100 Films’ 100 Favourites

As you may or may not have noticed, this is the 10th year that I’ll be doing 100 Films in a Year (the blog’s 10th birthday is in February 2017). I also (whisper it) turn 30 this year. Argh, the big three-oh! (“Oh, shut it,” says anyone over the age of 31.) To mark this confluence of momentousness, throughout 2016 I’ll be running a new series of posts covering my 100 favourite films.

Taking one film at a time, the series will run all year, hopefully biweekly (as in twice a week, not fortnightly), meaning I can just squeeze all 100 in by December 31st. The plan is to post every Wednesday and Sunday, regular as clockwork (fingers crossed…) All the posts will be collated on this page (not this page, that page).

I will say at the outset, these are not the 100 films I consider to be the greatest ever made (whatever that actually means). Far from it, actually. These are my personal favourites. I suppose to some people that’s one and the same, and of course there’s some overlap, but this list also includes the guilty pleasures (if you believe in such a thing); the films which you know aren’t ‘great’ but you love anyway; or even just films that aren’t as objectively fantastic as something else, but I personally prefer.

Now, there are some caveats to this announcement. (Of course there are — it’s me.) If you really don’t care about The Rules, or some of my thoughts on the selection process, or a few hints about what’s to come, then I’ll see you on Sunday for #1. Otherwise, read on…

I say “The Rules”, but there’s only one major caveat to the whole shebang: the only films eligible for inclusion were ones I’d watched before I started 100 Films. Is it cheating to flat-out exclude anything I’ve watched in the past nine years? Well, here’s the thing: all of those films have already been reviewed here, and while some would benefit from a deeper going-over, others have been thoroughly covered as it is — if I were to review The Dark Knight again, it would be the fourth time I’d covered it. So from a pure list-making perspective, yes, it’s a bit of a cheat; but in terms of what adds more interest and value to this blog and its archive, and therefore to you, my dear readers (well, hopefully), it’s this method.

Further to that, there are still some repeats, because down the years I’ve reviewed a handful of previously-seen titles — indeed, at least one that I’ve reviewed would’ve been a dead cert for this list, were it not for that very re-watch having an impact on my opinion (that’s Sin City, by-the-by). For anyone interested in a guessing game (or just generally curious), I’ve already reviewed 18 of my 100 picks. On the bright side, the posts in this favourites series won’t just be straight-up reviews, as you’ll see soon enough.

As anyone who’s ever tried to compile a list of their favourite movies will know, it’s hard. Doing a list this long relieves some of the pressure — my list of “absolutely must include”s was indeed long, but not close to filling all 100 places. Because of the length, there are films that would be genuine contenders for my all-time top ten best movies I’ve ever seen, and others that I liked very much but are ‘making up the numbers’. Which is a little harsh — it’s less that they’re padding the list, more that I’d know where to start cutting if I had to make room. Besides, that’s probably where the more unusual and surprising choices will be found.

Throughout the selection process, value judgements have to be made — some films lose out on the day that might’ve made it on another. The biggest losers (as it were) were a handful of films I remember loving but have never got round to re-watching. As I’d only seen them once, and over a decade ago at that, I didn’t feel qualified to include them instead of films I was more certain of my opinion on. So pity Battle Royale, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, A History of Violence, JFK, The Mark of Zorro, Munich, Philadelphia, Where the Truth Lies, and several more — if I’d made the time for their re-viewing (and I did do some, just not enough), things might have been different.

Nonetheless, eight films that I’ve only seen once did still make the list. Now I feel like I’ve made some silly choices…

What kind of films made the cut? Well, to be perfectly honest, there’s a lot of really obvious stuff on here. My even longer long-list contained a few more oddities, but the well-known classics (and modern classics) have that status for a reason, and they ultimately won out… most of the time. There will be a few surprising omissions, I’m sure, and hopefully a few surprises littered about too. If you’re wondering about specific inclusions/omissions, the films will be in alphabetical order, so you might spot omissions before the end… unless they begin with, y’know, Z. (Hint: there are no films beginning with Z.)

A certain kind of film makes up the majority of the list. “Juvenile” would be too strong a word; “mainstream” would not be far from the truth. Remember, this is a list compiled from films I first saw up to the age of about 20 (albeit selected from the perspective of being nearly 30). It was only at the very tail end of this time that my experience of cinema really began to broaden beyond what one might semi-pretentiously call the Anglospheric mainstream. That period of widening horizons overlapped with this blog’s birth, as you might observe from some of the films featured in my very earliest days. So films from those first tentative, sometimes faltering, steps into a greater appreciation of Cinema don’t really find a place on this particular list.

That said, don’t imagine things will be limited to Disney musicals and Spielbergian action-adventures. Indeed, some people would look at this list and think it fairly represents the breadth of cinema. Certainly, it could be worse. But I shan’t spoil anything by suggesting how many of them should be viewed with subtitles, or how many were produced before the year of my birth, or how high the percentage of American movies is — though I think we all know that such statistics will inevitably be trotted out when I reach the end.

A list of favourite movies is always a work in progress — there are always more classics to discover, or hidden gems that most people don’t adore but you do, not to mention all the new films they can’t stop making. You might argue most of the latter are dross, but there’s always something worth seeing, and every once in a while a genuine classic comes along.

The work-in-progress factor is even true of this list: it may be locked to films I first saw 10+ years ago, but re-watches and the shifting opinions of age can always bring change. By the end of this project (or the middle, or even the start), I might think I should’ve made some different choices. Even still, over the next year you’ll see an at-least-passable version of my 100 favourite films.

100 Films in a Year’s 1,000th film is…

Basic maths tells us that, in theory, 100 films in a year should result in 1,000 films in a decade. Patently, this is not the case: after eight years, seven months and sixteen days of my self-imposed titular challenge, I have viewed my 1,000th film.

And it is Mark Cousin’s 15-hour documentary, The Story of Film: An Odyssey.

Normally I’d leave such an announcement for my monthly update, but the next one’s a fortnight away and this is a special occasion. Also, I wanted to take a moment to address a few issues this choice might kick up, which also pads out this otherwise rather slight post.*

Firstly, for anyone who might have forgotten/never bothered to read the ‘rules’ (I don’t blame you), this is my 1,000th official/counted/main list film. That only includes films I’d never seen before, or alternative cuts that are significantly modified from the version I’d previously seen. This is why there are over 1,000 reviews on this blog but I’ve only now reached #1000, because I’ve also reviewed every not-that-different alternate cut I’ve seen in that time, as well as covering a handful of other movies.

Secondly, you may well be thinking, “but that’s a TV series, you cheeky so-and-so!” Well, yes and no. It’s true that it premiered on UK TV, and so that’s the form most people will have experienced it in, whether when it aired on More4 here or on TCM in the US or on another local broadcaster. But, ever since the time of its UK debut it’s been screened at various film festivals around the world (look, several pieces of evidence), and it’s in this form that it’s presented on its DVD release: not as 15 episodic chunks, but as a 15-hours-and-15-minutes whole (which has to be split across five discs). So yes, it is a TV series; but also, it’s a film. And it’s enough of a film for me to count it.

(See also today’s archive repost, a piece I wrote in 2008 titled “What makes a film a film?”)

So there we have it: long before I reach a decade of this malarkey, I’m 1,000 films done. Well, I haven’t actually finished it yet (c’mon, it’s 15 hours! I’ve made a start), but my point near enough stands. Yay me!

The full countdown to #1000 can be revisited here.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey will be reviewed in due course.

* Do the explanations exist to fill out the post, or does the post exist as a home for the explanations? Deep thoughts, man. ^

2010 In Retrospect

2010 has been kinder to 100 Films after the last two years, where I first barely scraped to 100 and then failed to reach it (not that I’ve gone on about it). This year, I made it to 100 in September before going on to a grand total of 122 — which, if you’re interested, makes it my second best year, behind the first by seven films.

But now 2010 is over — well, obviously, it finished a week ago — but I mean that 100 Films’ 2010 is over, this being the final post related to those 122 films… other than the half-dozen reviews I’ve yet to post, that is (and that too is an improvement on last year, when I had 20 left over). This final look back has my usual mix of features: a ‘Bottom Five’, a ‘Top Ten’, some ‘Also Ran’s, and ‘Didn’t Run’s too.

