Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 – A Look Back at a Year in Movies

Note: This post is not specifically about the films that were released in 2013, but rather the ones I watched during the year.  I will do my annual Top 10 of the prior year list towards late February/early March when the Oscars are over and I have had a chance to see most of the acclaimed 2013 films.  I haven’t seen many of the potential Oscar nominees yet.

2013 Movie Milestones:

·        In January I joined Letterboxd and rated over 5,000 of the films I had seen.  I had to add hundreds they didn’t have.  Other than the 1990s, I never have gone back and tried to do a thorough check for the movies I missed.
·        In February I completed watching the new films that had appeared on the IMDB Top 250 list for Year end 2012.  I had seen the 500+ other films from the 1998-2011 year end lists, so this was just “re-completing” the whole.
·        In May I completed the Entertainment Weekly Top 100 Films of All Time list.
·        In July I completed the entire 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list.
·        In October I completed the 49 new September 2013 additions to the 1,001 Movies list.  I also completed the Time Magazine All-Time Top 100 Films list and the Sight & Sound Directors’ Top 100 list.
·        In December I completed the Sight & Sound Critics’ Top 250 list.

In 2013 I saw a total of 666 films that were new to me.  Really.  I wasn’t even trying to hit that number, so what are the odds?  I actually double checked my math to be sure.  There are a dozen or so shorts in the big total.  I also re-watched 22 movies in 2013.  I had a high of 106 films (and 5 shorts) in March and a low of 5 films in August.  Of those 666 films I had 2 I rated five stars, 7 I rated four and a half stars, and 48 I rated four stars.

Here are those 57 movies I saw in 2013 that I rated at least 4 stars.  Among them are 13 non-English language films, 3 animated films, 7 documentaries (plus 3 more “mockumentaries”), and 4 silent films.  The four star films are not presented in any kind of ranking within the star rating, but simply the order in which I saw them.  You will perhaps note that three of them had exclamation points in their titles.  This did not in any way affect my ratings of them.  Probably.  J

Five stars (ranked):

1.  3 Idiots (2009) – a comedy/drama from India all wrapped within the mystery of a classmate that disappeared.

2.  Gimme Shelter (1970) – a contemporary documentary on the Rolling Stones’ 1969 U.S. tour which ended with the killing at Altamont.

Four and a half stars (ranked):

3.  Departures (2008) – Japanese film with poignancy, unexpected humor, and great beauty.

4.  POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011) – documentary from Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) on product placement in films…that was entirely paid for by product placements in the film.

5.  Django Unchained (2012) – Tarantino’s most recent film.

6.  The Last Command (1928) – Emil Jannings’ crowning achievement, and that’s saying something considering his acting career.

7.  The Other Dream Team (2012) – documentary on the battle the lesser known Lithuanian Olympic basketball team went through to make the 1992 Olympics against the celebrated Americans.

8.  Wreck-It Ralph (2012) – a fantastic journey down memory lane for anyone old enough to have played arcade games as a kid, as well a genuinely entertaining story.

9.  Thor: The Dark World (2013) – a worthy successor to The Avengers and much better than the first Thor film.  It takes its place alongside the first Iron Man film as the best of the individual Avengers movies.

Four stars (not ranked):

Elmer Gantry (1960)
Life of Pi (2012)
She Gets What She Wants (aka Slap Her, She’s French) (2002)
Ruby Sparks (2012)
Argo (2012)
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Bernie (2012)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)
Side By Side (2012)
Friends (with Benefits) (2009)
The Nines (2007)
Man Bites Dog (1992)
The Story of a Cheat (1936)
The Bishop’s Wife (1947)
The Intouchables (2011)
Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell (2012)
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Johnny Belinda (1948)
Shaft (1971)
The Secret World of Arietty (2010)
Too Big to Fail (2011)
Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Day for Night (1973)
Sayonara (1957)
Tonight You’re Mine (2011)
Whisky Galore! (1949)
Real Life (1979)
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
Hysteria (2012)
Turn Me On, Dammit! (2012)
The Great White Silence (1924)
The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
F for Fake (1973)
Now You See Me (2013)
Delicacy (2011)
Castaway on the Moon (2009)
Placido (1961)
Your Sister’s Sister (2011)
Jack Reacher (2012)
Much Ado About Nothing (2013)
Les Miserables (1935)
One Hour With You (1932)
Souls for Sale (1923) 
Micmacs (2009)
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
Gravity (2013)

The longest films among these are 3 Idiots (170 minutes), Django Unchained (165 minutes), and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (161 minutes).  The shortest are The Adventures of Prince Achmed (65 minutes), One Hour With You (80 minutes), and Tonight You’re Mine (also 80 minutes).

