually thought this was pretty good.

Hugo (2011): This isn't a bad movie, but it's odd to me that it exists. The target audience here seems to mainly be nostalgic film buffs. That's not the broad appeal that you generally wee with movies that cost nearly $200M. Not my cup of tea, but an interesting watch all the same.

In the Bedroom (2001): Very little of this takes place in a bedroom. It's not terrible, especially for an indie movie, but I did find it depressing and somewhat boring.

JFK (1991): A pretty good, if super long, movie. The JFK assassination is the only conspiracy theory I can think of that I don't discard out of hand. I'd be interested in hearing people's thoughts on whether this movie is a fair portrayal.

The Little Foxes (1941): Ugh.

Midnight In Paris (2011): I liked this move a lot more than I expected to. Take that with a grain of salt, though, because I expected to hate it.

Moneyball (2011): Another movie that wildly exceeded my incredibly low expectations. I read an interesting article a while back about how baseball has somehow found a way to become even more boring, thanks to this statistical approach. It encourages home runs, which are very briefly exciting, but that means there's less fielding, stolen bases, and dramatic plays generally. Now it's like watching a home run derby where most of the participants have no business being there. I say all this as someone who hasn't watched a baseball game since I was forced to as a child. I did find one thing about the film odd: The institutional opposition to listening to statisticians. Baseball, above all sports, seems to weirdly prize statistics.

Nicholas and Alexandra (1971): Very long, but pretty good.

The Prince of Tides (1991): This was good, but I didn't like the ending.

Quo Vadis (1951): An okay movie about the Christian movement under Nero.

Suspicion (1941): The change to the ending of the story made the whole thing utterly stupid. Definitely the worst Hitchcock movie I've ever watched. Apparently the change was because Cary Grant can't be a bad guy. Frankly, that might have made me hate him a little less.

The Tree of Life (2011): I don't generally enjoy movies described as "experimental", and I didn't like this one.

War Horse (2011): I have yet to like a movie focused on a horse.

Movies Nominated in a Year Ending in 2


49th Parallel (1941): Apparently this was commissioned by England to try to get the United States into the war. It's not really a great movie.

Amour (2012): Super depressing.

Argo (2012 - Winner: Best Picture): I enjoyed watching this. The underlying reality is so bizarre, it seems like it has to be made up. Of course, most of the drama is completely made up to make a more compelling movie.

Bad Girl (1931 - Winner: Best Director): Really, really stupid.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): This is a weird movie, and I really don't know how to process it. I certainly didn't dislike it, which is a feat for a movie starring a six year old.

The Champ (1931): There wasn't any part of this that I didn't hate.

The Crying Game (1992): Another really weird movie. Not my cup of tea, but definitely an interesting watch.

Django Unchained (2012): I've never been a big fan of Quentin Tarantino, but I liked this. A bit gratuitous and a bit long, but good all the same.

The Emigrants (1971): Kind of interesting, but that's overshadowed by the fact that it's three and a half hours and in Swedish.

Five Star Final (1931): Not good.

Gangs of New York (2002): I can see why people like this movie, but it's not my cup of tea.

Grand Hotel (1932 - Winner: Best Picture): Not good.

The Greatest Show On Earth (1952 - Winner: Best Picture): Definitively not the greatest show in any category.

The Hours (2002): I typically love the actresses in this movie, but this didn't really do it for me. Much like the book it revolves around, I didn't care for it.

Ivanhoe (1952): Nothing seems to really distinguish this from similar movies of the era.

Kings Row (1942): Definitely darker than I expected from this time period. Apparently this is what made Ronald Reagan a star.

Les Miserables (2012): A little long, but still very good.

Life of Pi (2012 - Winner: Best Director): I liked watching this, but I'm not sure if I think it's a good movie. I'm torn between viewing it as a meaningless LSD trip set to film or a story with real lessons about life. I do know one thing: once the tiger's out of the boat, I'm not helping it get back in, as sad as that would make me.