I’m sure you don’t need reminding at this point (but just in case) that this is all a review of my 2010 — the films I saw for the first time, not those that hit cinemas for the first time. If you’d like a list of the 122 titles that had a chance of reaching either of these lists, please look here.

Sitting comfortably? Good. Then how about:


The Five Worst Films I Saw in 2010

Max Payne
This year’s only single-star film nearly didn’t sink to such depths, but it was ultimately deserved. It’s an action movie without much action; a thriller without any thrills; a fantasy movie that isn’t meant to be one. It’s also a load of rubbish and you should avoid it. Play the game instead.

Righteous Kill
De Niro and Pacino, together, for a whole film! Cor! Except it’s more bore (see what I did there?) in Jon Avnet’s needlessly complex thriller, with filmdom’s most guessable twist — there’s a good chance you’ll’ve got it from the trailer. Watch their one shared scene in Heat on loop instead.

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
Another British children’s fantasy book series reaches the big screen, but unlike uber-success Harry Potter or the Narnia series, this is ruined the traditional way: Americanisation. Though set in Britain with a largely British cast, ruinous changes abound. A few good moments can’t redeem it.

Elektra
If you thought Daredevil was bad, don’t even consider going anywhere near its spin-off. I liked Daredevil, but I could find little to enjoy in this sloppy, ill-considered fantasy/action flick. It’s this kind of incohesive tosh that kills whole genres. How do such risible screenplays even get made?

The Emperor’s New Groove
I could’ve put something like Iron Eagle as my last choice, but I just don’t care enough about it to hate it. Emperor’s New Groove, on the other hand, is a Disney animated film — I always want to like Disney’s animated films (I guess it’s a childhood thing) and this one is rubbish. Boo.


The Ten Best Films I Saw For the First Time in 2010

This year’s top ten seems inordinately coloured by comedy — perhaps, more than ever, it’s not so much the “best films I’ve seen” as “my favourite films I’ve seen”. Look out for a few more serious honourable mentions at the end.

10) Clue
I think it’s safe to say Clue isn’t the greatest film ever — indeed, I’ve ranked nine above it (ho ho), and there are certainly Better films I’ve left off this list — but I enjoyed it immensely, now that I’ve finally seen it. I can’t help but think its lowly-to-non-existent reputation means a lot of others who’d enjoy it haven’t seen it either.

9) Is Anybody There?
Comedy-drama — or “dramedy”, if you’re American — often comes in for stick for being neither funny enough to be a comedy nor dramatic enough to be drama. And, sometimes, this is rightly so. When pitched right, however, it’s like real life, and that’s the tone Is Anybody There? hits. An affecting exploration of loneliness, regret, hope, and more.

8) Sherlock Holmes
The Guy Ritchie-directed reinvention of Sherlock Holmes could — perhaps should — have been a blockbusterised disaster. Instead, he’s still the genius detective we know and love, only now with added ass-kicking abilities. No, it’s not the definitive Holmes, but it is a jolly good and surprisingly inventive take on the character.

7) His Girl Friday
Sharp, fast, intelligent, hilariously funny — they don’t make films like this any more. Quite literally. Instead, we have the risible …Movie series pumped out at us every year. Something to do with the lowest common denominator Hollywood world we live in, I’m sure, though that’s an explanation rather than an excuse.

6) Coraline
Last year two documentaries formed the centre point of my top ten, this year it’s two children’s films — but both are ready to be enjoyed by adults too. In fact, Coraline’s so dark and scary in places one might argue it’s more aimed at a slightly older audience. Plus Eamonn Holmes hates it. What more recommendation do you need?

5) Nanny McPhee
More childish than Coraline, perhaps, but there’s an awful lot to enjoy nonetheless. Far more than the Mary Poppins rip-off it looks like from the outside, Nanny McPhee rattles along through a colourful but grounded tale that imparts moral messages without battering you round the head. It’s properly magical.

4) Anatomy of a Murder
Procedural crime dramas relentlessly fill our TV schedules these days, but few can hold a candle to Otto Preminger’s masterpiece. The precision-engineered storytelling masterfully refuses to deviate from the case at hand, and who but James Stewart could be a lawyer defending a murderer and still have us cheering for him to win?

3) Inception
Christopher Nolan’s latest managed the rare feat these days of being a genuine blockbuster with an original story, and converting that into high praise and box office too (and without the ticket-selling boost of 3D). More impressively, it did this while baffling much of its audience. Remains to be seen if it benefits or suffers from repeat viewings.

2) Toy Story 3
Returning to a beloved franchise over a decade later would be a mistake in the hands of most filmmakers, but this is Pixar. Toy Story 3 is a worthy successor to its ’90s predecessors; a funny and moving tale that tackles big, emotional themes while still providing a kid-friendly adventure-comedy. It may well be the best film of 2010.

1) Kick-Ass
I’ve not had so much debate over my #1 film before (though 2008’s 2 & 3 kept me busy for a while). Despite provoking outrage in some quarters, Kick-Ass is an arresting deconstruction of the superhero myth, both as “what if someone really did it?” and how the genre has been presented on our screens. Funny, exciting, it really does… yeah, you can add the pun.


Special Mentions

As usual, I just want to highlight a few other films, for various reasons.

I normally mention the 5-star films first, but this year I found it tougher than usual (or, at least, tougher than last year) to settle on the final few slots in my top ten. The films that consequently just missed out by a sliver of fate — and the way my opinions wavered on that particular day — were The Hurt Locker, M and Speed Racer. A few others survived almost as long, but those are the ones I really struggled with.

Secondly, then, I must mention the 16 films that earned themselves 5-star ratings this year. A very respectable seven of them made it into the top ten, namely Anatomy of a Murder, Coraline, His Girl Friday, Inception, Kick-Ass, Nanny McPhee and Toy Story 3. It always seems silly to include 4-star films over some of those that achieved full marks, but that’s life. Two more are among those ‘almost’s — The Hurt Locker and M — while the other seven main listers I left out were The Damned United, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Miracle on 34th Street, Die Puppe, Slumdog Millionaire and The Spiral Staircase. Finally, from outside the main list, was The Special Edition of Beauty and the Beast — or Beauty and the Beast SE to you and I.

Penultimately, a quick mention for a few noir-ish oldies. None of them quite managed to squeeze into my top ten, but this year I’ve really enjoyed the likes of Ministry of Fear, The Outrage, Odd Man Out and, of course, The Spiral Staircase. Plus, the cake-centric intro to my Ministry of Fear review is still one of my favourite things I’ve written for this blog.

And finally, while I’m on older pictures, a quick nod to the rest of the Ernst Lubitsch silents I watched in a rather intensive week back in January. Die Puppe was my favourite, but it was great all round to indulge in a chronological run of one filmmaker’s early work. I find silent movies to be a rather rich flavour of film — there’s much to appreciate, but too many too close together and it gets a bit sickly. I rather gorged on them that week, hence why there’s been no repeat (as yet) of my Silent Week concept. Hey-ho.


The Films I Didn’t See

As ever, allow me to remind you that this hasn’t been a Top 10 of 2010 (only my 2010), but as new films do feature it’s worth considering that there were, as always, a number of notable releases this year that I’ve yet to see. Unsurprisingly — I mean, I only made three trips to the cinema and only saw seven 2010 films in total.

In my annual tradition, then, here’s an alphabetical list of 50 films — chosen for a variety of reasons, from box office success to critical acclaim via simple notoriety — that are listed as 2010 on IMDb and that I’ve not seen.

This year, I considered changing my remit to cover films released in the UK in 2010, for a more accurate account of what I might actually have seen. Using IMDb’s dates means various films fall through the cracks — foreign films that take time to get here usually, but also productions like Season of the Witch, which was made in 2009 but not released ’til early 2011. But I hate it when you see all of [X Year]’s Best Picture nominees turn up in an [X+1 Year]’s list of best films simply because over here they were released a couple of days into January instead a couple of days before it. IMDb’s year of production is, one might argue, as arbitrary a way of dividing them up as UK release date, but it does last longer in the consciousness — and it stops The Best Picture Of [X Year] turning up in a My Favourite Films Of [X+1 Year] list. I suppose I’m at a slight advantage though: by definition I don’t have to have seen these films, whereas a magazine / website / film review programme / blogger has to have had the chance to see something (and, obviously, to have used that chance) to put it in their year-end Top 10.

But hark at me, I’ve waffled on for an age about something fundamentally unimportant. Here’s the damn list.

