On Dec. 31, 2015, with about ten minutes left in a year that had graced us with the first great “Star Wars” movie since 1983, I decided to do something I had never done before: make a New Year’s Resolution. I’d tried it before; I’d told myself that I was going to drink less Mountain Dew about 20 times, only to down my regular three cans the very next day. No, my resolution would have to be something measurable and absolute. With that in mind, I made my decision: if I saw a trailer in 2016, I would see the movie.
And so the madness began.
It started slowly enough. I saw a movie a week, marking down the trailers for future reference. By March, I was up to two movies a week, which increased to three by the time summer got underway. I had never been more broke. I would wake up the morning after with my eyes hurting. I ate so much popcorn it made me sick.
It was incredible.
It may sound obvious, but there are a lot of movies released in one year. “You idiot,” you’re probably thinking, “of course there are a lot of movies released in a year.” I knew this, but the reality of the situation didn’t really hit me until I realized that even at a rate of roughly 12 movies a month, I was still missing some.
What all this amounts to is that over Thanksgiving break, I saw my hundredth movie of the year. What all this means is that, despite my best efforts, I have learned some things.
The first thing was that a lot of great movies fly under the radar. To be clear, this isn’t me saying that all indie movies are the greatest things ever and any movie with a seven-figure budget is a sign that film is dying. That’s bull. Several of my personal favorites from this year, like “Captain America: Civil War” or “Deadpool,” are blockbusters that more than earn their hundreds of millions. However, some movies, like David Mackenzie’s smart, intense and surprisingly funny heist film “Hell or High Water” and Laika’s animated epic “Kubo and the Two Strings” barely managed to make their budgets back despite being some of the best that 2016 has to offer.
With that in mind and at the risk of sounding like a cynic, most movies are just average. I want to make it clear that of the 100-plus movies I’ve seen thus far, I’ve liked over half of them. It’s been a good year. I’ve seen far more great ones than I have awful ones. Still, I’ve found at least one in every three films fit into that middle ground where they contain good and bad in equal measure. A lot of these aren’t bad; they just aren’t memorable.
Having gone through this, I’d argue against the common criticism of modern film that every movie is either a sequel, reboot or remake. There are plenty of original films released in a year. Many of them fit into one of the aforementioned categories. Others either fly under of most people’s radar, or they just aren’t all that good. If you’re looking for an original movie, chances are there is at least one playing near you; you may just have to look past the movies that have people lining up around the block.
Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that if you decide to do something like this, upon finding out about your financially inadvisable New Year’s Resolution your roommate’s girlfriend will forcefully show you trailers to crappy-looking movies so you have to see them. I learned this the hard way, and so I watched “Nine Lives.”
I have one month left in this experiment of mine, with about seventeen movies I’ve yet to see. It’s been bad for my eyes. It’s been bad for my wallet. But it’s also been awesome, and I can’t wait to do the same thing in 2017 and see what it has to bring. Besides, of course, another awesome “Star Wars” movie.