Hey, Barbecutie

A Year In Film

Posted on: January 8, 2012

The only resolution for 2011 that I managed to keep (and how) was to catalogue every film I watched throughout the year. I watch a lot of films. Some pretentious and in foreign speak, some pointless and centred around bodily fluids. And a couple of them were pretty good. I think I probably expected some kind of grand epiphany. More likely, it was a symptom of a nervous breakdown. Nonetheless, it was the one area of my life I had any control over.

In 2011, I watched 159 films, which is around 13 a month or 3 a week. This says that I either watch too many or not enough films, depending on your point of view. My most cineaste month was January, implying that my enthusiasm for the project crumbled fairly earlier on. My least filmy month was November, implying that I was incredibly socially popular that month, and also that my laptop broke so I was unable to watch any dvds.

My most watched film was Bridesmaids, which I saw 3 times, which I suppose kind of follows, given that it’s a phenomenon, what with women turning out to be funny and also being able to wear dresses in magazines and all that. It is a very good film, so I’m okay with how it turned out. My least watched film is all the films that didn’t make my list, because I didn’t watch them.

I can’t say I disliked any film this year. I tend to be fairly open minded, and if I suspect I won’t like a film, I won’t watch it, as I’m a big fan of autonomy. There are plenty I wouldn’t watch again, but that’s more to do with how I will at some point die and would rather spend my remaining days watching new films and rewatching films I like a lot. I think that’s reasonable.

Amongst my favourite films of the year (new, not re-watches) were True Grit (2010), Bridesmaids, Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Martha Marcy May Marlene, but my favourite was Submarine. Submarine I saw twice, after starting to read the novel and losing interest very early on, but the combination of Richard Ayoade and some of my favourite actors got me extremely interested. On the first watch, I was disappointed. Something about it left me cold, a bit upset, really. Not that I was expecting banana skins, but it was so melancholy. But it stuck with me. After a few months, and the dampening of my own mood, I felt a weird, intense yearning to see it again. Then, I saw its wry humour, the admirably self-involved protagonist, the delicate sketching of relationship dynamics, self-destruction, wrapped up in a visually beautiful and creative shell.

I can’t resign the exercise without saying one last thing: this was really difficult. It took some of the pleasure out of the film-watching experience. I found myself assessing the quality of each film before I watched it, knowing that at some point I wanted to put the final list online. Could I live with myself knowing that my friends and respected peers knowing I spent an evening watching The Devil Wears Prada? So I switched over halfway through. (Perhaps what was more harrowing was the realisation of my own snobbery.) Of course there’s plenty of crap that did make it onto the list. But this kind of regimented examination sucked the joy from one of the most valuable elements of the process – the freedom. Cinema is meant, at its heart, to take you away. They tell fantastical stories, introduce characters that intrigue us, show us a familiar world in a new way. It’s hard to take a voyage through the medium with the albatross of self-image around your neck. This year, I will be watching whatever I damn well please whenever I want.

Below the cut is the complete list of every film I watched in 2011:

January
1. Wall-E
2. Drillbit Taylor
3. Rear Window
4. Mary Poppins
5. The Band Wagon
6. Inception
7. Badlands
8. A Film With Me In It
9. Bunny and the Bull
10. Rushmore
11. Blue Valentine
12. Flirting
13. The King’s Speech
14. Of Gods and Men
15. Sherlock Jr
16. The Year My Voice Broke
17. Dogtooth
18. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
19. 127 Hours
20. Zombieland

February
1. Sweet Charity
2. The Social Network
3. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
4. This Is England
5. Blue Velvet
6. True Grit
7. If…
8. Eagle vs Shark
9. Black Swan
10. Carry On Nurse
11. Beetlejuice
12. Boy
March
1. Live Forever
2. Bringing Up Baby
3. The Edge of Love
4. His and Hers
5. Submarine
6. Norwegian Wood
7. The Red Shoes
8. Repulsion
9. Wet Hot American Summer
April
1. Cave of Forgotten Dreams
2. Swing Time
3. The Life Aquatic…with Steve Zissou
4. War of the Roses
5. A Hard Day’s Night
6. Edward Scissorhands (over two nights)
7. Muppets Take Manhatten
8. Back To The Future
9. Dirty Work
10. Hot Rod
11. Cedar Rapids
May
1. There’s Something About Mary
2. The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
3. Shine
4. My Winnipeg
5. Sounds Like Teen Spirit
6. Hanna
7. The Wrong Guy
8. Modern Romance
9. An Education
10. Where The Wild Things Are
11. Attack The Block
12. DiG!
13. Submarine
14. No Direction Home
15. Grown-Ups
June
1. The Five Obstructions
2. Don’t Look Back
3. Kiss Me, Stupid
4. The Hangover 2
5. Cria Cuervos
6. Spellbound (2002)
7. Horse Feathers
8. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
9. Finding Nemo
10. Gonzo: The Life and Work of Hunter S Thompson
11. Bridesmaids
12. Wings of Desire
July
1. Songs From the Second Floor
2. Eagle vs Shark
3. Jurassic Park
4. Super
5. Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe
6. Barbarella
7. Bridesmaids
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt 2
9. Horrible Bosses
10. Au Hasard, Balthazar
11. Beginnings
12. School For Scoundrels
August
1. Whistle Down the Wind
2. Watchmen
3. Empire Records
4. The Little Mermaid
5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes
6. The Lives of Others
7. The Guard
8. Annie Hall
9. French Cancan
10. Role Models
11. The General
12. So I Married an Axe Murderer
13. The Inbetweeners Movie
14. Tootsie
15. Planes, Trains and Automobiles
16. American: The Bill Hicks Story
September
1. Aladdin
2. The Thin Man
3. The Darjeeling Ltd
4. Igby Goes Down
5. Pretty In Pink
6. The Ruling Class
7. Rosemary’s Baby
8. Attenberg
9. Harold and Maude
10. Fantastic Mr Fox
11. The Draughtsman’s Contract
12. Strictly Ballroom
13. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
14. Pocahontas
15. Up
16. West Side Story
October
1. Melancholia
2. Mulan
3. Drive
4. The Wicker Man
5. Martha Marcy May Marlene
6. A Serious Man
7. Take Shelter
8. Bright Star
9. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
10. Vertigo
11. We Need To Talk About Kevin
12. Psycho
13. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
November
1. Tabloid
2. The Philadelphia Story
3. Songs From The Second Floor
4. The Adventures of Tintin
5. An American in Paris
6. 50/50
December
1. Resistance
2. In The Loop
3. Ghostbusters II
4. Sarah Palin: You Betcha
5. Another Earth
6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
7. Arthur Christmas
8. Bridesmaids
9. How To Marry A Millionaire
10. Wall-E
11. Ratatouille
12. Cat People
13. I Walked With A Zombie
14. The Royal Tenenbaums
15. Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
16. My Idiot Brother
17. A Single Man

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