Ranking The 20 Best Movies I watched during Quarantine

Four months after lockdown began here in the United Kingdom, my quarantine is finally ending. Pubs, restaurants, and almost all other non-essential businesses opened on of all days the Fourth of July (happy birthday me!). Since then I’m also back to work so my nearly four month break is officially over.

During the quarantine I passed the time with a few activities like running, reading, a whole lot of and definitely too much drinking, and especially watching movies. When the pandemic hit and we knew we would be inside for a long time, Jenny and I made a list of movies we’ve never seen that we’ve always wanted to watch. We buzzed through a lot of them together, but I took my unlimited free time while she still did some work from home to watch a ton of movies on my own. I tried to finally watch some of the all-time great movies that have somehow eluded me for 29 years. While that was definitely the focus, the path took some twists and turns into a few straight weeks of action movies, some recently released movies, bad ’90s movies (shout out to Fear), and a few dozen insanely bad movies, many of which I already wrote about. A quick update to that post, Artemis Fowl is the worst movie ever made, thank god for whiskey.

This post however is about the great movies I watched during quarantine. All of the movies on the list are films I watched for the very first time over the last four months. I tried to pick the actual best movies but my heart got in the way so several movies on the list are objectively not that great, but love is love so sue me. Before I rank the top 20, I wanted shout out some honorable mentions that I really enjoyed. Shouts to (in no particular order) Escape from New York, Coco, The Third Man, A Clockwork Orange, The Hunt for Red October, True Romance, and especially Training Day.

20.) The Bad Boys + John Wick Series’

I couldn’t make this list without my guys John Wick, Mike Lowrey, and Marcus Burnett. I gave six movies the ceremonial last spot because I couldn’t choose between any of these masterpieces, and also none of the Bad Boys or John Wick movies are actually really good. Bad Boys is the quintessential ’90s pop action movie directed by good-bad-awesome movie god Michael fucking Bay. It is nothing but Will Smith looking cool, Martin Lawrence shouting one-liners, and things exploding in the background, and it fucking rules. Bad Boys is one of those movies like an Independence Day or Armageddon where you know it’s not going to win any oscars, but you don’t care because it kicks ass. Even the second and third installments somehow keep the energy up and surprisingly hold up even 25 years after the original. Gun to my head and I have to rank the Bad Boys movies (that would be a wild scenario) it would be 2, 1, 3.

John Wick on the other hand is a very different type of action franchise. It’s much darker and most of the action is insane fight choreography instead of big ass explosions. The immortal Keanu Reeves somehow sells it as the best assassin in the world out for blood. I would say John Wick is objectively a better movie series than Bad Boys because Michael Bay had nothing to do with it, and it’s less bombastic. If Juan Wick himself Shea Serrano ever tracks me down for ranking his beloved assassin so low and held a gun to my head, I would rank them 2,1,3 just like Bad Boys.

19.) Tombstone

The casting director of Tombstone (sup Lora Kennedy) must be a time-traveller, gone to 2013, found 21-year-old Phil drunk in Dinkytown at the University of Minnesota (I hope it wasn’t Burrito Loco), asked me who my favorite ’90s actors were, gone back to 1993, and cast the movie because everyone I’ve ever loved is in this movie that came out when I was 2. We’re talking Kurt Russell, the people’s Batman Val Kilmer, Bill Paxton, and the most precious Billy Zane. That’s the ’27 Yankees of ’90s white male actors that I am the most obsessed with. Who cares if the writing was unspectacular, the acting was stiff, and the pacing was all over the place. Hello, the mustaches were real folks, thats all that needs to be said to shoot Tombstone into the white guy Hall of Fame. Everyone has an idea of when they finally became a man. For some it’s when they have their first beer, their first girlfriend, maybe having a kid, but I know I wasn’t a man until I saw Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday say “I’m your huckleberry” to Johnny Ringo. Who cares if I was 28-years-old at the time, i was just a child until that very moment.