127 Hours
4.3.2.1
The A-Team
Black Swan
Buried
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Clash of the Titans
Despicable Me
Easy A
Eat Pray Love
Exit Through the Gift Shop
The Expendables
The Fighter
Four Lions
The Ghost
(aka The Ghost Writer)
Green Zone
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Hot Tub Time Machine
How to Train Your Dragon
Iron Man 2
Jonah Hex
The Karate Kid
The King’s Speech
Knight and Day
The Last Airbender
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Let Me In
Machete
Monsters
Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang
Piranha 3D
Predators
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Red
Resident Evil: Afterlife
Salt
Saw 3D
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Shrek Forever After
Shutter Island
The Social Network
Tangled
The Town
Tron: Legacy
True Grit
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Unstoppable
Vampires Suck
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Winter’s Bone


Still here?

That’s the end, then. And if you read it all, you encountered somewhere in the region of 78 films (slightly more if you followed the Lubitsch link). That was worth coming all the way down here for, wasn’t it?

Right, I’m off to watch some more films. I’ve got another 100 to get through you know.

And that’s the end of my repostathon, too!
The blog’s archive is now as up-to-date as it’s ever likely to be.

2010: The Full List

I did it!

After last year’s slight shortfall, that’s the big news this year. And unlike 2008, where I scraped to 100 in the year’s dying days, I instead made it in the dying days of September — leaving a whole three months to spare! Sadly I didn’t use those to beat my previous best, 2007’s 129, but there’s always next year.

So, here’s the list of all I saw. Slight change this year: the list is in numerical order, aka order viewed. Because I don’t post reviews in order any more, and because there’s an alphabetical list of all reviews, this seems the most unique — and therefore vaguely worthwhile — way of doing it. I go back and forth on whether numerical or alphabetical is ‘right’ every year, so don’t be surprised if it changes back in 2011.

After the lists comes the usual array of fascinating statistics. If you’d like to skip straight down to those — scrolling can be an awfully tiring business after all — then please click here. Otherwise, on with the 131 things I have to mention…


The Full List

#1 Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
#2 His Girl Friday (1940)
#3 The Man Who Sued God (2001)
#4 Ich möchte kein Mann sein, aka I Wouldn’t Want to Be a Man (1918)
#5 Die Puppe, aka The Doll (1919)
#6 Die Austernprinzessin, aka The Oyster Princess (1919)
#7 Sumurun (1920)
#8 Anna Boleyn (1920)
#9 Die Bergkatze, aka The Mountain-Lion (1921)
#10 Ernst Lubitsch in Berlin: From Schönhauser Allee to Hollywood (2006)
#11 Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
#12 Wallander: The Secret, aka Mankell’s Wallander: Hemligheten (2006)
#13 Air Force One (1997)
#14 Million Dollar Baby (2004)
#15 What About Bob? (1991)
#16 Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
#17 Saturday Night Fever (1977)
#18 Kung Fu Panda (2008)
#19 Elektra (2005)
#20 M (1931)
#21 Speed Racer (2008)
#22 Frankenstein (2004)
#23 Doctor Faustus (1967)
#24 Deja Vu (2006)
#25 Juno (2007)
#26 The September Issue (2009)
#27 Choke (2008)
#28 Clue (1985)
#29 Death Wish (1974)
#30 Seraphim Falls (2006)
#31 Waitress (2007)
#32 The Illusionist (2006)
#33 Lesbian Vampire Killers (2009)
#34 Saw V (2008)
#35 Titanic (1997)
#36 The Condemned (2007)
#37 Ghost Town (2008)
#38 Alice in Wonderland (3D) (2010)
#39 Kick-Ass (2010)
#40 Wallander: The Revenge, aka Mankell’s Wallander: Hämnden (2009)
#41 Evangelion: 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone, aka Evangerion shin gekijôban: Jo (2007/2009)
#42 Burn After Reading (2008)
#43 Inkheart (2008)
#44 First Blood (1982)
#45 Sherlock Holmes (2010)
#46 Righteous Kill (2008)
#47 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)
#48 Taken (2008)
#49 Sherlock Holmes (2009)
#50 Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)
#51 Tu£sday (2008)
#52 Insomnia (1997)
#53 Coraline (2009)
#54 Knowing (2009)
#55 Ivanhoe (1952)
#56 National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)
#57 Max Payne (Harder Cut) (2008)
#58 Public Enemies (2009)
#59 Final Destination (2000)
#60 2012 (2009)
#61 The International (2009)
#62 True Lies (1994)
#63 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
#64 Mulan (1998)
#65 Get Smart (2008)
#66 Guess Who (2005)
#67 Pale Rider (1985)
#68 Is Anybody There? (2008)
#69 Inception (2010)
#70 Ministry of Fear (1944)
#71 Panic in the Streets (1950)
#72 Terminator Salvation: Director’s Cut (2009)
#73 Dragonslayer (1981)
#74 Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
#75 Nanny McPhee (2005)
#76 Final Destination 2 (2003)
#77 Total Recall (1990)
#78 Late Spring, aka Banshun (1949)
#79 Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943)
#80 Ocean’s Eleven (1960)
#81 Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
#82 Bride & Prejudice (2004)
#83 Final Destination 3 (2006)
#84 Matchstick Men (2003)
#85 The Damned United (2009)
#86 Snake Eyes (1998)
#87 Daylight (1996)
#88 Night at the Museum (2006)
#89 The Seeker: The Dark is Rising (2007)
#90 Bhaji on the Beach (1993)
#91 The Band Wagon (1953)
#92 Force of Evil (1948)
#93 Brigadoon (1954)
#94 The History Boys (2006)
#95 Gigi (1958)
#96 Robin Hood: Director’s Cut (2010)
#97 Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie (1996)
#98 It Happened Here (1965)
#99 Hercules (1997)
#100 The Hurt Locker (2008)
#101 Road to Rio (1947)
#102 The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
#103 The Good German (2006)
#104 Witchfinder General (1968)
#105 Grindhouse (2007)
#106 Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
#107 Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
#108 The Night Listener (2006)
#109 Born Free (1966)
#110 Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985)
#111 Living Free (1972)
#112 The Spiral Staircase (1945)
#113 Solaris (1972)
#114 Toy Story 3 (2010)
#115 Odd Man Out (1947)
#116 The Outrage (1964)
#117 The Wolfman: Unrated Version (2010)
#118 Surrogates (2009)
#119 Rambo III (1988)
#120 Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
#121 A Good Woman (2004)
#122 Iron Eagle (1986)


Alternate Cuts
#100b Angels & Demons: Extended Version (2009)
#115a The Special Edition of Beauty and the Beast (1991/2002)


Shorts
#20a Zum Beispiel: Fritz Lang (1968)
#40a Pixels (2010)
#66a 1945-1998 (2003)
#88a The Met Ball (2010)
#100a Tales of the Black Freighter (2009)
#103a How Long is a Minute? (2001)
#118a Verity (2010)


The Full Statistics

In the end, as you can see, I watched 122 new feature films in 2010 — my second-best year. (All films are included in the stats that follow, even if there’s no review yet.)

Plus, I watched two features I’d seen before that were extended or altered in some way — three if you count Evangelion: 1.11. (All 124 films are included in the statistics that follow, unless otherwise indicated.)

I also watched seven shorts this year (none of which shall be counted in any statistics).

The total running time of new features was 208 hours and 12 minutes. The total running time of all films (including shorts) was 213 hours and 50 minutes.

This year I’ve re-watched just one film from the list already, which was Clue. Toy Story 3 and Inception very, very nearly managed it though…

Last year, for the first time, DVD slipped from the top spot of my viewing format of choice, bested by TV. The story’s even worse this year. TV is more definitively the leader with 68 films, including 24 in HD. Both those numbers beat DVD. Second is Blu-ray with 29, a massive increase from last year’s six. And so DVD comes third (or fourth, if you split TV in two) with just 22. How the mighty have fallen, and all that.

Of the rest, there’s 2 downloads (one in HD) and, more depressingly, my cinema tally: I saw just 3 films on the big screen this year (just one in otherwise-abundant 3D). That’s down on previous years’ totals of (in chronological order) nine, ten, and last year’s six. Quite by bad coincidence, I started this blog at a time when I began going to the cinema an awful lot less — just one year earlier and it would’ve been bursting with theatrically-viewed films. My record on this front is now a bit meagre, really. Finally, VHS stays dead — having dropped from five in my first year to zero last year, I don’t even have a machine set up any more. Poor VHS. (What I failed to notice last year was how that’s almost an exact inversion of Blu-ray, which progressed over the first three years from zero to two to six. Neat.)

