2023 in Movie Watching

We’ve already covered our 2023 in book reading, so now it’s time to examine our year in Movie Watching. Insert standard disclaimers concerning the arbitrary or rationally considered nature of dates and astronomical movements in the solar system and whatnot. As with book reading, movie watching in 2023 has basically settled into a plateau after a big spike during the pandemic.

I keep track of all my movie watching on Letterboxd, so if you’re reading this and are a member, we should be friends there. One of the neat things I can get from there is fancy stats and graphs and whatnot, so let’s take a deeper dive into my 2023 in movie watching:

Overall Stats

A general look at my 2023 in movie watching:

  • 388 Movies Watched (-1 movie from 2022)
  • 693.9 Hours Watched (-19.1 hours from 2022)
  • 32.3 Movies a month on average (-0.1 movies from 2022)
  • 7.4 Movies a week on average (-0.1 movies from 2022)

The general numbers are extremely close to last year, with only the “hours watched” metric being a little more volatile (interestingly, the differential was also down significantly last year – I suspect this is due to the occasional TV series being tracked “as a movie” on Letterboxd – something that has been declining for me). The numbers are also pretty close to pre-pandemic 2019, though that was a record-breaking year at the time (immediately shattered by 2020 for obvious reasons). After a few years, this seems to be the plateau.

Breaking that down by decade:

2023 Movies by Decade

So watching by decade is roughly similar to the past couple years, though the 20s-60s mostly saw modest declines (steeper declines for 50s and 60s). That slack was picked up by the 70s and 80s and the 2010s and 2020s. I haven’t done the 50 From 50 postmortem yet, but I suspect most of those were recent (and took away from time that would have gone towards older movies). Perhaps its time for a movie resolution for older movies again, akin to the 50 Under 50 project?

2023 Movies by Week

Movies by week remains relatively consistent. The only interesting pattern is that towards the end of last year, I had a few months of remarkably consistent viewing, and that seems to have carried over into the first quarter of this year. Then I went on vacation (a few times) and things got a little more choppy as the year progressed, with a general spike during the 6 Weeks of Halloween. In terms of day of the week, we’re slightly more consistent here, but the weekend still gets the bulk of watches and Tuesday (which is game night) gets the least time.

Genres, Languages, and Countries

2023 Genres, Countries, and Languages

Here we see the usual dominance of USA and English language. You can’t really see it, but the 50 From 50 project did have an impact and overall count of USA and Anglosphere is actually way down. But since that project spread watching across tons of other countries, no one country stands out. The biggest changes came from a surprising showing from Mexico and Spain, which knocked China and Japan off the chart this year.

There some minor movement on genres, with Horror jumping up into the #2 slot after a stint at #5 last year. But genre fare still seems to be high here, and I do think the 50 From 50 project had some influence here as well – a lot of those films were horror or action (but again, we’ll need to do a full postmortem to really see what the breakdown was). Also of note: Documentary drops off the list of top genres (which aligns with a decline in non-fiction book reading last year as well). I don’t know that this means anything, but it’s interesting…

2023 Themes and Nanogenres

A new feature on the Letterboxd stats page is Themes and Nanogenres. Fun, but not too surprising – these are mostly related to action, thriller, and horror.

2023 Map of Movies Watched

Despite the USA and English language dominance, you can really see the effect of 50 From 50 here in the map, which shows probably the most coverage of any year yet. Definitely the most coverage for South America and Africa in any given year, and the funniest thing about this map is that some countries that I normally cover were not – notably Ireland and New Zealand (both were excluded from 50 From 50 due to being Anglosphere countries – doesn’t mean I couldn’t watch anything from them or anything, but I didn’t go out of my way). Even funnier is that we’re only two weeks into 2024 and I’ve already seen a movie from Ireland. Go figure.

Ratings and Other Patterns

2023 Ratings and other Patterns
  • 20.6% of my watches were a 2023 release, which is actually a bit of a drop from 2022. (Funnily enough 100% of my 2024 watching so far has been 2023 releases, so I’m catching up…)
  • 24.2% of my watches were actually rewatches, which is just slightly below 2022 numbers (a 0.2% difference) so we’re mostly on par with that.
  • Ratings Spread continues to be roughly bell-curve shaped and centered on a 3 star (out of 5) rating. There’s a decrease in 3 star reviews, but those got distributed in the adjacent ratings (rather than more extreme ratings). Interestingly, while I rarely give out the 1 star rating, I gave out 4 this year. That’s actually a mild decrease from 2022, but I literally sought out terrible movies in 2022 as part of a project with friends. This year I just watched some bad movies on my own. Go me.
  • Letterboxd has a watchlist feature where you can add movies you want to watch (or at least, not lose track of). This year saw a notable increase in both movies watched from the watchlist… but also movies added to the watchlist. As a percentage, I probably did significantly better than last year, but overall still added 23 movies to the overall list. Will 2024 finally be the year in which I make progress on the watchlist? (So far I’m at parity – 3 added, 3 watched (not the same 3))

Stars and Directors

2023 Most Watched Stars

Sylvester Stallone takes the cake this year, mostly on the back of rewatches (including smaller roles like in Guardians of the Galaxy movies and The Suicide Squad). Only two women on the list (down from 3 last year), but it’s nice to see Lin Shaye and Michelle Yeoh on the list. Two black men on the list, an actual improvement over last year, though obviously not outstanding. So not exactly diverse, but not completely generic either.

2023 most watched Directors

The director list is significantly less diverse, though there are far fewer outliers here (usually there’s someone with more than 4 movies, for example) and there are a few folks where I watched 3 of their movies, but they’re not on the list because it’s limited to 10. Go figure.

Highs and Lows

2023 Highs and Lows

The appropriately titled High and Low takes highest rated this year, certainly a worthy successor to last year’s The Godfather. Best. Christmas. Ever! (one of those Hallmark Christmas imitation movies that Netflix somehow manages to convince real stars to be in…) was the lowest rated thing I watched all year, which is saying something in a year when I also watched Sharknado and They Saved Hitler’s Brain. No surprise that Barbie was the most popular movie of the year on Letterboxd. And Most Obscure was a documentary I watched for 50 from 50 about Nokia (would make for an excellent double feature with Blackberry if you were so interested).

So there you have it, 2023 was a pretty great year for movie watching, here’s to 2024!

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