At the movies · Projects

Up-to-date with Oscar winners again

For the first time in just over two years I am up-to-date with Oscar winners, so the following paragraph from my Projects Menu is still true:

I have seen every major Oscar-winning movie going back to 1947. By “major” Oscar winner I mean every movie that has won at least one of the following: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor or Supporting Actress.

The following 800 words detail how I saw the winners from the last three Oscar ceremonies, a snapshot of how we watch movies in 2023. If you’re looking for critical responses to the films themselves, you’ll have to try elsewhere, places where people are still paid to offer their opinions.

This recent burst of film-watching activity (10 features in as many days) was prompted by the Oscars ceremony 10 days ago (Sunday 12 March). For the first time, a single film (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) won five of the six major awards. It was available as part of my Amazon Prime subscription, and I watched it the next day in case its success at the awards meant that it would no longer be free. In addition to Best Picture (2022) it won Best Director (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert), Best Actress (Michelle Yeoh), Best Actor (Ke Huy Kwan) and Best Supporting Actress (Jamie Lee Curtis). I thought that it might have the longest title of any Academy Award for Best Picture (33 characters, including spaces), but “Lord of The Rings: Return of The King” (2003) is longer (37). The film with the third-longest title is the 1975 winner “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (31 characters, including spaces).

The costs of watching Oscar-winning movies through Amazon Prime Video change over time. “The Father” (Anthony Hopkins, Best Actor 2020) was available for free when I checked a year or two back. Later it was available to rent for £1.99. When I watched it on Monday evening (20 March) the rental had gone up to £3.49, the same as “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Jessica Chastain, Best Actress 2021) the previous day. By contrast “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Daniel Kaluuya, Best Supporting Actor 2020) was only available to buy in 2021, for £13.99. It was free for Prime subscribers when I watched it last week.

To get up-to-date with the last three years’ worth of award winners I used five different methods: Amazon Prime Video (as mentioned above), Netflix, Apple TV+, DVD, and I even went to the cinema for the first time since March 2020.

The only Oscar winner from the last three ceremonies that I had seen before this month was “The Power of the Dog” (Jane Campion, Best Director, 2021). It was on Netflix, and I watched it the weekend before cancelling my subscription to the service last November. There was literally nothing else I wanted to watch. I have received well over a dozen emails suggesting that I come back to them, with subject lines that include the words “give us another chance?”, “this is the best £4.99 you will spend this month” and “let’s get back together. Come back for unlimited entertainment”. Their immediate response when I cancelled was, “We’re sorry to say goodbye. Come back any time …” Maybe they really, really miss me, but for me, for now, it’s over.

The only way to watch “Coda” (Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Troy Kotsur, 2021) was through Apple TV+. I began a free 7-Day trial last week and, remarkably, I even managed to cancel the subscription within the 7 days. We had two viewings of the film, which I loved. As with Netflix there was literally nothing else I wanted to watch on this service anytime soon, although “Ted Lasso” has been recommended to us.

The films that I watched on DVD came either through Amazon (free delivery via Prime) or from the Fopp store near Cambridge Circus, £5 each: “Nomadland” (Best Picture, Best Director for Chloe Zhao, Best Actress for Frances McDormand, 2020), “King Richard” (Will Smith, Best Actor 2021) and the remake of “Westside Story” (Ariana DeBose, Best Supporting Actress 2021).

Apart from “Everything Everywhere All at Once” the only film to win one of the big six awards at this year’s ceremony was “The Whale” (Brendan Fraser, Best Actor 2022). I took a trip to the new Ealing Project cinema on Monday (20 March) to watch it, a “Baby+1” screening. The audience consisted of half a dozen mums with their babes-in-arms, me and two other guys who looked many years past their 40th birthdays. There were even fewer adults in the room the last time I went to the cinema, to see “Parasite” (Best Picture and Best Director for Boon Jong-Ho, 2019). That was on Friday 13 March 2020, just before lockdown restrictions were imposed here in the UK.

There was one further award winner for me to “complete the set”, “Minari” (Youn Yuh-Jung, Best Supporting Actress 2020), £5.99 to buy (no rental options) on Amazon Prime. I watched it yesterday through my laptop.

Maybe, in the weeks ahead, I will feel like offering opinions about the 11 features mentioned above but for now I offer this piece as a snapshot of how we watch movies these days.


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