The Past Month on TV #16

Another busy month on the box round these parts, so I’ve once again divided my comments into new stuff (i.e. what was actually on TV this month), old stuff (i.e. anything older than four weeks), plus the usual round-up of quick thoughts.

Doctor Who (Series 10 Episode 1)
Doctor Who: The PilotThe 36th run of Doctor Who kicked off with an episode titled The Pilot — no coincidence, that. This is the most newcomer-friendly episode of Who for 12 years, an episode finely calibrated to establish everything for a first-timer but also function for regular viewers too. A lot of that effectiveness can be attributed to Pearl Mackie as Bill, the new companion to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. After a run of oh-so-special companions running back years, Bill is just an ordinary young woman; but of course she’s extraordinary in her own way: ready to learn, eager to help, full of both inquisitiveness and caring. This is surely the birth of both a fan-favourite companion in Bill and a star in Mackie.

It’s also a rejuvenation for Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. They arguably tried too many different things all at once when he joined the series a few years ago, making him old and irascible in contrast to the young and friendly Doctors that had preceded him throughout the revived series. He was gradually softening anyway, but freed of the burden of Clara he seems able to fully revel in his kooky kindliness. It’s perhaps the most Doctor-ish he’s ever been, and for Capaldi, a life-long fan of the show, that must be a real delight. It’s already a shame he’ll be leaving us this year, but at least we have 12 (or 11, if some rumours turn out to be true) more episodes to enjoy before then.

As for this episode in itself, it was more solid than incredible, though that perhaps does it a disservice. No, it’s not going to sit alongside the likes of Blink and Heaven Sent at the pinnacle of all that modern Who can achieve, but it set out the series’ stall well: it’s sci-fi, but a little quirky, a little scary, and full of heart and emotion. It was almost like a Russell T Davies-era episode, but with an unmistakable Moffat-ness about it too — he may be trying to dodge the “fairy tale” mode he adopted for most of his time on the show, reasserting the “this is based in the real world” aesthetic that RTD relaunched the series with back in 2005, but, frankly, Moffat does the former better than the latter, and there’s an edge of that heightened unreality here nonetheless.

But I think those are niggles and nitpicks. This is a strong opener that establishes a very likeable new TARDIS team to guide us through the season of adventures about to come. Fingers crossed the rest of the run can fulfil its promise.

Iron Fist (Season 1)
Iron FistThe last of the Marvel/Netflix series before the Defenders team-up, Iron Fist has certainly divided critics and viewers. It doesn’t begin well: the opening episode is possibly the worst thing yet released as part of the MCU, and I only say “possibly” because I never bothered with Agents of SHIELD after the poor reaction to season one. It’s needlessly slow, repetitive, the characters behave implausibly, and the fights are terrible, looking like a first rehearsal filmed with one take. Things do improve — there are more engaging characters, some interestingly developed arcs, and better realised fights — but it still doesn’t come together as well as it could. For one thing, it makes the running of Rand Enterprises a major element, but has a very vague-seeming understanding of how business actually works. It’s just too simplistic.

One of the series’ strongest aspects is the unpredictable loyalties of its characters. I don’t mean that they’re inconsistent, but aside from Danny (who’s the title character, so of course he’s a good guy) and Claire (who’s been in every other Marvel/Netflix show, so she’s a known quantity), the trustworthiness and allegiance of almost every character changes at some point; for some of them, at multiple points. Heck, there are even scenes when you can’t be sure whose side to be on, because both have aspects of right and wrong, good and bad. There are better shows than Iron Fist that never manage that level of shading in their characters. I imagine there’ll be a second season, because when doesn’t Netflix commission more of anything, so hopefully they can build on what worked going forward. And maybe add a business consultant to the writers’ room or something.

The Flash Duet
The Flash: DuetAmongst the eight Arrowverse episodes I watched this month was this: the much-anticipated musical crossover between The Flash and Supergirl, which star Glee alumni Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist respectively — hence why (some) people called for a musical episode, which caused the producers to decide to do one. Somewhat ironic, then, that it seemed to go down well with critics (at least per Wikipedia) but less so with fans: its IMDb rating is just 6.0. I find myself in agreement with the latter. It wasn’t bad, as these things go, but it was overloaded with niggles, Like, why cast another former Glee actor as the villain but then not have him sing with the stars? Why is there a plot hole whereby they call said villain the Music Meister even though it was Barry and Kara who picked the musical fantasy? The guy’s powers seem to be hypnotism-based and nothing to do with music. There were only two original songs, one which was quite fun and one which was overlong and a tad cheesy. Neither came close to the delights of the Music Meister’s original appearance, which also managed five new songs (and a reprise) in an episode that was half the length. The episode’s guest cast seems to have been selected purely on the basis of “anyone from an Arrowverse show who likes to sing”. All in all it came across as half-arsed; like they felt they should do it because people demanded it, but didn’t assign enough time or energy to doing it properly.

The Crown (Season 1)
The CrownThe most expensive TV programme ever made (or not, whatever) certainly has its budget plastered all over the screen, which hopefully didn’t distract most viewers in the way it did me. It shouldn’t, really, because this is a good drama about the humanity behind the public faces. Its adherence to fact is apparently variable, which I imagine is very irritating to historians of the period, but it works for the fiction. There are great performances all round, with John Lithgow in particular disappearing into Churchill to the point that I forgot I was watching an actor more than once. There’s an interesting plot thread early on about the position of Philip (Matt Smith) relative to Elizabeth — how his role as a husband is challenged by her position as Queen, etc — which goes a bit awry as the series goes on and has other plots to focus on. It’s left quite open-ended, so hopefully it’ll be completed in the second season.

Line of Duty (Series 2)
Line of Duty series 2I devoted just 32 words to Line of Duty series one when I finally got round to watching it last October. In summary, it was pretty good but not really great, and the unadulterated adulation that follows the programme around nowadays seemed unmerited. Now I get it, though, because — in a similar fashion to how, say, Mad Max is a decent Ozploitation flick but Mad Max 2 is a reputation-earning action classic — series two is where it’s at. There was much praise for Keeley Hawes’ performance as a downtrodden copper under suspicion of organising a violent ambush of a witness protection convoy, and it’s deserved, but the real star is the writing. There are huge, attention-grabbing twists and surprises, and a mystery that keeps you revising your opinion on what happened right until the end, but perhaps most impressive are the lengthy, intensely procedural interview scenes that could come across as factual and dull but instead are completely gripping.

Twin Peaks (Season 2 Episodes 1-9)
Twin Peaks season 2I first saw the debut season of Twin Peaks many years ago during a repeat run (it was a ‘classic series’ even then, though with hindsight it can’t’ve been a decade old at the time), then watched it again when the DVD came out, but this is my first time watching season two (legal complications delayed its DVD release for what felt like forever, and by the time it finally came out I just never got round to it). The second season is infamous for representing a steep decline in quality, though that isn’t yet evident from this batch of episodes, which covers up to the revelation of who killed Laura Palmer and their capture. I’d say it lacks the pure concentrated genius of the first season, having ramped up the quirkiness quotient and, at the behest of the network, rushing the resolution of the Laura Palmer mystery, but it ain’t bad by any means. There’s certainly much to like in the off-kilter characters, the folksy mysticism, and some fantastic performances — Kyle MacLachlan is a constant delight as Agent Cooper, but Ray Wise is frequently incredible as the grieving Leland Palmer. But I guess it’s mostly downhill from here…

Also watched…
  • 24: Legacy Season 1 Episodes 5-8 — everything I said last time still applies: this is little more than 24-by-numbers. Episode 6 was a particularly irritating example, as a major subplot was hurried to its climax presumably because the writers just got bored with it. Why else rush the plot so massively, in a way that practically ignored the series’ real-time gimmick? I miss the days when the makers cared about maintaining that illusion.
  • Broadchurch Series 3 Episodes 4-8 — it handled its treatment of the issues well, but as a drama Broadchurch 3 couldn’t quite reach the engrossing heights of the first series. Still, it’s a shame there won’t be further cases for the brilliant Tennant and Colman to investigate.
  • Unforgotten Series 1 — ITV’s police drama recently aired a second series, with a third commissioned. This cold case-focused first run features powerhouse performances from a bunch of quality elder thesps (Tom Courtenay won a BAFTA for it, but for my money Gemma Jones as his wife was just as good), plus nicely understated turns from the ever-excellent Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar as the coppers on the case.

