I saw 76 movies in the month of December, plus one TV mini-series, plus one movie re-watch. I achieved my goal of completing the entire AFI consolidated list of movies (412 in all). It wasn’t easy finding some of the last ones left, but I managed to squeak it in just before the end of the year. I had started on AFI’s first two lists years ago, but then didn’t really bother with all the rest that they issued afterwards. During the summer this year I noticed that I was down to only about 40 remaining to see and I started a concerted effort to finish them off by the end of 2012. If you would like to see this consolidated list and/or get a tracking sheet of your own, you can find it here.
In regards to hard to find AFI movies I want to single out one of them. 1959’s Porgy and Bess (#92 on AFI’s Top 100 Passions list) was shown on TV once in the 1960s, and then withdrawn from circulation in 1974 over copyright and content squabbles. It has never been legally released on either VHS or DVD. If you’ve got a copy, hang onto it. The version I saw was the one shown on TV in the 1960s, which had around 15 minutes cut out of it for the broadcast. This is pretty much the only version that can be found (it runs 2 hours). If you live near
then keep an eye on film festivals. A collector in that area owns an uncut print and every few years he allows it to be shown at a film festival. New York City
Currently, the two main lists that I am taking movie suggestions from are the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list and a list I put together of every Oscar Best Picture nominee. You can see those lists by clicking on these titles: 1,001 Movies; Oscar Nominees. I passed being 75% complete on both of these lists in December.
I’d like to thank Siobhan (aka siochembio) at Film Flammers for loaning me a whole box of DVDs from the 1,001 Movies list. They were close to half my total for the month. When you get a chance, check out her site. She saw many of the 1,001 Movies years ago, and then hit a dry spell. This year, though, she has gotten her second wind and has not only returned to watching the films on the list, but has increased the reviews she has been writing for the rest of us, too.
Here are the 76 new movies I saw in December. Highlighted movies are ones to which I would give at least three stars out of five. I will single out the four and five star films, as well as the worst films, in the paragraphs below the lists.
1,001 Movies (44): Le Million (1931), Trouble in Paradise (1932), Pepe le Moko (1937), Dance, Girl, Dance (1940), Boudu Saved from Drowning (1931), Murder My Sweet (1944), I Know Where I’m Going (1945), My Darling Clementine (1946), The Lady from Shanghai (1948), Orpheus (1949), Pickup on South Street (1953), Ugetsu (1953), High Society (1956), Last Year at Marienbad (1961), Repulsion (1965), Get Carter (1971), Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), The Last Wave (1977), The Defiant Ones (1958), L’Atalante (1934), The Last Battle (1983), The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (1939), Diary of a Country Priest (1951), A Man Escaped (1956), Before the Revolution (1964), Tokyo Olympiad (1965), Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), Fires Were Started (1943), The Spider’s Stratagem (1970), The Ear (1970), Ringu (1998), Open Your Eyes (1997), Taste of Cherry (1997), Ali Zaoua, Prince of the Streets (2000), What Time Is It Over There? (2001), The Piano Teacher (2001), The Cranes Are Flying (1957), Horror of Dracula (1958), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), The Son’s Room (2001), A Tale of the Wind (1988), Winter Light (1963), W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971), L’Argent (1983)
Oscar Nominees (7): Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Airport (1970), Rachel, Rachel (1968), Alfie (1966), The Sand Pebbles (1966), Lady for a Day (1933)
AFI Movies (11): Fame (1980), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Sophie’s Choice (1982), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Paper Chase (1973), Morocco (1930), Show Boat (1936), Anna Karenina (1935), Porgy and Bess (1959), Cape Fear (1962), A Cry in the Dark (1988)
Other Movies (14): La Bete Humaine (1938), Help for the Holidays (2012), Christmas Matchmaker (2012), Airport 1975 (1974), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), Le Plaisir (1952), Arthur Christmas (2011), Ponyo (2008), Listen to Britain (1942), Killer Joe (2012), Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), The Debt (2011), La Ronde (1950),
Re-watches (1): Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)
TV Series (1): Planet Earth
I had no new five star films in December. My four star films were Trouble in Paradise (1932), La Bete Humaine (1938), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Arthur Christmas (2011), Show Boat (1936) and Lady for a Day (1933). Trouble in Paradise is a really fun movie about con artists made just before the Hays Code started to be enforced. La Bete Humaine is a Jean Renoir movie based on an Emile Zola story. It stars Jean Gabin and Simone Simon. It was made in the late 1930s and anticipates one of the big genres that came along in the 1940s. I don’t want to give away too much about it. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is yet another classic film from 1939. Charles Laughton stars as the title character. Any other year and this film would have cleaned up at the Oscars. Arthur Christmas is a fun Christmas movie from Aardman Animation. It brings the Santa story into the modern day, while still reminding us about the joy of the holiday. The 1936 version of Show Boat is generally considered the best version of the musical. (There was a partial sound version in the late 1920s and a color version in the 1950s.) I wasn’t expecting the depth of emotion in the film. I was expecting “just a musical.” I still catch myself repeating the lyrics to some of the songs from this film in my head. And man could Paul Robeson sing. Lady for a Day is an early Frank Capra film. I know some people hate his movies for being so positive, but I am not one of them. I like happy movies and I liked this one a lot. A woman who has been pretending to be well-to-do so her away-at-boarding-school daughter will not be ashamed of her suddenly has to act the part now that her daughter is bringing her fiancée with her so the families can meet.
