By Sydney Sellers, 16, Windward School
Print This Post
Sydney is looking forward to watching Schindler's List and The Lord of the Rings.

I’ve seen 200 of the movies nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In sixth grade I decided to watch every movie that has been nominated for or won Best Picture. My parents were happy that I decided to do this because they love movies. My friends weren’t as happy because sometimes I couldn’t hang out with them because I desperately needed to watch Casablanca or Gone with the Wind.

My love of movies started when I was 5. Movies like Singin’ in the Rain, a classic musical, looked different than the TV shows I watched, like Spongebob and Dragontales. I liked the way actresses in old movies dressed. They wore long, silk dresses even when just relaxing at home, and dark lipstick and eye shadow. Actresses like Rosalind Russell and Vivien Leigh fascinated me so much that I named my cats after them (Roz and Viva).

In sixth grade I watched a movie called Annie Hall with my parents, and I liked it. I wanted to find out more about it so I Googled it. I found out that the movie had won Best Picture in 1977. I wanted to know what other films the director, Woody Allen, had made so I clicked on the list of all the nominees for Best Picture since 1927, the first year of the awards. I saw hundreds of movies I had never heard of. I thought some were probably worth watching.

At that moment I decided to watch all of the nominees by the time I graduated from high school. I was bored with the movies that had come out during the summer, like You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, because I thought they weren’t entertaining. Instead of going to the theater and seeing bad movies, I could watch some of the best films ever made!

The first movie I watched was Naughty Marietta from 1935. It was one of the most boring movies ever. It was about a princess who runs away to find true love, complete with cheesy dancing and singing. “If all the movies are this dull, why even watch them?” I wondered. My dad suggested I try a more modern one. 

I could still connect to a movie from the 50s

Sydney printed out the entire list of nominees since 1927 to keep track of which movies she’s seen.

I picked Sunset Boulevard because it was made by one of my favorite directors, Billy Wilder. It reminded me why I wanted to watch these classic films in the first place. The movie is set in Los Angeles in the early 50s, but it feels current. An unsuccessful screenwriter is looking for work and stumbles upon a Hollywood mansion and ends up living with the owner, a former silent-film actress. I felt for him because he wants to leave and continue his life but he feels bad for the actress. The ride the movie takes you on is thrilling.

I realized that even though some of the movies would be boring, others could be fantastic and I would discover a lot of wonderful films. 

I watched Suspicion, which I recorded on Turner Classic Movies. I liked the director, Alfred Hitchcock, but I hadn’t heard of this film. It was made in 1941. It’s hard to talk about Suspicion without giving the movie away, but it’s about a wife who suspects her husband is trying to kill her. There is no graphic violence, but it’s an intense psychological thriller. Sometimes you feel like you’re inside the characters’ minds. If you like movies like Black Swan, you’ll like this. 

I thought it would be hard to find some of these movies, but I found a video store in Santa Monica that had a lot of classic films. I also found movies on Netflix, YouTube and on cable. I was also surprised that I could rent films from the early 1900s on iTunes. 

I would watch movies on Friday and Saturday because during the week I had homework. One time when I was home sick from school I watched five movies in one day. Some of my friends were willing to watch classic movies with me. I watched All About Eve with my friend Tessa because I knew she wanted to be an actress and the lead character acted on Broadway. 

When I finish watching a film my dad asks me, “What did you think of it?” This motivates me to watch more movies because I like talking to him about them. 

If you like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or The Breakfast Club, you’ll like The Graduate. It feels like you’re watching an older version of a character from one of those movies. The film is about a college graduate named Benjamin who has an affair with one of his parents’ friends, Mrs. Robinson. Toward the end of the movie he tries to make his own decisions instead of letting other people control him. I related to his need to find his purpose in life.

Broadcast News is brilliantly written and funny. I couldn’t stop laughing when a member of the news staff, Aaron, starts sweating during a live broadcast and can’t stop. The movie is about a news producer named Jane (played by Holly Hunter, in one of my favorite roles) who tries to deal with two men who work with her and are both in love with her.

There are 485 movies that have been nominated for Best Picture, and I have 285 movies left. When people ask me what my favorite movie is I honestly can’t answer because I have so many that I like. When I created a Facebook account, I listed about 50 films. I’m excited to find more favorite films. I think I can finish by the time I graduate high school in three years.