Monday, January 5, 2015

A Look Back at 2014 and a Look Ahead to 2015

Looking Back:

I had some major events in 2014.  I re-entered the work force after a three year sabbatical.  I also published a second book – a 15 year update to a genealogy I did in 1999.  Both of those things severely curtailed the amount of film watching I did in the first half of the year.  It also meant I fell into a pattern of posting only once or twice a week at this site.  I got the book out, but I still have the job, which eats up the majority of the hours in my day.

While the job and book were taking up most of my concentration I mostly put my movie list work on hold.  That’s where I try to see all the films in certain lists.  I was working on several at the same time before I stopped.  When I picked this activity back up I decided to concentrate on the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list.  I probably surprised myself the most with this, since I tend to think critics sometimes pick obscure movies simply for the sake of trying to appear cool, rather than for their actual quality.  And if there ever were a list of “critics’ films” this is it.  Nevertheless, it’s the one I picked.  I can’t honestly say why, other than it was on the spur of the moment and I simply stuck with it.

For the year that was 2014 I saw a total of 288 films that were new to me.  I also re-watched 14 other films.  Of those 288, 158 of them were for the TSPDT list.  Another 33 were for various other lists.  22 of them were in the month of January before I started my job and put lists on hold.

During 2014 I saw 27 “films” that I would rate at least 4 stars out of 5.  They are:

4.5 stars – Incendies (2010), Cloud Atlas (2012), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), The Fountainhead (1949), Heimat (1984) (TV miniseries), The Wind Rises (2013)

4 stars - His Royal Slyness (1920) (Harold Lloyd short), Sherlock: His Last Vow (2014) (TV movie), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), 21 Up (1977), 49 Up (2005), Mud (2013), Her (2013), The Hunt (2012), Rang De Basanti (2006), Philomena (2013), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Stoker (2013), Non-Stop (2014), Wadjda (2012), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Extended Edition (2014), Kwaidan (1964), Ruggles of Red Gap (1935), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Bunraku (2010)

As for 2014 films themselves, I still have yet to see most of the movies that will be nominated for Oscars.  As usual I will not do a Top 10 list for the year until I have had a chance to see most of the likely films, which means late February or early March after the Oscars have been awarded.

I can tell you right now that Guardians of the Galaxy will make my Top 10 unless this is one hell of a great year for Oscar films.  In addition, The Grand Budapest Hotel is quite likely to make my list.

Looking Forward:

My job should continue for at least part of the year.  I’m working as a contract Project Manager, so unless I do something really wrong the job should last until the project is complete.  At that point they may or may not assign me to another project.  I have no new books planned for this year, or any other large, creative endeavors.  This means my movie watching and movie posting frequency will probably stay about where they have been in the latter half of 2014.

I will complete the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They list – at least the main 1,000 films – sometime in the first part of this year.  There will be a new list in February, which may add dozens more films I have not yet seen.  There were 12 new films added to my already completed IMDB Year End Consolidated Top 250 at the 2014 year end.  I have seen six, so I will probably watch the other six films in January and February to once again complete this list.  I will also watch the dozen or so new additions to the already completed 1,001 Movies list when the new volume comes out in the fall.

As for other movie lists I don’t know which one or ones I might work on after finishing TSPDT.  There are the “low hanging fruit” situations where watching only a few more will complete a list: 3 films to finish off the Empire Top 301, 5 films to finish off the Empire Top 100 World Films, 2 films for the Golden Globe Best Dramas, 8 for the Golden Globe Best Comedy/Musicals, 6 for the BFI Top 50 Films for Children, and 11 for the TIFF Best Pictures.

Then there are the ones where some dozens will complete a list, some of which I had already been working on before putting them on hiatus: 64 to complete a consolidated list of Top British films (originally from Top 100 lists from Empire, BFI, and Time Out), 26 for the Cannes Palme d’Or winners, 34 for Roger Ebert’s Great Films, 28 for Empire’s Top 500, 20 for the Independent Spirit Award winners, 58 for Sundance winners, and 54 Oscar Best Picture nominees – plus whatever ones get nominated in 2015.

Then there are the four largest lists where I have hundreds to go: 145 left of the 607 films in the 101 [genre] Films You Must See Before You Die, 251 left of the 625 in the U.S. National Film Registry, 298 left of the 1,003 in the New York Times Top 1,000 Films list, and approximately 230 left of the films that used to be on the TSPDT list.