Lincoln (2012): I expected this too be much more about the war or a broader part of Lincoln's life, rather than being laser focused on Lincoln's efforts to get the Thirteenth Amendment through the House of Representatives. I enjoyed it.

The Longest Day (1962): I didn't care for this, but that might just be my dislike of John Wayne.

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942): Really bad.

Missing (1982): Not bad, but not memorable either.

Moulin Rouge (1952): The 2012 version is much, much better.

The Music Man (1962): Ew. Just ew.

Mutiny On the Bounty (1962): Better than the 1932 version, but still not great.

One Hour With You (1932): Not good.

The Pianist (2002 - Winner: Best Director): Really good and really depressing. I've certainly read about the Warsaw ghettos, but this really put it into stark relief.

The Pied Piper (1942): I was not a fan.

Scent of a Woman (1992): I didn't think I'd like this, but it's generally a good movie. A role Al Pacino was perfect for. A little too long and the ending is ridiculous.

Shanghai Express (1932): Bad.

The Smiling Lieutenant (1931): Worse.

The Talk of the Town (1942): Boring.

Wake Island (1942): Another bad propaganda film.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012): This isn't terrible, but I also didn't think it was great.


Movies Nominated in a Year Ending in 3

12 Years a Slave (2013 - Winner: Best Picture): I really like this movie.

America, America (1963): This was stupid.

American Hustle (2013): This was pretty good.

The Big Chill (1983): This was much darker than I was expecting. Not terrible, but I wouldn't say I enjoyed it.

Captain Phillips (2013): This was a good movie. It's certainly interesting to see what a cargo ship captain would have to deal with. I did find South Park's take on the situation to be more entertaining ("In Somalia, people have no laws! They have no rules! And they never grow old!" "They never grow old because they die before they're 30!")

Cavalcade (1933 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): Bad.

Cleopatra (1963): Impressive for its time, but I don't think it has aged well.

Cries and Whispers (1972): Another one of the very few non-English nominees for Best Picture. I didn't find it very relatable.

Dallas Buyers Club (2013): I had no idea what this was about going in. I found it interesting and I'm glad I watched it. Matthew McConaughey did a really good job.

The Dresser (1983): A little long and overly-dramatic for my tastes, but still good.

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943): I liked this much less than the book, and I didn't really care for that.

Gravity (2013 - Winner: Best Director): Enjoyable to watch, but not terribly memorable.

Heaven Can Wait (1943): This is a stupid movie in pretty much every regard: premise, writing, and acting.

Her (2013): This is a weird movie that I expected to be boring and unrelatable, but it blew me away. Excellent.

How the West Was Won (1962): Boring and way too long.

The Human Comedy (1943): These early movies can be really hard to sit through.

I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (1932): Even harder to sit through, although this does provide a great example of why defendants should listen to their lawyer and not empty promises from the government.

In the Name of the Father (1993): This is a very good, albeit depressing, movie based on the true story of the UK using Gitmo style techniques to extract false confessions from innocent people for IRA bombings. It's important to remember that police misconduct is not a new or uniquely American problem. They convicted a boy of building bombs when he was only 13 years old and sent him to prison. They lied and fabricated evidence to ruin the lives of 11 people and all of their families. Then when the actual bomber confessed, they ignored it because they couldn't handle the embarrassment. This kind of thing can only happen because the people in power are sociopaths and fear no repercussions. The government apologized, but nobody was ever truly held accountable.

In Which We Serve (1942): I really had no idea there were so many wartime propaganda films before I started going through this list. I don't recall seeing any that I'd recommend.

Julius Caesar (1953): It is a well done adaptation but, like the play, it is more about Rome after the death of the title character, and that portion seems to run long.

Lady For a Day (1933): This has an incredibly stupid premise, and it really doesn't get better from there.

Little Women (1933): I didn't really care for this. I think I might like the book more. I just generally find Katharine Hepburn obnoxious, and this was no exception.

