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2011 in Films: A Year-Long Cinematic Odyssey Through 1,117 New-To-Me Films

Last year I watched 517 new-to-me films and I thought that number was ridiculously large. Well, this year not only did I reach that number, I surpassed it with an additional 600 new-to-me films, bringing my grand total to 1,117 new-to-me films for 2011. Don’t believe me? There’s a list after the cut of every film, broken down by month so you can see just exactly what films I watched. I don’t know how to explain how I watched so many films. I will say, it all started with a bet from CybelDP on Twitter. The rest, as they say, is history.

Some life information: for the first half of the year I worked as a substitute teacher (which meant only 1 to 2 days of work a week) and lived in the back of my parents’ house and watched Turner Classic Movies non-stop. From the end of May on I moved to San Francisco, where I now go to the Academy of Art University working towards an MFA in film editing. Yet, somehow amongst all that I managed to watch A LOT OF FRICKIN’ MOVIES. I also watched a lot of movies in theaters (thank you very much Castro Theatre) for the first time that were films I’d already seen. If you take a look at each of my monthly wrap-ups, I talk about what films those were.

Last year in my end of the year post I wrote about how many films with certain stars that I’d seen and stuff like that. The sheer volume of films I saw this year makes that task pretty difficult. I will say, I saw a lot of films featuring the following and if you want to try to look through my list and figure out exact numbers, be my guest: Orson Welles, Buster Keaton, James Cagney, Lew Ayres, Joseph Cotten, Joel McCrea, Glenn Ford, Henry Fonda, Ray Milland, Robert Taylor, Ryan O’Neal, Joan Blondell, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and Jean Harlow. There are probably others whose filmographies I put giant dents in this year, but those are the ones that really stuck out. Speaking of filmographies, I also finished a handful of director filmographies this year: Woody Allen, Jim Jarmusch and Martin Scorsese. I also came close to finishing off Orson Welles, Stanley Kubrick and Elia Kazan and watched a bunch of films by Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Fritz Lang and John Ford. I also discovered a love for Westerns that I never knew I had (well, other than Clint Eastwood westerns, which I always loved). Oh, and I’ve only got 76 Best Picture nominated films left to see. That’s out of 487 films total, so I think I’m doing pretty well there.

One last thing before I reveal the list and my favorite new-to-me film of the year: in this past year I have felt more intellectually stimulated than I have ever felt before. Everyday I watched films and every film that I watched I gathered new information and my brain felt so alive and so active; it’s an amazing feeling for sure. I would go to bed thinking about the films I’d watched that day and the actors and directors and screenwriters that I learned about. I would think about Cedric Gibbons and Douglas Shearer and the amazing jobs they did at MGM and Irving Thalberg’s genius and how I wish I could be as prolific as Woody Allen. Then I would wake up the next day and start all over again and the more I watched the more everything fit together, the more I got from every film because I could see how it fit within the framework of cinema’s history. It was an amazing year of discovery and reflection and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

And, now, without further ado, the list. Ps. there’s more writing after the list, so please keep reading! Also, for some reason WordPress can’t handle a bulleted list that has four digits, so it cuts off the numbers towards the end of the list. But I think you can still figure out what’s what.
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It’s The Last Month of the Year in Film!

Well, so the year is over. I will refrain from wrapping up the year right now because I intend to write a nice long(ish) wrap up post tomorrow. But I felt December deserved a proper 2011 in Films post just like every other month of the year got. I’m also not going to write about any of the 2011 releases I saw in December (I fit A LOT in at the eleventh hour), because hopefully you read my Favorite Fifteen Films post from earlier today already. December saw a slight decline in film watching, partially because of finals and partially because I’ve been visiting my parents (who, as you may remember, live in the middle of nowhere) for the last two weeks. I did, however, watch all nine Lew Ayres Dr. Kildare films thanks to their TCM and DVR, so that’s pretty fantastic. Now I’m just rambling (that may be because it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m drinking a white russian and listening to big band tunes), so I’m just gonna to stop writing now and after the cut you’ll find the list of all the new-to-me films I watched in December, plus some thoughts on five that really stuck out.

