Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Movie Challenge 2014: The Wrap-Up! (Part 2)

Yesterday we covered spots #46-24 on my movie challenge list from 2014. Today we cover those who managed to land in the top half!

#23: Aaron's week

Aaron and I took theater classes together, so he went theater-heavy with his week -- not a bad policy for getting into the top 23! He gave me Revengers Tragedy, About Last Night (the original 1986 version), Cannibal!: The Musical, My Name Is Bruce, and Love's Labour's Lost. While there were a couple I really liked and a couple I was meh on, the big surprise was that my favorite of the week wasn't a theater-centric one at all!

Best movie of his week: My Name Is Bruce
Worst movie of his week: About Last Night
Movie that made me laugh the hardest: Cannibal!: The Musical
Biggest letdown: Love's Labour's Lost

#22: Bethany-my-sister's week

Bethany inadvertently gave me all movies that began with B or C, and it was definitely a fun mix of classics and goofy: Born Yesterday, Ben-Hur, The Blind Side, Camp Rock, and Camp Rock 2. The Camp Rocks are not that odd a choice if you remember how thoroughly I enjoy all the High School Musicals. This was a very in-the-middle week for me, though. All her movies ended up within 300 spots of each other, ranging from #904 to #1178.

Best movie of her week: The Blind Side
Worst movie of her week: Ben-Hur
Movie I should have seen by now: Ben-Hur
Worst singing that was constantly praised in-movie as being perfect: Camp Rock
Sequel that was better than the original because everybody got better at singing: Camp Rock 2

#21: Erika's week

Erika didn't focus so much on giving me movies she thought I'd love or hate. She's said before that she respects my movie opinions pretty seriously, so she gave me a bunch of movies she wasn't sure how she felt about, jokingly tell me that I was going to tell her how to feel about them. Her choices were Swing Kids, Adam, Away We Go, Albert Nobbs, and I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK. I didn't fall in love with any of these, but they were all interesting to watch, definitely!

Best movie of her week: Away We Go
Worst movie of her week: Albert Nobbs
Weirdest movie of her week in mostly a good way: I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
Best acting in a not-great movie: Albert Nobbs

#20: Elizabeth not-my-sister's week

At first, Elizabeth chose almost all westerns for my week. But after a few weeks of watching me not like westerns, she ended up swapping out a lot of her choices and left me with only two westerns. Her final choices were Cool Runnings, Quigley Down Under, The Joy Luck Club, Oscar, and Paint Your Wagon. I was frankly not sure how this week would go down, but there were a couple I really loved and the only ones that were really low on the list were, unsurprisingly, the westerns.

Best movie of her week: The Joy Luck Club
Worst movie of her week: Quigley Down Under
Most abrupt change in plot: Paint Your Wagon
Most enjoyable surprise: Oscar

#19: Naomi's week

All but one of Naomi's choices were about infidelity or perceived infidelity, which seems like an odd theme to pick, but she assures me that it was entirely accidental. She also sprinkled in a few pre-1960s movies, which were a nice change to the more recent selections I got so frequently. She assigned me Spanglish, Waitress, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, To Be or Not to Be, and The Barkleys of Broadway. None of them jump out at me now thinking back on them, but I enjoyed most of them at the time, and I'd probably enjoy most of them on a rewatch as well.

Best movie of her week: Waitress
Worst movie of her week: Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
Movies I keep getting mixed up because the main character are awfully similar: To Be or Not to Be and The Barkleys of Broadway
Movie I liked aside from Adam Sandler: Spanglish

#18: Elizabeth-my-sister's week

My sister Elizabeth is just as crazy into movies as I am, and she'll watch anything and everything. I was really intrigued to see what she would pick... and she gave me one Hitchcock movie I hadn't seen and then four romantic comedies from 2010: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, Knight and Day, How Do You Know, The Switch, and Suspicion. That being said, I liked them all okay. She's a much bigger fan of rom coms than I am, but she did choose some pretty good ones for my week, even if the one she liked best was the one I liked least.