I suspect after I finish the main TSPDT list I will do some low hanging fruit, then some (but not all) of the middle ones, before finally tackling one of the bigger ones again.  I’m thinking the 101 genre films, since I have worked on it in the past.  And since it’s actually six separate genre lists this would allow me to complete them individually in smaller chunks.  For instance, I have only 19 left to go on the 101 Sci-Fi Movies You Must See Before You Die list.

In case you are wondering about some of the more well-known movie lists that you did not see me mention, here are the ones I have already completed (in chronological order): Consolidated IMDB Year End Top 250; all Oscar Best Picture winners; all AFI movie lists; all films that have been in the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die books; the Sight and Sound 2012 Critics’ Top 250; the Sight and Sound 2012 Directors’ Top 100; Entertainment Weekly’s Top 100 Films; and Time Magazine’s Top 100 Films.  If you still haven’t seen me name a list you think is a good one, please let me know.

In regards to posting, I will once again watch and review as many of the films that receive some kind of Oscar nomination as I can before the awards are handed out.  As always, the minimum will be all the Best Picture nominees, and full reviews will only appear for films I would recommend (at least a three star rating).

Finally, I will have an announcement in my next post about a shared endeavor with Steve Honeywell from 1001plus that will run throughout the year. 

I hope you all had a good 2014, and that you’re looking forward to 2015.

Note: all of the lists I mentioned and more can be seen/downloaded at my Lists from Chip site.


  1. Belated Happy New Year, and congrats with getting the book out. Incendies is a knock-out for sure.

    I really ought to watch The Fountainhead (1949) even though I've read some objectionable things about author Ayn Rand. Apparently her ultra right-wing belief is that empathy is irrational and selifishness is good. The rich should stay in power and the poor who can't take care of themselves should not be helped. Her last novel, Atlas Shrugged, which she calls her magnum opus, delves into this belief, or so I've heard. Her theory is called "objectivisme"

    Look forward to your best picture reviews!

    1. I haven't read anything by Rand, and the only movie based on her works that I have seen is The Fountainhead. It certainly puts forth the notion that a person owns their own accomplishments and creations - that they do not owe anything to anybody who wants to take advantage of those ideas/accomplishments. In this case it's a building architect (Gary Cooper) who will not compromise and turn over control of his designs to others no matter how much he could use the money. It doesn't get into any discussions of rich or poor that I can remember, other than Cooper is willing to be dirt poor rather than let others compromise his design visions.

  2. There are several Time Out London lists worth looking at in addition to their British film list. I'm actively (sorta) pursuing the horror list, but there are lists for science fiction (seen 77, reviewed 49), comedy (seen 72, reviewed 47), romance (seen 69, reviewed 66), animated (seen 49, reviewed 33), and action (seen 56, reviewed 37). There are also 50 movie lists for sports (seen 26, reviewed 16), Westerns (seen 28, reviewed 26), and World War II (seen 26, reviewed 24).

    There's a lot of crossover on the lists, and just in doing the Best Picture nominees and the 1001 Movies lists, you're in solid shape on most of them. Let me know if you'd like those lists--I can send them to you pretty quickly.

    1. I'd definitely be interested in those lists, especially to see how the six genres in the 101 [____] Movies You Must See Before You Die lists line up with them (Sci-Fi, War, Gangster, Action, Cult, and Horror). Thanks.

  3. Interesting; no films that you saw in 2014 were 5 star caliber? PS - unrelated to movies, have you been watching the PBS show "Geneology Roadshow"? I watched the first new episode from New Orleans and really enjoyed it. There will be a new episode next week.

    1. No, I don't watch much TV nowadays. I read a daily genealogy blog that talks about the various TV shows when they are going to air, but for whatever reason I've never sat down to watch one.

      One of the drawbacks to have worked on so many film lists is that I've seen most, if not all, of the films generally considered to be the greatest. That means that the ones I'm seeing now may still be damn good, but not quite be good enough for an all time classic five stars.

      And I tend to be stingy with that rating. I've only given about 1 - 2 percent of the films I've seen a rating that high (89 out of 6,783 right now on Letterboxd.) I'm not intentionally limiting it; that's just how it's come out.

      And as for new films coming along I tend to average about 1 - 2 per year. I'm still making my way through the films of 2014, but in the 10 years prior I gave five star ratings to: 2013 (0), 2012 (1), 2011 (2), 2010 (1), 2009 (4), 2008 (1), 2007 (2), 2006 (3), 2005 (2), and 2004 (0).

      I've got an additional 103 films at 4.5 stars and 551 at 4 stars.