Wednesday, December 30, 2015

year 7 wrap-up / year 8 preview

Year 7, Day 364 - 12/30/15

This week is a pretty dead week for television and movies, but you just know that reporters are going to be having a field day composing their "In and Out" lists, or coming up with snappy commentary like, "This is the year that hoverboards exploded on to the scene, and then exploded for real!"  But I feel like I did a lot of commenting on social issues in the last few posts of 2015, so I'm going to leave most of the analysis to the professionals.

Still, it's time for the annual wrap-up of what I watched this year, and what I learned as well.

1) 2015 began with "Into the Woods", and finished off with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - really, no better way to book-end things.  I started with the film my wife was most looking forward to, and ended with the one I was most looking forward to.  I'm sorry it wasn't a continuous actor-linked chain that lasted all year, it was more like two or three chains, but that's the nature of my blog these days.  I'm just happy that I was able to link as much as I did, and it's kind of astounding that I got to end the year the way I wanted.  I had a bit of a scare there, when Max Von Sydow didn't show up in the IMDB credits for "Star Wars" for a while, and that made me tear apart the last two months of my chain and rebuild it, but it all worked out for the best.

A lot of "Star Wars" actors had a good year, with Oscar Isaac showing up in "The Bourne Legacy" and "Inside Llewyn Davis", and Adam Driver turning up in that last film too, plus "This Is Where I Leave You".  Simon Pegg also popped up in "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol", Domnhall Gleeson was also in "Dredd" and Lupita N'Yongo appeared in "12 Years a Slave".  Anthony Daniels crossed over into "The Lego Movie" and a few "Star Wars" actors were even luckier, showing up four or more times this year (I'll deal with them below).

2) Documentaries - I'd watched a few documentaries over the course of the previous 6 years, but I'd never put so many in a row before.  This was a nice fix when my actor linking ran out, but also, I think I'm proud of covering some classy non-fiction material.  I studied the art world (with "Tim's Vermeer", "My Kid Could Paint That" and "Banksy Does New York"), the natural world (with "Microcosmos", "Bears", and "Grizzly Man") the sports world ("The Armstrong Lie" and "Bobby Fischer Against the World") and the world of technology ("Atari: Game Over" and "Citizenfour").  I feel like I learned a lot, like what Edward Snowden was all about, who this Banksy character is, what happened to the E.T. videogame, and why living among bears is not really a good idea.  Definitely some lessons there.

3) Tied in with these documentaries were films that covered the art world further - I sort of started this in years past with biopics about artists, like "Pollock" and "The Agony and the Ecstasy", and this continued in 2015 with films about artists, like "Lust for Life", "Banksy Does New York" and "Tim's Vermeer" and also films about art theft, like "The Monuments Men" and "Trance".

4) Last year there were also fictional writer-based films like "Midnight in Paris", "Sylvia" and "Shadowlands", this year I followed up with "Henry & June", and where last year was all about Woody Allen, this year I found time for an extended tribute to the works of Neil Simon - "Plaza Suite", "The Odd Couple II", "The Goodbye Girl", "The Out-of Towners", "Barefoot in the Park", "The Heartbreak Kid", "The Prisoner of Second Avenue" and "The Cheap Detective".  I got really good at spotting not only Simon's style, but also at determining just by the staging whether a film had probably originated as a stage play.

5) Musicians - real or fictional - had their day too, in films like "Inside Llewyn Davis", "Not Fade Away", and "Masked and Anonymous".  And for films about actors and wanna-be actors, there was "The Artist", "Stuck on You" and "Where the Truth Lies".

6) I'm proud of February - I had a solid, solid chain of romances where the linking all held up - 28 (OK, 29) films in a row where each one shared an actor with the film before it and after it.  Now, some of these had been on the list for a while ("Random Hearts", "My Big Fat Greek Wedding") some were new arrivals ("Young Adult", "Enough Said", "The Big Wedding") and some I dropped in as last-minute filler ("Two Weeks Notice", "The Wedding Date", "Miami Rhapsody") but in the end, it all came together.  A couple of stray romances popped up later in the year, like "Down With Love" and "Irma La Douce", because that's where the linking said they belonged.

