100 Films @ 10: Most Represented Directors

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It’s 100 Films’ 10th birthday at the end of the month. To mark the occasion, I thought in the run-up to it I’d publish some lists based on the last ten years of my blog, because who doesn’t love a list?

How many lists have I got? Why, 100 of course!

…haha, no — that would be ridiculous. There are ten — one for each year of 100 Films. And each one has ten items on it. Ten times ten is… why, it’s 100! What a coincidence.

For the first list, I’ve put opinion aside for pure facts: these are the ten directors who’ve been most-reviewed on this blog. That excludes films only featured in my 100 Favourites series — this is just their work that has been covered as part of my ‘main’ blog.

It may be worth noting that, because it’s purely based on statistics, this isn’t a list of my ten favourite directors… though as they’re ones I keep watching movies by, I guess it’d be a fair starting point.

10
Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan has made nine feature films, and seven of them are reviewed here. Throw in an extra one for the IMAX version of The Dark Knight and his short documentary, Quay, and he edges ahead of runners-up John Carpenter, Ernst Lubitsch, George Miller, and Billy Wilder.

9
Tim Burton

The next four directors are technically tied, but I’ve found a way to differentiate them. First: the Burtonesque Tim Burton, whose eight entries can be split into six main-list films and two reviews of things I’d already seen (Batman and Batman Returns).

8
Ridley Scott

Next, the man we can probably thank for all the Director’s Cuts we get these days, the more classical of the two Scott brothers, Sir Ridley Scott. He also has eight, of course, which factors in six main-list films, one alternate cut that I nonetheless counted on my main list (Blade Runner: The Final Cut), and one non-main-list film (Alien: The Director’s Cut).

7
Zack Snyder

Our third eight-film filmmaker is everyone’s favourite “visionary” director of superhero movies (right?), Zack Snyder. All eight of his films were on the main list, though two of them were alternate versions (the extended cuts of Batman v Superman and Watchmen).

6
Clint Eastwood

Simple and straight-up, much like the main himself, Clint Eastwood has a pure eight films.

5
Steven Soderbergh

The top five heads into double figures, with ten films for one-time enfant terrible and now retiree Steven Soderbergh.

4
Martin Scorsese

Perpetual awards season snubee, Martin Scorsese also has ten feature films, but edges ahead thanks to his part in anthology film New York Stories.

=2
Roy William Neill / Steven Spielberg

Unlike other directors on this list, there’s no reasonable way to differentiate this pair. You may not know the name Roy William Neill, but he helmed eleven of the fourteen Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone, and those four years of work have landed him near the top of this list. Conversely, Steven Spielberg is probably the most famous film director working today, if not ever, and his eleven films span 44 years, stretching from his first (1971’s Duel) to his most recent Oscar nominee (2015’s Bridge of Spies).

1
David Fincher

Topping the list is my go-to pick for favourite director, David Fincher. He’s helmed ten movies, but I’ve reviewed twelve — that’s eleven main-list features (including the Assembly Cut of Alien³) and one extra for the marginally-extended director’s cut of Zodiac.

Tomorrow: when directors re-cut.

2016: The Full List

2016 is set to go down as a very bad year: everybody died, nasty people won things, and it felt like there was a lot of disappointment at the movies too. Will 2017 be better? Probably not. I mean, people will still die, and we’ve got the fall-out of last year’s votes to endure for the next goodness-knows-how-many years.

…I hadn’t intended to be so doom and gloom. Sorry.

In the world of 100 Films, it was my 10th year (did I mention that already?) Part of that was my celebratory 100 Favourites series, which I covered pretty thoroughly in its own conclusion so won’t get into again here. As for the main point of this site, I watched 195 new-to-me films — not as many as last year, but then I expressly didn’t want to go that crazy again. I was thinking a little less than almost-the-same-again, though!

Anyway, it’s time to wrap all that up. Today, the usual array of factual analysis of my viewing (lists! statistics! yay statistics!), then later in the week (whenever I’ve finished writing it) will be my top ten & all that.

But first of all: as this post is a long scroll past a lot of words and pictures if you don’t like reading a long list of films (I mean, you can read it all if you like — that’s why it’s here), some handy links so you can jump straight to the good bit.



Below is a graphical representation of my 2016 viewing, month by month. Each image links to the relevant monthly update, which contains the numbered list of everything I watched this year — plus other thrills, like my monthly Arbie awards.













Alternate Cuts
Shorts
10 Cloverfield Lane

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

Barry Lyndon

Beverly Hills Cop II

Brooklyn

Captain America: Civil War

Dallas Buyers Club

Deep Blue Sea

Electric Boogaloo

Ex Machina

The Good Dinosaur

The Hateful Eight

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

The Last Temptation of Christ

The Magnificent Seven

The Man from UNCLE

Napoleon

Our Kind of Traitor

Pride

Return of the One-Armed Swordsman

Road Games

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Star Trek Beyond

The Survivalist

Ted 2

The Visit

White God

Independence Day

The Present

.

In the end, I watched 195 new feature films in 2016. (They’re all included in the following stats, even if there’s no review yet.) That’s not quite as high as last year’s 200, but is otherwise far ahead of every other year — it’s more than double my worst year.

I also watched three extended or altered cuts of films I’d seen before, one of which (Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition) was different enough to count on the main list. For the first time since 2010 I didn’t review any films & cuts I’d seen before — other than the 100 in my Favourites series, of course.

And if you did happen to be wondering what that might look like with my 100 Favourites included… well…

Finally, I watched seven short films this year — though four of those are counted in the main list as The Quay Brothers in 35mm. For the purposes of these statistics, that will be counted as one feature rather than four shorts. As usual, none of the other shorts are counted in the following statistics (except the one stat that mentions them).

The total running time of new features was 362 hours and 58 minutes, which — as will become a running theme if I keep mentioning it — is a little way behind 2015 but far ahead of every other year. Throw in those handful of alternate cuts and shorts and the total running time of all films was 367 hours and 57 minutes.

For the second year in a row my most prolific viewing format was streaming. In fact it saw an increase on last year, accounting for 113 films, 57.4% of my viewing. For most people the reason for that would be Netflix, but I only subscribe to that sometimes — there’s also Now TV, Amazon Prime, renting stuff, plus YouTube, Vimeo, and iPlayer too. Unfortunately I didn’t bother to keep a record of which service I used when and can’t be bothered to go back through 113 films and work it out, but maybe I’ll note it next year.

Second place once again belonged to Blu-ray, but with a reduced 41 films, which amounts to just 20.8%. Considering I keep buying the things (I know exactly how many I acquired in the last year and, compared to how many I watched, it’s embarrassing), I really ought to upend this equation. Maybe in 2017. (Yeah, right.)

It’s another repeat of last year in third place, where television accounts for 19 films, under 10% of my viewing. That’s also down from last year, continuing a slide that’s been going on for four years now. I keep recording stuff, but then they’re always there, just waiting, while stuff on streaming services has a habit of getting removed…

In a number that has held exactly the same, nine films were downloads, but this year that’s enough to boost it to fourth place. The number of DVDs I watched halved to just eight, a little over 4%. Considering I have literally hundreds of these unwatched, this is getting silly.

The final format was cinema, though the seven trips I made this year is my highest since 2008. I was going to go more over the summer but sometimes life gets in the way. Is there enough exciting stuff due in 2017 to boost this number next year? Time will tell.

As the final word on formats, I’ve once again tallied how many I watched in HD vs. SD. In the former camp we’ve got the vast majority of my streaming views (94.7% of them, to be precise), all the Blu-rays, most of the downloads, over half the TV viewings, and all the cinema visits. In ye olde standarde definitione there’s a handful of streaming and TV views, a single download, and those meagre DVD spins. The final tally says that 88.3% of my 2016 viewing was in glorious high definition. Hurrah!

It wasn’t just the technology that was modern: the most popular decade among my 2016 viewing was the 2010s with 121 films (61.4%). That’s marginally down from 2015, but it’s not like the gains were particularly felt elsewhere: distant second went to the 2000s with 18 (9.1%), exactly the same number of films as last year, while the ’90s came third with 15 (7.6%).

In fourth place was an uncommonly strong turnout for the ’70s with 14 films (7.1%), while the last decade in double figures was the ’80s with 12 (6.1%). As for the next few, they showed an element of name/tally synergy: the ’60s had six (3%), the ’50s had five (2.5%), and the ’40s had four (2%). Finishing it off, there was one each for the the ’20s and ’30s.