    Things to Catch Up On
    Car Share series 2This month, I have mostly been missing series two of Peter Kay’s Car Share, which is a couple of episodes in on the telly or available in its entirety on iPlayer. I nearly didn’t bother with the first series (two years ago now!) because I’m not a huge fan of Peter Kay, but someone recommended it and it turned out to be hilarious. I’m sure I’ll make time for the new one soon.

    31 days until new Twin Peaks

    Next month… more Doctor Who, more Twin Peaks, and probably more stuff dredged up from the “must get round to” pile.

  • The Ghostly Monthly Update for March 2017

    If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?

    How about Scarlett Johansson in a skintight bodysuit? I’m sure plenty of people wouldn’t need something strange going on to want to make that call…


    #30 Logan (2017)
    #31 Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
    #32 Demolition (2015)
    #32a Deadpool: No Good Deed (2017)
    #33 Long Way North (2015), aka Tout en haut du monde
    #34 Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
    #34a Hotel Chevalier (2007)
    #35 The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
    #36 Money Monster (2016)
    #37 Room (2015)
    #38 Warcraft (2016), aka Warcraft: The Beginning
    #39 Kong: Skull Island (2017)
    #40 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
    #41 Ghostbusters (2016), aka Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
    #42 Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
    #43 The Monster Squad (1987)
    #44 Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), aka Kôkaku Kidôtai Inosensu
    #45 Big Game (2014)
    #46 Young Frankenstein (1974)
    #47 Black Dynamite (2009)
    #48 Ghost in the Shell (2017)
    #49 Jackie Brown (1997)
    Long Way North

    Kong: Skull Island

    Black Dynamite

    .


    • I watched 20 new films this March, making it my largest month for nearly a year, since last April’s 21.
    • It’s far head of the March average (previously 12.3, now 13.1) and also passes the average of the last 12 months (previously 15, now 14.75).
    • In terms of my yearly goal, it’s behind where I was last year (two-thirds there at #67) but ahead of every other year (including 2015 — aka The Year of 200 Films — when March ended at #44).
    • This month’s Blindspot film: plugging one of the few gaps in my Tarantino viewing with Jackie Brown.
    • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Room. Normally I’d offer a brief comment, but I already reviewed it in full here.
    • I watched three films starring Samuel L. Jackson this month. Even for a fella as prolific as he is, that’s still quite a number.



    The 22nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    A tough contest this month between a couple of films I enjoyed an awful lot, but however much I was entertained by a giant ape beating up other giant monsters, the beautiful artistry of Long Way North just edges it today.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    Not such a tricky choice here: easily the worst film I watched this month was the disappointing mess that was Warcraft.

    Best Dialogue of the Month
    You’d think any month with a Quentin Tarantino film in it would have this award sewn up, but not when in the presence of the genius that is Black Dynamite. I’d throw in a quote, but half of the magic is in the delivery.

    Most Gratuitous Arse of the Month
    Plenty of derrières on display this month, between Natalie Portman’s much-discussed bare behind in Hotel Chevalier, Scarlett Johansson’s extremely figure-hugging costumes in Ghost in the Shell, Bridget Fonda’s post-coital stroll in Jackie Brown, and Kong stomping around the place with nary a stitch on as well. But the fact someone bothered to draw the intimation of an arsehole on the dog in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence takes the biscuit.

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    Following a tip from Caz at Let’s Go to the Movies, I’ve been adding my reviews to IMDb of late. That paid dividends this month, with an extraordinary (for me) number of hits flowing towards Logan



    This blog’s 10th birthday celebrations continued (and concluded) this month by counting down my 100 favourite movies I’ve seen for the first time in the past ten years. If you missed it, you can read all about it here:


    Things are beginning to look up for my Rewatchathon, as I actually rewatched more than one film this month…

    #3 Gattaca (1997)
    #4 The Nice Guys (2016)
    #5 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)
    #6 Ghost in the Shell (1995)
    #7 Hook (1991)

    I think I was too young to properly appreciate Gattaca when I first saw it. Now, I think it’s a five-star sci-fi drama/thriller, and it would’ve contended for a place on my 100 Favourites if I’d got this rewatch in a couple of years ago.

    Truth be told, I only watched the first 15 minutes of Power Rangers (then my NOW TV subscription ended and it cut me off), so I probably shouldn’t count it… but I would’ve found another way to finish it if those 15 minutes hadn’t been utterly terrible, so I say it still counts because I’d clearly seen enough.

    This was the first time I’d watched Hook since childhood and, a few moments and images aside, I barely remembered it at all. It has things going for it (the sets are incredible and many of the special effects are fantastic), but it’s definitely the worst Spielberg movie I’ve seen (1941 still awaits…)


    A big year for the MCU kicks off: I’ll be reviewing Iron Fist, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes to the big screen (over here, at least).

    100 Favourites II — Statistics

    I couldn’t do a list like that without publishing some statistics at the end, could I? No, no I could not. By my standards this will be a relatively brisk post, though, because I didn’t thoroughly log everything I could have. Nonetheless, I had some observations…

    One thing I was particularly interested to compare was the age of my picks. I know my tastes skew recent — I like “old films”, but I do watch more new(er) stuff and (as demonstrated in my 10th anniversary statistics) I tend to place newer films higher in my year-end lists too. My first 100 Favourites list certainly bore that out as well, as you can see on this graph. Have the last ten years changed that at all? Well, no. Not in the slightest. If anything, it’s worse.

    That’s 49% of my selections — almost literally half — from the 2010s, a decade which at the time of writing only includes seven years. And if you add in the 2000s as well, the last 17 years account for 72%, just under three-quarters of the list. I guess if I tried this again in another ten years some of the more recent films would fall out while the older classics would endure. I must say, I’m not alone in this — it’s something I’ve observed on other public-voted great lists, like the IMDb Top 250 (well-liked new films are always jumping in and then slowly dropping out), or Empire magazine’s 500 Greatest and 300 Greatest polls. The opposite seems to happen with critics’ lists, like Sight & Sound’s famed poll, which Citizen Kane topped for, what, 50 or 60 years, and the rest of the top ten is pretty stable too. But maybe that also changes a lot further down, I don’t know.

    Talking of top tens, precisely 70% of the films on this list were previously featured in one of my year-end top tens. The worst affected were 2007, 2009, and 2012, each of which lost six films. Luckiest was 2016, with all ten top-tenners making the list. 2013, 2014, and 2015 only lost one each. That’s partly thanks to a change of perspective, of course (as you may have noticed, many of the films have shifted around in their ranking), but it’s also simply the case that some years had more films I liked than others. In terms of total numbers in this 100, the worst hit were 2009 and 2012, which only feature four films each. If you want to rank them thoroughly, 2009 definitely fared worse: only one of its films is in the top 50, while 2012 has three in the top 50, including two in the top 20, and one of those in the top 10.

    Conversely, the most successful years were the last four (the ones with the most top-tenners that made it, unsurprisingly). Highest of all was 2015 with 18. I suppose that’s helped by the fact I watched 200 films that year, though 2014 is second with 16 and I ‘only’ watched 136 then. Indeed, rendered as a percentage, 2014 fares best of all, with 11.76% of the films I watched that year making my top 100. Second is shared by 2011 and 2013, each with exactly 10%, while 2015 only comes fourth, with exactly 9%. At the bottom end, the fact 2009 and 2012 were my least successful years in numerical terms (the only two times I failed to make 100) doesn’t help them at all, coming out at 4.26% and 4.12% respectively.

