Wednesday, January 1, 2014

December Movie Status

I saw 33 new movies in the month of December, plus I re-watched 3 others.  Last month I mentioned I had found myself working on several different movie lists and as a consequence had some films that I simply could not locate.  Please see my prior post for big news on that.

Because I had only one film left to complete the Sight and Sound Critics’ Top 250 list, and because it was one of the movies I was able to finally obtain in December, I finished off this list by watching the nine hour documentary Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2003).

Where that leaves me is actively working on the following lists: Oscar Best Picture Nominees, the six 101 [Genre] Films You Must See Before You Die lists, They Shoot Pictures Don’t They, Empire’s lists of the Top 100 World Films and Top 500 Films, Roger Ebert’s Great Movies, and three different lists of the Top 100 British films of all time.  Many of these overlap, but I am showing films under only one list’s count in the details below.

All of these different lists can be seen by clicking on the names of them.  They link to my Lists from Chip posts on them.

Although not complete, I did pass 800 entries seen of the 1,000 on the current TSPDT list.  I’m also approaching 1,000 seen of the entire 1,395 entries that have ever been on the list, although passing this milestone could be further off.

Here are the 33 new movies and 3 old ones 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.

Oscar Nominees (2): The Love Parade (1929), Alibi (1929)

101 Genre (6): I Spit on Your Grave (1978), Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978), Frankenhooker (1990), The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960), City Streets (1931), Battle of Britain (1969)

SSC (1): Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks (2003)

TSPDT (9): The Act of Seeing with One’s Own Eyes (1971), Empire (1964), Liebelei (1933), Under the Bridges (1946), Anatahan (1953), Minimata: The Victims and Their World (1971), Variete (1925), The Italian Straw Hat (1928), The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

Ebert (1): Departures (2008)

British (0):

Empire World (0):

Empire Top 500 (0):

Other Movies (14): Wedlock House: An Intercourse (1959), DesistFilm (1954), The Heat (2013), The Big Empty (2003), The King’s Skeleton: Richard III Revealed (2013), Frozen (2013), The Guilt Trip (2012), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013), 30 for 30: Youngstown Boys (2013), Gravity (2013), Orgasm, Inc. (2009), Computer Chess (2013), Red Dawn (2012), Daydream Nation (2010)

Re-watches (3): It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Jack Reacher (2012), POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2012)

TV Series (0)

I had no five star movies in December, although one came close.  Here are the four star films I saw:

I avoided Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner Departures (2008) for some time thinking it would be depressing.  Instead I found a film that is poignant in places, surprisingly humorous in others, and above all a work of great beauty.  I gave it 4.5 stars on Letterboxd and when I watch it again it might move to five stars.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) is definitely better than the first Hobbit film in that it is a lot less silly.  Radagast the Brown and his bunny-drawn sled are barely to be seen.  Book purists may be bothered because a majority of what appears onscreen in this film comes from the imagination of the screenwriters, not Tolkien.

Gravity (2013) definitely has a lot going for it, especially the visuals and Sandra Bullock’s performance.  I think it’s a lock for her to get another Oscar nomination.  There are some unfortunate errors during a couple critical moments of the film that harmed the impact of it for me, but if you do not know much about physics you won’t even notice them.

I had several one star films in December.  Empire (1964) probably takes the cake because it is nothing but an 8 hour 5 minute 13 second long static shot of the Empire State Building.  That’s from Warhol.  Brakhage brings us The Act of Seeing With One’s Own Eyes (1971), which is nothing but 30 minutes of real human autopsies.  Thanks TSPDT for this one-two punch. 

(Please see my next post for my look back at 2013 as a whole.  Last year I tried to combine both in a single post and it was too unwieldy.)


  1. I also avoided Departures but ended up absolutely loving it. Wishing you a 2014 full of good movies!

    1. I'm glad to hear you loved it, too. I wish the same for you in 2014. Thanks.

  2. Gravity was awesome. I expected something entirely ridiculous and found a real out in space experience. wow.
    Happy new year Chip.

    1. I'm glad you liked it. Happy New Year to you, too.

  3. I'm looking forward to Gravity. I don't know whether I'll notice the physics-related errors, but I don't think that will bother me. I go into this movie prepared to suspend disbelief about that kind of stuff. :-)

    1. A clarification on Gravity: for much of the movie they do a very good job getting things like the weightlessness and action/reaction correct. In fact, it's one of the better films I've seen do that. It's very well made. In a way it's that attention to detail everywhere else that made the couple of errors in key situations more noticeable to me. It's a Catch-22 situation: if they had never bothered to try to get things right, those couple of scenes wouldn't have stood out for that at all, but if they hadn't gotten things mostly right it wouldn't be as good a movie.

  4. As someone now committed to 6 Oscar lists and 3 horror lists, I'm intrigued by some of these, but I think my plate is pretty full at the moment.

    1. You've already taken on more than I would have on those. I've eased my way along for Oscars. I created a list of all the winners in the Picture, Documentary, Foreign Film, and Animated Film categories, but only ever made an effort to see the Picture and Animated Films. I then created a list of all Best Picture nominees. As I've neared the end of that I've created a list of all winners for Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Sup. Actor, and Sup Actress, which I haven't really worked on yet. At each stage I took on a little more. You're going full bore right from the start with all nominees in all those categories.

      And to be frank, I never intended to be working on so many separate lists at once. It's that right now there is crossover among them and when I made an effort a few months ago to track down hard to find entries on some lists I decided to do it across several of the uncompleted lists I had. Since I then acquired some it's seems like that effort would be wasted if I didn't go ahead and watch some of them, hence I end up with several lists active at once.

      Truth be told, I'm not really working on the two Empire lists, the British films lists, or Ebert's list, except where there is crossover or where something catches my fancy. I'm going to actually give a year end status on where I am with them in my next post.