In another case of unsurprising business-as-usual, this year’s dominant language was English, featuring in 177 films. However, that works out as 89.8% of the films I watched — the first time that percentage has dipped below 90%. Nothing else comes even vaguely close, but nonetheless second place is a surprise: Russian, with 14 (7.1%). I watched two Russian films and one Russian co-production this year, so quite where the other 11 come from I don’t know. US/UK-produced spy movies, probably. Just behind that is Mandarin with 13 (6.6%), which is more explicable as I watched all those Shaw Brothers movies. Fifth place was split four ways, with eight films (4.1%) each for French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. In all, there were 24 languages this year (plus one “silent”), which is the exact same number as last year. More unusual ones included Ancient Egyptian, American Sign Language, Pawnee, and Xhosa.

It’s a similar story in countries of production: the USA remains dominate with 145 films, but the percentage — 73.6% — is marginally down from last year. In its usual second place, but also with its numbers slightly down, was the UK, with a hand in 47 films (23.9%). As always, these aren’t all films you’d identify as “American” or “British”, but most of the other countries I’ll mention are present thanks to co-productions as well, so it kinda balances out.

Among the rest, France was third with 18; joint fourth were Canada and Hong Kong on 12 each; and just behind them was Germany with 11. Counting down to round out the field were Australia (eight), China (seven), Japan (six), Ireland (five), Spain (four), and three each from Belgium, Italy, and Russia. A further five countries could claim two films, and 11 countries contributed to one apiece. Those with a definite claim to “country of origin” include Hungary, Indonesia, South Africa, and Taiwan.

A total of 157 directors plus 13 directing partnerships appear on 2016’s main list — and one film where I only credited an editor, too. Of those, 15 had multiple credits to their name. Easily the most prolific director on my blog this year was Steven Spielberg: his five main list films join his six entries in my 100 Favourites to almost triple the number of his films I’ve covered in this blog’s lifetime. Denis Villeneuve was second with four films, while Shaw Bros regular Chang Cheh had three plus a fourth with a co-director. There were three features from John Carpenter, Liu Chia-liang, and Zack Snyder (thanks to counting BvS twice), while Wes Anderson has two features plus one short. With two features there was Alexander Payne, Ben Wheatley, Bryan Singer, Guy Ritchie, Kenneth Branagh, Paul Feig, Ridley Scott, and the Spierig Brothers. Finally, David Ayer has one main list film and one alternate cut… of the same film. Unlike studio stablemate Snyder, he didn’t make enough changes to get on the main list twice.

Last year I specifically counted the number of female directors. The number wasn’t pretty… and this year it’s even worse: there were just two female directors in this year’s viewing, plus one who’s half of a partnership and another who’s a third of one. That’s 1.66%, which looks like this:

If that was a graph of the population, we’d be bloody extinct. I could blame myself, or I could blame the state of the industry. Maybe it’s a bit of both.

On a cheerier note, as of New Year’s Day 2017, 19 films from the main list appear on the IMDb Top 250 — more than last year, or the year before! Their positions ranges from 16th (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) to 239th (Barry Lyndon). However, I still have 76 left to see, which is only seven less than last year. How’d that happen? I guess new stuff came on and barged out stuff I’d seen. Shame.

At the end of my annual “top ten” post I always include a list of 50 notable films I missed from that year’s releases, and continue to track my progress at watching those ‘misses’. In 2016, I’ve seen at least one more movie from every year’s list. To rattle through them (including in brackets the overall total I’ve now seen), this year I watched: one from 2007 (33); one from 2008 (20); three from 2009 (26); two from 2010 (27); five from 2011 (32); two from 2012 (30); two from 2013 (31); and 16 from 2014 (36).

Finally, in the first year of 2015’s 50, I watched 28 of them. That’s the best ‘first year’ ever, and the first time I’ve seen over 50% of the 50 in a first year. It’s also more in one year than I’ve managed in the six since 2010, seven since 2009, and eight since 2008. Tsk.

In total, I’ve now seen 263 out of 450 of those ‘missed’ movies. That’s 58.4% of them, a jump up from last year’s 50.75%, and even more from two years ago’s 43.7%. (As usual, this year’s new 50 will be listed in my next post.)

To finish off 2016’s statistics, then, it’s the climax of every review: the scores.

At the top end of the spectrum, this year I awarded 26 five-star ratings. That’s a lot less than last year’s 40 — indeed, it’s 13.2% of my viewing this year, while my all-time five-star percentage is 16.7%. On the bright side, I gave 101 four-star ratings, the most ever. Representing 51.27% of this year’s viewing, it’s well above the lifetime percentage of 45.99%.

A distant second were the 53 three-star films. That’s also their highest total ever, though at 26.9% it’s only just higher than the all-time figure of 26.18%. There were also 14 two-star films, which is pretty normal, and an above-average total of three one-star films — though, at 1.5% of my viewing, I’m not going to be losing any sleep over that.

Last but not least, the average score — the single figure that (arguably) asserts 2016’s quality compared to other years. The short version is 3.7, the same as last year (and 2007 and 2009 before that). Looking with greater precision, it’s actually a bit down: to three decimal places, 2016’s score is 3.675. That places it 4th all time (behind 2011, 2014, and 2015, and just a smidge ahead of 2009).

And that’s 2016’s statistics!

I know, it’s sad they’re over. It’s okay, you can read them again — I know I will.


Next time: the best (and worst) films I saw for the first time in 2016.

My Top 5 Most-Read New Posts in 2016

…and why I think they made the cut.

5) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition
Reviews of alternate cuts always seem to do well for page hits, especially when they’re new releases.

4) The Last Dragonslayer
This had just been on TV, and in fact was repeated on the night I reviewed it; plus there were some retweets. Also, as a TV movie I’d guess it was less widely reviewed, so if you’re looking you’re more likely to find me.

3) Starman
Posted this when it was on Film4 and it got retweeted by their official Twitter account. Normally that’d be enough to get it #1, I think, but not this year.

2) The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
Again, it was on TV the night I reviewed it. And, again, a TV movie… though there were quite a lot of reviews when it aired in the US. Advantage of being in the UK, then, maybe.

1) The Witches of Eastwick
No idea.

100 Films’ 100 Favourites: The Conclusion

About four years ago, I had a crazy notion: that for my 10th blogging anniversary (still several years away at that point) I could do a year-long series of posts discussing my 100 favourite movies — an idea in keeping with my blog’s theme and also a grand way to celebrate it lasting a whole decade. After several years spent mulling over options, about 18 months of writing, and literally hundreds of hours dedicated to the project, it’s finally at an end.

The full list can be found on its dedicated page here. In this post, I’m going to list the second half of my also-rans (the first half can be found here) and do what I always enjoy doing at the end of everything: share some statistics!

During my selection process for this project, my almost-final long-list stalled at a little over 150 films. Due to posting my final selection in alphabetical order, I was able to list 21 of those almost-made-its at the halfway point. Here are the remaining 34:

Little Shop of Horrors
The Living Daylights
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Match Point
Memento
Men in Black
Mission: Impossible
Mission: Impossible III
Monsoon Wedding
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
The Mummy (1999)
Munich
Natural Born Killers
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Philadelphia
Pitch Black
The Princess Bride
The Proposition
Psycho (1960, obv.)
Ronin
School of Rock
The Silence of the Lambs
Singin’ in the Rain
Sleepy Hollow
Spellbound (2002)
Spider-Man
Stagecoach (1939)
The Terminator
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The Truman Show
Underworld (2003)
Unforgiven (1992)
Where the Truth Lies
You Only Live Twice
.

With the list now complete, what can I observe about my favourite movies?

Well, for starters, the total running time of all 100 films (counted from either their best version or the version that counts for this list) was a smidgen over 209½ hours. That means my average favourite movie runs 126 minutes.

99 of them include English as a major language. In fact, the only foreign language film on the list (unless you want to argue that For a Few Dollars More or Once Upon a Time in the West are originally in Italian) is Ghost in the Shell… which I’ve only ever watched in its English dub. Oh well.

26 other languages are represented one way or another, with the most prolific being German (12 times) and French (nine times), I guess in war movies and the like. Other regulars include Arabic, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, while the wide variety of one-offs include Latin, Nepali, Urdu, and Klingon (and that not from a Star Trek film).

A high proportion of English films naturally suggests many of them come from the US, and indeed 91 are wholly or partly US productions. Second place, unsurprisingly, goes to the UK, with a hand in 21 of my picks. Another popular co-production partner of US blockbusters is Germany, leading them to third with 12 films. A further 15 countries put in an appearance, from the likes of France (five), Canada (four), New Zealand (the Lord of the Rings trilogy), to one-timers from the likes of Australia, Hong Kong, Denmark, and Mexico.