The most popular decade was, as ever, the ’00s, with a round 60 films. The competition is for second place, then, and this year it goes to the ’90s with 15. Despite few trips to the cinema, new-boy decade the 2010s managed a fairly respectable 7, leaving it joint 5th. In an improvement on the last two years, every decade since 1910 is represented this year. In chronological order, 3 films were made in both the 1910s and the 1920s, 1 was from the ’30s, 10 from the ’40s, 6 from the ’50s, 8 from the ’60s, 4 from the ’70s and 7 from the ’80s. Diverse.

The average score this year was 3.6. That includes 16 five-star films (joint lowest with the first year) and just 1 one-star film (an improvement on last year’s four). As usual, the majority of films — 62 — scored four stars. There were also 31 three-star films and 14 two-star films. All numbers fall more or less in line with my previous tallies, which is a nice mark of consistency — indeed, the average is the same as 2008, which is only 0.1 less than 2007 and 2009. I’m alternating; how lovely.

7 films appear on the IMDb Top 250 Films at the time of posting. Their positions ranges from 6th (Inception) to 241st (Kick-Ass). As ever, there are too many other lists around to consider them all.

At the end of all previous years I’ve included lists of 50 notable films I’d missed from that year’s releases (and, as usual, 2010’s lot will be in my next post). This year I’ve managed to see 4 more from 2007 (bringing the total number seen from that 50 to halfway, 25) and 9 more from 2008’s list (bringing that total to 13). From the freshest batch — i.e. 2009’s selection — I’ve seen 8. Hopefully further films from all the lists will crop up as I go through 2011 — heck, maybe one day I’ll have even seen them all! Probably not though.

A total of 99 solo directors and a record 10 directing partnerships appear on the list this year. The most-represented is Ernst Lubitsch with six films, followed by Vincente Minnelli with four. Those with two films to their name are James Cameron, Gurinder Chadha, Clint Eastwood, Jonathan Frakes, Fritz Lang, Ridley Scott and James Wong. Also, R.J. Cutler manages one feature and one short. The remaining 89 directors and all 10 partnerships have, naturally, one each.

36 of the films are currently in my DVD/Blu-ray collection (plus three of the shorts). I’ve also got one digitally downloaded (it was free).


Coming soon…

Last year I still had a huge pile of reviews to post well into January; this year, only a handful. And quite aside from them, there’s my ever-so-exciting Top 10 and Bottom 5!

Stay tuned.

Or, y’know, go away and come back later.

2009 In Retrospect

Introduction

2009’s well and truly over (well, aside from the 20 reviews I still haven’t posted), so it’s time to reflect on what has been.

It’s been a somewhat inauspicious year for 100 Films, actually, failing to make the titular target for the first time and not necessarily seeing a great many classic films along the way. 2007’s Top Ten held undeniable classics like Brief Encounter and Citizen Kane, while 2008’s managed the likes of Rashomon, Notorious, and the 9th greatest film of all time [as of 2015, it’s gone back up to 4th]. I don’t mean to spoil this year’s lot, but it looks kinda tame and modern (70% come from the last three years) by comparison.

Equally, whereas the first two years saw just a single one-star film each, this year (as noted in my previous summary post) I’ve awarded four. Clearly my recent viewing choices leave something to be desired — indeed, for all of this I have only myself to blame.

In case you forgot…

As regular readers are undoubtedly aware — but it doesn’t do any harm to re-emphasise — both the Bottom Five and Top Ten are based on what I’ve seen for the first time this year, not what was released this year (hence why I was wittering on about not having many all-time-classics to include). To this end, you can see the list of contenders here, which I’m certain includes some that are bafflingly absent from what follows.

Each of the Top Ten comes with a further recommendation, also plucked from this year’s viewing, of a film that is in some way similar. Why? I’m not sure, it just seemed a good idea. They are not numbers 11 to 20 in my favour.

And with that out of the way for another year, here are the lists:

The Five Worst Films I’ve Seen in 2009

Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour
My original review was more verbose than this ‘movie’ deserves, so let me sum it up in one word: tosh.

AVPR – Aliens vs Predator: Requiem
AVP was pretty rubbish, but AVPR performs the impressive feat of turning its predecessor into a pleasurable memory. As I said in my original review, “the inconceivably thorough degradation of a once-great franchise is its greatest crime.”

Alone in the Dark
Makes AVPR look good. Actually, it doesn’t — I don’t think anything could — but if forced I’d still rather re-watch those franchises being destroyed than suffer through this incomprehensible and unexciting mess another time.

Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic
Comedy should be funny. That’s pretty much a basic principle, I’m sure everyone will agree. Whether it’s also cutting-edge, old-fashioned, gentle, satirical, offensive or comfortable, it at least needs to be funny. Which, in this film, Silverman isn’t.

Sherlock: Case of Evil
This wins the final spot over the likes of Transporter 3, The Man in the Iron Mask, The Red Riding Trilogy and Cinderella simply because it was so wiped from my mind I had to look up my own review to remember what it was. Case of Evil is moderately passable in itself, but by being literally forgettable it earns a place here.

The Ten Best Films I’ve Seen For the First Time in 2009

10) Rage
Just sneaking in at the outside edge of my top ten is Rage. It looked like a film I wouldn’t really enjoy — a full feature-length of fashion industry people nattering to camera while exciting events took place off screen — but a high-quality cast and the fact it was free persuaded me. I’m glad it did, because I actually enjoyed it immensely. Sometimes I do like gimmicks, and this one works.
See also: The Knack …And How to Get It, because it’s the next-most experimental/arty thing (that isn’t also in this top ten).

9) Alien Resurrection
I ummed and ahhed over this, but in the end Resurrection beat the other two Alien sequels into my top ten. Is Aliens a better film? Probably. Well, certainly. But Resurrection is under-loved and, in my view, a little gem… in it’s own twisted, dark kind of way.
See also: Aliens, obviously.

8) Culloden
The faux-documentary is everywhere these days, but few are quite as original as Peter Watkins’ 1964 effort. Instead of comedically covering a fake band/movie/dog show, Watkins presents a real historical event as if it’s been covered by a modern-day current affairs programme. The concept is executed consistently and flawlessly, while even on a small BBC budget he manages to craft epic and affecting battle scenes.
See also: Paths of Glory, for more wartime miscarriages of justice.

7) Star Trek
I’m no Star Trek fan, and that’s one of the main reasons this latest franchise entry makes my top ten: it’s not the Second Coming some seem set on celebrating it as, but it’s a fine action-adventure that I actually enjoyed — more than I can say for most of Trek. It’s also distinctly fun, in the bright, colourful, occasionally a little silly vein, a quality that’s in disappointingly short supply among modern blockbusters.
See also: Avatar, also bright and colourful, but woefully over-hyped.

6) Rock n Roll Nerd
Perhaps enjoyment of this depends on your opinion of Tim Minchin, but even if you’re not a fan (yep, I hear there are some people who don’t like him) it remains an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of the world of stand-up comedy (part of it anyway), alongside the journey of a sudden rise to fame and a sweet domestic ‘subplot’.
See also: Commentary! The Musical for more behind-the-scenes-styled comedy songs.

5) For All Mankind
Two documentaries mark the mid-point of this year’s top ten, but this just edges in the lead because of its Importance and poetic beauty. The story of the Apollo missions is told effectively if sparely, but it’s the visuals that are the real joy here.
See also: In the Shadow of the Moon tells the same story, but with the astronauts’ recollections decades later.

4) Son of Rambow
There’s something about Son of Rambow… The shape of the story is familiar, the lessons learnt hardly new, and some of the sillier subplots rub incongruously against the realist primary narrative. And yet none of that matters because it’s beautifully written, directed and performed, full of skill and charm, amusing and moving in equal measure. And personally, I quite like barmy subplots.
See also: Stand By Me, another set-in-the-past boyhood coming-of-age tale.

3) Watchmen: Director’s Cut
I’ve barred myself from giving this the top spot because, as noted in my review of the theatrical cut, I still can’t be certain my opinion of the film is divorced from my opinion of the novel: so faithful is Snyder’s adaptation, so indicative was the trailer and other pre-release coverage, that even watching it for the first time it felt like I’d seen it before. It’s flawed, but it’s also brilliant.
See also: Batman (1966), an equally divisive superhero movie. Totally different, mind.

