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Saturday, January 01, 2022

Movies I Watched in 2021


I know, I know, over 3,000 movies is too many movies to watch in one year. Please remember that at least half of these are shorts ranging from 10 seconds to 20 minutes in length. 

To my surprise and disappointment, I still haven't seen a movie in theatres since 2019 (The Rise of Skywalker, blech). 

Some of my favourites from 2021, along with a graph of when I was watching.

In 2021, I continued my efforts to broaden the geographical and genre range of the films I watch. The United States still dominates, but I'm glad to see strong representation from Japan and Europe. I need to watch more Indian films. My ratings follow a pretty typical bell curve, and I think that's because I'm not seeking out good or bad films in particular; I'm just watching anything that seems interesting. 

You'll probably remember a lot of these faces from last year. Mel Blanc, James Stewart, Cary Grant, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Bruce Willis, and Gary Cooper made my most-watched list last year and return this year as I work to complete their filmographies. Tracking down their older and lesser-known films can be pretty challenging, but between streaming services, YouTube, TCM (before we cut our cable), and physical media, I've managed to screen virtually all of the well-known works and a sizeable portion of obscuria. 

I really want more women on my all-time stars list, hence Bette Davis' strong showing here. It helps that she's great. But who's John Livingston? Well, in a fit of nostalgia, I tracked down and watched all of those Hinterland Who's Who you might remember from Canadian television back in the 70s and 80s. John Livingston narrated them all. 

There are a lot of big names on this list, but I'm betting most audiences today will only recognize Woody Allen, John Ford, and maybe Neill Blomkamp. Anime fans will recognize Hideaki Anno; he's here because I watched all of his Evangelion work and went on from there to watch some of his earlier efforts. Ford and Allen are here because I'm working through their filmographies; the rest mainly because I'm watching many, many films from the 1890s to the 1910s. Alanis Obomsawin is an Indigenous Canadian; she's here because I spent some time exploring films from the NFB. 

Here's the map for 2021. North America, Europe, and Oceania dominate the numbers, but I did try to add more movies from South America, Africa, India, Russia, and the Middle East. 

If you're masochistic enough to be curious about what I watched in 2021, you can find the entire list on my Letterboxd page in reverse chronological order. 

My New Year's Resolution for 2022: fewer movies, more books. This is not a diss on movies; it's just that I clearly need more balance in my leisure time. 


Jeff Shyluk said...

I'm catching up in the shorts category.

I've watched precious few movies of any kind, and I think the last time I was in a theatre was for the same movie you saw. I haven't even watched that much television from this season.

Instead, I've discovered "Toon In With Me" on MeTV. Weigel Productions, a television studio conglomerate based out of Chicago, has been building the world's largest collection of "Saturday Morning" cartoons, mostly Warner Bros., MGM, Hannah-Barbera, Mirisch-Freleng, and Fleischer. They put them out in that Toon In With Me show every weekday morning. There's five or so shorts, interspersed with kitschy skits in each hour-long episode.

I thought it would be a fun idea to watch all of the shows, so I've been recording them. As it is, I have watched 150 shows so far, and there are another 100 waiting on my DVR. So far there have been no reruns. When they said the collection was big, I had no idea. I hope I survive to the end.

It's taken over my life. I don't really have time for much other television. On the other hand, I've become highly educated in the timeline of all of these shorts: as an animator myself it's been equal parts entertaining and fascinating.

Earl J. Woods said...

Sounds very cool! All of those studios have released some truly classic work over the years.

Jeff Shyluk said...

There is a lot of criticism regarding the level of craftsmanship in short-form media from shows back then versus now. No doubt, the technology we wield now is superior. In my own work, I've been able to totally encompass classical technique within contemporary media. This means that as a solo artist I can complete projects that would have taken a studio to accomplish back in the day.

On the other hand, some critics believe that storytelling and presentation is worse now than it was before, that the lessons we've learned from Tex Avery, or Chuck Jones, or The Nine Old Men have been either lost or overtaken by commercial concerns. It's possible we look at those older cartoons with too much nostalgia, but on the other hand our recent efforts to reproduce that sort of short-form movie haven't caught the public imagination. Most shows are just tie-ins to another commodity, like the Family Guy Star Wars cartoons, or else they reach for the low-hanging fruit of lampooning popular culture, like the Family Guy Star Wars cartoons.

Recent Disney shorts are largely experimental, kind of like they were back in the day when the studio needed to try out new technology. That's not a bad thing, but you know that some things will work while other ideas crash.

You do seem some really fresh concepts on YouTube and also coming from indie studios: those shows tend to be niche.

Someday, I hope you share your thoughts on the evolution of short-form media! Maybe you can peer into your crystal ball and see what the future holds.