40 by 40 Update: #27 See Every Best Picture Oscar Nominee

(Back in May of 2007 I noticed that a bunch of people in the blogosphere had created lists of 101 things to do in 1001 days. I was intrigued by the notion but felt I needed to change the parameters. So I created my 40 by 40 list. 40 things I wanted to do before I turned 40. Well on August 17th I turn 40, and I need to give $10 to charity for every uncompleted item. So it is time to see how I did.)

27. See Every Best Picture Oscar Nominee – COMPLETED
Running Tally: $130.o0 to charity.

The nice thing about this goal was that we went to see films we might otherwise have skipped. The idea was to see all five of the best picture nominees before the Oscar telecast. The good thing is that most of the nominees were worth seeing. Over two years there was one of that I hated (There Will Be Blood), one that just wasn’t my kind of movie–too Hollywood (Benjamin Button), and two that I liked but didn’t seem Oscar-worthy (Juno and Milk).

The Academy announced recently that they were going to have 10 nominees for Best Picture, not just 5. I am glad I no longer have to meet this goal, because with 10 nominees there are bound to be lots more crappy blockbusters that I reall don’t want to waste my time on.

In 2008 the nomines were:

  • Atonement
  • Juno
  • Michael Clayton
  • No Country for Old Men – Winner
  • There Will Be Blood

This is what I said about the films back in February 2008:

1. No Country For Old Men.Violent and gruesome, not usually my thing, but an excellent film. Scary, chilling, well-paced, fascinating. All of the actors in this movie are fantastic. Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin all deserve high praise, but so do bit actors like Gene Jones in the role of the gas station owner and Kelly MacDonald as Carla Jean Moss.

2. Atonement. A literary costume drama, right up my alley. A fabulous movie. I found it captivating and clever, with some twists I didn’t expect. I also appreciated that it didn’t go for cheap emotion. Loved every minute of this film.

3. (Tie) Michael Clayton and Juno.Both are very good films but don’t necessarily seem Oscar-worthy. Of course if you compare them to that piece of crap As Good as it Gets discussed above, they are absolutely marvels of cinematic greatness. George Clooney seems incapable of making bad movies. I really enjoyed this film. I thought it was gripping and I thought Tilda Swinton was amazing. If she is up for an award she deserves to win for not over playing this character. Juno was leagues better than your average comedy but that bar is set so low these days that I think this one gets an Oscar nod because it reminded everyone that not every comedy has to dripping in treacle or be some cartoonish spoof of some 1970’s stereotype.

5. If I could, I would place There Will be Blood in 87th place.Perhaps there is some artistic merit to this yawner of a movie, but I wasn’t able to identify what it would be. Man, I hated this movie. It was glacial in pace about two hours too long, and totally uncompelling in any way. The characters didn’t inspire any kind of emotional reaction whatsoever. Not love, hate, compassion, pity…nothing. And it is no fault of the actors, although I do think that Daniel Day-Lewis sounded like he was pretending to be a
newscaster or something, I never never quite got used to his voice and accent. If you haven’t seen this one skip it. Or rent it as a cure for insomnia.

In 2009 the nominees were:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire – Winner

This is what I said about the films back in February 2009:

I liked The Reader much more than I thought I would and I disagree with those who think that the movie did too much to exonerate Winslet’s character. I don’t think the film let anyone off the hook. Not Hanna, not the German people, not Ralph Fiennes character, no one comes out smelling like roses. It did an effective job portraying a situation that can have no happy ending or even meaningful resolution.

I thought Slumdog Millionaire probably placed second. I sobbed like a baby at the end. Not because the hero gets his true love, but because of the intense depictions of conditions in the slums of India. To think that people live in such dire circumstance all around the world and even to a certain degree in the U.S. is truly overwhelming.

Milk and Frost/Nixon were both excellent movies and were well executed, but as bio-pics I have a hard time thinking they are Oscar-worthy as films. Sean Penn definitely deserved his Best Actor win for the role of Harvey Milk and Frank Langella certainly deserved one for his portrayal as Nixon.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Eh. I enjoyed much more than I thought I would, but then again I was dreading having to go see it. The more I think about it the less I like the film. It had some redeeming qualities but overall it was a little too Forest Gumpy for my tastes.

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