The Best Picture Project

Some time ago I watched Julie &Julia with my wife and daughter, one of whom loves Food Network, the other of whom is thinking about becoming a chef. Anyway, the movie was all right, but a bit like a meringue. The parts with Julia Child were magnificent while the parts with Julie Powell – well, let’s just say that addition by subtracted would have occurred with this movie if the Julie Powell parts suddenly went MIA.

But while the movie might be better the fact is that losing Julie Powell eliminates what I see as the most spot-on performance in the film. Sure, Julie Powell is kind of a shrill drag but for anybody that read the book Julie & Julia knows that’s how she wrote herself to be and that while Meryl Streep has the far showier part in the movie, Amy Adams perfectly embodied everything I thought Julie Powell was: a bit of a dumpy drag. It’s only too bad that she wasn’t quite worth making a movie about.

FYI: not only did I read Julie & Julia, I read My Life in France, by Julia Child and while Julie Powell’s life on the page and on screen were about the same, Julia’s life was far more interesting in the book than ever portrayed on screen.

But I digress.

The point of mentioning Julie & Julia is the project Julie embarks on: cooking everything in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It kind of set my mind thinking about what sorts of projects were out there that somebody like me, a movie lover, could do to really connect more with the movies. But I wasn’t interested in the arbitrary structure of her project, I wanted something a little more free-form, that I could pick up and set down when I felt like it and not feel bad, which is not why you should do anything anyway. This led me to contemplate the Best Picture Project.

While I know I’ve seen a fair number of the Best Picture Oscar winners, I haven’t seen them all and there’s no real explanation why not. I just haven’t. But as a movie lover, I should and so that’s where the project comes in. Over the next however-many-months-it-takes, I intend to see all 82 Best Pictures winners and write about them right here. I don’t know what I plan to say about them, or how the posts will go. Maybe I’ll compare the film to some of those that lost. Maybe I’ll read the book the movie is based on for context. Maybe I won’t do anything. The whole point it, this is going to be free form, so it can evolve as need be. I’ll see the films in no discernible order, provide my thoughts, strike the film from the list, and move on.

It’s important to say that some winners will be easier to see than others. I own approximately 20 of them – all but Gone With The Wind and Lawrence of Arabia are of recent vintage – so that’s 62 more to get from somewhere. Fortunately I have TCM, which means I have The Best Years of Our Lives and Cimarron on my DVR and am sure to collect more, but at some point I expect my rental and cable options may run out and I’ll have to buy something. Fortunately, my wife never complains about me buying DVD’s, so I think I’ll get it done.

To see the list of films and winners and films seen, click here.

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