2014 In Retrospect

It was 100 Films’ greatest ever year in terms of sheer size, but it was also one of the highest-scoring too, with the most five-star ratings I’ve ever awarded and the second-highest average score to date. Now it’s time to look back over the list and ask: Which were the cream of the crop? Which were the dregs? And which significant new films did I not even see?

To top it off, you can make your voice heard by voting for your favourites (plural) in this year’s top ten poll. Exciting stuff.

So without further ado:



The Five Worst Films I Saw For the First Time in 2014

In alphabetical order…

Chicken Little
Disney are back at the height of their powers of late, at least as far as the box office is concerned, with the phenomenon that is Frozen. Things weren’t so rosy in the early ’00s, though, leading them to abandon traditional 2D animation for the burgeoning world of 3D CGI. Their first effort was this dross, instantly proving it wasn’t the style of animation that was the problem.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation
I only gave this two stars (as opposed to one) for two reasons: 1) the rather cool cliff-swinging fight sequence, which deserves to be in a better movie, and 2) because for some unknown reason I’d given the Team America-esque first one two stars, and this is marginally better. Really, though, it’s awful: messily told, tonally uneven, ridiculous in any number of ways. Even as a daft actioner, it’s no fun.

Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider’s maligned sequel, Spirit of Vengeance, wasn’t particularly good, but at least it embraced the trashier, grimier aspects of the character (even if it was only in a PG-13 way). This first attempt to bring the Marvel anti-hero to the big screen tried to force the concept into the shape of a trad blockbuster, ending up with a Constantine rip-off. As hardly anyone liked Constantine, that wasn’t a very good idea.

Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger!
I liked the first Nativity — it’s not high art, but it’s a perfectly lovely Christmas movie. This follow-up has to switch out Martin Freeman for David Tennant, which isn’t a problem, but the new story is. Not that it’s much of a story, more a series of loosely-connected misadventures. Throw in a climactic concert made up of truly dreadful new songs and you have a disappointingly charmless sequel.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Michael Bay can make good movies, but he seems to have forgotten how. There are many things wrong with this third Transformers flick, but what’s most shocking is how ineptly it’s put together. For experienced filmmakers, there’s no excuse. Apparently this year’s fourth instalment is even worse, but it’s tough to imagine how. To quote a character in the movie: “does it suck or what? I mean it’s like a bad sci-fi film.”

Dishonourable Mention
Sin City: Recut & Extended
Not bad enough to actually make the bottom five, this recut took a film I remembered loving and messed about with it so much it made me doubt if I’d ever liked it in the first place. It could be my tastes have changed in the intervening nine years, but I suspect it’s at least as much due to the frustrating and near-pointless rearrangement of the running order. I recommend you stick to the theatrical cut.



The Ten Best Films I Saw For the First Time in 2014

The fascinating story of the outrage provoked in Britain by gory horror movies in the early days of VHS. Excellently constructed from talking-head interviews and archive clips, it not only tells the tale clearly but also presents spot-on juxtapositions. Informative both for those who lived through it and those for who it’s now part of history, the important message is how easily such censorship was allowed — even encouraged — and that we must be on the look out for it again. Unfortunately it is happening again, to the internet this time, and once again is being championed via misinformation from those with a vested interest. I guess more people need to see this film…

The gang’s all here for an all-eras X-Men team-up, the original cast teaming up with the First Class lot, and led by original franchise director Bryan Singer, for a time-travelling adventure inspired by the classic comic book storyline. Some surprisingly deep characterisation, buoyed by strong performances from a first-rate cast (how many of them are Oscar nominees/winners?), rubs shoulders comfortably with witty and inventive action sequences. The series that kicked off the current Hollywood superhero obsession proves it can still hold its own among the big boys that have come since.

Darren Aronofsky’s multi-pronged narrative about the evils of addiction is sometimes cited as one of the bleakest films ever made. Even if you’re prepared for that, the verve of the filmmaking transcends expectations. Finely-tuned editing and attentive sound design gradually position the viewer for the climax, a fast-cut perfectly-scored assault on the senses that almost batters you into submission. It may ultimately be grim and without hope, but it’s so amazingly crafted that you’re left longing to experience it again regardless.

Snatched off the street, locked in a bedsit for 15 years, then inexplicably released and given just days to figure out why it happened — that’s the concept behind this dark South Korean thriller (remade in America to no fanfare and even less acclaim in 2013). Oldboy mixes what could almost be a straightforward revenge thriller with weird, almost surrealistic touches, for a whole that is ready-made to be cultish without the self-conscious Cult-ish-ness that such things are normally saddled with. It ends with twists and revelations so hard-hitting they equal even the famous single-take hammer-featuring corridor scene.

Found-footage and superheroes — two current cinematic obsessions, reviled by some and beloved by others. They had to come together eventually. Director Josh Trank keeps a handle on affairs, so that the film always sticks to concept without becoming samey, while screenwriter Max Landis reveals the true nature of his characters as he leads them from low-key beginnings to a barnstorming citywide climax that’s a bit like the ending of Man of Steel, only really good.

Why aren’t there many thrillers set inside the jury room? I’d wager because 12 Angry Men got there a long time ago and nailed it. A man is on trial for murder; we join the case as the twelve-man jury enter their deliberation room. Eleven of them are absolutely certain; one thinks they ought to discuss it. For the next 90 minutes, twelve men sit in one room and talk to each other… and it’s absolutely gripping, tense and thrilling, with moments that make you virtually punch the air with excitement. It’s a masterclass in constrained filmmaking, from director Sidney Lumet, and acting, from a cast of twelve peerless performers.

The sequel to the prequel of the Planet of the Apes takes the fad for all-CGI characters and brings it to maturity with a fully-realised ape society, played by mo-capped actors led by Andy Serkis, that is far more interesting than the human portion of the story. This is a story of interspecies relations where everything could be fine if it weren’t for past distrust and people constantly bringing guns along — like the best sci-fi, it reflects our world back at us. They claimed Avatar proved motion-captured performances should be considered alongside ‘the real thing’. Rubbish. Dawn, however, makes that case completely.

Hated by Stephen King, author of the original novel, and his most die-hard fans, Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation sees Jack Nicholson and family as the caretakers and sole residents of a remote hotel over a snowbound winter, when very creepy things begin to happen… Goodness knows what any of it ultimately means (I know there are plenty of wild theories — I’ve got Room 237 recorded to catch at some point), but as an exercise in eliciting emotions of dread and almost-primal fear, it’s second to none.