Lost In Translation (2003): I enjoyed this a lot more than I expected. It's a good movie. It is weird to see Scarlett Johansson as a directionless young woman, since I've come to think of her as Black Widow.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003): This was better than I expected. I enjoyed it.

The More the Merrier (1943): For some reason they made a movie about a housing shortage in Washington DC. I imagine this was supposed to be funny. I didn't find that to be the case.

Mystic River (2003): I didn't expect to like this, since I'm not a big fan of Sean Penn, but he was good in this. A good movie that I never would have watched if I wasn't working my way though this list.

Nebraska (2013): After reading a description of this movie, I was prepared to hate it. I actually found it pretty enjoyable. It's certainly odd to see a black and white movie made six years ago.

The Ox-Bow Incident (1943): There are very few Westerns that I enjoy, and this most certainly did not make the cut.

Philomena (2013): This is a great movie. It deals with a true story I'd never heard anything about: an Irish children's home forcefully adopting away women's children and selling them to Americans. Judy Dench is amazing in this.

The Piano (1993): This is a really weird movie. I don't really know if I liked it or not, I just know it's really weird.

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933): It seems like it really didn't take much to be nominated for Best Picture in 1933.

The Remains of the Day (1993): Sort of like Downton Abbey if the house only had one occupant other than the servants and that occupant was a big fan of Nazis. Not a bad movie, and there were definitely parts I really liked, but I didn't find it amazing on the whole. I found Stevens to be an inconsistent character.

The Robe (1953): It's sort of like Biblical fanfic made into a major motion picture.

Smilin' Through (1932): Unimaginably stupid.

The Song of Bernadette (1943): Way too long and not that great altogether, but there were a couple of scenes I really liked. My favorite is Napoleon III's response when his wife accuses him of being an atheist: "That's the most stupid thing a sovereign could be."

State Fair (1933): Sort of like a home movie in which every person's voice is the worst.

The Sting (1973 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): The music in this made me want to take a drill to my ear drums. I can sort of see how this would appeal to some people, but it had none for me.

Tender Mercies (1983): I didn't expect to enjoy a movie about an alcoholic washed up country music singer, and I didn't.

Terms of Endearment (1983 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): Danny DeVito looks so young. What is with Debra Winger's voice? It was like she started every filming day by screaming herself hoarse. I had difficulty listening to her.

Tom Jones (1963 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): I cannot believe that this won Best Picture and Best Director. It's terrible.

A Touch of Class (1973): From the beginning this movie feels like a bad sitcom, and that never really changes.

Watch On the Rhine (1943): Ugh, precocious children and pushy old people. I did like this line: "Well, we are all anti-fascists, naturally." Who could have known that could be a controversial statement in America? On the whole, this movie feels like it should have been the 10-15 minute introduction of an actual interesting movie.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013): Pretty good movie, hilarious at times, but I feel like it could be shorter.


Movies Nominated in a Year Ending in 4


American Sniper (2014): Bradley Cooper is always so, so good.

The Aviator (2004): I never really gave Leonardo DiCaprio enough credit for how diverse he is as an actor. This is a weird movie, but really interesting and well done. I'd recommend it.

Becket (1964): This was probably good in its time, but I can't really compare it favorably to more modern films in the genre. It's still a pretty good movie because the story of Thomas Becket is an interesting one, although I believe the movie's ending is inaccurate.

Birdman (2014 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): I'm not sure how I feel about this movie. It's certainly interesting for a lot of different reasons. But throughout the film it felt like the director was making choices because they would impress other directors rather than tell the story better.

Boyhood (2014): This was much better than I expected. The premise, showing a boy growing up by filming the same people for over a decade, seemed gimmicky, but I really enjoyed it. The scene where they leave the professor and his kids absolutely gutted me. The ending felt kind of anti-climactic, but I feel like there was only so much control the director had over pacing, given how this was made.

