Thursday, December 3, 2009

The "Best" Movies: The End

Some time back, I had the idea that I wanted to watch the movies that were considered the best.

You see, I like movies. I've enjoyed going to the movies for as long as I can remember.

Years ago, the movie experience involved going to town, getting there in time to watch the previews and the cartoon. All the movies began with a cartoon. And, sometimes that was the best part.

Sure, the popcorn and candy and Coke were great, especially to a kid, but I loved the cartoons. Especially the Road Runner. Those were a treat.

But, the movies were often good, too.

When movies came out on video tape, that was great. I could buy or rent movies. Usually rent, because buying them used to run close to $100 way back then.

Nowadays, I can go to the theatre, buy a DVD, rent one from Netflix, watch one streaming from Netflix on the TiVo, buy one from (DVD or to the TiVo) ... there are plenty of ways to get access to a movie.

So, with those plenty of ways, I figured I'd try to watch them a bunch of movies. And I'd watch the best. It just seemed the thing to do.

That brought up trying to determine the best movies.

A while back, the American Film Institute came out with a "100 years, 100 movies" listing of the "best" movies of the first 100 years of films. I'd seen many of them, but many I hadn't.

Nine years later, they came out with 10th Anniversary Listing. Then, the AFI added a listing they called "10 Top 10" -- their picks for the top 10 movies in 10 categories (Animation, Romantic comedy, Westerns, Sports, Mystery, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Gangster, Courtroom Dramas, Epics).

Of course, the Academy Awards have their own picks for the best pictures each year.

That's 13 lists (Top 100, Top 100 updated, 10 Top 10, Best Pictures winners). I decided to watch them all.

So, I compiled of listing of all the movies that made those lists. With many films on more than one list, that totaled 222 films, counting this year's Best Picture winner.

I had seen many of the movies, either in the theatre, on TV, or on tape or DVD. But, there were a bunch on that big list that I hadn't seen.

Then, we got Netflix.

Netflix works with our TiVo, streaming movies. Not all of the Netflix catalog is available, but about 10% is, it seems. So, I watched all the movies on the list that were available from Netflix streaming.

After getting those wrapped up, I added the rest to the DVD queue. Along with movies that show on TCM, this past week, I ended up with four movies left to watch.

One was Wings, the 1927 silent film that won the first Academy Award® for Best Picture. (Okay, you movie geeks, I know Wings actually won Most Outstanding Production, while Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans won Most Artistic Quality of Production. But, when they combined the two awards into a single Best Production award the next year, they declared that Wings' award was equivalent.) It's not available on DVD (and never has been).

Another was Cavalcade, which took the 6th Academy Award for Best Picture. Can't find it on DVD either (and never has been).

Disney's 1940 film Fantasia was one that I had bought my daughter on VHS years ago. I'd seen most of it, but I never sat down and watched it end to end. She'd want to watch some parts, and skip others. She got bored during the live-action intermission segment, and was a little wary of the Night on Bald Mountain section. Of course, it's not available on DVD today. And it's been heavily edited from its original form since the 1960s.

The final film I needed to see was Slumdog Millionaire. It's this year's Best Picture winner, and is available on Netflix. It was simply the last one added to the list, and the last one I planned to watch.

The trouble was those three movies that are currently not in release.

YouTube to the rescue.

Despite that fact that its not supposed to happen, people do upload clips from movies without permission. And all three of those films, Wings, Cavalcade, and Fantasia, have excerpts on YouTube. In fact, there are enough clips of each to put together a full version of each film.

Cavalcade was the first one I put together, and it was the hardest. Most of the clips were poor quality, and included Italian subtitles. The soundtrack was English, though. I downloaded all the YouTube clips and put them in iMovie on the MacBook. I went through and removed all the overlaps, ending up with a watchable version of the movie. I moved it from the Mac to the TiVo, and watched it.

Did the same thing with Wings. It was a little easier to piece together than Cavalcade; not as much overlap to edit out. Compiling it in iMovie and moving it to the TiVo took longer, though.

Then, Fantasia was the last YouTube movie. Clips were hardest to find, especially the edited pieces. Over the years, it had been edited for time and for content. Time, because it was considered a little slow in places. Content, because of the portrayal of characters that were representative of blacks. In the cartoons of the 1940s, blacks weren't always portrayed in the best light. Those edits, which cut the movie by less than a minute, didn't adversely affect the film. If you're interested in seeing the unedited version of the movie, it's really not worth the effort. Those scenes add nothing for the film. I found them because I was trying to find all the excerpts of the film.

I put the pieces together and moved it to the TiVo. The version I kept -- available for the grandchildren, in case they want to see it -- has the offending scenes excised.

That left Slumdog Millionaire, which came in the mail from Netflix today. I watched it after supper.

After all this time, and after nine months of actively pursuing the movies I hadn't seen, I'm done.

Now, I'm trying to find a list of the Worst Movies of all time.

1 comment:

  1. Are you going to do any reviews of the six million movies that you watched? Man, I hate watching a movie that doesn't live up to the hype. Like Brokeback Mountain.

    The worst movie in the history of cinema is Southland Tales. Four hundred places below that is Queen of the Damned. Seriously, Southland Tales is so bad as to fill the top 400 slots of the worst movies of all time.


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