2024 Oscar Movies: This Year’s Program

An Overview of my review process, and a general outline of when and how we will be looking and reviewing each of the 2024 Oscar Movies.
2024 Oscars Movies
2024 Oscar Movies

I haven’t done this kind of post before, but I wanted to communicate, in advance, what this year’s movie review process of the 2024 Oscar movies might look like and some changes I’m making to the web site and Facebook posts.

The Order of Events

Starting on March 16th we will begin watching and reviewing each of the 38 nominated movies.  I have already broken them into several festivals or groups of films.  Within each festival, the order of review is not yet set.  I am a cheap bastard so I start with those films I can get on the three streaming services I already subscribe to without paying anything extra.  After that I search for films I can rent without paying an arm and a leg.  I try to save those that you have to buy (usually for around $20) for the end of each festival, hoping that by the time we get to them, they have come down in price.  There will be a one or two week break in-between each festival to give me time to do some other things and catch my breath.

The Festivals and what is in each one are listed below:

The Major Events Festival

These are the Oscar heavy-hitters, high valued on my Oscar Quality Index (OQI) as well as pretty well liked by either or both critics and audiences.   This group includes the ten Best Picture nominees plus Nyad which earned two major nominations.  The Major Events are:

  • Oppenheimer
  • Poor Things
  • Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Barbie
  • Maestro
  • The Zone of Interest
  • American Fiction
  • Anatomy of a Fall
  • The Holdovers
  • Past Lives
  • Nyad

The Special Interest Festivals:

This group includes the fourteen “special interest” films, grouped into three natural sub-festivals:

International Feature:

(Note: The Zone of Interest (United Kingdom) was included in the Major Events group, so there are only four entries.) They are:

  • lo Capitano (Italy)
  • Perfect Days (Japan)
  • Society of the Snow (Spain)
  • The Teachers’ Lounge (Germany)

Animated Feature:

  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
  • Nimona
  • The Boy and the Heron
  • Elemental
  • Robot Dreams

Documentary Feature:

  • 20 Days in Mariupol
  • The Eternal Memory
  • To Kill a Tiger
  • Four Daughters
  • Bobi Wine: The People’s President

The Major/Minor Events Festival

These films are those receiving just one “major” nomination, or two or three “minor” nominations.  They often include some surprisingly good films and they can include some turkeys.  This year they are:

  • Napoleon
  • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
  • The Color Purple
  • May December
  • Rustin
  • The Creator

The Minor Events Festival

These films fall at the end and are those that received only a single minor nomination.  Frequently these films shine only in their nominated category, but there have been some exceptions so don’t sell them short..

  • Godzilla Minus One
  • American Symphony
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 3)
  • El Conde
  • Flamin’ Hot
  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
  • Golda

Genre Summaries and the EOY Final Ranking

Starting towards the end of the Special Interest Festivals, we should be in a position of completing all the films in some of the smaller genres.  At that point I should be able to do a cross comparison and identify which films, in that genre, are worth a view.  It’s a good way to close out particular clusters of films.

When all the films are reviewed and individually rated, it will be time to present the final ranking of all 38 films and compare that with the initial ranking (already presented).  This review provides a final overview of the field and a way of judging the initial ranking process.

Then, on to 2025…

The Movie Review Process

This is the sixth year I’ve been reviewing movies and the fifth year I’ve had a website to post them to.  So I’ve pretty much honed my process down to what I think works about as well as I can expect.  I’m not planning on making any significant changes.  It takes about a week to do all this and I try to post the review on a Thursday or Friday so readers can possibly use it for weekend movie choices.  Joan and I have allocated Sunday afternoon as movie watching time, so the first watch usually happens then.  Other than that different things often happen on different days but in general it goes like this:

  • Identify the movie and line up the streaming/renting capability
  • Capture basic movie data (director, main actors, ratings, )
  • Post my initial reactions on Facebook
  • Watch the movie with Joan and discuss it with her.
  • Post “What Joan Said” on Facebook
  • Research movie, including special mention topics (takes 2-4 hours)
  • Post “Did You Know?” on Facebook
  • Watch Movie Second Time (without Joan) taking notes
  • Post “In the Queue” on Facebook
  • Think about everything and determine what I want to say
  • Write up first draft of review
  • Post “Question of the Week” on Facebook
  • Edit, print, and let Joan edit the review
  • Prepare final draft, collect images, and publish
  • Notify subscribers of review
  • Post “Final Verdict” on Facebook
  • Cleanup mess, update databases, and prepare for the next movie

I wish I could say it is an easy process that doesn’t take much time, but it does, actually consuming about 20-30 hours per week.  Now that wouldn’t be bad if it were a money producing enterprise, but I barely cover my expenses, much less my time.  So, mostly, this is a retired person’s hobby…

The Web-Site and the Review Format

The review format has evolved over time.  Years ago I used to just write one continuous essay of maybe 1-2K words, letting my mind go as it wanted.  I learned however, that in today’s world, if you want someone to read your thoughts, you have to present them quickly, concisely, and in small chunks.  Those requirements have had both good and bad effects on my writing style.  I have had to break the writing into topics – there are now six of them – each taking a paragraph or two to develop.  I’ve also taken to presenting basic data – such as related movies – in highlighted one-liners.  Readers want their information in bullet form, which definitely works if it is a simple factoid, less so if you are developing an idea or argument.  So I strive to achieve a balance.