In terms of temporal location, my favouritism towards recent films is abundantly clear: the top decade is the 2000s, despite only seven of its years being eligible for inclusion, providing 41 of my choices. And second is the ’90s, with 34, leading to a full three-quarters of my favourites being from the last quarter-century (and from just 17 years of that time, in fact). The ’80s accounted for 12, before there were five apiece from the ’70s and ’60s, two from the ’40s, and one from the ’30s. Nothing from the ’50s, nor the ’20s or earlier. In terms of specific years, 2003 was most represented with nine, and was also the year when I first saw the greatest number of my favourites, with 14. Every year since 1988 was represented; and since the birth of the blockbuster in 1975 the only missing years are ’76, ’78, and ’87.

Despite something of a focus on movies I first saw in childhood (thanks to the nominal cut-off being when I was 20), the most prolific BBFC and MPAA ratings are 15 (38%) and R (41%). Every certificate was represented, even one NC-17.

Across the 100 films, there were 74 directors (or directing partnerships). The most prolific, I think unsurprisingly, was Steven Spielberg, with six films. In second was, of all people, Robert Zemeckis, thanks to Back to the Future being a trilogy (plus Roger Rabbit). Other multi-timers include Martin Campbell, David Fincher, Peter Jackson, and Ridley Scott, all with three; and Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Greengrass, John Lasseter, Sergio Leone, Baz Luhrmann, Tony Scott, M. Night Shyamalan, Bryan Singer, Quentin Tarantino, and John Woo, each with two.

In front of the camera, the most prolific leading actor was Harrison Ford, mainly thanks to a pile of Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. Second place is shared between Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen, John Rhys-Davies, and Hugo Weaving — three of them boosted by Lord of the Rings being a trilogy, so perhaps the crown more properly belongs to Mr Hanks. I don’t feel I can accurately do a full run-down of actors because I didn’t go through the full cast for every film. I mean, for one example, Gabriele Ferzetti is in both On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Once Upon a Time in the West but I didn’t mention him in my abridged cast list for either. Who knows how many stars and supporting actors have slipped through the cracks in this manner?

Easier to quantify is the top genre. That’d be Action, with 44 films, closely followed by Adventure, with 37. There were also 32 Thrillers, 28 Dramas, and 27 Sci-fi films. Next after that were Comedies on 26, which surprised me a little because, as a rule, I don’t think I like comedy movies all that much. The only other genre with over 20 was Fantasy, while the likes of Anime, Biopic, Film Noir, and Horror had just one representative each.

I classed 45 of the films as adaptations, which possibly says something about how much movies rely on other media. And speaking of originality, 20 of them are sequels. Similarly, there were nine superhero movies (not counting the likes of Blade or Flash Gordon) and four true stories. There were five James Bond movies (I limited myself!) and three animations each from both Disney and Pixar. There were also three remakes, all of them re-adaptations.

Obviously I love all of these movies, but what do other people think? Well, 34 of them have Oscars, sharing 103 gongs between them, and a further 19 were at least nominated for one. The average Rotten Tomatoes score is a lofty 91% — the highest being shared by Mary Poppins, Toy Story, and Toy Story 2, all of which can boast 100% tallies; the lowest, somewhat unexpectedly, is Man on Fire, with just 39%. Over at IMDb, the average rating is a much lowlier 7.9, spreading from The Shawshank Redemption’s high of 9.3 to the 5.3 shared by Daredevil and Josie and the Pussycats. At the time of posting, 38 of my choices appeared on the IMDb Top 250.

And that’s just about it! I feel like I need a rest…

…though, it’s a bit unfair that I didn’t bother to pick any favourites from my last 10 years of viewing… and it is almost my blog’s anniversary, too…

Hmm…

2015: The Full List

At one point, people were calling 2015 the “best year for movies ever”. The current superhero craze was going to reach new heights with both Batman vs Superman and the sequel to the highest grossing film of all time not directed by James Cameron, Avengers 2; there was to be a follow-up to the first billion-dollar Bond; and there was the little matter of the return of Star Wars to boot. Of course, things didn’t pan out that way: Batman v Superman (not vs) got kicked to 2016; Avengers 2 disappointed quite a few people and didn’t set any box office records (which these days is essentially a failure, right?); but hey, at least Bond and Star Wars turned up… to a predictably mixed response.

Even if the wider world was mired in some form of disappointment or other, at least 2015 was the best year for movies ever for me. Regular readers will have already learnt about some of this year’s extraordinary numbers through my monthly progress reports, and there are even more to be found in the statistics section of this post — aka the best part of the entire year. And this year, there are more graphs than ever before!

So without further ado…



Here’s a graphical representation of my 2015 viewing, month by month. Handily, each of these images links to the relevant monthly update, where you’ll find the numbered list of everything I watched this year (amongst plentiful other jollities).












And now, in alphabetical order…


Alternate Cuts
Other Reviews
Shorts

I watched a record-obliterating 200 new feature films in 2015. (All are included in the stats that follow, even if there’s no review yet.) That’s far and away my highest tally ever, beating last year’s previous best, 136, by 47%.

I also watched three features I’d seen before that were extended or altered in some way, and chose to review two others for the fun of it. Four of those films are included in the statistics that follow, the exception being Transformers: Age of Extinction, which I ‘reviewed’ without actually watching.

I also watched five short films, which is within my usual range. Also as usual, none of them are counted in the following statistics (apart from the one that mentions it includes them).

The total running time of new features this year was a mind-bending 369 hours and 56 minutes. Put another way, that’s just shy of 15½ days. Unsurprisingly, it’s a new record. How much so? Well, for perspective, 2013’s running time was also a record-setter, exceeding the previous best by 58 minutes. Then 2014 broke that record by a massive 28 hours. Now 2015’s done it by almost 133 hours. That increase alone is equivalent to 5½ days of solid viewing. To round that out, the total running time of all films (including shorts) was 381 hours and 31 minutes. Here’s all that as a graph:

Now: the who, what, where, when, and how of that viewing. (This is a theme that will become apparent as we go, I promise.)

In a massive upset to the status quo, this year’s most prolific format was streaming — and not just by a little: it accounted for 96 films, a massive 47% of my total. Who’d’ve thunk that a few years ago?! It was ‘big news’ last year when it was in third place with 23, but this year more than quadruples that. Partly that’s because this year I’ve finally used some free trials: at one time or another in the past 12 months I’ve had Now TV (i.e. Sky Movies), Amazon Prime Instant Video, MUBI, and Netflix, not to mention taking advantage of those digital discounts Amazon sometimes give to rent newer movies.

That means the previous two years’ victor, Blu-ray, comes second. I watched 49 films on that format, the exact same number as last year… which of course means it’s lower in percentage terms, at 24% vs. last year’s 35%. I really ought to shift my viewing habits away from streaming and in favour of Blu-ray, because I have tonnes of the things stacked up.

Third place belongs to television, with 32. A slight decrease from last year (and even more so in percentage terms, obviously). Why? Who knows. Partly, I expect, because a lot of channels seem to show the same films on loop. I’m also not very good at being beholden to TV schedules (I barely watch any TV ‘live’ either) and my V+ box is permanently almost-full with stuff I’ve already recorded and not got round to.

In fourth we have the once-mighty DVD, with just 16 (7.8%). That’s better than 2010 to 2012, but a bit down on last year. I have even more of these unwatched than I do Blu-rays, so I ought to get stuck into them more. I say that every year, though.

Penultimately, downloads accounted for nine films this year. Bigger news, though, is last place: this year, I actually bothered to go to the cinema for the first time since 2012 — twice. Such is the lure of new Bond and new Star Wars. And y’know, it reminded me that sometimes it’s worth the extra effort and expense. With some big spectacle-y movies coming up this year, maybe I’ll make the effort more often.

Finally for formats, I thought I’d tally up how many films I watched in HD vs. SD. In the superior quality camp, you’ve got all the Blu-rays and my pair of theatrical viewings, plus 86 on streaming, seven on download, and three on TV. For SD, that just leaves the remaining 29 TV viewings, 16 DVDs, 10 streamed films, and two downloads. To summarise, 72.1% of my viewing was in glorious high definition.

That’s the ‘how’ I watched my films, but what about the ‘when’: how old were the films I watched in 2015? Well, last year the most popular decade was our current one, contributing a “whopping” (to quote year-ago me) 50.7% of my viewing. That was the first time a single decade had accounted for over half my viewing since 2009. This year, the 2010s are top again, with 128 films — which is 62.75%! I’m always trying to catch up on recent films, and I guess the deeper we get into the decade, the more “recent films” are from it.

