02 January 2022

2021 Movie Watching Review!

Every year since 2015 I have catalogued with extreme precision every film and television show I have watched. I added sports this year, but I think I'll probably skip both sports and TV in 2022. I just don't really care or do much with that data. But movies are strong, and I've finally been doing this long enough that I have some really interesting trends. So first, let's update our chart:

Total movies198220224249200182180
First-time viewingsn/a117133157131110111
First-time viewing %n/a53%59%63%66%60%62%
Streaming %n/a25%36%63%59%73%74%
TV %43%38%25%4%4%2%6%
Theater %5%5%5%6%4%1%4%

So, I watched the lowest amount of movies since I started keeping track, but I knew that going into this year. What's more remarkable to me is that I was actually very similar to 2020. Almost dead-on with first-time viewings and identical with number of streaming movies watched. I should note that I did achieve my highest percentage of streamed films ever, triple what I did in 2016.

Other fun aspects include the fact that I somehow watched more films on TV than I have for the past three years (although it's still a tiny number). I have that here mostly because it just used to be so high, but I wonder if it's worth reporting here. Same with my theater numbers. Although it was higher than it was last year (obviously), only two of those films were actually in theaters, the other five were drive-ins.

Boy I keep that first-time viewing percentage similar, huh? That's really not conscious, I don't feel like I watch too many repeat movies, but I suppose I do. It's steadily improved from when I started (and no, I didn't think to track this in 2015), but assuredly, I might even say shockingly leveled off.

I can't believe I used to have a particularly high amount of repeat viewings, but the only film I saw more that once this year was Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), which yes, I did see twice in the same month. Sue me!

Viewing Method Deep Dive:

Netflix Streaming2916.2%
Netflix DVD2212.3%
Amazon Prime52.8%
Other Streaming31.7%

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Era of HBOMax is here. I thought it might have had an edge on Netflix, but I had no idea it would more than double the amount of films I saw. Now, I separated Hulu's HBO Add-on and HBOMax last year, mostly because I didn't realize I had HBOMax with the expanded subscription package. So really, I should have had 29 films last year, but I more than doubled that. I had about 60 Netflix films, which does sort of mean these streaming services are more competing for the same space rather than me being able to create room for everyone. That may or may not be good news for some of these companies.

My airplane movies are divided three each between Alaska and Delta airlines and my television channels include AMC, Bravo, Freeform, TNT, TBS, IFC, and BBC America. I just can't believe that I went to a movie theater as much as I watched Disney+. That's actually down fairly significantly from last year, but Disney+ just seems to be a television service at this point. All their movies are popular but stale.

Hulu was down by about a third. Amazon Prime is kind of shitty as always and YouTube stayed the same. Fun there's always a handful to watch there. This was a fun year to experiment with other streaming services, one big add was that we got Xfinity, totally just because they are our area's monopoly and it comes with Peacock as a free service. Got nine movies out of it, but also used Pluto TV, Sling TV, and Starz Streaming to watch some fun stuff. What really surprised me was that I didn't watch a single movie on Kanopy! What am I thinking?! I need to link it to my Xfinity, I guess.

Lastly, my Netflix DVD subscription was still going strong, although it did actually tumble 5%. I think that's more that it took me a while to get around to watching a few. I remember back in the day I got into a two-per-week rhythm. I'm just busier than that these days! Straight up DVD viewing remained steady at seven. 



Amazingly, I did get at least one film in for every decade back to the 1920s. Obviously my old movie watching is never that great. The big shift is the 2020s, which also obviously was skewed last year, and likely will be for some time, since I both have less years to pull from, but it's also the most recent. I didn't think I had watched that many 2021 films, but 38 is a whomping number, and 21% is the highest I've been in the current year since starting this (in order, 14%, 16%, 17%, 17%, 18%, 19%). 

