List of BEST PICTURE viewings… UPDATE: Moonlight + Driving Miss Daisy
My physical therapist has given me a series of exercises for working out the atrophied muscles on my right arm – a result of my near death experience earlier this month. These focused workouts are best done sitting down with my arm in a stable position. As a result, I’ve realized that I should watch something more long form that TV shows to make sure I stay on the couch in order to get a more effective workout.
“Stay on the couch in order to get a more effective workout.”
Yes, I know how strange that sounds, but it is actually accurate.
This has led to me picking up a project I started a few years ago to attempt to watch every movie that has ever won the Academy Award for Best Picture. Am I watching a Best Picture winner every night during recovery? No. I can’t consume that much serious cinema consistently. I’m filling in some nights with more light hearted flicks like Blazing Saddles and Dick Tracy – both recently rewatched.
I like this project, though, since it is finite. it will eventually have an ending with an annual addition. Accomplishments are accomplishments, and we all find value in the most random things, you know?
Two of the most recent movies I watched were similar in an interesting way. Moonlight and Driving Miss Daisy are decades apart and both civil rights minded stories, but they are also both initially written for the stage – and their respective presentations showcase this pretty strongly.
Moonlight is a play in three acts showcasing its main character at different stages of his life. If you haven’t watched it, it’s very powerful and at times hard to watch. Accurate depictions of adolescence are always awkward to witness depending on how vividly you remember or relate via your own experiences at that age, but Moonlight amplifies it by a factor of two: growing up Black in a low income environment and coming to terms with being gay at the same time. It’s pretty heavy material, but it’s filmed beautifully and showcases some amazingly talented actors. (NOTE: there’s some bias here since Shannon and I are already big Mahershala Ali fans.)
Driving Miss Daisy seems like one of those films you’d assume I would have seen since it came out when I was in high school and I was actively doing stage in school productions and local theater. However, like other movies around that time, I just never got around to seeing it since my parents weren’t into that sort of thing. The film is also based on a play and is a period piece dating from the fifties into the early seventies. Watching it now, though, the movie is a double period piece insomuch that it’s very much a movie made in the eighties. (Hans Zimmer did the entire soundtrack on a synthesizer; no orchestra.) Like Moonlight, it tackles unorthodox relationships (a Jewish woman and a Black man living in the south in a turbulent period of American history) but with a more lighthearted focus.
Both great films. Both worth the time spent.
LIST OF BEST PICTURES I’VE SEEN
1939 Gone with the Wind
1945 The Lost Weekend
1947 Gentleman’s Agreement
1950 All About Eve
1962 Lawrence of Arabia
1964 My Fair Lady
1965 The Sound of Music
1971 The French Connection
1972 The Godfather
1973 The Sting
1974 The Godfather Part II
1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1988 Rain Man
1989 Driving Miss Daisy
1990 Dances with Wolves
1991 The Silence of the Lambs
1993 Schindler’s List
1994 Forrest Gump
1998 Shakespeare in Love
1999 American Beauty
2001 A Beautiful Mind
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2004 Million Dollar Baby
2006 The Departed
2007 No Country for Old Men
2008 Slumdog Millionaire
2010 The King’s Speech
2011 The Artist
2014 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
2018 Green Book