The sixth feature film to star Hergé’s boy reporter (yes, really) sees the master of action-adventure cinema, Steven Spielberg, bring us the best Indiana Jones movie in over 20 years — only it’s computer animated and stars a blonde Belgian chap with a posh British accent. Rendered with incredible realism by Weta, with a screenplay that perfectly balances investigation, action and humour, and direction that knows when to maintain verisimilitude and when to cut loose with all the freedom CGI can offer, Tintin is a quality entertainment. Very nearly my film of the year, but for…

Regular readers will know I love a single-location thriller, and this is one — it just happens that the single-location in question is the entire orbit of planet Earth. There may not be much of a plot (“woman gets stranded in space; tries to get to safety”), but it doesn’t matter: director Alfonso Cuarón reminds us of his mastery of the single-take, using it to better connect us to the characters’ experiences. I’m sure people were right that it’s best in 3D on a huge screen, but even in 2D on a telly it’s spectacular. It’s also the third film in my top five that’s only been made possible thanks to advances in computer graphics — that surely says something about how an intelligent use of CGI still allows filmmakers to innovate.



Top 10 Poll

As ever, I welcome your opinion on my top ten — not just in the comments section, but also in the form of a lovely poll. This year you can pick multiple options, so feel free to vote for all your favourites.

And if you feel I’ve made an unforgivable omission, do feel free to berate me below.



Honourable Mentions

Yet another record: for the first time ever, all of my top ten films are ones I awarded a full five stars to. That’s once again testament to the quality of this year’s viewing, because I felt sure at least one four-stars-er would make the list. To be precise, that was The Green Hornet, which I know isn’t widely liked but I rather loved — I called it “one of the best superhero movies of the current generation”, in fact. On the day, though, I couldn’t in good conscience say it was better than any of the films I have included. I guess that confers 11th place on it.

In total, 27 main-list films earned themselves a five-star ratings this year. As well as those in the top ten (for which, see above, obv.), the others were After the Thin Man, All is Lost, La Belle et la Bete, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, In Your Eyes, The Kings of Summer, Rear Window, Saving Mr. Banks, The Searchers, The Secret of Kells, Sightseers, The Thin Man, The World’s End, and Zero Dark Thirty. Additionally, both of the ‘other’ titles I watched and reviewed — The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Extended Edition) and miniseries The 10th Kingdom — also scored full marks.

There are any number of other films I could highlight here — my long-list for the top ten had over 50 movies on it, and at least 25 of those were genuine contenders — but two categories stand out. Firstly, after finishing the Falcon series earlier in the year, towards the end I made a start on The Thin Man, watching the first three out of six films. They’re excellent fun, the tonal inspiration for the likes of the Saint and the Falcon (which I’ve previously covered in full), but on the whole even better. Expect reviews before too long.

Finally, we all know superhero and comic book movies are everywhere right now, and will continue to be so if the announced plans of Marvel Studios, Warner Bros, Fox, Sony, and the rest, come to fruition. It’s felt particularly true for me this year, with not only a few well-received recent releases (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: Days of Future Past), but also getting caught up on an array of recent entries (all but two were from the past decade, and one of those is only 11 years old). All told, there were 22 superhero, comic book, or related movies on this year’s list — that’s 16%. For a single subgenre — and not one where I’ve (say) dedicated myself to watching the entirety of one series — that does seem rather a lot…



The Films I Didn’t See

As is my tradition, here’s an alphabetical list of 50 films that were released in 2014 but I’ve not yet seen. They’ve been chosen for a variety of reasons, from box office success to critical acclaim via simple notoriety. It’s biased slightly towards ones I might actually see at some point, though there were a couple of highly-successful or much-discussed ones I felt couldn’t/shouldn’t be left out. Feel free to assume which ones those are.

22 Jump Street
300: Rise of an Empire
’71
American Sniper
Big Eyes
Big Hero 6
Birdman
Boyhood
Calvary
Divergent
The Equalizer
Exodus: Gods and Kings
The Expendables 3
Godzilla
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Fault in Our Stars
Foxcatcher
Fury
Hercules
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
The Imitation Game
The Inbetweeners 2
Inherent Vice
Interstellar
The Interview
Into the Woods
Locke
Lucy
Maleficent
The Maze Runner
A Million Ways to Die in the West
The Monuments Men
Mr. Turner
Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie
Muppets Most Wanted
Nightcrawler
Noah
Paddington
Pride
The Raid 2
RoboCop
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Theory of Everything
Transcendence
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Unbroken
Under the Skin



Party like it’s Nineteen Ninety Nine…

It’s 100 Films’ ninth year — crikey, when’d that happen?

Expect more archive reposts (can I finish them before my 10th anniversary?), a third round of “What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen” (it’s got a killer new acronym…), and — fingers crossed — both my 1,000th review and the official 100 Films’ #1000!

All that and hoverboards. We were promised hoverboards.

December 2014

Friends, Romans, coun— Actually, I don’t think I get many visits from Italy, so…

Friends, readers, countrymen, lend m— Actually, apparently I get more hits from the US than the UK, so…

Friends, readers, people of the world, lend me your ears— Well, I’m not reading it to you, so…

Lend me your eyes— But not literally, that would be freaky…

Oh, let’s just get on with it:


What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

Heading in to the final month of 2014, I had two of my “one per month” films left. Well, that’s better than last year.

What’s also better than last year is how many I watched: both of them! I know it shouldn’t be an achievement to say “I watched two specific films in a month”, but, y’know.

What were they? Both acclaimed somewhat-cult-ish modern classics from the noughties: Korean vengeance thriller Oldboy, and The Bleakest Movie Ever Made™, Requiem for a Dream. Both are dark, troubling, and absolutely excellent.


December’s films in full

TintinAs well as those two, the final list for the year includes…

#122 Series 7: The Contenders (2001)
#123 Oldboy (2003), aka Oldeuboi
#124 After the Thin Man (1936)
#125 Good Will Hunting (1997)
#126 Sin City: Recut & Extended (2005)
#127 Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
#128 Bill the Galactic Hero (2014)
Requiem for a Dream#129 Another Thin Man (1939)
#130 All is Lost (2013)
#131 John Carter (2012)
#132 The Lego Movie (2014)
#133 Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger! (2012)
#134 The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (2011)
#135 Knights of Badassdom (2013)
#136 Requiem for a Dream (2000)

(The Adventures of Tintin link will be live later this morning.)


