Friday, December 30, 2011

Yearly Round Up - The Best Films I Saw in December + Links + Future Plans

Hello everyone. I hope you all had a great Christmas. It's the exciting time of the year where everyone is thinking back on the year that has passed and all of the films they have seen, and coming up with lists of their favourite films. I came up with my 2011 Buckle Awards and an unofficial 30 Best Films of 2011 list and I'll be linking to lists made by my colleagues early in the new year. As I didn't write a links post on Monday - it was Boxing Day and had to work the busiest cinema day of the year (or so we thought - turns out the 27th and 28th can be busy too) - I thought I'd finish 2011 with my usual column, the December round-up, and one final links post. Unfortunately, over the next week I'm not going to have much time to write. I am working at my cinema a lot - and with the exception of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (released January 5) I don't have any reviews to work on. I posted my review of The Iron Lady last night, which is a bit of a sad way to end the year. I remember at this time last year I was writing reviews for Blue Valentine and Love and Other Drugs. I saw them back-to-back on the 29th of December. Amazing how fast a year disappears. Here's a link to a list of my 25 Best Films of 2010 from early March - comprised of films (with the exception of The Social Network) I have thought very little about since then. January and February are certainly exciting months with Hugo, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Young Adult, The Artist, Shame and Carnage amongst the high-profile films I am yet to see scheduled for a release.

Before I get into the links I'd like to run through my stats for the year. They are stats that may not be repeated ever again. This is my 534th post of 2011, which means that I have averaged about 44 posts a month. That is a pretty extreme pace. Not all of these were reviews, usually around 20 or so, but also comprised of a mix of weekly regulars (Monday Links and Releases), film news and trailers, the occasional essay or list. As many of you might not know, but perhaps you assume, this pace took a pretty big toll on me over the year. I have worked like crazy to keep this blog full of interesting material, and the reward has been great. Of course there are some days when you wonder if it is all worth it, but when I think about all of the talented writers and journalists (and many have become great friends) I have met this year and shared discussions with, it is definitely all worth it. Still, I felt like I might need a little bit of help, so I asked my friend Dominique, an ambitious and talented writer, if she'd like to work on some reviews. Her review of Roman Holiday was wonderful and I look forward to her future contributions.

I will have to decide if I am going to keep my weekly segments (I'd like to) or perhaps introduce some new ones. Also, with increased screening opportunities for new release films, I'll have to decide whether or not to watch and review as many older films as I did this year. I have been selecting a director each month and worked through their filmography. To name just a few I covered Tarkovsky, Cronenberg, Altman and Godard. I enjoyed it immensely but I don't know if I will be able to keep this up. As I am planning a trip overseas in August/September, I will have to have more paid work between now and then, meaning I will have less time to write. As a result, I may be sticking predominantly to new releases, and constructing shorter reviews. Does anyone feel like my reviews are too long?

I doubt I'll be watching a film today or tomorrow so that leaves my final film tally for the year at 371. I surpassed 365 last week (which became my goal when I realized it was realistic). I doubt I'll ever watch this many films in a year again. These weren't just new releases, but also older films that were new to me this year, and re-watches of films I had seen previously. Sometimes you feel like relaxing to an old faithful, rather than be challenged by a new and unique experience. I remember in December last year (actually it was December 18) when I had just 41 page views for the entire day. This month I have been surpassing 1,000 page views nearly every day, and am heading towards 30,000 for the month - easily the biggest one yet. It's been incredible to see Film Emporium continue to grow. I also had about 11 followers back then and would love to break through the 100 barrier (I'm sitting on 98) before the end of the year.

So, on with the links and later, my 'Essential Viewing' selections from December:

Steve @ 1001 Plus has a different opinion than most on Martin Scorsese's new film, Hugo.

Alex @ And So It Begins recently watched A Dangerous Method, The Artist and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I will be waiting until I see them before checking out his thoughts, but based on his grades, I gather it was a disappointing day at the cinema. He's always a great read, so be sure to check them out.