With over 70 movies watched in December, I did see my share of stinkers. I won’t mention all of them, but I will single out one. What Time Is It Over There? (2001) is not a horrible movie, but it is an aimless one and I just wasn’t in the mood for that kind of film when I saw it. It is another of the head scratchers from the 1,001 Movies list.
In 2012 I saw 581 movies that were new to me. Among those 581 films, 317 were from the 1,001 Movies list and 72 were Best Picture nominees. Prior to 2012 I never explicitly tracked the films I watched, so I do not know how this year stacks up to other movie watching years for me. My guess is that it is a larger number than usual. My decision in February to actively start working on the 1,001 Movies list, and with it the resumption of watching Oscar nominated films and the movies from the AFI list, gave me incentive to see more movies.
This year I completed the consolidated IMDB 14 year Top 250 list that I had been building over the years (524 movies in total). I also completed the consolidated AFI movies list. I went from just under half complete to just over three quarters complete on the 1,001 Movies list. I finished off all the 1990s and 1980s Oscar Best Picture nominees that I had not already seen, and took a big cut out of the 1970s.
I saw forty-four 2012 movies during the year. The best of them all was The Avengers. It is the only 2012 movie I’ve given five stars to so far. (Note: I have not seen any of the late 2012 Oscar-bait movies yet.) You can read my very positive review of The Avengers here. Two other very good 2012 movies are Safety Not Guaranteed (my review) and
. Note: I do a Top 10 of the prior year in late February/early March (after doing my Oscars posts) because it gives me a chance to see most of the late year movies before compiling a list. Moonrise Kingdom
I haven’t seen any really horrible 2012 movies yet – something I would give one star to. A few of the worst that I saw are This Means War, Battleship, and The Amazing Spider-Man.
Looking ahead into 2013, in theory I should be able to complete the 1,001 Movies list before the end of the year. That’s based on keeping up the same pace of watching that I had in 2012 and I don’t know if I will do that. At some point I am going to have end my sabbatical and re-enter the workforce and when I do that will cut into the time I will have free to watch films and write about them.
I think I probably will not complete the Oscar Best Picture Nominees in 2013. Technically, it’s impossible to complete the list because one film has no surviving prints and two others exist only in single prints kept in the UCLA Archives. Aside from those, I’m working on the Oscars list at a slower pace than the 1,001 Movies list, so even though I’ve got only 122 left here, compared to 253 of the 1,001 Movies, I think only the 1,001 Movies will be complete by the end of the year. We’ll see.
And I am working on integrating the 2012 year end IMDB Top 250 list into my consolidated and weighted tracking sheet. It will now span 15 years. There are eleven films appearing on the list for the first time, five of which I have not seen yet. I will watch those as they become available. I will be placing the new 15 year spanning list on my Lists from Chip site when it is ready. I am also updating all the other tracking sheets there, as well as adding some new ones (i.e. Sight and Sound, National Film Registry). When I have these updates complete I will make a post here announcing it.