In second place, unsurprisingly, was the next-most-recent decade, the ’00s. With 18 films, aka 8.8%, it wasn’t even close. What it was close to was third, which is a surprise-high finish for the ’80s, on 17 (8.3%). I must say, it definitely felt like I watched a lot of ’80s movies this year, exacerbated by their mini stylistic revival in films like The Guest. In fourth place is the only other decade to make double figures, the ’90s, with 12 (5.9%).

Moving further back in time, every decade since the ’20s was represented. Last year I managed to stretch back to the 1910s, but I skipped the ’20s, so it’s all equal. In fact, the last time I watched a film from the ’20s was 2010. They fared considerably better this year, reaching six (2.9%). Just ahead of them were the ’40s with nine (4.4%), and just behind were the ’60s with five (2.5%). Rounding out the field, the ’50s and the ’70s tied on four (2%), and the ’30s brought up the rear with one (0.5%).

Next up: ‘where’ — as in, where were the films from? We’ll begin with the better indicator: language (because, as we’ll see, “country” gets all mixed up with co-productions). As ever, English was massively dominant, featuring wholly or in part in 187 of the 204 films. That’s 91.67%, a minor increase on last year’s 91.3%, but hardly a meaningful one. For one thing, several films you would certainly label as “foreign language”, like Force Majeuere and Le Mépris, feature enough English to have it as a listed language and therefore contribute to this total. Despite the possibility of such shared languages, nothing else comes close: French is second with eight (3.9%), closely followed by silent films with seven (3.4%). Better were the number of different languages heard: last year reached a high of 15, which 2015 exceeds with 24 (plus one for “silent”, in each case). More uncommon ones include Acholi, Hawaiian, and Scottish Gaelic.

There’s a similar increase in countries of production: last year there were 27, this year it’s 32. It’ll come as no surprise that the USA once again dominated, with 153 films. As ever, thanks to co-productions these aren’t all films you’d identify as “American”, but I guess that’s balanced out in the final tally by all the international co-productions that you wouldn’t consider to hail from those countries either. Nonetheless, 153 is exactly 75% of this year’s films, which is slightly down on the 80.4% the US represented last year.

In second place, an equally-unsurprising showing for my home team, i.e. the UK. Producing or contributing to 54 films gives it 26.5%, a nice increase on last year’s 18.1%. Last year there were only five other countries that could claim a part in three or more films, but this year there are 11. Heading up the board is France with 17; joint fourth are Germany and Canada with 10 apiece; China had a hand in seven; and Antipodean cousins Australia and New Zealand both tallied six (with significant help from George Miller to the former and Peter Jackson to the latter). Also with 3+ were: Hong Kong (five), Japan and Ireland (four each), and Belgium and Sweden (three each). That leaves six countries with two, and thirteen with one. Those with a definite claim to “country of origin” include Argentina, India, and the Soviet Union.

In terms of ‘what’ I watched, there are a few different observations. First up: how the BBFC and MPAA classified them. Showing the parity everyone always perceives, both the BBFC’s 12 and MPAA’s PG-13 totalled 41 films this year. That’s about the same number as last year, meaning the 20.1% it represents is down. The most prolific certificates this year are, respectively, the 15 (83 films, 40.7%) and R (86, 42.2%), because I’m a growned-up, innit. You can never discount the MPAA’s unrated category, which bests even the PG-13 with 50 titles (24.5%). Rounding out the field, the BBFC seem more prepared to go for their child-friendly U (20, 9.8%) than the MPAA do their G (four, 2%), while the figures for PG are about equal, with the BBFC on 26 (12.7%) and the MPAA on 23 (11.3%). In fact, in both instances the increase is likely thanks to older films, which tend to sit at the U/PG level, and the BBFC still have to classify but the MPAA don’t (so they go into unrated). Oh, and the BBFC’s 18 equalled the U with 20 (9.8%), while somehow 14 films (6.9%) managed to go BBFC-free.

15 films from the main list appear on the IMDb Top 250 at the end of 2015 — the exact same number I achieved last year. It would’ve been slightly more if I’d finished What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen, as the three of those I missed are also on there. The positions of the ones I did see range from 29th (Interstellar) to 231st (High Noon). I currently have 83 of the Top 250 left to see — the first time I’ve got that number below 100. Lovely.

Now, a new addition to the stats: as I’ve started including a “most read new post” part in my monthly progress reports, I thought I’d do so here too. As if to prove the endurance of having a review archive, this year’s most read (or, at least, most visited) new post was only the 12th most-read post of the year. It slips in behind not only three Harry Potters but a few (well, eight, obviously) other randomers (2 Fast 2 Furious is third — why?!) And that victor is… a little surprising, because I have no idea why it’s been so well-read — it wasn’t posted for a blogathon; it didn’t get retweeted by a fan group, member of the production team, or Film4 (all of which have happened to other of my reviews this year). It is a damn fine film, though: it’s Requiem for a Dream.

Speaking of additions, every year I feel I’d like to include stats on which genres I most watched, or which actors were regularly represented. This year, for instance, it felt like I watched a lot of Channing Tatum films (there were five), and Rachel McAdams kept cropping up towards the end (three times in December) — but is that so unusual? I mean, for starters, there were three supporting-lead roles for Harrison Ford in my viewing this year, but they were less noticeable because they were more spread out. I never add these things because, due to the way I compile my stats (I shan’t bore you with the details), it would be very hard/impossible. Hey, maybe next year.

One thing I did do this year, however, was inspired by my comment that I seem to have watched a lot of documentaries. Consequently, I tallied how many of the films I watched were documentaries, how many were animated, and dumped the rest into “live-action fiction”. Not quite a genre stat, more a form one. And the results were: 13 documentaries (6.4%), 18 animated movies (8.8%), and 173 live-action fiction movies (84.8%). Obviously the last category dominates, but I don’t think that’s by any means a bad showing for the first two. (For what it’s worth, I counted The Dark Crystal as live-action, because it’s puppets filmed in real-time rather than, say, stop-motion animation.)

At the end of every previous year-end summary I’ve included a list of 50 notable films I’d missed from that year’s releases, and have since tracked my progress at watching those ‘misses’. In 2015, I’ve seen more movies from every year’s list. To rattle through them, with the overall total I’ve now seen in brackets, this year I watched: two from 2007 (32); four from 2008 (19); one each from 2009 (23) and 2010 (25); three from 2011 (27); six from 2012 (28); and 13 from 2013 (29). That’s a moderately consistent number watched from each year, with the exception of 2008’s lowly tally. I don’t know what I did wrong with that year’s 50, but it’s become a real black sheep.

Finally, in the first year of 2014’s 50, I watched 20 of them. That’s the best ‘first year’ ever (besting 16 from 2013 last year), and is more in one year than I’ve managed in the seven since 2008. Seriously, what was wrong with that list?!

The graph shows my progress year by year (obviously), but I can tell you I’ve seen 203 out of 400 ‘missed’ movies, which is 50.75% — a tidy improvement on last year’s 43.7%. Of course, I own or have access to over 100 of the remaining 197, so I could do even better.

After ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘how’, all that remains is ‘who’ — who made these 204 feature films? A total of 155 solo directors and 17 directing partnerships appear on 2015’s main list. Obviously that’s the most ever — considering this year is up 47% on even the next-best year, which was itself a significant record-breaker, then of course the director total is up a lot too. It’s not up 47% though, but 33.3%.

That’s because a massive 23 of those directors have multiple films on the list (for perspective, last year it was just 10). Most prolific is Steven Soderbergh, with four. Next, George Miller has three to his own name, plus he was part of a partnership. There are three each from Jamie Benning, Bill Condon, David Cronenberg, Roger Michell, and Roy William Neill, while Bryan Singer has two main list films and an extended cut, and Peter Jackson has one main list film but two extended cuts. With two main list films each we find David Ayer, Brad Bird, John Carpenter, Clint Eastwood, David Fincher, Ron Howard, Richard Linklater, Carol Morley, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Colin Trevorrow, and Adam Wingard, while Stanley Kubrick has one main list film and one other review. Finally, Dean DeBlois has a solo credit and another as part of a partnership.

At a time when their prevalence (or lack thereof) is a point of discussion, I can say that eight of those directors were female, as was half of one directing partnership. I’m sure that’s better than it has been in the past, but, as you can see from this graph, it’s not actually very many…

And so we come to the climax of the statistics: how I rated 2015’s viewing.