Analysis

Reaching #136 makes 2014 the biggest year ever, finally besting 2007’s total of 129. Indeed, combining the main list with unnumbered feature reviews, 2014 also beats 2007’s total-total — making this the biggest year in pretty much every respect. Did it fare similarly well in star ratings, etc? We’ll have to wait for my full statistics post to find out. (I mean “we” literally — I have no idea yet.)

For now, let’s put December 2014 in context. With a total of 15 films, it beats every stat going: the December average (previously 10.2), the 2014 average (previously 11), and the average for my particularly-good last six months (previously 12.8). It’s also the joint-second-highest month of the year, tied with August (both sitting a little behind September‘s 17).

Further, it makes seven months in a row that I’ve watched over 10 films per month — that’s the joint-longest run of double-figure months. The previous time was from September 2009 to March 2010. It’s worthy of note because the longest such run in the four-year interim was just three months. A bit of dedication in January should see another record set, then.

Finally, to briefly look forward to next year: back in October I mentioned the potential for 100 Films 2015 to reach #1000 — for all time, that is, not 1,000 Films in a Year. With this year’s final total decided, I now know that the 1,000th film will be 2015’s #112 — if I get there, of course. The average final tally for the eight years to date is 111, so it’s certainly on the cards.


This month’s archive reviews

The 25 reviews of my now-traditional Advent Calendar took up most of my posting efforts this month, but in and around that there was still time for four archive reposts:


Next time on 100 Films in a Year…

In the next few days, my review of the past year continues. First: the alphabetical full list of my viewing, along with the absolute highlight of the year (for me) — the statistics. With graphs!

2014 in Review, Part 1

It’s that time of year again, dear readers, when we look back at all that has occurred over the past 12 months.

Coming soon: my final monthly summary of 2014, about December (obv.); the full list of my 2014 viewing, with all the exciting statistics; and my summary of the highs (top ten!), lows (bottom five!) and in betweens (50 films I missed!)

But first, the now-traditional WordPress-provided summary of how many people bothered to visit my blog and which pages they bothered to visit:

Here's an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 21,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Notes:

  • It wasn’t just new posts that grew the archive of the blog: 145 reposts from 2007-2011 helped increase the tally from last year’s 552.
  • My Harry Potter 1&2 reviews remain dominant, and I think will for all time.
  • I like that new “posting patterns” bit, even if it does show up how rarely I posted reviews for a good chunk of the year.

Tomorrow: my December summary.

November 2014

Before the 2014 advent calendar kicks off, let’s pause to look back at the month just gone.


What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

After a little break last month, WDYMYHS returns with one new film: one of the many movies in contention to be crowned Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest, Rear Window. A tense thriller with something more to say about voyeurism and the suspicious mind, it’s a great film. Incredible set, too.

That means I go in to December with two films left to watch — specifically, Requiem for a Dream and the original Oldboy. We’ll see how that goes, but it would be nice if I didn’t repeat last year and end with one film left over.


X-Men Days of Future PastNovember’s films in full

#109 Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
#110 Show Boat (1951)
#111 The Woman in Green (1945)
#112 Flirting with Disaster (1996)
#113 X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
#114 Machete (2010)
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes#115 Chronicle (Extended Edition) (2012)
#116 The Running Man (1987)
#117 The Green Hornet (2011)
#118 Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
#119 Rear Window (1954)
#120 The Thin Man (1934)
#121 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)


Analysis

It’s been a belated summer here at 100 Films (only without downsides like “noisy kids” and “heat”) thanks to the big Hollywood studios’ Blu-ray release windows. Starting with Edge of Tomorrow last month, my delayed viewing of this year’s big-hitters continued with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, and X-Men: Days of Future Past — only 60% superhero-y! (And Guardians only counts because it’s produced by Marvel — not really a superhero movie, is it?) Noteworthy not-yets from the summer include Godzilla, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers: Age of Extinction, most of which haven’t found a space in my Blu-ray collection thanks to the sheer volume of stuff that’s been coming out. Also because the latter two Michael Bay-related productions look godawful. (And Turtles isn’t out ’til February anyway.) I’m actually quite curious to see the first two, though, so I imagine they’ll turn up before long.

Anyway, how do November’s numbers stack up? The above list totals 13 new films, which is the second best November ever (to 2009’s, which only reached one higher). It far outstrips the November average of 6.5, though — indeed, all by itself November 2014 drags said average up almost a whole point, to 7.4. It’s also slightly above 2014’s monthly average of 11, and ranks as the third largest month of the year, behind August’s 15 and September’s 17.

Having made it to #121 this month is also significant: that’s the second furthest I’ve reached by the end of November, and is only one behind 2010’s final total. If I watch just two films in December, 2014 will become my second-best year ever; to go all the way and top the pile, I only require nine more films. That’s close to the average I should be hitting every month, but I’ve nonetheless fallen short of it in many a month before — including January and February this year.

Predictions? Well, the December average is 10.2, which would have me at #131 — but that’s skewed by abnormally high tallies in 2008 and 2009 (indeed, December 2008 is my best month ever). The past four Decembers give an average of just seven, which is less promising… but also only one shy of sharing the Best Year Ever title, and most months this year have outperformed their averages.

For 2014 itself, the monthly average is (as I said before) precisely 11 — if December conforms, that’s #132. Some lowly early months drag that down, though, and the average for the past six months is 12.8 — if December hews to that pattern, I could see the year end on #134. Either is well clear of 2007’s #129.

Final point: with ‘bonus’ reviews thrown in (director’s cuts that don’t get a number, that kind of thing), 2007 is also an all-time best, with 135. I’ve had just two such extra reviews this year (the first Hobbit extended and The 10th Kingdom), so I would need to reach #134 for 2014 to become unquestionably the blog’s biggest year so far. A goal too far? We’ll see…


This month’s archive reviews

Enough about the future: let’s look to the past, with the 16 archive reviews I’ve reposted this month.


Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

It’ll be all guns blazing here in December: a review a day thanks to the advent calendar, and no doubt some archive reposts buoying that number further; and in my little world of actually watching films, a push to what might be a triumphant best-ever finish.

Or will it? Only the next 31 days can tell…

The 100 Films Advent Calendar 2014

Come one, come all, to the third annual 100 Films in a Year Advent Calendar!