18.) The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums is the most different from any other movie on this list and that’s just the way Wes Anderson would want it. Tenenbaums has all the trappings of an Anderson classic. It features Gene Hackman, Ben Stiller, The Wilson bros, pre-Goop Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, and narrated by Alec Baldwin. It’s so quirky, but so god damn lovable. The Tenenbaums are as dysfunctional as it gets with one of them being a failed child playwright (Paltrow), another a flameout tennis star (Luke Wilson), and the other a child prodigy business mogul turned reclusive family man (Stiller), all while their absentee father (Hackman) tries to reconnect with them before he dies. It’s so fucking weird and should make no sense, but everything ties together towards the end and you begin to feel like somehow the Tenenbaums are your family for better or worse.

17.) Raging Bull

Raging Bull is probably my least favorite movie on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less great. Robert De Niro gave one of the greatest performances ever as troubled boxing star Jake LaMotta. One of Scorcese’s best movies, Raging Bull is pretty tough to watch. You essentially just watch this guy destroy his life for two hours, which makes for a great, memorable movie, but not a whole lot of fun.

16.) The Untouchables

When the subject of your movie gets mentioned in California Love, you know you’re doing alright in life. The Untouchables has everything white dads love: Gangsters, a cast of Costner/De Niro/and Connery, lots of violence, and Chicago, white dads love Chicago. This movie launches Costner into his huge run of late ’80s to early ’90s bangers that includes: Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, Dances With Wolves, JFK, and The Bodyguard. That has to be one of the best five year movie runs of all-time. The Untouchables basically boils down to cops blasting a bunch of mob guys like it’s the fucking wild wild west, which needless to say is pretty rad.

15.) The Terminator

The Terminator is one of the most influential movies of the past 50 years. Everyone has referenced The Terminator in their every day lives, even if they don’t realize it. From classic lines like “I’ll be back”, to referencing Skynet, a robot takeover of earth, or any cockamamie time travel plot, The Terminator is a huge part of our everyday lives 36 years later. It is Schwarzenegger’s most iconic role, and was the key to the huge action movie boom of the 1980’s. The Terminator isn’t even the best movie in its own franchise (Terminator 2: Judgement Day) and it’s still one of the greatest action movies ever created. If only we could go back in time and kill whoever decided to keep the series going after Judgement Day.

14.) The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The movie that your dad wanted you to watch with him when you were a teenager, but you forced him to sit through The Dark Knight for the 17th time. Clint Eastwood in a western, what’s not to love.

13.) L.A. Confidential

The first (but not last) movie on the list depicting old-time Los Angeles detectives uncovering big conspiracies. It’s a whose who of ’90s good actors like Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Guy Pearce, and Frank Reynolds himself, Danny DeVito. It mixes sleazy cops with violent cops with white knight crusading cops with prostitutes and tabloids and everything there is to love about old(ish) L.A. Not a great look for the LAPD, but the LAPD have never done themselves any favors in real life anyway.

12.) Scarface

I see what’s happening here. I picked all of the movies that every frat bro from the ’90s wont stop telling their now teenage kids about. Scarface is actually as good as your college boyfriend Kyle told you it was a million times. Al Pacino is in it and that’s all you really need for a great movie. The amount of cocaine Tony Montana does in this movie is maybe a tenth of the amount of cocaine Brian De Palma and Oliver Stone were probably on when making Scarface. The Push it To the Limit montage in the middle of the movie is an all-time cheesy ’80s movie montage. Guys moving money, buying a mansion, and getting a fucking tiger, sorry Rocky 3 & 4, this is the ’80s I remember (I was definitely born in 1991).

11.) Dog Day Afternoon

The Corleone boys are back baby. Just a year after Michael had Fredo killed in the Godfather: Part II, the bros are back and better than ever in Dog Day Afternoon. This time Pacino and John Cazale are buddies who decided to rob a bank. Things immediately spiral out of control and the robbery becomes a crazy hostage situation. It also gives us the iconic scene of Pacino going nuts and screaming “Attica, Attica” at the crowd that has formed outside the bank. It’s worth it just for the two hours you get to see of Pacino and Cazale, who is pound for pound the greatest actor who ever lived. The guy was in Godfather 1 and 2, Dog Day Afternoon, The Conversation, and The Deer Hunter before he died of cancer. All five movies he was in in his career were nominated for best picture, and three won the damn thing (The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, and The Deer Hunter). Oh and he was dating an up and coming actress named Meryl Streep. Cazale is the GOAT.