I’ll start by saying that almost all of these are their highest-ever total — no surprise considering how many more films than normal I watched this year. The only exception, happily, is one-star films, of which there were two. Appropriately, that rating usually only totals ‘one’, so for it to come to double that in the year I watched exactly double my target… well, that’s just synergistic.

At the other extreme, this year there were 40 five-star films. That’s 11 more than the next best year, which will surely make compiling my top ten fun, but it’s still just 19.6% of 2015’s viewing. For perspective, my all-time percentage of five-star films is around 17.2%, so it is marginally above average. In terms of all previous years’ percentages, it ranks third.

The most prolific ranking, for the eighth year (of nine), is four-stars, of which there were 92 in 2015. At 45.1% that’s almost bang-on average (44.8%), and ranks fourth all-time. Second most prolific, for the seventh year, is three-stars, with 51 films, or exactly 25%. That’s also darn close to the all-time average (26.2%) but ranks joint third, just behind the anomalously high percentages of 2012 (38%) and 2013 (35.8%). Have I got more lenient since then? If anything, I think I’ve started marking a little tougher… I just endeavour to watch fewer weak/middling films. Finally, there were 19 two-star films, which at 9.3% is — as you’ve likely guessed — broadly in line with the previous average (10.3%).

Finally, the all-important average score — the marker of the overall quality of my viewing this past year. Officially, it comes out as 3.7, the same as 2007 and 2009, but I can tell you that it’s actually the third best year ever, with the more precise figure being 3.730. If I scored in percentages, that would be 74.6%, slipping in behind 2011’s 76.6% and 2014’s 76.1%, and ahead of 2009’s 73.1%.

And that’s it for another year, ladies and gents.


Next time: the best and worst films I saw for the first time in 2015.

2015 in Review, Part 1

As a wise man once said,

So this is Christmas
and what have you done?
Another year over,
and a new one just begun.

He may have been wise, but he clearly wasn’t so hot on timekeeping if he thinks the new year begins at Christmas…

Anyway, I’ve been quieter than intended this past week thanks to that unwellness I mentioned rumbling on, turning my efforts to reach #200 this year into a knock-down drag-out battle against both that and the sheer volume of worthwhile TV this year (if you’re one of the apparently-few who missed the Beeb’s classy three-part adaptation of Agatha Christie’s proto-slasher-movie And Then There Were None, may I recommend you rectify that).

Whether I achieved that double-sized goal or not will be revealed tomorrow in my December summary. As usual, over the next week-ish I’ll follow that up by looking back over the last year in two lengthy, information-and-excitement-filled posts. To start this year-in-review season, though, it’s WordPress’ auto-generated site-statistics-thing:

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Observations:

  • As well as the 248 new posts it mentions, the blog’s archive was further swelled by 272 reposts from 2007-2011.
  • My “posting patterns” are far, far more consistent than last year. So that’s nice.
  • I’ve noticed other people’s summaries include a bit on how many pictures they’ve uploaded. Mine doesn’t. I’m hard done by, I tell you!

Anyhow, thanks to everyone who’s read and/or commented here in 2015 — a Happy New Year to you all!

The Hyperbolic Monthly Update for September 2015

September 2015 has passed targets, smashed records, and wound up as the biggest month of 100 Films in a Year ever!

…maybe.

All will become clear…


When I started this year’s WDYMYHS theme, I was worried I would quickly watch the six “populist” films (due to them being accessible and easy viewing), and be left with all six “critical” films to squeeze in (due to them being Worthy and Arty and stuff). Things have panned out quite differently, however: after this month’s viewing, I’ve accounted for all but one of the “critical” films, while four of the “populist” ones remain. They’re mostly the Worthier end of populist though, so go figure.

Anyway, this month’s film was one that’s sometimes cited as being among the greatest ever made. I confess I wasn’t so enamoured with it, though it had its moments. It was Jean Vigo’s only full-length feature, L’Atalante.


North West Frontier#119 Go (1999)
#120 Murder by Death (1976)
#121 One-Eyed Monster (2008)
#122 The Swimmer (1968)
#123 They Live (1988)
#124 The Dark Crystal (1982)
#125 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Ed Wood#126 North West Frontier (1959), aka Flame Over India
#127 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
#128 Superbad (2007)
#129 What Dreams May Come (1998)
#130 Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
#131 American Sniper (2014)
#132 Willow (1988)
#133 The Informant! (2009)
Filmed in Supermarionation#134 Ed Wood (1994)
#135 Filmed in Supermarionation (2014)
#136 Foxcatcher (2014)
#137 Boyz n the Hood (1991)
#138 L’Atalante (1934)
#139 Spooks: The Greater Good (2015)
#140 Terror by Night (1946)
#141 The Falling (2014)


  • Most months I watch a selection of films from the 2010s, topped up with a couple of films from the 2000s, and maybe an earlier decade getting a look in or two. That’s not a conscious choice, just how things usually pan out. September has gone quite differently, though: this month I watched films from the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, as well as the 2010s (of course). Ooh, get me, right? But it’s notable for this reason if no other: that’s a better temporal spread in one month than I’ve managed in some entire years!
  • For what it’s worth, the 2010s still took the biggest share, with seven films — though in this particular month, that’s only 30.4%. Although they’re all Blu-ray or streaming views, five of them were only released to UK cinemas earlier this year… though two of those five were also big awards contenders from last year, so, you know, swings and roundabouts.
  • I’ve started so I’ll finish: to summarise the other decades, there were four apiece from the ’80s and ’90s (17.4% each), three from the 2000s (13%), and then one each for the rest.
  • #140, Terror by Night, is the penultimate Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce Sherlock Holmes movie. I’ve been slowly making my way through that series for most of this blog’s lifetime, and may now finish it this year. Maybe.


Even before we get into the regular “how does this compare to previous Septembers” and “what does this mean for the rest of the year” type stuff, there’s a lot to say about this month — multiple milestones have been passed.

So to tackle that claim from the introduction: last month, I’d’ve told you that December 2008 was my “best month ever” with 19 films. Now I’d tell you it’s my third best. What dark magic is this?! Well, with 23 films watched this month, September 2015 beats it and then some. However, I finally got round to going back through 2007, when I recorded such things in weeks / clumps of weeks (rather than monthly), as anyone who followed this month’s reposts will have seen, and tried to estimate what each month’s viewing was. That’s why September 2015 may be the highest month ever, because I can only say with certainty that in August 2007 I watched somewhere between 21 and 29 films. My best guess is (coincidentally) exactly the mid-point of that range, 25, which leaves September 2015 in second place. Either way, it’s undoubtedly my most film-filled month for almost eight years.

Such a strong month coming at this point also helps 2015 pass all kinds of yearly markers, too. So at #123 it became my blog’s third most successful year; at #130 it slipped into second place; and at #137 it took the crown of my blog’s most proliferative year. (That’s a good word, isn’t it? Thank you thesaurus.) Plus, at #136 it became my highest overall-totalling year — that’s also counting the alternate cuts, shorts, and the like — with a grand tally of 142; as of month’s end, it’s up to 147. With three months remaining, in which I should watch a minimum of 30 films (for this year’s ten-per-month target), 2015 will be well established as my largest year.

I suppose it now goes without saying that all the regular monthly and yearly goals and records were achieved or surpassed, too: it’s the 16th month in a row with 10+ new films; it single-handedly raised the September average from 9.71 to 11.38; it passed the 2015 monthly average of 14.75 (now 15.67 — the first time it’s been over 15 this year, and certainly the first time it’s been nearer 16… excepting January, that is, which by itself was 16); and it’s the 11th month in a row to beat its equivalent from last year.

I do like statistics.

Looking ahead, then, there are no more records left to topple (well, unless I have another exceptionally large month — you never know), only new ground to tread. The aforementioned “at least 30 more films” finds the year ending with #171; if I can continue besting the same months last year, it’ll make #183; if I slip back to the previous 2015 monthly average I’ll make it to #185, though if I can maintain that freshly-established one it takes me all the way up to #188.

188! That’s exactly double what I managed in my worst-ever year (2009). Insane.



The 4th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
A tough call this month, but the joyous and information-packed Filmed in Supermarionation is pipped by the lovely surprise of unexpectedly discovering a marvellous Boy’s Own adventure in North West Frontier.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
I wasn’t sure what I’d make of L’Atalante, so wasn’t too saddened when I didn’t care for it all that much. However, I was quite disappointed by how much I didn’t enjoy cult favourite The Dark Crystal.

