Review 2013: Not The Doctor: Awards Watch.

Film A few years ago, I began watching all of the films nominated for awards at various ceremonies (Oscars, Globes, Cannes) and in the end of year lists of some magazines (Empire, Sight & Sound). Unable to decide much of the time what was worth seeing, I'd decided to let the consensus decide for me and for the most part this was a good thing mixing the spectacular with the worthy and filtering out the utter rubbish that I might have subjected myself to if I'd simply decided to stick with box office top tens and that sort of thing. With that in mind I then began to cast my eye backwards to earlier years and wondered what I might have missed and so then decided that once I'd finished off the latest films I'd begin work on those films I'd missed beforehand, working backwards. Which again worked well, initially. Spreadsheets were created, films were added to Lovefilm lists and after a couple of weeks of administration delving through the IMDb and Wikipedia I was set. Then I began work, or let's face it "work", watching everything nominated in a given year before moving on to the next, then the next and the next.  Which was fine and for the most part I was having a good time and much of the time found myself, as I'd hoped, in front of the kinds of films I wouldn't necessarily have otherwise chosen to watch.  But then of course the problem was I also found myself in front of the kinds of films I wouldn't necessarily have otherwise chosen to watch.  A quest is a quest, I felt like I needed to see everything and so for every enthralling documentary about climate change, I'd end up seeing some crass, racist or misogynistic supposed comedy or for every exciting docu-drama set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany ended up clockwatching half way through some three hour Ukrainian drall about a man who loses his wife but gains a tractor (or some such).  At a certain point, though whole thing became a, well, drag.  Granted that was at about the time of my hernia, but that had nothing to do with reaching the very edge of forgetting why I like cinema.  I wondered briefly if this was how some film critics felt and why so many of them become cynical and twisted and seemingly unable to appreciate the simple pleasures that cinema has at its core.  So I stopped.  If the subsequent medical operation taught me anything it's that life's too short to spend three hours of it watching an Ukrainian drall about a man who loses his wife but gains a tractor if I'm not enjoying it (enjoying in the loose sense of being at least intellectually stimulated) and that actually it's ok just to go with my own instinct and just watch what looks good even if that is Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (which isn't nearly as bad as you've heard).  That it's ok to be entertained, that not everything in life has to be about educating myself.  Those same magazines helped, as did online efforts like Cinema Sins in reminding what I've always liked about film, the intertextuality and the shared experience.  I archived the spreadsheets, deleted the Lovefilm lists, and began adding the kinds of films I'd like to watch and also making a pact with myself that if I did decided to see all of something, it would be finite or only include a few examples.  I recently worked through about ten films set in 1963, finally seeing Dirty Dancing, Mermaids and Driving Miss Daisy in the process. Plus rewatching Tarkovsky's genre entries like Solaris and Stalker.  Above all I'm enjoying myself and enjoying cinema again.

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