Movie Magic

I am the biggest movie fan that I know. I have a couple of friends that I talk with about them a lot. It’s not because we don’t have anything better to talk about, I think it’s just because we love movies so much. One of my friends and I have a standing agreement to talk to each other on road trips where we’ve made up movie trivia games. I always lose, but not because I’ve seen less movies, because I have a lousy memory. For some reason, I can usually remember the lead actors, the director, and a lot of the time the writer. So, I lose because my friend suckered me into games that feature his strengths.

I have seen all the Best Picture winners since the 80’s and in 2003 I randomly decided to start watching all the Best Picture nominees to make my own pick. Last year I watched every picture from seven different categories and had my own award show in my head. Every picture that I wanted to win did at that show. And we didn’t have any middle-of-the-speech-mishaps.

I’m afraid that I’ve turned into a little bit of a movie snob. I know a lot of people that feel bad to say, “That movie wasn’t good.” Like saying that will hurt its feelings. But some movies are just bad. I’m looking at you Allied. You can’t build a plot around two people that are hopelessly in love and yet have no chemistry at all on the screen. I wanted to like you! You just didn’t like yourself. Through the years bad movies have gotten worse and good movies have gotten deep. I honestly think that we are in the best place for storytelling on the big and small screen that we’ve ever been in my lifetime.

I’m not completely sure what it is about movies that I love, but I do know that it’s an immersive experience. Which is easier at the theater. I forget about the day and submerge myself into a new world for a couple of hours. For an escapist, there probably isn’t a healthier way.

Tiffanni and I spend every Friday at the movies. We’ve seen about 50 movies at the theater over the past year. And I have to admit, as expensive as it is, movies were made to be seen in the theater. Years ago, I didn’t like going with her as much because there was so much pressure on me to get the movie right. We didn’t go as often and for every movie that I picked, she got the next pick. If we sat through a lousy movie that I chose, that was inevitably two lousy movies in a row. Unless you like Nicholas Sparks.

Every week I get to pretend. My imagination is incited, my emotions charged and I lock fully into an experience. I travel to fantasy worlds built by comic book masters, relive historical events through the lives of yesterday’s heroes, explore new planets, experiment with new technology, feel the tension of conflict at every level, cathartically delving into other people’s emotions. And all the while, sitting beside me is the very thing, situation, person that I am trying to escape. It’s a tough feeling to explain. Our life that we intended is the last thing that I want to leave, but this life that we ended up with is another thing. We stare at a giant screen filled with imaginary lives of adventure, while my reality sits in the peripheral just trying to stop shaking. The images bounce off her glazed over eyes as she sits emotionless, reflecting living lives.

“The biggest difference between real life and movies is that a movie script has to make sense, and life just doesn’t.” So, I reach for the tidy, avoiding the nonsensical, in order for life, if only for two hours a week, to feel ordinary. And the magic of movies offers the most appropriate way that I know to leave.


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In case you care, here were my picks (apparently, I agree with the Academy a lot, mostly old white men…sigh):

Best Picture- La La Land
Best Actress- Emma Stone
Best Actor- Casey Affleck
Best Supporting Actress- Octavia Spencer
Best Supporting Actor- Mahershala Ali
Best Adapted Screenplay- Arrival
Best Original Screenplay- La La Land
Best Animated Film- Zootopia