Great New Movie Podcast: Unspooled

The American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies list has been one of my favorite sources movie marathon ideas for a long time. Now there’s a podcast for that!

The podcast is called Unspooled. The premise is that Paul Scheer and Amy Nicholson watch a movie from the AFI 100 top movies list, and put together a podcast to discuss that movie.

I am a little wary of movie podcasts. Many of the movie podcasts I’ve listened to are a group of bros blathering on too long, making in-jokes, going on unrelated tangents,  and having Skype-level audio quality. That’s not my cup of tea.

Unspooled is different. You can tell Paul and Amy are media professionals. Both of them have credentials on MTV, FX, and other TV and written media. The podcast itself definitely sounds like a professionally produced podcast.

What you get

Each episode has the standard discussion of the movie and what they thought about it. But it is not just talking – they also include audio clips from the movie or related media. It is also not just them – they include interviews with high-quality guests with something relevant to say about the movie. Throw in some discussion of the historical context the movie was made in too, and that is a lot of content. This is a podcast I’m going to stick with.

I started with their latest episode All About Eve. I am happy to say I now need to add All About Eve to my next movie marathon! Based on what Paul and Amy say, it contains the perfect blend of witty, fast-paced, cutting 1950’s style dialog that I love from movies like Casablanca and The Big Sleep.

I’ve listened to their episodes on The General and Platoon, and the quality is consistent for each episode.

How to Listen

If you’d like to check them out, you have multiple options:

Best Picture Oscar Movie Marathon Checklist

Can you believe there are 86 movies that have won the Oscar for best picture? If you wanted to watch them all, it would take you almost 200 hours to do it! That would be an eight-day Oscar movie marathon! At that length, you’d better enjoy the best Hollywood has to offer more than sleep, or sanity!

Unless you are looking to break the current movie marathon Guinness world record, I don’t think a single mega-oscar movie marathon is feasible for us mere mortals. So what do we do? The first question to ask is: “Do I want to watch all of the ‘Best Picture’ films, or just the best ones?”

It’s a pertinent question. I compared the list of best picture winners with the American Film Institute’s top 100 American films, and came up with a grand total of 27 films that appeared on both lists. That means that less than 33% of Oscar best picture winners are on the list of the top 100 best American films ever made. Combine that fact with a few opinions on the internet that not all Oscar films have aged that well, and you’d be right to conclude that maybe some of the “best picture” films are better than others.

However, even if you choose to go after only the 27 best films, that’s still about three straight days of movie watching. That is still too much for a single Oscar movie marathon. I think a different approach is needed with the Oscar winners. What about slipping them one-by-one into other movie marathons until you’ve seen them all?

In other words, I think your best bet is to treat the Oscar “best pictures” as more of a bucket list than a movie marathon schedule. At least, that’s what I think I’m going to do. I have seen 21 of these films – less than 25%. I have heard of a lot of these films, but I just haven’t gotten around to seeing most of them yet. I’m going to find them homes in my future movie marathons!

That these films don’t all appear on the critics’ lists doesn’t bother me so much. Living on a diet of only critics’ choices can lead to a severe case of pretentiousness. I like the idea of seeing what America thought was important, or inspiring, or moving, for a particular year in history. It is like watching the video diary for America, one year at a time. I think it’ll be fun!

So, here is the complete list of best picture Oscar winners, along with their length and whether they made it into the AFI top 100. Let’s start checking them off!

Your Oscar Movie Marathon Checklist

YearTitleAFI Top 100?Running Time
1928-1929The Broadway MelodyNo100
1929-1930All Quiet on the Western FrontNo152
1931-1932Grand HotelNo112
1934It Happened One NightYes105
1935Mutiny on the BountyNo132
1936The Great ZiegfeldNo176
1937The Life of Emile ZolaNo116
1938You Can’t Take it With YouNo126
1939Gone with the WindYes220
1941How Green Was My ValleyNo118
1942Mrs. MiniverNo134
1944Going My WayNo130
1945The Lost WeekendNo99
1946The Best Years of Our LivesYes172
1947Gentleman’s AgreementNo118
1949All the King’s MenNo109
1950All About EveYes138
1951An American in ParisNo113
1952The Greatest Show on EarthNo152
1953From Here to EternityNo118
1954On the WaterfrontYes108
1956Around the World in 80 DaysNo183
1957The Bridge on the River KwaiYes161
1960The ApartmentYes125
1961West Side StoryYes152
1962Lawrence of ArabiaYes228
1963Tom JonesNo121
1964My Fair LadyNo170
1965The Sound of MusicYes174
1966A Man for All SeasonsNo120
1967In the Heat of the NightNo109
1969Midnight CowboyYes113
1971The French ConnectionYes104
1972The GodfatherYes175
1973The StingNo129
1974The Godfather Part IIYes200
1975One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s NestYes133
1977Annie HallYes93
1978The Deer HunterYes183
1979Kramer vs. KramerNo105
1980Ordinary PeopleNo124
1981Chariots of FireNo124
1983Terms of EndearmentNo131
1985Out of AfricaNo161
1987The Last EmperorNo160
1988Rain ManNo133
1989Driving Miss DaisyNo100
1990Dances with WolvesNo180
1991The Silence of the LambsYes118
1993Schindler’s ListYes197
1994Forrest GumpYes142
1996The English PatientNo162
1998Shakespeare in LoveNo123
1999American BeautyNo121
2001A Beautiful MindNo135
2003The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the KingYes*201
2004Million Dollar BabyNo132
2006The DepartedNo151
2007No Country for Old MenNo122
2008Slumdog MillionaireNo120
2009The Hurt LockerNo131
2010The King’s SpeechNo118
2011The ArtistNo100
201312 Years a SlaveNo134

* Ok – technically The Fellowship of the Ring is what made the AFI list – but c’mon! They’re all the same movie!

Quick Links: Best Movies of All Time – US vs UK

The British Film Institute and the American Film Institute both have “best movies of all time” lists. Both are based on the collective opinion of hundreds of movie critics. Are they the same? Nope. Are they even close? Doesn’t seem like it – but then the AFI list seems to be only American-made movies, and the BFI list includes many international films.

Which list is “right”? You be the judge!

Quick Links: American Film Institute’s Top Films

Need a quick fix of great films selected by a jury of smarty-pants film experts? Head on over to the American Film Institute’s 100 years – top 100 movies list.

Looking for something more specific – like top 10 courtroom dramas? (who isn’t!) They have nonsense like that too!