    Here’s a pair of graphs, comparing the years in flat numerical terms and as a percentage of their own year’s total.

    Compared to their previous positions in my year-end top tens, the biggest riser was The Story of Film: An Odyssey, shooting up 13 places from being 2015’s 21st to its 8th now. (I know #21 is not in the top ten, but I did a top 20 that year and noted The Story of Film was 21st, so…) The biggest faller within the chart was Stoker, also from my 2015 viewing, which dropped seven places from 7th to 14th. The worst-affected film not on the list was 2010’s #3, Inception, which isn’t among the nine 2010 films on the list. The #3 films from 2007 (Mean Creek) and 2012 (Master and Commander) also aren’t here, but (as we’ve seen) their respective years don’t feature as many films on the list so they’ve theoretically dropped less far.

    Lastly, directors. There were 82 of them across the 100 films, of which 13 had two or more entries on the list. Top of the pile with four was, of all people, Matthew Vaughn. His films ranged from Kick-Ass in 8th up to Kingsman in 83rd, via X-Men: First Class at #16 and Stardust at #41. Sharing second place, each with three films, were David Fincher (Zodiac at #3, The Social Network at #11, Gone Girl at #66), George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead at #62, Dawn of the Dead at #63, Land of the Dead at #89), and Steven Spielberg (The Adventures of Tintin at #9, War Horse at #86, Lincoln at #95). Finally, the remaining nine directors with two films apiece were Wes Anderson, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, George Miller, Hayao Miyazaki, Chan-wook Park, Zack Snyder, Quentin Tarantino, and Denis Villeneuve.

    And now I’m done.

    Should you wish to revisit the excitement, all 200 of my 100 favourites can be found linked from their dedicated page here.

    100 Favourites II — The Top 10

    And so I reach the pinnacle of my list — my most favourite films I’ve seen for the first time in the past ten years. (Well, if we’re being precise, in the past ten years and three months, but not counting anything from the last three months. But that’s less snappy.)

    Over three previous posts I’ve counted down #100 to #11, but here’s the perfectly rounded number everyone loves for a list: the top ten.

    #10
    Dark City


    4th from 2008
    (previously 3rd | original review)

    Before The Matrix there was Dark City, which tackles some of the same philosophical issues as the Wachowskis’ trilogy, only in a less opaque and verbose fashion — and, as I said, did so first. Of course, it lacks the groundbreaking action sequences that made The Matrix such a hit, but as a thoughtful piece of stylish sci-fi noir it probably bests its better-known thematic cousins. I also reckon it’s still a bit underrated… including by me, really, because it’s nine years since I first watched it and I still haven’t got round to seeing the Director’s Cut. (Note to self: fix that.)

    #9
    The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn


    1st from 2014
    (previously 2nd | original review)

    Calling on the same skill set that produced the Indiana Jones movies, Steven Spielberg created an adventure movie that perfectly balances plot, action, and humour. Despite the freedom afforded by crafting the entire thing in CGI (rendered with stunning realism by Weta), Spielberg knows when to hold back and maintain a level of realism, only to cut loose when warranted. The top end of this list definitely skews blockbustery-y — well, it is “favourite” rather than some kind of “objective best” (not that that’d be strictly possible anyway) — but, nonetheless, I think Tintin is a very fine and underrated example of the form.

    #8
    Kick-Ass


    1st from 2010
    (previously 1st | original review)

    As Watchmen was to superhero comics, so Kick-Ass is to superhero films: taking familiar building blocks from other films and TV series, it deconstructs the genre through a “what if someone tried to be a superhero for real” storyline, asking questions about the glorification of violence and the sexualisation of its characters — all while being a funny and exciting action-comedy. Perhaps it’s having its cake and eating it, and that leads some people to miss the point (some by enjoying it a bit too much, some by thinking it has nothing to say), but I don’t think that stops it being one of the best and most thoughtful superhero movies yet made.

    #7
    Let the Right One In


    1st from 2011
    (previously 3rd | original review)

    It’s felt like you can’t escape vampires in film and TV for the last couple of decades, but trust a European movie to give them a unique spin, right? So it’s both a coming-of-age-y arthouse-y movie about two 12-year-olds and first love, and a scary horror movie about violent supernatural creatures. It works by not shortchanging either aspect, instead combining them to transcend genre boundaries. So it’s a genuinely touching, emotional and relatable drama, as well as a creepy and horrific fantasy thriller.

    #6
    Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation


    1st from 2015
    (previously 1st | original review)

    There’s always been a bit of a ‘wannabe’ air to the Mission: Impossible films, like maybe someone thought it could fill the void left by Bond disappearing post-Dalton, only it took so long to make it to the screen that Bond himself got there first in the shape of Pierce Brosnan. Nonetheless, the series has trundled along… though I don’t want to sound like I’m doing it down too much because I’ve always enjoyed it — the second one made my first 100 Favourites list, even. But Rogue Nation is where M:I finally out-Bonds Bond. Mixing action thrills and a genuine sense of jeopardy with just-ahead-of-reality gadgets, a knowing sense of humour, and a cast full of likeable characters, it’s superb blockbuster entertainment.

    #5
    Seven Samurai


    1st from 2013
    (previously 1st | original review)

    A phrase like “three-and-a-half-hour subtitled black-and-white movie” is going to conjure up a certain experience in the minds of most viewers. That experience is most probably nothing like Seven Samurai — although it is, of course, a three-and-a-half-hour subtitled black-and-white movie. On the surface it’s about a bunch of warriors protecting a small impoverished village that can’t defend itself, and it has a lengthy action-packed climax to deliver on such promise, but it rises above that thanks to its reflective attitude towards its characters and their very existence. No, wait, I said it’s not your typical three-and-a-half-hour subtitled black-and-white movie!

    #4
    Rashomon


    3rd from 2008
    (previously 5th | original review)

    I’d wager most would rank Seven Samurai higher in the Akira Kurosawa canon, but I give Rashomon the edge because the form of its storytelling appeals to me. It retells the events surrounding a murder from the subjective viewpoint of each of the characters who were there, and of course their accounts differ. Its title has become a byword for such narratives, but there’s more here than just trendsetting plot construction — it’s a fantastically made film, exquisitely shot and magnificently performed.

    #3
    Zodiac


    2nd from 2008
    (previously 2nd | original review)

    David Fincher’s meticulous true crime thriller may be his best movie — and when we’re talking about the man who made Se7en and Fight Club, that’s certainly saying a lot. It may look like it’s a murder thriller — it is about the hunt for a serial killer, after all — but in many respects it’s more about obsession and addiction, and how such things can come to take over your life. But if you don’t want to ponder that kind of thing, there’s always chills like the basement scene to keep you viscerally engaged. (The slightly-different Director’s Cut is the better version of the film and, if we’re being specific, would be my pick here; but I watched that a couple of years later, so it was the theatrical cut that figured in 2008’s top ten.)

    #2
    Skyfall


    1st from 2012
    (previously 1st | original review)

    The James Bond films have always been action blockbusters, and more often than not immensely popular and successful ones. Skyfall changed the game though: by hiring Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes it was instantly booted into Prestige Picture territory — and still managed to deliver the most financially successful film in the series’ long history, the first billion-dollar Bond. But box office success is not why Skyfall is #2 on my list. It’s the beautiful cinematography; the way it adds thematic weight to the character without breaking the formula; the sense of Bond’s history without over-explicit reverence — and the way those aspects makes it both familiar and fresh at the same time. Plus it delivers on the action, larger-than-life villain, and one-liners just like a Bond film should. Its artistic success may be a case of the stars aligning and lightning striking (the lacking-by-comparison follow-up Spectre proved that), but Bond has rarely been better.

