On average, a person sees five movies at the theater and 25 movies at home per year. In 2016 I saw 366.
I watch at least 150 movies a year without trying. “What’s another 216?” was the stupid thought that convinced me to watch a movie for every day of the year. Leap year! Why did it have to be a leap year?!
It was fun at first. Then it wasn’t. Then it was again. Then it wasn’t again.
This challenge gave me the opportunity to see movies I might have let languish in my queue. I mean, that’s where many were waiting in the first place. It forced me to try movies I might have dismissed. And it gave me a true appreciation of seeing a movie in a darkened theater where my full attention could be given to the screen. The experience was beneficial overall, but never again.
I know you, average moviegoer, won’t see a fraction of what I saw last year or even read everything I’ve written. However, I would like to highlight a few for you to consider when you are sitting at home or, better yet, inspire you to get out to your local theater. These highlights are listed alphabetically within their categories. They aren’t ranked because they are all worth watching.
- rob braithwaite.
ps: some of these movies are now streaming in various places: Amazon Prime [AP], Netflix streaming [NS] and Hulu [H]
THE GATEWAY FILM CENTER
The Gateway Film Center is a non-profit theater here in Columbus that brings movies that never would have been shown here otherwise. Here is a small sampling of the movies exclusively shown by GFC in 2016. We are lucky to have such a theater in town.
Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words
The Fits [AP] This movie made me realize the importance of going to the theater. Had I watched this at home chances are my mind would have drifted and my hand would have reached for my tablet. That distraction would have had significant impact on my investment of the main character, causing me to miss out on one of the purest moments of joy I’ve ever seen in a movie.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople [H]
I Am Not a Serial Killer [NS]
In a Valley of Violence
Shin Godzilla - GFC was the only theater in Ohio to screen this.
Too Late [NS] - This was filmed in 35MM and, per the director’s insistence, only projected in 35MM. Since most theaters have gone digital, there weren’t many places it could have been shown. Not only did GFC show the movie but also the accompanying short film. The short is not included with the streaming version. So, thank you, GFC.
The Gateway Film Center will spend 2017 screening 101 cult movies. You can see the full list here as well as the schedule.
WEXNER CENTER FOR THE ARTS
I didn’t go to The Wex often, but when I did it was certainly worth it. They screened the restored version of Metropolis as a live band provided the soundtrack. One month there was a retrospective of Kelly Reichardt’s movies. She was in attendance for the screening of her new movie, Certain Women, and participated in a Q&A afterwards. In February, The Wex will present a William Friedkin retrospective. Info here.
WOMEN IN FILM
Not long after I decided to spend the year watching 366 movies, I heard about a simple request from the Women in Film organization: “Will you watch a film a week by a woman for one year?”
The purpose of the request is to raise awareness of female directors. So, rather than listing the movie titles, here are ten women who made very good to great movies.
Anna Boden (w/Ryan Fleck): Mississippi Grind [AP], Sugar
Kelly Fremon Craig: The Edge of Seventeen
Clea DuVall: The Intervention [AP]
Lucile Hadzihalilovic: Evolution
Anna Rose Holmer: The Fits [AP]
Liza Johnson: Hateship Loveship [NS], Elvis & Nixon [AP]
Karyn Kusama: The Invitation [NS]
Kelly Reichardt: Wendy and Lucy, Night Moves [H], Meek’s Cutoff [NS], Certain Women
Sophia Takal: Always Shine
Agnés Varda: Cleo from 5 to 7
NICOLAS CAGE IN FILM
Nicolas Cage was in five movies this year.
Army of One (great)
Dog Eat Dog (decent) [NS]
Snowden (good) he’s hardly in it, but it’s worth it to see his “He did It!” scene. I’m not sure it was supposed to be as funny as I found it.
The Trust (really good) [NS]
USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (garbage)
The most enjoyable part of writing about each movie was coming up with a good companion piece. Here are ten of my favorite double features.
Army of One / Zero Dark Thirty
The Bicycle Thieves / Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Breathless / Miami Blues
Dogfight / Tigerland
A Field in England / Event Horizon
Hell or High Water / The Blues Brothers
The Satan Bug / 12 Monkeys
Spotlight / Shattered Glass
Sweet Smell of Success / L.A. Confidential
The Witch / Black Death
All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records [H]
A Band Called Death
De Palma [AP]
Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words
Lambert & Stamp
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made [NS]
Stories We Tell [AP, H]
GIVE A HOOT. READ A MOVIE.
If English is the only language you know, then you’ll have to read along.
THE BEST OF 2016
It’s been a few weeks since I made this list. I knew then that I would feel differently now about what goes on it. I could replace all ten and still think it’s a good list. “Best” is relative and headache-inducing. Here are ten great movies released in 2016.
THE BEST OF PRE-2016
If I thought paring down movies from one year was rough, here comes the rest of the 366 to choose from. Again, these are all good. Why are you busting my balls?
BETTER THAN I EXPECTED
Low expectations can come from many places. The trailer wasn’t good. Some movie I’ve never heard of is now available. I don’t like that writer/director. These ten movies proved they deserve more respect than I initially gave them.
AVOID AT ALL COSTS
Remember when I said everything here was worth watching? There are exceptions to everything.
One arbitrary rule I gave myself was that all 366 movies had to be new to me. Maybe that was a mistake considering how many I’d seen over the years. This would have been a little more fun if I were one of those average moviegoers. As it was, it felt like I was in the weeds sometimes.
What I missed most last year was being able to re-watch something, to watch an old favorite or something I hadn’t seen in a long time. 2017 will be spent getting back to the repeaters. Here are a few that came to mind last year that I was unable to watch.
… or is it? I recently heard about another movie challenge where the movies are linked by the actors. Say you start with Taxi Driver. Your second movie could be anything, but it must share an actor with Taxi Driver. So, let’s say… Albert Books. Albert Brooks was also in Defending Your Life, which also stars Meryl Streep, who was in Postcards from the Edge. And so on. This challenge is only 100 movies. Totally doable.
coming up Thursday: Four Cents - Rob & Ricki and Oscar, Part One: Our Top 10 Movies 2016