2015 In Retrospect

2015 was, as I’m sure you’ve gathered, the largest ever year of 100 Films — or 200 Films in a Year, as it’s currently known. For 2015 only, I think, because I have no intention of trying to replicate that feat next year (see here for more on that topic).

How better to finally wrap up a year than with a look at the best and worst, right? As always, my picks are not culled from films freshly released in 2015, but from this list of my personal viewing. (For what it’s worth, that list includes 22 releases from 2015, as well as 37 from 2014, some of which others would count as 2015 titles… and some of them have indeed made my best-of list.)

You can also vote for your favourites from my pick, and find out which 50 most noteworthy new films I didn’t see. There might be a few surprise along the way, too.

So without further ado…



The Five Worst Films I Saw For the First Time in 2015

In alphabetical order…

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher
Marvel may dominate the live-action superhero arena right now, but DC has the edge in animation — and work like this is going to do nothing to change that. An uninteresting story that’s blandly told in every regard, this is a total waste of time.

Blitz
There are a lot of very, very good actors in this Jason Statham vehicle, but it’s a terrible film that’s even below standard for the star, let alone his supporting cast. So bad it feels like a spoof, there is no good reason for anyone to watch this movie.

Jack the Giant Slayer
X-Men’s Bryan Singer is the latest filmmaker to take a fairytale and give it the Lord of the Rings treatment. That formula doesn’t work here, unfortunately. The result is a flat, cheap-looking, overlong bore. Another waste of good talent.

Parabellum
Alfred Hitchcock once said that “movies are real life with the boring parts cut out.” I guess this isn’t a movie, then, because it’s not real life and it’s boring as can be. My least enjoyable viewing experience this year.

Runner Runner
Again, talented stars (Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton) slum it in a poorly-constructed thriller with no thrills. That it’s from the director of The Lincoln Lawyer, an excellent thriller that made my top ten a couple of years ago, only makes matters worse.



The Ten 20 Best Films I Saw For the First Time in 2015

Given the extraordinary personal achievement in my viewing this year — doubling my titular goal — I’ve decided to also double my year-end top ten. It seemed appropriate.

Obviously I haven’t done such a percentage-related increase (or reduction) of my list before now, but then no previous year has seen quite so remarkable a change in my viewing total. In other (smaller) years, these additional films may well have made the cut, so this is a way of giving them their due. (Besides which, my list is numbered, so you can ignore #20 to #11 if you want.)

Final point: although this list isn’t limited to 2015 releases, there are six included, so I’ve noted their ‘2015 rank’ too.

2015 #6 After all the behind-the-scenes kerfuffle, Ant-Man probably had the lowest audience expectations for any Marvel Studios movie since Iron Man. Perhaps that’s what allowed it to become the mostly purely entertaining Marvel movie since Iron Man, too.

The Mission series here reconfigures itself as the modern equivalent to classic Bond, washing down espionage thrills with gadgets and humour. The result is fantastically enjoyable, and only so low on this list because of a certain other film a bit higher up…

John Cusack and Minnie Driver have never been more likeable as a guy and the prom date he jilted, brought back together by their high school reunion. Oh, and he’s now a hitman, in town on a job. Consitently funny, this is first-rate action-comedy entertainment.

An idiosyncratic crime drama from writer-director Jim Jarmusch, Ghost Dog stands alongside the otherwise-peerless Léon as a hitman movie that may not deliver enough action thrills for some, but is seeped in distinctive qualities of its own.

Martin Scorsese’s best-regarded works may hew towards the mainstream-intellectual, but here he sets his sights on genre material — specifically, a psychological mystery thriller — and produces a corker. Heavily Gothic in tone, it’s the first of several such films on this list.

A British-made India-set ‘Western’, this beautifully shot Boy’s Own adventure is rollicking old-fashioned entertainment from start to finish. It’s buoyed further by a cast of top-drawer British character actors, topped off with Kenneth More and Lauren Bacall. Magnificent.

One of the most acclaimed films of all time — if we’re talking “the history of cinema”, it’s certainly more important than anything else on this list. Almost 90 years old, it remains surprisingly accessible to modern eyes. An exceptionally affecting experience.

2015 #5 In a year overloaded with spy thrillers, this Bond pastiche stood out by, a) getting in early (it was released last January in the UK), and b) being a helluva lot of fun. Thematically questionable it may be, but the filmmaking verve is a joy to behold.

2015 #4 2015’s highest grossing film, this sequel/reboot of the beloved franchise has proved somewhat divisive. It certainly has flaws in characters and plot, but director Colin Trevorrow has bottled genuine Spielbergian awe and wonder, and that counts for a lot.

If this were only a top ten, I’d’ve slipped this in higher up, as much to recommend it as anything. In many respects it’s a familiar mismatched-people-fall-in-love rom-com (hence why its position dropped), but the uncommon melancholic tone makes it feel unique.

