First and foremost, I want to thank those of you who made it through my epic Top 10 of 2013 / Year in Review. I know I rattled off a lot of titles but hopefully your Netflix queues are nice and juicy. Now with that out of the way, we can move on to one of my favorite parts of the end-of-year roundup, where we dip into my archives, crunch the numbers and explore the ins-and-outs of my 2013 movie-going experience. Why? Because this is the kind of shit I do.
All told, I went to the movies 209 times in 2013 -- by far a new personal record, obliterating 2012’s record of 175. This includes 205 different movies, as I saw LES MISERABLES, BEFORE MIDNIGHT, MAN OF STEEL and JURASSIC PARK 3D twice each. This also includes 183 official 2013 releases and 22 movies from previous years. Additionally, this marks the 13th consecutive year in which I saw 100+ movies on the big screen -- though I guess that milestone is not so significant now that I've cracked the big two-oh-oh for the first time.
Wanna see the complete list of movies I saw in 2013? Sure you do.
Yes, I am a madman. Here's how it all went down:
• January: 10 (9 in 2012)
• February: 17 (17)
• March: 21 (15)
• April: 19 (12)
• May: 15 (12)
• June: 16 (14)
• July: 22 (12)
• August: 19 (15)
• September: 16 (17)
• October: 20 (14)
• November: 16 (15)
• December: 18 (23)
Believe it or not, I didn't see my first movie of the year until January 10th (an advance screening of WARM BODIES at the Regal E-Walk Theatre), but I still finished the month ahead of 2012’s pace and never looked back. My big February was mostly the result of Oscar catch-up. (In fact, with a screening the documentary CHASING ICE on Feb. 20th, I completed a personal goal of having seen EVERY Oscar nominee in EVERY category for the first time ever.) Then came March, when I somehow saw 21 movies, an obscene number usually reserved for the summer or end-of-year rush. Looking at my 2013 movie list, I'm not even sure how it happened -- a few titles jump out, like SPRING BREAKERS and special screenings of THE SHINING and GOODFELLAS -- but generally it looks like I was just going to the movies for the sake of going to the movies, particularly at the IFC Center (not that there's anything wrong with that). The April numbers are padded by my epic five-movie day at the Tribeca Film Festival, and the spring/summer months were characteristically huge, despite the fact that I was on a beach in Punta Cana for five lovely days in June. I was at the movies almost constantly in July, which is particularly impressive when you consider that I was wrapped up in All-Star madness at Citi Field that month. I saw my 100th movie of the year (BYZANTIUM at the IFC Center) on July 2nd, a month and a half ahead of 2012’s pace, pretty much assuring that this would be a record-breaking year.
The fall chugged along nicely, including a big October where I cracked the 20-movies-in-a-month mark once again (I also saw three of my top 10 movies that month -- GRAVITY, 12 YEARS A SLAVE and BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR). My record-breaking 176th movie occurred on November 1st (ENDER'S GAME at Loews Lincoln Square) and heretofore unfathomable 200-mark became a foregone conclusion. December actually turned out to be a busy month in non-movie areas of life, so I didn't go quite as crazy as 2012 (that December’s total of 23 still stands as a personal record for a single month) -- but it was still rife with quality, including three more additions to the top 10 (INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, HER and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET). I saw my magical 200th movie on Dec. 20th (ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES at the Ziegfeld). My annual Christmas Night Movie tradition continued with THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY at the Magic Johnson Harlem theatre. And I saw my 209th and final movie of the year (GRUDGE MATCH, also in Harlem) on December 31st, mere hours before the ball dropped. Whew!
• Full price admissions: 23
• Free/advance screenings: 26
• MoviePass: 116
• IFC Center member discount: 20
• Free passes/awards programs/gift cards/etc.: 17
• Free Film Festival Screenings: 7
Very telling statistics here, which once again answer the age-old question, "Ben, you crazy son of a bitch, how are you able to see so many movies in NYC where tix are $14 or more?!" Clearly, my first full year of using MoviePass has paid ridiculous dividends. I saw 116 via the service, which, at $29.99/month, averages to about $3.10 per movie. That, my friends, is not too shabby.
Things got interesting in October, though, when MoviePass made a shady, fiendish attempt to curb such gratuitous use of their service: They sent out an e-mail in which they announced an "exciting new Countdown Clock feature!" -- the purpose of which, we quickly learned, was to limit users to one movie every 24 hours, as opposed to once per calendar day. On one hand, this is understandable -- we know that, at the core, it’s a shaky business plan and we all want them to stay afloat. But on the other hand, the way they went about making the announcement and rolling out the “feature” was pretty shady. Honesty would’ve been better, especially after so many loyal apostles (myself included) have been singing their praises and getting friends to sign up since day one. To this day, they have never owned up to what turned out to be an awful customer service folly.
