Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Awards Wiz Summer Film School: 31 Films and 4+ months!

I have been looking forward to this post for quite some time. Looking forward to and intimidated by, would be the more honest confession.  Every year, post Oscars I have high hopes for what I might publish on Awards Wiz. "Blank Fridays" Scary Saturdays," all ideas involving movie watching catch ups that simply faded into the blog black hole.

There have been summers where I actually made progress whether or not I actually wrote about the process. "East of Eden," "Raging Bull," "On the Waterfront," to name a few films I watched during the summer Oscar hiatus. And there have been times that I revisited films from my past, wondering if my memory of them has remained true to the film itself. "Blue Velvet," "Bugsy," and "Mulholland Drive," for example.

I even wrote a piece about my general summer film watching experience touching on a bit of this. But I never managed to really dig deep into the cavern of films that I should watch.

One Long (awaited), Hot Summer

This Summer, though, I'm feeling particularly inspired. Partly due to the most recent and fantastic Oscar season and my renewed love for this site and what I might be able to contribute to the ever expanding film conversation but mostly thanks to a podcast and a television series.

You Must Remember This is a storytelling podcast about the secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century. Distributed by Panoply from Slate Magazine, the podcast is the brainchild of Karina Longworth, who writes, narrates, records and edits each episode in her home.

As Karina explored the Manson Family, Hollywood's dead blondes, Joan Crawford and more, her mentions of certain films of those times and starring those actresses led me to jot down films I felt I needed to see. 

In addition to You Must Remember This, I also watched Feud: Bette and Joan, which once again reminded me that I had never seen "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" or "Mommie Dearest," so on the list they went.

As the list grew and grew, I realized that I needed some way to not only narrow it down but to also categorize them in some way that would give way to an interesting means of documenting the experience.

I had initially thought that a list of 27 would be best. 27 is a good number for Awards Wiz (hence the 27 Days of Oscar series), but with 4+ months of summer ahead, why not go for gold! I did edit some films out, but the majority of my musts remain. 

Here's what I'm thinking:

Bette and Joan
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane
Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte
Mildred Pierce
Mommie Dearest

Of course Bette and Joan come first. "Feud" inspired the choices of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" and "Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte," and the fact that I have never seen the films that gave Crawford and Davis their first (and only for Crawford) Oscars, is the reason for "Dangerous" and Mildred Pierce." And with Oxford's Pride starting in a couple of days...and the need to keep my gay card, we end with "Mommie Dearest."

Michael Cimino
The Deer Hunter
Heaven's Gate

I have always wanted to watch "The Deer Hunter." For one thing, it is a Best Picture winner. Another, it gave Christopher Walken an Oscar and stars DeNiro and Streep.  "Heaven's Gate" was rarely on my radar until recent years. A masterpiece or a disaster? I'll have to watch and decide for myself.

The Best Picture upset of 98!
Saving Private Ryan
Shakespeare in Love

I was unimpressed with "Saving Private Ryan" back in 1998 and was thrilled with "Shakespeare in Love" won. But as years have gone by I have wondered what I might think if I revisited these films. It's been almost 20 years since I have seen either one.

The Best Film of all time
Citizen Kane

I have never seen "Vertigo" and the one and only time I saw "Citizen Kane," I wasn't in the rightest of minds. Time to see them both, side by side.

The Best(?) Films
Funny Girl
Donnie Darko
The Crying Game
Secrets & Lies
Lost in Translation
Black Swan

I recently rewatched my "favorite" film of all time, "Mulholland Drive" and while it is still brilliant, I'm not sure where it actually stands with other favorites. So, it's time to revisit those as well. 

The Best Actresses
A Star is Born
Norma Rae
Blue Sky
Dead Man Walking

"Wanda," written, directed and starring Barbara Loden and "A Star is Born," and its Oscar losing performance by Judy Garland came out of You Must Remember This. "Blue Sky" and "Dead Man Walking" came out of watching Feud and the amazing performances of both Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon. How have I never seen either film for which they won their Oscars? Same goes for Sally Field and "Norma Rae."

The Godfather Trilogy
The Godfather
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part III

It's been ages since I've seen any of these films. I'm of the group that has always said the 2nd is the best and that the 3rd isn't half as bad as time has suggested it to be. Is that still the case? We'll find out!

Foreign Film
The Bicycle Thief
A Man and a Woman
The 400 Blows

As Summer turns to Fall, it's time to get a little more serious with foreign films.  The first two on the list came from my dear bestie, Colleen. She has been praising "The Bicycle Thief" and "A Man and a Woman" for years. I used to own Godard's "Breathless," but seem to have sold it during the dark ages. "The 400 Blows" and "L'Avventura" seem the logical choices for Truffaut and Antonioni, respectively and Kurosawa's "Rashomon" has always interested in me since reading about it in my "60 Years of Oscar" book. Considering we are are well past's been quite some time in the making.

So, it's an ambitious project. The first post will take a bit of time considering there are five movies to watch, but it will happen!

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