In 2021 I spent a lot of time fighting off the rigmarole of “movie reviews” or “film criticism” by doing “projects” instead. I’ve linked to the projects of the year, as well as some individual posts that I think are representative of the kind of criticism I wanted to do this year. I’ve chosen thirteen links, which is a little bit less than ten percent of the total number of posts on this website.
1) Twice this year I broke out the ol’ Internet rolodex and sent out Google Forms to track people’s favorite movies from Disney franchises. Thanks to the pandemic (thanks, pandemic!), I had some time to watch all of the first twenty-three MCU movies. My introduction to that project, which includes my annotated rankings, a meta-analysis of different outlets’ rankings, and most interestingly, a ranking compiled from normal people’s rankings, is here: Marvel Cinematic Universe Ranking – Landing Page.
2) I did something very similar with Pixar once I had more practice. Once again, it’s now slightly out of date thanks to Luca, but the same principles apply: Pixar Landing Page and Personal Rankings. (Now’s a good place to restate my sincere gratitude to everyone who helped out with the poll aspects of those projects by voting, sharing, or both.)
3) The MCU and Pixar analyses of different critics’/outlets’ rankings of those franchises definitely spurred my interest in seeing how different directors’ oeuvres are viewed by said critics and outlets. I did several of these. Here’s one about the films of Stanley Kubrick: Stanley Kubrick Meta-Analysis.
4) The project which took the most time and energy for me this year was a rejoinder to AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars list. There are thirty entries in that series, which you can find links to at: Better than AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars Introduction.
5) A quicker project from this past month, a rejoinder to Empire‘s hilariously strange list of their 100 greatest films of all time, was a rubric-based list of the top 100 blockbusters of the multiplex era (1972 to the present) in the United States. I discussed those movies based on shared themes. You can find the list with links at: Top 100 Blockbusters of the Multiplex Era: Introduction
6) The final bit of pique in response to professional listmakers I’ll highlight was made in response to a Vanity Fair article listing their twenty-five most influential movie scenes of the last twenty-five years. This is less a challenge to their list, which I think is really good, and more like an addendum of an extra twenty-five scenes for my own part: Better than Vanity Fair’s 25 Most Influential Movie Scenes
7) Last and almost certainly least in terms of what normal human beings are interested in, I watched all the Andy Hardy movies in the space of a month or so this summer, and in my fascination I took it upon myself to rank and talk about each of those films: The Andy Hardy Movies: Ranking
That leaves me space to highlight six individual film reviews, which still make up the majority of what I put on this blog. I’ve picked some posts which hit on different types of movies or moviegoing experiences for me.
8) A recent film: Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020), one of the best movies I’ve seen from 2020.
9) A John Ford: Judge Priest (1934), in my opinion the best of the three collaborations Ford had with Will Rogers, and a deceptively tricky film about the 19th Century South after Reconstruction.
10) A movie that surprised me: Ryan’s Daughter (1970), a David Lean picture that’s typically denigrated in favor of some of his other movies from the 1950s on, but which absolutely stands up to any other non-Lawrence of Arabia epic in his filmography.
11) A documentary: Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt (1989), an unbelievably poignant film which achieves its beauty through the simplicity of its form.
12) A pan: Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), because some movies just aren’t good and we should say so. More than that, we should say why.
13) A perfect movie: Le bonheur (1965), which I saw in January and kept its title as the best first watch I had in 2021 for the rest of the year.
From me and your pal Snoopy, happy reading!