A new year has (finally) dawned, and you know what that means! Time for metrics yessssssssssss.
I kept detailed records and statistics on all the films I watched in 2016. Unfortunately, I did this in one of the worst years for movie-watching I’ve had in a very long time. I don’t mean the movies were bad; I mean my consumption of movies was at an all-time low, and the variety of films I sought out was pitiful.
Still, before we move forward, it can be instructive to look back, yes? So before I get to my 2017 movie-watching resolutions, let’s take a peek back at 2016.
2016: Not Great, Bob!
I watched a grand total of 78 movies in 2016. Only 21 of these were new-to-me, leaving 57 that were rewatches. The vast majority of these films were watched in January, no doubt in a frenzy of optimism about the new year (similar to what I’m feeling now). You can see below how the rest of the year measured up.
April spiked due to a Marvel Cinematic Universe rewatch project I undertook for Rogues Portal, and December peaked again thanks to me looking back and realizing, shit, I’ve barely watched any movies at all this year. Otherwise, the numbers stayed pretty low.
I was especially bad about seeking out diverse films this year. Only 3 (The Matrix trilogy) of the 78 films I watched were directed by women, and only 2 (Akira & The Tale of Zatôichi) were in a language other than English. I didn’t keep track of whether or not the director of a film was white or not, but I suspect my numbers there would be nearly as bad. Thanks to poor mental health, I was extremely passive about what movies I sought out and watched this year. It doesn’t require much effort to seek out films by women and people of color, but I was evidently incapable of even that small effort. This isn’t an excuse; poor mental health or no, I should have done better. More on this below.
The films I watched this year were predominantly from this decade; 28 were released in 2010 or later.
You can see above that the earliest film I watched was from 1942 (Hitchcock’s Saboteur). Indeed, other than Michael Curtiz’s White Christmas (1954), everything from before 1960 was by Hitchcock. Due likely in part to so many of the films I watched being recent ones, the vast majority — 40 — were rated PG-13. 18 were R, 14 PG, 4 not rated. and only 2 (2001: A Space Odyssey and Cleopatra) were G. None were X or NC-17.
7 films were seen in the theatre (2 being Rogue One), and the rest (71) were seen at home.
I spent a total of 10,054 minutes watching films in 2016. That’s 167.54 hours, and 6.98 days. The longest film I watched was the extended edition of Return of the King (263 minutes). The shortest was Hitchcock’s Rope at a brisk 80 minutes. 43 of the 78 films were longer than two hours; 7 were longer than three hours. Only 2 (Return of the King and Cleopatra) were over four hours.
As for directors, Hitchcock appeared the most (6 films). Next was Justin Lin (5), thanks to a Fast & Furious series viewing (& Star Trek Beyond). After that was the Russo Brothers, thanks to the fact that I evidently watched The Winter Soldier and Civil War twice (for a total of 4).
So what does this all mean? Well, like I said above, I was very passive in my movie-watching this year. I stuck with films I had mostly seen before, and mostly unchallenging ones at that. I didn’t make the slightest effort to seek out films from women, people of color, or other nations. I largely stayed in the American white male wheelhouse. And while it’s not as if American white men don’t make good movies, their perspective is just one of many, and one I myself am already intimately familiar with.
So let’s do better in 2017, eh?
2017: Let’s Do Better, Bob!
I had a bit of a revelation this year, while watching the second or third episode of Luke Cage. I realized, with a start, that this thing I was watching wasn’t made explicitly for me.
That wasn’t a bad thing, and it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the show. If anything, it enhanced it. But I felt a little taken aback, and even a little ashamed. As a white straight American male, the vast majority of content I encounter is made, more or less, explicitly for me. Encountering something like Luke Cage and expecting it to be similarly tailored to my tastes and experiences — despite both the creator and the characters being part of an American sub-culture I’m not a part of — was, in retrospect, silly, and a little racist. It was also refreshing as hell. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d watched something — especially something American — that wasn’t aimed squarely at my demographic. It’s a position of absurd privilege, and I felt ashamed for not having sought media outside my immediate comfort zone in a very long time.
So that, along with the sobering statistics we went over above, has led to my ten movie-watching resolutions for 2017. In 2017 I will watch:
- 52 movies directed by women
- 52 movies directed by people of color
- 52 non-English movies
These first three resolutions are all inspired by the shocking lack of diversity in my film-watching from 2016. In 2015 film critic Marya Gates spent the entire year only watching films directed by women. She scaled that back in 2016, but still committed to watching at least 52 films directed by women. Inspired by her example, I see no reason I can’t do the same, not only for women, but for other marginalized voices in our community. The non-English-language movie resolution is to keep me seeking yet more diverse perspectives; even by expanding to women and people of color, it would still be easy to have an American-centric view of the world. I specified non-English-language specifically because it would be easy to count films from England or Australia as “diverse” while still maintaining a western-centric view of the world. Specifying foreign language films should hopefully help me push that box outward a little further.
- 52 new-to-me movies
- 52 movies in the theatre
- 52 movies from before I was born (1980)
- 12 documentaries
These next four resolutions, again, simply stem from me looking at my habits in 2016 and wanting to branch out. In 2016 I mostly watched movies (a) I’d seen before, (b) at home, and (c) from this decade. I want to change that. I love seeing movies in the theatre, but sometimes it’s hard for me to make the effort to get up and go. This year I’m going to make the effort. And as someone genuinely interested in film history, I definitely need to make a greater effort to look at movies from long ago — not just before 1980, but from cinema’s beginnings, as well. And I’ve also always been terrible about seeking out documentaries, so I wanted to make some slight effort in that regard as well.
- Every movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock
- Every movie from Hayao Miyazaki and/or Studio Ghibli
- Every Godzilla movie
These last three are simply filmmakers or serieses I’ve been meaning to tackle for a while, and never gotten around to. Why not watch all the Hitchcock, Ghibli, and Godzilla? It’ll be fun.
Naturally, a single film can count for more than one category. If I watch The Pleasure Garden, for instance, it will count for new-to-me, pre-1980, and Hitchcock. If I watch 13th, it counts for new-to-me, director of color, woman director, and documentary. You get the idea.
I should add that I’ll be resurrecting my long-dormant Letterboxd account and writing, however briefly, about each film I watch. Follow me there (or on Twitter, where I’ll be maintaining a year-long thread with every movie I watch, with links to the Letterboxd reviews). I’ll also try and post updates here on the blog every month or so, checking in with how I’m doing.
I guess that’s about it! I’m excited — both to have concrete goals to work towards, and simply for all the great movies I’m going to watch this year. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get started!