In terms of romantic plots, this was the year that I watched "Hope Springs" and "Hope Floats", so I'm left wondering, which is correct?  I also watched "Something to Talk About" and "Enough Said", so there's a value in both talking and not talking, I guess.  Plus I covered friends in love with "Circle of Friends", "Your Friends & Neighbors", "Friends With Kids" and "My Best Friend's Wedding" - and speaking of weddings, I also watched "The Big Wedding", "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "The Wedding Date".  Plus, I took "A Walk in the Clouds" and also had my "Head in the Clouds". Finally I gave romance some time with "Six Days, Seven Nights" and also "Two Weeks Notice". 

7) Superheroes - this has been a huge category in the last few years, but this year I passed on both "Ant-Man" and "Fantastic Four", and only watched two films that came from comic books - "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Guardians of the Galaxy".  I scored both pretty high, and I have a feeling I might not have been able to say the same about "Fantastic Four", but I'll catch up with it eventually.  Does "Birdman" count as a superhero film?  Not really, I think.  I think both "Judge Dredd" movies counted as superhero films, though - or at least comic-book films.

8) Fantasy and Sci-Fi - another recurring topic for me.  This year on the sci-fi front, in addition to new "Star Wars", I watched "Interstellar", "Her", "Riddick", "Dredd", "Starman", "Aeon Flux", "The Astronaut's Wife" and "Transcendence".  Oh, wait, don't forget "Jurassic World".  And for fantasy films there were the final two "Hobbit" films to watch, plus "Winter's Tale", "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters", "Noah" (trust me, it counts), "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters", "Practical Magic" and both "Wings of Desire" and the U.S. remake, "City of Angels".

Time travel took a bit of a back seat, appearing only in "Safety Not Guaranteed", "Lost Christmas" and (sort of) "The Kid" and "A Muppet Christmas Carol".  But I have a feeling this topic will come back strong next year.

9) Animation - I didn't have time for a lot of animation, but the animated films I watched were some significant ones - "The Lego Movie" was the biggest of the bunch, but I also finally got around to "The Little Mermaid", after avoiding it for a long time.  "The Swan Princess" and "The Pebble and the Penguin" were under-performers, but there was also "A Liar's Autobiography" to cover some more adult animated themes.  Then "Planes: Fire & Rescue", "Rio 2", "The Book of Life" and "Eight Crazy Nights" came along late in the year.

10) There were spies and other agents galore - "RED 2", "Never Say Never Again", "Taken 2", "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol", "The Bourne Legacy", "Alex Cross", "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" and "Tequila Sunrise".

11) There were all sorts of criminals, like killers - "Primal Fear", "16 Blocks", "Hostage", "The Chase", "Prisoners", "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil", "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot", "Eyewitness", "Copycat", "In the Cut", "Stakeout", "Monster", "Deathtrap", "Murder at 1600" and "Unforgettable".  And then sometimes there were just thieves or petty criminals, like in "25th Hour", "Entrapment", "Flawless" "Gone in 60 Seconds" and "We're No Angels"

12) Then there were the political films - "The Queen", "The Iron Lady", "The Butler", "Syriana", "The Last King of Scotland", "Gandhi", "The Interview", "The Fifth Estate" and films about terrorism ("Non-Stop", "Arlington Road", "White House Down", "The Conspirator", "The Interpreter" and "The Peacemaker") and war ("The Imitation Game", "The Monuments Men", "Fat Man and Little Boy", "Jarhead").

13) Boxing Films - and other random sports. I honestly thought I was done with boxing a couple of years ago, but I was wrong.  I found another 7 films to watch in 2015, well, boxing and wrestling, including "Undisputed", "Play It to the Bone", "Against the Ropes", "Grudge Match", "The Great White Hype", "Ready to Rumble" and "Somebody Up There Likes Me".  By contrast, the only other sports movies I watched this year were the two docs about bike racing and chess, plus one football film ("The Best of Times") and two baseball ones ("Cobb", "42").  Wait, I guess I could count motorcycle racing ("Little Fauss and Big Halsy") and also skiing ("Downhill Racer"), those are sports, too, right?

14) The usual back-to-school chain got shorted a little this year.  Though, college was represented in "Neighbors" and "22 Jump Street", and the troubles of high-school kids were seen in "The To Do List", "The Way Way Back", "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "Not Fade Away", and then some younger kids were seen in the spelling bee in "Bad Words". And "Flatliners" showed people in medical school, no?