But whatever -- slightly limited MoviePass is better than no MoviePass at all, and despite their best efforts, my movie-going could not be tempered. In the end, my full-price, out-of-pocket admissions were lowered by nearly half (down from 52 in 2012). MoviePass really has become an integral part of my life and if they ever go out of business, I will be up shit's creek! If you are even a casual moviegoer, I highly recommend signing up and supporting them while also helping yourself. It's financially worthwhile if you see 3 or 4 movies per month... but you will probably end up seeing more and expanding your movie horizons just because you can. If anyone wants an invite, just say the word!
Meanwhile, another way that MoviePass has affected my movie-going is that I don't see nearly as many free advance screenings anymore. No need to wait in line for an hour when I can just see it anytime with MoviePass. However, I still attended 26 of these screenings because sometimes it's fun to see stuff early. Not to mention the occasional red carpet premiere, celebrity appearance, post-screening open bar, etc.
I also still stock up on AMC Gold/Silver passes whenever I can -- they come in handy for double-features and negating the surcharges for my occasional 3D/IMAX/HFR screenings. Seeing so many movies also allows the rewards points to roll in -- I'd love to see the leaderboards for AMC Stubs and Regal Crown Club because I must be way up there! And of course, my IFC Center membership allows discounted tix if I need to pay out of pocket (again, handy for double-features, where I can see one movie with MoviePass and another at IFC for cheap).
Point being, there are ways to skirt around the high ticket prices -- and between these various means, along with the sheer quality I enjoyed from week to week, I think my movie-going life got pretty close to nirvana in 2013.
• Monday: 31 (10 in 2012)
• Tuesday: 25 (25)
• Wednesday: 28 (27)
• Thursday: 25 (28)
• Friday: 63 (50)
• Saturday: 23 (28)
• Sunday: 14 (7)
The biggest surprise here is the influx of Monday movies compared to 2012. That's a huge jump! I think the main reason is that because of the nature of MoviePass, I couldn’t see EVERY movie over the weekend and would often save one for Monday. Also worth noting that I saw relatively few Saturday/Sunday movies -- maybe I was busy doing other things and, like, interacting with people? Who can say! Friday, of course, was the biggest movie day of the week -- I actually went to the movies on 44 of the year's 52 Fridays. What was I doing on the remaining eight Fridays, you ask? The answers are: Nothing, drinks, date, visiting friends, birthday party, visiting family, Broadway show, date. Fascinating!
MY VARIOUS HOMES AWAY FROM HOME
• IFC Center: 43
• Loews Lincoln Square: 34
• AMC Empire: 24
• Regal E-Walk: 23
• Loews 34th Street: 15
• Ziegfeld Theatre: 11
• Angelika Film Center: 9
• Landmark Sunshine: 7
• Bow Tie Chelsea: 5
• Loews Village 7: 5
• Magic Johnson Harlem: 5
• Regal Union Square: 5
• Lincoln Plaza: 4
• Walter Reade Theatre: 4
• BAM Harvey Theatre: 2
• Cinema Village: 2
• Munroe Film Center: 2
• Paris Theatre: 2
• United Palace: 2
• Film Forum: 1
• Loews Kips Bay: 1
• Magno Screening Room: 1
• Quad Cinema: 1
• Regal Hadley Center (NJ): 1
Well, here we have some very interesting developments. For the first time in many years, my most-visited theatre was NOT Lincoln Square (my personal favorite theatre) or the AMC Empire (the closest theatre to my office)! Thanks to my status as a card-carrying member, which spurred me to keep extra-close tabs on hot new indies, obscure titles, special events, repertory programming, etc., the IFC Center has become my #1 home away from home. And it wasn't even close! Of course, the IFC Center is a wonderful theatre and NYC's best art house, where I saw films ranging from the magnificent (BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR) to the icky (ANTIVIRAL) to the all-time favorite (SPACEBALLS) in 2013.
