The Oscar Project
After more than a year away, I have finally been able to go see two films in the theater in recent weeks and I can't express how much I missed that experience.
I didn't think I would have missed it as much as I did, but it truly was something I had taken for granted for my entire life. Until recently, I had never been a regular theater goer. I would pop into the nearest multiplex for big event films like Star Wars or Avengers, sometimes for midnight screenings. The time I went to the most movies in the theater was probably in high school where my friends and I would check out a new movie once a month or so, before walking to the bowling alley next door on a Friday night to pass the time. I couldn't tell you what most of those movies were now, but the experience remains in my head.
Back then, over 20 years ago now, we took that ability to congregate for granted. It never crossed our self-focused teen brains that we would be stuck at home for months on end, only able to go to the grocery store and having to conduct our schooling from home. Looking at this experience through this lens, that's one of the things I fear the most, that the high schoolers and college kids have lost the opportunity to find out who they are through these shared experiences like going to the movies on a Friday night with their friends.
Don't get me wrong, I've been watching movies, probably more in the last year than at any time in my recent memory. I've watched films that have made me laugh out loud, and many more that have made me stop in my tracks and think about parts of this world I was naive to. Films have taken me so many places in the last year and I'm glad that one of them has finally been out of my house and back to a theater.
Yes, it sucks to have to sit there in the dark with a mask on the whole time, but if that's what it takes, I'm willing to do it. Both the films I went to see had small audiences for my screenings, no more than 10 people in either one.
Minari was my first foray back to the theater. I went to an open cineplex on a Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, not quite sure what to expect. When I go to the theater by myself, I don't usually get snacks, but this was a special occasion so I treated myself to a popcorn and soft drink. I felt a little like I was getting away with something during the times I took my mask down to eat and drink.
If you've seen Minari, you know there are a few good laughs provided by the young boy in the film, one in particular involving his grandmother. I had heard about this sequence before seeing the film, but still laughed out loud in the theater when it happened, and I was so pleased to hear other perfect strangers laughing aloud with me. It was a shared experience with these people I didn't know, and probably never will, but it was ours in that moment.
Earlier this week, I continued my progress through this year's Best Picture nominees with Promising Young Woman. Again, I had heard a few things about this film from various commentators, but was completely blown away by seeing it on a big screen. The absolute care with which it was constructed showed exactly why it should be considered among the top films of the year. I would even venture to put it in my top five for 2020, even though I didn't see it until 2021.
All this is to say that I don't think the theaters will be gone any time soon. Yes, some are closed, and smaller theaters may struggle even more because of the pandemic, but there are some films that just need to be experienced on a big screen. I would love to see Nomadland again and this time on a big screen. I will certainly be reserving a seat in a theater for Black Widow when it (FINALLY) comes out later this summer (yes, I'm still a sucker for superhero movies).
At the same time, I appreciate the other avenues that are now available to the consumer for accessing these films. As of this writing, I've seen 25 of the 56 nominated films for this year's Academy Awards, a record for me before the awards ceremony. This is also the third biggest tally for me in a single Oscar year, behind only 2016 (93.55% watched) and 2017 (54.24% watched). I'm hoping to top 50% before Sunday, and should be able to hit at least six or seven of the Best Picture nominees, almost completely rounding out that category.
Don't forget, if you want to vote for Best Picture yourself, check out my post from earlier this week to do so.
Leave me a note in the comments below with your best movie theater memory or tell me the last movie you saw in a theater (if you can remember!).
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?