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Alex Carrigan's Oscar Challenge 2017: The Rules
This year, I’ve moved to a new area to start anew, and I’ve resolved to do new things as a writer and a person. While I’m considering new job opportunities, new writing projects, and new hobbies, one of the things I want to do is to repeat something I tried last year. Yeah, it sounds weird, but I have reasons for doing so.
Last year, I watched all the Best Picture nominees for the Academy Awards. The idea was to force myself as a critic to really pay attention to what was playing and to make sure I had a better understanding of what was nominated. Most moviegoers don’t see every film nominated for Best Picture, and I had watched very few movies in 2015, so I wanted to correct this and be more informed as a critic and as a viewer of the ceremony. This resulted in feelings of actual stake in the Academy Awards that year and actual joy over some of the wins. This also frustration that I had to rely on internet streams to watch the ceremony which crapped out before the big awards were given. Fortunately, I moved somewhere with cable, so that shouldn't be an issue.
An issue I did have doing the Oscar challenge last year was that, after doing so, I had almost no interest in seeing or reviewing films. I really want to change that this year, and hopefully this will mean that I publish more reviews on Quail Bell. I think part of it was also that the Best Picture nominees last year killed what interest I had in seeing movies. There were good movies in the mix, but compared to previous years, I could say that it wasn’t a very strong nominee pool. Maybe they were too white, but I found myself thinking very little of some of the films, which made me concerned about how that group of films would be viewed in the future.
This time, I’m actually excited about the nominees because it’s so different from what is normally nominated. We have queer cinema, we have several stories focusing on persons of color, we have a science-fiction film with a female lead, and we have an original musical. After all the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, it’s nice to see some actual payoff from the protests and that Chris Rock monologue. Whether any of these films will be rewarded remains to be seen, but I can be hopeful over the next few weeks.
The rules for this Oscar challenge are the same as last year. I will watch one film a day, then write a review after watching. I will publish the review on the site, and continue to do so every day until I've seen all nine films. Once I’ve seen all the films, I’ll publish an article ranking the nominees while also making predictions on some of the big awards. I am doing this later than I did last year, so time is of the essence for me.
Like last year, I will be using a random number generator to determine the order I watch the films. This will ensure I don’t use any bias I have before watching these to make me put off seeing certain films, nor will it mean I force this series to begin with the films I most want to see. Like last year, I’m putting the films I have seen at the bottom so I watch them after seeing the new films first. Unlike last year, there are two differences.
First, I am choosing the first film I watch intentionally. Last year, I had to rely on internet streams to make up for timing and budgeting issues. This year, I got invited to a movie, so I can see it in theaters. I’ll be seeing Fences on February 14th, so I’ll make sure to begin the series with that film.
Second, I will be keeping my ranking of the films secret until the final post. This is because I felt publishing the ranking every day took some of the mystery out of the procedure, and was also odd because it changed very little as the series progressed. It felt like trying to do a day-by-day ranking forced me to make very few alterations to the placement, and I want my ranking to feel like it could really change at any given moment. I can hint where films may place on the final ranking, or how they compare to what I have seen, but I hope to make the reviews focus more on “what the film did right” instead of “how it ranks based on daily emotions.”
Now that I have everything planned, all that remains is composing the viewing order. I will be seeing my first film on February 14th, and the review will be posted the day after. Here is the order I’m watching the films:
Like last year, I only saw one film before the challenge. La La Land was my Christmas break family movie, so I’ll be watching that last. The idea is that, as this is the film I will most likely compare the others to, it needs to be judged after I have been exposed to the others. In a way, starting this list with one film already viewed invites bias and preemptive judging, so I want to be sure that La La Land gets the most challenging critique.
This article will serve as a master post to link all the articles and to show the current ranking. I’ll update this article with each new review, so be sure to check this post to see where the newest review is posted. If all goes well, there will be eleven articles published over eleven days from February 14th to February 24th, two days before the ceremony.
My goal this time is to not only see if I can predict the Oscars, but to also improve as a critic and find inspiration to continue reviewing. I want to take on more writing challenges, and by doing something I am familiar with and that I can improve upon, I’ll hopefully be able to produce better content.
Thus, I shall begin.
EDIT (2/15): And I had to change plans because I actually tried to see a movie with other people. La La Land and Fences have switched places on the list.
Schedule of Films and Article Archive
Day One: La La Land
Day Two: Hell or High Water
Day Three: Lion
Day Four: Manchester by the Sea
Day Five: Hidden Figures
Day Six: Hacksaw Ridge
Day Seven: Moonlight
Day Eight: Arrival
Day Nine: Fences