Fifty-eight movies—features and short films—were nominated for the 2013 Academy Awards. They're not the 58 best movies released this year, and they're not the 58 most important ones either. What they are are a socially agreed-upon time capsule for the film output of a certain year. It's also a really handy resource if you're a list-maker by nature and enjoy projects.
Here's where I came in last year. At some point in the waning weeks of Oscar season last year, I realized I was within striking distance of having seen every film nominated for last year's Oscars. So, inspired by the past heroics of friend and blogger Sarah D. Bunting and her Oscars Death Race, I did. With one day to spare, I watched a friend's bootlegged copy of Kon-Tiki (it would later be released in American theaters and I paid for it then so get off my back) and completed the entire ballot's worth of films. And the superiority! My gosh, the sublime superiority I felt as compared to my fellow Oscar observers. That's a feeling I don't want to relinquish. And I don't plan to.
So! Time to hatch a plan to once again see every nominated movie before March 2nd. The way I see it, and feel free to plot your own strategy along with me, this plan has three major components: 1) Have seen enough of the nominated movies already that the task won't be impossible. 2) Be able to see the 15 nominated short films at a local theater. 3) Make an action plan to see whatever stragglers remain.
As to point #1, I have seen 27 of the 58 nominated films (26 features and one short). As to point #2, living in New York City will indeed afford me the opportunity to see the nominated shorts (thanks, IFC Center!).
Which leaves me with point #3. There are 17 feature films that have been nominated that I've not seen. In alphabetical order:
Alone Yet Not Alone
The Book Thief
The Broken Circle Breakdown
Cutie and the Boxer
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Great Beauty
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Invisible Woman
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger
The Missing Picture
That list there. That's the task. So how available are these movies?
In Theaters Now
The old-fashioned way. If I act quickly, I can see these five films in the comfort of a darkened theater, surrounded by my most irritating fellow moviegoers: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Lone Survivor are new enough that they're still playing to wide release in major theaters. Costume Design nominee The Invisible Woman and Italy's Foreign Language Film nominee The Great Beauty are both playing at New York City's eighth and ninth circles of hell, Lincoln Plaza and the Angelika. I'm more interested in seeing those two movies than I am in The Book Thief , but at least The Book Thief is playing at the Village East.
Other Oscar-nominated films currently in theaters: The Act of Killing, All Is Lost, American Hustle, August: Osage County, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Frozen, Gravity, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Nebraska, Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street
Both streaming video and DVD rental will be a big help in watching the nominated films that were released earlier in the year. Best Documentary Feature nominees Cutie and the Boxer and The Square are currently streaming on Netflix. You have to be on the disc plan (or purchase via iTunes or Amazon) to see Animated Feature nominees The Croods and Despicable Me 2, plus Makeup/Hairstyling nominee Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (available January 28th) and Sound/Visual Effects nominee The Lone Ranger. Costume Design and Cinematography nominee The Grandmaster is available on iTunes now, while Foreign Film nominee The Broken Circle Breakdown will be available on iTunes on February 4th.
Other Oscar-nominated films on Netflix/iTunes/On Demand: Prisoners, Before Midnight, Blue Jasmine, Dirty Wars, The Great Gatsby, The Hunt, Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, 20 Feet from Stardom.
The Problem Spots
Four films remain. The Foreign Language Film nominees are always going to be the hardest to track down because they're the only films not required to have opened in United States theaters. So you've got Omar and The Missing Picture as the exotic and elusive films from faraway lands that will hopefully peek into theaters somewhere so no one will have to seek Other Methods. Animated Feature Ernest & Celestine had a qualifying theatrical run in December but then disappeared again. Some detective work is clearly in order. I'm in the position to seek out screener DVDs, but hopefully all three films make their way to places where everyone can enjoy them.
And then there's Alone Yet Not Alone. The year's biggest enigma. The film barely got a release of any kind. As an "independent, faith-based" film, it feels like it exists an entire universe away from the rest of the films on the ballot. But a completist's task is never easy. And seeing as this film has become something of an Oscar-watcher's holy grail, I'm going to find some way to watch it.
Next up: Seventeen movies to go. Stay tuned.