At Anomalous Material Max looks at What Makes a Masterpiece and Nick lists 10 Movie Characters To Spend New Year's Eve With. Also Sam and Red have vastly different takes on David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

For another great write-up about Dragon Tattoo, check out Phil's @ Phil On Film. He's one of the best writers on the web.

CS @ Big Thoughts From A Small Mind is catching up on 2011 with capsule reviews of Tabloid, Rango, The Ides of March, Cars 2 and Contagion. I am yet to see Tabloid but I think he gets it spot on with all of these.

A local buddy of mine, Chris Elena, shares his thoughts on Steven Spielberg's War Horse. I agree with him in almost every way.

James @ Cinema Sights recently recommended I check out Winnie the Pooh. Check out his review to see why.

Tom Clift is currently traveling abroad, but he is still managing to write amazing reviews. Check out his take on the controversial shock-horror film, Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, at Cut Print Review.

Sam @ Duke and the Movies also catches up on Tabloid and collaborates his and his fellow Fresno film critic's Best Movies of the Year.

Max @ Impassioned Cinema catches up with A Separation, one of the best films of 2011.

Corey Atad @ Just Atad has been championing War Horse all week. I don't share his enthusiasm for the film (it actually didn't work for me at all), but Corey's review is still a great read.

Steven @ Surrender to the Void takes a look at some of the Most Anticipated 2012 Releases.

Ryan @ The Matinee reviews Roman Polanski's Carnage, which isn't getting a cinema release here until February.

I watched a total of 26 Films in December (down from previous months, but whatever):

First Viewing (Cinema) The Adventures of Tintin, Attack the Block, The Muppets, New Year's Eve, Melancholia, Tower Heist, Puss in Boots 3D, The Women on the 6th Floor, We Bought A Zoo, The Skin I Live In, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows and The Iron Lady.

First Viewing (DVD/Torrent)Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 1967) Code Unknown (Michael Haneke, 2000)Trust (David Schwimmer, 2009), Wasted on the Young (Ben C. Lucas, 2011 and Bellflower (Evan Glodell, 2011).

Re-watched (DVD/Torrent)The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966)Army of Darkness (Sam Raimi, 1993)Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg, 2007)2 Days in Paris (Julie Delpy, 2007)Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010)The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Niels Arden Oplev, 2010) and Senna (Asif Kapadia, 2011).

Essential Viewing

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Code Unknown

Eastern Promises


The Muppets

The Skin I Live In

Final 2011 Tally: (345) + 26 = 371 Films

Thank you to everyone that has stopped by my site this year. I greatly appreciate the comments and the feedback to my posts and I hope you'll stick with me through the new year. Here's to another great year of film and a safe, happy, prosperous and productive 2012!


  1. Congrats on a busy year, Andy. I only started reading regularly this fall, but your blog is extremely impressive, as is your dedication. You should be proud!

  2. Thanks for reading John, and for the kind words. I always stop by your site too. It's also very impressive. Keep up the great work!

  3. Thanks for link man. I hope you read the 2nd part of my list. There's more over there including the ones to avoid.

  4. Thanks for the link Andy. I saw War Horse today and while I wasn't as disappointed as you were, I didn't love it either. I'm going to try to write a review for it tomorrow morning because I'm going to see The Artist and Tinker Tailor tomorrow and don't want to mesh too many films.

  5. Thanks for the link, even though I seem to disagree with the world on Hugo. I love that Eastern Promises made your must-see list. It's a hard watch and I'm not sure I want to tackle it again, but I'm glad I saw it.

  6. Look forward to reading your work again next year Andy. Happy New Year!

  7. Fantastic work this year Andrew! 44 posts a month is a pretty damn good pace. And averaging over a movie a year for an entire year is ridiculously amazing... Thanks for the AM link love :)

  8. 2011 was, indeed, a fantastic year for you!As John, I discovered your blog in the fall, and I am glad I did, I think/hope I learned a lot from it! Good luck in the future and have a great new year!