    #1
    The Dark Knight


    1st from 2008
    (previously 1st | original review)

    Eight years and three months ago, when I named The Dark Knight my #1 film of 2008, I wrote that “I’m unashamedly one of those who believe The Dark Knight isn’t just one of the best films of 2008, it’s one of the best films ever.” It’s nice to be able to stand by such a brazen assertion. And, having thought long and hard about what I would declare as my most favouritest movie from the 1,283 new ones that I’ve seen in the last decade, I clearly do stand by it. I love superhero movies, I love crime thrillers, and I love epics, so it’s no surprise that a movie which combines all three — and does them all well — would top a list of my favourite movies.

    Now: what’s a good list without some statistics?

    100 Favourites II — The Penultimate 20

    Week 3 of this list (the first two parts are here and here) sees us hurtling towards the top of the chart — the films that are among my very most favouritest that I’ve seen in the last decade.

    I will say, there are more superhero movies than I expected…

    #30
    Deadpool

    2nd from 2016 (previously 8th)
    I feel like I should’ve matured out of finding Deadpool so entertaining, but it definitely appealed to my inner adolescent. It’s a riot. More…
    #29
    Super

    5th from 2011 (previously 5th)
    More superhero comedy, but Super’s low-budget grittiness and James Gunn-imbued barminess gives it an edge, even as its action climax is viscerally satisfying. More…
    #28
    Before Sunrise

    4th from 2007 (previously unranked)
    Richard Linklater distills the essence of twentysomething life and relationships into one night in the first (and best) of his decades-spanning Before trilogy. More…
    #27
    Citizen Kane

    3rd from 2007 (previously 7th)
    A film now overshadowed by its reputation, if you try to shed the baggage then Orson Welles’ debut still stands up very well in its own right. More…
    #26
    Watchmen: Director’s Cut

    1st from 2009 (previously 3rd)
    The most acclaimed superhero narrative ever penned became a film that is equally as complex and flawed, but also brilliant. More…
    #25
    Gravity

    4th from 2014 (previously 1st)
    Sandra Bullock is stranded in space and we’re right there alongside her in Alfonso Cuarón’s gripping and technically astonishing survival thriller. More…
    #24
    Sherlock Holmes

    4th from 2010 (previously 8th)
    Exciting, funny, with exceptional evocations of how it would feel to be the Great Detective. Not a traditional depiction, but surprisingly faithful. Plus: a proper mystery with a proper solution. More…
    #23
    Toy Story 3

    3rd from 2010 (previously 2nd)
    Lightning strikes thrice for Pixar’s studio-defining trilogy. Funny and moving, it tackles big emotional themes while still providing a kid-friendly adventure-comedy. More…
    #22
    United 93

    2nd from 2007 (previously 1st)
    Paul Greengrass’ 9/11 film almost feels like a documentary, with its naturalistic performances and handheld camerawork. That it was endorsed by the families is another stamp of approval. More…
    #21
    12 Angry Men

    3rd from 2014 (previously 5th)
    Twelve men talk to each other for an hour-and-a-half in this tense, gripping courtroom (without the courtroom) thriller. A directing masterclass from a debuting Sidney Lumet. More…
    #20
    Supermen of Malegaon

    3rd from 2015 (previously 4th)
    This little-seen documentary is an inspirational film about living your dreams even when the world won’t let you. Genuinely, I think it’s an absolute must-see for any lover of film. More…
    #19
    Requiem for a Dream

    2nd from 2014 (previously 8th)
    Darren Aronofsky’s addiction drama may ultimately be grim and without hope, but the verve of the filmmaking transcends expectations. More…
    #18
    Anatomy of a Murder

    2nd from 2010 (previously 4th)
    A precision-engineered procedural crime drama that refuses to deviate from the methodology of the case, but still finds room to deepen its array of characters. More…
    #17
    Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

    2nd from 2012 (previously 4th)
    Boasting an original variation on Batman’s backstory, plus a fine turn from Mark Hamill’s arguably-definitive Joker, this animation is among the very best Bat-films. More…
    #16
    X-Men: First Class

    4th from 2011 (previously 2nd)
    The X-Men begin in this origin story that shows us another side to familiar characters, with a unique feel thanks to its ’60s setting and plot that riffs off Cold War spy-fi. More…
    #15
    The Raid 2

    1st from 2016 (previously 2nd)
    Bigger and grander than its predecessor, this is a sprawling crime epic that still has time for huge, elaborate fight sequences. One of the greatest action movies ever made. More…
    #14
    My Neighbour Totoro

    3rd from 2011 (previously 7th)
    Gorgeously animated with a beautiful soundtrack, Hayao Miyazaki lures you in to a world and tells you a thoroughly nice story with no enforced peril. Refreshingly lovely. More…
    #13
    The Guest

    2nd from 2015 (previously 3rd)
    This ’80s-inspired thriller (with a horror-influenced edge) offers a witty screenplay, engaging characters, stylish visuals, and a fab score. Dan Stevens can definitely be my guest. More…
    #12
    Brief Encounter

    1st from 2007 (previously 6th)
    A romantic affair of cups of tea, discussions of the weather, tea, trips to the cinema, tea, guilt, indecision, and more tea. All the repressed emotions make it truly British. That and the tea. More…
    #11
    The Social Network

    2nd from 2011 (previously 1st)
    Unlikeable brats sit at computers, writing websites and arguing, but with dialogue by Aaron Sorkin and direction from David Fincher that becomes engrossing and exciting. More…

    Next Sunday: the top 10.

    The Past Month on TV #15

    It’s been a busy old month in front of the TV here at 100 Films HQ, and I’m not even going to cover all of it (I find myself with nothing to say about the five episodes of Arrow and The Flash I watched this month). For some kind of semblance of order to what follows, it’s split into “new stuff” and “old stuff” (plus the usual “other stuff” and “missed stuff” at the end).

    24: Legacy (Season 1 Episodes 1-4)
    24: LegacyPreviously on Twenny-Four… There may be no Jack Bauer, the new font for the clock may be bizarrely wrong, and the on-screen text may have abandoned the familiar golden yellow for a soft blue, but everything else about Legacy is same old, same old. If you remember it from 24, it’s here: the suspicious bosses, the scheming associates, the moles, the people accused of doing something bad who are obviously going to be innocent, the heroes going rogue and having to sneak around under the noses of people who are probably good but can’t be trusted right now, the implausible use and abuse of real-time, the unrelated subplots that are obviously going to be related eventually… even CTU’s ringtone is the same. So too is how its directed: split screen is kind of baked into the format, but everything’s hand-held and shot as if people are being spied on. Once upon a time 24’s look was innovative, but that was over 15 years ago. It’s not quite dated looking yet, but it’s no longer slick and modern either. Much like the entire show, to be honest. It’s nothing new, and nor is it a return to form — it’s just more of the same, but without the old leading man. Personally I don’t miss Bauer all that much (for me the format was always the star), but I do lament the complete lack of any attempt at innovation.

    Broadchurch (Series 3 Episodes 1-3)
    Broadchurch series 3DI David Tennant and DS Olivia Colman (or whatever their characters are called) return after the much-criticised second series for a third run that represents a blazing return to form. Nearly every police drama on TV is always about murder, but here our committed coppers are faced with something that seems harder to prove, and all the more distressing and divisive for those involved: a sexual assault. The series was apparently put together with extensive advice from expert organisations, which means on occasion it almost tips a little too far into factual territory, like a “this is how it’s done in real life” dramatisation. Fortunately screenwriter Chris Chibnall is better than that, quickly focusing on how it affects the characters, and on building the mysteries that will fuel eight whole episodes. Suspicion abounds, but if Broadchurch’s first series proved anything it was that everyone can guess the culprit before the end without it undermining the effectiveness of the drama. I think we’re a ways from that point yet, though…

    The 89th Academy Awards
    The Oscars 2017Best. Oscars. Ever! Oh, I bet it was horrendous actually being there having to deal with that ending, but my goodness, as a viewer it was fantastic. It couldn’t’ve been more dramatic if you’d scripted it. Imagine how terrible it could have been, though — if Moonlight had been forced to cede the win to La La Land, for instance (that would’ve sent #OscarSoWhite into overdrive), or if it had been in a category with a sole winner, who in the middle of their no-doubt-tearful acceptance speech was informed they hadn’t won after all and had to embarrassedly hand the statuette over to someone else… But no, it turned out OK. Well, not so for the La La Land guys, but for everyone else, yeah. And the rest of the ceremony wasn’t half bad either. Jimmy Kimmel was the most confident and capable host for bloody ages (and I say that as someone who enjoyed the likes of Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman) — if the show’s producers know what’s good for them, he’ll be the new regular host.