The Caine Mutiny (1954): A so-so movie with a really stupid lesson screamed at the audience at the end.

Cleopatra (1934): Pretty stupid. Most of this movie seems to be loud terrible laughing.

The Conversation (1974): This reminds me of Enemy of the State, except for the fact that it's not at all enjoyable.

The Country Girl (1954): I didn't care for this.

Finding Neverland (2004): This kind of movie isn't usually my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994): It's kind of a cute movie, but I've never really seen Hugh Grant's appeal.

The Gay Divorcee (1934): This has not aged well.

Going My Way (1944 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): This really didn't do it for me.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): This is an utterly bizarre movie, but I really enjoyed it. The visuals are quite striking.

Here Comes the Navy (1934): Really stupid.

The House of Rothschild (1934): This was not enjoyable for me.

The Imitation Game (2014): This is fine as an entertaining movie, but if you really want to know about Alan Turing you should read the biography the film is based on. The screenwriter took many, many liberties. I do take issue with basically creating a character out of whole cloth for the purposes of dramatic tension and giving him the name of a real person. I really do recommend the book, though.

Imitation of Life (1934): At the time this might have been a progressive look at race, but I just don't think it's aged well in any regard.

Lenny (1974): If you don't go in caring about Lenny Bruce, this won't change your mind.

Million Dollar Baby (2004 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): I don't care for Clint Eastwood or boxing, but I guess the movie is fine.

One Night of Love (1934): I didn't care for this at all.

A Passage To India (1984): I found the book depressing, but the movie didn't make me care enough to depress me.

Quiz Show (1994): This is a weird movie. It's about a scandal in the 1950s about fixed TV game shows. The movie's okay, but the premise isn't terribly compelling.

Selma (2014): It seems wrong to say I enjoyed this movie, since I was crying for a lot of it, but I did think it was very good.

Sideways (2004): I didn't care for this at all, and that's not just because a lot of it is about wine. One of the main characters is despicable and the other isn't terribly likable (though I can't think of a role where Paul Giamatti was).

Since You Went Away (1944): Not good.

A Soldier's Story (1984): I'm not really sure how I felt about this movie. It seems to explore race relations in an important way, but also seems to say that one should give racists the benefit of the doubt.

The Theory of Everything (2014): This seemed really slow at times, but I liked it overall.

The Towering Inferno (1974): My goodness this movie is long and pointless. It didn't even have a charming cast of characters like the Poseidon Adventure to make it bearable.

Viva Villa! (1934): I didn't like this movie. I'm sorry if it's actually a culturally important movie, but it really had a 3 Stooges vibe to me.

Whiplash (2014): I enjoy listening to music, but that's about as far as my interest extends, and I've never been drawn to jazz. I didn't really care for a movie about a drummer trying to impress the Bobby Knight of music teachers at fake Julliard. I loathed everything about the ending.

White Parade (1934): Apparently I will have to forego watching this title, since it only exists as a very rough print at the UCLA film archive.

Wilson (1944): While a little informative, I didn't find this biopic about President Woodrow Wilson entertaining. I'm not even convinced it was trying to be.

Zorba the Greek (1964): I generally had no idea what was going on while I was watching this.


Movies Nominated in a Year Ending in 5


Alice Adams (1935): Yet another movie where Katharine Hepburn is unbearably obnoxious and we're apparently supposed to love her.

Anchors Aweigh (1945): So, so stupid.

Barry Lyndon (1975): I can certainly appreciate Stanley Kubrick's originality, but his singular humor can certainly grow stale over three hours.

The Big Short (2015): This is about the people who saw the housing collapse coming and made a lot of money from it. Oddly, they're not the villains of the story. They simply figured out how incredibly reckless banks had become and bet that the housing market was going to collapse. Everyone treated them like fools, but they were right. I think this movie is pretty entertaining, considering how much time it spends trying to educate its audience.

Bridge of Spies (2015): This seemed a bit slow to me at times, but I still think it was pretty good, overall.