Still, 34 movies at good ol’ Lincoln Square is nothing to sneeze at, and that includes such noteworthy titles as INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, HER and THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE -- the latter on the big "Loews" screen, my favorite standard auditorium in the city). This multiplex is also home to NYC's only REAL IMAX screen -- I managed to see JURASSIC PARK 3D, MAN OF STEEL, PACIFIC RIM and GRAVITY on this 80' x 100' behemoth and all were awesome experiences. Meanwhile, the AMC Empire, Regal E-Walk and Loews 34th Street are all within a few blocks of my office and I love rolling out the door and catching those 5:40/6:00 shows, hence the combined 62 movies (including 12 YEARS A SLAVE, AMERICAN HUSTLE and THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG) at those three theatres.
I am happy that I made it to the Ziegfeld theatre 11 times. Even though ownership was recently transferred from Clearview to Bow Tie Cinemas, the old girl still needs all the help it can get! Seriously, NYC folks, if a movie is playing at the Ziegfeld, you should see it there. You're paying $14 anyway, so you might as well spend it at one of NYC's most glorious movie palaces that dates back to cinema's Golden Age! It's the kind of theatre that can make any movie worthwhile simply because of your surroundings (even if it's awful, like THE LONE RANGER). Or it can make a great movie transcendent (like THE WOLF OF WALL STREET). Or it can turn a thematically-fitting movie like THE GREAT GATSBY into an all-around perfect movie-going experience.
Elsewhere in my movie-going travels: I used to hate going to the Angelika because it is dumpy and poorly-located right above some subway tracks, but MoviePass has made it more bearable (not to mention some good titles, like STORIES WE TELL). I still made it to the Landmark Sunshine in the East Village and Lincoln Plaza on the Upper West Side even though they don't accept Discover cards (thus, no MoviePass), so those admissions were all out-of-pocket. The combined 10 films at the Chelsea and Village 7 cinemas is a bit misleading because most of those were film festival screenings -- normally I would not frequent those unremarkable and out-of-the-way theatres as much. Would love to see more movies at the excellent Walter Reade Theatre in 2014 -- only four just isn't gonna cut it (even if one of them was SHORT TERM 12). Five movies at Regal Union Square is a surprise... one of them was a free screening (THE HANGOVER PART III) buy beyond that, who knows what set of circumstances got me down there so many times. The Magic Johnson Harlem got a boost this year thanks to a pact I had with my good friends Jess & Joe to see the various Stallone/Schwarzenegger movies (BULLET TO THE HEAD, THE LAST STAND, ESCAPE PLAN) together there. Will probably make it to the Cinema Village more often in 2014, now that I am a member of the Museum of the Moving Image and can get a discount. The BAM Harvey was my only venture to the outer boroughs -- I saw THE GODFATHER 1 & 2 double-feature at Brooklyn's grandest theatre. One trip to the Film Forum is pathetic (even if it was T2: JUDGMENT DAY) -- need to get there more often, particularly for repertory screenings. I usually end up schlepping to Loews Kips Bay once for some reason; this year it was for a screening of DESPICABLE ME 2 (fortunately, that was my only venture to the cinema wasteland that is Midtown East and the Upper East Side!). Need to hit the Paris Theatre more often in 2014, too, but twice is better than nothing. I saw A ROYAL AFFAIR at the Quad Cinema -- my first time at that Village art house since the early '00s. Only one movie at my old stomping grounds, the Regal Hadley Center in South Plainfield, NJ, with my friend Jill? Need to improve on that, too. We can also expect more visits to the glorious United Palace on 175th Street in Washington Heights. This amazing theatre has reopened its doors to film for the first time since the '60s and screened CASBALANCA and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE towards the end of the year -- I now eagerly await a series of monthly screenings throughout 2014! The former Loews Wonder Theatre of the Golden Age is one of the city's greatest gems and well worth the trek to upper Manhattan... just FYI.
I'm actually surprised that I saw 28 double-features in 2013, far more than 2012, considering the MoviePass situation. But what usually happens is that I see one with MoviePass and then either pay full price for the other or (more frequently) some other discounted method. It all works out in the end. As usual, most of these double-features were random pairings as a result of showtime convenience but there are two that were pieced together by design -- in particular, one because of the stars of the films and one because of the wordplay of the titles. Can you pick 'em out?
