That one year I saw all but one of the Best Picture nominees

There was this one time I actually saw all but one of the Best Picture nominees. I felt accomplished, like I was really being so artsy for once.

This was in 2003, back when only five movies were nominated. I would love to be a movie-freak and chase after all the best picture nominees today, but now that they're allowing 10 nominees a year, that's approximately $70 to $80 just to see those movies alone.

That amount isn't including all the movies I actually want to see in the theater.

These are the times I miss the $3 theater that existed in my city. Sure the movies were second-run, but if they had Oscar-buzz surrounding them, even if they didn't win, it wasn't an investment to go see them. It was a treat.

Then again, some Oscar-nominated films are so heavy, you could tie one of them around your ankle and drown.

Most of the Best Picture nominees this year are actually something I could see myself watching. I enjoyed that about this year's batch. They seem approachable. Some years, I look at the list of movies and realize they could've only been seen at art theaters in New York City and Los Angeles.

I just don't get much joy out of seeing all the movies, filling out a ballot, and sitting and watching to see whether I was right or not. I enjoy it a bit more than election nights, but not by much.

That's what happened back in 2003. A few of us got together, filled out our own ballots and anted up some cash -- the winner took home the pot. For the first time, ever, I saw all but one of the Best Picture nominees.

There was "Chicago" which won Best Picture. I think after it won, the show started touring for Broadway Across America because of its reclaimed fame, and sadly, they advertised it as "Chicago: Live."

Another nominee for Best Picture, which I knew wouldn't win because the first one didn't win and the third film wasn't out yet, was "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (the final installment won Best Picture the following year, which basically told me the trilogy won, since they're all, like, totally linked together).

The depressing movie of the nominees (minus "The Pianist" because that was the one I didn't see, and it took place during WWII) was "The Hours." It was the one where Nicole Kidman played Virginia Woolf (won best actress for it, too) and stuck some rocks in her dress to drown herself. That movie was filled to the brim with depression, and I think my draw to it was because I had survived my own bout of mild-depression the year before.

I actually own "The Hours." It is still in its plastic wrap. After 11 years, it will probably never be released from the plastic wrap. I just don't know if I can do people jumping out of windows and drowning themselves for fun.

"Gangs of New York" was the last Best Picture nominee I saw in the theater. I remember enjoying it, but looking back, it's not a movie I would probably go see today. That and Cameron Diaz actually played a serious role. Has she even been in any other Oscar-nominated films?

There were a few others I had seen that were nominated for various categories. So, while I watched the Oscars back in 2003, with my ballot filled out, I was the big winner that night. I couldn't tell you who I chose to win what, but what I do remember is that I won, not by guessing the major categories correctly, but because I was right on all the technical categories.

The only movie out of that bunch that has continued to hold any steam is "The Lord of the Rings."

It's probably because they re-release it every few years with even more footage not seen in the originals. It could also be because movies like "The Pianist" and "The Hours" don't have a geek fandom that came with the adaptation to J. R. R. Tolkien's beloved fantasy.

I mean, I think I remember seeing "Gangs of New York" in the $5 bin at Walmart.

Is that the fate "Birdman" is going to have, too?