I’d wager it’s impossible to describe a Wes Anderson film without recourse to words like “quirky” and “unique”, both wholly apt epithets for The Grand Budapest Hotel, naturally. Others include hilarious, clever, inventive, controlled, and delightful. The last may be the most appropriate of all: this is a film full of delights, from the performances, to the dialogue, to the locations, to the design, to the camerawork. Anderson is the kind of filmmaker who has a cult following, which can sometimes be a bad omen. Based on this evidence, his fandom might just have the right idea.

2015 #3 There has been an awakening — have you felt it? Well, of course you have. Everyone outside of China has. Half of them twice. The J.J. Abrams-led return to a galaxy far, far away may have received a mixed reception, due to it essentially being the cinematic equivalent of a greatest-hits cover album, dealing in nostalgia more than it does originality… but it’s clearly been made by fans with an eye to crafting something that’s both enjoyable and recognisably Star Wars-y — two balls the prequel trilogy less dropped, more hurled to the ground. It’s a thrilling adventure with likeable new characters and, in my opinion, interesting new villains. There’s scope for the makers of Episodes VIII and IX to produce something even better off the back of this, and that’s exciting.

Terry Gilliam’s 1984 for 1985 is set in a dystopian Britain almost as bad as our current one, where mindless, faceless bureaucracy rules the day. It’s the kind of film where a typo can lead to a man’s death; where Jonathan Pryce fantasises about being a sword-wielding angel fighting a giant silver samurai; and where Robert De Niro turns up as a terrorist plumber. You know, if Wes Anderson is “quirky” and “unique”, I don’t think we’ve yet invented words to describe Terry Gilliam…

I promised you more Gothic and here it is. Director Chan-wook Park places 7th on my top ten for the second year in a row with this dark psychological thriller about a reclusive teenage girl who meets her uncle for the first time when he comes to stay following her father’s death. He’s charming, but mysterious — what are the secrets that everyone seems to know but her? Dripping with style and atmosphere, Stoker is a feast for the eyes and ears; a beguiling, sensuous, classically Gothic thriller.

2015 #2 Director George Miller returns to the Mad Max series after a 30-year hiatus for the stand-out action movie of… well, “the year” seems to undersell it. Once upon a time he was bold enough to make a chase the entire third act of a film; now, the chase is the entire movie. This is action filmmaking elevated to a genuine art form — literally, if the award season buzz is anything to go by. While the done-for-real stunts are busy boggling your mind, there slips by a story that’s surprisingly rich in theme and character. It gives added weight to a type of storytelling that could only be achieved on film — there’s a reason Miller started with a storyboard and only bothered to write a screenplay when the studio insisted.

A third dose of Gothic now, this time with a heavier dose of the “horror” element that’s so often attached to the term. Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan are mother-and-daughter vampires on the run, hiding out in a seedy seaside town, where Ronan tries to lead some kind of normal life as a perma-teen while her mother’s busy doing what she’s always done: whoring. These vampires aren’t glamorous or sparkly, but damaged and discarded. Byzantium is not a very popular film, but its tarnished charms and fatalistic stylings, powered by two strong central performances and atmospheric direction, made me love it.

Selecting these 20 films was tough, then putting them in order was just as hard, but one thing was a lock from the start: these are my top four films I saw in 2015. The only question was the order they went in, which on another day may have been completely different — any one of them could’ve been #1. This little-seen documentary (Channel 4 premiered it in the middle of the night a few months ago, although it’s available on YouTube) takes us to a small, poor town in India where the locals make their own movies, and they’re a roaring success. It’s an inspirational film about living your dreams even when the world won’t let you, though undercurrents of reality stop it from becoming too tweely self-congratulatory. I’m not overstating it when I say I believe this is an absolute must-see for any lover of film, and probably a good many people besides.

I feel like I’m being in some way Awkward with many of this year’s choices, because there’s a notable strand of films that aren’t particularly well regarded by viewers en masse (see: #11, #7, #5, now #3). Well, I’m not being awkward, dear reader: I loved all of them, and I loved this one most of all. Like several of those others, it crafts a unique mood with lashings of style, in this case inspired by ’80s movies and music. Dan Stevens is a mysterious ex-soldier who enters a family’s life and brings a load of trouble in his wake, but is he (anti-)hero or villain? Even by the end, you might not be sure. Witty, exciting, stylish, idiosyncratic, this is one guest I want to stay forever. (Sorry — it seems I can’t end any piece about this film without a terrible pun.)

34 years before Fury Road, there was The Road Warrior. A post-apocalyptic Australian Western, it sees Mel Gibson’s titular drifter drafted into defending an oil-rich community from a violent gang of fetish-attired marauders. While the film has much to offer throughout, the real joy is the third act: a balls-to-the-wall multi-vehicle chase, as Max and co attempt to escape in a heavily-armoured oil tanker and the gang give chase in a fleet of vehicles. Maybe it’s not as slick or extravagant as Fury Road, but it was done without a lick of CGI (for all Fury Road’s “done for real” claims, there’s an awful lot of computer work across that movie) and that added tangibility gives it the edge for me. Not to mention that it did it first — without Mad Max 2, we wouldn’t even have Fury Road.