2) In Bruges
Looking over my whole top ten this year, there’s a bit of a “it’s not for everyone” theme developing. With its foul language, extreme violence, politically incorrect humour and somewhat inconclusive ending, In Bruges undoubtedly falls into that category. But for anyone who can stomach those things it’s a wonderfully entertaining film in every respect. A bit like my #1…
See also: Ripley’s Game, another Europe-set hitman thriller with a comic edge.

1) Inglourious Basterds
Tarantino’s latest seems to have been quite divisive with audiences, possibly due to misaligned expectations. As a blast — or, rather, several blasts — of pure cinema, resplendent with a cornucopia of irregular screen tricks and motifs scattered throughout with carefree abandon, it’s an awful lot of fun. Unlikely to best Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction for mainstream acceptance, perhaps, but there’s something for every kind of cineast in here.
See also: The Thief of Bagdad, equally episodic, playful and joyously filmic.

Special Mentions

As ever, I can’t end this without mentioning the 17 films that earned themselves 5-star ratings this year (including some that are yet to have reviews published). Six of them made it into the top ten: For All Mankind, In Bruges, Inglourious Basterds, Rage, Son of Rambow, and Watchmen: Director’s Cut. Normally I’d just list the others, but first I’m going to pick out two that came closer than most to cracking the top ten: The Great Dictator and The Thief of Bagdad. I suppose that makes them 11 and 12. The remaining nine included: Aliens, Anne Frank Remembered, La Antena, The Apartment, Glory, Paths of Glory, Watchmen (failing to make the top ten because of the Director’s Cut), and Where the Sidewalk Ends.

Finally, the 17th was Blade Runner: The Final Cut. As with Leon last year, I didn’t feel justified including in my Top 10 a film so similar to a version I’d previously seen. As it was excluded from consideration, then, it gets its own paragraph here.

Additionally, I felt five-stars were deserved by a few films I’d seen before (The Birds, Some Like It Hot, Flash Gordon) and one alternate cut (Alien: The Director’s Cut), not to mention two shorts: The Lunch Date and Commentary! The Musical.

More randomly, well done to X-Men Origins: Wolverine for finally putting a film under ‘X’ on my review list; and to The X Files sequel for doubling the number. Just ‘Y’ left to fill…

The Films I Didn’t See

As I’m certain you’re aware, this isn’t a Top 10 of 2009 (only of my 2009), but new films do feature, and with that in mind there were a number of notable releases that I’ve yet to see.

In my annual tradition, then, here’s an alphabetical list of 50 films (listed as 2009 on IMDb) that I’ve missed this year. These have been chosen for a variety of reasons, from box office success to critical acclaim via simple notoriety.

2012
(500) Days of Summer
9
The Boat That Rocked
Brüno
A Christmas Carol
Coraline
District 9
Drag Me to Hell
An Education
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Fast & Furious
The Final Destination
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Glorious 39
The Hangover
The Hurt Locker
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
In the Loop
The Informant!
The International
The Invention of Lying
Invictus
Jennifer’s Body
Julie & Julia
Knowing
Monsters vs. Aliens
Moon
Nine
Paranormal Activity
The Princess and the Frog
The Proposal
Public Enemies
Push
The Road
A Serious Man
Sherlock Holmes
The Soloist
St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
Taking Woodstock
Terminator Salvation
This Is It
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
Up
Where the Wild Things Are
Year One

A Final Thought

“It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…”

See, 2010’s already begun!

2009: The Full List

Introduction

So, 2009… the first year I failed to reach my stated goal. Still, I saw 94 new films and bothered to review several others — and here’s a full alphabetical list of the lot of ’em!


The Full List

Airplane! (1980)
Aliens (1986)
Alien³ (1992)
Alien Resurrection (1997)
Alone in the Dark (2005)
An American in Paris (1951)
Angels & Demons (2009)
Anne Frank Remembered (1995)
La Antena (2007)
The Apartment (1960)
Ashes of Time Redux (1994/2008)
Avatar (2009)
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)
AVPR – Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007)
Babel (2006)
Batman (1966)
Big Nothing (2006)
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982/2007)
Brute Force (1947)
Children of Heaven (1997)
Cinderella (1965)
Copycat (1995)
Culloden (1964)
Dark Floors (2008)
Eastern Promises (2007)
Exiled (2006)
Fatal Instinct (1993)
A Few Good Men (1992)
Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
Flesh for Frankenstein (3D) (1973)
For All Mankind (1989)
For Your Consideration (2006)
Friday the 13th Part III (3D) (1982)
Glory (1989)
The Great Dictator (1940)
Hamlet (2009)
Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour (3D) (2008)
Hard Candy (2005)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
High Anxiety (1977)
High Society (1956)
In Bruges (2008)
In the Shadow of the Moon (2007)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Insomnia (2002)
Jumper (2008)
The Kite Runner (2007)
The Knack …And How to Get It (1965)
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Lethal Weapon (1987)
The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
Marnie (1964)
Michael Clayton (2007)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
No Country For Old Men (2007)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Predator 2 (1990)
Rage (2009)
Red Riding: 1974 (2009)
Red Riding: 1980 (2009)
Red Riding: 1983 (2009)
The Right Stuff (1983)
Ripley’s Game (2002)
Rock n Roll Nerd (2008)
Runaway Train (1985)
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (TV edit) (2005)
Saw (2004)
Saw II (2005)
Saw III (2006)
Saw IV (2007)
Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964)
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
Sherlock (2002)
Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943)
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)
Solaris (2002)
Son of Paleface (1952)
Son of Rambow (2007)
Stand By Me (1986)
Star Trek (2009)
State of Play (2009)
Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Transporter 3 (2008)
Wallander: Before the Frost (2005)
Wallander: Mastermind (2005)
Watchmen (2009)
Watchmen: Director’s Cut (2009)
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)
The X Files: I Want to Believe – Director’s Cut (2008)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Alternate Cuts
Alien: The Director’s Cut (1979/2003)

Other Reviews
The Birds (1963)
Flash Gordon (1980)
Predator (1987)
Some Like It Hot (1959)

Shorts
Commentary! The Musical (2008)
Cut (2009)
The Gruffalo (2009)
The Lunch Date (1990)
The World of Tomorrow (1998)
The Wraith of Cobble Hill (2005)


The Full Statistics

In the end, I watched 94 new feature films in 2009, the first year I’ve failed to reach 100.

I watched three features I’d seen before that were extended or altered in some way. Two of them even factored in the main list. I also reviewed four films I’d seen before. (All 99 films are included in the statistics that follow, unless otherwise indicated.)

I also watched six shorts this year, which by some coincidence falls exactly mid-way between the number I saw in 2007 and the number I saw in 2008. Exciting stuff. (Shorts aren’t counted, except the total total running time.)

The total running time of new features was 166 hours and 51 minutes. The total running time of all features and shorts was 177 hours and 44 minutes.

I saw 6 films at the cinema this year, including, for the first time, one in 3D. That’s far beaten by the number of new films I saw on DVD though, which stands at 29 (rising by just one if counting extended/altered films, five if counting all features). Surprisingly, however, that’s also soundly beaten by the number I watched on TV: 44, including 8 in HD and, appropriately, 3 in 3D. This compares to 14 in 2007 and 10 last year, making 2009 a highly unusual year by comparison. Otherwise, I watched 8 via download, 6 on Blu-ray and 1 via online streaming, which is a first (for a feature-length film) for me. VHS has finally disappeared however, dropping steadily from five in 2008 to two last year, and now to zero.

The most popular decade this year was, as ever, the 00s, with 51 films. Of the rest, 10 were made in the 90s, 12 in the 80s, 5 in the 70s, 8 in the 60s, and 6 each in the 40s and the 50s. The oldest film on this year’s list dates from 1940. (Where alternate cuts offer up multiple decades (Ridley Scott, I’m looking at you) only the decade of production/original release is counted.)

My average score was 3.7, equal to 2007’s and 0.1 higher than 2008’s. Seems I’m consistent. This year that average comes from 21 five-star films (up on both previous years) and 4 one-star films, the first year I’ve doled out more than one of the latter. The majority of films, as usual, scored four stars (there were 42 of them this year). There were also 21 three-star films (down on 2008, which was down on 2007) and 11 two-star films (in the same ballpark).