15) Halloween came rolling around, and I had a special focus this year - once I got past films like "Flatliners", "Dragonfly" and "White Noise", which were all about contacting the afterlife.  But soon I was on to zombies, gremlins and vampires, in "Zombieland", "Gremlins" and "Let the Right One In".  Then there were the other sorts of creatures, the more invasive ones like aliens and demons, seen in "The Exorcist", "The Thing" (both versions), "Body Snatchers" and "Dreamcatcher".  Earlier in the year I also watched "The Astronaut's Wife", and that also fit right in - beware of things taking over your body, they'll walk and talk like you, but they're not you!

16) Christmas, and Hanukkah too - I hadn't done a winter holiday chain in a while, I'd usually been breaking for the year in November, but this year a few of them had built up, so I dealt with them - from "Eight Crazy Nights" to "The Family Stone", "Lost Christmas" and "The Muppet Christmas Carol".

17) Geez, I almost forgot about hotels, and other various forms of real estate.  I kept noticing this year how many films were set in hotels, like "Four Rooms", "Six Days Seven Nights" and "Love in the Afternoon" and of course, "The Grand Budapest Hotel".  Then later in the year I watched "The Heartbreak Kid", "The Out-of-Towners" and "Plaza Suite", Neil Simon was really big on hotels because they make great places to set plays, all you need is one set.  Tangential to that was the number of notable films (also formerly plays, mostly) that were set in apartments, like "Barefoot in the Park", "The Prisoner of Second Avenue", "Under the Yum Yum Tree", also "Slums of Beverly Hills", "About a Boy".

Lots of other things happened this year, too - this was the year I watched four Shakespeare-based films in a row.  This is the year I finally tackled the Marx Brothers comedies.  Finally got "Harold and Maude" off the list.  Finally watched "Gandhi", and "Melvin and Howard".  And "Eraserhead".  And I even watched a film all about people listing the things they see - OK, so it was bird-watching and not movie-watching, but the principle is the same, right?

18) What was my highest rated film of 2015?  This is a bit of a tough question, because I gave out no "10" scores this year, nor did I award any "9"s.  BUT, I had 9 films that scored "8", and that still signifies an embarrassment of riches.  So it's a nine-way tie between "Into the Woods", "The Monuments Men", "Interstellar", "Moonrise Kingdom", "Avengers: Age of Ultron", "Guardians of the Galaxy", "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug", "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens".  Given the fact that I was probably tougher on the "Star Wars" film than I was on the others, perhaps I should declare that one the winner.

Similarly, I've got an 11-way tie for last place, with that many films scoring a "2" - "Hello Again", "Your Friends & Neighbors", "Henry V", "Unforgettable", "The Iron Lady", "Altered States", "Seven Psychopaths", "Aeon Flux", "Practical Magic", "Judge Dredd" and "Eraserhead".  It's hard to pick the biggest loser of the bunch, but three in particular not only failed to entertain, they made no practical sense - "Altered States", "Aeon Flux" and "Eraserhead" were thus the biggest wastes of my time.

19) Which actor showed up the most?  Had to be Cary Grant - he was in 22 films, in an almost-uninterrupted chain that started in early March and went all the way to mid-April. I called it "(M)Archie Madness", because his real name was Archie Leach, get it?  It was mostly romance/relationship films, which itself was astounding because he appeared early in his career in films with Mae West, and then in his late career he was cast against Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield.  And in-between he was paired with everyone from Myrna Loy and Irene Dunne to Deborah Kerr and Leslie Caron, not to mention both Hepburns, Katharine and Audrey.  And even though I dealt with all his Hitchcock-directed films last year, there was more than enough material for the Cary Grant chain this year - I won't list them all here, but I went from 1933's "She Done Him Wrong" to 1964's "Father Goose", and I still probably only have covered about half of his filmography. 

In 2nd place is Robin Williams, who appeared in 10 films, 9 of them in a row.  This was a bit of a conscious effort to put together something like a tribute, after he appeared in "The Big Wedding", I tracked down copies of "The Butler", "The Angriest Man in Brooklyn", "Shrink", "Jakob the Liar", "Patch Adams", "The Face of Love", "The Night Listener", "Cadillac Man" and "The Best of Times".

