Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year in Review

2014 was a disappointing year in movies, on several levels and for several reasons.

Most of all, I went into the year intending to see fifty movies and write 400-word reviews for all of them and qualify for application to the online movie critics guilds. This was a poor choice on my part. I started writing reviews because my friends asked me to, because they knew I watched a lot of movies and they wanted to know what I thought of them. Trying to turn a hobby into something more serious was a mistake. I watch movies because I like them, because they're fun; watching movies I know I'm not going to like is a terrible idea.
Next year I'm going to cut back, only watch movies I think I'll enjoy, and not worry about word counts. Seeing movies should not be a source of stress in my life.

Unfortunately, 2014 also featured a number of movies which I thought I was going to enjoy which turned out to be bitterly disappointing. Interstellar, Transcendence, Maleficent, and Big Hero Six all fell well below expectations. And then there was the third Hobbit, which I knew I wasn't going to like, but needed closure on. At least that's done with.

This isn't to say it was all bad. Marvel (and affiliates) continued to put out great movies (with the exception of Big Hero Six). Boyhood was extraordinary. The third Hunger Games movie was the best yet.

I tracked numerical scores for the first time in 2014, which allows me to express what happened in visual form:

Half of the 40 movies I reviewed scored a 2, 2.5, or 3 overall. This is not good.
The problem was not with the acting:

Production values were uneven, but mostly good:

No, the problem was with plots:

That's... bad. 23 of the 40 movies I reviewed this year scored less than 3 on plot.
Here are all the scores on the same scale, for reference:

The overall score, as I've said, is not simply an average of the other three. Reviewing the scores shows that I am much more likely to like a film less than the scores would indicate than I am to like it more. Think of this as a measure of whether a movie was better or worse than the sum of it parts.
8 films actually did average out. 13 more were within 1/6, and another 9 within 1/3, so the overall score was quite close 75% of the time. For the other 25%, though, all but one got an overall score lower than the average of its other scores. Four were a full point lower.

I also tracked some tests which are intended to draw attention to female roles in movies. As perviously discusses, passing the Bechdel or Mako Mori tests does not make a movie good, nor does failing them make a movie bad. It would be nice to have more and better roles for women in movies, though.
38% of the movies I reviewed this year passed the Bechdel test, and 30% passed the Mako Mori. Unsurprisingly, no movies failed the reverse Bechdel test.

Looking at the Bechdel and Mako Mori tests together, more than half of the movies I reviewed failed both. 20% passed both. Interestingly, 3 of the 4 movies which passed the Mako Mori but not the Bechdel were Marvel movies. I think this indicates that these movies have decent female roles but not many, though your interpretation may differ.

Hopefully someone out there finds these things as interesting as I do.
Happy New Year, everyone! May 2015 be excellent.

Here is the final list:
1. Boyhood
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
6Edge of Tomorrow
7. The Fault in Our Stars
8. Lone Survivor
9. The Wind Rises
10. The Maze Runner
11The Amazing Spider-Man 2
12. The Lego Movie
13. Lust For Love
14. Into the Woods
15. The Grand Budapest Hotel
17. Hercules
18. Fury
19. Big Hero Six
20. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
21. Maleficent
22I, Frankenstein
23. Monuments Men
24. Knights of Badassdom
25. Divergent
26. Brick Mansions
27. 300: Rise of an Empire
28. Godzilla
29. RoboCop
30The Giver
31. Winter's Tale
32. Interstellar
33. Transcendence
34. Noah
35. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
36The Legend of Hercules
37. Need For Speed
38. 3 Days to Kill
40. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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