15 films appear on the IMDb Top 250 Films at the time of writing, which is slightly up from last year. Their positions range from 28th (Avatar) to 231st (Glory). From Empire’s Top 10 of 2009 (only to be found buried away here, apparently) I’ve managed just two. As ever, there are too many other lists around to consider them all.

At the end of both 2007 and 2008 I included lists of 50 notable films I’d missed from that year’s releases. With all of 2009 taken into account, I’ve managed to see four more from 2007 (bringing the total number seen from that 50 to just 21), and, equally, a mediocre four from 2008’s list (shamefully, I actually own or have recorded 14 of the remaining 46). Hopefully further films from both lists will crop up in 2010.

A total of 87 directors appear on this year’s list, as well as two partnerships (both pairs of brothers) and two directing teams. Topping the list of those with multiple films is Darren Lynn Bousman with three (all Saw sequels), while there’s two apiece for James Cameron, Alfred Hitchcock, Rob Reiner, Ridley Scott and Billy Wilder. Zack Snyder also appears twice, with two cuts of the same film.

35 of the films are currently in my DVD/Blu-ray collection (plus four of the shorts).


Still to come…

I’m not done with 2009 yet. Aside from 21 outstanding reviews (by which I mean they’ve yet to be posted, not that they’re exceptionally good), there’s my Top 10 and Bottom 5 of what I saw this year. All of that to follow shortly… or, y’know, one day…

2008 In Retrospect

Introduction

And so 2008 is finally at an end (really this time). It’s always odd, looking back, and seeing just how long ago January was… and yet, at the same time, how close it feels.

The films I’ve watched, numbered as they are, provide an especially concrete example of this. Take this pair: Dark City was just the second film I watched in 2008, but it feels barely months since I first saw it. Atonement, on the other hand, was only the seventh film — barely a month after Dark City — but it feels like years ago. But that’s Time for you: entirely relative.

This is why, as I go through the year watching my new films, I keep a pair of lists. The first, and longest, is the ‘short’ list for my Best Films Of 2008 — being the best films I’ve seen (for the first time) in the year past, not the best films released (for the first time) in that year. The second, mercifully shorter, is the short list for my Worst Films Of 2008 — again, ones I’ve seen. These lists are handy in making sure I don’t forget anything… and meaning I don’t have to trawl through all 100 again!


What follows…

…is quite simple: first up, my five Worst Films, in no particular order; then, my ten Best Films, in a lovely countdown. Each of the latter is accompanied by a further recommendation from this year’s viewing. These aren’t numbers 11 to 20 on my list, but instead films I’ve seen this year that are in some way similar to the one they’re attached to.

With that all over-explained, here goes:


The Five Worst Films I’ve Seen in 2008

The Baskerville Curse
This was only the second single-star review I’ve doled out in two years and 254 reviews (including the shorts). I maintain it’s an overrated Holmes tale, but it can be adapted well — I like the 1939 version more than my review suggests, and also the BBC’s 2002 effort. This needlessly renamed version wastes its short running time on the story’s less important elements (train journeys! letter writing!), depicted through low-quality animation with no atmosphere. Disappointing.

The Invasion
A slow, predictable plot and ludicrous final message scupper this effort, which is a shame because it’s the sort of allegorical sci-fi tale that’s probably ripe for a good retelling.

Superhero Movie
Lazy in every respect (so it can make do with this lazy comment).

Southland Tales
Last year I picked one film for this list that, as well as being weak in itself, stood for all the year’s disappointments. While there weren’t so many this year, this was undoubtedly one. I haven’t seen Donnie Darko for a few years so I don’t know if I’ve grown out of it (some seem to have), but it was a great experience when I first saw it in the cinema and I’ve eagerly awaited Kelly’s follow-up ever since. That he turned in such a confused mess was truly disappointing. Hopefully his next effort will be better.

Cube²: Hypercube and Cube Zero
A slight cheat, I know, but together they took an excellent, original, stand-alone sci-fi film and tried to turn it into yet another horror franchise. One might live with that if they were decent pieces of work, but both are risible, missing all the points that made the first so great. An exceptionally good example of why wholly unnecessary sequels are wholly bad.


The Ten Best Films I’ve Seen For the First Time in 2008

10) Sunshine
As this year ends Danny Boyle is garnering much praise and Oscar buzz for his new flick, but this SF effort is possibly my favourite of his films to date. Yes, it completely loses it in the final stretch — and it’s that ending that held off a fifth star from me, and I think generally damaged its critical standing too — but to that point it’s an exciting yet believable (enough, anyway) space-faring drama.
See also: The Fountain, a more metaphysical space mission as just one part of a no-doubt-meaningful century-spanning narrative.

9) Cloverfield
There’s never been hype quite like Cloverfield’s, and I was surprised as anyone when it actually paid off. Probably a pain on the big screen, it really suits your TV. It’s not the scariest horror ever (its PG-13 rating surely put paid to that) and it’s a bit slow to get going (especially if you’re any older than the protagonists, it seems), but once it does it holds impressively faithful to its high-concept camcorder style and uses it to good effect on several occasions.
See also: Russian Ark, for a whole film shot in a real single take.

8) Hellboy II: The Golden Army
I enjoyed the original Hellboy, but here del Toro perfects the formula. It’s no small feat to balance character drama (where two of the main characters are a giant red demon and a fish-man) with humour (genuinely funny humour at that), spellbinding production design, and thrilling action sequences, but del Toro does it with ease. Pan’s Labyrinth may have captured more critics, but personally I’d rather enjoy this one again. Fingers crossed that a third entry can overcome all the odds, so stacked against it, and grace our screens one day.
See also: Transformers, a surprisingly entertaining blockbuster (narrowly missing out on a place here).

7) Notorious
Notorious was one of those semi-accidental discoveries for me — “there’s a Hitchcock on I’ve not seen on telly? Let’s give it a go.” Packed with incident, and with an unforgettable crane shot, it was certainly worth it. (Hitchcock fans may want to keep an eye on the blog in 2009 — I’ve acquired almost all his films on DVD recently and may get stuck into them soon.) [I didn’t.]
See also: Rebecca, another excellent Hitchcock-directed romantic mystery.

6) Hairspray
A bit of fluff with an incredibly catchy closing number that always turns up on the Royal Variety Performance and the like? Yes — but also so much more. The toe-tapping tunes (there’s a cliché I never thought I’d use) and lovable characters make it an above-average feel-good flick, but it’s the surprising presence and assured handling of A Serious Issue that notch it up to such heights.
See also: Mamma Mia!, if you like your musicals feel-good and familiar.

5) Rashomon
My first encounter with Akira Kurosawa was undoubtedly belated, but certainly worth the wait. Rashomon is a seminal work, its title now a byword for multiple-perspective narratives, and the reputation this affords it is certainly deserved. Modern films may attempt to trade off this style, but are often nothing of the sort (Vantage Point, I’m looking at you) — Rashomon is the one true version.
See also: Throne of Blood, another brilliant Kurosawa adaptation, this time of my favourite Shakespeare.

4) Stardust
Dubbing this “the British Princess Bride” rather undersells it. Stardust is a truly magical film, packed with wit, action, delicious villains, a star-packed cast, a stirring score, genuinely special effects, British locations that look as stunning as anything New Zealand had to offer, and — of course — more. The odd duff note (Ricky Gervais, I’m looking at you) can’t detract from the pure fun on offer.
See also: Enchanted, a beautifully executed riff on a similar fantastical genre.

3) Dark City
It was a close call which film landed third and which second, and on another day it might’ve been the other way round, but Alex Proyas’ dark sci-fi was narrowly pipped at the post. It’s all but forgotten, which is a shame because it does what it does amazingly — including much of what the Matrix sequels had to offer, only five years earlier and in a way that makes sense. To say too much would be to ruin it, and I definitely don’t want to do that. A long-awaited director’s cut was finally released on DVD this year — reportedly now the only decent way to watch the film, it will surely find a place on next year’s list. [It didn’t.]
See also: Cube Zero, pretty dreadful but with a similar(ish) retro-industrial-SF production design.

2) Zodiac
David Fincher is a wonderful director, currently adding another string to his bow with the highly praised Curious Case of Benjamin Button (see #10 on this list for a similar situation). For me, Zodiac is possibly his best film yet, a thoroughly atypical serial-killer thriller that sticks to the facts over a lengthy running time, yet manages to hold your attention too. Again, the (only marginally longer) DVD-released director’s cut is likely to find a place on the 2009 list. [It didn’t, but did in 2011.]
See also: L.A. Confidential, more period-set investigation of brutal crimes thick with conspiracy.

