The countdown to the 87th Academy Awards is on, and what better way to watch the days go by than with the movies that have won the award from years past? Turner Classic Movies hosts its annual showcase of the award-winning films through February and the beginning of March with a full 31-day salute. In past years, the network divided up movies by genres, themes, stars or directors, but this year TCM is taking a chronological approach to its primetime lineup. With at least one Best Picture winner promised every night, this is a chance for seasoned cinephiles and new movie fans to brush up on some of cinema’s greatest hits.
Here are suggestions to get you started. Set your DVRs to record!
Monday Feb. 9
Start off your new Oscar-filled regimen with William Wyler’s 1946 Best Picture winner, “The Best Years of Our Lives,” at 8 p.m. EST. Following three World War II soldiers returning to civilian life, the drama hit a timely and emotional note just one year after the war’s end. Classic movie connoisseurs may want to fit “The Young Lions” into their schedule at 5 p.m. EST. Starring Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin, this epic war drama brings three different men together at a concentration camp.
Tuesday, Feb. 10
Cheekily nicknamed “Lust in the Dust” by detractors, the passionate “Duel in the Sun” captures a fiery and tumultuous romance between orphaned biracial Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones) and ladies’ man Lewt McCanles (Gregory Peck). The Western love triangle (Joseph Cotten plays the other man in Pearl's life -- and Lewt's brother) and story of revenge airs at 12:15 a.m. EST. Viewers also may want to keep an eye out earlier in the daytime for a Carol Reed (“Oliver!,” “The Third Man”) thriller at 2:15 p.m. EST, “The Fallen Idol.”
Wednesday, Feb. 11
You can’t go far through Golden Age Hollywood without hitting a Humphrey Bogart picture (or five). If you missed “Casablanca” earlier in the series, you can catch him as the double-crossing Dobbs in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” at 2 a.m. EST. Looking for something a little less serious? Tune in at 6 p.m. EST to watch the 1974 nominee for the 48th Academy Awards for Best Costumes, “The Four Musketeers.”
Thursday, Feb. 12
And now for another Best Picture winner, “An American in Paris.” This lighthearted Technicolor musical about the relationship between a street painter (Gene Kelly) and a dancer (Leslie Caron) is one of the staples of American movies and features some of the best dance sequences ever committed to film. If you don’t want to stay up until 11:30 p.m. EST to watch it, you can catch Barbra Streisand’s Oscar-winning breakout portrayal of Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl” with its show-stopping number “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”
Friday, Feb. 13
It’s no surprise that a movie channel would program horror films on Friday the 13th, but TCM’s selections for the day range from the classic 1939 version of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” to 1982’s “Poltergeist.” In the evening, light fare returns at 8 p.m. EST with Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall in the female-centric, New York City based “How to Marry a Millionaire.”
Saturday, Feb. 14
TCM is keeping the Valentine’s Day theme throughout the day. Married lawyers Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn are on different sides of a court case director George Cukor's 1949 comedy “Adam’s Rib” playing at 1:30 p.m. EST. At 2:45 a.m. EST, you can watch Glenn Ford take on a tough New York City school in the culturally significant 1955 drama that introduced America to “Rock Around the Clock,” “Blackboard Jungle.”
Sunday, Feb. 15
Finally, if you have any DVR space left, use it to record the film noir classic showing at 10:45 a.m. EST, "The Naked City." Catch another Best Picture winner at 8 p.m. EST, the superb David Lean epic “The Bridge on the River Kwai” starring Alec Guinness and William Holden. Set at a Japanese prison camp at the height of World War II, the film also features former silent film star Sessue Hayakawa as the cruel Col. Saito.