I’ve mentioned in the past that I like to watch movies. I watch a lot of movies at home (on DVD/Blu-Ray, TV, Netflix streaming, Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu, etc.), but the home experience just can’t match seeing a movie on the big screen. Fortunately, I live in Austin, TX, which is the home of the Alamo Drafthouse cinemas, some significant film festivals (including SxSW, Fantastic Fest, and Austin Film Festival), and a decent arthouse theater. This means that I have plenty of opportunities to see a wide variety of movies, and I take advantage of them. Last year, I saw a little over 100 movies in theaters. Back in 2007, I saw nearly 130. But this year, a combination of factors made the number a bit higher. I expanded the range of theaters I attended on a regular basis, I was a badge holder at Fantastic Fest for the first time (and took full advantage of that), and I started watching less TV. But all that together still doesn’t quite account for my final in-theater movie count for the year. I really don’t know how, and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it, but I attended 512 theater showings in 2010.
Some basic statistics about the movies that I saw this year:
- I saw 254 different movies during or before what I consider to be their initial theatrical run. I wrote up my thoughts on nearly all of them at http://www.witamis.com/.
- An additional 43 showings were repeats of those first-run movies.
- An additional 3 showings were repeats of first-run movies I first saw in 2009.
- I saw 97 additional movies that were not in their first theatrical run but that I had never seen before.
- I saw 39 different movies at Fantastic Fest, which is the most a non-press attendee was able to attend.
- I saw 26 different movies at Austin Film Festival, which I believe to be the most an attendee was able to attend.
- 98 of the showings (nearly 1 in 5) included someone directly involved with that movie (e.g., an actor, writer, director, producer, or other crew member) in attendance.
- I attended 20 other showings with some other notable guest who wasn’t directly involved in making the movie but added significantly to the experience.
- I attended 20 Master Pancake presentations (a showing in which the movie was mocked by comedians in the style of Mystery Science Theater 3000).
- I attended 22 quote-along presentations, in which the audience is encouraged to recite key lines from the movie at the same time it’s said on screen.
- I attended 39 Terror Tuesday showings and 20 Weird Wednesday showings.
- I attended 2 Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow presentations, in which a classic movie was shown in a symbolic location.
- 61 of the movies I saw were primarily in a language other than English.
My Favorite Movie of the Year
This one is easy: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. This is the only movie that I’ve ever seen twice in the theater on the same day, and it’s the only movie I’ve seen in the theater seven times during its initial run. The first time I saw the movie was a special presentation with writer/director Edgar Wright, co-writer Michael Bacall, and cast members Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh, and Jason Schwartzman, and that was my favorite single showing and favorite Q&A of the year. I got the Blu-Ray/DVD set on the day it was released and have seen it many times, including all four commentaries, and most of the other extra features. I bought the soundtrack and have listened to it many times. I bought and read all six graphic novels on which it was based, and it may be somewhat sacrilegious to say but I actually think that the movie is better than the comic (despite a line in the movie which states otherwise).
I was extremely excited about this movie before it came out, and my expectations were greatly exceeded when I saw it. The more times I see it, the more I’m impressed by the tiny details that the vast majority of people will miss. It has a truly unique visual style that’s impossible to adequately describe without actually seeing it. It’s an absolute travesty that it didn’t even make back its budget, but for some reason people just didn’t go to see it. Hopefully it will make a ton of money from people buying it on DVD and/or Blu-Ray.
The Overall Best Movie of the Year
This one is also easy: Bedevilled. I saw it at Fantastic Fest and was blown away. I love Korean vengeance movies, and this is one of the best. It’s the first effort from director Jang Cheol-so (who was in attendance to introduce the movie and provide a Q&A afterward), and I can’t wait to see what else he has in store in the future.
Although neither The Man From Nowhere nor Kidnapped were quite as good as Bedevilled, they were both better than any other new movie I saw in 2010. Incidentally, I also saw both of them at Fantastic Fest.
The Best Mainstream Movies of the Year
Unfortunately, many of the movies that I consider among the best of the year were ones that only played at arthouse cinemas (and were therefore available only to people fortunate enough to live in a city with such a theater) or film festivals (and were therefore only available to an even smaller population). However, there were still a number of very good movies that I consider to be more “mainstream” and widely available. In my opinion, the following are the ten best movies that grossed at least 10 million dollars at the US box office and that I first had the opportunity to see this year:
- 10. Kick-Ass
- 9. The Town
- 8. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- 7. The Social Network
- 6. Toy Story 3
- 5. The Book of Eli
- 4. Inception
- 3. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
- 2. Black Swan
- 1. True Grit
There are a couple of honorable mentions that would have been on this list if they hadn’t fallen just short of the $10M cutoff. They include 127 Hours (which made $9.86M) and Get Low (which made $9.11M). And if The King’s Speech had been released a little earlier it might have also crossed the threshold before the end of the year. But I am both shocked and happy that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo did make the cut with just over $10M in the US (and another $100M worldwide) despite a runtime over 2 and a half hours and being entirely in Swedish with English subtitles. Incidentally, it is available for streaming on Netflix, along with its sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire, and the third movie of the triology The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest should be available for streaming by the end of January 2011.
Other Movies Worth Mentioning
All of the following movies made far less than they should have and/or weren’t as widely available as they deserved to be, but are still worth checking out if you get the chance. Many of them are already available on DVD and/or Blu-Ray, and a couple of them (Mother and The Good, the Bad, the Weird) are available for streaming on Netflix.
- A Somewhat Gentle Man
- Best Worst Movie
- Birdemic: Shock and Terror
- Exporting Raymond
- Four Lions
- Golden Slumber
- I Didn’t Come Here to Die
- Stingray Sam
- Temple Grandin
- That Evening Sun
- The Good, the Bad, the Weird
- The Secret in their Eyes
- The Square
- Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story
- Winnebago Man
- Winter’s Bone