Brooklyn (2015): I don't understand the 97% this movie has on Rotten Tomatoes. I mainly found it boring. The acting is fine, and it might accurately show the life of an immigrant, but there's no dramatic tension or narrative pacing. It's barely a story. I found the protagonist to be a bland selfish person that, for reasons that elude me, everyone is falling over themselves to have in their lives. While not quite as bad, it definitely gave me flashbacks to Twilight.

Capote (2005): Wow, Phillip Seymour Hoffman's voice makes this hard to watch. Still, it's a really good movie. He really did change the way books were written.

Captain Blood (1935): Really bad.

Darling (1965): This somehow manages to be very bizarre and extremely boring at the same time. I'd also call it ponderous, difficult to follow, pointless, and vapid.

David Copperfield (1935): Relentlessly stupid.

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005): Pretty good movie. I can't believe George Clooney had to mortgage his house to get it made.

The Informer (1935 - Winner: Best Director): I can't recall any film from the 30s that I've enjoyed. Definitely the most difficult part of my list to get through. This is no exception.

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985):  To me, this film's title sounds like a straight-to-VHS horror flick.  It's actually about a political prisoner during the Brazilian military dictatorship. It's a truly bizarre and often creepy movie, but it kept me watching.  I don't think the end made much sense, but I'm still glad I watched it.

Les Miserables (1935): It's weird to watch a performance of Les Mis without any music at all.  Still, this isn't bad for how early it was made.

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935): Mostly just stupid, but the ending is loud, incomprehensible, and stupid.  It's possible I feel this way because this seemed like the 5th time I've watched essentially the same movie.

The Lost Weekend (1945 - Winner: Best Picture & Director):  An alcoholic tricks his extremely gullible loved ones and goes on a bender.  If this was meant to be entertaining, I'm not clear on how.  It's not funny, and it's not like I really care about whether he finds his next drink.  His girlfriend's unwavering (and, I'd say, undeserved) loyalty means there are essentially no consequences to his drinking.  If it's just to show alcoholism from the perspective of the drinker then I guess it might succeed at that.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015): This might be great for what it is, but there's just nothing in it that appeals to me.  I'm actually not sure why.  I enjoyed the Resident Evil movies, and those certainly share some qualities with Mad Max.  At least I am now better informed about where some memes came from.

The Martian (2015): I think I generally agree with the comments I received when I speculated what this movie would be like after reading the book.  It's not bad at all, for what it is.  It's an enjoyable and forgettable space disaster movie.  While they definitely cut parts out for time, it stays pretty faithful to the plot of the book, but it still feels like a completely different story.  The book is mostly about the isolation and hopelessness he feels being stranded from the whole of humanity.  They didn't have time to convey that in the movie at all.  I actually feel like parts of Gravity come much closer to the feeling of The Martian book than this film adaptation did.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935): Pretty much everything about this is over the top, including acting, costumes, and sets.  But it's still pretty fun to watch.

Mildred Pierce (1945): I've never really gotten the appeal of film noir.  The movies seem far too slow and the narrative exposition is lazy.  I couldn't bring myself to care who the murderer was, I'd rather they all go to jail.

Mister Roberts (1955): I don't really care for Navy films or slapstick humor, and this has both.  The sleazy guys don't help.  I've never been a huge fan of Henry Fonda.

Munich (2005):  As is usually the case, the book is better.  The book gets you much more into the head of the leader of the black ops team that assassinated lead terrorists in the wake of the Munich massacre.  It might be because I already knew what was going to happen, but I found this kind of boring.

Il Postino (1994): Another one of the very rare foreign-language films nominated for best picture.  It's an Italian movie about Pablo Neruda's mailman being overly-familiar.  I didn't expect to like it since I'm not a huge fan of poetry or foreign-language films and combining them would seem to amplify the worst aspects of each.  While fairly slow, I did enjoy it somewhat.

