Epic Film Quest: A Status Report (FML)

Previously on The Littlest Winslow…I set out to watch every single Best Picture winner in the history of the Academy Awards. I’ve been blogging about the experience. I have come to regret this life choice.

Oscar

It’s been a long time since I posted about my Epic Film Quest – my journey / pitiful attempt at watching all 88 Best Picture winners. I started this act of horror almost five years ago, which has brought me to multiple conclusions: 1) This is probably the dumbest / most rewarding thing I have ever done. 2) It’s really hard to watch movies from the 30s and 40s when streaming services literally put EVERY FUCKING OTHER THING at my disposal. And 3) Leaving all the 3 hour-plus movies for last was a terrible idea for which I am a complete dumbass.

Throughout the course of this, I haven’t hidden the fact that I am a huge procrastinator. It’s why I haven’t finished my book yet. It’s why I haven’t started Twin Peaks yet. So much of my life is on Pause because I’ve amassed too many hobbies and I can’t figure out how to do all of them at the same time. It’s bloody impossible, I tell you. Add to that the fact that when you have to do something, it makes your brain want to do the opposite. So when you get home after a long work week and you have to watch an almost 4 hour movie about returning war vets in the 1940s or a 2+ hour movie about a writer from the 20s…you get distracted, k? It’s needless to say that I fell off on the writing about them all part, too.

But I see it. The light at the end of the tunnel. I only have 8 movies left. I may not be rounding third yet, but I am definitely tripping the short stop as I steadily jaunt on by. With the end right thereeeee, here’s a recap of what I’ve watched lately:

Cimarron – Won in 1930/31
The Oklahoma land rush of 1889 caused panic and euphoria, as thousands traveled west to get their hands on free government land. Like a crack addict getting his last fix, Yancey Cravat just can’t get enough, both in terms of land and the excitement of Manifest Destiny. He leaves his family time and time again in search of mystery and the unknown. Which is pretty badass if you think about it. I rarely leave my house without a set plan, in my air-conditioned car, and this dude’s hopping on a horse, sleeping outside, like: “Hey, I’m gonna go west or something. Find stuff. Maybe die. I’ll be back in 3 years! Unless I’m dead!” His wife was cool with it, until she was less cool with it. Either way, this was a strong piece of film for its time. Grade: B

Grand Hotel – Won in 1931/32
Grand Hotel tells the story of the guests at a fancy hotel, and shows how their lives overlap each other…or don’t. It’s notably the only movie in Academy Awards history to be nominated for Best Picture and nothing else, and had an ensemble of the largest movie stars of its time (Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Joan Crawford, etc). For us common folk who aren’t 90 years old, this would be like if Jennifer Lawrence, Brie Larson, Ryan Gosling, Chris Pratt and Adam Driver all stared in the same movie, co-mingling among their gorgeous, glamorous Hollywood excellence. Grand Hotel has fancy people, a jewel thief, a dying guy and a steady pace considering its age. It’ll hold your attention if you have any interest in former Hollywood elite. Grade: B+

The Life of Emile Zola – Won in 1937
Emile Zola was a French writer in the 19th century and this film tells his life. It didn’t age well. I didn’t care to learn about Zola. It was only 2 hours long and it made me die a little inside. Skip it. Grade: D (Listen, these movies won OSCARS – who the hell am I to give it an F? But for reals, just don’t with this one.)

Amadeus – Won in 1984
Tons of people told me this movie was gold once they learned the Quest I had embarked upon, holy hell, were they right. The set and costume designs, the music, the acting—F. Murray Abraham as Antonio Salieri was on fire! This moviefilm tells the tale of how Salieri was super peanut-butter-and-jelly of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was basically the equivalent of a Pokémon-Go-playing millennial in his time, but a genius composer, nonetheless. And Salieri was just like….WTF!? Both guys seemed pretty cuckoo-nutso, but at least Mozart seemed like he’d be fun to party with. Grade: A-

