Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Fun Way to Catch Up on Former Best Picture Winners: TCM's 31 Days of Oscar

As we count down the days until this year's Oscars ceremony on Sunday, March 2, it is as good of a time as any to catch up on the previous winners. For those like me who have made it a challenge to watch all of the Best Picture winners, this is an opportune time to catch up with most of the classics from the earlier decades. Along with these, there will be introductions by film historian Robert Osborne and additional Oscar nominated films not only in the Best Picture race, but also in the subsequent categories with each day focusing on a different spectrum (please visit their webpage for more details).

I apologize for discovering this a little late and not sharing all of the facts. As it stands, I discovered it upon flipping through channels this past weekend and catching up on All the King's Men, which is a rather great Best Picture winner. This countdown to Oscar night is actually an annual tradition that the network TCM (short for Turner Classic Movies) does to commemorate the history with fun facts and actual films. While it doesn't feature much beyond the early 70's, it does an impressive job of presenting films that otherwise wouldn't get seen. Of course, they do this all year round with many great films, so keep an eye out for that.

On top of all of this, they have even produced a 96 minute documentary called And the Oscar Goes To..., which highlights the vast history of the Oscars. It airs sporadically between movies. It also isn't particularly insightful about the history of the awards ceremony as the descriptor claims but serves more as a highlight reel of presenters at ceremonies and past winners in a mishmash collage of interviews, ceremony footage, and film clips. Little if any structure feels like it was placed into it and not much history is clearly explored. It serves as decent filler, but in comparison to the rest of the footage presented over the next 31 days, this feels rather inessential.

In case you were wondering what Best Picture nominees are being played during the remaining days of their 31 Days of Oscar programming, here is a compiled list of the films that will be playing by their dates. Do note that despite their decision to advertise the Academy Awards, they have a full day of movies that will interfere with the ceremony. Plan accordingly.

Feb. 11 - Around the World in 80 Days
Feb. 12 - Tom Jones
Feb. 13 - Mrs. Miniver
Feb. 14 - Marty
Feb. 15 - All Quiet on the Western Front
Feb. 16 - An American in Paris
Feb. 18 - Ben Hur*
*Additional short Ben Hur: Behind the Scenes with Glenn H. Randall and Yakima Canutt follows the film.
Feb. 19 - The Life of Emile Zola
Feb. 20 - It Happened One Night
Feb. 21 - Going My Way
Feb. 22 - Hamlet
Feb. 23 - You Can't Take It With You
Feb. 26 - How Green Was My Valley
Feb. 28 - Casablanca
Mar. 1 - Grand Hotel, Gigi, On the Waterfront, Gandhi, A Man for All Seasons, In the Heat of the Night
Mar. 2 - Oliver!, My Fair Lady, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Mutiny on the Bounty

Please check out more like this in their guide. There's plenty of other interesting titles worth exploring, notably in the exploration of their writing, acting, or special effects categories as listed. With presentations by Robert Osborne, the production that goes into these presentations are excellent and worth checking out. Please check your local listings to find out when these will be airing (usually in the evening) and I hope that you get as much out of this as I do.

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