Film Where They Most Obviously Started with a Title and Went From There
One-Eyed Monster.

Award For Taking an Accidental Trope and Doing Something Ridiculous With It
“All our films end with huge flying things crashing into cities, but what if the huge flying thing was a city?!” Ah, Avengers: Age of Ultron, you were certainly… different.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
It’s Keanu Reeves again, though this time without the aid of a retweet. I guess that’s the sheer popularity of the film in question: John Wick.


I’ve made a poor fist of reading others’ blogs this month, I’m afraid (clearly it’s all that time spent watching so many more films), but here’s a couple (literally) of things nonetheless:

Invictus (2009) @ Films on the Box
We’re still halfway through the Rugby World Cup, so there’s still much relevance in Mike’s praise for Clint Eastwood’s somewhat-overlooked true story drama about Nelson Mandela and the South African team’s success when their nation hosted the 1995 competition.

Top That: Five of My Favorite Directors @ Digital Shortbread
I feel like, recently, I keep reading about how Ron Howard is an average, journeyman kind of director, so it’s interesting to come across a short list of favourite directors that includes him — which Tom’s selection does, of course. For the other four worthy picks, take a look. (I really must come up with a list of my favourite directors someday…)


Not so many new reviews as I’d like this month (clearly it’s all that time spent… yeah, you know the story now).


This month’s repostathon updates can be split into two sections. First, the final editorials:

With those complete, it was time for an entire week-by-week recap of Year 1, aka 2007:

Next month, daily double bills will see us race through all of 2008, 2009, and half of 2010 in just one week, before slowing down slightly to cover the rest of 2010 and all of 2011. Exciting times.


In Memoriam

At the risk of making this a semi-regular feature, this month we had to quite suddenly bid farewell to my partner’s mother’s dog, Lupa. She was an Irish Wolfhound, a giant breed with an average life expectancy of seven years. Sadly, Lupa was just four — what initially seemed to be some kind of sprained ankle turned out to be aggressive bone cancer and, a little over a week later, she passed away.


Rory and Lupa.

Getting an Irish Wolfhound fulfilled a lifelong ambition, so Lupa was a little bit indulged. When she was younger she was boisterous, especially when it came to saying hello with the whack of a paw — we all endured some scratches and bruises to attest to that — but she was sweet-natured (the whacks were friendlily meant) and matured into a dopey softie. Once she realised Rory was old and doddery, she was always very careful around him. I know some people think dog owners confer too much intelligence on their pets, but as she played riotously with other little dogs (including our Poppy) she certainly knew the difference. She will be sorely missed.

Finally: I jest about this becoming a regular feature, but their other dog, Millie, is 15 and looking every day of it, so 2015 may not be done with us yet.


…will almost certainly not be as good as this month. Let’s just expect that now, then we won’t be disappointed.

March 2015 + Best Bond Beginnings

We’re a quarter of the way through the year — but with the #25 milestone passed last month, how far ahead have I forged?

Also this month: some quick thoughts on the best James Bond pre-titles sequences. Which is your favourite?


March’s films
Grosse Pointe Blank
#30 Alois Nebel (2011)
#31 Godzilla (2014)
#32 Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)
#33 Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
#34 Violet & Daisy (2011)
#35 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
#35a The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Extended Edition) (2013/2014)
Mad Max 2#36 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
#37 God Bless America (2011)
#38 Videodrome (1983)
#39 Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)
#40 Looper (2012)
#41 Valkyrie (2008)
#42 Mad Max 2 (1981), aka The Road Warrior
#43 Tarzan (1999)
#44 Empire of the Sun (1987)


Viewing Notes

  • This is the third month in a row where I’ve watched 16 films, all in. Weird.
  • Several I’ve been meaning to get round to for years were ticked off this month: Alois Nebel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Looper. All thanks to TV premieres.
  • It’s a complete accident that I left it a year to the month between watching Mad Max and Mad Max 2. Both were on Now TV, which I’m ending my subscription to imminently, so the third may crop up among April’s films.
  • No WDYMYHS film this month. Two in April, then.


Analysis

A grand total of 15 new films watched this month brings with it a few interesting observations. For one, this is the first time (since such records began) that January is the largest of a year’s first three months. That doesn’t really signify anything, just one of those random correlations (which has now been broken).

2015’s is the second largest March ever, and the fifth month in a row to improve on the same period from the year before. Plus it’s the tenth month in a row to have a final tally over ten. Regular readers will know my goal for this year is to have a run of 12 months that each exceed that figure, so I’m 25% of the way there. Meanwhile, the average total for January and February was 14.5, so by just tipping over that in March, the year-to-date average rises to 14.67.

2015 is clearly shaping up well on the whole. #44 is the furthest I’ve ever reached by the end of March, with second place being a three-way tie between 2010, 2011 and 2013 at #38. As ever, all indicators must be taken with a pinch of salt: last year (my highest year ever, lest we forget) I was actually running behind schedule until the last day of March; conversely, in 2012 I’d made it to #34 by the end of March, a full ten ahead of schedule, but still finished the year with just 97 films viewed.

Nonetheless, it’s prediction time! Never say never, but with the halfway point already looming next month, I feel 100 films is a fairly comfortable expectation this year (famous last words…) So, if I ‘merely’ manage to maintain my monthly ambition of ten-a-time from here on out, 2015 would make it to #134. That’d be my second-best year ever, so not to be sniffed at. If the current average (14.67, in case you forgot) holds, that would see me reach #176. Considering my previous best is 136, that’d be quite extraordinary. I live in hope.


This month’s archive reviews

Continuing apace, with 28 reposts this month.


Best James Bond Pre-titles

The past week has brought us both the first trailer for October’s 24th James Bond film, Spectre, as well as the news that it will feature the largest pre-titles sequence the 53-year-old franchise has ever staged. What better time to revive my “list of 5” format and look back at the finest examples of one of 007’s defining features, then?

Keeping the British end upExcept, goodness, I couldn’t get it down to just five! From Connery alone you’ve got ‘Bond’ being bested in From Russia with Love, the iconic jetpack in Thunderball, and the trend-setting mini-adventure from Goldfinger. As the series rolls on there’s The Spy Who Loved Me and its parachute, Moonraker’s free-fall fistfight (you couldn’t do that today — everyone would assume it was CGI and it’d have no magic), and the perfectly staged training-exercise-gone-wrong from The Living Daylights. The Brosnan era really kicks in the action, first with another peerless mini-adventure in GoldenEye (and the bungee jump…!), then increasingly expansive and suitably witty openers to both Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough. Finally, the Craig era tipped the whole shebang on its head with Casino Royale’s moody black-and-white quickie, and Quantum of Solace’s attention-demanding car battle. Skyfall may have moved back towards the Brosnan mould, but it’s an exceptionally well done one.

That’s 12 and I don’t even know where to start paring back, at least as far as my personal favourites go.

We can all agree A View to a Kill and its use of California Girls is the worst, though, right?


Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

A third of the way through the year… but halfway to my goal?

January 2015

How do you top the most successful year of your blog ever? Well, let’s see …


January’s films

Ghost Dog#1 The Crab with the Golden Claws (1947), aka Le Crabe aux Pinces d’Or
#2 Parker (2013)
#3 Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999)
#4 Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
#5 Machine Gun Preacher (2011)
#6 Last Passenger (2013)
#7 Persona (1966)
#8 The Big Knife (1955)
M:I-4#9 Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut (2005)
#10 The Sugarland Express (1974)
#11 The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
#12 Hancock (Extended Version) (2008)
#13 Argo (Extended Cut) (2012/2013)
#14 The Hound of the Baskervilles (1981), aka Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Sobaka Baskerviley
#15 Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
#16 Transcendence (2014)


Viewing Notes

  • Since enjoying Spielberg & Jackson’s Tintin movie at the tail end of 2014, I’ve found myself a bit obsessed this January: I’ve started reading the books (been meaning to for yonks — I bought a complete box set in Amazon’s Black Friday sale several years ago) and acquired all the other films that are available on English-friendly DVDs. Reviewing The Crab with the Golden Claws is just the start of it for 2015, I should imagine.
  • Two more Thin Man films viewed — I’m almost at the end. Hence Thin Man Thursdays.
  • That Hound of the Baskervilles is a Russian TV version from the ’80s, widely acclaimed among Sherlockians. I’ll be reviewing it as part of the Russia in Classic Film Blogathon in early March.
  • Can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to Ghost Protocol! I really enjoyed it too. With this year’s fifth movie recently moved up to a summer date, there’s every chance that’ll make this year’s list too, even if I wait for the Blu-ray again.