    Luther (Series 4)
    Luther series 4The recent news that Fox have scrapped plans for a US remake of Luther (because they couldn’t find a lead actor good enough to replace Idris Elba) reminded me that I never got round to watching the original version’s last series, this two-parter that aired back in December 2015. I can see why feeling unable to cast anyone as engaging as Elba would lead them to abandon their remake, because there’s not all that much special about Luther outside of its lead. Some people talk about it as if it’s among the forefront of the Quality TV era that we’re currently blessed with, but that’s just a bit daft — much like the programme itself. It doesn’t know it’s daft — it’s all very serious — but it is daft, really. Sure it’s dark, and sometimes kinda scary, and certainly grim, but its realism quotient is way low. It has much more in common with the overblown heightened world of, say, Sherlock than it does with, say, Elba’s previous great TV drama, The Wire. Anyway, the fourth series (if you can call two episodes a series) continues in much the same vein, as Luther’s dragged away from a leave of absence to help track a cannibal serial killer, while also trying to ascertain who committed the supposed murder of his super-villain girlfriend. Yeah, what a grounded and gritty show this is. Still, if you can stomach its gory pessimism, it’s largely entertaining.

    Peaky Blinders (Series 1)
    Peaky BlindersI’ve been meaning to get round to this since it first aired back in 2013, and for whatever reason now was the time (partly it was brought to mind by writer Steven Knight’s new dark period drama, Taboo). For thems that don’t know, it’s the saga of the eponymous gang, who ruled the streets of Birmingham in 1919, and their plans for expansion into other forms of business, both legitimate and otherwise. There’s a compelling lead performance from Cillian Murphy as the gang’s feared war veteran leader, but he’s surrounded by a strong ensemble, including the likes of Helen McCrory as his formidable aunt, who ran the business while all the lads were off in the trenches, and Sam Neill as the Northern Irish copper sent to Brum to retrieve some stolen munitions. It functions by turns as both a gripping underworld thriller and character study of violent men, on both sides of the law. I hear future series are of even higher quality, which is something to look forward to indeed.

    Twin Peaks (Season 1)
    Twin Peaks season 1“She’s deadwrapped in plastic!” With those immortal words (not the first lines, but never mind) a TV phenomenon was born, and a whole new era of television slowly began. Buffy the Vampire Slayer turned 20 this month and the Guardian ran a piece on how it (not, say, The Sopranos or The Wire) was the birth of TV-as-art. I love Buffy, but c’mon — even if we limit ourselves to ongoing US network drama series, Twin Peaks definitely got there first. Leaving aside its place in TV history, it’s a mighty fine drama, with co-creator David Lynch operating at his most accessible, yet still undoubtedly odd, in a story of an ordinary-looking small town with innumerable dark secrets lurking just out of sight. It’s at times hilariously funny, nightmarishly scary, unashamedly trashy, and absolutely gripping. At least so far — season two is notoriously less-good. Well, I’ve never watched it before, so I’ll find out for myself next month.

    Also watched…
  • Death in Paradise Series 6 Episodes 7-8 — the first episodes with new lead Ardal O’Hanlon seemed divisive, but I like him. Hopefully next year they can come up with some fresh new plotting to match their fresh new star.
  • Elementary Season 5 Episodes 10-13 — by the end of this season there’ll be exactly twice as many episodes of Elementary as there are canonical Holmes stories.
  • Let’s Sing and Dance for Comic Relief Series 1 Episodes 1-2 — oh, no. Despite everyone’s best efforts, the format just isn’t as good as plain ol’ Let’s Dance for Comic Relief.

    Things to Catch Up On
    The Americans season 5This month, I have mostly been missing the penultimate season of The Americans, which is two episodes in Stateside (no idea if there’s still a UK broadcaster; at this point I’m not sure it matters). Long-time readers may recall I like to save up The Americans and watch it binge-ish-ly once the season ends, which is a very rewarding way to watch such an intricately-constructed programme. The downside is that means I’m still a couple of months away from getting to find out what happens this year in “the best drama on television”. I bet it’ll be good, though.

    66 days until new Twin Peaks

    Next month… the final Defender: Iron Fist is released tomorrow. I’ll review it next month (obviously — I mean, this is the “next month” section.) Also! The first episode of the new series of Doctor Who.

  • 100 Favourites II — The Next 30

    Last week, my ranking of 100 favourite movies I’ve seen in the last decade began with 40 films that ranged from screwball comedies to spectacle-fuelled blockbusters, from gritty crime thrillers to artistic animations, from gory horrors to melodramatic epics…

    This week, my typically eclectic selection continues with the next 30 picks.

    #60
    The Nice Guys

    8th from 2016 (previously 11th)
    Convoluted criminality is rendered hilarious in Shane Black’s spiritual sequel to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. More…
    #59
    Arrival

    7th from 2016 (previously 6th)
    An intelligent, adult drama about humanity, which also happens to be a science-fiction mystery.

    #58
    His Girl Friday

    6th from 2010 (previously 7th)
    Sharp, fast, intelligent, hilariously funny — they don’t make films like this anymore. More…
    #57
    The Story of Film: An Odyssey

    8th from 2015 (previously 21st)
    Mark Cousins’ history of the movies wasn’t to all tastes, but I found all 15 hours to be fascinating and enlightening. More…
    #56
    The Night of the Hunter

    7th from 2013 (previously 7th)
    Charles Laughton’s only film as director is a masterpiece of dread, fear, cruelty, and near-peerless beauty. More…
    #55
    M

    5th from 2010 (previously unranked)
    Fritz Lang’s proto-noir serial killer procedural still has the power to thrill and chill. More…
    #54
    Inglourious Basterds

    3rd from 2009 (previously 1st)
    Killin’ Natzis, Tarantino style. History re-rendered in terms of pure cinema. More…
    #53
    In Bruges

    2nd from 2009 (previously 2nd)
    “There’s never been a classic movie made in Bruges, until now.” More…
    #52
    Byzantium

    7th from 2015 (previously 5th)
    These vampires aren’t glamorous or sparkly, but damaged and discarded in a seedy seaside town of tarnished charms. More…
    #51
    How to Train Your Dragon

    8th from 2011 (previously unranked)
    Glorious animation, with soaring flight sequences and an emotive connection to its characters, both human and dragon. More…
    #50
    Dredd

    6th from 2013 (previously 6th)
    Sharp, efficient sci-fi action with impressive gun battles, dry humour, and Karl Urban nailing the title character. More…
    #49
    Steve Jobs

    6th from 2016 (previously 3rd)
    A gripping character drama with a surprising corporate thriller vibe, magnificently written by Aaron Sorkin. More…
    #48
    Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro

    7th from 2011 (previously 4th)
    Described by no less than Steven Spielberg as “one of the greatest adventure movies of all time”. More…
    #47
    The Shining

    8th from 2014 (previously 3rd)
    Eliciting dread and almost-primal fear, it’s the most excruciatingly and exquisitely unsettling film I’ve ever seen. More…
    #46
    X-Men: Days of Future Past

    7th from 2014 (previously 9th)
    Surprisingly deep characterisation rubs shoulders with witty and inventive action in this all-eras X-Men team-up. More…
    #45
    Predestination