10.) Alien

In space no one can hear you scream is one of the greatest taglines that’s ever been attached to a movie. Alien didn’t disappoint either as one of the great horror movies of all-time. Space itself is already scary, then you add in some crazy aliens hellbent on eating your face. Alien pushes my theory of don’t trust the British guy in any situation, especially if it’s in space. if the dude you’re working with is British, there’s a 100% chance he’s actually an android your company sent with you to make sure their shady business dealings get done, even if you die in the process. Thank god for Sigourney Weaver, otherwise we would all be doomed.

9.) Heat

If the action is the juice, then Heat has a whole lot of juice. Heat is Michael Mann’s (and every middle aged white dude’s) wet dream. Ageing (but not old) Pacino vs. De Niro is the matchup of the century. Better than Rocky vs. Drago, Frank Dux vs. Chong Li, and way way better than Travolta vs. Cage in Face/Off. The two best male actors of their generation finally squared up on screen and the results are Pacino screaming his little raspy head off saying things like ” give me all you got”, and “she’s got a great ass”, while De Niro sits around reading books about metals. Oh and a bunch of crazy heists, and gun fights, and Val Kilmer with a pony tail, and Natalie Portman for whatever reason. Heat is the basis of the shitty screenplay I keep pitching to Jenny about a guy who takes people out on dates and just sits there quoting Heat to them to the point where they finally leave. He can’t seem to find love because of his love for Pacino talking about overcooked chicken from a movie made 25 years ago. Maybe this screenplay idea is somewhat autobiographical because I’m sure Jenny can only stand so many bad Vincent Hanna impressions. I guess it’s true, “don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner”. She’s definitely going to leave me. Well I guess “I got a wife (girlfriend), we’re passing each other on the down-slope of a marriage (relationship), my third, because I spend all my time chasing guys like you around the block (quoting guys like Pacino and De Niro endlessly), that’s my life.” God she is going to kill me if I keep quoting this fucking movie, “I’m talking to an empty telephone.”

8.) Aliens

Bigger, badder, Bill Paxtoner than Alien. It has all the scary space stuff that Alien had, and added way more guns. Aliens is basically Predator in space. Maybe thats why Alien vs. Predator became a franchise for some reason.

7.) The Fugitive

The Fugitive escaped me for the longest time for one simple reason, my buddy Dave had the dumbest take about The Fugitive that I have ever heard. He claims, and his story has changed over the years, that The Fugitive is not only Harrison Ford’s best movie, but that it made him a bankable star and proved that he could carry a big movie by himself instead of within the confines of a blockbuster series a la Star Wars and Indiana Jones. First of all, shut the hell up Dave. Harrison Ford is/was the most bankable star of his generation. Yes he’s most famous for playing Han Solo and Indy, but he’s at least part of the reason why those movies made so much money in the first place. You also are forgetting movies like Blade Runner, Witness, Working Girl, or Presumed Innocence. All hits to varying degree (or at least classics), and most if not all of that success can be attributed to Harrison fucking Ford. So we’ve established that The Fugitive is far from the movie that made Harrison Ford a bankable star, but that doesn’t mean that t’s not a great movie. It has everything I look for in a movie; hot dad vibes Harrison Ford, a jumbled plot about a guy not killing his wife, and Tommy Lee Jones being a dick. That’s a movie I’ll watch 100 times out of 100. The scene at the dam where Ford tells Tommy Lee he didn’t kill his wife and Tommy Lee says “I don’t care” is one of the greatest movie scenes of all-time, and somehow gets quoted in this house more than anything from Heat. In conclusion, shut up Dave, but you were right that The Fugitive is a great movie.

6.) Psycho

Not the shitty Vince Vaughn/Anne Heche remake, this is the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock original. Psycho is most well known for being the first movie the show a toilet flushing, which is the all-time greatest random movie fact. Psycho was completely ahead of its time. Anthony Perkins turns mild mannered Norman Bates into one of the absolute greatest villains in movie history. He’s so creepy I’m genuinely surprised this movie got made in 1960. Psycho is the culmination of Hitchcock hitting the lottery with a two year run of Vertigo, North By Northwest, and Psycho. That easily could be the best three movie stretch of any director in movie history.

