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…

A final push…!

So today is the final day of 2008, and so the final day of this blog’s second year. And have I made it to 100?

Not yet.

A quick look at the coming soon page reveals I’m up to #97 — only three films to go, with 24 hours left. I didn’t think that would be the case: as little as 10 days ago I’d given up on making 100, thinking to hit even 90 would be an achievement. But with a bit of motivation I’ve nearly done it at the final hurdle (which I think is an incorrect reversed metaphor, or something).

December’s turned out to be pretty good throughout, actually. While I may’ve managed just 7.4 films a month (on average, obviously) in the year’s first 11 months, I’ve already watched 16 in the last 30 days — and that’ll be 19 if all goes well. If I could keep that up all year round I’d be closer to 250 Films in a Year! (Don’t worry, I’m not crazy — next year’s aim is still just 100.)

Additionally, this year’s In Retrospect and Full List (for last year’s see here and here) will now appear by 4th January, all being well, which gives me time to factor in the final few films.

24 hours, three films. Sounds easier than it is, I’m sure.

2008’s summary posts will be republished in November.

Eternal laziness of the dreamless blogger

11 months down, 1 to go… 81 films down — it should’ve been at least 92.

It’s fair to say 100 Films hasn’t gone quite as smoothly this year as it did last, where I made it to 100 by the start of September and meandered on to a final total of 129. Rather than being in the luxurious position of just watching as much as I like to see how far I can get, I have 31 days to see 19 more films to even hit my basic target.

“Oops.”

I could reel off a list of excuses — the effort I’ve tried to put into writing much longer reviews, having an undergraduate degree to complete, starting work on a postgraduate degree, actually getting a job over the summer… but there’s also plain old laziness — yeah, isn’t watching a film such a lot of effort?

…no?

Of course, as the old adage favoured by so many teachers goes, “you’ve only let yourself down.” (I may be paraphrasing for effect.)

Still, 31 days! And 19 of them holiday-days! The end is in sight, and I might still make it.

Though, don’t be surprised if the reviews get shorter — it would be nice to complete 2008 within 2008 after all — and, if I do well, I may even get the final lists (see here and here for last year’s) online for December 31st.

Hey, a blogger can dream.

Two-thirds done

With August now behind us, 2008 is two-thirds complete. And so, as I missed halfway, now seems like a moderately appropriate time to reflect on how well my aim of watching 100 new films is going in 2008.

By this point in 2007 I had made it to 98 films, which makes my current tally of 60 look a little lacklustre (reviews for ten of which are still in the works). At least it’s a nice round number. Still, there’s 17 weeks of the year to go — that means I need to average 2.4 films per week, or 10 per month, from here out. Considering my averages to this point are 1.7 and 7.5 respectively, it’s still all to play for.

I would say the summer blockbuster season has given me a hand though: at the end of the year’s first third I’d only made it to 22 films (averages: 1.3 per week, 5.5 per month), but, since Iron Man dragged me to the cinema for the first time in nearly a year, I’ve visited the big screen a total of eight times — not exactly a mind-blowing number, but at 8% of my aim (obviously) it’s not wholly insignificant.

Here’s a few more largely-pointless statistics to round out this post: as well as those eight cinema trips, I’ve seen 39 films on DVD, six via downloads, four on TV, and even one on VHS. There’s also been my first two films on Blu-ray, and one each for the new additions of IMAX and “in-flight”.

I’ve seen five alternate cuts (three of which warranted proper numbering) but just one short. Of all the features I saw, 16 ran over two hours (two made it past the three-hour mark!) and 15 didn’t even make it to 90 minutes! Films are often accused of having spiraling running times these days, but that’s clearly not the case for much of my viewing. I’m reviewing films from across the history of film, of course, but 10 of those 15 were produced in the last decade.

I’ve seen eight feature films that the BBFC awarded a U certificate, 20 that require some PG, 16 that warranted a 12 or 12A, 12 that pushed things to a 15, and just four of those naughty 18s. Two were unrated.

I did a statistics post earlier this year, for 100 days. Back then, I hadn’t seen any films from the ’70s, ’60s, ’50s, or before 1939. While I’ve still not managed anything from the ’70s or before 1939, I have at least seen two from the ’60s and four from the ’50s. As well as that, I’ve watched three films from the ’30s, five each from the ’40s and ’80s, and six from the ’90s. The 2000s still sit proudly atop the pile however, with a grand total of 37.

Three directors have managed to squeeze more than one film into the total so far — namely Kenneth Branagh, Alfred Hitchcock and Akira Kurosawa, each with two films. (Francis Lawrence and Christopher Nolan don’t really count as they appear twice thanks to alternate versions of the same films.)

Finally, I’ve handed out ratings right across the board. Animated Sherlock Holmes mystery The Baskerville Curse grabbed only my second-ever single-star rating, while seven films merely managed a lowly 2 stars. Ten films are theoretically average with 3, while the majority (30) made it up to 4. A total of 12 films so far this year have touched the giddy heights of 5 stars (not counting The Dark Knight twice). All of this leaves my average score for first-view films at 3.75 — as ever, I’m either largely watching good films or am just fairly generous with my scores.

That’s all for now. Back to actually watching films then… or maybe even getting round to reviewing them…

What May has been

Ah May! The start of summer! Not that I like summer, personally, as I’m rather adverse to all that heat. But it’s been miserable weather for the most part so far, so I’m all the happier.

