2019 Year in Review
Two hundred sixty four. I still look at that number and question its authenticity; while it’s true you could probably knock a few titles off that list depending on your standards, it’s my own count and it holds true as I compare it to other years gone by (and yes, I will eventually make a more refined count later on, one that does not include short films or certain television episodes – looking at you Black Mirror). 264 represents a fairly sizable increase and upward trend: 2018 saw 245 and 2017 saw 203 titles in the log. As you may be aware, I log everything through Letterboxd, and pay for the yearly stats so it can point you in the direction of my obsession:
I’m always hesitant to put together a top ten list of the year, but it seems to have happened. There are too many factors at play that can’t be represented in one coherent list, so maybe I should break it down further. Alas, I’m too busy watching more movies in an attempt to break another record for 2020. Let’s break it down though: you can quickly pare down the list by filtering out everything that didn’t make four stars or above. And again, a disclaimer: I’m more likely to rate movies higher as time goes by, and it’s an unspoken rule in my mind to never rate a movie a perfect five stars upon first viewing. Just typing that out makes me feel ridiculous but, here we are.
So, take all the movies that came out in 2019 and are rated four stars or above and you have a list of nearly twenty films (at time of writing, I’ve seen exactly 50 from 2019). You can quickly float the 4.5 star ratings to the top, but as I did so I found myself floating a few choice titles upward as well. I was also quick to bring a few ratings down – like Rise of the Skywalker that originally sat at four stars has been “corrected” to 3.5, and I imagine that number will further change when I revisit that film again later on. Of course, the bulk of the titles are at four stars and it wasn’t particularly difficult to bring one above the other. After a few minutes of sliding the entries around I arrived at what I think, is a decent top list.
And of course, the list could change down the road. Looking back at other years (not too far, but 2017 and 2018) I found myself taking in about 75 or 80 films from each time period. It stands to reason that within the next twelve months I’ll be upping my 2019 intake and theoretically, that top ten could change. However, my procrastination and mood will probably move me into other directions at that time and I may just end up revisiting each year’s top ten list annually.
What else can be said about 2019? Let’s take a look:
- 135 horror films, which makes up just over 50% of total views. I absolutely LOVE exploring this genre and the past few years have shown it, as I play catch up on binging numerous film franchises. This year's focus was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, with (I think) 9 films done within just a few short weeks. While I appreciated the genre in the past it’s not until the past five years have I really given the scares their due; I feel a bit sheepish in not checking these movies out earlier, but here we are anyway.
- 7 movies rated a perfect five star, and not a single one with half star (the lowest rating). I kind of told myself that I wouldn’t participate in the negative hype that’s overtaken various fanbases and internet forums in the past year or so, and I think it’s helped change my viewing of “bad” movies. While I’ve never been one to be upset after watching a particularly poor film, it was never something I celebrated – and now they are oftentimes the most interesting ones I watch and give some thought to afterward. Indeed, I want to try and find something positive in each one, even if it’s just one scene or something from the making of the film itself. That being said, I should probably be a little more forgiving and rate more titles five stars – nothing is perfect but some are worthy of that rating.
- Letterboxd gives me the “top films you missed” at the bottom of my yearly stats page, and I’m pretty satisfied in what it gave me: I recognize just a few of the titles, unlike in previous years where I knew full well that I was blowing past some awards-worthy cinema. I look forward to adding these to my watchlist and taking them in – the ones I do recognize just aren’t available in my region yet.
- I went to the theatre 31 times, which is another record (at least, since I’ve been keeping score). The negative to this is checking my budget and seeing exactly how much I’ve put into the local theatre chains, but I won’t feel bad for supporting movie houses and this hobby. I should probably spend less on soda though.
- Wait, 40% of 2019 films I rated 4 star or higher? That seems absolutely way too high, and I wonder if it’s the “theatre” effect: the “high” of going out to the cinema with friends that bleeds into the general sentiment to the film itself. It will be interesting to revisit some of these films and see if they are brought down a notch.
I’ve really cut back on my “Most Popular of the 80’s” project; I’m now at 75% progress, which is 135 out of 180. It became more of a chore than anything else, with some lengthy dramas staring me down and while I did overcome some fear of long movies (thanks to The Irishman) this year, I know myself well enough to not apply too much pressure, lest the list gets deleted altogether. I’m now following along with a podcast – The Evolution of Horror – as they tackle the history of different horror genres. I completed the slasher story, and I’m now onto ghost stories. These are satisfying to go through, as I get a solid mix of old and new films, and allows me to touch upon some films that I never would have given a chance to begin with. This results in finding some gems, like The Innocents, Peeping Tom and The Changeling.
After a particularly heavy month of horror in October, Cale and I decided to take on westerns for November. I gathered quite a few titles and watched one per week and was pleasantly surprised with a genre that I’ve given barely any time; sure, I’ve seen many of the bigger, more recent ones, but I’ve missed out on some particular classics and now have made a small dent in correcting that. My Darling Clementine and A Fistful of Dollars are two that immediately come to mind as standouts for my foray into this beloved genre.
Where do we go for 2020? I hope to continue with a healthy variety; continuing with a few westerns, following along with the history of some horror genres, and taking on a few more films from the 90s that I “missed” as a child. There are a couple of projects that I want to get started, including a "Marvel Mondays" so to speak, where I'll watch one Marvel movie (going from the beginning of phase one with Iron Man and ending on the last of phase three, Spider-Man Far From Home) then posting on the site with some (hopeful) regularity of every Monday. I recently picked up a Fast and Furious (one through eight) blu ray box set and I'm looking forward to diving back into that franchise as well. Furious Fridays, perhaps?
And with the benefit of being a bit LATE to a 2019 year in review, I can say that so far, January has seen quite a diverse range of films, with a focus on dramas. Indeed, I’ve been visiting films that I obtained a long time ago but for one reason or another, never put on. With a concentrated effort to mark these films as watched, I’m seeing some interesting entries that have gone overlooked for quite some time.
Of course, I hope to continue writing more as well. The Reel Film Chronicles was launched earlier this year with Cale, and has put me into a very positive headspace as an outlet for my movie hobby. I post all the reviews you see on this site over on Letterboxd as well, and it’s telling me I’ve put together 43 entries so far, which actually blows me away. I’ve tried taking a more casual approach to my film “reviews” and while I’m not sure they are any good, they are very satisfying to write. This is the type of project that I’ve needed for a long time now, and I’m happy to be able to share this site and my thoughts on film with you.