5.) 2001: A Space Odessy

The first real space epic that influenced almost every space movie that has been made in the 50 years since it was released in 1968. Stanley Kubrick was just a really weird fucking guy to have made movies like this, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut, and so on. The man was either doing some elite drugs, or needed a hug. Either way he’s an awesome director who created a masterpiece that will be around until the monolith itself is gone. 2001 gives us some iconic images from amazing filmmaking, to make space look real before we even got to the moon, to HAL 9000 malfunctioning, to the Keir Dullea floating through a black hole. Everything about every Kubric movie gets scrutinized because the man was nuts, and this movie is no different. Even 52 years later people are still arguing what the movie and especially the ending actually means. After watching it I can safely say I have no fucking clue what’s going on, but damn did I think it was pretty cool.

4.) Vertigo

Never in 1,000 years did I ever think Vertigo was going to rank higher than Pyscho on this list. I knew both Hitchcock masterpieces would be incredible, but I’ve always heard that Psycho was his best work and one of the greatest movies ever. Everything about Vertigo is nearly perfect from Jimmy Stewart, to the filmmaking, to the shit fuck crazy storyline that Hitchcock somehow pulls off beautifully. He is the master of suspense and showcases all of his storytelling tricks in Vertigo. It’s about as close to a perfect movie as you can get without quite getting there and should get a little more respect than it does in the pantheon of all-time great movies.

3.) A Few Good Men

Tom Cruise vs. Jack Nicholson in the ultimate white guy dick swinging contest. It’s a guarantee that every white dude between the ages of 30 and 60 have A Few good Men somewhere in their personal top 10. And guess what, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It has one of the all-time climactic scenes with Cruise and Nicholson going back-and-forth with the iconic lines “I want the truth” and “You can’t handle the truth!”. Right after that when Nicholson finally explodes and says “you’re god damn right I did” is one of the most badass things you can say to someone. “Phil did you pee in my underwear drawer again?” “You’re god damn right I did!” What do you do after someone says that? Nothing, you’re done. This movie was perfectly made for an ageing Nicholson. He’s in three scenes, one is in a beautiful location. He gets the most quoted line in the whole movie, and he’s beloved for his character even though Colonel Jessup is a fucking insane jackass who gets people killed for funzies. Tom Cruise swinging a baseball bat is the only unwatchable part of the entire movie.

2.) Chinatown

Oh hey what up Jack Nicholson, fancy seeing you here again. You’re in another great movie, cool. Chinatown mixes everything I love: Los Angeles, Jack Nicholson being a dick, mispronouncing people’s names, and the minutiae of city water politics. Nicholson is in his prime and is just an absolute prick in this movie in the best way possible. He just goes around poking his broken nose around and getting his ass kicked for two hours. Chinatown ends with the classic line “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” which is just a perfect way to end this movie. It’s one of the big surprises for me on this list. If you asked me before quarantine to list the movies I would think would be at the top of my list, maybe Chinatown would be there, but likely down at number 15-20, but after watching this masterpiece it is rightfully at number 2. The one know is that it was directed by Roman Polanski who turned into an all-time creep, not great for the reputation, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the greatest movies of all-time.

1.) There Will Be Blood

This was supposed to be a Boogie Nights blog, instead it became a There Will Be Blood blog. Either way it all lead to Paul Thomas Anderson and one of the greatest movies of the century. For years since it came out, I avoided There Will Be Blood like crazy for… reasons. I assumed it would be overly long, boring, acting instead of actual plot, and so on and other dumb teenage reasons not to like a movie you’ve never seen. Instead what it was was an amazingly striking ballad of what greed can do to people. Daniel Day-Lewis is the best method actor of all time. He wholeheartedly becomes Daniel Plainview, a struggling miner who strikes oil and quickly builds an empire across the American Southwest. Spoiler Alert! Even though this movie came out 13 years ago, so if you complain about spoilers you can fuck right off. The scene at the end where he beats the hell of of the pastor who has been a little bitch to him for the last 30 years is so satisfying. He literally made the guy admit he’s a fraud, then told him he stole all the oil on his land, then murdered him with a fucking bowling pin. Oh and he did this after telling his deaf adopted son to go fuck himself. That’s next level petty, and is one of the reasons why this is one of the greatest movies of all-time.