2015 #1 Not as life-affirming as Supermen of Malegaon. Not as stylish as The Guest. Not as groundbreaking as Mad Max 2. Certainly not as ‘significant’ as a host of films further down this list. But from the moment the familiar beats of the famous theme tune begin to pulse over the company idents at the top of the movie, Rogue Nation engages you in a perfectly-crafted entertainment. It delivers sequence after sequence of finely-tuned action-thriller excitement, both from Tom Cruise’s crazy stuntwork and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie’s Hitchcockian control of espionage scenes. The plot may only be solid rather than any great shakes, but it’s supported by likeable heroes, a menacing villain, and well-pitched humour. It’s all topped off with Rebecca Ferguson, who could hold her own in a stand-off with Daisy Ridley and Charlize Theron for 2015’s most kick-ass heroine. Mission perfected.


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. Multiple selections are allowed, so feel free to pick several favourites.

And if you feel I’ve made an unforgivable omission, I welcome your scathing criticisms in the comments.


Despite doubling the size of my selection, this was still a really, really tough year for picking favourites. Competition was harder than ever, not just because I watched 200 films (47% more than even my next biggest year) but because I made a conscious effort to watch fewer time-killers and more things I’d really been intending to see. As a result, films that I enjoyed immensely or admired intensely fell by the wayside, leaving several big guns to duke it out for the limited slots.

As if doubling my top ten wasn’t enough, the tightly-fought race got stuck for a while at 30 titles. The closest to making it in was my 1,000th film, Mark Cousin’s epic 15-hour documentary The Story of Film: An Odyssey (so epic that my review draft is still in the form of 4,300 words of notes). It hurt to leave it out, but something had to go. The remainder of those 30 (which I guess would be #22 to #30, then) were, in alphabetical order, The Babadook, Gone Girl, High Noon, Looper, Paddington, Scanners, Spectre, Stranger by the Lake, and Wings. In most other years, any of those could’ve found themselves comfortably in my top ten.

I can’t end this without mentioning the 38 films that earned themselves 5-star ratings this year. 17 of them made it into the top 20 — I won’t list those again, so you can go find the three four-star imposters for yourself (clue: they’re right at the end… or start, in the order I’ve written it). The remaining 21 five-starers were Argo, The Babadook, Boyhood, Boyz n the Hood, Dreams of a Life, Filmed in Supermarionation, Fury, The General, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl, High Noon, Interstellar, Looper, The Philadelphia Story, sex, lies, and videotape, Shallow Grave, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, Stranger by the Lake, Whiplash, Wings, and The Wrestler. Reading through those again, there are several I feel should’ve been in my top 30… or 20… but what would I take out in their place? This year’s been too good, clearly.

Finally, on the same topic, there was one five-starer from each of my additional kinds of reviews (I love it when that happens — so neat). They were: non-list review 2001: A Space Odyssey, extended cut X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Cut, and short Feast.


Naturally, there were a considerable number of notable releases this year that I’ve yet to see. In my annual tradition, here’s an alphabetical list of 50 films — chosen for a variety of reasons, from box office success to critical acclaim via simple notoriety — that were released in 2015 and that I’ve not seen.

As is so often the case, it’s a funny old mix, because there were some films that seemed too ‘significant’ to leave out. This is why, despite recording my progress with these in my statistics every year, I’ll never, ever see 100% of them. For a current example, Minions is the 5th highest grossing film of 2015, so on the list it goes; but I didn’t really like Despicable Me and haven’t watched Despicable Me 2, so what are the chances I’ll ever decide to spend some of my time on Minions? Pretty darn slim, I reckon.

Anyway, the 50 I’ve chosen to highlight — some of which I do very much want to see — are…

Amy
Beasts of No Nation
The Big Short
Black Mass
Blackhat
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Carol
Chappie
Cinderella
Creed
Crimson Peak
The Danish Girl
Everest
Ex Machina
Fantastic Four
Fifty Shades of Grey
Furious 7
The Good Dinosaur
The Hateful Eight
Home
Hotel Transylvania 2
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
In the Heart of the Sea
It Follows
Joy
Legend
Macbeth
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
The Martian
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Minions
Pan
Pixels
The Revenant
Room
San Andreas
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Sicario
Snoopy and Charlie Brown…
Spotlight
Spy
Steve Jobs
Straight Outta Compton
Suffragette
Taken 3
Ted 2
Testament of Youth
The Visit
The Walk


And so, after all that verbosity, the largest ever year of 100 Films comes to an end.

Apart from the 21 reviews I still have to post, of course. (In that respect, 2014 isn’t even finished yet.) But no matter, it will be done.