Best movie of her week: Knight and Day
Worst movie of her week: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend
Movies that landed within one spot of each other on my Flickchart: How Do You Know and The Switch
Most unsettling Cary Grant: Suspicion

#17: Dad's week

My dad's week didn't come right after Elizabeth-my-sister's in the challenge, but it would have been crazy if it had. While her week was light and fluffy, his was anything but. He gave me Inland Empire, Mulholland Dr., Flypaper, Hannah Arendt, and Koyaanisqatsi. Aside from Flypaper, which was a fluffy heist movie, he gave me two David Lynch films, a wordless documentary consisting of still images, and a thoughtful drama about a philosopher. So that's the kind of thought-provoking week I had thanks to my philosophy professor dad :-) But it was a good week, and he's a good person to discuss movies with, so I liked having some that really gave me an opportunity for that.

Best movie of his week: Hannah Arendt
Worst movie of his week; Mulholland Dr.
Movie that should have been harder for me to figure out than Mulholland but somehow wasn't: Inland Empire
Best score: Koyaanisqatsi

#16: Matt's week

My college friend Matt loaded me up with I-should-have-seen-this-by-now movies... and also very long movies. The majority of them were close to three hours long. But it was clearly a good week, because, look, here he is at #16! He chose Black Snake Moan, JFK, Watchmen, Muppet Treasure Island, and Gandhi. Incidentally, this was the first time I'd ever seen a Muppets movie. So that was a fun "never have I ever" to rectify.

Best movie of his week: Watchmen
Worst movie of his week: JFK
Movies I should have seen by now: ...all of them except Black Snake Moan
Most surprisingly soul-healing movie: Gandhi

#15: Jacob's week

While Jacob had an advantage in knowing my taste in movies really well, especially how well it works with his, he had a disadvantage in that I've already seen a lot of the movies he likes with him. So his list was a combination of favorites from his childhood he thought I probably wouldn't like, a couple he thought I might, and he even chanced an Adam Sandler movie. His final list was Bubba Ho-tep, Pom Poko, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Highlander, and The Wedding Singer. The ones he thought I wouldn't like, I didn't, and the ones he thought I would, I did, and The Wedding Singer is the second movie in this wrap-up post to get a very specific award.

Best movie of his week: Pom Poko
Worst movie of his week: Little Nemo
Movie I liked aside from Adam Sandler: The Wedding Singer
Most awesomely ridiculous: Bubba Ho-tep

#14: Andrew's week

My uncle Andy is definitely a film fan. He likes a lot of older and foreign movies and pays less attention to loud blockbusters, so I knew I'd be getting different kinds of movies than I had before. His choices were Monsoon Wedding, Jean de Florette, Holy Motors, Frances Ha, and A Separation. Those five movies came from four different countries and, while most of them were pretty story-driven, he also went ahead and gave me one that was... definitely not. Unfortunately, that one ended up being one of my least favorites of the whole challenge. Something about the visuals were just really unpleasant for me. I really enjoyed the other four, though, and they scooted his average way up to #14.

Best movie of his week: Jean de Florette
Worst movie of his week: Holy Motors
Most ambivalent beforehand about whether I would like it or not: Frances Ha

#13: Andy's week

I'm, frankly, a little surprised that this is so high, as I only loved one of these and was not blown away by the rest. But as I look at the rankings, none of them dipped very low, and most of them were above average. So go for it, Andy, take your #13 win! He went with a theme: Tom Hanks movies I hadn't seen. I got Punchline, The Polar Express, Splash, Nothing in Common, and The 'Burbs. Most of these I knew very, very little about, so it was great to get to see them. My two favorites, actually, were two I'm not even sure I'd ever heard of.

Best movie of his week: Punchline
Worst movie of his week: The Polar Express
Most unexpected tone shift (that totally worked): Nothing in Common
Silliest ending: Splash

#12: Megan's week

Megan and I went to school together and though we never talked much about movies as much as we did about our education classes and student teaching experiences, turns out we might be closer in movie taste than I knew. Her choices were Kiki's Delivery Service, Om Shanti Om, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Now You See Me. These were definitely all fun, and there weren't any I really disliked. Whoo!

Best movie of her week: Om Shanti Om
Worst movie of her week: Fantastic Mr. Fox
My very first Bollywood movie: Om Shanti Om
Movie my sister Elizabeth got most excited about me watching: Now You See Me

#11: Jandy's week

I knew I'd get a lot of older movies in Jandy's week, as that's the type of movie she really loves. She chose almost all her movies by looking for movies I might like in genres I didn't love: The Women, Girl Shy, The Killing, The Double Life of Veronique, and Nights of Cabiria. Given that she landed at #11, it worked out pretty well -- though the one I liked most was one she chose just because she thought I'd like it.