    5th from 2016 (previously 5th)
    Thought-provoking science-fiction in this time travel mystery that tackles issues of gender and identity — how timely. More…
    #44
    The Revenant

    4th from 2016 (previously 4th)
    Starring Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography, this gruelling survival Western is primarily told with visuals and so becomes a work of pure cinema. More…
    #43
    Oldboy

    6th from 2014 (previously 7th)
    Mixing a straightforward revenge thriller with weird, almost surrealistic touches, Oldboy is kinda crazy, kinda disturbed, but kinda brilliant because of it. More…
    #42
    Hanna

    5th from 2013 (previously 5th)
    A teen coming-of-age movie… with hard-hitting action sequences, surreal imagery, long single takes, beautiful cinematography, and a pulsating Chemical Brothers soundtrack. More…
    #41
    Stardust

    5th from 2008 (previously 4th)
    A truly magical film, packed with wit, action, delicious villains, a star-studded cast, a stirring score, and genuinely special effects. More…
    #40
    North by Northwest

    4th from 2013 (previously 4th)
    Almost everything you could want from a movie: pure tension, action, humour; a mystery, a thriller; a dash of romance. Unadulterated entertainment. More…
    #39
    The Three Musketeers

    6th from 2011 (previously unranked)
    Sword fights galore in this riot of swashbuckling fun, with a lightness of touch that makes for pure entertainment. More…
    #38
    The Grand Budapest Hotel

    6th from 2015 (previously 10th)
    A film full of delights, from the hilarious performances, to the clever dialogue, to the inventive design, to the controlled camerawork. More…
    #37
    Mad Max 2

    5th from 2015 (previously 2nd)
    Post-apocalyptic Australian Western that climaxes with a balls-to-the-wall multi-vehicle chase, one of the greatest action sequences ever filmed. More…
    #36
    Sicario

    3rd from 2016 (previously 1st)
    A dark and morally questionable thriller, incredibly shot by Roger Deakins, artfully helmed by perhaps the best director currently working, Denis Villeneuve. More…
    #35
    Rise of the Planet of the Apes

    3rd from 2012 (previously 7th)
    An intelligent science-inspired drama that just happens to link up to a big studio sci-fi/action series. More…
    #34
    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    5th from 2014 (previously 4th)
    The sequel to the prequel to the Planet of the Apes presents a fully-realised ape society and a story of interspecies relations that reflects our own times. More…
    #33
    Django Unchained

    3rd from 2013 (previously 2nd)
    Tarantino’s Spaghetti Western homage is an entertaining, occasionally thought-provoking, rewarding, and thoroughly cinematic experience. More…
    #32
    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
    2nd from 2013 (previously 3rd)
    One of the most underrated films of the ’00s, Andrew Dominik’s historically accurate movie is a considered, immersive, complex, intimate, epic Western. More…
    #31
    Mad Max: Fury Road

    4th from 2015 (previously 6th)
    Action filmmaking elevated to a genuine art form, but alongside the mind-boggling stunts there’s a surprising richness of theme and character. More…

    Next Sunday: the penultimate 20.

    100 Favourites II — The First 40

    Regular readers will remember that I spent last year listing my 100 favourite films, but with one key stipulation: they were all films I’d seen before 100 Films began. Now, the somewhat inevitable sequel, in which I list my favourites from 100 Films.

    Last time I listed the 100 alphabetically, but this time I’ve attempted to rank them. In many respects the result is pretty arbitrary — I mean, how are you meant to compare the relative merits of, say, The Passion of Joan of Arc, Notorious, Enchanted, and Jurassic World? I love them all, but in very different ways. So it’s a bit rough in places, though things should get more precise in later posts, as we reach the top end — you’ve gotta be more sure to say stuff is the “best of the best”, haven’t you? I think I could’ve fiddled with the ranking endlessly, one merit or another boosting films up and down whole chunks of the list, but at some point you have to let it go (fundamentally it doesn’t matter, does it?), and this is how it was when I let it go.

    However, one thing I definitely did was select and rank this list from scratch, with minimal reference to my existing year-end top tens. That means films from the same year now appear in a different order, and stuff that didn’t even make my top ten at the time is now present. Even the films I ranked less than two months ago have been rearranged with the change of perspective. Nonetheless, on each entry I’ve noted where it now ranks relative to other films from its year, as well as where it used to rank (if it even did). Of course, as I was just saying, if I recompiled this list next month I might rank them completely differently again.

    There are also plenty of films I liked a lot that didn’t quite make it in, but I’m not going to list them because that would be cheating. Some films probably benefit from being fresher in my memory, but that seems to be a common affliction of many a list such as this.

    Anyway, that’s plenty of ado. So, we begin today with numbers 100 to 61…

    #100
    The Lego Movie

    16th from 2014 (previously unranked)
    Everything is awesome in this surprisingly clever and witty animation. More…
    #99
    Gambit

    10th from 2011 (previously 10th)
    “Go ahead, tell the end… but please don’t tell the beginning!” More…
    #98
    After the Thin Man

    15th from 2014 (previously unranked)
    Murder, screwball comedy, and a romantic subplot involving the dog. More…
    #97
    Fantastic Mr. Fox

    14th from 2014 (previously unranked)
    Roald Dahl, Wes Anderson style. More…
    #96
    Monsters

    9th from 2011 (previously 6th)
    What’s that coming over the hill? Is it an exciting new director? More…
    #95
    Lincoln

    14th from 2016 (previously 13th)
    Abraham Lincoln pretends to be Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln. More…
    #94
    Cold in July

    13th from 2016 (previously 9th)
    Regularly surprising neo-noir thriller. More…
    #93
    The Limey

    12th from 2016 (previously 7th)
    Revenge as flashback… or flash-forward… or a dream… or a fantasy… or…? More…
    #92
    Shutter Island

    18th from 2015 (previously 16th)
    Gothic psychological mystery thriller. More…
    #91
    The Green Hornet

    13th from 2014 (previously unranked)
    A superhero movie made by Seth Rogen and Michel Gondry, which sums it up pretty well. More…
    #90
    In Your Eyes

    12th from 2014 (previously unranked)
    Gently fantastical romantic drama. More…
    #89
    Land of the Dead

    11th from 2013 (previously unranked)
    Zombies switch eating brains for developing them. More…
    #88
    Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

    17th from 2015 (previously 19th)
    Spy action of the highest calibre. More…
    #87
    Zootropolis

    11th from 2016 (previously 15th)
    A neo-noir crime thriller about racism featuring nudism and drug abuse… from Disney! More…
    #86
    War Horse

    4th from 2012 (previously 2nd)
    A beautifully old-fashioned melodramatic war epic. More…
    #85
    Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – Deluxe Edition

    10th from 2013 (previously 9th)
    Batman vs. Superman, Mk.I More…
    #84
    The New World

    6th from 2007 (previously unranked)
    When I get round to watching the extended cut I have a suspicion this may find itself even higher. More…
    #83
    Kingsman: The Secret Service

    16th from 2015 (previously 13th)
    Irreverent spy-fi in this classic-Bond-inspired action comedy. More…
    #82
    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    15th from 2015 (previously 9th)
    The cinematic equivalent of a greatest-hits cover album, but the hits are great. More…
    #81
    The Secret of Kells

    11th from 2014 (previously unranked)
    A magical story with gorgeous animation. More…
    #80
    Hot Fuzz

    5th from 2007 (previously 2nd)
    They’re bad boys. They’re die hards. They’re lethal weapons. More…
    #79
    Stoker

    14th from 2015 (previously 7th)
    A beguiling, sensuous, classically Gothic thriller. More…
    #78
    Road Games

    10th from 2016 (previously 12th)
    Rear Windscreen meets Duel Down Under in a superb Ozploitation thriller.