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Noirvember, New Releases and Reaching 1000+ New-To-Me Films

November was a great month of film watching for me.Or should I say, Noirvember. How did y’all do with your film noir watching last month? I managed to watch thirty new-to-me noirs (roughly one a day, though some days I couldn’t watch one, so I made it up by watching two on others). I’ve indicated below which films are the film noir ones with a (fn) after the title. I also watch several new releases in theaters, though I will admit none of them made it into my “featured” section this month. Mostly that’s because I watched a 2011 release – on PBS – that I liked more. The Woody Allen documentary they aired as part of their American Masters series was utterly too fantastic and yes, I am counting it as a film because it played like a film and if it weren’t on PBS it could have been a stand-alone film for sure. In terms of films at the Castro, I also saw lots of great films (though only three new-to-me): Rebel Without A Cause, Bigger Than Life (new-to-me), In A Lonely Place, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Than Man Who Fell To Earth (new-to-me), FernGully: The Last Rain Forest, Romancing The Stone (new-to-me), Ishtar, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Deconstructing Harry, Stardust Memories and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This was a great month for me and Woody Allen.  I also reached 1000 new-to-me films (you can read about that feat here). Actually, I ended the month with 1051 I believe. What a year for movie watching! As always, the list of all the films are after cut, as well as my five “featured” films.

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A 2011 In Films Special: 1000 New-To-Me Films

So I did it you guys. I saw 1000 new-to-me films this year. And it’s…only November. So I’m guessing by the end of the year I’ll be well past this goal. It’s been a great experience watching all of these films. I’ve never felt so intellectually stimulated in my whole life. There are just so many wonderful films out there to watch. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the time to watch as many films as I have had this year, so I’m glad I took advantage of the time while I had it.

I chose Bruce Robinson’s cult classic Withnail & I as my 1000th film because I’d been meaning to watch it for years. It did not disappoint.

Oh, and in case you’re curious you can see what the 1,000 new-to-me films were here.

Shorts, Documentaries and Horror, Oh My! October 2011 in Film

This was  a great month of films for me. I saw all kinds of fantastic films, including several 2011 releases (and one 2011 release that was just awful). As usual, I also saw several really great classics on the big screen at the Castro (Brighton Rock, The Third Man, Dinner At 8, Libeled Lady, the Moroder version of Metropolis, The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus). I also went to the Roxie theater for the first time this month. This Saturday Midnites for Maniacs did a triple feature of Laura, the Twin Peaks pilot and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. I did an interview with Jesse Hawthorne Ficks, who runs Midnites for Maniacs, over at YAM Magazine. You might notice I also watched a lot of short films this month. This was mostly due to a class I am taking that requires us to watch three to five shorts a week outside of class and then often we watch one or two in class. I really recommend you watch Validation if you’ve got about 17 minutes to spare. It is fantastic. As always, full list of films after the cut.

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September Films Do So Much And For So Long

I always wanted to work Big Star’s September Gurls into a post, thank you September for existing. This was a great month. I started my second semester back at grad school (I’ve switched my focus, too! From Screenwriting to Film Editing). I actually only saw two films at the Castro Theatre this month, but one of them made it into my five featured films, so more on that later. I also saw seven 2011 releases. Oh and I got the internet back! Even with classes four days a week, I still managed to watch on average a little over 2 new-to-me films a day. My total for the year so far is 905 (yes, really). As always, my monthly round-up is after the cut.

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The Castro Theatre, Ryan O’Neal and Other Film-Watching Exploits In August

So I managed to watch a little bit less new-to-me films in August than I did in July. That’s okay, though, because I saw so many great films at the Castro theatre (I’m quite the regular there now). I saw The Big Sleep, Key Largo, Moulin Rouge!, Meek’s Cutoff (new-to-me), Limbo (new-to-me), Bad Education, Law of Desire (new-to-me), Talk To Her, All About My Mother, The Flower of My Secret (new-to-me), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (new-to-me), 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: The Year We Make Contact (new-to-me), Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Days of Heaven, Badlands, The Philadelphia Story and Holiday. All of those were double features except Moulin Rouge! and all of them were well worth the admission price. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: nothing beats seeing a great film on the big screen. I’m just glad all these great films were showing in the month between the summer semester and the fall semester so I had time to see them. I also read a handful of screenplays (hey, I’m studying to get an MFA in screenwriting, I better be reading screenplays!) So far I’ve read L.A. Confidential, The Piano, Good Will Hunting, American Beauty, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, The English Patient, The Last Detail and Chinatown. It sure is interesting to see how a story starts out on the page and winds up the same, but different, on the big screen. As for my new-to-me list, most of the films I saw I loved (this was another month were it was hard to come up with just five featured films), but I also saw a few I really hated. Today is the first day of the fall semester and I’m taking three classes, so I have no idea what my free time is going to be like or how many new-to-me films I’ll manage to watch. Gonna shoot for at least one new-to-me a day though. As always, the full list of my August new-to-me films is after the cut.

