Yesterday I took the movie survey in the Washington Post. The one that asks readers to tally all of the Oscar winning movies viewed since the 1920s and then determine their ranking as an Oscar’s expert. While I don’t consider myself a big movie-goer, I do like to measure myself against the average American, so I took the survey.
The first movie I checked was Gone with the Wind (1939), followed by Casablanca (1943). To my surprise, I marked 32 of the 89 films and secured a “Meryl Streep” ranking (26-50 films) ,“success is second nature to me,” rather than the “Leonardo DiCaprio” level (11-25), “a respectable showing but was it your full potential?” Wow, impressive. I’d say that places me well above average.
But then when I zoomed in a bit closer at the cluster of black checkmarks, I noticed that the majority fell into two decades, the 1980s and 1990s, the sans kids years. But since then, with the exception of Chicago (2003), The King’s Speech (2010) and Argo (2012), I have allowed, important, Oscar winning films to pass me by. Now I feel less like Meryl Streep and more like the “Tommy Wiseau’s” ranking (0-5 films), “you never stood a chance.”
Like books, movies offer their audiences views into worlds very different from their own, through a cinematographic journey into the lives of their characters, the real or imagined settings and the diversity of cultures. If I’m expected to be an above average connoisseur of award winning films, I need to revisit the movies I have missed these last twenty years, beginning with Moonlight (2016), 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008). As I write this post, the 90th Academy Awards are about to begin and the excitement surrounding which film will win best picture is inspiring me to set a new goal: To secure a “Daniel Day-Lewis” ranking (51-89 films), “you did it so well you can just retire now.”
Interested in taking the survey? Here is the link.