    #77
    Enchanted

    8th from 2008 (previously unranked)
    Disney spoofs Disney in this brilliant live-action fairytale/real-world mash-up. More…
    #76
    Jurassic World

    13th from 2015 (previously 12th)
    The plot may be familiar, but genuine Spielbergian awe and wonder goes a long way. More…
    #75
    The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    10th from 2014 (previously unranked)
    An entertaining and intelligent blockbuster, with a fantastic use of IMAX. More…
    #74
    The Babadook

    12th from 2015 (previously unranked)
    If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook. More…
    #73
    Chronicle

    9th from 2014 (previously 6th)
    Combining found-footage and superheroes was inevitable, but the result being so good was not. More…
    #72
    Hairspray

    7th from 2008 (previously 6th)
    You can’t stop the beat. More…
    #71
    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition

    9th from 2016 (previously 10th)
    Clearly not the movie a lot of people think they need, but maybe it’s the one they deserve right now. More…
    #70
    Coraline

    9th from 2010 (previously 6th)
    Dark and scary children’s animation. More…
    #69
    Son of Rambow

    4th from 2009 (previously 4th)
    Beautifully written, directed and performed, amusing and moving in equal measure. More…
    #68
    Speed Racer

    8th from 2010 (previously unranked)
    A candy-coloured masterpiece. More…
    #67
    The Spiral Staircase

    7th from 2010 (previously unranked)
    The perfect filmic evocation of a dark and stormy night. More…
    #66
    Gone Girl

    11th from 2015 (previously unranked)
    A twist-laden dramatic thriller that deconstructs modern relationships. More…
    #65
    Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

    10th from 2015 (previously 17th)
    Idiosyncratic thriller perfectly balanced between indie drama and crime actioner. More…
    #64
    The Passion of Joan of Arc

    9th from 2015 (previously 14th)
    Surprisingly accessible to modern eyes. An exceptionally affecting experience. More…
    #63
    Dawn of the Dead

    9th from 2013 (previously unranked)
    Zombie gore, yes, but more important are the humour, characterisation, and social critique. More…
    #62
    Night of the Living Dead

    8th from 2013 (previously 8th)
    The film that created the zombie genre has endured remarkably well. More…
    #61
    Notorious

    6th from 2008 (previously 7th)
    Hitchcock’s romantic spy thriller. More…

    Next Sunday: the next 30.

    The Interruptive Monthly Update for February 2017

    And the award for Most Recent Month goes to… January!

    I’m sorry, no, there’s a mistake. February, you guys won Most Recent Month. This is not a joke. This is not a joke, I’m afraid they read the wrong thing. This is not a joke. February has won Most Recent Month. February, Most Recent Month.


    #16 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
    #17 It Follows (2014)
    #18 Elstree 1976 (2015)
    #19 Hell or High Water (2016)
    #19a Mad Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome Edition (2015/2016)
    #20 In a Valley of Violence (2016)
    #21 Don’t Breathe (2016)
    #22 Fandango (1985)
    #23 Hail, Caesar! (2016)
    #24 San Andreas (2015)
    #25 Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (2015)
    #26 Dances with Wolves: Special Edition (1990/1991)
    #27 Police Academy (1984)
    #28 The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
    #29 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (2016)
    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

    Fandango

    .


    • I watched 14 new films in February, plus one alternate version.
    • That’s now my 33rd consecutive month with ten or more films.
    • It easily passes the February average (11.22; now 11.5), but isn’t even close to the highest February (last year’s 24).
    • It also falls just short of the last 12 months’ average (15.83; now 15 exactly).
    • It’s also behind where I was this time last year (#44!), but it’s equal to this time in 2015 and ahead of every other year.
    • This month’s WDYMYHS viewing: the Coen brothers’ frothy ode to Hollywood (which may have deeper stuff going on that, frankly, I wish it didn’t try to bother with), Hail, Caesar!
    • I know some people like to schedule exactly which month they’ll watch each of their Blindspot films. Never quite understood why personally, and here’s a good argument for why not: suddenly finding myself with a weekend all to, er, myself, I was able to comfortably watch all four hours of Dances with Wolves.



    The 21st Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    One of this year’s Best Picture nominees and a winner from the past may be among my viewing this month, but, while I liked them both very much, there were other films I enjoyed even more. Of those, I think I’m going to pick a coming-of-age comedy-drama I’d never even heard of ’til the ghost of 82 recommended it to me last year, Fandango. It’s definitely worth seeking out.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    There were no outright stinkers this month — and considering I watched things like San Andreas, Police Academy, and Teenage Mutant Michael Bay Turtles 2, I’m surprised. I nearly gave this award to Don’t Breathe, because the hyper-praised horror-thriller isn’t quite deserving of the extreme love it attracted, but I’ll probably give it a higher star rating than those three I already mentioned. Instead I’ll plump for Police Academy, which isn’t bad but isn’t all that great either.

    Best Cover Version of a Classic Song of the Month
    After getting an oriental-tinged version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps in Kubo last month, this month it’s California Dreamin’ given a hyper-dramatic do-over by Sia for San Andreas.

    Best Dog of the Month
    Could it be the talented Abby from In a Valley of Violence? (Very much so.) Could it be the vicious guard dog from Don’t Breathe? (Not really.) Could it be Snoopy? (Eh…) No, the actual winner is the cute little scruffy dog that gets chased by zombies but runs away and totally survives (yes he does) from The Girl with All the Gifts.

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    My stats went through the roof this month thanks to being linked to in an article on Cracked.com — just those hits alone would make February 2017 my fourth highest month ever. But it was an old review (Wizardhood) so has nothing to do with this award. Two posts vied neck and neck all month, but in the end It Follows was bested by my review of “Tim Burton’s X-Men”, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

    Special Award for Best Pun of the Month
    This is a bit “patting myself on the back” (possibly undeservedly) but, honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of referring to In a Valley of Violence as “John Wick-y wicky wild wild West”.



    You may have noticed there were fewer reviews this month than normal. That’s because (in case you missed it) I marked the blog’s 10th anniversary by posting ten top tens about the last ten years. Plus the customary statistics post, of course.


    Despite its aim, my rewatchathon has thus far done very little to halt my focus on watching stuff I’ve never seen before — instead of one a week, I’m averaging one a month. Oops.

    #2 21 Jump Street (2012)

    I suppose you could also count Fury Road: Black & Chrome down here, but the decolourisation has such a profound effect on the feel of the film that I think it belongs in my main list, albeit as an unnumbered aside, like most alternate versions. And it can’t really be in both lists, can it?

    It’s OK though, there are still ten months to go…


    So, I said I was going to post 100 Favourites II on consecutive days for the rest of this week. I’ve decided that’s not going to work out, so instead I’ll post the four parts weekly, starting this Sunday.

    Other than that, after spending ages celebrating the blog’s anniversary, regular service will be resumed.

    All Your Film Are Belong To Blog: 1,337 Films in a Decade

    Today is 100 Films in a Year’s 10th birthday.

    Back when this started it was just a challenge to myself, inspired by “50 books in a year” efforts that other people were doing. I covered it on my DeviantArt blog because that’s where I’d seen the idea (look, it’s still there!) After that first year went rather well I decided to continue the challenge, but moved my coverage to a dedicated blog on Blogger (look, it’s still there!) That didn’t last long: less than two months later I moved on to the film blogging community at FilmJournal (look, it’s still there!) After several happy years, the FilmJournal community began to die off as the site fell into a kind of disrepair (if you follow that link you can see what a mess the formatting became), prompting a final move to WordPress in 2012 (look, I’m still here!)

    When I started this whole shebang the world was a different place: Tony Blair was still Prime Minister and George W. Bush was still President. Apple had only just announced the iPhone; the iPad and the tablet revolution were still several years away. Facebook had only been open to everyone for five months. The hashtag hadn’t been invented yet. The final Harry Potter book hadn’t been published, most people hadn’t heard of Twilight, and Fifty Shades of Grey didn’t even exist. Britain’s Got Talent hadn’t aired, never mind spawned the ubiquitous Got Talent franchise. The format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD was still raging.

