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2011 in Films: A Year-Long Cinematic Odyssey Through 1,117 New-To-Me Films

Last year I watched 517 new-to-me films and I thought that number was ridiculously large. Well, this year not only did I reach that number, I surpassed it with an additional 600 new-to-me films, bringing my grand total to 1,117 new-to-me films for 2011. Don’t believe me? There’s a list after the cut of every film, broken down by month so you can see just exactly what films I watched. I don’t know how to explain how I watched so many films. I will say, it all started with a bet from CybelDP on Twitter. The rest, as they say, is history.

Some life information: for the first half of the year I worked as a substitute teacher (which meant only 1 to 2 days of work a week) and lived in the back of my parents’ house and watched Turner Classic Movies non-stop. From the end of May on I moved to San Francisco, where I now go to the Academy of Art University working towards an MFA in film editing. Yet, somehow amongst all that I managed to watch A LOT OF FRICKIN’ MOVIES. I also watched a lot of movies in theaters (thank you very much Castro Theatre) for the first time that were films I’d already seen. If you take a look at each of my monthly wrap-ups, I talk about what films those were.

Last year in my end of the year post I wrote about how many films with certain stars that I’d seen and stuff like that. The sheer volume of films I saw this year makes that task pretty difficult. I will say, I saw a lot of films featuring the following and if you want to try to look through my list and figure out exact numbers, be my guest: Orson Welles, Buster Keaton, James Cagney, Lew Ayres, Joseph Cotten, Joel McCrea, Glenn Ford, Henry Fonda, Ray Milland, Robert Taylor, Ryan O’Neal, Joan Blondell, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Jean Harlow. There are probably others whose filmographies I put giant dents in this year, but those are the ones that really stuck out. Speaking of filmographies, I also finished a handful of director filmographies this year: Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch and Martin Scorsese. I also came close to finishing off Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick and Elia Kazan and watched a bunch of films by Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Fritz Lang and John Ford. I also discovered a love for Westerns that I never knew I had (well, other than Clint Eastwood westerns, which I always loved). Oh, and I’ve only got 76 Best Picture nominated films left to see. That’s out of 487 films total, so I think I’m doing pretty well there.

One last thing before I reveal the list and my favorite new-to-me film of the year: in this past year I have felt more intellectually stimulated than I have ever felt before. Everyday I watched films and every film that I watched I gathered new information and my brain felt so alive and so active; it’s an amazing feeling for sure. I would go to bed thinking about the films I’d watched that day and the actors and directors and screenwriters that I learned about. I would think about Cedric Gibbons and Douglas Shearer and the amazing jobs they did at MGM and Irving Thalberg’s genius and how I wish I could be as prolific as Woody Allen. Then I would wake up the next day and start all over again and the more I watched the more everything fit together, the more I got from every film because I could see how it fit within the framework of cinema’s history. It was an amazing year of discovery and reflection and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

And, now, without further ado, the list. Ps. there’s more writing after the list, so please keep reading! Also, for some reason WordPress can’t handle a bulleted list that has four digits, so it cuts off the numbers towards the end of the list. But I think you can still figure out what’s what.
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Movie Quote of the Day – The Last Tycoon, 1976 (dir. Elia Kazan)

Pat Brady: [after a film screening] What’s Eddie, asleep? Jesus. Goddamn movie even puts the editor to sleep.
Assistant editor: He’s not asleep, Mr. Brady.
Pat Brady: What do you mean, he’s not asleep?
Assistant editor: He’s dead, Mr. Brady.
Pat Brady: Dead? What do you mean, he’s dead!
Assistant editor: He must have died during the. . .
Pat Brady: How can he be dead? We were just watching the rough cut! Jesus, I didn’t hear anything. Did you hear anything?
Fleishacker: Not a thing.
Assistant editor: Eddie. . .he probably didn’t want to disturb the screening, Mr. Brady.

Movie Quote of the Day – A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, 1945 (dir. Elia Kazan)

Johnny Nolan: I wonder what people did before they invented coffee?

The Oliviers Unhinged: A Streetcar Named Desire and Sleuth

Kendra over at Viv and Larry is hosting an Oliviers appreciation blogathon and I have been trying to figure out what I wanted to write about for my contribution for awhile. Laurence Olivier was nominated for eleven Academy Awards over a five decades (nine for Best Actor, one for Best Supporting Actor and one for Best Director), as well as receiving two honorary awards. His only competitive win was Best Actor for Hamlet (the film also won Best Picture). Vivien Leigh was only nominated for two Academy Awards over the years, both for Best Actress: Gone With The Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire. She won both times. Two were married for twenty years (it ended in divorce), made a handful of  films together and worked extensively together in the theater. Have you got all of that? So, obviously, there is a lot of material there and a lot of ways to approach writing about them, together or separately. I finally decided to take a look at two of their Oscar-nominated performances, in separate films, that touch on madness. Beware: there are quite a bit of spoilers after the cut.

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Movie Quote of the Day – On The Waterfront, 1954 (dir. Elia Kazan)

Charley: Look, kid, I – how much you weigh, son? When you weighed one hundred and sixty-eight pounds you were beautiful. You coulda been another Billy Conn, and that skunk we got you for a manager, he brought you along too fast.
Terry: It wasn’t him, Charley, it was you. Remember that night in the Garden you came down to my dressing room and you said, “Kid, this ain’t your night. We’re going for the price on Wilson.” You remember that? “This ain’t your night”! My night! I coulda taken Wilson apart! So what happens? He gets the title shot outdoors on the ballpark and what do I get? A one-way ticket to Palooka-ville! You was my brother, Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money.
Charley: Oh I had some bets down for you. You saw some money.
Terry: You don’t understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.

Oscar Vault Monday – A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951 (dir. Elia Kazan)

I hadn’t seen this movie until about a month or so ago, when I discovered it was on Instant Netflix. I watched it pretty late at night, and I must say that was probably not the best idea. It is a brilliant masterpiece of a film, but it is has such heavy subject matter, it made for a pretty fretful night of sleep. I’ve watched several adaptations of Tennessee Williams plays, and I definitely think this is the best of the lot. I also think it is Marlon Brando’s best work (although, I have not seen but pieces of The Godfather; please refrain from stoning me, I swear I’ll remedy that soon). It was nominated for a whopping 12 Academy Awards, winning four and is one of a handful of films to be nominated in all four of the acting categories. It was nominated for: Best B&W Cinematography, Best B&W Costume Design, Best Score, Best Sound, Best Writing, Screenplay (this was back when their were three writing categories), Best Actor Marlon Brando, Best Director Elia Kazan and Best Picture. It won the following categories: Best B&W Art Direction, Best Actress Vivien Leigh, Best Supporting Actress Kim Hunter and Best Supporting Actor Karl Malden. For Best Picture it was up against A Place In The Sun, Decision Before Dawn, Quo Vadis, and winner An American In Paris. I’ve seen two of those films and I would most definitely say the Academy made the wrong decision here. It was really another case of flashy musical winning over gritty, masterful drama.

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Movie Quote of the Day – A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951 (dir. Elia Kazan)

Blanche DuBois: Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.