What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

In case you missed it, earlier this month I wrote a 2,800-word introduction to 2015’s “What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?” — aka WDYMYHS:SoOaHaDotO. (I promise not to call it that again.)

After nearly failing last year by leaving Serious and Heavy films ’til right at the end (Requiem for a Dream wasn’t a very Christmassy film for the end of December, but at least it was a brilliant one), I made a particular effort to start with one of this year’s more difficult films: Ingmar Bergman’s psychological two-hander Persona. Apparently writing about it is to film critics as Everest is to mountaineers, so that should be a fun one to review…


Analysis

To reach 100 films in a year at a steady pace, you need to watch about eight films every month. Having spotted my record-equalling run of double-figure months in December, I’ve decided I’d quite like to have a whole year of the same. Last year is the closest I’ve come to such a thing, with nine out of twelve months having 10+ films.

I’m off to an excellent start to achieve it in 2015, though, with 16 films in January — aka double the requirement for reaching 100. Naturally this means a new record for consecutive double-figure months, now at eight in a row. It also blows away all the possible indicators: January’s average total is 8.7 and 2014’s monthly average was 11.3, so it’s far beyond either of those. In fact, it’s the highest ever January, in the process besting all but one month from 2014.

I’ve explained before that January is absolutely useless as a predictor of the entire year… but where’s the fun in leaving it at that? So if I were to continue at this pace, 2015 would end up on an improbably-high 192 — take that 2014 and your beat-the-record-by-seven 136! It seems unlikely that’ll happen, I agree, especially as January’s tally has not once been close to the year-end average. That said, it’s normally a good-but-not-great kind of month, often bested immediately by February and March — that’s what happened in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, while February topped it in 2008 and March almost doubled it in 2014 — so things may be looking even rosier in a few weeks’ time. Plus, even if I ‘only’ achieve my stated goal of 10 films per month from here on out, I’ll still end up in the 120s, which would put 2015 among the highest-totalling years.


This month’s archive reviews

I’d quite like to get my archive reposts finished during 2015, leaving the slate clean and the site complete for 2016, my tenth year. There’s still a long way to go (just under 170 reviews, plus a load of editorial-type posts), but at this rate I might make it. To kick things off, 20 archive reviews were reposted during January…


Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

Despite being the year’s shortest month, February has twice topped the year for total monthly viewing, and a couple more times has been among the top ‘scorers’. Equally, on three occasions it’s been one of the year’s lowest. The rollercoaster continues in 28 days…

What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…? 2015

Six of One & Half a Dozen of the Other


My challenge-within-a-challenge (in which I must attempt to watch 12 renowned films within the next 12 months) returns for a third year, this time with a natty subtitle — or for short, WDYMYHS:SoOaHaDotO.

Yeah, let’s not call it that.

Why the unwieldy subtitle? Well, since its inception (in the distant past of two years ago), WDYMYHS has been torn between recommending critically-acclaimed must-sees and widely-popular must-sees — the first year erred towards the former, in reaction the second year skewed to the latter. This year, I had an epiphany: why make a list that tries and fails to serve two masters, when you could just make two lists?

No, I’m not going to try to watch 24 specific films (I know my own limits. Well, I don’t, but that’s one I know is doomed), but rather two lists of six — one of critically-acclaimed films, one of more populist movies. Hence the Clever subtitle.

As with last year, we’ll get straight to the two lists, and follow it up with not-for-everyone analysis of how they compare to previous years and an overlong explanation of how they were devised.

The Critical List

Raging Bull (1980)
Score: 608
TSPDT #21 | Sight & Sound 2012 #29 | featured on 1001 Movies to See | Academy Awards Best Picture nominee

The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Score: 599
TSPDT #15 | Sight & Sound 2012 #12 | featured on 1001 Movies to See

L’Atalante (1934)
Score: 589
TSPDT #24 | Sight & Sound 2012 #16 | featured on 1001 Movies to See

Persona (1966)
Score: 587
TSPDT #24 | Sight & Sound 2012 #16 | featured on 1001 Movies to See

Le Mépris (1963), aka Contempt
Score: 554
TSPDT #38 | Sight & Sound 2012 #27 | featured on 1001 Movies to See

The General (1926)
Score: 553
TSPDT #36 | Sight & Sound 2012 #43 | featured on 1001 Movies to See


The Populist List

A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Score: 1,116
IMDb #75 | Empire 500 #37 | Empire 301 #54 | iCM Most ✓ed #83 | Reddit #50

City of God (2002)
Score: 782
IMDb #22 | Empire 500 #177 | Empire 301 #132 | Reddit #58

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Score: 587
IMDb #81 | Empire 500 #180 | Empire 301 #132 | Reddit #121

The Thing (1982)
Score: 501
IMDb #167 | Empire 500 #289 | Empire 301 #64 | Reddit #118

Brazil (1985)
Score: 483
Empire 500 #83 | Empire 301 #106 | Reddit #154

Princess Mononoke (1997)
Score: 480
IMDb #72 | Empire 500 #488 | Empire 301 #203 | Reddit #91


(All rankings were correct at the time of compiling and may have changed since.)

Good lists? Bad lists? Please do share any and all opinions. As per normal, my progress will be covered as part of the monthly updates.

Now then:

Stats

I’ll come to how all of that was compiled in a minute, but first a few (well, quite a lot, because you know I like these bits) observations.

First, those scores — pretty meaningless without knowing the method, I know (we’ll come to that, jeez!), but you can’t help but notice how high A Clockwork Orange’s is. Here’s the best I can do for perspective: what I’m calling “the theoretical maximum” for the Populist List is 1,636 points (it’s actually possible to score more, but let’s not get into that). Compared to that, A Clockwork Orange scored 68.2%. Sound low? The film in second place, City of God, comes to 47.8%, while the last included film, Princess Mononoke, has just 29.3%. The world really wants me to watch A Clockwork Orange. The Critical List is much closer: the “theoretical maximum” there is 908, from which Raging Bull has 67%, whereas last-place The General has 60.9%.

Long-time readers will surely have remarked on the inclusion of Raging Bull. It was part of 2013’s inaugural list, but I failed to watch it. It was excluded from re-inclusion in 2014’s, but I intended to watch it of my own accord (as it were)… and failed. I decided a year was long enough to hold out — especially as it topped the Critical List and came second on the Populist List — so it’s back in. I think this will be a new rule going forward: if I fail to watch a film, it has to ‘sit out’ the next year, but is eligible for inclusion the year after.

I have to say, the Populist List didn’t really turn out the kind of films I was expecting — I thought it would be an entire list of movies like The Thing and Brazil. I suppose it proves a point I’ve made in the past: despite their reputation among cineastes, lists like the IMDb Top 250 and Empire’s reader polls aren’t completely stuffed with blockbusters. OK, you’re not getting the depths of arthouse on there (i.e. the stuff the Critical List has selected), but A Clockwork Orange and City of God are hardly Transformers 4. Well, I haven’t seen them, so I suppose maybe they are…

I actually tried to make both lists skew ‘newer’ (not because I dislike older films, but because some of these lists tend to be a bit biased against them — TSPDT admits they ‘punish’ newer films), but it barely came out at all in the final 12: the newest film is 2002’s City of God, which is 13 this year; the next is Princess Mononoke, which is 18. I suppose that’s better than 2013, when the most recent film was from 1984. The effects were felt further down the chart, but that’s of little relevance to me now; though if I’d locked out Raging Bull entirely, 2011’s The Tree of Life would have nipped in. (More on this later.)

For what it’s worth, The General and The Passion of Joan of Arc are the two oldest films to have featured in WDYMYHS, and L’Atalante is fourth (third being City Lights from 2013’s lot). That extreme aside, this year’s list are quite spread around: whereas 50% of 2013’s were from the 1950s and 50% of 2014’s were from the last 20 years, no such pithy evaluation can be made this year. The ’60s and ’80s present three films each; there’s the two from the ’20s already mentioned; and then one apiece from the ’30s, ’70s, ’90s and ’00s. The 76 year gap between the oldest and newest pips 2013’s 53 years and 2014’s 73 years.

It’s also worth noting that there’s a greater variety of languages and countries of production included this year. Non-English films made up three in 2013 and two in 2014, but this year it’s six — half the list! That said, The Passion of Joan of Arc is actually silent, and I may well watch the Neil Gaiman-penned English dub of Princess Mononoke, both of which would take the wind out of these sails a bit.