    I suspect the “all your base are belong to us” meme had already had its day by then too, but I’m using it now nonetheless.

    On a personal level, I was still an undergraduate, had never owned a dog (it was a couple of years before we’d meet Rory at a rescue — I wonder what he was up to then?), and still had all those dreams and ambitions of youth that end up going unrealised. But hey, at least I’ve still got my blog!

    During the past decade said blog has certainly grown, from writing a couple of sentences about each film in updates posted every few weeks, to the almost-daily and often-far-too-long dedicated reviews I post nowadays, along with my monthly updates and TV reviews. The number of people reading my ramblings seems to have continually increased as well, which is rewarding in its way — I guess I’m doing something right; have something interesting to say.


    Two months in, 2017 is already over halfway to 2013’s total.

    Commensurately, the blog has taken up an increasing amount of my time: it feels like when I’m not watching films and TV I’m writing about them; especially last year, when adding my 100 Favourites series into the mix took up far more time than I’d anticipated. Sometimes it feels like I’m making a rod for my own back, doing all this, but at the end of the day it’s enjoyable — why else keep doing it? But after the monomaniacal focus I’ve given this thing for the past couple of years, I do need to find more time to broaden my activities.

    Not just yet, though! For two reasons: starting on Thursday (after tomorrow’s February monthly update) I’ll be diving into 100 Favourites II! No, not another 52-week marathon project — it’ll all be over by Sunday. More on that then.

    For now, the thing everyone loves (right?): statistics!

    As the title of this post reveals, in the past decade I’ve watched 1,337 films expressly for this blog — which, as anyone familiar with internet-y slang will know, is code for “elite”, as in “very good”. Probably a bit old fashioned to use nowadays (or it should be), which is connected to why I revived the whole “all your base” thing. See, there’s method to my madness.

    Those 1,337 films include all the alternate cuts and other films I reviewed. The actual total of brand-new films I’ve seen is 1,283 (which is a less entertaining number, hence why it’s not inspired the theme of this post). The total running time of that many movies was 136,154 minutes, and if you factor in everything else I’ve watched and reviewed it comes to 144,118 minutes — back to back, that’s 3 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, 1 hour, and 58 minutes of solid viewing. Phew!

    Regular readers of my annual statistics posts may have noticed that the graph of each year’s running time always shows “no data” for 2007. That’s because when I first posted my 2007 reviews I didn’t include that information, so I couldn’t tally them up for my stats that year either. However, when I re-posted all those reviews to one of my new blogs I added the times… but still didn’t bother to total them up — it is a lot of films, after all. But this is a special occasion, so I’ve finally gone back over the lot and done it. So here, for the first time, is a complete running time graph:

    If you’re curious, that makes the average running time of a film 106 minutes. I don’t think that really signifies anything, but there it is.

    Down the years I’ve regularly noted my predilection for newer films — more recent decades always come out on top year-by-year, and my 100 Favourites showed a definite bias towards the past couple of decades (there are stats on that here). Naturally, that’s borne out when I look back at the last ten years in totality. The only possible element of ‘tension’ is: what will come out on top between the 2000s and the 2010s? On the one hand, about 70% of my blog’s life has been in the latter decade; on the other, that means there are more years (and therefore more films) for the former. Drama!

    As it is, things go as you might expect: the 2010s come out on top with 458 films, which is 34.3% of the 1,337; and then of course the 2000s are second, with 388 (29%). The only other decade to make triple figures was the ’90s, its total of 114 representing a mere 8.5%. In order of size, the next decade is the ’80s with 91 (6.8%), followed by the ’40s with 79 (5.9%) — all those classic detective series add up. The countdown continues as follows: the ’60s with 57 (4.3%), the ’50s right behind with 56 (4.2%), the ’70s with 50 (3.7%), the ’30s with 21 (1.6%), the 1920s with 15 (1.1%), and finally the 1910s with 8 (0.6%). And the 1900s are actually represented too, by a single short.

    As we’re talking about my tastes skewing newer, I thought I’d take a look at something I’ve never considered before. Every year I post a list of my top ten films selected from my personal viewing that year, meaning that films from any time period are eligible. Despite that, I’m aware I still have a tendency to declare newer stuff my #1 of the year. Just how new? Well, this graph shows the ages (in years) of my #1 picks at the time I picked them…

    The average age of a #1 (ignoring the outlier) is just over 9 months old. Sticking out is, of course, Seven Samurai, which was 716 months old when it became 2013’s #1. The second oldest was United 93 at a piddling 18 months, while the youngest of all was Skyfall at just 2 months. So, yeah, pretty new.

    Similar to running times, I’ve not kept track of all my stats for all ten years — I can’t list languages, or countries of production, or a couple of other things I cover at the end of each year nowadays. It would’ve been interesting, but there you go. There are a couple more things I can pick out, though.

    Firstly, the formats I’ve watched all these movies on. This is an interesting one (well, it is to me) because these have regularly fluctuated down the years. Back in 2007 DVD was at the height of its dominance and was the clear frontrunner, but since then it’s slipped far back. Blu-ray has taken its place to an extent (maybe not in the wider population, but in the hearts of people like me), but in terms of my own viewing I know that watching films on TV topped the pile for a number of years. Recently, however, streaming has taken charge, with Now TV making Sky Movies Cinema more affordable and the increasing rise of Netflix, not to mention Amazon’s wannabe-competition. But what comes out best from the decade as a whole?

    A little to my surprise, the winner is television, with 367 films (27.4%). I know it was once the #1 format for my viewing, but it’s been slipping for four years now. I guess it’s because it’s been a constant, whereas DVD has faded, streaming has only recently risen, and I’ve never watched as many of my Blu-rays as I should. That said, Blu-ray is second, gradually amassing 318 films (23.8%) over the past nine of the ten years. DVD has clung on in third, with 291 (21.8%). I guess that’s a slow accumulation — it’s one of only three formats to be represented in all ten years (along with television and another that we’ll come to in a bit). New champion streaming (it’s been #1 the past two years) ends up fourth with 243 (18.2%). Considering its numbers over the last couple of years, if I re-ran this all-time chart this time next year it’d likely be second, with the number one spot in its sights not long after. Unless I finally buck up my ideas and get better stuck in to my DVD and Blu-ray collection, anyway.

    There’s a big drop to the rest of the figures, which are rounded out by the third and final format to crop up in all ten years, downloads, on 68 (5.1%); my poor record of trips to the cinema on 42 (3.14% — so it’s both the answer to life, the universe and everything and pi); good old VHS on 7 (0.5%); and a lonely little film watched in-flight, that 1 being just 0.07%. Sadly, it wasn’t a Bond film. Even more sadly, it was the risible Superhero Movie.

    Finally, as always, a word on quality, or at least my perception thereof. In the past ten years I’ve handed out 223 5-star ratings. That’s 16.7% of the films I’ve watched, which also happens to be one-sixth. I guess that’d sound neater if it was one-fifth, but then I’d be an even more generous marker than I already am. This is definitely borne out by the 615 4-star ratings, which at 46% is not that far off half. (Well, I’d have to have given out 53½ more of them to make it actually half, but still.) Sitting between those two in quantity were the 350 3-stars, which at 26.2% is only a little over a quarter (certainly closer to a quarter than 46% was to half). That leaves the two ‘bad’ ratings to share just 11.1% of films between them — which is just over a tenth, of course. That splits as 130 2-star ratings (9.7%), leaving just 19 films (1.4%) in the highly exclusive 1-star club.

    From all that, we can deduce that the average rating earnt by these 1,337 films is 3.6679, which as a percentage would be 73.358%.

    And that, I’m afraid, is the end of that.

    Tomorrow: putting my birthday celebrations aside for a moment, the February update.

    On Wednesday… 100 Favourites II: Eclectic Boogaloo.