It Doesn't Have To Be Right…

… it just has to sound plausible

2016 in watching

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I’ve posted my stats for my reading in 2016 – see here – so now it’s time for my film-viewing statistics… And yet again, I watched a huge number of movies over the twelve-months, partly because I was chasing the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list, and partly because the dayjob gave me mlittle energy or enthusiasm for much else of an evening. (For my best of the year movies, see here.)

In 2016, I watched 647 films, up by more than 100 from 2015’s total of 544. Of those 647, I saw 574 for the first time, and 140 of them were from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. That’s… more than I’d expected. But I did watch a lot of short films, I must admit. Some of the one hundred or so rewatches were films I watched more than once during 2016, for a variety of reasons… Some, such as Tirez le pianiste, a rental film, I felt I hadn’t given a fair viewing so I watched the DVD a second time before returning it. Others, like Lucía, I’d watched on rental and liked so much I bought my own copy, which I then rewatched. And one or two films, I’d stick on and watch over again when I’d had a bit too much wine – so that would be, er, A River Called Titas, which I managed to watch six times between June and December 2016…

In terms of where I found the films I watched, it appears to be a pretty even split between DVDs/Blu-rays I bought myself and DVDs I rented from LoveFilm and Cinema Paradiso:


Given the number of cable channels I have access to, TV’s showing is piss-poor; but Amazon Prime, the only streaming service to which I currently subscribe, did pretty well (the “Streaming” figure does also include a dozen films watched on Youtube; most of those were avant-garde short films).


I’ve never been that big a fan of science fiction cinema, so the fact it comprises 4% of my total viewing comes as no suprise. On the other hand, I do tend to label most films as “drama”, which is probably why it accounts for around 40% of my viewing. There’s also a significant percentage of short films in there – no doubt a consequence of watching those three DVD collections of Humphrey Jennings’s films.


Despite never actually meaning to, I always seem to end up watching more movies from the current decade than any other… although the 1960s almost matches it. That came as a surprise – I hadn’t realised I’d watched so many films from that decade. The remaining movies are spread somewhat erratically across the decades, although the graph does show I’m watching more classic movies than current ones.


I made an effort in 2016 to watch more movies from countries whose cinemas I had not seen before. And I managed it. But putting them all on a pie chart would make it unreadable, so I had to group a lot of countries into regions/continents. Happily, the US only accounts for 42% of the movies I watched, which is less than the previous year. I plan to reduce it further in 2017. Next highest is the UK, followed by France, Italy, India, Germany, Russia and Japan.

As for the directors I watched most in 2016… the top five looks like this:

  1. Humphrey Jennings – 27 (all those short films in the three DVD collections I bought)
  2. Jacques Demy – 19 (I worked my way through a box set of all his films)
  3. Werner Herzog – 11 (I replaced my two DVD box sets with a single Blu-ray collection, and then worked my way through it)
  4. Ingmar Bergman and Aleksandr Sokurov – 8 each (the Bergmans were all new to me, the Sokurovs were a mix of rewatches and new films)
  5. Jean-Luc Godard, James Benning, Howard Hawks – 7 each (Godard and Hawks were all new to me, the Bennings were a mix of rewatches and new films)

So that’s a Brit, two French, a German, a Swede, a Russian and two Americans. Not a bad mix. Sadly, no women directors. Unhappily, I’ve watched very few films by women directors, and I really should make an effort to watch more – non-US ones, of course (unless they’re avant-garde film-makers, that is).

In fact, there are a number of things I’d like to do in my film watching in 2017. For a start, I plan to watch more foreign-language films, and have already adjusted my rental lists accordingly. I also intend to continue working my way through the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list – and why not, since it’s introduced me to several films and directors who subsequently became favourites. I doubt I’ll ever really finish it, but when it gets too difficult to complete, there are plenty of other such lists I could try – They Shoot Pictures Don’t They have one with 2,000 movies on it (and at first sight, it looks like a more varied list than the one I’ve been using).

Having said all that… if I manage to get some writing done in 2017, then something will have to give, and I’m quite happy for it to be my film-watching. Much as I love movies, 647 in twelve months is a fuck of a lot. If that drops to around 300 this year, I won’t be at all upset… providing I have some actual written fiction to show for it. At the very least, I don’t expect the figure to rise during 2017…

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