Prizzi's Honor (1985): I didn't care for this at all.  The internet tells me this is supposed to be a black comedy.  I don't know if it's aged poorly or just not my type of humor, but I didn't find it remotely funny.  I normally like Jack Nicholson, but I feel like he was wrong for this role.  Kathleen Turner was good.

The Revenant (2015 - Winner: Best Director): You can't argue with the production values or acting in this movie, they're both top notch.  Still, The Revenant didn't really do it  for me.  The entire thing just seemed way too drawn out and predictable to me.  I think you could cut out an hour without losing much and there's nothing really new or interesting about the story.

Room (2015):  I generally don't care for movies centered on children and the opening scenes of this one had me ready to hate it.  But Room absolutely blew me away.  I think it's incredible.  Brie Larson is amazing and the kid is really good.  It also felt like it ripped my heart out my chest and had me sobbing.  It's definitely not for everyone. 

The Rose Tattoo (1955):  I'm honestly not sure what I was supposed to take from this.  If you're driven crazy learning about your late husband's infidelity all you need is some public humiliation and a good hookup?

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935): I don't think I'd enjoy this humor generally, but it hasn't aged well.

Ship of Fools (1965):  This is an interesting, if overly long, movie about a cruise from Mexico to Germany in 1933.  In addition to the generally close quarters the passengers deal with the rising German bigotry and uncomfortable mixing between classes.  I wouldn't recommend it for entertainment, but it was worth watching as a study of the people at this point in history.

Spellbound (1945): The cinematography and effects are classic Hitchcock, meaning they're excellent, but the story falls completely flat.

Spotlight (2015 - Winner: Best Picture): This is about the Boston Globe investigative journalists who broke the Catholic abuse scandal.  It's a good movie, but so depressing.  These people were monsters.  They knew what the priests were doing and they basically facilitated it.  I still don't think the Vatican has done enough to stop this.  I think there are three important lessons here: (1) independent investigative journalists are so, so important; (2) charitable immunity, which once served an important purpose, needs to be done away with; and (3) people who protect bad actors can cause even more damage than the people they conceal.  The last two items are also applicable to cops.

A Thousand Clowns (1965): I'm pretty sure this was meant to be funny.  I didn't find that to be the case.  The editing and scoring gave me a headache.  I'm not kidding, an actual headache.

Movies nominated in a year ending in 6:

Alfie (1966): I can't say I care for this.  The misogyny has aged very poorly.   I think I can say the same of the protagonist constantly addressing the audience directly.  The movie is basically Alfie going around being a jerk to women.

Anthony Adverse (1936): I didn't care for this.

Around the World In 80 Days (1956 - Winner: Best Picture): While it may have been good when it was made, the passage of time has really just made this seem silly and at least a little racist.

Babel (2006): Perhaps I'm just not artsy enough to appreciate Babel, but I didn't care for it.  It seems like the director is so consumed with doing something new and different that he forgets to actually tell a story.

Bound For Glory (1976): I might have liked this if I'd cared at all about Woody Guthrie's life or music. 

Children of a Lesser God (1986): I don't have any strong opinions on whether this story about a speech teacher falling in love with a deaf girl is a good movie, but I was pretty bored.  The performances are good.  Instead of subtitling the sign language they have the person who can speak vocalize what the other person is saying, when needed.  For all I know it's better than the alternative, but I found it clumsy and unnatural.  I fully acknowledge that I'm making that judgement when I can't recall interacting with someone who can't hear.

Dodsworth (1936): This isn't terrible for a movie for the 1930's, but it's not really remarkable in any way.

Fences (2016): A depressing movie.  Viola Davis is fantastic, as always. Denzel is also very solid.  I think it was a mistake to have the playwright adapt it to a screenplay.  It feels like an filmed play, rather than a movie.

Friendly Persuasion (1956):  I don't like Gary Cooper at the best of times, and his antics seem entirely tasteless when contrasted with the horrors of the Civil War.  It also drove me crazy that the Quakers always use "thee" and never "thou" when referring to the listener.  While apparently historically accurate of certain Quaker sects, it sounds stupid.