It’s 25 days of fresh new reviews, ladies and gents! Some in-depth, some short and snappy, but all immensely informative.*

As well as the usual grab-bag from my highly random viewing, this year I’ll be specifically looking back at some of 2014’s biggest and most significant films, including** (but not limited to)… The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, X-Men: Days of Future Past

And! Would you believe it, 2014 had some significant films not based on comic books, too — like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Edge of Tomorrow, The Expendables 3, Godzilla, In Your Eyes, and the Veronica Mars movie.

Plus! One year on, I’ll cover some of 2013’s biggest films — including my take on the all-conquering Frozen.

Also! Some all-time classics, including much-belated (but possibly even worth the wait) reviews of The Night of the Hunter and Seven Samurai.

And if that wasn’t enough, a small tribute to Robin Williams, in the form of drabbles on two of his key movies.

It’s my most well-planned advent calendar ever!

So keep your eyes on this page over the next three-and-a-half weeks, folks (or via email or Twitter, should you prefer) — all manner of wonders shall appear below…


December 1st

December 2nd

December 3rd

December 4th

December 5th

December 6th

December 7th

December 8th

December 9th

December 10th

December 11th


Robin Williams Weekend

December 12th

December 13th

December 14th


December 15th

December 16th

December 17th

December 18th

December 19th


Sin City Weekend

December 20th

December 21st


December 22nd

December 23rd

December 24th

December 25th

Merry Christmas!


* Not guaranteed. ^
** Inclusion not guaranteed (because I’ve not written some of them yet. Heck, I’ve not seen some of them yet). ^

October 2014 + Favourite Fairy Tale Films

Lots to get through in this most decimal of months, so I’ll provide you with a nifty ten-point contents list…

  • October’s WDYMYHS entry (if there was one!)
  • Announcing this year’s #100!
  • All of this month’s viewing.
  • Analysis of the above, plus…
  • A note on my quite grand all-time review total.
  • A visual recap of this month’s archive re-posts.
  • A note on changes to some header images (more exciting than that sounds… maybe…)
  • A section I have titled “No longer loving film”…
  • What are your Favourite Fairy Tale Films?
  • And the “next time” bit. Bet no one ever clicks through to that. But this month there’s a poem. Oo-ooh.
  • All in all, it’s a thorough monthly round-up! So let’s get going…


    What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

    This one’ll be quick: there’s no WDYMYHS film this month. First time I’ve slipped this year.

    Why not? I simply didn’t fancy one. The pool has narrowed to just Oldboy, Rear Window, and Requiem for a Dream, and while I’m sure they’re all great films — and all ones I’ve been keen to see for yonks — an opportunity didn’t arise where they felt right. I could’ve forced one last night, but what’s the point in forcing it?

    Two months remain to make it up. And maybe actually watch Raging Bull like I said I would, too.

    In happier news:


    And #100 is…

    I’ve tried to make previous #100s notable, when possible: in 2007 it was the (then-)greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane; in 2010 it was the most recent Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker; and last year it was the epically epic Lawrence of Arabia. (The other two, Swing Time and The A-Team, are both films I liked, but both were viewed more of necessity than strict “what would be a good #100?” choice.)

    Come this year, then, and what have I chosen for my sixth #100? After being scuppered for several days by not fancying anything too momentous, I threw the desire for meaning out the window and acquiesced to the other half’s request for me to “get that rude-sounding film off the Virgin box”, rendering 2014’s #100 as the debut feature of American Hustle’s David O. Russell, Spanking the Monkey. Here’s my drabble review.

    (It’s an unfortunate coincidence that I’ve posted multiple drabble reviews in the past week. Full-length reviews do continue, and I’m sure there’ll be some soon.)


    Dead Poets SocietyOctober’s films in full

    #98 Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978), aka Se ying diu sau
    #99 The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
    #100 Spanking the Monkey (1994)
    #101 The Tourist (2010)
    #102 Edge of Tomorrow (2014), aka Live. Die. Repeat.
    Cockneys vs Zombies#103 Dead Poets Society (1989)
    #104 La Belle et la Bête (1946), aka Beauty and the Beast
    #104a The 10th Kingdom (2000)
    #105 Ten Little Indians (1965)
    #106 Furious 6 (2013), aka Fast & Furious 6
    #107 Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)
    #108 Last Action Hero (1993)


    Analysis

    Ooooooone-huuuuuundred!

    Ahem, ‘scuse me. But that’s undoubtedly the headline of this month’s viewing: as you may’ve noticed, I’ve reached #100, for the sixth time out of eight attempts. That’s a 75% success rate — not bad, really. This is the first time I’ve done it in October; a month behind my two earliest years (2007 and 2010 got there in September), ahead of last year’s November finish, and considerably less stressful than the down-to-the-wire December conclusions of 2008 and 2011 (both of which reached #100 on December 31st!)

    This is also the fourth time I’ve passed the 100 films total. The next milestone is last year’s 110, which I’m closing in on (I’m already further ahead than I was at the end of November last year); after that, there’s 2010’s 122 and 2007’s 129 still to overtake. 2007 was my first year and remains unbettered, so it would be just shiny to finally achieve that. I’m 22 films away from that goal, which the averages for this year suggest is possible — a little too possible, actually, as 11-films-a-month is the precise average of the year to date. (Which, you’ll note, makes October a particularly average month.) Alas, history adds no reassurance: my average tally for previous November & December viewing is 17 films — and that’s boosted by strong numbers in 2008 and 2009, too: over the past four years, my Nov./Dec. average total is just 11. Still, 2014 hasn’t played ball when it comes to past averages, so we’ll see.

    And, incidentally, though I ‘only’ watched 11 new films this month, I gave over five film-viewing slots to The 10th Kingdom — if I’d watched countable films instead, I’d be at 16, which would’ve made October my second-best month of 2014. But I didn’t, so it isn’t… but without a similar miniseries re-watch project lined up for the immediate future, November and December’s numbers might benefit.

    It’s all to play for! Which is exciting for me, at least.

    Moving on…


    Niiiiine-huuuuundred

    Also this month, I passed 900 feature film reviews. Sure sounds like a lot to me.

    OK, firstly, I haven’t posted 900 reviews — my backlog’s still quite extensive — but I’ve surpassed 900 films that will be reviewed. I’m somewhere in the 850s right now, I think.