Tied for 3rd place are the Marx Brothers, with 9 films - from 1930's "Animal Crackers" to 1940's "Go West".  I didn't get to their earliest film, "The Cocoanuts" or their last one, "The Big Store", but both are on the list for next year.

Also tied for third is Matthew McConnaughey - his nine films were neatly in a row, too.  I started with "Amistad", and then went mostly chronologically, with "EdTV", "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing", "Two for the Money", "Failure to Launch", "Mud", "Dallas Buyers Club", "Interstellar" and "The Wolf of Wall Street".

And then comes Bruce Willis with his 9 films - "RED 2", "Moonrise Kingdom", "The Kid", "16 Blocks", "Hostage", "The Last Boy Scout", "The Story of Us", a cameo in "Four Rooms", plus a late-year appearance in "Nobody's Fool".

Robert Redford's in fourth place, with 8 films - "The Chase", "Barefoot in the Park", "This Property Is Condemned", "The Great Gatsby", "All Is Lost", "Jeremiah Johnson", "Downhill Racer" and "Little Fauss and Big Halsy".  I couldn't go chronologically with these, but together they provided a neat little link between the Marlon Brando films and the Mary Steenburgen films.

Also tied for fourth is Edward Norton, with 8 films - "The Bourne Legacy", "25th Hour", "Keeping the Faith", "Rounders", "The Grand Budapest Hotel", "Birdman", "Primal Fear", and "Moonrise Kingdom". I managed to get 7 of them in a row. 

Meryl Streep takes 5th place, with 7 films, which doesn't seem shocking at all.  After I started the year with "Into the Woods", "Hope Springs", "August: Osage County" and "The Iron Lady", I had to follow-up with another chain later in the year, containing "Stuck on You", "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Prime".

And then also tied for 5th was, surprisingly, Dermot Mulroney, with 7 films - "August: Osage County", "The Wedding Date", "Must Love Dogs", "My Best Friend's Wedding", "Jobs", "Copycat", and "The Family Stone".  That's a lot of Mulroney for one year to hold

I should point out that I devised a new method of tracking how many films each actor has been in this year, using a new list function on the IMDB.  I still have to search on each name, but once I do, the site can tell me how many times each actor appeared, out of the last 300 films viewed.  So I can list the 10 actors + actresses who popped up 6 times in 2015:

Bob Balaban - The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, Girl Most Likely, Jakob the Liar, The Monuments Men, Altered States
Benedict Cumberbatch - August: Osage County, The Fifth Estate, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Imitation Game, 12 Years a Slave
Matt Damon - Rounders, Syriana, The Monuments Men, The Rainmaker, Stuck on You, and Interstellar
Harrison Ford - Random Hearts, Six Days, Seven Nights, Sabrina, 42, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and he even had a cameo in Atari: Game Over
Jamie Foxx - Jarhead, White House Down, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Horrible Bosses 2, The Great White Hype, Rio 2
Kathleen Freeman - Dream Wife, Houseboat, Kiss Them For Me, The Best of Times, Ready to Rumble, Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Morgan Freeman - Last Vegas, Eyewitness, The Lego Movie, Transcendence, Amistad, Dreamcatcher
Jack Lemmon - The Great Race, Irma La Douce, Under the Yum Yum Tree, The Out-of-Towners, The Prisoner of Second Avenue and The Odd Couple II
Charlize Theron - Young Adult, Head in the Clouds, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Monster, Aeon Flux and The Astronaut's Wife.
James Woods - Against All Odds, White House Down, Jobs, True Crime, Eyewitness, Play It to the Bone

That's a strange mix - how did Kathleen Freeman rate so high?  Ah, she had small roles in 4 films that starred Cary Grant, and that puts her on par with big actors like Matt Damon and Harrison Ford.  I can also take things a step further, and list all of the actors who appeared in 5 movies this year:

Alan Arkin - Slums of Beverly Hills, Wait Until Dark, Jakob the Liar, Grudge Match, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing
Becky Ann Baker - Hope Springs, Two Weeks Notice, Sabrina, The Night Listener, Jacob's Ladder
Jeff Bridges - Arlington Road, Against All Odds, Starman, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Masked and Anonymous
Michael Caine - Sleuth, Deathtrap, Flawless, Interstellar, The Muppet Christmas Carol
Margaret Dumont - At the Circus, A Day at the Races, A Night at the Opera, Animal Crackers, Duck Soup
John Goodman - The Monuments Men, The Internship, The Artist, Masked and Anonymous, Inside Llewyn Davis
Jake Johnson - Jurassic World, The Lego Movie, Neighbors, Let's Be Cops, Safety Not Guaranteed
Nicole Kidman - The Interpreter, The Peacemaker, Moulin Rouge, Practical Magic, cameo in "The Queen"
Laura Linney - Primal Fear, The Night Listener, The Life of David Gale, A Simple Twist of Fate, The Fifth Estate
Frances McDormand - Primal Fear, Moonrise Kingdom, Laurel Canyon, Something's Gotta Give, Aeon Flux
Ewan McGregor - August: Osage County, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Moulin Rouge!, Down With Love, and a tiny voice cameo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Chris Pratt - Jurassic World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Her, The Lego Movie, Delivery Man
Jeremy Renner - Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Bourne Legacy, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Avengers: Age of Ultron, 28 Weeks Later
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County, Something to Talk About, Notting Hill, My Best Friend's Wedding, Flatliners
Kevin Spacey - Shrink, Henry & June, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Life of David Gale, Horrible Bosses 2
Max von Sydow - Never Say Never Again, Judge Dredd, The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, The Exorcist and Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Kristen Wiig 5 - Friends With Kids, Girl Most Likely, Her, Skeleton Twins, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Another list with both heavy hitters and character actors - Margaret Dumont scores here because she appeared in so many Marx Brothers films.  But who's Becky Ann Baker?  I expect Alan Arkin to pop up a lot, and people like Julia Roberts and Kevin Spacey, they're joined by relative newcomers like Chris Pratt and Jake Johnson.  That seems fine, there would be absolutely no reason for me to keep track of how many actors managed to make 4 appearances this year.  Yet, oddly, that's just what I did:

Kevin Bacon - Where the Truth Lies, In the Cut, Novocaine, Flatliners
Antonio Banderas - The Legend of Zorro, Miami Rhapsody, Four Rooms, Play It to the Bone
Michael Buffer - Ready to Rumble, Against the Ropes, Grudge Match, Play It to the Bone
Rose Byrne - The Internship, Neighbors, This Is Where I Leave You, 28 Weeks Later
Toni Collette - About a Boy, Enough Said, The Night Listener, The Way Way Back
Chris Cooper - August: Osage County, Her, Jarhead, Syriana
Brian Cox - RED 2, 25th Hour, Her, Trick 'r Treat
Matt Craven - The Life of David Gale, White House Down, Jacob's Ladder, Dragonfly
John Cusack - Must Love Dogs, The Butler, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Fat Man and Little Boy
Robert De Niro - The Big Wedding, We're No Angels, Last Vegas, Grudge Match
Bruce Dern - The Great Gatsby, Nebraska, Monster, Masked and Anonymous
Peter Falk - The Cheap Detective, Wings of Desire, The Great Race, Undisputed
Colin Firth - Circle of Friends, Where the Truth Lies, The Importance of Being Earnest, Magic in the Moonlight
Jane Fonda - The Chase, Barefoot in the Park, The Butler, This Is Where I Leave You
Ellen Geer - When a Man Loves a Woman, Harold and Maude, Practical Magic, The Odd Couple II
Bill Hader - Her, The Skeleton Twins, The To Do List, 22 Jump Street
Woody Harrelson - Play It to the Bone, EdTV, Seven Psychopaths, Zombieland
Audrey Hepburn - Wait Until Dark, Roman Holiday, Love in the Afternoon, Charade
Philip Seymour Hoffman - 25th Hour, When a Man Loves a Woman, Patch Adams, Nobody's Fool
William Hurt - Syriana, Eyewitness, Altered States, Winter's Tale
Diane Keaton - Crimes of the Heart, Something's Gotta Give, The Big Wedding, The Family Stone
Bill Maher - A Million Ways to Die in the West, Delivery Man, The Interview, EdTV
Margo Martindale - August: Osage County, Sabrina, Practical Magic, Nobody's Fool
James McAvoy - The Conspirator, The Last King of Scotland, Trance, Muppets Most Wanted
Bill Murray - The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, The Monuments Men, Zombieland
Liam Neeson - Taken 2, Non-Stop, The Lego Movie, A Million Ways to Die in the West
Paul Newman - Harper, Nobody's Fool, Fat Man and Little Boy, Somebody Up There Likes Me
Laurence Olivier - The Prince and the Showgirl, Hamlet, Henry V, Othello
Patton Oswalt - Young Adult, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), 22 Jump Street, Failure to Launch
Michelle Pfeiffer - Into the Night, Tequila Sunrise, Dangerous Minds, The Story of Us
Pamela Reed - Melvin and Howard, Cadillac Man, The Best of Times, Eyewitness
Ving Rhames - Entrapment, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Jacob's Ladder, Undisputed
Seth Rogen - Neighbors, The Interview, The Guilt Trip, and a cameo in 22 Jump Street
John Rothman - The Devil Wears Prada, Prime, Copycat, Hello Again
Meg Ryan - When a Man Loves a Woman, City of Angels, In the Cut, Against the Ropes
Andy Serkis - Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Channing Tatum - The Lego Movie, White House Down, 22 Jump Street, The Book of Life
Stanley Tucci - The Devil Wears Prada, The Fifth Estate, Muppets Most Wanted, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
M. Emmet Walsh - My Best Friend's Wedding, Random Hearts, The Best of Times, The Prisoner of Second Avenue
Forest Whitaker - The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, Stakeout, Body Snatchers
Isiah Whitlock, Jr. - 25th Hour, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, Not Fade Away, Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Mae Whitman - When a Man Loves a Woman, Hope Floats, A Million Ways to Die in the West, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Tom Wilkinson - Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Conspirator, The Importance of Being Earnest
Luke Wilson - Stuck on You, The Skeleton Twins, Masked and Anonymous, The Family Stone

