Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Top Ten Project Progress Report

So it's been a little over a month since I set out on this new venture to write movie Top Ten Lists for the years before I started this blog, and it's been a fun ride so far.  Following my self-imposed rules that I had to watch the Best Picture nominees and at least fifty films for each year, I quickly worked my way through the 2000s and 1990s, mostly watching Best Picture nominees I'd never gotten around to.  It only took me eight films, from "Seabiscuit" to "Awakenings" to get through both decades.  I also took the opportunity to finally watch "Pretty Woman" for 1990.

However, the real challenge lies ahead.  I spent a good chunk of today working out exactly how many films, and which ones, I was going to need to watch to get through the 1980s and 1970s.  The numbers are pretty daunting:

1989 - 6
1988 - 3
1986 - 5
1984 -12
1983 - 13
1982 - 11
1981 - 14
1980 - 15

1979 - 15
1978 - 25
1977 - 12
1976 - 20
1975 - 17
1974 - 11
1973 - 15
1972 - 17
1971 - 13
1970 - 17

So that's 79 films to get through the '80s and 162 to get through the 1970s.  I'm missing exactly eleven Best Picture nominees for each decade.  There should also be an asterisk for 1988, where I actually have watched fifty films, but didn't see three of the year's Best Picture nominees.  This is actually fewer films than I was anticipating, as this whole exercise was started because I realized I'd only seen 25 films from 1978.  It turns out that's an outlier, and I've actually seen at least thirty films for every other year in that decade.  I'm not sure what happened in 1978, but my guess is that it's the point where my childhood memories of older films playing on television and my later exploration of classic films both reached their limits, and failed to overlap. Still, those numbers would be considerably higher if it weren't for Disney films and a lot of obscure anime.

I also started making lists of which films I wanted to see from each year, but this became more and more difficult the farther back in time I got.  For one thing, there were far fewer films being released thirty years ago than there are today, even when you factor in the foreign productions.  Also, I simply am not familiar with most of the titles, and my usual criteria - awards attention, box office success, and good talent involved - don't always help.  I expect as I get into the '70s and beyond, it may come down to what's available.  Home media wasn't prevalent until the late '80s, and quite a few major movies are still difficult to find.  I'm also trying not to be too narrow-minded about what I should be watching, and instead try to watch movies that I actually would have picked to see in theaters or come across on television if I had been around at the time.  I'm not going to get a real sense of the film culture if I only watch the award winners.  In more than a few cases, I've already watched all the award winners anyway.

This is going to be a fun challenge, though.  I've always had a fascination with films from the late '70s and '80s because I associate them strongly with my earliest childhood memories.  These are all the movies that my parents watched when they were my age, and would occasionally reference.     I was cognizant enough to understand they were part of the culture of the time, but never actually watched them.  So I'll be using this as an opportunity to finally see "An Officer and a Gentleman," and "Flashdance," and "Starman," and many, many Burt Reynolds movies.  I've already had a blast with the '90s movies, spotting a young Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Scent of a Woman," and rediscovering my love of Robert DeNiro in "Awakenings."

While I'm on the subject, I'm glad I didn't limit myself to the Oscar movies only, because some of them have aged terribly.  Good grief, "The Cider House Rules" was terrible.

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