For now, all that remains is for me to thank you for reading, to wish you all the best with your own film-watching endeavours (having spent several days shut away in my own world of statistics and lists, I’ve a few people’s posts to catch up on!), and to say “see you soon” for 2016 — the 10th year of 100 Films! I have some stuff planned…

2015: The Full List

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

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

So without further ado…



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












And now, in alphabetical order…


Alternate Cuts
Other Reviews
Shorts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, in the first year of 2014’s 50, I watched 20 of them. That’s the best ‘first year’ ever (besting the 17 from 2007 I watched in 2008), and is more in one year than I’ve managed in the seven since 2008. Seriously, what was wrong with that list?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The Climactic Monthly Update for December 2015

Happy New Year’s Day, dear readers!

The quest for 100 films has little regard for it being the first day of a new year, however — it’s still the start of a new month, which means it’s time to reflect on the last. And as it’s the last month of 2015, to reveal just what my final tally actually was…


#183 Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015)
#184 Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015)
#185 Terminator Genisys (2015)
#186 A Most Wanted Man (2014)
#187 Tomorrowland: A World Beyond (2015)
#188 Begin Again (2013)
#189 Escape from Tomorrow (2013)
#190 Le Mépris (1963), aka Contempt
#191 Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
#192 About Time (2013)
#193 Happy Feet Two (2011)
#194 Morning Glory (2010)
#195 Dreamgirls (2006)
#196 Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996)
#197 AfterDeath (2015)
#198 Heaven Can Wait (1943)
#199 Slow West (2015)
#200 Dressed to Kill (1946)


  • #200 is the final Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes film. It’s taken me almost eight years to get through that series — longer than they took to make — so it seemed an appropriate choice for such a momentous number.
  • With four WDYMYHS films left, I managed to watch… one. That was Le Mépris. On the one hand, not watching 25% of my list is a bit of a failure. On the other, watching 75% of it means I’ve watched nine films this year that I should’ve seen but hadn’t got round to, and almost certainly wouldn’t’ve got round to without WDYMYHS. So it shall continue next year, though I’ve not decided on the selection process yet.
  • Remember back in my October update, when I mentioned re-watching the Veronica Mars movie to get 2014 finished? Bloody well didn’t bloody happen, did it! I’ll do it in January.
  • Apropos of not very much, the version of Rawhide sung by the elephant seals in Happy Feet 2 is awesome.


The headline news here is, of course, that this year I reached #200.

That’s my highest final tally ever, by 64 films — 47% higher than the next best year! You could add together my two poorest years (2009 and 2012) and you’d still be nine films short of 2015’s solo total. Anyway, more whole-year stats in my next post — for now, let’s just look at December.

This month I watched 18 new films. Most importantly, that exceeds this year’s ten-per-month goal, making 2015 the first time I’ve done it for a whole calendar year. (It’s also the 19th consecutive month.) It’s only the second-highest December ever, just behind 2008’s 19, but it does pass the December average (10.86; now 11.75) and beats December 2014’s total of 15, the 11th month this year to beat its previous equivalent (only November let the side down). In terms of 2015, it beats the monthly average of 16.67, and is actually the third highest month of the year, settling in behind the record-breaking feats of September and October.

I always end these analyses with a look ahead to the rest of the year… which is now over. So what for 2016? Having reached 200 films in a year, will I be seeking to equal it next year? Perhaps even to better it? I can confirm that…

No. No I won’t.

There are so very, very many films that I want to see — and they keep making more of the darn things! So many that even watching 200 new films isn’t enough to make a serious dent in the “to see” list. But there are also TV series I want to watch, books I want to read, audio dramas I want to listen to — not to mention movies I want to re-watch — and the film fixation engendered by a goal as vast as 200 new films in a year is counterproductive to doing anything but watching new films. So of course 100 Films will continue, and maintaining my ten-per-month streak would be nice, but if this time next year I’ve watched 200 new films and not watched many TV series, or read books, or listened to audio dramas, then I won’t be dancing a victory dance. Quite the opposite. Whatever the opposite of “dancing a victory dance” is.

In conclusion, my personal goal for next year is… well, 100 films — that’s why it’s the name of the blog. But I’ll be aiming to maintain my ten-per-month run, making the target 120+ Films in a Year. Plus lots of TV and books and audio drama and films I’ve seen before and special features and goodness knows what else. There still won’t be nearly enough time, anyway.


Thanks to the advent calendar, 44 films were reviewed this month(!) Here’s a full alphabetical account:



The 7th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
It’s not been a bad month, but there aren’t a great many stand-out options here. Although I hugely enjoyed the new Star Wars, and some other 2015 blockbusters I caught up on weren’t as bad as expected, the winner is easily best-of-year contender Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
It’s not been a bad month, but there are still a few three-star-level contenders here. In the end, I decided to pick the film I felt I was most likely to never bother to watch again, and while there are a few I’m not likely to ever revisit, the least likely was AfterDeath.

Best Use of Time Travel
Was it to visit a wondrous future city of joyous technological advancement? Or to spend more precious time with your dying father? Or to send a cyborg to protect your mother from your robot enemy before your best mate arrives to stop that enemy murdering her before you’re born then trying to disable said robot enemy before it’s ‘born’? Or to get Emilia Clarke naked? How about using it to make Rachel McAdams fall in love with you in About Time. That and the dad thing.