See, even more character actors, like Margo Martindale and M. Emmet Walsh - they're right up there with perennials like Stanley Tucci, John Cusack and Diane Keaton.  Michael Buffer obviously benefited from the boxing chain, and Bill Maher was the apparent go-to guy whenever a film needed a comment from a late-night talk show host. And any year with four appearances by both Bill Murray and Patton Oswalt can't be all bad.

It would be really, really stupid and pointless to list all of the actors who appeared three times - at that level, it doesn't mean a thing.   Anyone can be in THREE movies out of 300, and here are the people who did just that:

F. Murray Abraham - The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Inside Llewyn Davis
Eddie Albert - The Heartbreak Kid, Roman Holiday, Every Girl Should Be Married
Dylan Baker - Random Hearts, Disclosure, Trick 'r Treat
Jonathan Banks - The Cheap Detective, Horrible Bosses 2, Gremlins
Robin Bartlett - Dangerous Minds, City of Angels, Inside Llewyn Davis
Jason Bateman - This Is Where I Leave You, Horrible Bosses 2, Bad Words
Corbin Bernsen - The Big Year, Hello Again, The Great White Hype
Cate Blanchett - The Monuments Men, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Hugh Bonneville - Notting Hill, The Monuments Men, Muppets Most Wanted
Marlon Brando - The Wild One, Julius Caesar, The Chase
Amy Brenneman - Your Friends & Neighbors, City of Angels, The Face of Love
Sandra Bullock - Hope Floats, Two Weeks Notice, Practical Magic
Ellen Burstyn - When a Man Loves a Woman, Interstellar, The Exorcist
Scott Caan - Gone in Sixty Seconds, Novocaine, Ready to Rumble
Bill Camp - Birdman, Rounders, 12 Years a Slave
Eloy Casados - The Best of Times, Cobb, Play It to the Bone
Stockard Channing - Must Love Dogs, Practical Magic, The Cheap Detective
Matt Clark - Jeremiah Johnson, 42, A Million Ways to Die in the West
John Cleese - A Liar's Autobiography, The Big Year, The Swan Princess
George Clooney - Monuments Men, Syriana, The Peacemaker
Kim Coates - Hostage, The Last Boy Scout, Unforgettable
Dabney Coleman - This Property Is Condemned, Downhill Racer, Melvin and Howard
Jennifer Connelly - Noah, Little Children, Winter's Tale
Sean Connery - Entrapment, Medicine Man, Never Say Never Again
Rob Corddry - The Way Way Back, Failure to Launch, Muppets Most Wanted
Kevin Corrigan - Slums of Beverly Hills, Seven Psychopaths, Winter's Tale
Kevin Costner - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Play It to the Bone, Dragonfly
Peter Coyote - Random Hearts, Patch Adams, Unforgettable
James Cromwell - The Queen, The Artist, The Cheap Detective
Brett Cullen - Something to Talk About, 42, The Guilt Trip
Johnny Depp - Into the Woods, Transcendence, The Astronaut's Wife
Ellen Albertini Dow - Patch Adams, Ready to Rumble, Eight Crazy Nights
Richard Dreyfuss - The Goodbye Girl, Stakeout, Another Stakeout
Adam Driver - This Is Where I Leave You, Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Jean Dujardin - The Monuments Men, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Artist
Griffin Dunne - Shrink, Stuck on You, Dallas Buyers Club
Irene Dunne - Penny Serenade, My Favorite Wife, The Awful Truth
Robert Duvall - Something to Talk About, The Chase, Gone in Sixty Seconds
Christine Ebersole - The Big Wedding, True Crime, The Wolf of Wall Street
Fritz Feld - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), At the Circus, Barefoot in the Park
Dave Franco - The Lego Movie, 22 Jump Street, Neighbors
Stephen Fry - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, A Liar's Autobiography
