The Oscar Project
With just under two weeks to go until the new year, today I'm looking at the #4 and #3 first time watches this year. Don't forget to check back to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you missed them previously.
4. Platoon (1986)
This was the other film on my list that I watched for my 52-week film challenge at the beginning of the year. It was one that had been on my list for some time but just hadn't gotten around to. When finally sitting down to watch it, I was not surprised, and at the same time not disappointed by what I saw.
Vietnam stories have long fascinated me, I think starting with reading The Things They Carried in high school for my humanities class. In college I moved on to Coppola's Apocalypse Now, dissecting every minute of that film and how it related to the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness. Tack onto that, things like Full Metal Jacket and Born on the Fourth of July along with countless films that featured scenes in Vietnam, everything from Forrest Gump to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and there has been plenty of film content depicting the fight in Vietnam over the years.
What makes this one so great is that it is incredibly raw. It puts you right in the action in a similar way to Apocalypse Now. But while Coppola's film focuses on the lone wolf sent to hunt down a renegade general, Platoon gives more insight into the workings of the group and how the actions of one affect the lives and safety of everyone.
If you are like me and have this on your list, but haven't gotten around to it yet, do yourself a favor and wait no longer.
3. My Octopus Teacher (2020)
This film probably couldn't be more different from the other film in this post, but that's one of the things I love about film in general. Two different pieces of cinema can be rated nearly equal in the eyes of a person, but fall on complete opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of subject matter, tone, technique, etc.
As the only true documentary on this list, I have to applaud the increased availability of the documentary genre in general. In the past, films like this would have been condensed down to fit into an hour time slot on Discovery or Animal Planet, sacrificing important parts of the story to meet a 42-minute run time. With the increased access of streaming services, we get these fantastic stories in their fullness and get to take time with the world around us.
I actually watched this film twice this year, once in my run up to the Oscars in the spring, and again with my wife and oldest son over the summer. Both times, I loved the beauty of the world displayed on screen and at the same time learning new things about these 8-legged aliens of the deep. It's rare that a film can make me truly stop and think about the world around me, but this was one of those times.
If you haven't checked out My Octopus Teacher yet, add it to your Netflix queue and check it out as soon as possible.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?