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July! July! Silents, Westerns and the end of the Red Vic

July was filled with lots of classics seen on the big screen, lots of silent films – including the glorious four days that was the San Francisco Silent Film Festival – and a handful of westerns. I saw nine films at the Castro Theatre (not counting the 35 features and shorts I saw during the SFSFF) – two of which I had never seen before. Before you freak out at the costs – most of those were double features (so two for $10). At the Red Vic I saw five films – again, two of which I had never seen before. Sadly on July 25th the Red Vic closed its doors for good. Lastly I saw The Red Shoes at the Balboa (a theatre I can’t wait to get to know better). I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, but there is just nothing like seeing a film – whether it is classic or modern, new-to-you or an old favorite – on the big screen. It is just magical. Also in July I found myself falling in love with classic westerns. I grew up watching Clint Eastwood westerns as a child, but I never thought I would find myself so drawn to these other classics, most of which starred either John Wayne or Henry Fonda (in one case, both!). I’m so glad I gave them a chance, because most of the ones I’ve seen have been fantastic. But enough intro, the full list is after the cut.

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Movies, Theaters, Joseph Cotten, Popcorn and Fun – June 2011 in Film

So I saw far less films in June than I did in the first five months of 2011 (you can see all those lists here), but I also had a lot of personal changes in June. For one, I moved back to San Francisco at the end of May. This has led to 1) more movies in theaters and 2) mostly movies at the Castro Theatre and the Red Vic (which, sadly, is closing on the 25th!). I saw several films that I’d already seen before at those theaters. It also takes time to get to those theaters, thus less time to sit in my room watching movies. But the experience of seeing these great films (I saw Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm and Wings of Desire, among others!) more than makes up for the time it takes away from seeing other films. I have eaten so much popcorn in the last 30 days, you don’t even know. Haha. The other big change was I started grad school two weeks ago. While it is film school that I am going to, the classes do not just consist of watching films. Actually, we just watch clips and so far it’s mostly been of films I’ve seen before. And in the one class that we are watching feature films (on our own), I’ve already seen 9 of the 15 films, so that is exciting! Long story short, I saw less films in June than previous months. That being said, I also saw more really great films this month. Picking just five films to talk about is going to kill me. As I write this intro I still haven’t decided which five I am going to emphasize. I will say most of the films I watched in June deserve your time, so if you see one on the following list that you’ve always meant to watch but haven’t, just go ahead and watch it already!

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May: 101 New-To-Me Films and One Big Move

So for me the month of May started at  the last day of the TCM Classic Film Festival (you can see my coverage of that festival here at YAM Magazine). On that last day I saw one new-to-me film (Night Flight) and one of my all time favorites (West Side Story). What a great way to start the month! I saw less films this month than the other months in 2011 (you can see all those posts here), but I did manage to finally see all 123 film in the combined AFI 100 Years. . .100 Movies lists (the last two I needed to see were The Grapes of Wrath and Intolerance). I did A LOT of subbing towards the end of the month and I also MOVED TO SAN FRANCISCO. Yes, my friends, I am back in the big city. I love it here. My grad school starts up on the 20th, so my film watching will probably decline a little. But I do have big plans to see classic films on the big screen often at the Castro Theatre and I’ll actually be able to see all kinds of new releases. So this is great. The one downside: no. more. TCM. or DVR. This is going to be tough. I love TCM so much. I will miss that channel. I’ll probably go through withdrawal. But enough sadness, on to the 101 new-to-me films I did manage to watch in May.

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