gone with the windGone With the Wind – Won in 1939
This is one of those your parents won’t STFU about. You’ve heard the name a bajillion times, but never got around to actually watching it. Like Casablanca. So quit moping about how it beat The Wizard of Oz and just watch it already. There’s a reason why this movie is on so many “Greatest Films of All Times” lists. It’s set in the backdrop of the Civil War, and tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a take-no-shit-from-anyone type, and daughter of a Georgia plantation owner. She’s a real piece of work, that one. Like a Real Housewife of the 1860s. And Vivien Leigh is the ultimate and original ice queen. (Sorry Robin Wright. Sorry Cersei). She’s got a Medusa-like stare that can cut you the fuck up in seconds. Dude, and Clark Gable is in this too!? It’s beautifully shot, has insane acting, and is a historical, legendary bit of filmmaking. This is why I started this whole project in the first place. <3 Grade: A

 

The Best Years of Our Lives – Won in 1946
This movie’s about three guys readjusting to civilian life after coming home from World War 2. Seriously, these damn wars are such Oscar bait. I honestly cannot take anymore war movies for the rest of my life. If I never saw another war movie, it would be TOO SOON. (Oh, wait. I have two left in the list to watch. Great.) This movie is known for its portrayal of PTSD and for a scene in an airplane where dude is all jacked up from PTSD and unraveling and stuff. I didn’t hate it, but I won’t rave either. Grade: C

Ben-Fucking-Hur – Won in 1959benhur
Is this the greatest movie of all time!? I haven’t seen every movie in the history of history, but this is a jaw-dropping, sprawling, epic, sensational bit of work and I can’t even. Only Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King have matched its Oscar wins (11 each). Charlton Heston played the title character with grace and honor. The whole she-bang cost $15 million…in 1959. That was probably like Monopoly money then. You should read about the chariot race sequence here, because the actual production and shooting details are just amazing. Not only for its time, but for film, in general. This is hands down one of my favorite Best Picture winners ever. Grade: A

My Fair Lady – Won in 1964
I’m going to spoil the ending here, so be warned. This movie won 8 Oscars, and I can’t even imagine how that happened. Audrey Hepburn is great, acting-wise, but producers dubbed over most of her singing? K. Lead actor Rex Harrison threw multiple hissy fits when Hepburn was cast, mostly because his stage partner wasn’t hired to continue her role for the film….that was Julie Andrews. Yup. A movie with singing and they were like…nahhh, we definitely don’t need Julie Andrews! #Fail (This was pre-Sound of Music, but still.) This movie is basically about some asshole who makes a bet that he can turn a flower girl with a Cockney accent into a lady. He treats her like utter garbage all movie, and after she leaves him, he realizes he has “grown accustomed to her face.” AND THEN SHE RUNS BACK TO THE JERK! #FeminismFail. In sum: decent movie, Hepburn’s a hottie, and horrible ending that ruins all of the characterization it spends nearly three hours building. FUCKINGFUCKKKK Grade: B-

The Last Emperor – Won in 1987
NO. I would’ve rather watched a My Little Pony movie. Or maybe Jem and the Holograms. Or like, ANY Kate Hudson rom-com. These were dark times.
Grade: D-

Mutiny on the Bounty – Won in 1935
Clark Gable. Whatta guy. In this movie, he plays Lieutenant Fletcher Christian on the HMS Bounty, and the captain is a real dick. The crew is mistreated and abused and banged up until Christian and the crew overthrow the Cap-ee-tan because DAMN THE MAN. It’s an amazing thrill to watch knowing that it was made in 1935. Sometimes, I’m really wowed at what humans are capable of…from an acting and production standpoint. And I’ve totes got a new dead-now man-crush. Sorry not sorry.
Grade: B+

Around the World in 80 Days – Won in 1956
Director Michael Anderson totally took this gig just so he could travel around the world, right? The cinematography is like Traveler Porn, and the picture looked really great on the colored and remastered copy I viewed. This wasn’t my favorite (these older 3-hour+ movies really don’t have enough story to fit 3 full hours), but there’s some lighthearted fun and romps along the way. Check out a super young Shirley MacLaine, too!
Grade: B

Eight to go. Count ’em. Let’s get wasted when I finish.

clark

 

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