In the Glow of the Screen
In a moment of insanity, daughter Alex and I declared the intention to watch every single movie nominated for Academy Awards this season. That’s 52 movies. 52 MOVIES!!! I haven’t seen 52 movies in the last five years combined so to watch 52 in 2 months was a real (ridiculous) goal.
We did it. Since we’re both uber planners, we accomplished this cyclopean task with the help of four movie theaters, Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, Family Video, and a crap ton of popcorn, both caramel and regular. A visual of our master list, full of our secret notations and highlighted to completion in yellow is below. (OK, almost highlighted to completion. The foreign films weren’t within our limit of a 100-mile radius from home nor legally available online so we’re seeing those in the weeks to come which will eventually bring the total to 57 movies.)
We nearly caved a few times (translation, I nearly caved a few times) but turns out we’re both pretty focused, intense-with-our-goals sort of people and caving was simply not an option so we just kept going, sometimes watching two a day when needed. (BTW…it’s not recommended to watch more than one documentary in a sitting. Lordy, what a world in which we live. Those evenings required a palate/mind/heart cleanser of AFV videos and Jimmy Fallon antics to enable us to sleep.)
But back to popcorn. You simply must read Alex’s blog, Who Eats Better? for a recap of our movie-going snack list as well as the eight-course meal we created to honor the eight Best Picture nominees. Really. Go read it now. It’s much more fun than this blog post. Then subscribe to her blog, like her Facebook page and follow her on Instagram.
And back to recommendations. I’m now well versed in the movie scene and pretty much Roger Ebert incarnate (Blasphemy! There will never be another Roger Ebert and if you haven’t seen Life Itself yet, his biography documentary – not on this year’s academy award list but still so interesting – you really should.) So in my non-Ebert fashion, that is, based entirely on pure preference and total bias, after 52 flicks, these are the stories that are still with me – those that I’m still pondering and find myself talking about and waking up to.
Last Day of Freedom – A documentary short film told in a black and white sketch format that sounds strange but was barely-breathe captivating for me from start to finish. And because I love some folks who live with mental illness, it brought to the surface those feelings of uncertainty of whether we do right or wrong along that journey with them.
Girl in the River – The Price of Forgiveness – The price of forgiveness indeed. The fact of her unsuccessful honor killing was intense, yes, but the sadness in her eyes after her resigned act of forgiveness will never leave me. It’s not always easy or possible to stand up for what you believe, no matter how strong you are. Wow.
The Revenant – Lots of grunting from Leo (as well as a well-deserved Oscar), a horrific bear attack, and some of the most breathtaking cinematography I’ve ever seen. Took my breath away several times.
The Danish Girl – It’s necessary to be reminded of the exorbitant price we make people pay to be their authentic selves. And countered with the gift of his wife who opened herself to such pain in letting him go – honestly THE truest lesson in love. Swedish actress Alicia Vikander earned her Oscar. I will watch anything she is in from this day forward.
Amy – A documentary about Amy Winehouse that totally undid any false assumptions I held about her and opened me up to her immense gone-too-soon talent. I wished I could have hugged her and taken her home to let her be her beautiful self. Instead we were limited to visiting i-Tunes to honor her voice in the world.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom – This one opened up hours of discussion on human behavior and owning what our species can really do to each other when scared out of our minds and totally laden with fear.
Inside Out – Had to throw in a lighter-hearted option in the midst after those above. Inside Out is a really fun and truthful animation. A definite must-see.
Straight Outta Compton – This totally enlightened me to a genre of music that I basically missed because of my age. I realized this as Alex was able to spout the lyrics to songs I have never heard. It ended with me totally in awe of the artists who spoke their truths, having new respect for their stories, and ashamed that not one of the cast received an Oscar nod (along with other People of Color in so many other movies.)
The Hunting Ground – A profound reminder that we have a long way to go in healing men’s fear of women and their ultimate need to control them. The victims in the movie and elsewhere who are able to come forward not only to heal themselves, but also to heal our collective are profoundly brave to me and I’m so grateful.
Room – Brie Larson earned her Best Actress award for sure. She and the little boy, Jacob Tremblay, were so remarkable that I totally forgot they were acting.
Spotlight – I knew this. We all know this. I wasn’t familiar with the Spotlight publication so appreciated that angle in telling the story. It’s powerful to watch them uncover the enormity of the abuse – so deep and so painful when from people that are supposed to be trustworthy.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – This is the Swedish Forrest Gump with makeup so fantastic that I didn’t know it was the same actor all the way through until Alex told me afterward.
Stutterer – Definitely a heartwarming reminder that when we trust and follow our soulful inner voice, we find love. This won the Live Action Short Film award.
Star Wars – Because it’s just so dang fun to have this epic series continuing throughout my life and igniting so many generations at once. That and it’s awesome.
So there you go. Your Netflix list for the next year. Onward!!