In addition to the lists I completed during the year I am actively working on several others.  Here are my year end statuses for them.

Film List
How Much Complete
Oscar Best Picture Nominees:
445 of 503
101 [Genre] Films You Must See Before You Die:
456 of 607
They Shoot Pictures Don’t They – Current list:
801 of 1,000
They Shoot Pictures Don’t They – Complete list:
966 of 1,395
Empire Top 100 World Films:
95 of 105
Empire Top 500 Films of All Time:
465 of 500
Roger Ebert’s Great Films:
321 of 374
Consolidated Top British Films:
108 of 178

And two other major lists I have that are mostly dormant for now:

New York Times Top 1,000 Films list:
681 of 1,002
U.S. National Film Registry:
358 of 600

And just for the sake of completeness, here are the movie lists I finished before 2013:

IMDB Top 250 15 Year Consolidated and Weighted list:  535 of 535
Consolidated AFI Best Films list: 412 of 412

Note: the 2013 Year End IMDB Top 250 list has yielded 8 films that I have not yet seen, so I will be working on knocking those off as soon as I can.  The new 16 year Consolidated and Weighted IMDB Top 250 list now has 552 films on it.  It can be seen/downloaded here.


  1. Wow, just wow. I am in awe.

    If you ever think you are running out of lists, here's an annual exercise done by the Classic Film Board on IMDb. It ranks an additional 1,000 films not on the TSPDT list: Not that you need a list!

    Again, I am in awe.

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words and the list. I took a quick look at it. Do you happen to have it in an Excel or Word format so I can save it to my computer?

    2. I'm all set. I followed some links from the one you gave and found a link to the Google docs version of the list. I saved it off. I did a quick pass and I've only seen around 300 of them.

      For what it's worth: some of the ones you guys "added" to the TSPDT list are already on the whole list, just not the current 1,000. They are among the 395 films that were on a prior list, but not on the current one. I've got a consolidated TSPDT list at my Lists from Chip site, if you are interested. Just follow the link on the upper right.

    3. Right. The films that fell off the list are always automatic nominees for the Doubling Exercise. I don't think that means that they necessarily make the Doubling the Cannon list.

      I try to see if I can find any films out of the 2000 when I am researching what films to watch for a given "year" in my chronological exercise. The ones on the CFB Doubling list tend to be even harder to locate than the ones on the TSPDT list.

  2. Oh dear, 666 / : I hope you don't believe in bad luck and all that stuff.

    I haven't heard of The Other Dream Team, glad you enjoyed it. I've been meaning to watch Hoop Dreams for a while, since I heard Roger Ebert went gaga over it.

    I'll be taking a look at that extended IMDB Top 250 list, thanks for sharing.

    1. I wrote a review of The Other Dream Team here, if you are interested:

      And I also consider Hoop Dreams to be a truly great film - five stars.

  3. Wow. I feel like I watch a lot of movies, but I'm barely at 150 for the year. You nearly saw that in March. That's very impressive! Nice work on completing all the lists.

    Glad to hear that you have such a high opinion of Gimme Shelter. I was blown away by it and need to watch it again.

    1. I was expecting just a concert film for Gimme Shelter, but when it became a comment on the entire process of the music, and especially the Stones' reaction to the events at Altamont as the watched the actual footage, that lifted it to the next level for me. Mick Jagger's disturbed expression at the end stayed with me for a while.

  4. You, sir, are a machine. I stand humbled in your list-mastering presence. And based on your pace, my guess is you'll complete multiple lists this year, too.

    1. Thanks. If things go according to plan, I'll have something else taking up my time and reducing the amount of movies I can watch. I should know in a week or two.

      And the secret to finishing lots of lists is that there is crossover among all of them, so once you complete a large one like we have you're probably already starting a smaller list with at least 50% complete. And even among the smaller ones, I combined three separate Top 100 British Films lists and the result was only 178 unique films from among the 300 total.

  5. That is an awful lot of movies. Close to two per day.

    1. And quite a few days (especially in August) I didn't watch any at all. There were some days where I would watch five or six.

  6. 666 first-timers? Fucking hell!!!

    1. Thank you. I've been waiting for someone to make a "hell of a year" comment, or a pun to that effect. I deliberately didn't use it myself in the post because I was curious if someone else would come up with it, too. :-)