There it is, a few stats from the list. Al Pacino is in three movies on the list, because Al Pacino is the greatest actor of all-time (shoulda watched Serpico to make it four). If I wasn’t an idiot and actually watched Boogie Nights during my quarantine like I meant to, it would probably be fourth in the rankings. Films on the list range in release date from 1958 (Vertigo) to 2020 (Bad Boys For Life). Quarantine 2020 sucked, but at least these movies made four months stuck in my apartment almost bearable.

Training Day is not for 10-Year-Olds

When I was ten years old my hobbies included: playing outside, riding my bike, dominating Frogger on Playstation, and watching my fair share of TV shows and movies. At the time my favorite movies to rent were typical ten-year-old fare, things like Peter Pan and the Disney Robin Hood, you know, kid stuff. One day my mom decided to go to the movie rental store and picked out a few movies without us (probably because my brother and I picked the same aforementioned movies every time). She came home with the movie Training Day. You know Training Day. It’s the 2001 coming of age story of a young cop (Ethan Hawke) who gets mentored by a kindly veteran Cop (Denzel Washington) and they find friendship and have a few laughs along the way. What could go wrong, it sounds like a perfect movie for a couple of lame ten-year-olds to watch with their mom right?



Training Day is pretty brutal and super gritty. We were tricked because we only knew Denzel as the lovable coach in Remember the Titans so we figured he was a good guy. Little did we know that Denzel could be a dirty LAPD narcotics detective. We got probably about 15 minutes into Training Day when my mom finally realized that this was not going to be an appropriate movie for kids. I think in that span you get about three N-words out of Denzel, lots of violence and swearing, and Ethan Hawke does PCP, not exactly what my mom was probably expecting to see. To be fair I have no idea what she was expecting when she rented it.

This left me scarred for the better part of the last 18 years. I never fully recovered from the first 15 minutes of Training Day. I finally watched Training Day all the way through for the first time this week and I can officially say that 28-year-old Phil likes Training Day a lot more than 10-year-old Phil.

Best Picture Marathon: the halfway mark

Over the summer I began the giant undertaking or watching all 90 Oscar Best Picture winners in order. As of this blog post I have officially hit the halfway point after finishing The Godfather. You would think watching 45 movies wouldn’t be that hard, but planning out when to watch each movie, and having the motivation to watch them at times has been hard. Originally I wanted to finish my marathon before this year’s Oscars, but that won’t happen unless I watch two movies every day until the ceremony. There are a lot of things I have noticed about movies and the film industry during my marathon.

One trend I have noticed is that basically every decade has an overarching theme that it’s winners fall under. Many of the 40’s winners were centered around World War II. The late 50’s and early 60’s was the sweeping epic, and the 60’s had several big musical productions. The early 70’s is all about the crime drama. These themes don’t mean that every movie during that timeframe falls in the same category. Whenever yo think you can pin down how the academy is going to vote, they throw in a curveball.

I also was pleasantly surprised by several films that I did not expect to like as much as I did. The Apartment came out of nowhere for me. I had heard of it but never knew what it was about. I went into it with pretty low expectations, but It rates as one of my top movies so far in the marathon. Other movies like Gentleman’s Agreement, and It Happened one Night rank much higher on my list than I thought they would.

For every surprise there is also a dud. My Fair Lady, Around the World in 80 Days, and The Greatest Show on Earth rank towards the bottom of my list. Several movies on the list just don’t do anything for me and probably should have lost to more deserving movies.

For the most part a vast majority of the movies I have watched are somewhere in the middle. they’re good not great but not terrible movies. I think this says a lot about the Academy and the film industry as a whole between 1927 and 1972. Mostly I think it says that just because a movie was named Best Picture, doesn’t necessarily mean it was the best movie in its year. How Green was my Valley beat Citizen Kane, An American in Paris beat a Streetcar Named Desire, and The Best Years of our Lives beat It’s a Wonderful Life. Winning the ultimate prize at the Oscars doesn’t necessarily mean that it was a great movie and will always be remembered as the best movie of its year. Time has not been kind to several of the films on the list, and for good reason.

The last insight from the first half of the marathon has been how hard it is to keep politics out of my rankings. You would think it would be easy to sit down, watch a movie, and say it was a 75 out of 100. You would be wrong. The first thing I do after finishing a movie is try to give it the score I feel it deserves. The second thing I do is check my rankings list and realize that I was completely wrong. I see the list and decide there’s no way the movie I just watched is better than a movie I watched earlier, so I move it down. Then I tell myself that I have to keep it above a certain movie that I see was originally above where I was going to place the current movie. It’s very difficult to keep things straight that way and I have yet to figure out the perfect system for deciding the rating to give a movie.

