For the past 4 or 5 years, when the Academy Award nominations are announced, I try to use the nominations to rate which movies are most important to see before the Oscars.  Of course, importance is relative, but basically I try to see which movies are the ones you have to watch to get the most out of the Acedmy Awards Ceremony.

In past years, this worked out great for me. This year is a little odd, or obvious, as I’ll show in a minute.

To show you how I determine which movies are most important for Oscar viewing, I developed a very simple rating system where I award movies points for each of their nominations.  The points are on a scale of 1 – 5, and since it’s my own personal rater, I decide which nominated categories deserve a certain point value.  The point values are as follows:

  • 5 – Best Picture
  • 5 – Director
  • 4 – Original Screenplay
  • 4 – Adapted Screenplay
  • 4 – Actor
  • 4 – Actress
  • 3 – Supporting Actor
  • 3 – Supporting Actress
  • 3 – Cinematography
  • 3 – Editing
  • 3 – Art Direction
  • 2 – Costume Design
  • 3 – Original Score
  • 1 – Original Song
  • 1 – Makeup
  • 2 – Sound
  • 2 – Sound Editing
  • 3 – Visual Effects
  • 3 – Animated Feature
  • 2 – Foreign Language
  • 2 – Documentary Feature
  • 1 – Documentary Short
  • 1 – Short – Animated
  • 1 – Short – Live Action

Feel free to argue with these point values if you want, but that’s simply what I came up with one day at work a few years back, and it’s helped me out ever since.

Once again, in the past, this was a great system.  Obviously the movies that are up for Best Picture are usually nominated for the most awards, and thus they score the highest, and should naturally be on the pre-Oscar viewing list.  However, this rater helped me to see some pretty good movies that were not nominated for Best Picture and definitely expanded my horizon so that I knew a lot about what was going on during the ceremony.  Ratatouille in 2008, Pan’s Labyrinth in 2007, Walk The Line in 2006, The Incredibles in 2005, and City of God, Finding Nemo, and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2004.  (Embarassingly, I just realized I did not yet rate 2009.  I may just do that for fun this weekend.)  Should any of these movies have been nominated for Best Picture?  Debatable. Am I glad I saw them? Most definitely.

Now this brings me to the 2010 Oscar problem.  With ten movies nominated for Best Picture, my rater is skewed and those are the ten movies at the top of my rater.  This should be obvious, and you should all be telling me, “No kidding? The ten Best Picture nominated movies are the ones you should try to see?” in the most sarcastic tone ever.  But I liked trying to find some “hidden” gems within the nominations.  Now I’m probably better off just trying to catch up with these ten movies.  When you think about it, that’s a lot to try to see anyway if you haven’t already seen most of them.

The funny part to this whole story is even after rating these movies and finding out rather plainly that the top ten are the same ten the Oscars choose, I still want to try to see a lot of the other movies. Invictus, Sherlock Holmes, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Lovely Bones are on my radar in addition to the fact that I’ve only seen two of the Best Picture nominations (Avatar and Up).

I know, that’s not like me to be so behind.  I know.  But gimme a break, in the past year I got married, changed jobs, moved three times, and just bought a house.  But know that the Oscars are my favorite awards, and I’ll do my best to see as many as possible before the awards, but I can’t make any promises.

I may also post during the weekend to show you all my ratings for the past few year just for fun.  What’s your Pre-Oscar routine or tradition?