  9. You are doing a great job here 44 posts a month is insane. When it comes to long form articles/reviews I'm not a super fan mostly because I do 80% of my blog reading on an iPhone. Most longer stuff I stumble on I save for later but havent been able to do some ereading in my star marked google reader catalogue.

  10. Wow, 1000 hits per day is pretty amazing. You've gotten yourself quite a following. And very much deserved also. You're amazingly productive indeed, managing to cover more or less everything that is released. Really well done!

  11. Definitely one of my favourite blogs! I for one hope you can keep the pace up next year no matter what else you do! Hope you have another great year and start getting 5000 hits a day with 500 followers! Keep up the great work!

  12. What a great article Andy, I really enjoyed reading it.

    I just wanted to let you know that you've inspired me to watch A LOT more next year! I can't believe that you watched more an 365 movies this year and posted 500+ articles! That is beyond impressive to me!

    The fact that you've been averaging 1000+ views per day on your blog impresses me to no end!

    You have inspired me to take my love of movies to the next level in 2012. Thank you for that.

    More power to you, sir.

  13. @ Steven - I'll get on it for sure. I saw that you posted a Part 2. Plenty of big-name directors with new releases next year. Potentially it could be just as strong as this year.

    @ Max - It's disappointing isn't it? While I actually bought the miraculous horse story, I struggled to be involved with any of the human stories that come and go in a fake and forced fashion. The over-lighting, the manipulative score and the blatant quest for sentimentality just didn't work for me. It gets difficult to process thoughts about a film when you're watching multiple films in quick succession. The Sydney Film Fest. was a learning curve earlier in the year. Look forward to reading what you thought on all three films.

    @ Steve - I am yet to see HUGO so I can't comment just yet. but each to their own. Yeah, I really like EASTERN PROMISES. The performances are all great (incl Naomi Watts) and the story goes from one extreme to another. That bath fight scene is stunning.

    @ Ruth - Thankyou so much, Ruth. Happy New Year! Don't drink too much :-p

    @ Castor - Yeah, I put it in this year - and I'm pretty proud of what I've got through. In 2012 I'm going to think more about my health. Some more sun and sleep would do some good haha. Thanks for having me at AM - looking forward to forwarding you more reviews in the New Year!

  14. @ Aziza - It was a year I won't forget I don't think. I have really appreciated your comments Aziza, and I am so proud of you and you blog. It's also come a long way in just a few months. Keep up the great work! Thanks for your support and Happy New Year!

    @ Joel - I totally understand - I read on my iPhone a lot too. I am thinking more from a time management point. If I learn how to write informative but concise reviews, they won't take me so long to write and could serve me better in the print medium (usually the requested word length is 500-600 words). Thanks for the feedback Joel.

    @ Jessica - I love your site Jessica. I am amazed how often you post considering you have to take care of a family, but I really appreciate you stopping by. I try and cover everything - but sometimes I feel like I want to do too much. Too much for one person anyway. I can't review everything out, and post up-to-date news and watch older films too. It's all spare time work - and I have feel I have neglected a lot this year (and had misguided priorities) that I will need to rectify in the new year. Still, I'll post as often as I can because I love writing about film.

    @ Pete - Aww shucks. Thank you Pete! I hope that is the case, but that is really wishful thinking. If I can double my page views and followers and maybe hit 250 films and 400 posts it will be a pretty amazing year!

    @ Russell - Thank you. I feel honoured to learn that I have inspired you, but as much as I love films, this pace is pretty unhealthy. I feel like I have seen too many films, and spent too much time in front a laptop for one year. But, there is so much out there - and so much to discuss - that it becomes quite addictive.