Hopefully things will become easier in the second half of the marathon, but I fear as rankings become tighter it will just make it much, much harder.

Some things I am looking forward to in the second half of the marathon are obviously, more modern movies. It’s great to watch the old classics, but we’re still at the point where long movies have intermissions and have to play the overture before returning to the screen. That seems to have ended with The Godfather and I’m hoping it stays that way. Graphics and CGI will become big in the not too distant future of my marathon. Most of the movies so far are still shot on soundstages in studios. It is becoming more common for more real location filming, but the obvious studio set is still rather noticeable.

The movies I’m most excited to watch in the secon half are The Godfather II, Amadeus, Schindler’s List, and No Country for Old Men. Since finishing the marathon by the Oscars is out, I hope to finish by this summer and not drag this out for more than a year. My next post will likely be the full recap and possibly my full rankings of, by then, all 91 Best Picture Winners.

Best Picture Winners Marathon

While I’ve been home in the United States awaiting a Visa, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands over the summer and going into the fall. One idea I had to fill some of that time was to watch all 90 Oscars Best Picture winners in order from Wings to The Shape of Water. It has been easier said than done, as I’ve only made it through the first two winners as of now, but I remain committed to the idea. It has been hard to get hyped to start some movies that are nearly 90 years old, along with other things taking up some of my time while I’m home.

During my marathon I’ll still include watching the winning movies that I’ve already seen several times like the Godfather, and Titanic among many others. I feel like this will help me get in the mindset voters would have been in at the time the movie won, and give me a better understanding of winning trends, and how films have evolved over the 90 years since the first Academy Awards. Plus it gives me a chance to rewatch some of my favorite movies of all time, and some much needed breaks in between movies I have a feeling I won’t like. On that note I’m also trying to go into the marathon with an open mind and give every movie an equal chance. Yes there are movies that I’ve heard are bad, or assume I won’t like based on the subject, but I’m going to try my best not to let those biases affect the movie watching experience.

That being said I’m also really excited to finally watch several Best Picture winners that I’ve just never gotten around to watching yet. Some of the movies I’m most excited to finally watch are: Gone with the Wind (An all-time classic that I somehow haven’t seen yet), On the Waterfront (Young Brando is the man), The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia (apparently I’m a closet Alec Guinness fan as well), The french Connection (my dad was a sucker for those 60’s and 70’s crime dramas), and No Country for Old Men.

I think the hardest thing for me will be getting through the first 20 or so winners. I enjoy old movies as much as the next guy, but some of the movies on the list are so old that filmmaking was a new enough concept when they won the Oscar that they’re still pretty rough around the edges. I’ve already watched the first two on the list; Wings and the Broadway Melody, and you can already tell that editing, sound and camera work still needed some work. Theres nothing wrong with that as the industry was just in its infancy, but it will be nice to see how movies became more sophisticated over the years.

I’ll be rating each movie when I watch it, mostly just to remind myself how I felt about each movie at the time immediately after watching it, since this will probably be a long process that I hope will be done in time for the next Academy Awards in February, 2019.

What I hope to get out of this experience is mostly just a deeper appreciation for filmmaking, and how it has evolved over the last century. I, like everyone, have certain genres of movies that I tend to lean towards. I’ve always been drawn to your classic action movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, or fantasy movies like the Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, and crime dramas like The Godfather. I think those are great movies and genres to love, but it does leave plenty of great movies out of what I would normally choose to watch. I hope this exercise helps me broaden my horizons and maybe open my eyes to new films and genres that I have overlooked in the past.

I’ll probably provide some updates along the way, as it is a long process. I’ll also have a post at the conclusion of this odyssey with my thoughts on the experience, and possibly my rankings of the 90 Best Picture winners.


