Last year, 2007, was a great year for film. I believed that all year, and I looked forward to a bunch of opening weekends. There’s something fun about seeing a movie in a theater, on a big screen, among a crowd of people who also are absorbed in the story and the vision.
I saw very few of the films I’d looked forward to. Of the movies nominated for Academy Awards this year, I saw only four in a theater: The Bourne Ultimatum, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Ratatouille.
Two of these movies were sequels to films I’d really loved, and the other two were made by filmmakers I deeply admire (Tim Burton and Brad Bird/Pixar). And two of them starred Johnny Depp. So it was effectively impossible for me to miss seeing those — it was like the films themselves dragged me to my seat.
Here’s the list of movies I’d looked forward to seeing but missed: No Country for Old Men, 3:10 to Yuma, The Golden Compass, Michael Clayton, The Kite Runner, La Vie en Rose, The Assassination of Jesse James, and I’m Not There. And now that they’re out and I’ve read reviews, there are several more I wish I’d seen too.
I don’t have a lot of respect for the Academy Awards, or any awards program. All of us know there are behind-the scenes forces that determine who wins what each year. And some years the available films are significant, so that it’s a shame to choose one over another. But I acknowledge that I’m swayed when I see that such-and-such film or performance won an Oscar or was nominated to win.
But one of the very good things about the Academy Awards is that movies that are nominated and movies that win get a second life in the theaters. So now there’s another chance for me (and for you) to see at least a few of these films on a big, big screen.
(Photo comes from the website of the Cooledge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA.)