You may recall, then that when I ranked my 2021 movies, I really wasn't impressed and thought I hadn't seen that much. Maybe it's more accurate then to say that I saw a lot of 2021 films but they weren't very good. After some thought, this actually makes a lot of sense. For one, a ton of 2020 films were postponed and dumped onto streaming services in 2021. This made it far easier to watch a lot more films, while also there just being more available. However, more of these films were also very bad. That didn't stop me from watching them, there's still a huge need to wind down with some crap while I play on my phone, which is perhaps further compounded by the fact that I pressed play on some films that I'd never have driven to the theater and paid money to watch.

This is a decently important shift. We talk about changing viewing habits all the time, but this is subtle yet significant. I might call it the Red Notice Effect. We are way more apt to watch crappy movies at home for free. This unfortunately means that we are going to be subsequently served way more crappy movies because the end result to the studio is the same - clicks and cash. We need to wholly disengage from the false presumption that blockbuster cinema is art. Man I should have logged into Kanopy this year.

Does anyone care about a year by year breakdown? Let's move on. By decade, we obviously saw a decrease from the 2010s, but also from the 2000s. 90s and 80s were generally steady, but we did actually watch more older films, particularly from the 70s than last year. In fact I watched the third-most 1970s films ever. In 2016 my 90s films actually eclipsed 2000s, but normally it is not that close.

I was definitely missing some years! The most notable is 2009, which feels really recent. Actually, I did close out the year on a Harry Potter marathon, but watched Half-Blood Prince (2009) on New Year's Day. So just missed that one! Other than that, 1998, 1993, 1989, 1987, and 1981 are absent, as well as plenty from the 70s and 60s.

Odd big years outside of the last decade are five from 1999, four from 1988, and three each from 1990 and 1994. The 1950s are represented by two films both from 1954, both from Japan.

The oldest film I watched was Nanook of the North from 1922 and the most recent was The Matrix Resurrections (12/22/21). Ironically, I watched the Matrix the day it came out and I watched Nanook eight days later.

Month Breakdown:


December was king, mostly due to a New Year's Eve movie marathon, but I also definitely tried to get a lot of great films in for my end of year list. September was wretched because I got married, a new job, and moved. Still saw ten movies. We definitely had a lot of small months, it was more extreme than last year for sure with some months being high and others being low, but this was cool.

General Thoughts

So, what did I watch this year? Well, for the first time since 2014 I did not watch The Interview (2014), which is a long streak that's broken. This seemed like a year of really bad movies, which is undoubtedly a result of impulse streaming.

But I watched a lot of Godzilla films, old and new, Fast and Furious films, old and new, the aforementioned Harry Potter. I caught up on Scorsese and Mel Brooks films I had never seen before and crushed a lot of deservedly underappreciated modern comedies like Night School (2018) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013). Yeah, it was a year of bad movies, people.


We're doing some trending graphs this year! First, the big picture, all the data in that first chart - first time viewings, streaming, television, and theater percentages over time:

Streaming up, TV down. No big surprise here.

This isn't all that surprising, either. It's amazing how generally proportional everything is, with the obvious exception of 2010s movies declining as we get out of that decade. What might be weirder is how close 2000s and 1990s movies have the potential to be.

Here is what is really interesting. Netflix streaming has a ridiculous rise, but check out HBOMax. TV obviously plummeting, but so did DVDs, but that took a bit of time. I still think it's notable to include the other major streaming services, if only to show how much of a market share they lack.

I was hoping to glean something from plotting months over the years, but there's not much here. December is a big one in general, just from free time and motivation trying to get everything in. February and September are busy months for me so generally low. But June goes from the worst month ever in 2015 to one of the best in 2016. May 2019 takes the cake, though, with 29 films. Can I ever do the 31 in a month?!

That's it, folks! Hope this data is a fun way to issue in the New Year! It sure is for me. I really wouldn't believe this if I didn't write it down. I can't believe how much Netflix has tumbled and my viewing habits have changed in just seven years. Let's keep it up!

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