Ryan Gage - Judge Dredd, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
James Gandolfini - Enough Said, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Not Fade Away
Andy Garcia - When a Man Loves a Woman, Rio 2, Let's Be Cops
Paul Giamatti - My Best Friend's Wedding, Sabrina, 12 Years a Slave
Jeff Goldblum - The Grand Budapest Hotel, Into the Night, The Great White Hype
Hugh Grant - Notting Hill, About a Boy, Two Weeks Notice
Paul Guilfoyle - Random Hearts, Amistad, Cadillac Man
Kathryn Hahn - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), Bad Words, This Is Where I Leave You
Alan Hale - Destination Tokyo, Stella Dallas, The Inspector General
Ed Harris - The Face of Love, Masked and Anonymous, Planes: Fire & Rescue
Anne Hathaway - The Devil Wears Prada, Interstellar, Rio 2
Jonah Hill - The Lego Movie, 22 Jump Street, The Wolf of Wall Street
Anthony Hopkins - RED 2, Noah, Amistad
Brian Huskey - Shrink, Neighbors, The To Do List
Oscar Isaac - The Bourne Legacy, Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Dana Ivey - The Kid, Two Weeks Notice, Sabrina
Allison Janney - Six Days Seven Nights, Bad Words, The Way Way Back
Famke Janssen - Taken 2, Rounders, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Michael Jeter - Jakob the Liar, Patch Adams, True Crime
Stacy Keach - Nebraska, Planes: Fire & Rescue, The Bourne Legacy
Catherine Keener - Enough Said, The Interpreter, Your Friends & Neighbors
Harvey Keitel - The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, In the Cut
Deborah Kerr - The Grass Is Greener, Dream Wife, Julius Caesar
Keegan-Michael Key - The Lego Movie, Let's Be Cops, Horrible Bosses 2
Greg Kinnear - Sabrina, Someone Like You, Stuck on You
Jim Lampley - Grudge Match, Undisputed, Play It to the Bone
Martin Landau - Rounders, Ready to Rumble, EdTV
Diane Lane - Must Love Dogs, Judge Dredd, Murder at 1600
Jude Law - The Grand Budapest Hotel, Sleuth, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Christopher Lee - Hamlet, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Jay Leno - Stuck on You, EdTV, Delivery Man
Logan Lerman - Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah
Hamish Linklater - The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, 42, Magic in the Moonlight
Robert Loggia - Shrink, Return to Me, Somebody Up There Likes Me
Cheech Marin - The Great White Hype, Masked and Anonymous, The Book of Life
Steve Martin - The Big Year, Novocaine, A Simple Twist of Fate
Walter Matthau - Charade, Plaza Suite, The Odd Couple II
Frances Lee McCain - True Crime, Patch Adams, Gremlins
Will McCormack - Must Love Dogs, Syriana, Prime
John C. McGinley - 42, Alex Cross, Fat Man and Little Boy
Demi Moore - We're No Angels, Disclosure, Flawless
Joe Morton - The Night Listener, The Astronaut's Wife, Dragonfly
Lupita N'Yongo - Non-Stop, 12 Years a Slave, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Nick Offerman - City of Angels, The Lego Movie, 22 Jump Street
Timothy Olyphant - Gone in Sixty Seconds, This Is Where I Leave You, Dreamcatcher
David Oyelowo - The Butler, The Last King of Scotland, Interstellar
Lee Pace - Guardians of the Galaxy, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Anna Paquin - Amistad, 25th Hour, Trick 'r Treat
Sarah Jessica Parker - Miami Rhapsody, Failure to Launch, The Family Stone
Will Patton - Entrapment, Copycat, Gone in Sixty Seconds
Sarah Paulson - Down With Love, 12 Years a Slave, Mud
David Paymer - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Amistad, Unforgettable