    You have a great site going. Stick with what you're doing, try and cover as many new releases as you can, but maintain a balance of new and old films - and you will find your site continues to grow. Here's to another great year of films, and regular Sydney tweeps drinks! Happy New Year!

  15. You have a paying job, and time to watch movies, and time to write 534 posts in one year? Holy shit. Where did you find the time to do anything else?

  16. That's a lot of posts. That wouldn't mean much if they were all crap, though, but thankfully they're not. Instead they're always well worth a read. Congrats!

  17. A lot of fantastic milestones. You do exemplary work, Andy. You're one of the best out here in the blogosphere. In regards to the length of your reviews, I can only say I'm always happy to read them and you should write them in whatever most makes you most satisfied.

    And thanks for the link. Have a good new year, man.

  18. Dude you are a machine! Sounds like you had an awesome year; can't wait to see what's ahead in '12...

    And thanks so much for the link, my friend! Your continual support of my blog has been the source of much inspiration.

  19. @ James - Yeah, I work casually (so like 25/30 hours a week) so not full-time. I squeeze films in because I also work at a cinema, and don't live far from the city. The writing is the tiring part. I don't really do anything else...which is a problem haha.

    @ Colin - Thanks Colin. Sometimes I worry that I spend too much time on insignificant posts - but I'm happy to know that they are interesting in some way.

    @ Nick - Thanks Nick. I greatly appreciate that. The length is fine by me - but I would like to learn to be a bit more concise (from a time management POV). Something to work on in the new year. I don't think I have been bored, or not had something to do, for a single day this year. Pretty crazy. Thinking how much time I wasted in 2010, it's been a great year. Happy New Year man. Looking forward to our roundtable.

    @ Alex - You're welcome my friend. Your blog is one of my favourites. I love your work. It was an awesome year, and I was a bit of a machine this year. Hopefully I can continue to keep the blog interesting next year too.

  20. Wow, your stats are looking wonderful! Mine have taken a sharp dive over the past month...but I will try and fix this later!

    Anyway, I've really admired everything you've done this year. You write so much, work so much and watch so much that it really makes me wonder if you're human or not! Can't wait to see what you have in store for next year - this site will always be one of my favourites!

  21. Thanks so much Stevee. My stats took a dive in November for some reason, but come back big this month. I assure you, I am human haha. Though often a very tired human. Thanks for being such a loyal reader, and for your inspiration and support. I adore your site too and I think you do some amazing work. Here's to surpassing 300 films again in 2012! Happy New Year!

  22. 44 posts a month is amazing. You have a great blog Andy and I am really happy to be a reader. Fantastic stuff, my friend.

    I'm also really glad you saw Code Unknown, which is one of my 20 favorite films of all time.

  23. @ Tyler - Thanks man. Your blog is sensational too. I really appreciate your readership and support. I enjoy writing, and I hope I can continue to improve - and keep the site interesting. Code Unknown was amazing. Dude, that subway scene! Wow!

  24. Thanks as always for the linkage Andy! No idea how you manage 44 posts a month. Insane! Hopefully I’ll see a bit of you next year – I think I’m gonna make the pilgrimage up to Sydney for SFF in June. You planning on coming down for MIFF? Speaking of which, would your trip in August/September involve travelling to Canada for a certain international film festival?

  25. @ Tom - Yeah, hopefully we can catch up throughout the year. I want to tackle both SFF and MIFF pretty hardcore this year - see 20-30 films at each, so hopefully I can make it down to Melbourne for longer this time. Yes, Toronto is on the cards, if I can afford it!!!

  26. Awesome! Hopefully I’ll see you at all three then (although like you, I’ll need to take stock of my finances). Btw, if you need a place to crash while in Melbourne, you’re more than welcome.

  27. Thanks for the offer Tom. The second-to-last time I came to Melbourne I stayed with a friend of mine at St Kilda - so that might be an option also, but I'll consider it, for sure. Thank you so much!