Best Theme Tune
Oh sure, there’s John Williams on Star Wars… but of course there was. And I’ve already said how much I liked Rawhide in Happy Feet 2, but it’s not functioning as theme tune there. So the winner is composer Joe Kraemer finally giving Lalo Schifrin’s Mission: Impossible theme a suitable big-screen rendition not once but twice in Rogue Nation.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
When you think about it, this should come as no surprise. In a month that featured 47 new posts (it sounds a little insane when you put it like that), the most-read is one that was a hive of activity for 25 days: the 100 Films Advent Calendar 2015.


…will be 31 days into 2016. Before all that, though, I’ll thoroughly look back and dissect 2015 — the largest year of 100 Films ever!

(Dog-loving regular readers will be pleased to know that (further to September’s update) Millie is still with us, and coping admirably with there already being a new Irish Wolfhound puppy in the family.)

2015 in Review, Part 1

As a wise man once said,

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

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

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

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

Here's an excerpt:

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

Click here to see the complete report.

Observations:

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

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

Merry Christmas, Internet

I was going to post my review of The Force Awakens today, but I’ve had a grotty cold and haven’t felt like writing it.

Er, I mean — Merry Christmas! Glad tidings to all! It’s the most wondrous time of the year!

100 Films HQ, today.

100 Films HQ, today.

This is what happens when you meet all the family, then all the other family, then go shopping, then to a crowded cinema (i.e. spending time in confined spaces with lots of strangers and their germs), and then stand around in the cold and rain at Longleat for two hours.

Longleat was good, though.

Longleat was good, though.

Anyway, I hope you’re having a nice day. I’m off to debate whether to bother making Christmas lunch or just leave it for tomorrow (because it’s just the two of us and the dog, and precisely none of those people are bothered whether we have The Big Meal today or on another day when I’m feeling more like it).

Marty McFly, in the TARDIS, under our tree, yesterday.

Marty McFly, in the TARDIS, under our tree, yesterday.

Oh, and if you’ve not heard it already, don’t bother with Radiohead’s Spectre theme, it’s rubbish. (But because I know I’d want to hear it even after someone gave me that advice, here’s a link).

Merry Christmas!

The Relatively Lacklustre Monthly Update for November 2015

It’s a busy old time on 100 Films as December starts: the advent calendar has begun, including its first review, with the second imminent, and this round-up of last month too. So let’s get cracking:


#173 Horns (2013)
#174 Force Majeure (2014), aka Turist
#175 The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
#176 Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
#177 The Lone Ranger (2013)
#178 Come Drink with Me (1966), aka Dà Zuì Xiá
#179 Inside Out (2015)
#179a Riley’s First Date? (2015)
#179b Lava (2014)
#180 Tank Girl (1995)
#180a The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Extended Edition (2014/2015)
#181 Ant-Man (2015)
#182 Paddington (2014)


  • No WDYMYHS film this month. A whole third of them are left as I head into December. It’s not impossible to catch that up, but this isn’t how it’s meant to work.
  • You may’ve noticed the number of posted reviews slow down this month. Two reasons: 1) I finally exhausted my rolling backlog of ready-to-post reviews and have been tardy extending it again; 2) most of what I have been writing are stockpiled for the advent calendar. Oops.


This month was never going to be a record-breaker. After the extreme lengths I went to in the last two, and with some time-filling TV series arriving, it felt almost liberating to know I didn’t have to try as hard in November. A little too liberating, maybe, because I nearly ballsed it up…

Normally this analysis section is a list of the month’s achievements; at least, it has been so far this year. However, there’s very little to report in that field this month: 10 all-new feature films watched is the lowest of 2015. In fact, it’s the lowest-totalling month since July 2014. It’s also the first month this year not to beat its equivalent from the year before (November 2014 reached 13). Nonetheless, it beats the November average of 7.43 (raising it slightly to 7.75 in the process), and manages to maintain my ten-per-month goal (just). That makes it the 18th straight month to have ten or more films — only one month to go and I’ll have achieved an entire calendar year of it.

Before we look to the future, what has November’s relative shortfall done for 2015’s monthly average? Well, after the double whammy of best-ever-months in September and October skyrocketed the average to 17.2, November being the year’s worst month pulls it back down to 16.5. Still a good number, and higher than it was for most of the year, which just shows how extraordinary that September/October double was.

So with just a single month to go, where might 2015’s total lie? No lower than #192, that’s for sure. “For sure” in this case meaning “because if it doesn’t I’ll have failed my ten-per-month goal at the final hurdle and be inconsolable with self-disappointment.” Can I go even further, though? The December average is 10.86, so eleven new films would nudge me that little further to… #193, obviously. If I return to my last-year-beating ways, I’d watch 16 films and make it to #198; though if I can go that little further again and match the 2015 average — 16.5, remember, which rounds up to 17 — then I’ll get to #199.