    Secondly, it doesn’t mean I’ve reached #900. The tally includes all the extra reviews I’ve done down the years — the repeat viewings and the not-that-different director’s cuts and so on. The official #900 (as it were) would be this year’s #148. I’m doing well, but that’s not very likely at all. Next year, then.

    And with that, there’s a chance for something even bigger: if I can make it suitably far past #100 this year and next year, one of 2015’s last films will be #1000!

    (For those interested in a more precise number, I need to reach #124 both years for that to happen. Alternatively, if I do make it to a record-breaking #130 this year, then 2015’s #118 would be #1000. There are dozens of other plausible permutations besides those, of course.)


    This month’s archive reviews

    As I discussed a couple of weeks ago, my old stomping ground of FilmJournal is no more. For more on what that means check out the link, but for the purposes of my archive re-posts: they’re now more labour-intensive to complete, and I’m lazy, so there have been fewer. The project will still be finished, but it may take a bit longer than the speed I was churning through them before.

    Nonetheless, the last 31 days have seen 20 reviews re-appear:


    Pretty Pictures, Mk.II

    Back in August 2013, I finally added some header images to my “list of reviews” and “reviews by director” pages. This month, there’s been a little refresh and addition. “List of reviews” remains the same, but “reviews by director” has been updated to reflect my most-reviewed directors — mostly thanks to zombie movies

    George A. Romero barged his way to near the top of the pile when I reviewed all six of his “of the Dead” films this time last year, while World War Z saw Marc Forster tip from the also-rans into the must-includes. There are 20 slots on that banner, and a fourteen-way tie for 18th place means I had to be selective. Quite by chance, I remained alphabetical: Hideaki Anno and James Cameron remain from the previous banner (Cameron due to significance, Anno because I’ll watch Evangelion 3.33 early next year when Manga UK are finally able to release it, which will only cement his place), while Danny Boyle is added. (Directors leaving the banner to make room are Richard Lester, George Lucas, and David Yates.)

    Finally, I’ve finally added a header to the “coming soon” page. That’s a page that lists films I’ve already seen but will review in days to come — it’s looking ‘back to the future’, if you will. And that explains that.


    No longer loving film

    Also this month in the world of 100 Films, I finally cancelled my LOVEFiLM (or, as it’s now known, LOVEFiLM By Post) subscription. I liked it for the ability to rent pretty much anything released on disc (a far better selection than any streaming service offers, not to mention the comparative picture quality), but between all the stuff I’ve bought, the convenience of aforementioned streaming services (LOVEFiLM may have more choice overall, but only one or two discs in your possession at any one time), and recording stuff off TV too, I wasn’t getting through my rentals. Indeed, in some cases I’ve theoretically spent more on one rental than if I’d just bought a copy. Ugh. So I finally made the cancellation leap.

    I’ve still got a Now TV films subscription for the time being, but as the price of that recently went up, I’m not sure for how much longer…


    Favourite Fairy Tale Films

    Once again I haven’t found the time to get stuck into a fully-written list of five, but having watching La Belle et la Bête and The 10th Kingdom in preparation for next weekend’s Fairy Tale Blogathon, I was thinking: what’s your favourite fairy tale movie?

    Disney seem to have a near-monopoly on these, so undoubtedly some of their output would’ve made my list — Beauty and the Beast, definitely; The Little Mermaid and Aladdin are childhood favourites for me; and Cinderella is my pick of their older classics. Also from the Mouse House is Enchanted — inspired by fairy tales rather than technically adapted from them, but one of the best movies to play in that sandpit. Similarly, the Shrek series, and The 10th Kingdom too.

    And if you want to get really out there, the BFI’s list of 10 great fairytale films allows in cinematic originals like My Neighbour Totoro and Pan’s Labyrinth. The former I could definitely go for in my final five, but I didn’t warm to the latter. Must re-watch that.

    Feel free to share your thoughts below.


    Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

    Remember, remember, you films in November,
    have good characters, dialogue, and plot.
    I know of no movie
    worth considering groovy
    that does not have the lot.

    (With my apologies.)

    September 2014

    “Did you sept emb ‘er?”
    “No, I oct obe ‘er!”

    (Don’t worry, it doesn’t make any sense. Let’s move on…)


    What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

    This month’s WDYMYHS film was the massively appropriate Braveheart. I also watched a film actually about a public vote on the future of their country, No. About a nation seeking to get rid of a nefarious ruler who had reigned over them with malicious intent for far too long, the Scottish referendum is what connects these two movies. (Ho-ho!)

    On the topic of WDYMYHS, I also finally posted a review for one of last year’s movies, Touch of Evil. I’ve still got Seven Samurai and The Night of the Hunter to go, as well as one other review, and then I’ll finally be done with 2013. (I’ve been exceptionally tardy with that, haven’t I?)


    But back to 2014:

    September’s films in full
    The Amazing Spider-Man 2
    #81 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
    #82 Crimes of Passion: Death of a Loved One (2013), aka Mördaren ljuger inte ensam
    #83 Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)
    #84 Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
    #85 The Grey (2011)
    #86 Dark Shadows (2012)
    #87 Braveheart (1995)
    #88 Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
    Frankenweenie#89 The Spirit (2008)
    #90 The Wall (2012), aka Die Wand
    #91 Frankenweenie (2012)
    #92 Always (1989)
    #93 American Hustle (2013)
    #94 Mad City (1997)
    #95 Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
    #96 No (2012)
    #97 This is Not a Film (2011), aka In film nist


    Analysis

    At the start of the year, there’s rarely very much to say in these sections; by this point… oh, there are so many ways to look at the data! September is where that really kicks in, because it’s a month in which I’ve twice reached #100, the earliest I’ve ever managed it. That means “how near is #100?” becomes a very viable proposition; plus, I tend to get very watch-y as the big target nears — when it’s only a few films away, why not squeeze in a couple more than normal and get there sooner?

    On that last point, it’s perhaps interesting to start with previous Septembers. Last year was my best-ever tally for the ninth month, by some 23% as well… and yet I didn’t reach #100 until two months later. In part that was just the aforementioned pushing on to get closer to the end — the same thing happened in October, and after I actually reached #100 (in early November) I only watched a couple more films. This September, meanwhile, is 31% higher than last year’s — or, to put it another way, 55% better than the best-before-2013 was. And yet I still haven’t reached #100…

    What viewing 17 films this month does mean, however, is that it’s my joint-second highest month ever — hurrah! That’s tied with March 2013; it would’ve needed only one more to be outright-second (oh well), two more to be joint-first (looking right back to December 2008 for that), and (obviously now) three more — i.e. have reached #100 — to set a new record.

