Inspired by the Doug Benson Movie Challenge, I attempt to watch 365 movies over the calendar year of 2017. Any genre of film is eligible, including documentaries and Netflix originals, as long as it’s something I haven’t seen before (you’ll have to trust me on that). The hope is I can cross off some films I’ve been dying to see for ages but have never gotten round too, as well as discover some gems I might never have come across otherwise.
As a fun little twist, every couple of weeks I will be drawing a random genre/category of film to focus on for the week’s viewing. This should hopefully keep things fresh.
With the rules out of the way, on with the show…
The List So Far…
- The Good Dinosaur (dir. Peter Sohn, 2015)
- Your Name (dir. Makoto Shinkai, 2016)
- Star Trek Beyond (dir. Justin Lin, 2016)
- Notes on Blindness (dir. Pete Middleton, 2016)
- Le Samourai (dir. Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)
- I am Not a Serial Killer (dir. Billy O’Brien, 2016)
- Bridget Jones’s Diary (dir. Sharon Maguire, 2001)
- Keanu (dir. Peter Atencio, 2016)
- La La Land (dir. Damien Chazelle, 2016)
- Train to Busan* (dir. Sang-ho Yeon, 2016)
- Don’t Breathe* (dir. Fede Alvarez, 2016)
- Nosferatu* (dir. F.W. Murnau, 1922)
- Carrie* (dir. Brian De Palma, 1976)
- Re-Animator* (dir. Stuart Gordon, 1985)
- Jack Frost* (dir. Michael Coon, 1997)
- Blair Witch* (dir. Adam Wingard, 2016)
- What We Did on Our Holiday (dir. Andy Hamilton & Guy Jenkin, 2014)
- The Devils (dir. Ken Russell, 1971)
- Eddie the Eagle (dir. Dexter Fletcher, 2016)
- Chef (dir. Jon Favreau, 2014)
- The One I Love (dir. Charlie McDowell, 2014)
- Steve Jobs (dir. Danny Boyle, 2015)
- Manchester By The Sea (dir. Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
- The Killing (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1956)
- In the Heat of the Night** (dir. Norman Jewison, 1967)
- Shakespeare in Love** (dir. John Madden, 1998)
- The Sting** (dir. George Roy Hill, 1973)
- Mutiny on the Bounty** (dir. Frank Lloyd, 1935)
- Patton** (dir. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1970)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (dir. Gareth Edwards, 2016)
- Little Men (dir. Ira Sachs, 2016)
**Best Picture Oscar Winners Week
I wanted the first month of the year to be used as an excuse to catch up on all the films I missed from the year before, which is why there were 6 films from 2016 in my first week alone. A long haul flight allowed me to get a couple of days ahead of the curve, as well as gave me a chance to watch a film I had wanted to see for months, Makoto Shinkai’s spectacular Your Name. Even on a 10-inch screen the film’s beauty shone through, taking the traditional body-swap genre and turning it into something poetic, combined with gorgeous animation. Nothing else this week came close to matching it’s beauty, although La La Land was undeniably toe-tapping fun. A real treat if somewhat hollow.
Week 2- Horror Week
Another mix of catching up with some of the bigger horror titles from 2016, mixed in with some classics. Horror is a broad enough category to allow me to explore around the sub-genres, sampling a mix of zombies, vampires, found footage and even some low budget nonsense. Times change, and predictably the older films don’t quite hold up when it comes to out and out scares, but things like Nosferatu (framing), Carrie (studied in repressed teenage-angst) and Re-Animator (remarkable practical special effects) all had something to offer. Train to Busan was the highlight of the week. A relentless bloodbath of close-quarter rampaging zombies that still managed to include strong characters, subtext, and even a little heart.
Back to a random mix, mostly selected for their watchable nature. What We Did On Our Holiday, Eddie the Eagle, and The One I Love were all enjoyable enough, but it’s unlikely I’ll remember any of them by the end of the 365 films. In contrast The Devils, Manchester By The Sea, and The Killing could all be in the ‘best of’ list at the end of the year.
Week 4- Best Picture Oscar Winners
This turned out to be tougher than expected. A quick Wiki search after the draw was made revealed I had already seen most of the Best Picture Films that were of interest to me. Shakespeare in Love was pretty much the most recent winner that I had not seen already and seemed like an easy enough choice (I’m not desperate enough to tackle A Beautiful Mind- not yet at least, and Chicago can wait until I draw the musicals category). The rest of the weeks viewings consisted of out and out classics; In the Heat of the Night deserved its nod for such a frank look at race relations in the south in the 1960’s, all the while touting the classic tropes of great film noir. The Sting is unashamedly good fun, although I’m shocked by how closely grifter movies have stuck to its template in the four decades that followed.
By and large it’s been a great month; Your Name, Notes on Blindness, Train to Busan, La La Land and Manchester By The Sea all rank amongst the best of 2016. Le Samourai, In the Heat of the Night and The Killing represent three equally brilliant but very different crime thrillers, while The Devils was a blissful orgy of sinful decadence and religious hypocrisy.
Nothing too disastrous thus far. Jack Frost and Bridget Jones’s Diary weren’t my cup of tea, but delivered exactly what I was expecting from them. Keanu was a fun enough watch, but failed to produce any substantial laughs and so has to be classed a failure. As does Don’t Breathe, which I had high hopes for and was impeccably directed by Fede Alvarez, but disappointingly never got me to the edge of my seat. The curse of high(ish) expectations strikes for the first (and presumably not last) time this year.
Performance of the Month
Many standouts once again, Charles Laughton is irresistibly despicable as Captain Bligh in Mutiny on the Bounty, a performance that renders his grotesque make-up work redundant. Pretty much everyone in Manchester By The Sea deserves praise for managing to carry the weigh of grief and mourning present in the film while still managing to breathe life and even fragments of humour into proceedings. But there is one performance than stands head and shoulders above the rest; Oliver Reed’s lung bursting, scenery munching, put-upon Clergyman Urbain Grandier. The entire film is operatic decadence of the highest order, thanks in no small part to his powerhouse performance.
Top 5 of the Month (in no particular order)
Train to Busan
In the Heat of the Night
Breakdown by Decade
Days to Film Ratio
Pretty much 1:1 so far which I can’t complain about, although I was hoping to open up a bit of a head start in the first month while I’m still fresh. Come May I will be working much longer hours until the end of August so it will be important to get ahead of the schedule by then to give me a fighting chance of finishing the year at 365.
That’ll do for this month, tune in same time at the end of February.
You can also track my progress in (almost) realtime over on Twitter. Be sure to send me any suggestions for films you think I might like.