Ranking the nine Best Picture nominees at this year’s Oscars

The 2018 Oscars are upon us and for the past couple of years now I’ve embarked on a mission to watch every movie that gets nominated for Best Picture. Usually that means Jenny is along for the ride, though I’m not sure if she always likes being apart of it just yet. My brother John is also in on it, though he lives on the other side of the planet, we always share our feelings about the movies we see and report our progress. Last year we began putting the name of every Best Picture nominee in a hat and drawing them out at random to choose our watching order. That has helped because in the past I would leave movies I was not interested in to watch near the end and almost always I would never get to them and not watch them. So here is my ranking of the nine Best Picture nominees this year.

  1. Dunkirk – The movie told a very important story from history, and made it come alive in a very real and gritty way. It almost made you feel like you were on the beach, much like Saving Private Ryan did in it’s opening scene. Christopher Nolan did a great job incorporating the element of time into the story. It was a bit confusing at first, but when I caught up it was a great addition to the movie.


2. Lady Bird – Lady Bird is probably the funniest movie I saw all year. Saoirse Ronan  may quietly be becoming one of the best actresses of her generation and she’s only 23. Directing, writing, costumes, acting and virtually every part of this movie is right on point, something I wasn’t really expecting going in.


3. The Shape of Water – One of the oddest movies of the year might be the most                      endearing. Sally Hawkins is great as the mute protagonist, and the supporting cast              helps bring this far-fetched tale to life. Guillermo del Toro masterfully directs the                entire thing and should take home Best Director.


4. Get Out – Director Jordan Peele hit the right note with Get Out. He made it scary yes,           but also managed to make an unbelievable plot (taking someone’s brain and                        putting it in another’s body) but made you feel like this type of bait and kidnapping            could really happen. Also the tone and tension of race is perfectly set for America’s            current political climate.


5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Here’s where I begin to draw the line              between movies I really liked to movies that were alright with some flaws.                            Everything in Three Billboards is powerful; the acting, story, even the sets. I do see            some major flaws in some sloppy storytelling, motivations of some characters, and            the redemption of Sam Rockwell’s racist cop. I think the director was going more for shock value with Woody Harrelson’s character’s suicide than actually the right choice for the story.


6. The Post – While a nice reminder of the importance of watchdog journalism in our             current political climate, it’s your run of the mill “hard-working reporters bring                 down shady government” movie. It just doesn’t have the same humanity as                           Spotlight, or urgency as All The President’s Men and takes a backseat to those two               movies in it’s genre. I think it was somewhat disappointing for a Steven Spielberg              movie starring Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and a great supporting cast. On paper this            should be a classic, but on screen it is just another movie.


7. Darkest Hour – Another take on the Dunkirk story, this follows the politics of the                  extraction rather than the soldiers on the beach as in Dunkirk. This movie is basically all about Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill. The performance is great, but that’s about all that stands out from the movie, which as a whole is pretty average.


8. Phantom Thread – This is where I draw the line between movies I liked and movies I        hated. I hated Phantom Thread. I get it was more about subtle character development and manipulation, and under the surface goings on.  I believe one of the main things a movie is supposed to be is entertaining, and Phantom Thread is one of the least entertaining movies I’ve ever watched. I know all the movie snobs out there will say “you just don’t get it”. Trust me, I got it, but bye the end I was so bored I just wanted her to murder/suicide him with the mushrooms and let it end.


9. Call Me By Your Name – I am not the audience that Call Me By Your Name was made          for and I knew that going in. That doesn’t stop be from being able to detest the                   movie. Like Phantom Thread I thought it was rather dull and boring, although more           interesting that the previous. I thought the Characters were fairly wooden and                     clashed, and their relationships were all forced, including the weird family dynamic.         Armie Hammer’s older Oliver is pretty clearly manipulating Timothee Chalamet’s               younger Elio’s feelings for him in not a very healthy way. Oliver seems to get what he         wants out of the trip, while leaving Elio to fend for himself at the end. It will                        probably go down for me as one of my least favorite movies of all-time.


Well there it is, I’m sure most people will argue that I have the rankings backwards or have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ll say that this is more of a list of my favorite nominees, not necessarily the best movies of the year. I’m no film critic and I’m not going to sit here trying to tell you that Call Me By Your Name and Phantom Thread are terrible movies, or that Dunkirk and Lady Bird are all-time masterpieces. I like what I like, and everyone else out there has a different opinion, which is great. I’ll just be rooting for Dunkirk, Lady Bird, and Shape of Water when the red carpet is rolled out.