    What does having reached #97 mean for the rest of the year? Well, it’s the furthest I’ve ever gotten by September without reaching 100. Next nearest was last year, when I was at #84. From there, I went on to #110, which is another 26 films — if I do the same this year, I’d reach #123, which would become my second-highest total ever (behind 2007’s 129 and just ahead of 2010’s 122). Widening the parameters to include all previous years, my average total for the year’s final three months is 27 — making last year the most average of the lot, in fact.

    That might be the most accurate predictor of where I’ll end up (though still prone to wild variation: I may’ve watched 26 more last year, but the year before that it was only 16, and in 2009 it was up at 40), but let’s use the rest of the 2014 to make some wild assertions anyway. So, my year-to-date average suggests I’ll reach #129, which (as mentioned) would put 2014 equal-best with 2007; pushing a tiny bit harder would leave me with a record-setting 130 films. The most recent months bode well for that: if I maintain my average viewing from the last three months, I’ll reach #139; if I keep up the average of the last two months, however, I’d make it all the way to #145; and if I kept pace with September, I’d make it all the way to #148!

    Will any of that happen? Probably not (never say never!), but it’d be nice to end up in the 120s at least.


    Slipping…

    A side effect of the higher-than-average viewing is that the extent of my backlog has worsened. You may have noticed the number of new reviews step up a little in the past few weeks to try to stave it off, but in the end I had to relent: having kept the “coming soon” list at no more than 49 films ever since July 2012, it slipped to 50 this month. Ah well. Efforts will continue to stop it growing any longer.


    This month’s archive reviews

    A bit of a lax start to the month means just 17 archive re-posts this time…

    Also this month, the two bookend posts from my 2011 David Fincher Week. Most of the reviews featured therein have already been brought over to this blog, but Fight Club and Panic Room will round them out tomorrow and Friday.

    (You may have noticed my Se7en review appeared here before this post, but as that’s technically the archive repost for October 1st it’ll be in next month’s update. I am nothing if not precise about these things that don’t really matter.)


    5… what?

    This is the second month in a row without a “list of five”, but they have not necessarily gone the way of the dodo — last month I couldn’t think of anything worth doing; this month I’ve run out of time.

    I was considering “5 favourite Tim Burton films”, because I finally caught up on both Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie this month. My list would probably have included Batman Returns, Edward Scissorhands, Corpse Bride and Sleepy Hollow (along with a fifth, obviously), and definitely would have left out Planet of the Apes, Mars Attacks and Beetlejuice. (Lest you judge my selections harshly, bear in mind I still haven’t got round to Ed Wood or Big Fish. Or Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.)

    What about you, dear reader?


    Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

    98…
    99…
    100!

    101?

    August 2014

    As summer comes to an end (hurrah!) it’s time to look back on what’s been my most productive month of the year (hurrah!)


    What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

    First up, this month’s WDYMYHS film is the list’s #1 contender, the points tally that got it here some 24% higher than that for second place. It’s Stanley Kubrick’s acclaimed film, adapted from Stephen King’s acclaimed novel, the “masterpiece of modern horror”, The Shining.

    God it’s scary, isn’t it? But brilliant.

    I’m two for four on Kubrick films I’ve enjoyed (though one of the ‘fails’ is 2001, which I last saw in full when I was rather young, so it deserves a third go — the second having been in my teens, when it sent me to sleep. (In fairness, it was about 3am.) But I digress…) I own most of the rest of the man’s oeuvre on disc (except Fear and Desire which, considering there’s a Masters of Cinema release, I ought to pick up) — so, as that’s only nine films, I should make more of an effort to watch them. (By now we all know how that’s likely to turn out, right?)


    August’s films in full

    American Movie#66 The Expendables 2 (2012)
    #67 Clear and Present Danger (1994)
    #67a Cloudy 2: Extra Toppings (2013)
    #68 Inseparable (2011)
    #69 After Earth (2013)
    #70 Thor: The Dark World (2013)
    #70a Marvel One-Shot: All Hail the King (2014)
    #71 The Battle of the Somme (1916)
    #72 The Forbidden Kingdom (2008)
    The Kings of Summer#73 American Movie (1999)
    #74 St. Trinian’s: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold (2007),
    aka St. Trinian’s 2
    #75 Local Hero (1983)
    #76 The Kings of Summer (2013)
    #77 Safe (2012)
    #78 Wrath of the Titans (2012)
    #79 The Man with the Iron Fists (2012)
    #80 The Shining (1980)


    Analysis

    As I said at the start, August has been 2014’s best month so far: the list up there totals 15 new features, besting the previous high of 12 from March. It’s also well clear of the year-to-date average, which was 9.3 — indeed, August alone pulls that up to a round 10.

    August’s closing position of #80 puts 2014 in a very nice position. It’s the highest I’ve been at this point since 2010 (when I’d made it to #89), and the only other year that went better was 2007 (when I was well into the 90s by now). It turns around a gradual slide over the last few years, from 77 in 2011, to 73 in 2012, to 71 in 2013. Those are all good results, though, because the target for August is #66.

    In terms of using August’s numbers to predict December’s final tally… well, it’s a fool’s game. In 2009, for instance, August’s total suggested I’d watch just 22 films during the year’s final third; in fact, I watched 50. Conversely, in 2011 the numbers suggested 39 more films, but I only watched 23. Last year was closest: a prediction of 36 ended up with 39 films watched. The only observable pattern is: if the prediction is 36 or under, I’ll surpass it; if the prediction is 37 or over, I’ll watch less. This August offers a prediction of 40 more films (for a total of 120), so the unlikely-to-be-maintained rule suggests I’ll watch a non-specific number of films that’s less than that. Which, actually, I completely believe.

    My average viewing for the September-to-December period is 35 films, so if I reach #115 by year’s end then I’ll be conforming to history in every respect.


    This month’s archive reviews

    My re-post project continues apace: despite missing a week due to time-consuming redecorating, I still re-posted 24 reviews from my old blog. Just 246 to go…


    Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

    I’ve twice reached #100 in September, but to do that this year it’ll be my best month ever. Let’s hope for something in the 90s then, eh.

    July 2014 + My Votes for the Hugo “Best Film” Award

    That title is massively simplified (and therefore technically wrong), but still seems long, doesn’t it? Yeah, wait ’til you see the proper name of that subsection.