The Great Ziegfeld (1936 - Winner: Best Picture): An extravagant production, particularly for the time, but mostly spectacle with little substance.  It's also entirely too long.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016): The underlying story here, of a conscientious objector winning a Medal of Honor, is very interesting but there's little here to distinguish this from other war movies.

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986): Ugh.  It's like the worst aspects of Alfie and a Woody Allen movie being brought together in a single horrible film.

Hell Or High Water (2016): An enjoyable cops and robbers movie, but not terrible memorable.

Henry V (1944): I didn't really care for this.

Hidden Figures (2016): A really great movie about the African American women, particularly Katherine Johnson, who were indispensable to America's space missions and were generally treated like dirt.  Apparently it's also very accurate.  It really got to me.

La La Land (2016 - Winner: Best Director): I didn't like this at all.  I'm not very critical of music, but even to me it seemed like they cast leads in a musical who aren't great at singing or dancing.  I think it's generous to call the songs mediocre. It managed to strike me as both cliched and pretentious and I don't think I've ever felt that a movie was both of those things.  I don't care for jazz at all, but having a white hipster teaching African Americans about what it is and why it's good seems remarkably tone deaf.

Letters From Iwo Jima (2006): If one is looking to watch a Japanese war film, I suppose this is fine.  I didn't find it remarkable.  One of the biggest things I've learned in the course of my five years of reading in earnest is just how horrible Japan was during WWII.  I don't quite see the drive to make a movie like this to humanize the Japanese Army.  They've already gotten a huge pass because everyone focuses on the acts of Germany.  I don't think one can quite say the movie is inaccurate because of the lack of atrocities; Iwo Jima didn't present many opportunities the Japanese Army to rape and butcher civilians or torture POWs.  But I still feel like this portrays such a narrow facet of the organization that it can't have much meaning.

Libeled Lady (1936): This is not my type of humor, even if it wasn't horribly dated.

Lion (2016): This is about an Indian boy who gets seperated from his family when he's five and adopted by an Australian couple, only to successfully find his home 25 years later.  I really enjoyed this movie.  The fact that it's based on a true story blew my mind.

Little Miss Sunshine (2006): I feel like I'm missing something here.  This is a cute, funny little movie, but I was expecting something better.  I feel like I've had people tell me how amazing this is and that it's one of their favorite movies.  For me, it didn't live up to the hype.

A Man For All Seasons (1966 - Winner: Best Picture & Director): This hasn't aged all that well, but seems pretty good for when it was made.

Manchester By the Sea (2016):  A depressing drama about a misanthrope having to take custody of his teenage nephew isn't the kind of movie I'd pick out to watch.  Having said that, I think this is pretty good.  I did find it a bit hard to follow at first because it skips to the past and back without clear transitions.  I didn't find the ending satisfying.

The Mission (1986): I was mostly bored watching this.

Moonlight (2016 - Winner: Best Picture): A very good, and profoundly depressing, movie that delves uncomfortably deeply into themes of race, sexuality, and cycles of poverty, crime, and violence.

The Razor's Edge (1946): This movie had me somewhat interested in the beginning, but I was utterly bored by the end.

Romeo and Juliet (1936): The cast was too old, it has aged poorly, and been done much better since.

A Room With a View (1986): Not a terrible movie, but time has made the story seem somewhat cliched and predictable.  Way more full frontal male nudity than I was expecting.

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966): This isn't my kind of humor and it hasn't aged terribly well, but I still found myself laughing at times.

San Francisco (1936): I wouldn't say I loved this movie, but it's certainly better than some of the disaster movies that came much later.

The Sand Pebbles (1966): I do not get why there are so many movies about the Navy and I've grown pretty bored with them.  I kind of enjoyed this movie despite that.


Last updated: September 7, 2020

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