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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Specht

31 Days of Oscar Returns for 25th Year

TCM’s annual 31 Days of Oscar programming returns for its 25th year. As usual, the month long (plus) celebration of films and people who have won, or been nominated for Academy Award begins February 1. And this year there is a theme - my favorite theme for this series, in fact: 360 Degrees of Oscar! This means that each of the featured films are connected to the following film by an actor or actress starring in both pictures, thus allowing for a span of movies across generations. The final film on March 2 completes the circle. Previously, this theme literally started with a film with Kevin Bacon and came all the way back around to the last film featuring Kevin Bacon (Google: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon). All of this is a lead up to the presentation of the Oscars on February 9 at 8pm (EST).

The very first film in the showcase, The Entertainer, airs at 6:00am (EST), and it stars Laurence Olivier. Thirty-one days later the series ends on March 2 with Tom Jones, which stars Albert Finney, who was featured in The Entertainer. Of course there are a lot of movies and connections from one film to the other. To make this happen I can only imagine the difficult orchestration it takes to pull of such a feat. There must be a team that spends months mapping out the possibilities until they hit upon the right combination. That's likely the reason TCM doesn't often use this concept; it would leave the programmers exhausted.

One of the great aspects to this approach is the variety of films that result from this kind of dedicated scheduling. The first day really runs the range from the previously mentioned Olivier film set in the music hall of a 1960s seaside tourist town, to Dr. Zhivago and the Russian Civil War, to the political satire of The Candidate. The films also span the decades from 1929's Disraeli to 2002's The Hours, and covers every genre you can possibly think of therein. Of course, TCM does regularly offer a great variety in their everyday programming, but it seems as if there's an extra level of care taken to curate the month of February (plus two or three days depending on leap year).

There's also an excitement seeing just which films make the cut from year to year. Plus, if you don't read up on the schedule you won't know which actor connects one film to the next. You can play a game that tests your knowledge of each film. My sister and I do this and keep track of who gets the answer before the other. It's another way we work out the sibling rivalry. It's also a great way for us to bond. Nothing brings us together like a classic film, especially a favorite one. And the success of our guesses offers a validation to our devotion to classic cinema. It's like the years of studying have paid off in a test examining our knowledge. It's a test I look forward to each year.

Although, no testing is required at all. You can just sit back and watch how your favorite stars have changed from film to film. It's like what I tell my students, if you have a beloved film, actor, or filmmaker, then look them up and see what else they've done. It's likely your research will lead to another great film you may have never discovered otherwise. How cool is that? I'm always thrilled when that happens to me. And 31 Days of Oscar is a great way to launch you on your path of discovery. That in itself is worth dedicating time to watching films. It's something you like to do anyway, and it just got more exciting. Now go explore and enjoy!


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