1) The Dark Knight
No surprises here. 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. There’s little else to say that hasn’t already been said — especially as I’ve already reviewed it twice.
See also: Iron Man, this year’s other billionaire-in-a-suit superhero, with less plot but more laughs.


Special Mentions

I can’t end this without mentioning the 16 films that earned themselves 5-star ratings this year. Seven of them made it into the top ten (much better than last year, I think). Those were: Dark City, The Dark Knight, Hairspray, Notorious, Rashomon, Stardust, and Zodiac. Last year I commented that I’d since rethought some of the 5s I’d handed out; not so this year, and most of the following came very close to making the top ten: Atonement, Cathy Come Home, Double Indemnity, The Green Mile, L.A. Confidential, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Rebecca, and Throne of Blood.

There was also a 5 for Leon: Version Integrale. I’ve singled it out because it’s one of my favourite films ever, and I felt this cut was different enough from the original version to number it individually… but not different enough to include in my Top 10. Here’s a whole honorary paragraph instead.

Additionally, two shorts scored full marks for the first time this year: Pixar’s Presto, which preceded WALL-E on the big screen and can now be found on that film’s DVD; and Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death, a Christmas treat that will be getting its own DVD release. There were also 5-star re-watch reviews for Bond re-boot Casino Royale and inadvertent franchise-starter Cube. And finally, the ubiquitous Dark Knight earned itself a second full set of stars thanks to its stunning IMAX version.


The Films I Didn’t See

As has been noted, this isn’t a Top 10 of 2008 in the traditional sense (at all), but new films do feature, and with that in mind there were a number of notable releases this year that I’ve yet to see.

So, after the intense interest of doing this last year, here’s an alphabetical list of 50 films listed as 2008 on IMDb that I’ve missed. These have been chosen for a variety of reasons, from box office success to critical acclaim, from fame to infamy. (Most of the alphabet’s covered too, but, frustratingly, not quite all of it.)

10,000 BC
Australia
Babylon A.D.
The Bank Job
Body of Lies
Burn After Reading
Changeling
Che Parts One & Two
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Defiance
Doomsday
Doubt
The Duchess
The Edge of Love
Frost/Nixon
Get Smart
Gran Torino
Hancock
High School Musical 3: Senior Year
How to Lose Friends and Alienate People
In Bruges
Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
Jumper
Kung Fu Panda
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa
Man on Wire
Max Payne
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
The Other Boleyn Girl
Rambo
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
Righteous Kill
RocknRolla
Sex and the City
Slumdog Millionaire
Speed Racer
The Spirit
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
Transporter 3
Tropic Thunder
Twilight
Valkyrie
W.
Waltz With Bashir
The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Yes Man
Zack and Miri Make a Porno


Final Thoughts

I didn’t think I was going to make it to 100 films this year (as I may have mentioned), but it shows what a little determination — in the final stages at least — can do for you. Better luck next year, perhaps.

Maybe I’ll be able to pack in a few more unseen classics too — looking back over this year’s films to choose my top ten, many seemed almost like total-boosting placeholders. That’s not quite the truth of the matter, but it may have skewed the top ten a little (“no WALL-E?” some may ask, for just one oddity).

Still, what’s done is done. Now, to catch up on the reviews left hanging from ’08 (eleven!), and then it’s on to ’09…

2008: The Full List

Introduction

And so the end is here, and here is the end — part one. I’ve flipped the final two entries this year, so my top ten (and bottom five) will be here in a day or two, but before that…

Although there’s now a full list of reviews (with handy links to every one), I’m still posting this list of all I saw in 2008 because, while it may not be as useful as a complete reviews archive, it still shows what I watched this year.

This year hasn’t been quite as successful as last, at least in terms of film viewing. As the year neared its end I didn’t think I’d make it to 100, and was all prepared to settle for 90 around Christmas time, but a final push saw me make it in the nick of time. Hurrah! On the other hand, the move to FilmJournal has had a huge, positive impact on readership. In that vein I’d like to thank everyone who’s commented on the blog, as well as all regular (and irregular) readers who don’t — I know I follow several FilmJournal blogs and never or rarely comment, so I’m sure there must be some doing the same with mine. And while I definitely appreciate all comments (even if I don’t reply, or agree!), special thanks to Colin and Mike for their regular and enjoyable comments on my Rathbone Holmes reviews, even when my articles are neither.

With that said, here’s the list. Scroll to the end for a bunch of irreverent stats about my viewing this year.


The Full List

24: Redemption (2008)
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939)
After the Sunset (2004)
Agatha (1979)
Almost Famous (2000)
The Aristocrats (2005)
Atonement (2007)
The Baskerville Curse (1983)
Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
Be Kind Rewind (2008)
Becoming Jane (2007)
Beowulf: Director’s Cut (2007)
Best in Show (2000)
The Blues Brothers (1980)
Brideshead Revisited (2008)
The Cable Guy (1996)
Calendar Girls (2003)
Cathy Come Home (1966)
Chicago (2002)
Churchill: The Hollywood Years (2004)
Clockwise (1986)
Cloverfield (2008)
Cube²: Hypercube (2002)
Cube Zero (2004)
Dark City (1998)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Die Hard 2 (1990)
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)
Done the Impossible: The Fans’ Tale of Firefly and Serenity (2006)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (2003)
Enchanted (2007)
Field of Dreams (1989)
Fist of Legend (1994)
Flushed Away (2006)
The Fountain (2006)
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
The Golden Compass (2007)
Great Expectations (1998)
The Green Mile (1999)
Hairspray (2007)
Hamlet (1996)
The Happening (2008)
Hard Boiled (1992)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Henry V (1944)
Henry V (1989)
Hitman: Unrated (2007)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
Hulk (2003)
I Am Legend (2007)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
The Invasion (2007)
Iron Man (2008)
The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
Jane Eyre (1944)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Leon: Version Integrale (1994/1996)
Madagascar (2005)
Mamma Mia! (2008)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
The Mirror Crack’d (1980)
Notorious (1946)
Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Rashomon (1950)
Ratatouille (2007)
Rebecca (1940)
Road to Singapore (1940)
A Room With a View (1985)
Russian Ark (2002)
Scenes of a Sexual Nature (2006)
Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943)
Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942)
Shoot ‘Em Up (2007)
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Southland Tales (2006)
St. Trinian’s (2007)
Stardust (2007)
Starwoids (2001)
Stay (2005)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
Sunshine (2007)
Superhero Movie (2008)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Swing Time (1936)
Texas Across the River (1966)
Throne of Blood (1957)
Transformers (2007)
Troy: Director’s Cut (2004/2007)
Ultimate Avengers (2006)
Ultimate Avengers II (2006)
Vantage Point (2008)
WALL-E (2008)
Wanted (2008)
White Christmas (1954)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Zodiac (2007)

Alternate Cuts
The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience (2008)
I Am Legend: Alternate Theatrical Version (2007/2008)

Other Reviews
Casino Royale (2006)
Cube (1997)

Shorts
Gasman (1997)
Inside-Out (1997)
Presto (2008)
Wallace and Gromit in A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008)


The Full Statistics

Before we begin, I’ll just point out that all of these stats include every film on this list, even if I’ve yet to post the review.

In the end, I watched exactly 100 new feature films in 2008. While this is a 22% drop on last year’s total of 129, it’s still my target (obviously).

I watched three features I’d seen before that were extended or altered in some way, two of which I’d only seen for the first time earlier this year. This is three less than in 2007, which, really, is neither here nor there. I also reviewed two films I’d seen before, in each case because I was about to watch their sequel(s). (All 104 are counted in the following statistics, unless otherwise indicated.)

Additionally, I watched four shorts this year (none of which shall be counted in any of the statistics), half of what I saw in 2007. Somewhat surprisingly (to me, anyway), three of these can be found in my DVD collection.

The total running time of new features was 175 hours and 57 minutes. The total running time of all features and shorts was 184 hours and 55 minutes — almost 8 days’ solid viewing, which doesn’t sound much put next to the 366 days available.

I’ve already seen six films from this list again — specifically, The Green Mile, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Mamma Mia!, Stardust, The Dark Knight (on IMAX) and I Am Legend (in its alternate cut).

