Chronicling the 80s - November

Do you remember when I was going to take the most popular 80’s movies from Letterboxd and watch them “all” this calendar year of 2018? I do. I also remember failing at it, quite badly.

It started out well enough, even with a bit of misstep. I watched a couple of films that I thought were on the list but weren’t, then quickly jumping in with an incredible film in Nausicaa. My optimism for the project remained high, as I cherry picked films, popped that popcorn and took in movies week after week. I believe – without doing any check here – that I was on track to watch eight or nine of these eighties films every month, which would put me on track to complete the full 180 titles. Yes, I was cheating a bit by giving myself a head start in checking off movies I had seen previously but that just meant the list could be larger and more robust with 180 entries instead of something more attainable, like 90.

You may even recall the notion of a monthly post providing a quick review of each title. It would serve as a mechanism to present more content on the site, and personally, help me back into writing on a more frequent basis. Perhaps the first catalyst for failure happened here.

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Chronicling the '80s - Month One

As January winds to a close, I feel compelled to provide you - the faithful reader - an update on my 2018 project to chronicle the most popular movies of the 1980's. Let's dive right in, shall we?

It all started on a quiet Friday evening; the air outside was cold, but the heat was on and I had two little warmers by my side in the form of my cats. I took the time to make popcorn on the stove top, a recently discovered favourite of mine, that blows away your traditional microwave variety. It is a bit time consuming, but paired with a cold soda and a blanket, it's well worth it. I spent the previous week acquiring various movies for the project, and had a couple of false starts, but this time I knew the movie was on the list, and I was ready to ceremoniously begin the Chronicle. 

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

Yes, this would be perfect, with original Japanese audio, thereby forcing my attention to read subtitles throughout the duration. I'm not sure it mattered though, as this movie had me engrossed from the very beginning. It's so beautiful, from start to finish, that anything I could really say about it would be amateur-ish in the world of film critique. Everything about the movie, and the setting in my apartment was perfect that night, and I truly felt as though I had just watched the first five star movie of what should be many; although, I did knock it down half a star simply because I reserve those perfect scores for movies I've seen multiple times. For a movie that is ranked number 69 on this list of films, I figure the quality of the others must be astounding, and this project will be an absolute breeze.

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Chronicling the '80s

It's not like me to put together New Years Resolutions, but this year - being inspired by other movie-lovers - I have decided to try one out. It had to be movie-related of course; something feasible that can be arduous yet achievable. Something that would be fun; something that would expose me to cinema I may not look for on my own. With the rash of eighties movies I have thoroughly been enjoying the past little while, I had my focus and my plan sprung into place rather quickly: I would assemble a list of the most popular films of the 1980's and watch all of them.

Utilizing my go-to, Letterboxd, I was able to sort each individual year by popularity; for numbers sake, I took the top 18 of each year and put them into one large list, resulting in a hefty 180 titles. That many movies in one year is difficult, but definitely possible (I regularly clear 200 now). The issue is that: there wouldn't be room for other movies. Fortunately, Letterboxd saves the day again in the form of my watch history, and in the list, I can quickly see that I've already seen 46% of these movies, leaving me with just over 90 films to take in to fulfill this project. 

Some may be quick to point out that it doesn't count if I don't watch all 180 in one year, but let's be realistic for a moment. And if I did accept that angle, I could easily knock it in half to be the top nine from each year, effectively halving my intake and making this that much easier. But I wanted to branch past the top ten of each year, which would expose me to some lesser known material. It's also important to note that this is Letterboxd's most popular: not necessarily the highest rated, or most successful, but the most popular.

A link to the list can be found here:

I would encourage you to take browse through the list, and even create your own Letterboxd account (it's free, you don't need to go 'pro' to mark movies watched) and see how many in this list you've watched. Add me as a friend as well!

Stay tuned for month-by-month updates of my progress through this list, with some commentary on the films and the journey.