This past weekend I gave myself a challenge: see as many Academy Award-nominated films as possible within a 24-hour period. I poured over a movie showtime schedule, did more math than I have in ages, and paid my mother in advance to babysit. While I have seen many films this “season“, most of the nominated films came and left before I was able to arrange a way to get myself to the theater.
For parents it can sometimes be a production just to see a film that is not animated or family-focused. There are babysitters involved, work schedules, end-of-the-week fatigue, and the next thing you know you look up the time at the megaplex only to discover the film you were dying to see has packed up and moved on.
Oh well, you think, I’ll catch it when it comes online or on-demand. Then we revert to what is available: whatever is saved up in the DVR, ready to be streamed on Netflix, maybe even a new-ish release on Amazon Prime Instant Video.
This last weekend I realized if I didn’t make time to see the just announced films that were nominated for Oscars® that I may never get to see them on the big screen. It was time to hatch a plan and binge watch as many nominated films as I could.
Saturday, January 18th
I lock down the schedule for my film-fest on Sunday and realize in order to fit in the 7th movie, I’ll need to see a movie on Saturday night. Here we go!
9:30pm: The Wolf of Wall Street
Nominated for: Best Picture, Directing, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay
I was able to see this The Wolf of Wall Street at my local theater but I was annoyed that it was only offered at one showtime late in the evening. Thankfully this three-hour movie only felt a bit long a few times. Leonardo was scary good in this performance, as was Jonah. There is a scene towards the end of the film (if you have seen it you will know exactly which one I am talking about) that made me scream at the screen with absolute disgust.
1 small Coke Zero
1 small popcorn
Running time: 180 minutes (THREE HOURS)
Sunday, January 19th
Before hitting the road to the megaplex in New Jersey I made a stop at WaWa, our awesome local convenience store, and stocked up on provisions. There was no way I was going to be able to exist on just popcorn all day so I needed to be strategic. I purchased a super large coffee and toasted bagel for my drive.
When I got to the ticket counter I explained to the cashier what I was going to be doing that day. I showed him my schedule to make sure I had mapped things out properly and then I paid for my tickets using gift certificates. (By the way: Giving a movie fan movie gift certificates is THE BEST gift.)
Nominated for: Best Picture, Original Score, Original Song, Production Design, Original Screenplay
For the first twenty minutes of Her all I could think of was the production design. The look of the film really is interesting and kind of lovely. Then I got bored, which really stressed me out because it was the first film of the day! Three-quarters of the way into the movie the projector shut down and I sat in the dark with 15 strangers who started to make computer sex jokes. (Don’t worry, the jokes were on point with scenes in the film.) At one point a couple behind me whispered, “I guess we should just leave, we don’t really like it, do we?” That about sums up how I felt.
1/2 cup of coffee
1/2 package of Twizzlers
Running time: 126 minutes
1:20pm: 12 Years a Slave
Nominated for: Best Picture, Leading Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Production Design, Adapted Screenplay
My friend Sandra joined me for the next two films. I was now able to start quoting from some of the movie trailers shown before the film.
I don’t believe I have ever gasped, flinched, or cried watching a film as much as I did watching 12 Years a Slave. Then there was the residual sorrow of knowing this was based on a true story — I am still thinking of many of the scenes in 12 Years a Slave, still haunted.
Bottle of Coke Zero
1/2 package of Corn Nuts
Running time: 134 minutes
Nominated for: Best Picture, Leading Actress, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects
Sandra and I made it to the theater JUST as the film began. I had really been looking forward to seeing Gravity, even though I am not genuinely wild about films in 3-D. The film is visually stunning, breathtaking even, but seeing it after 12 Years a Slave was really weird and made me oddly not very sympathetic towards Sandra’s character.
1/2 package of corn nuts
Running time: 91 minutes (WOO! So thankful it was so, er, brief)
5:30pm: August: Osage County
Nominated for: Lead Actress, Supporting Actress
I sat through eleventy BILLION previews before this movie began and was starting to get very unhinged at any and all narrative trailers (trailers with characters talking over action) or trailers with piano music. NO MORE! I had very high hopes for August: Osage County because it is exactly the kind of film I would love: based on a play, strong female characters, story-line involves family lore. Instead I kept being pulled out of the movie by the actresses. My mind couldn’t turn Julia Roberts into any character other than Julia Roberts and whenever Meryl Streep would just blow up the scene with an outstanding performance I would think, “Wow! Meryl Streep is so GOOD!” I think I would love to see this as a stage production with lesser known actors in the roles. I had to miss the last 10 minutes of the film so I could make the next movie on schedule.
REALLY wished I had something to drink
Stick of gum
Running time: 121 minutes
7:10pm: Dallas Buyers Club
Nominated for: Best Picture, Leading Actor, Supporting Actor, Film Editing, Makeup and Hair Styling, Original Screenplay
Full disclosure: I worked with Matthew McConaughey on a film and think he is one of the good guys. I think he has worked his butt off to get to a place of respect in Hollywood and it is so lovely to see him in the spotlight for his talent and not his bongos. Both Matthew and Jared were amazing in Dallas Buyers Club and both were completely transformative. I feel like Jennifer Garner may suffer from the same issues that Julia Roberts does in some films. I kept being so aware that Jennifer was in the movie that it was sometimes distracting.
Small bag of Skittles
Running time: 117 minutes
9:20pm: Captain Phillips
Nominated film: best picture, supporting actor, film editing, sound editing, sound mixing, adapted screenplay
OMG. I was completely in a daze by the time I sat down for the final film. I was worried I was going to fall asleep or give up and go home early, but Captain Phillips was a very engaging film that had me sucked in. Out of all of the films I will confess this is the one I was the least enthused about going to see so I was pleasantly surprised, and relieved, to find myself, leaning forward in my chair and drawn into the story. Barkhad Abdi is intense as a Somali pirate, but I thought all of the actors who played the Somali pirates did great work.
Running time: 134 minutes
While it was tiring to go through so many stories and emotions and performances within 24 hours, I really enjoyed watching so many great films in bulk (or binge). Seeing the films next to each other allowed me to have clear favorites for the Oscar® race. I still have two more best picture nominees to see (Nebraska and Philomena), but based on the ones I have seen so far I would order them by greatness as follows:
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
Dallas Buyers Club
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