My Oscars Quest 2023 Quick-Start Scorecard

Michelle Yeoh looking peaceful, eyes closed, with an explosion behind her.

Michelle Yeoh descends from the heavens to accept her honors.

It’s that time again! Longtime MCC readers know this time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture winner from Wings to CODA, and every Best Picture nominee from 1987 to the present, many of which were worth the hunt. You take the good, you take the bad, and so on.

In addition, this will be my third annual Oscars Quest Expanded Challenge, which was inspired by that darn pandemic — to see not just all the Best Picture nominees, but as many nominees as possible in all the other categories as well. When new releases were going quickly or directly to home video while theaters were shuttered, the Expanded Challenge was easier for me. I saw all but two of last year’s nominees, and am still missing eight nominees from the year before that. Someday maybe I’ll complete those sets. In the meantime, I have concerns about this year’s logistics now that theaters are back in business. I’m probably looking at far more trips away from home to reach my pointless personal goal, mood and local cinema schedules permitting.

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2022 at the Movies at My House

Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson as astronauts just standing there looking pained.

Live footage of Halle Berry and Patrick Wilson exiled off-planet as punishment for costarring in Moonfall.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in 2022 I made 18 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. Though I’ve tried to get back out there with my vaccines and my restlessness and whatnot, more often than not the motivation level still wasn’t quite where it used to be. As a sort of compromise, in the year’s back half I tried to overcompensate and catch up with 2022 through our various streaming subscriptions and a smattering of Redbox rentals. We don’t have HBO Max or Amazon Prime, but I nevertheless watched plenty by estimation, enough to present the third annual installment of the MCC tradition borne of the pandemic: a ranking of all the brand new films I saw on comfy, convenient home video in their year of release.

Whittling away any and every film with a pre-2022 release date, our living room hosted 28 films in 2022 that fit the specific parameters for this list. We’re not far away from the Oscars’ nominations announcement on January 24th, which for weeks I’ve been keeping in the back of my mind as the deadline for this listicle, so…on with the countdown!

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My 2022 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Best

The Batmobile jumping through an explosion in "The Batman".

Brought to you by EXPLOSIONS! They’re good for what bores ya!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in 2022 I made 18 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the Bottom 8 backwards from “Blockbuster Video clearance bin” to “groundbreaking yet ordinary”, which I realize makes little sense to anyone who lives outside my own head, but is the sort of convoluted flaw you need to expect from a hobbyist who super-likes movies, occasionally enjoys writing about them, but refuses to rate them on an ordinate scale comprising numbers, letters, stars, adjectives, or cutesy emoji.

And now, the countdown concludes with the ten most relatively awesome films I saw at a theater in 2022 that were released for general audiences in same. Onward!

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My 2022 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: The Year’s Worst

Jared Leto as Michael Morbius holds a hand up to the camera.

Talk to the Morb.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

I saw 18 films in theaters in 2022 that were actually released in 2022, an 18.2% decrease over 2021 despite having taken more vaccines than ever, well short of my all-time high of 32 films in 2019. That number doesn’t include the seven Academy Award nominees that were officially 2021 releases, but which I saw later as part of my annual Oscar Quest. It definitely doesn’t include all the 2022 films I watched on streaming services, which will receive their own much longer two-part listicle.

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“The Crown” Season 5: All Ten Episodes Ranked According to a Guy Who Was Never All That Attached to Princess Diana

Elizabeth Debicki and Salim Daw at a horsing exhibition in episode 3 of The Crown season 5, "Mou-Mou".

Princess Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) and Mohamed Al-Fayed (Salim Daw) enjoy themselves a little too much in the Royal Penalty Box.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: at the start of the pandemic my wife Anne and I binged the first three seasons of Netflix’s The Crown and soon caught up with the rest of fandom. One slight hitch: while Anne is a major history aficionado, that was never my forte, especially not the story of Queen Elizabeth II and her subjects, some of whom were her own trod-upon relatives:

Compared to my blissfully ignorant self, Anne is far more knowledgeable of history in general and British royalty in particular. My interest in their reigning family went dormant for decades beginning on the morning of July 29, 1981, when my family woke up at 5 a.m. — over summer vacation, mind you — to watch Prince Charles marry Princess Diana, two strangers I knew only as frequent costars of my mom’s favorite tabloids. Their wedding lasted approximately six days and was performed entirely in slow motion with British golf commentators prattling through the lengthy silences in between the happenstances of nothingness. For the next 15-20 years I retained nothing of British history apart from their role as the Big Bad in the American Revolution. Frankly, I’ve learned more about their country’s storied past from my wife and from Oscar-nominated movies than I ever did from school. Sad, unadorned truth.

So far I’ve enjoyed The Crown anyway, and understood most of what’s gone on…

I found myself so entertained by Peter Morgan’s principally fictional creation that I was compelled to compile my ten favorite episodes of those first three seasons based on my own finicky and sometimes underschooled impressions. That listicle unexpectedly became this site’s most popular entry of 2020 for lack of competition during an unprecedentedly sedentary year. Naturally I was compelled to post follow-ups as they happened — a sequel listicle for season 4 and a recount of that time on Labor Day weekend 2021 when we attended a Dragon Con fan panel about the show but suppressed our responses and ripostes behind our sweaty pop-culture COVID masks in a rather Royal Family manner.