None of which are #200, the magic number I considered last month. Damn close, though. Maybe… with a little stretch… who knows?



It’s the last hurrah of my repostathon! Everything I’m likely to bother reposting from previous iterations of this blog is now on WordPress.

To round things off, then, a pair of year-end summaries each for Years 1 to 4, aka 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. (Although the rest of 2011 was part of the repostathon, the year-end summaries were some of the first things I posted on WordPress.)



The 6th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
It’s a little bit of a flat month for these first two categories. Well, that’s a mite unfair: I certainly enjoyed every film I watched this month, but nothing was a mind-blowing best-of-year-contender stand-out success. The nearest to such an achievement, however, was probably the sweet, loveable, joyous, ever-so-British Paddington.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
As I said above, I enjoyed every film I watched this month. Every last one. Well, situations like that are why this category is called “least favourite” rather than “worst”. Although it won’t be the lowest star rating awarded from this month’s viewing, the ‘victor’ here is Inside Out, because it underwhelmed me after all the hype.

Best Longwinded Storyteller
Oi, Peter Jackson — hands off! You can’t have this for The Hobbit! No, this goes to another verbose yarn-weaver: Michael Peña’s Luis from Ant-Man, whose stories may be just as filled with lengthy and pointless asides, but at least they’re highly amusing.

Best Action Climax on a Train
Most months, Ant-Man’s amusing tussle aboard a Thomas the Tank Engine playset would be a clear winner here. Did you ever think you’d see Thomas the Tank in a major Hollywood blockbuster? Thank you, Edgar Wright. But sadly it is not to be victorious, because by jiminy does the finale of The Lone Ranger justify the existence of the entire movie.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
I’ve mentioned before how participating in a blogathon can often sway this category (understandably), and so it was to be in November: swashing his buckle all the way to the top of the pile was Douglas Fairbanks in The Thief of Bagdad.


Busy busy busy, as I race towards my definitely-record-breaking final tally.

The 100 Films Advent Calendar 2015

Good times are here again, dear readers, because it’s December 1st and that can only mean one thing: advent calendars. Specifically, the fourth annual 100 Films in a Year Advent Calendar!

And this year, there’s double the fun: not content with providing you with my precious insight on a single cinematic wonder each day, for my 2015 advent calendar there will be two reviews every day. Or, to look at it another way, one review every 12 hours between now and Christmas Day.

Each day at midnight: a speedy little drabble nightcap.
Each day at midday: a full-length review lunch.
(Sorry, none of these metaphorical meals contain chocolate.)

(This isn’t at all doomed to fail, is it…)

Also of note! As per last year, my advent calendar will serve, in part, as a kind of ‘review of 2015’, looking back on some of the year’s biggest and most significant movies (that I’ve yet to review). Such delights may include Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ex Machina, Force Majeure, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the Shaun the Sheep Movie, Spectre, Terminator Genisys, Tomorrowland, as well as the biggest film of the year (so far), Jurassic World, and the one that may yet surpass it, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (No guarantees, mind — I’ve not written some of them yet. Heck, I’ve not seen some of them yet…)

Plus! A series of reviews dedicated to Star Wars in the run-up to the release of Episode VII. All will be revealed on Monday 14th (or now, if you look at my coming soon page — they’re pretty obvious).

Anyway, let’s get started. Should be pretty clear which are the drabbles and which the full reviews.


December 1st

December 2nd

December 3rd

December 4th

December 5th

December 6th

December 7th

December 8th

December 9th

December 10th

December 11th

December 12th

December 13th


Star Wars Week

December 14th

December 15th

December 16th


December 17th

December 18th

December 19th

December 20th

December 21st

December 22nd

December 23rd

December 24th

December 25th

Merry Christmas!

The Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Monthly Update for October 2015

It was inevitable that the sheer size of September’s accomplishment would overshadow whatever I watched in October. After all, it was my highest-viewing month for over eight years — how long would it be before I could say that again?

Turns out: one month.

Though, actually, October 2015 isn’t my highest month for eight years — it’s my highest month ever.

(Alright, I promise to never use memes again.)


In a conversation in last month’s comment section, Tom of Digital Shortbread observed that my monthly updates had “lots and lots of stuff to take in”. As I responded, “I think I may have overloaded these monthly posts,” and I think I was right.

So this month I’ve slightly pared back, simplified, and rearranged (you can now find the Arbies right at the end, here) to focus in on what these are meant to be about: a progress report on my eponymous goal. Exorcised categories may resurface in other forms later, and things will be even more streamlined from December when my archive reposts are complete — and when I haven’t watched the most number of films ever, of course — but this is fundamentally it for the new new-look monthly updates.