Best movie of her week: Nights of Cabiria
Worst movie of her week: The Double Life of Veronique
Best comedy chase: Girl Shy

#10: Henry's week

Henry's a musical theater nerd like me, so, not surprisingly, I got three musicals. He assigned me Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Whisper of the Heart, Shaolin Soccer, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Reefer Madness: The Musical. Since I watched his movies, I've become much more interested in the music for Hedwig and the Angry Inch (especially from the Broadway cast with Neil Patrick Harris), and I'm not sure if that would've happened without watching the movie. So thank you!

Best movie of his week: Reefer Madness
Worst movie of his week: Whisper of the Heart
Most surprisingly hilarious: Shaolin Soccer
Movie with most ridiculous lyrics but awesome music: Jesus Christ Superstar

#9: Joseph's week

This was a really fun week. The line up was as follows: Phantom of the Paradise, You Can Count on Me, Nativity!, Nashville, and Laurence Anyways. Two thoughtful dramas, two ridiculous musicals, and one comedy/drama/ensemble/musical that didn't work so much for me. All but one of this movies landed above #1000 on my chart, making for a really solid week.

Best movie of his week: Nativity!
Worst movie of his week: Nashville
Most satisfying ending: Laurence Anyways
Movie where I realized Mark Ruffalo can act and be interesting: You Can Count On Me

#8: Nick's week

Like Andy's week, this one also seems a little higher than I expected, but it's almost certainly due to my favorite of his week, which landed at an impressive #246 on my chart. It was really, really, really good. The rest hover between #700 and #1100, which made them all enjoyable but not particularly memorable. But I didn't think Silent Hill was going to be memorable either, so who knows what will stick with me a year from now? His movies were Welcome to Dongmakgol, True Romance, Like Crazy, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles, and Stage Fright (the 2014 musical)

Best movie of his week: Welcome to Dongmakgol
Worst movie of his week: True Romance
Best documentary I saw this year: Resurrect Dead

#7: Emil's week

Emil was one of the very earliest participants in my challenge -- the second, in fact, if I remember correctly, and for the first half of the year, he was one of only two in my top ten to not have a musical in their lineup. Now he's one of four, but that's still pretty impressive. He gave me Do the Right Thing, Crank, He Loves Me…He Loves Me Not, Show Me Love, and Repulsion.

Best movie of his week: Repulsion
Worst movie of his week: Crank
Most thought-provoking: Do the Right Thing
Most "don't read anything about this movie, just watch it": He Loves Me... He Loves Me NOt

#6: Paul's week

My friend Paul's movies, for the most part, focused on the LGBT community: Transamerica, Connie and Carla, Were the World Mine, Auntie Mame, and Milk. These movies had a pretty wide spread, going all the way from #335 down to #1263, but I really enjoyed nearly all of them. The one I liked least was actually the one most critically acclaimed, while I really liked a couple that were critically panned. So... I'm not sure what that says about me. But it was a good week.

Best movie of his week: Transamerica
Worst movie of his week: Milk
Most fun surprise: Connie and Carla

#5: Derek's week

I really didn't know Derek very well at all before watching his movie, but, man, he gave me some great choices. Three of them I'd just never heard of at all, which was always a fun occurrence. His week included What Maisie Knew, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Bound, and Agora. With the exception of Bound, which I just couldn't ever get into, I really liked the rest of these and would happily recommend and rewatch them.

Best movie of his week: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer
Worst movie of his week: Bound
Most fascinating protagonist: Agora
Most surprised to learn it was based on an old book because it felt like a modern story: What Maisie Knew

#4: Ross' week

Ross gave me one of the most interesting combinations of movies, and I'm not surprise he ended up in the top 5, as there's not a single one of these I didn't like: The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Ikiru, The Thief of Bagdad, The Red Violin, and The Return of Captain Invincible. He even managed to give me one of the most bizarre and entertaining musicals of the challenge. (Really, if you've never seen Christopher Lee sing a song full of ridiculous alcohol-related jokes, you're missing out.)

Best of his week: The Red Violin
Worst of his week: The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
Movie I should have seen by now: Ikiru
Best silent adventure I've ever seen: The Thief of Bagdad

#3: Ethan's week

Ethan found some more great choices for "movies I should have also seen," as well as giving me one of my new favorite movies. He selected Planet of the Apes (the original), Lost in America, Heathers, Don't Drink the Water, and Titanic, which made everyone on the group start saying, "WAIT, YOU HAVEN'T SEEN TITANIC?" No, I had not. But now I have. I'd just become completely obsessed with into the musical version of Heathers, and the original movie was almost as much fun. Overall, a really, really fun week.

