“You know what your problem is, it’s that you haven’t seen enough movies – all of life’s riddles are answered in the movies.” ~Steve Martin
Most Sunday evenings you will find my husband and me at the movies. We love seeing movies and we like going when it isn’t so crowded and find it to be a nice, relaxing way to end the weekend.
We aren’t quite old enough for the senior discounts, so we often see matinee movies since they cost a bit less, and sometimes we like to go to the theaters where we can have lunch or dinner while we watch.
During the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards in February, we went to all the movies that were nominated for best picture. We were both impressed by the quality of the nominated films and it was fun to see which one won.
The Sound of Music was my first theater movie. I was five years old and my grandmother took me to see it. I still remember how shocked I was by the size of the screen and the fact that the film was in color. After she took me to the movie, she bought me the soundtrack (on vinyl) for my birthday that August.
At that time, we still had a black and white television at home and I was used to watching John Wayne movies and scary movies by a man named Alfred Hitchcock. One movie in particular terrified me so much, that I was afraid of birds for years. Some of you probably know it was The Birds starring Tippi Hedren (mother of Melanie Griffith and grandmother of Dakota Johnson). I watched it again as an adult, and it still terrified me. Good movies stand the test of time.
The first movie I ever saw at an outdoor movie theater was The Ten Commandments. I sat in the backseat of my parent’s car with my little brother eating popcorn out of a paper grocery bag that my mom had popped on the stove before we left. It was fun to go to the outdoor movies because we could go in our pajamas and take a pillow and blanket with us in the car.
In the summer of 1975 when I was 14, I saw my first movie alone with a girlfriend. It was a little film called Jaws and I had nightmares about sharks for a week after seeing it. Jaws which was directed by a young man named Steven Spielberg, exceeded $100,000,000 in ticket sales. It was the first summer blockbuster and indeed started the summer blockbuster tradition. The first few notes from the film’s score by John Williams still make my heart pound.
Last Sunday night, we saw a movie that was recommended by a friend. When we checked the movie times, we were disappointed to see that it had a poor critical rating…I think it was 53% rotten tomatoes. We aren’t sure who reviewed it, but it was one of the best movies we’ve seen in a long time.
If you are an avid movie goer, you are probably familiar with the rottentomatoes.com website or at least their movie rating system. In case you aren’t, here’s how it works.
Each movie is given a “Tomatometer” rating which is based on the published opinions of hundreds of film critics. Good reviews are shown with fresh or red tomatoes and bad reviews with green or rotten tomatoes.
This tomato rating system comes from the old days before movies, when audiences showed their dissatisfaction with live plays or performances by booing and hissing and throwing rotten fruits and vegetables at the stage and at the performers. The only time I ever experienced this behavior was when I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a freshman in college and the audience (in costume) was throwing rice and toast at the movie screen!
The ratings categories are Certified Fresh, Fresh, and Rotten and represent the percentage of professional critic reviews that are positive.
*A Certified Fresh movie means it has received 75% or more positive ratings, with 40 or more professional reviews and five of these being from top critics. Some recent movies that have received this rating are: Cinderella, The Imitation Game, Wild, Whiplash, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Birdman (this year’s Academy Award winning best picture), Still Alice, and American Sniper.
*A Fresh rating means the movie has 60% or more positive ratings from critics. Recent movies with a “Fresh” rating are: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Water Diviner, The Duff, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Welcome to Me, Big Eyes, Code Black, and Into the Woods.
*A Rotten rating means the movie has 59% or less positive ratings from critics. Current movies with this rating include: Unbroken, Cake, Annie, Horrible Bosses 2, The Boy Next Door, Taken 3, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, The Age of Adaline, and Wild Card.
By the way, our Sunday night movie with the green, rotten tomato rating was actually a gem of a film called Woman in Gold…and it’s based on a true story. I too recommend it.
*Adjusted for inflation, here are the top 25 grossing movies of all time in the United States:
- Gone With the Wind (1939)
- Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
3.The Sound of Music (1965)
- E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
6.The Ten Commandments (1956)
- Jaws (1975)
8.Doctor Zhivago (1965)
9.The Exorcist (1973)
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
11.101 Dalmatians (1961)
12.Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
- Ben-Hur (1959)
15.Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
16.Jurassic Park (1993)
17.Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
18.The Lion King (1994)
19.The Sting (1973)
20.Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- The Graduate (1967)
- Fantasia (1940)
- The Godfather (1972)
24.Forrest Gump (1994)
25.Mary Poppins (1964)
*Two films tie for the most Academy Award nominations at 14. These are All About Eve in 1959 which won six, and Titanic in 1997 which won 11.
*Three movies have won 11 Academy Awards, which is the most ever won by a film. These three movies are: Ben-Hur 1959, Titanic 1997, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003.
*The actress with the most Academy Awards is Katharine Hepburn with four. She won for Morning Glory in 1932/33, Guess Who’s Coming For Dinner in 1967, The Lion In Winter in 1968, and On Golden Pond in 1981.
*There are two actors who each have won three Academy Awards. They are Walter Brennan and Jack Nicholson. Brennan won for Come And Get It in 1936, Kentucky in 1938, and The Westerner in 1940. Nicholson won for One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975, Terms Of Endearment in 1983, and As Good As It Gets in 1997.
*The movie with the most extras is Richard Attenborough’s “Gandhi”. For the funeral scene which was filmed on the 33rd anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death, there were 300,000 extras. Two-thirds of them were volunteers and the remaining third (100,000) were paid a small fee.
Author’s note: After all this movie talk, you might wonder if I have a favorite movie. I do. It’s called “Finding Forrester” and it’s about finding your place in this world and family and about writing and friendship and facing your fears and basketball and integrity.
“No thinking – that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!” ~William Forrester in “Finding Forrester”