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Halloween Stats 2022: Free Candy? In THIS Economy?

Lowe's Halloween decor 2022, mostly tall creepy things for the lawn.

Lowe’s was all about pushing the spooky Halloween accessories this year.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each year since 2008 I’ve kept statistics on the number of trick-or-treaters brave enough to approach our doorstep during the Halloween celebration of neighborhood unity and no-strings-attached strangers with candy. I began tracking our numbers partly for future candy inventory purposes and partly out of curiosity, so now it’s a tradition for me. Like many bloggers I’m a stats fiend who thrives on taking head counts, even when we’re expecting discouraging results.

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96 Tears and One Punch: The Oscars 2022 Season Finale

Oscars 2022!

Purple, the color of bruises.

If you count the one-hour unaired portion of the 94th Academy Awards that began at 7 p.m. EDT, this year’s return to the Dolby Theatre technically came in at a staggering 272 minutes when the usual legal disclaimers rolled at 11:42 p.m., beating the year A Beautiful Mind won by nine minutes. We already knew going into this evening that it couldn’t possibly beat the Shortest Oscars Ever record of 100 minutes, achieved in 1959 when an angry Jerry Lewis gave all the Oscars to The Geisha Boy, read his 90-minute doctoral thesis about muscular dystrophy, and called it a night. Just the same, these Oscars were a lot, even before the cruel insult and the on-stage assault.

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The Oscar Quest ’22 Grand Finale: All the Other Nominees I Could Catch

tick tick BOOM!

Vanessa Hudgens and Andrew Garfield in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick…BOOM! on Netflix. To those who swear Garfield’s best performance of 2021 was in No Way Home, I am BEGGING you to watch a second movie.

It’s that time again! Longtime MCC readers know this time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve watched every Best Picture winner ever (some more closely than others) and as of this writing I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee released since 1987 (some in better-quality formats than others). Nobody I know cares, but it’s been my thing for years.

Thanks to pandemic restlessness and our current streaming media bonanza, starting last year I expanded the boundaries of Oscar Quest to see how many nominees I could watch in any category whatsoever, period. This is equally unimpressive to everyone I know, but now it’s like a game for me, and a far livelier one than solitaire.

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Six Kind Things About “The Worst Person in the World”

The Worst Person in the World!

CAUTION: RATED NC-17 FOR SCENES OF SMOKING.

Indulging in the Academy Awards season is easier than ever if you have the free time and all the accesses. The proliferation of streaming services has opened new doorways for any wannabe cineaste to create their own little film festival at home, with a panoply of options from across every category. However, some nominees still stubbornly observed the time-honored tradition of refusing a wide release until after their nominations were secured, and have therefore been exclusive to theaters this past month. Thankfully this year has been easier than ever for me to catch up to Real Critics — as of today Indianapolis has expanded from one tiny theater to four whole theaters willing to show films of all sizes, not just blockbusters, as we did ten years ago. It’s almost like we’re this close to becoming a real Big City.

One drawback I fully expected from my expanded Oscar Quest ’22: not every film is for me. I don’t mean simply “some films bad.” I make no pretense to objectivity in these entries here on my li’l unpaid quasi-boutique hobby-job. No matter how many critics love a given work or how many awards it’s been put up for, I will not and cannot love everything, nor does everything have a fair shot with me. Some stuff is simply Not My Thing. There’re a few different ways a movie can lose me. Norway’s acclaimed dramedy The Worst Person in the World invokes a couple of them.

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Old Guy With a PS3, Year 7: You Are Now Leaving Skyrim

Skryim PC!

That time my character had to assassinate the emperor himself by posing as a chef. Well, “had to” might be an overstatement.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, at the beginning of 2016:

As a kid, I frequented video arcades regularly. As a parent, my son and I spent a good decade playing games together on his various systems. When he graduated and moved away to college, he took all his systems with him, leaving me with only my old Nintendo that won’t play cartridges unless you keep the Game Genie firmly inserted, and an Atari Plug-‘n’-Play Controller I got for Christmas a few years ago that interested me for about two weeks. On Black Friday 2014, I decided I wanted back in the 21st century gaming mode and picked up a used PS3.

Naturally I started off a generation behind the rest of the civilized world, but I didn’t care. After fifteen months without, holding a controller felt abnormal and rusty for the first few weeks. Once I got used to it again and figured out how to disable the “Digital Clear Motion Plus” feature on my TV, I could shake the dust off my trigger fingers, choose the games I wanted to play, sprint or meander through them at whatever pace I saw fit, and try some different universes beyond Final Fantasy and our other longtime mainstays…

…and it’s been a minor MCC annual tradition ever since. On average I would play three times per week, maybe two hours per session, and get through four to six games per year, except when I spent thirteen months on Borderlands 2, that other time I spent nine months of 2019 on Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel…and, as you can understand, when I ventured to Skyrim for eleven straight months in the Year of our Pandemic 2020. That February I’d entered the Elder Scrolls world for the first time. A month later, the real world fell to pieces.

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