Best movie of his week: Heathers
Worst movie of his week: Lost in America
Movies I should have seen by now: Planet of the Apes and Titanic

#2: Travis' week

Travis put in some serious effort to reach #1 for this challenge, and he did... until the very end of the year, when he was unseated. He quizzed me about what kinds of movies I liked, took note every time I said something like "I really love stories about dystopian futures," and eventually delivered a really solid collection of movies: The Matador, Lagaan, The Minus Man, Dick Tracy, and 9. His work paid off!

Best movie of his week: Dick Tracy
Worst movie of his week: The Matador
Best Owen Wilson: The Minus Man
Most interesting animated visuals: 9

#1: Nathan-not-my-brother's week

Toward the end of the year, Nathan's list came along and scooted everyone down one. He had a quasi-theme of love stories, but they were all interesting and unusual takes on love stories, and all but one of them really gelled with me. His list was So I Married an Axe Murderer, Secretary, Atonement, About Time, and Bicentennial Man. About Time got an initial ranking of #171, making it not only my top movie for the challenge, but my top movie for all of 2014, even above Frozen, which was my #1 up until that point. Really great selection of movies, and it totally worked for me. Congrats!

Best movie of his week: About Time
Worst movie of his week: So I Married an Axe Murderer
Movie that was better than the crowd told me: Bicentennial Man
Most unusual but somehow very sweet love story: Secretary

A few final stats:

Earliest movie of the challenge: Girl Shy and The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
2014 movies I watched: Stage Fright, Coriolanus, and Lust for Love

Jackie Chan movies watched: 4
Studio Ghibli movies watched: 4
Sequels watched: 4

Average score of Flickcharters: 747.35
In comparison, average score of everyone else: 1194.4

Top 10 for the entire challenge:
1. About Time (#172, Nathan-not-my-brother)
2. Reefer Madness (#245, Henry)
3. Welcome to Dongmakgol (#246, Nick)
4. Dick Tracy (#277, Travis)
5. Jean de Florette (#288, Andrew)
6. Heathers (#295, Ethan)
7. Transamerica (#335, Paul)
8. Agora (#355, Derek)
9. The Joy Luck Club (#384, Elizabeth-not-my-sister)
10. The Great Gatsby (#393, Abbie)

Bottom 10 for the entire challenge:
1. Gridiron Gang (#2165, Carolyn)
2. Courageous (#2155, Carolyn)
3. The Cowboys (#2084, Abbie)
4. Holy Motors (#2062, Andrew)
5. The Black Camel (#2058, Mom)
6. The Passion of Joan of Arc (#2057, Stephen)
7. The Last Airbender (#2046, Nathan-my-brother)
8. The Art of War (#1987, Rita)
9. The Good Son (#1984, LaToya)
10. Dragon Lee vs. Five Brothers (#1983, Ebenezer)

To everyone who participated, thank you so much! It was an adventurous year but an amazing one, and who knows? Maybe some day I'll do it again.


  1. Excellent work, Hannah! Way to see a massive undertaking through to the end. I know these type things can nearly kill a person, so I'm glad you emerged alive! And with a whole new bunch of favorites to savor. Do you feel like a different cinephile than you were a year ago? In what ways have you noticed your taste was changed? Some of these may have already been addressed in the comments on Facebook ... but as a fellow blogger, I know how much the blog comments mean. Thanks for including me!

    1. I'm glad I emerged alive, too :-)

      That's a good question. I don't know that my taste changed as much as I thought it might. I didn't have a lot of revelations this year, aside from finally getting a bit of a handle on David Lynch's movies, which was exciting. However, what it did do is strengthen my enjoyment of movie-watching as a more social hobby than it had been. While 90% of the time I'd rather be alone to actually watch movies, the best part of this challenge was having people around to discuss them with. I liked being able to say, "I don't get it. Explain it to me," and get enthusiastic responses. Since most of the people who recommended me movies really liked them, it really gave me a chance to see a different perspective on it, and even if I came out still disliking the movie, I often had a stronger appreciation for it.

      I'm really glad I did this, though I'm glad to not have to answer to anyone else but me about movies for awhile :-)