• STAND-UP GUYS and THE GATEKEEPERS
• SNITCH and SAFE HAVEN
• JACK THE GIANT SLAYER and IN THE HOUSE
• SPRING BREAKERS and THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE
• GIMME THE LOOT and FROM UP ON POPPY HILL
• G.I. JOE: RETALIATION and ADMISSION
• THE COMPANY YOU KEEP and UPSTREAM COLOR
• STORIES WE TELL and FRANCES HA
• THE INTERNSHIP and THE PURGE
• WORLD WAR Z and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY
• MANIAC and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
• THE WAY, WAY BACK and WHITE HOUSE DOWN
• MUSEUM HOURS and CRYSTAL FAIRY
• THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II
• ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and HAROLD & MAUDE
• BLUE JASMINE and THE WOLVERINE
• THE ACT OF KILLING and FRUITVALE STATION
• WE'RE THE MILLERS and ELYSIUM
• LOVELACE and THE CANYONS
• KICK-ASS 2 and AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS
• THE WORLD'S END and YOU'RE NEXT
• AFTERNOON DELIGHT and TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY
• HELL BABY and ADORE
• DRINKING BUDDIES and BLUE CAPRICE
• 12 YEARS A SLAVE and CARRIE
• OUT OF THE FURNACE and INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
• THE WOLF OF WALL STREET and THE PAST
• LONE SURVIVOR and AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
I also saw one triple-feature, which allowed me to escape from one of the hottest summer days of the year: ONLY GOD FORGIVES and BLACKFISH and THE CONJURING.
And there was my annual, butt-numbing marathon of the Oscar-nominated Documentary, Live-Action and Animated Short Films -- one of my favorite movie-going traditions of the year....
And perhaps most impressive of all, there was my epic, eight hour, overnight viewing of Christian Marclay’s THE CLOCK at the Museum of Modern Art, one of the greatest and most transcendent cinematic experiences of my life. For more about this amazing project (which will hopefully return to NYC someday), click here. And for my personal review, click here!
As usual, my movie-going adventures occasionally got me within close proximity to some familiar faces. One of the coolest was a special screening of GOODFELLAS at the IFC Center, hosted by none other than Anthony Bourdain as part of their Modern School of Film series. He who talked about his love of the movie, food, and food within the movie and it was awesome. Francois Ozon was on hand for a Q&A following his film IN THE HOUSE at the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema program at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. I only attended one red carpet premiere -- LAST VEGAS -- not a great movie, but it was at the Ziegfeld, which is always a pleasure (plus, I caught a glimpse of Michael Douglas and had a close encounter with Romany Malco). I expected to see a few familiar faces at the Tribeca Film Festival, but the only one I recognized was was the co-writer A BIRDER'S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING, who happened to be the weird-looking guy who directed the Oscar-winning short film GOD OF LOVE a few years ago. Random.
However, there were two celebrity encounters that tower above the others. First and foremost, I got to see my love, Amelie Poulain herself, Audrey Tautou, at the IFC Center for the Rendez-Vous with French Cinema screening of her movie THERESE. I gawked at her from the third row with a huge smile on my face -- she is somehow even more adorable in person. It was awesome. I also attended an advance screening of OBLIVION at Loews 34th Street that featured an live Q&A by Tom Cruise. To everyone's surprise, he stuck around afterward and signed autographs and took pictures with anyone & everyone who wanted one -- the dude may be a wacko, but he's a damn nice guy!
Out of the 209 movies I saw in 2013, a grand total of 172 of them by myself. I'm a loner, Dottie... a rebel. But hey, it's cool. I love going to the movies by myself because it allows me to fully immerse myself in the experience, whether it's the crappiest comedy or the deepest drama. (Plus, even if you get to a Friday night blockbuster just before showtime, it's always easier to find one choice seat in the middle of a row where some assholes didn't move in all the way.) That said, I still managed to socialize every now and then. Kudos to Jess & Joe (with whom I saw eight movies!) & Jill & Ryan & Justine & Suzanne & Lani & Amy & Dara & Jason & George & Katie & Andrea & Isaac & Romona & Nokes & Laurel! And an extra special thanks to Lauren for being my most-frequent movie companion with an impressive TEN, including such noteworthy titles as GRAVITY and MAN OF STEEL (in IMAX), THE GREAT GATSBY (in prime mezzanine seats at the Ziegfeld) and IRON MAN 3 -- the latter of which, I might add, was her first-ever NYC movie experience. I'm honored to have been a part of that. :)
Now, I'm not even going to try to predict what the coming year will bring. Maybe I'll see 250 movies. Or maybe I'll cut back to a less insane number. Maybe I'll even start writing more! Whatever the case, in terms of quantity AND quality, 2013 was one of the greatest movie-watching years of all time and 2014 has some big cinematic shoes to fill. But I, for one, can't wait to see what happens.
See you at the movies!
P.S. For the record, I also watched 113 movies via Netflix and 102 more via miscellaneous means (my own library, TV, etc.). So that’s 424 total movies watched in 2013. Have I mentioned that I like movies?