The countries of origin are undeniably spread, though. Ignoring co-production technicalities, last year only offered two non-American movies, and the year before four (the three foreign language ones plus Lawrence of Arabia, which I’ve got down as a US/UK co-production but am counting as British). This year, the US is still highest, but only with four films — there’s France thrice and the UK twice*, as well as Brazil, Sweden, and Japan.

As for directors, Kubrick’s back again, in the form of A Clockwork Orange (obviously). No surprise there, as it was ranked very highly in each previous year but eliminated under the “no repeat directors” rule. Full Metal Jacket and Barry Lyndon also made their way into the Top 6s (the former for Populist, the latter for Critical), but were similarly eliminated. I guess one will end up on 2016’s list (unless I drastically change how I do this… which I might). After sitting out last year, there’s a return for Bergman, in the shape of Persona. For the first time, no Hitchcock or Charlie Chaplin — they both had multiple entries near the top in previous years, but this time Chaplin managed 18th on the Critical list with The Gold Rush, while Hitchcock’s first appearance is on the same but way down at 70th. 70th! On the Popular list, it’s not until 84th. Have I seen all the great Hitchcock movies already? There’s an awful lot of his films I’ve not seen, and I thought some were well-liked (whither The 39 Steps?**), so I’m quite disappointed about that.

Other noteworthy directors included are John Carpenter, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Terry Gilliam, Jean-Luc Godard, Buster Keaton (taking Chaplin’s place?), Hayao Miyazaki, Martin Scorsese (for the second time… with the same film), and Jean Vigo. The list is rounded out by City of God’s Fernando Meirelles, who made the excellent The Constant Gardner before seeming to slip back into obscurity, and To Kill a Mockingbird’s Robert Mulligan, who I don’t know anything about and (to be frank) doesn’t seem to have helmed anything else noteworthy.

The curious among you may be wondering (by which I mean, I wanted to know so thought I may as well tell you) what other films would have been included if I’d taken all 12 from either list? Well, the next six eligible films on the Critical List would have been, in rank order, Barry Lyndon (re-included because of no Clockwork Orange), The Tree of Life (as mentioned), Ugetsu Monogatari, Shoah, The Wild Bunch, and The Magnificent Ambersons. (Fanny and Alexander and Wild Strawberries also scored enough to qualify, but Persona rules them out.) On the Populist List, what I was saying about “films like The Thing and Brazil” would have been borne out: the extra six would have been Raging Bull (having not been blocked by the Critical List), Drive, Rocky, District 9, The Sting, and Black Swan. (I know those films aren’t like the others, per se, but hopefully you see what I’m driving at.)

Process

This year’s scoring system is heavily based in last year’s, with some tweaks and changes, for various reasons.

The most obvious is that there are two lists, using two completely separate sets of contributing lists. The basic principles are the same for both, though: I took the top 250 entries on each contributing list and those films received a score out of 251 for their position — so #1 would score 251 points, #2 would score 250, and so on down to #250 scoring 2 points. Many of the lists go past 250 entries, however, so any film lower than that (but which came to my attention by being in the top 250 of a different list) received a single bonus point just for appearing.

There was a further 50 point bonus for appearing in the top 250 of more than one list. Last year that was an extra 50 points for each additional list; this year it’s a one-time deal. As with last year, there was an additional bonus based on the number of ‘official lists’ a film appears on at iCheckMovies.com — i.e. A Clockwork Orange is on 30 lists, so got 30 points.

With the basics established, let’s get list-specific:

The Critical List was compiled from:

Finally, to help swing the list further in favour of recent films, the top 100 of the 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed received another 25 points. Fat lot of good it did any of them.

WDYMYHS 2015 Critical Top 50Now, here’s an interesting thing: I very quickly got bored doing the maths on all this. The previous two years, I’ve worked it all out in my head as I went. Year One, very easy (A+B ÷2); Year Two, more complicated, but doable; Year Three, two whole sets of rules and so many films…! So I spent an afternoon learning a bit more about how Excel works and got it to do it all for me. Imagine an evil laugh here.

To work out the scores for the Critical List, then, here’s the code (is it code? It looks like a code. Let’s call it code) that I wrote:

=SUM(IF(B2=0,0,(IF(B2<251,252-B2,1))))+(IF(C2=0,0,(IF(C2<251,252-C2,1))))+(IF(D2=0,0,(IF(D2<251,252-D2,1))))+(IF(E2="Y",50,0))+(IF(F2="Y",25,0))+(IF(G2="Y",50,0))+H2+(IF(D2=0,0,(IF(D2<101,25,0))))

That does everything I just described, automatically, when the correct values are entered in the correct columns — i.e. the ranking for each list, plus Y or N for 1001 Movies and Oscar noms. I’ll be frank, this is one reason there’s only the single multi-list bonus this year — that’s what I wrote into the code, and when I remembered later that it wouldn’t be adding another 50 for the third, fourth, etc, lists, I frankly couldn’t be bothered to work out how to do that. I’d wager it can be done, though.

The Populist List has even more constituent elements — and an even longer (though, technically, less varied) code to work it out. First, the contributing lists were:

  • The IMDb Top 250 — aka the movie list. Well, until TSPDT came along. Now I guess it depends on your personal preference which is more relevant. This changes all the time, so was very much the version hosted by iCM on 5th January 2015.
  • Empire’s The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, commonly known as the Empire 500. Supposedly “the most ambitious movie poll ever attempted”, it was conducted by Empire magazine in 2008 and features the opinions of “10,000 Empire readers, 150 of Hollywood’s finest and 50 key film critics”.
  • Empire’s The 301 Greatest Movies of All Time, aka the Empire 301. Technically the new version of the above, held last year to mark Empire’s 300th issue. Arguably not as good. As you can see from the numbers up above, some films have moved around a lot.
  • iCheckMovies’ Most Checked, being the movies the greatest number of iCM users have seen. I think one of my most-complete lists, as I’ve seen 209 of the 250.
  • The All-Time Worldwide Box Office chart, not that it had any bearing on the final selection (you’ll note none of them are on it).
  • The Reddit Top 250, in which Reddit users have picked their favourite movies. Constantly updated a la the IMDb version, I believe.

As mentioned before, those were all initially limited to the top 250 entries and weighted equally. Following that, however, there were 25 bonus points to be had for being in IMDb’s top 100, the Empire 301’s top 50, or iCheckMovies Most Checked’s top 50. All of that made the Excel code look like this:

=SUM(IF(B34=0,0,(IF(B34<251,252-B34,1))))+(IF(C34=0,0,(IF(C34<251,252-C34,1))))+(IF(D34=0,0,(IF(D34<251,252-D34,1))))+(IF(E34=0,0,(IF(E34<251,252-E34,1))))+(IF(F34=0,0,(IF(F34<251,252-F34,1))))+(IF(G34=0,0,(IF(G34<251,252-G34,1))))+(IF(H34="Y",50,0))+I34+(IF(B34=0,0,(IF(B34<101,25,0))))+(IF(D34=0,0,(IF(D34<101,25,0))))+(IF(E34=0,0,(IF(E34<101,25,0))))

I don’t expect you to understand or have a use for that, I’m just showing off.

WDYMYHS 2015 Populist Top 50In the end, there were 121 films on the Populist long list and 82 on the Critical one. If you want to have a look at the top 50 of each, as featured in the small pictures earlier and to the right, you can find full-size versions here and here. You’ll note the Critical List isn’t filled out in full. At the end of a long day of list-making and code-writing, I couldn’t be doing with scouring the 1001 Movies and Oscar nominees lists for films that, even with those bonus points, couldn’t make the top 12 (never mind the top 6 that actually mattered). The reason some further down are filled out is because they were done incidentally as I went, for one reason or another. (You’ll also note that the row numbers are out by one from the ranking numbers, which is thanks to the Title row. Sadly I don’t know how to change that, if you even can.)

The End

And so there we have it! It felt less complicated a system than last year to me when I set out, I think because last year I was working out/making up all the rules and this year just tweaking and re-applying them. Making Excel do the heavy lifting for me, though, that was new and tricky, but worth it.

Now all I’ve got to do is actually watch the films…


* These numbers are somewhat debatable. For the record, I’ve counted A Clockwork Orange as British. ^

** I did a quick test to find out, and it should actually be in the mid-50s on the Critical list. Why wasn’t it included? Because the only numbered list it appears on is TSPDT, at 511th, and I only went up to 250th when first compiling from there. Its appearance on 1001 Movies gives it a big points boost after that. This does slightly concern me: how many other other films am I missing that would have scored just as well? However, I don’t think it’s possible for anything like that to have cracked the Top 6, so in the end it doesn’t really matter. ^