    Oh, also, I watched some films and stuff. Y’know, what this blog is actually about.


    What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

    Continuing apace, this month’s WDYMYHS film is quirky French comedy Amélie.


    Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and VideotapeJuly’s films in full

    #56 Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
    #57 A Late Quartet (2012)
    #58 The Raid (2011), aka Serbuan maut
    #59 We’re the Millers (2013)
    We're the Millers#60 Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape (2010)
    #61 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
    #62 Pacific Rim (2013)
    #63 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)
    #64 Frozen (2013)
    #65 Amélie (2001), aka Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain


    Analysis

    I’ve come over all Modern this month, with all but one film being from the 2010s — to put it another way, that means that all but one come from the last five years; and 40% are from last year alone, too. Well, I do have a lot of catching up to do. And the only film from outside this decade is still from this millennium. Ah well.

    In terms of the history of Julys, I’m forming a new pattern: this year I watched ten new films, year before it was four, year before that it was ten, year before that it was four… Funny how these things happen, ain’t it? Year-to-date, ten films puts July precisely in the middle of things: it’s both my fourth-best and fourth-worst month of 2014.

    As for having reached #65, that finally puts me ahead of last year, when I’d ‘only’ reached #62 by this point. I say ‘only’ because the goal for the end of July is 58, so both years remain ahead of expectations — indeed, I only need to watch one film next month to reach August’s target.


    This month’s archive reviews

    100 Films has changed home multiple times (deviantART, Blogger, FilmJournal, WordPress), and each time I’ve brought all my old content along with me. The move to WordPress has proven the most awkward in that regard: by the time I made the shift, I’d accumulated something like 700 posts. I’ve been here a couple of years now, regularly reposting old reviews as and when, but still fewer than half of those have made the transition. It’s time for a change… which is why early this month I began a concerted effort to repost at least one archive review every day. I don’t imagine I’ll keep it up full time (I think I’ve missed a day or two already), but it remains an overall goal; one that should see me fully transferred in a year or so — finally!

    Each month I’m going to highlight the mass of reposts in this round-up, just in case you missed them. So, the inaugural selection of 24 are…


    My Ranking of the 5 Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) Nominees

    The Hugos are the prestigious science fiction and fantasy awards handed out by the World Science Fiction Society at whichever convention is Worldcon that year (this year, it’s LonCon 3), voted for by attendees and members of that convention. This year, I’ll be among those voters… well, by the time this has been posted the deadline will have passed, so I am among those voters. I signed up for two reasons, really: the “voter packet” of free ebooks, which this year included the complete Wheel of Time series (price of membership vs. value of the ebooks more than covered itself); and the chance to give everything Doctor Who-related a boost, as of course these awards are for last year, i.e. Who’s big 50th anniversary. Biased, me? Um…

    The Hugos are primarily a literary award, with a dozen categories related to the writing and editing of fiction at various lengths; but in addition to those there are two Dramatic Presentation awards: Short Form (mainly, TV) and Long Form (mainly, films). As a good voter, I’ve made an effort to see all of the latter (and all but one of the former), and as two of them are amongst this month’s viewing, and (as I mentioned) the deadline for voting has just passed, I thought I’d share my final ranking. From best to worst, then…

    1. Gravity
      GravitySet in the immediate future using technology that largely exists or is about to exist, some contend that Gravity isn’t a science fiction film at all — it’s a present-day thriller, just one that happens to be set in space. And they’re right, really — there are plenty of “real-world present-day” type thrillers that have more science fictional happenings than Gravity. But it’s on the ballot and it’s an incredible film, so pish, it wins.
    2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
      The Hunger Games: Catching FireThe decision between second and third was a tough one for me — I’d’ve tied them if I could. However, I haven’t posted a review yet for Catching Fire and am still debating my score — does it stretch to a 5? It still could — not only did I really enjoy it, but I think it has a lot more thematic/dramatic heft than your average blockbuster. Anyway, the next film’s locked at 4 stars, so Catching Fire wins the toss.
    3. Iron Man 3
      Iron Man 3Some people seem to really, really dislike Iron Man 3. Not sure why — it may well be the best entry in what’s an all-round enjoyable trilogy (I still maintain Iron Man 2 isn’t so bad), a different-from-the-norm superhero tale that excites and entertains. It works as a trilogy-capper too (it’s almost a shame he’ll just be back in Avengers 2.) I’d quite like to rank it first… but, sadly, not in this year.
    4. Frozen
      FrozenDisney’s all-conquering version of The Snow Queen is the only fantasy film on this year’s ballot (seems to me the Hugos skew more SF than F. I suppose they are awarded by a Science Fiction society). I didn’t find it as incredible as the audiences who made it the fifth highest grossing film of all time, but it’s a fine film, whose initially-bland songs improve with re-listening (he says, listening to Let It Go as he writes).
    5. Pacific Rim
      Pacific RimGuillermo del Toro’s Westernised riff on a very Japanese subgenre flopped Stateside — it just crossed $100m, which once would’ve been remarkable, but on a budget of $190m is poor. Internationally, however, it stormed past $300m and so will be sequelised. Del Toro apparently aimed it at 11-year-old boys, and it’s better than most other super-budgeted movies aimed at that demographic.

    And the one thing I reviewed as a film but the Hugos count as Short Form…

      Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor
      Doctor Who: The Day of the DoctorWell, of course they do — it’s a TV episode really, isn’t it? But it is feature-length (long enough to qualify for Long Form) and was released in cinemas, so I maintain you could count it as a film. Still, in Short Form it stands a strong chance of winning — I ranked it #1. My #2 and 3 was another tough decision, but I put Peter Davison’s hilarious spoof The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot in second and, in third, Mark Gatiss’ incredible An Adventure in Space and Time (another feature-length production that could hold it’s own against movies). Neither of those are strictly SF/F, but I guess as they’re Dramatic Presentations rather than books it was felt they belonged here rather than in the Related Works category. In fourth was Game of Thrones episode The Rains of Castamere. It is great as an entire episode, but let’s face it, it’s here because of the Red Wedding, which is the last, what, 10 minutes? Any other year it would probably win, but against four Doctor Who nominees (it’s a transferable vote, so more nominees means a better chance of one winning) at a convention held in Britain? We love Thrones here (more than the US, according to some stats I saw), but Hugo voters everywhere love Who. Finally, unranked by me, were Doctor Who finale The Name of the Doctor (it underwhelmed me — I won’t advocate “no award” above it, but I don’t feel it deserves to beat any of the above nominees), and Orphan Black mid-season ep Variations Under Domestication, which I’ve simply not seen.

