Taking in the Best of the Best—and You Can Vote Too!

westwood movies video
Movie theatre in Westwood, CA.  Remember when they all looked like this?    And yes,  I know, the dude keeps walking by–and disappearing (I’ll get this looping thing down soon-I hope)

As I sat and began to write this week’s entry, a bunch of clichés ran through my head for possible titles.  I know you’ve heard them before:

“…Here are the Nominees….

….The Envelope Please….

…And the Oscar goes to….

…I’d like to thank the Academy….”


Hopefully before I post this, I will have thought of something more catchy….actually I just figured out Survey Monkey–I think–hence the second part of the headline…stay tuned below for more information.

Here’s the deal: Up until last year, the first year of the rest of my life, my first year as an older, single woman, I found that if I could keep myself busy, I was able to keep my mind off the emotional, mental and physical stresses of my separation and the very unfun procedures to undo a marriage, I was in pretty good shape.

So when the Academy Award nominations came out at the end of January 2017, I got it into my head that I was going to see all the movies that were up for the best picture award.

Prior to that, I honestly can’t remember the last time I was in a movie theatre.

I’ve seen lots of movies on the tiny little screens in airplanes over the years; the ones where if there are subtitles—or if you care to see any of the credits because you know someone who is in them or you want to see if the teeny little actor was the one you thought it was—you’re pretty much screwed. The good news is that it’s not old age that causes you to squint and not see what’s going on.

But in a theatre?  Maybe something Star Wars (I recall a lot of loud, low rumbling), maybe something scary or maybe a comedy (so very memorable, obviously)?  Actually, yes, I think Han Solo died or something….Titanic (Good lord, 1997?)?  Freaky Friday??  Yes, the remake with Lindsay Lohan (whatever happened to her?). I only remember that because the lights went out on the hottest day of the year on the east coast in 2003, and we had ducked into the movies just to get into the air conditioning when everything went dark.  And then hot. And the blackout lasted for hours. We got a ticket to see another movie…I had to ask my son—he says we used the tickets to see the remake of SWAT with Colin Farrell. In 2003. I thought it was Starsky and Hutch.

EH movies
It looks a little sad now, but this is my hometown movie theatre a couple of years ago (and where I was when the Freaky Friday East Coast Blackout of 2003  took place).  When we were kids, it was only a single large theater with a balcony; it’s now a half a dozen of those non-descript little rectangles, perfect for non-descript little films.  I remember  when our teachers took  our middle school classes to see Gone with the Wind there, and I vividly remember Saturday afternoon matinees (I got my first kiss in the balcony there); the price of a ticket was 50 cents and we smuggled our own candy in; we did our best to behave (actually…no, we didn’t) and the ushers (as I recall, we called them Lurch and Outcha-go–as in “one more sound from you, and outcha go!”) and we always had a  blast…….
sag harbor in color
And this is the Sag Harbor Theater, in the next town over. This movie house is/was one of the old school style spaces, showing some popular and some more off-the-beaten-path selections.  Sadly, a devastating fire took it down late in 2016.  There are big efforts to get the little theater back up in the near future and I sure hope they succeed.

I am pathetic.

OK, last year, I managed to squeeze in all nine best picture noms in a just over a month (and following are my four word reviews for each):

  • Arrival (I didn’t get it)
  • Fences (Staged like a play)
  • Hacksaw Ridge (Violent but true story)
  • Hell or High Water (Southern Shoot ‘em Up. And yes, ‘em is a word.)
  • Hidden Figures (How didn’t we know?)
  • La La Land (This one was…stupid)
  • Lion (THIS SHOULD HAVE WON. I’M SCREAMING HERE, but apparently no one is listening at the Academy)
  • Manchester by the Sea (Well, that was depressing)
  • Moonlight (Good, but felt clumsy) Since this one won in the end, it gets eight more words (Maybe it was supposed to, I don’t know)

So, I managed to see them all and then went to a marvelous Oscar party at my friend Kelly’s house.  I squeezed myself into an old gown I bought probably 20 years ago (one of the side effects of divorce for me was significant weight loss), my only gown, and tongue-in-cheek accessorized with a fancy silver plastic necklace and earrings from the kids’ section of the dollar store, and gum boots with striped socks on my feet.  And a parka.  It was cold.

And we had a ball.  So I decided to get a jump on it this year and get in some movies that were getting buzz.  I saw one at the beginning of the year on a whim with my friend Susan, in one of those theatres with the reclining seats. Big surprise that it got a nod, but fortuitous on our part.

I saw one on a plane and don’t need to see it again. It was good, but I’m good with the small screen experience for that one.

I saw another in Hollywood at Christmas—because I figured if I was there—right where they do the award shows, I should walk in the shadow of the red carpet and see at least one.

OK, truth be told I didn’t feel like going into downtown Hollywood to the Dolby Theatre—which is pretty impressive—or to Manns’ which I still call Grauman’s Chinese theatre, which was showing Star Wars—too much of a hassle to park…and the crowds, and those awful mascots. So I went to Westwood, right by UCLA, where there are a couple of very cool retro theatres:


(The movie I saw was down the street, in a simple building with a simple marquee, sans neon)

And I’ve seen three more of the list of nine, which means I only have three to go. I’m in good shape this year. (Side note: I did go to see I, Tonya last night with my friend Susan–actually in the same theatre with the reclining seats we went to on a snowy night about a year ago and saw one best pic nominee for this year–although I, Tonya is not on the list, it is worth a watch–Allison Janney is fantastic).

If you didn’t see it the announcement earlier this week, here’s the list of nominees for best picture:

Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

So, you can see, that I haven’t given you my four words for each, and I haven’t told you which one I think should win, but I know already. I don’t think I even need to see the remaining three.  But I will.

I don’t want to influence anyone on this…but if you feel like weighing in, I am introducing a Survey Monkey poll where you will be able to anonymously vote for your favorite with two questions: what should win, and what will win? You can also answer the question: Is there a movie you saw this year that is not on the list that you think should be?

Meantime, we’ll all have to wait until March to find out who wins. I’ll post our unofficial survey results the morning of the awards (March 4) so we can see what the popular vote is.

Then, that night, we can sit back and watch someone say:

“…Here are the Nominees….

….The Envelope Please….

…And the Oscar goes to…. (hopefully they will get this right this year\)

…I’d like to thank the Academy….”


Next Week: Compliments to the Chef: Au Revoir, M. Bocuse, and thank you for the lovely meal.

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