I made 10 trips to the cinema this year. That’s far beaten by the number of new films I saw on DVD however, which stands at 64 (rising to 67 with those extended/altered/seen ones). It’s downloads that (just) come in a distant second place with 11, while TV equals the cinema with 10. VHS still skulks around with two, and there are three formats new to this blog as well: Blu-ray, also with two, and one each for IMAX and in-flight. A ragtag bunch if ever there was one.

The most popular decade was once agin the 00s by a long way, with 65 films — 62.5%, easily topping last year’s 52%. The nearest was the 90s with a mere 11. A somewhat surprising third was the 40s with eight, closely followed by the 80s with seven. Of the rest, the 30s managed four, the 50s a marginally better five, and the 60s and 70s had two a piece. Nothing before 1936 though.

The average score was 3.6, marginally lower than 2007’s average of 3.7. This year there were 19 five-star films (slightly up from 2007’s 16) and just 1 one-star film (equal to last year). The majority of films — 45 — scored four stars, compared to a huge 72 last year. There were also 24 three-star films (down from 32) and 15 two-star films (practically equal to last year’s 14).

13 films appear on the IMDb Top 250 Films at the time of writing, about two-thirds of 2007’s 21. Their positions ranges from 4th (The Dark Knight, of course) to 199th (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). Some of the films undoubtedly appear on other ‘Best Films Ever’ and ‘Best of 2008’ lists, but I’m hardly going to research them all.

At the end of 2007, I included a list of 50 notable films I’d missed from that year’s releases. With all of 2008 taken into account, I’ve managed to see 17 of them, more or less a third. They’ll probably continue to pop up in 2009.

A total of 88 solo directors and 8 directing partnerships (or teams in some cases!) appear on the list this year, 15 less than last. Coincidentally, 15 directors had more than one film on the list in 2007 — one managed seven (that was Martin Scorsese) — but only six manage a second appearance this year, and none a third or more. Those with two new films are Kenneth Branagh, Marc Forster, Alfred Hitchcock, Julian Jarrold, Akira Kurosawa, and Billy Wilder. Additionally, Francis Lawrence and Christopher Nolan each put in a second appearance with the same film.

And finally… 56 of the films are currently in my DVD collection, once again nearly identical to 2007’s 57. (The IMAX Dark Knight doesn’t count, incidentally, because the IMAX scenes aren’t integrated on DVD.)


Still to come…

My Top 10, and Bottom 5, and other such things. Nearly over…

2007: The Full List

Introduction

And so the end is here. Yes, finally this time! (Check out the previous post for my best and worst of the year.) A nice round 25 entries, too… well, 26 with the Star Wars one

Anyway — as we’ve reached the end, here’s the full alphabetical list of everything I saw, followed by some intensely interesting statistical whatsits.

What a year, eh?


The Full List

300
Alfie
American Dreamz
Annie Hall
Basil the Great Mouse Detective
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City
The Black Dahlia
Blood Diamond
Bonnie and Clyde
Boogie Nights
The Bourne Ultimatum
Breathless
Brick
Brief Encounter
Bringing Out the Dead
Bullets Over Broadway
C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America
Capote
Casanova
The Cat’s Meow
Chinatown
Chocolat
Citizen Kane
A Cock and Bull Story
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind
Confetti
The Crowd
The Departed
The Devil Wears Prada
Doom
Educating Rita
Eragon
Fantômas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine
Fantômas: Juve Versus Fantômas
Fargo
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Flight 93
For Your Eyes Only
Garden State
Goodfellas
Great Expectations
Happy Feet
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Heat
Hellboy: Director’s Cut
Hello, Dolly!
Hidden
Hot Fuzz
An Inconvenient Truth
It
It’s All Gone Pete Tong
Johnny English
The King and I
The King of Comedy
Kinky Boots
Kramer vs. Kramer
Ladies in Lavender
The Last Days of Pompeii
Letters from Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
Manhattan
Manhattan Murder Mystery
March of the Penguins
Mean Creek
Mean Streets
Miracles
Monster
Mrs Brown
Mrs Henderson Presents
Mystic River
The Naked City
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth
Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion
The New World
New York Stories
Night Watch
Nosferatu
Notes on a Scandal
Ocean’s Twelve
Octopussy
On the Town
Ong-Bak
Over the Hedge
The Paleface
Pan’s Labyrinth
Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Piglet’s Big Movie
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Play Time
Point Break
The Prestige
Primer
The Pursuit of Happyness
Ray
The Reckless Moment
Right at Your Door
Ringers: Lord of the Fans
Road to Morocco
Romance & Cigarettes
Secretary
Sense and Sensibility
The Sign of Four
South Pacific
Spider-Man 3
Starter For Ten
Stormbreaker
Stranger Than Fiction
A Study in Scarlet
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
Taxi Driver
Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny
This is Spinal Tap
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
Three Colours: Blue
Three Colours: White
Three Colours: Red
Thumbsucker
Thunderbirds
Traffic in Souls
Trainspotting
Transporter 2
United 93
West Side Story
While You Were Sleeping
Wild at Heart
Wilde
The Woodsman

Alternate Cuts & Other Reviews
Crash: Director’s Cut
Gone With the Wind
Spider-Man 2.1
Star Wars – Episode 4: A New Hope – DVD Edition
Star Wars – Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back – DVD Edition
Star Wars – Episode 6: Return of the Jedi – DVD Edition

Shorts
Bus Stop
The End
Manhatta
Nine 1/2 Minutes
Park
A Propos de Nice
Skyscraper Symphony
Telling Lies


The Full Statistics

In the end, I watched 129 new feature films in 2007.

I also watched 6 features I’d seen before that were extended or altered in some way. (All of those are left in the statistics that follow unless otherwise indicated.)

I also watched 8 shorts (none of which shall be counted in any of the statistics).

I’ve already seen 2 films from this list again (specifically, Happy Feet and Hot Fuzz).

I saw 9 films at the cinema this year. That’s far beaten by the number of new films I saw on DVD though, which stands at 97 (rising to 103 with those extended/altered ones). I also saw 14 on TV, 4 via downloads, and 5 on good ol’ VHS.

The most popular decade by far was the ’00s, with 70 films — that’s 52%! Of the rest, 4 were made in the ’10s, 5 in the ’20s, 1 in the ’30s, 8 in the ’40s, 2 in the ’50s, 6 in the ’60s, 7 in the ’70s, 12 in the ’80s, and 20 in the ’90s. That’s every decade of the 20th Century covered.

The average score was 3.7 out of 5. That includes 16 five-star films and just 1 one-star film. The majority of films scored four stars, with a total of 72 receiving that mark. There were also 32 three-star films and 14 two-star films.

21 of my new films appear on the IMDb Top 250 Films at the time of writing. Their positions range from 15th (Goodfellas) to 247th (Manhattan). None of them are bad enough to make it onto the Bottom 100.

Additionally, 4 films appeared on Empire’s 25 Greatest Films of the YearNotes on a Scandal (at #14), Letters From Iwo Jima (at #11), Hot Fuzz (at #8) and The Bourne Ultimatum (at #1). Many of the films undoubtedly appear on other ‘Best Films Ever’ lists, but I’m hardly going to go research them all.

A total of 111 directors (or directing partnerships) appear on the list. Martin Scorsese appears most often with 7 films. He’s closely followed by Woody Allen with 5 and Krzysztof Kieslowski with 3. Others with multiple films are Clint Eastwood, Louis Feuillade, Lewis Gilbert, John Glen, Paul Greengrass, Lasse Hallstrom, David Lean, Richard Linklater, Ian Mackenzie & Alex Nicholas, F.W. Murnau, Sam Raimi, and Guillermo del Toro. Also, Gene Kelly and the pairing of Hideaki Anno & Kazuya Tsurumaki directed 2 films each, but in both cases one of them was co-directed with someone else. Obviously, the other 94 just directed one film here.

The actors and actresses who appear multiple times are too numerous and difficult to list. There were at least a few though.

In film titles, the most common first letters are B and S (the latter thanks to a big boost from the alternate cuts). The next-closest were T, C, M and P. A total of 17 titles begin with “The”, while just 3 start with “A” or “An”. (Also, can you see the places where I’ve cheated slightly in the alphabetical list above?)

57 of the films are currently in my DVD collection.


The End…

So that was 2007. Here’s to 2008!