    Have I been a crazy person and put these in all kinds of the wrong order? And what about the Hugo nominators — are there any science-fiction/fantasy films (or TV programmes) from 2013 that they were fools to leave out? Lemme know.


    Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

    It’s the summer! Though blockbuster season is almost over already, isn’t it? Never mind. Perfect time of year to stay inside where it’s cool, anyway.

    Oh, and watch some films. Which I shall list next time. But you knew that.

    June 2014 + 5 Most Acclaimed Silent Movies

    We’re halfway through the year, so let’s celebrate — with my biggest June ever!

    First things first:


    What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

    Continuing just as it should, I watched one more WDYMYHS film this month. As is often the case, it was the last film of the month… but for once it wasn’t squeezed in right at the end, I just didn’t watch anything else after it.

    This movie is both the oldest and shortest on this year’s list. It sees Charlie Chaplin direct Charlie Chaplin from a Charlie Chaplin script. It is… Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. To put in the context of the two other Chaplins I’ve seen, I liked it more than City Lights, but not as much as The Great Dictator.

    So the year is half passed and I’ve watched half my list. Hurrah! Still no Raging Bull from last year’s 12, though.


    June’s films in full

    The Secret of Kells#45 Ghost Rider (2007)
    #46 The Tournament (2009)
    #47 The Secret of Kells (2009)
    #48 Night of the Big Heat (1967)
    Sightseers#49 Elysium (2013)
    #50 Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008)
    #51 Journey into Fear (1941)
    #52 Sightseers (2012)
    #53 Patriot Games (1992)
    #54 The Conspirator (2010)
    #55 Modern Times (1936)


    Halfway Analysis

    As we reach the year’s halfway point (did I mention that?), 2014 almost looks like a year conceived by committee to be perfectly average. I’m not the furthest I’ve ever been (look to 2007’s 59, 2010’s 64, 2011’s 67, or last year’s 58 for that), nor the lowest (look to 2008’s 45, 2009’s 38, or 2012’s 51 for those). But average those totals out and you get 54.6 films reached by the halfway mark… or to round it up, 55 films — which, in case you hadn’t noticed, is exactly where I am.

    That’s in part thanks to this being my largest-ever June (I definitely mentioned that). Eleven films isn’t that huge in the grand scheme of things (it’s not even the highest this year), but it’s an above-average number (the necessary monthly average being 8 (or, to be precise, 8.3)) and that’s always a good thing. If I can keep up my year-to-date pace for the rest of 2014, I’ll reach 110 (tricky maths, working that out), which would be equal to last year and — more importantly — be over target. To really be clever, if I kept up the pace set over my last four months, I’d end up pushing into the 120s… but let’s not get ahead of myself.


    5 Most Acclaimed Silent Movies (That I’ve Not Seen)

    As this month’s WDYMYHS film is Modern Times, arguably the last silent movie made during the era itself (i.e. ignoring tributes like The Call of Cthulhu and The Artist), I thought now would be a grand time to take a look at the five most revered silent movies that I’ve still not seen. A highly personal list then (predicated as it is on what I’ve already seen rather than a general opinion of all films), but it’s what I wanted to see, so there.

    Where did I fetch this list from? Well, it seemed only right to use the same methodology behind this year’s WDYMYHS (as it was one of those films that inspired the list) — but I did tweak it slightly: unsurprisingly, the iCheckMovies Most Checked and All-Time Box Office lists include no silents*, so in their stead I’ve factored in The Top 300 Silent Era Films.

    And so, according to that formula, the silent films I haven’t seen but really should have are…

    1. The GeneralThe General
      I’ve never seen a Buster Keaton movie, but the world reckons this is the one to go for — indeed, the Top 300 Silent Era Films ranks it the #1 silent film full stop. TSPDT and IMDb put it 36th and 132nd, respectively, out of all films ever, which isn’t too shabby. I actually recently got this on DVD (along with an array of his other works), so perhaps it’s time to make the effort…
    2. The Gold RushThe Gold Rush
      This Charlie Chaplin effort is the only film to appear on all four factored lists, albeit outside the top 250 on Empire’s (#342). TSPDT still put it in the top 100 though, placing it 63rd, while on IMDb it’s only just behind The General at #134. In the Top 300 Silents it’s in sixth place, making it the second-best I’ve not seen there too.
    3. The Passion of Joan of ArcThe Passion of Joan of Arc
      Many would rate this among the greatest films ever made… but not users of IMDb or readers of Empire, it would seem. The Top 300 Silents continue to dictate the order here: it’s seventh on their list, making it third for me. It’s only other placing, then, is TSPDT, where it’s right up at 15th. The 2012 Sight & Sound poll went even further, ranking it the 9th greatest film ever.
    4. IntoleranceIntolerance
      TSPDT rank D.W. Griffiths’ epic Birth of a Nation apology as the 88th greatest film ever, and it’s that high opinion that ends the Top 300 Silents’ dictating of this list: they rank it 16th, below six as-yet-unmentioned silents I’ve not seen — including Birth of a Nation, in fact. No room for either at IMDb or Empire, though. (For what it’s worth, TSPDT put Birth at #230.)
    5. Greed
      GreedEmpire readers considered this the 399th best film ever. TSPDT treated it more kindly, slipping into the top 100 at #94; the Top 300 Silents rank it among their top ten, however, at #10. The original (now lost) cut ran eight hours; the version released was merely two. In 1999 a four-hour version was created using stills from the deleted scenes, which seems to be the only one readily available, though I’ve heard the shorter cut is superior.

    Just bubbling under were The Kid, Sherlock Jr., Napoleon, Un chien andalou, Der letzte Mann… I could go on — you have to go quite far before you reach a film I’ve not at least heard of.

    * For what it’s worth, the IMDb Top 250 only threw up three silents I’d not seen (The General, The Gold Rush, The Kid), and the Empire 500 only included one in its top 250 (Pandora’s Box), though there were four more further down (The Gold Rush, Greed, Napoleon, Un chien andalou). The bulk of this list is therefore dictated by TSPDT (15 silents in their top 250, in addition to whatever I’d already seen), sifted slightly by their Top 300 Silents ranking. ^


    Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

    It’s the summer! Though don’t tell the cinemas — they seem to think it’s been summer for about three months already.