The first thing I’ve done away with is the contents list, so it’s straight in to:


#142 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
#143 The Wrestler (2008)
#144 The Fifth Estate (2013)
#145 Twilight (2008)
#146 Ender’s Game (2013)
#147 sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
#148 Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)
#149 Supermen of Malegaon (2008)
#149a The Crying of Lot 49 (2007)
#150 Parabellum (2015)
#151 Dreams of a Life (2011)
#152 A Clockwork Orange (1971)
#153 Wings (1927)
#154 Jurassic World (2015)
#155 The Decoy Bride (2011)
#156 Coherence (2013)
#157 Circle (2015)
#158 Europa Report (2013)
#159 Turtle Power: The Definitive History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
#160 The Grandmaster (2013), aka Yi dai zong shi
#161 Back in Time (2015)
#162 Stoker (2013)
#163 The Golem: How He Came into the World (1920), aka Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam
#164 Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)
#165 Mr. Holmes (2015)
#166 Life Itself (2014)
#167 The Machine (2013)
#168 Spectre (2015)
#169 Jupiter Ascending (2015)
#170 The Babadook (2014)
#171 Blue Ruin (2013)
#172 You’re Next (2011)


  • One more What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen film this month: Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. I’ve got four left to get through in the next two months, now.
  • As I mentioned in my review, I was going to review the entire Twilight Saga for Halloween, but a free month of Netflix (which I had to take now lest it expire (oh the hardship)) saw to that.
  • Relatedly, a point about director Bill Condon: if the Twilight plan had gone ahead, he’d’ve gone from “never seen one of his films” to one of my top twenty-something most-reviewed directors in just one month. But I didn’t, so he doesn’t… for now.
  • After last month’s awesomely wide decade spread, this month I watched two films from the ’20s, one each from the ’70s and ’80s, four from the 2000s… and 24 from the 2010s. Business as normal, then.
  • I don’t think I watch a great many documentaries (though I have no stats to back that up), but this month I watched five. However many I watch normally, that’s certainly high for one month.
  • I also watched ten sci-fi films this month. That’s less surprising, but it’s still a relatively large amount.
  • Finally: thanks to all those films, the header image took me a couple of hours to put together. I mean that literally — it took the best part of two hours.


After discussing last month the uncertainty of how many films I watched in August 2007, which makes it hard to know whether it’s been surpassed or not… well, this month I soundly, definitively, unquestionably overtook it: that long, long list above adds up to 31 new feature films.

Now I just need to do it twice more and the August 2007 issue can be put to bed forever. I can tell you for nothing, it won’t happen this year (but we’ll come to that).

So what else is there to say about those 31 films? Well, obviously it maintains my ten-per-month goal, for the 17th month in a row now. It’s also the second month in a row with over 20 films, the first time that’s ever happened… which is unsurprising when you remember that before 2015 I’d only ever had one month with over 20 films. It also surpasses last October’s tally, because, obviously. That’s a full 12 consecutive months besting the previous year’s counterpart. And it goes without saying that it’s the best October ever (by 17) and the best month of 2015 (by eight).

For most of 2015 the rolling monthly average has been 15 films per month. September dragged it up to 15.67, the first time it had been closer to 16 since January was 16. October’s tally is pretty much double that, in the process single-handedly dragging the average all the way up to 17.2! It has even more of an effect on the all-time October monthly average, which goes from 10.0 to 12.6.

And all other year-to-date and entire-year records have already been smashed in previous months, so that’ll next be worth discussing after December.

So what about predictions for the remaining two months of 2015? Well, in January I laughed at the ridiculous suggestion that I could make it to 192 by the end of the year. That’s now just 20 films away, meaning I only need to watch my ‘minimum’ 10 films per month to pass it. And 192… well, that’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from 200. 200! 200! Two frickin’ hundred!

Now, let’s calm back down, because there are challenges in the way of such a bold target: later in November I’m away for most of a week, and there are a couple of time-filling TV series on the way (more on that in a bit), which will likely roll over into December, and before you know it it’ll be Christmas and all the travelling and spending time with family will hamper proceedings somewhat. Damn family.

Away from the real world and in the realm of numbers and statistics, though, we can conjure up the following array of possibilities. If I only reach my historical average viewing levels for November and December, I’ll make it to 190 — and thereby miss the aforementioned ten-per-month target, so I’ll be thoroughly upset with myself if that happens. As mentioned, achieving that target for two more months places me at 192. If I continue my other on-going streak — of surpassing the same month last year — than I’ll wind up at 202. If I manage the monthly average that I maintained for most of the year, that also puts me at 202. If I can hold up the new average of 17.2, though, I’ll get all the way to 206.

206! 206! Two hundred and frickin’ six!

Well, we’ll see.



This month’s flood of reposts takes us all the way through my recaps of 2008 to 2011, leaving the way clear for next month to be all about the year-end summary posts.

The pictures are all a bit samey, so let me guide you though them in clumps. The month began with a week-long rush through all of 2008, 2009, and the start of 2010:

Then it was on to the first ever monthly updates, which cover the bulk of 2010:

Finally, the entirety of 2011, across twelve monthly updates:

Now, 2011’s summaries are already online — you can peruse the full list and all the exciting statistics here, and learn about my top ten and bottom five here. Next month, as I mentioned, I’ll be reposting the summaries for 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, one year per weekend.