And then, because I post on a website and am looking to increase traffic, there is the always-present demands for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)!  I actually have this tool that my web designer provided me that reviews my review posts and identifies weaknesses from an SEO point of view.  And then gives my post a color-coded numerical score.  I try to get it into the green level (80 or above), although I often don’t make it.

The overriding criteria is to provide a “keyword” and then use it everywhere.  The keyword is, apparently, the term users might use to start a WWW search where I want my post to appear in their results.  The keyword in all of my reviews is, in fact, the name of the movie.  But once I have the keyword defined, the SEO tool searches everything for where and how often it appears to construct my SEO score.  So I have to have headings and the key word, i.e. the movie’s title, must appear in each heading.  And it must appear in the text as often as possible, and it must appear in the URL that defines the post – the title of my post.

Oh, but that’s not the end of it.  The URL is also scored by whether it contains a number, a “power word”, and an evaluative word (like “good” or “bad”).  The more of those things the URL has, the higher up in the search engine results my post will appear, supposedly.  I figured out that I could get a number in every URL by including my rating (e.g. “3.5*).  I don’t particularly like putting the rating in the URL, but I haven’t figured out a better way to get those SEO points.  Then there is the evaluative word.  Sounds simple, but how often do you want to just include a word like “bad” or “good” in your review title? It might work for some movies, but most are more complicated than that and so  single word or two isn’t nearly subtle enough.  And then there’s that “power word”.  My website designer forwarded me a six page list of these things.  Apparently, psychologists have determined that when a person sees one of these words they are more likely to click on the link.  And so one more thing I have to include in the post title.  

So then my post title must include all of that, but I also get dinged in SEO points if the URL is too long.  So how do you strike a compromise between all of this, especially when the title of the movie – the keyword, which is also required – is very long like Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths ? I’m not sure I know, but I’m kind of tired of spending all the time to manage all of that, so starting this year I’m going to title each review in the following way:

Movie Title (2024.x, Y, Z)

Where x is the number of this year’s review (1-38), Y is an evaluative word, and Z is a single power word.  I may not get as many points as before, but I’ll get some in each category and maybe the weirdness of it all will attract searchers.

So that’s the title and most of the review format will stay the same, although I am going to make a few changes.  I spend a lot of time, with limited apparent reader interest, on the family tree section.  So I’m going to create a new one that combines family tree movies and other movies from the nominated Oscar talent.  I will still have a short Oscar buzz section, since that is the basis for the list of films in the first place.  The meat of the review is in the “Michaels Moments” section and some of the most interesting results from my research are in the “Special Mention” section, so those two will remain the same.  

So the final outline for each review will look like:

Snapshot –

Brief overview of the film, my critical assessment, and a statement of where the movie can be found to stream, rent, or, if necessary, buy! (The industry has gotten money hungry!)

Oscar Buzz –

The movie’s nominations, and wins, if any, Oscar competition, and anything else noteworthy.

Related Movies –

List of other important movies that members of the cast or crew have worked in that might be comparable.  Will be a simple list unless there is something noteworthy to comment on.

What Others Think –

Discussion of audience and critical reaction to try and put it in context with the other movies this year.

Special Mention –

Discussion of interesting topics I discovered while researching the film that are important to the film’s message.

Michael’s Moments –

My actual review of what worked, what didn’t, and why!

The Facebook Page

The facebook page (Michael’s Movie Moments) really serves a single purpose which is to try and get people to go to the web site and actually read a review and maybe even make a comment on it.  I’m not sure how well it serves that goal, but it’s a relatively low cost approach.  As outlined in the Process section above, I make six posts a week to keep readers somewhat interested in the movie and spread an awareness of what I’m up to.  Although it takes a bit of time, it does occasionally work.

The Facebook post format has changed a bit over time and I have some ideas on how to make it a little more dynamic.  My web site designer isn’t impressed with it, but Facebook gave me an award one month for creative post design.  (Of course, they are trying to get me to spend money spreading my posts as ads!). 

That’s It 

That’s everything I can think of about what I do here and I’ve announced the changes I’m hoping to make this year.  The Oscar season is complete and I don’t have anything more to say about that.  So it’s on to the movies themselves – All 38 of them.  I will start posting in Facebook on the first set of movies towards the end of this week!  So stay tuned!

I hope you enjoy the movies as much as I do!

2024 Oscar Movies
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