The Oscar Project
As I'm diving into the history of film more and more lately, I found myself slowly building a library of books about movies and wanted to share that with folks. That being said, this is the first in what I hope will be a monthly segment here spotlighting one book about movies.
My first spotlight here is going to focus on the 2019 book Best. Movie. Year. Ever.: How 1999 Blew Up the Big Screen by Brian Raftery. The book walks through the year 1999 in movies from beginning to end, giving some of the stories behind the great films of the year from the big budget blockbusters like Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and The Matrix, to the unexpected hits like Office Space and The Sixth Sense, and even giving insight into the phenomenon that was The Blair Witch Project.
The book came about as a result of countless interviews conducted by the author as well as compiling source accounts from the time. And while 1999 doesn't seem like that long ago, it is a full generation at this point so there is some distance between us today and the year in question.
I wanted to start with this book because, as I look back on the year 1999, it was a formative year in my own film experience. Up to that point, my main focus had been on things in the science fiction realm. I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new Star Wars film, the first time I was going to be able to see one of those in it's initial run in a movie theater. There was the science fiction/action film The Matrix which captured my imagination and blew my mind as to what was possible in films when it came to special effects.
But beyond these, I was starting to broaden my horizons and able to finally get into R rated films without parental approval. Films like Being John Malkovich, Fight Club, and American Beauty were within my grasp and while I didn't necessarily see all these at the theater, many of them I did check out between 1999 and late 2000 when I arrived at college for the first time.
Raftery writes in the book's prologue about the night of New Year's Eve 1999, the night when the world held its collective breath in hopes that the Y2K rumors wouldn't come true and that life would continue on as usual. He implicates the concern over Y2K as one of the main culprits of the boom in the film industry in 1999 as the world led up to its impending doom. Looking back now, of course there was little to worry about, but at the time, I remember the concern being real. It seems a trivial thing to worry about today with things going on in our world, so reading about that "simpler time" feels good and brings me back to a good place in my own life.
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?