As is my film viewing, it must be said. Happier, that is, not miserable. The second year of 100 Films got off to an entirely ignominious start, but May has seen something of a turnaround — 41% of all the new films I’ve seen this year have been in the last 31 days. I’m actually behind with reviews, having seen up to #37 (but only posted to #34). As I catch up you can look forward to my thoughts on The Fountain, Hulk and I Am Legend. Along with Transformers, they make for an appropriately blockbustery selection just as 2008’s season kicks off.

Nonetheless, I still have 63 new films to see ’til I reach my target. Such a feat may only require just over 2 films per week, but as I’ve barely topped 1.5 on average so far it’s all to play for. At this point last year I only had 45 films to go, but I still managed to see 74 more before the end of December — that bodes well at least…

100 Days

April 9th: the 100th day of 2008! As it’s just over a quarter of the way through the year (that would’ve been March 31st, more or less), and also a nice round number in its own right, and as I did a similar thing at roughly this point last year, it seems an appropriate time for a statisticstastic look at how things are going so far.

I’ve seen a total of just 15 films so far. That makes my weekly average a lowly 1.07, meaning I’ll manage a paltry 56 films this year should that continue. Oh dear. (At this point last year, I was on course to see 145!)

Of those few films, eight were released in the 2000s, two each in the 1990s, ’80s and ’40s, and one in the ’30s. That means I’ve seen nothing from the ’70s, ’60s or ’50s, or before 1939.

I saw nine of them on DVD, four via download, and two on TV. Nothing on VHS, and I haven’t been to the cinema yet this year.

Ratings wise, I’ve so far handed out three full marks. Those were to Atonement, Dark City and Rebecca. Of the remaining twelve, five garnered 4 out of 5, four managed a 3, and three were awarded just 2. Nothing has been poor enough to merit a 1… yet. The average rating is therefore 3.5, exactly the same as at this point last year and a pretty averagey average.

With 38 weeks of the year to go, I have 85 films left to reach my target — that’s an average of 2.2 new films every week (or 9.5 every month) from here out. Quite low, one might think, but I’ve clearly not been living up to it.

The BAFTAs 2008

British film’s big night has been and gone. I won’t offer a comprehensive list of winners, or even many thoughts on them — such things are easily found elsewhere — but I will instead offer my thoughts on one of the few ceremonies this year to be presented in full (well, relatively speaking), and the only film awards ceremony that receives a terrestrial television airing in the UK.

The first thought that comes to mind is, “oh dear”. Anyone would think the writers’ strike was affecting the UK too, if this was the evidence they had to go on. Jonathan Ross’s jokes were few and far between, and rarely gained much reaction from his audience. To be fair to Ross, Stephen Fry had a good deal of excellent material when he used to host the BAFTAs and he was often met with silence too… but not as often, and it tended to be the silence of “that went over the heads of the yanks in the audience” rather than of “it wasn’t that funny…”

I like Ross as a presenter, generally speaking — I enjoy his Friday night show, and while I rarely catch his radio show (I’m rather lax about listening to anything on the radio) I enjoy that even more; and I liked Film 2000-whatever, because I often find I agree with his views and have some broadly similar tastes. But he’s no BAFTA host. He’s just not funny enough… oddly, because his work at the Comedy Awards is usually hilariously good.

The opening, with a troop of 300-style Spartans, was by far the most interesting bit. It all seemed quite incongruous for an awards show, but through this it suggested a show with some flair and excitement. Sadly it just remained incongruous, with nothing else even vaguely close amongst the endless troop of fairly famous people reading poorly from an autocue. Even that Spartan-packed opening was flawed, missing out on the apparently obvious joke of having someone enter and yell, “THIS. IS. BAFTA!”, which would’ve been a far stronger opening than… whatever Jonathan Ross said. I can’t remember now…

It’s a shame we couldn’t make a better fist of it for a year when more eyes than ever were on the BAFTAs, thanks to the faltering performance of US awards shows under the strike. A new host would help. Eddie Izzard, maybe — he got laughs. So did Ricky Gervais, not that he’d do it. But when even Hugh Laurie can’t bridge the cultural divide of British and American humour, you have to wonder if the host is doomed to failure from the start. At least the awards themselves threw up some surprises, with enough nods to the American films (and a consequent shunning of British talent) to keep them interested — I do wonder if the BAFTAs pander to trying to gain an American audience too much, but one could probably debate that for hours.

There’s one thing we do better though: fewer awards, and we don’t even screen them all. It makes for a much less tiring experience.

A dismal January

This new year of film watching has hardly got off to an auspicious start, with only five new films seen in January. For those who haven’t already done the maths, that rate sees me just reaching 60 by the end of the year — a tad short of 100!

But I have new resolve… sort of… and a list. Lists always help. That is, in this case, a list of things in my DVD collection I would especially like to get round to watching. Some of those may well pop up soon. Plus I’ve just started a new film module, which should mean a slew of unseen films… well, one a week at any rate… except the first is Great Expectations, which I saw last year!

Oh well…

Here we go again…

With 2007 finally finished, it’s time to begin all over again for 2008. I outlined some of the changes to the format previously, though not necessarily very well… or very interestingly…

Anyway, you’ll see those in effect very shortly: as with last year, I’ve actually seen a film on New Year’s Day! Hurrah! Though this year it wasn’t a new release. And it was at 2am, almost leading to it being included in last year’s list — it would’ve made for a nice round 130. But no, honesty prevails. And a desire to get going on the new quest.

So here we go again: one down, 99 to go…