Note: I originally published this in early 2016 and in the 18 months since, I still have not seen any of the films on this list, including the two most recent Best Picture winners. The list continues to grow…
When my wife and I first started dating, I lived in Philly and she lived just outside New York City. Every week, we would meet halfway and have dinner before seeing a movie. For that year, I saw everything, including Batman Begins two or three times.
In college, I took a course called “Film as Art,” which was taught by a film critic in which we learned some technical aspect on Tuesday, watched one classic movie from each decade on Wednesday, and had a discussion about the film on Thursday. I loved it. I’ve always fancied myself as a lackluster film critic, something my wife hates. I’ve done my homework – I’ve seen Citizen Kane multiple times and I know why it was such an important work.
I love movies of all sorts – including documentaries – as well as great television shows, but between reading, writing, a career, a family, and everything else, TV and movies have lost their priority with me. Alas, since 2008, I have only seen four films in the theater: The Dark Knight, The Hangover, The Dark Knight Rises, and Gone Girl. Even worse, my new house is about two miles away from an AMC dine-in theater and I have still have yet to step foot inside.
Needless to say, there are a ton of great flicks I haven’t seen yet. This is just a sample.
Do the Right Thing
Spike Lee is a wonderful filmmaker – Malcolm X, 25th Hour, Inside Man – but I’ve never seen his most celebrated joint. Shameful. Even worse, I can quote entire sections of this film after having heard them repeated and sampled for twenty-five years.
I love 1970’s Francis Ford Coppola. I believe The Godfather Part II is the greatest piece of cinema in history. I love Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall. I’ve read all about how great of a film it is. I even have an interest in it since my father fought in the Vietnam War. I am enthralled by what went into the making of this film and how it nearly killed its legendary director. I even owned it at one time. I just never pressed play. I will. Soon. I promise.
David Fincher is another director that has brought some of my favorite films to life, especially Seven and Fight Club. It’s possible that Zodiac is his most revered film, even getting nominated for the Palme d’Or, with a stellar cast. I’ve been dying to see this film, but it has so far eluded me.
The French Connection
Two films that came out before I was born, but that’s no excuse. After all, Gene Hackman is a legend. The French Connection is the first R-rated film to ever win the Best Picture Oscar and The Conversation, the film Coppola made between Godfathers, was also nominated for Best Picture, and co-starred John Cazale, who only acted in Best Picture nominees.
Tarantino is my favorite director, even more than Scorsese. I like Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz and I absolutely love Leonardo DiCaprio. I even own this film on DVD! I’m looking at it as I type this. Yet I’ve still yet to watch it (mostly because the wife has asked to watch it with me, which is surprising because she’s not a QT fan so I blame her).
Gangs of New York
The Wolf of Wall Street
Three relatively recent Scorsese films starring DiCaprio. Scorsese is like pizza – there’s no such thing as a bad Scorsese flick and I have a feeling I would love all three, but especially The Aviator since I love biographies and biopics of eccentric geniuses. All three films boast wonderful supporting roles too – Daniel Day-Lewis’s lauded performance of Bill the Butcher, Cate Blanchett’s Oscar-winning turn as Katharine Hepburn, and Jonah Hill’s Academy Award-nominated role as Donnie Azoff.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
I was born in 1980, so I missed the golden age of cinema in the ’70s. And while I went back and made sure to study up on Pacino and DeNiro, for some reason I was late Jack Nicholson. By the time I became aware of movies, I knew Nicholson was a revered actor, but I knew him mostly as the guy sitting courtside watching the Lakers and the Joker. From 1974 – 1976, Nicholson was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor every year, winning for the first time in ’76 for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I’ve made sure to see The Shining (and Room 237), but I’m still eager to see that and Chinatown, which for a long time I only knew because it was referenced in Juice.
This is one of those flicks that probably doesn’t have the same impact now as it did when it was released, particularly in terms of special effects. Still, it’s referenced so often that I’d like to see it, especially before the sequel.
I love doing Mark Wahlberg’s Boston accent. Between The Departed and the trailers for this film, I yelled the words, “You’re not a cawp!” or “I’m the one fighting, okay? Nawt you, nawt you, and nawt you!” Christian Bale could be my favorite actor in the world right now and he took home the Oscar for his performance in this film. Add it to the list.
Like everyone else, I really like the Coen Brothers films, but I was late to the party, so my first connection to them is The Hudsucker Proxy, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. These two early films, before they ever garnered an Oscar nomination, have been recommended to me on more than one occasion.
And, finally, I have not seen any of the Best Picture winners since 2009:
The Hurt Locker
The King’s Speech
12 Years a Slave
Nor have I seen any of the eight nominees for this year’s Best Picture (although I did read three of the books – The Big Short, Room, and The Martian).
I have a lot of watching to do.
Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.