The 5th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
In a month with so many films, there’s a fair chance a lot of them will be good — indeed, 15 of October’s films are on the long-list for my year-end top ten (I’m quite liberal with what goes on that list, but still). Pushing aside mind-boggling done-for-real action, hugely successful reboots of childhood favourites, atmospheric Gothic thrillers, and thoroughly terrifying horrors, is a little documentary that was shown in the middle of the night on Channel 4 about a bunch of amateur filmmakers in India. The only one of those 15 to have definitely reserved a place on my top ten is the life-enhancing Supermen of Malegaon.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
Similarly, in a month with so many films there’s a fair chance a few of them will be bad. There would indeed be a few contenders for the October wooden spoon, but they were all saved the dishonour by a rare single-star film: dull arthouse SF Parabellum.

Film You Have to Be Most Careful How You Talk About In Case Someone Thinks You’re a Paedophile or Something
One minute it’s Arya Stark having a sexual awakening about her brother, the next it’s Alice in Wonderland having an orgasm when she plays the piano. I think October’s pair of erotically-charged movies starring schoolgirls, The Falling and Stoker, can share this one.

Biggest Nostalgia Hit of the Month
It was pretty special to relive some of my childhood favourites through the documentaries Turtle Power (I had so many of the toys they showed!) and Back in Time (I really need to re-watch the BTTF trilogy), but this honour goes to the hair-raising thrill elicited when John Williams’ memorable theme swells under the unveiling of a place full of wonder in Jurassic World.

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
This crown was claimed and re-claimed several times during the month, but the final victor may not be that surprising: my moderately-speedy spoiler-free first thoughts on that always-popular topic, a new James Bond film: Spectre.


Jessica Jones comes to Netflix and The Man in the High Castle comes to Amazon Prime — on the same day, frustratingly. I won’t be reviewing either, but they’ll ultimately eat up around 23 hours of my potential film-viewing time, so let’s expect a smaller-scale month than I’ve achieved of late.

In amongst all that, hopefully I’ll finally find time to bloody well re-watch the Veronica Mars movie and bloody well get bloody 2014 bloody finished.

Also, when we meet again for one of these round-ups it’ll be December (already?!) and I’ll be launching my 2015 advent calendar, too. What larks!

The Hyperbolic Monthly Update for September 2015

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

…maybe.

All will become clear…


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

I do like statistics.

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

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



The 4th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


In Memoriam

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


Rory and Lupa.

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

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


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

Haiku Review

Ev’ry August film
reviewed in haiku form. (And
you thought drabbles short!)

I can’t even remember what gave me the idea, but the other day I started writing haiku-sized reviews of films I’d watched, and before I knew it had written one for every film from August. So, in what may or may not become a new regular feature, I’m going to share them with you. You lucky, lucky people.

Technically a haiku is more than just the 5-7-5 syllable structure most people know: it should be about nature, and (to quote Wikipedia) “the essence of haiku is ‘cutting’… often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji (‘cutting word’) between them.” Obviously these haiku have nothing to do with the first of those conditions; as to the second, well, it comes and goes. At times, I’ve tried; others, less so. Hopefully none are just 17-syllable sentences split in three. Nonetheless, I don’t promise poetic quality with these.


Contagion
Gwyneth Paltrow eats,
whole world at risk of grim death.
Scares ’cause it could be.

End of Watch
Cops film selves, sort of.
Inconsistent P.O.V.
undermines reel-ism.

Inherent Vice [review]
Pynchon’s comedy
filmed by P.T. Anderson.
Laughs for weed users.

Interstellar [review]
Two-Thousand-And-One,
A Space-Time Anomaly.
Mainly, spectacle.

Justice League: The New Frontier
Uncommon premise
raises expectations, but
promise is squandered.

Life of Pi [review]
Tiger on a boat:
CG extravaganza!
Better than the truth.

Monsters: Dark Continent [review]
Genre transplanted,
but soldiers pose same quand’ry:
aren’t we the monsters?

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
This: way the world ends —
not with a bang or whimper,
but a love story.

Shallow Grave
Danny Boyle’s debut.
Cold cash leads friends to distrust
and dismemberment.

Sherlock Holmes (1922) [review]
Moriarty v.
Barrymore. Gillette-derived
slight Sherlock silent.

Shivers
Amateur work by:
biologist, kills neighbours;
Cronenberg, upsets.

Space Station 76 [review]
Groovy future fun,
undercut by theme of frac-
tured relationships.

The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Epic history,
too personalised for some.
Piqued insight abounds.

Stranger by the Lake
French gays have the sex
with a killer in their midst.
A slow-burn beauty.

The Theory of Everything [review]
Eddie Redmayne won
awards, but the film’s heart is
Felicity Jones.

The Thing (2011) [review]
Under prequel’s guise,
computers doodle a mere
Carpenter rehash.

The Haiku Review may return next month. We’ll see how things go.