Amanda Peet - Something's Gotta Give, Syriana, The Way Way Back
Sean Penn - We're No Angels, The Interpreter, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Chris Pine - Into the Woods, Horrible Bosses 2, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Christopher Plummer - Must Love Dogs, Syriana, Eyewitness
Kevin Pollak - Hostage, The Big Year, Miami Rhapsody
Tony Randall - Down With Love, Bobby Fischer Against the World, Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Elizabeth Reaser - Young Adult, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, The Family Stone
Keanu Reeves - Something's Gotta Give, My Own Private Idaho, A Walk in the Clouds
John C. Reilly - We're No Angels, Bears, Guardians of the Galaxy
Rob Reiner - The Story of Us, EdTV, The Wolf of Wall Street
Giovanni Ribisi - Gone in Sixty Seconds, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Masked and Anonymous
Rob Riggle - The Internship, Let's Be Cops, 22 Jump Street
Tim Robbins - Cadillac Man, Jacob's Ladder, Arlington Road
Chelcie Ross - My Best Friend's Wedding, The Last Boy Scout, Novocaine
Kurt Russell - Tequila Sunrise, The Best of Times, The Thing (1982)
Steve Schirripa - Must Love Dogs, Play It to the Bone, Planes: Fire & Rescue
Adam Scott - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), Friends With Kids, The Guilt Trip
Terry Serpico - Random Hearts, The Interpreter, The Peacemaker
Sam Shepard - August: Osage County, Crimes of the Heart, Mud
Johnny Simmons - The Conspirator, The To Do List, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Jean Smart - Hope Springs, The Kid, Odd Couple II
Cobie Smulders - Avengers: Age of Ultron, Delivery Man, The Lego Movie
Wesley Snipes - Undisputed, Play It to the Bone, Murder at 1600
Sylvester Stallone - Judge Dredd, Grudge Match, The Prisoner of Second Avenue
Florence Stanley - Down With Love, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, The Odd Couple II
Mary Steenburgen - Melvin and Howard, Goin' South, Last Vegas
Ben Stiller - Keeping the Faith, Your Friends & Neighbors, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Emma Stone - Birdman, Magic in the Moonlight, Zombieland
Corey Stoll - Non-Stop, The Bourne Legacy, This Is Where I Leave You
Wes Studi - A Million Ways to Die in the West, Undisputed, Planes: Fire & Rescue
Lynne Thigpen - Hello Again, Random Hearts, Novocaine
Susanna Thompson - When a Man Loves a Woman, Random Hearts, Dragonfly
Marisa Tomei - Someone Like You, Slums of Beverly Hills, Four Rooms
Pruitt Taylor Vince - Jacob's Ladder, Monster, Nobody's Fool
Danny Trejo - Six Days Seven Nights, Muppets Most Wanted, The Book of Life
Goran Visnjic - Rounders, Practical Magic, The Peacemaker
Tim Ware - 42, Monster, A Simple Twist of Fate
Gedde Watanabe - EdTV, Two for the Money, Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Frank Welker - The Little Mermaid, Gremlins, Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Mae West - She Done Him Wrong, I'm No Angel, My Little Chickadee
Owen Wilson - The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Big Year, The Internship
Scott Wilson - Judge Dredd, The Great Gatsby (1974), Monster
Catherine Zeta-Jones - RED 2, The Legend of Zorro, Entrapment
and a special shout-out to the Muppet performers (Steve Whitmire, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson & co.) for Muppets Most Wanted, Kermit's Swamp Years, and The Muppet Christmas Carol

See, that list serves no practical purpose, it's all over the place.  Someone would have to be a complete nut or suffering from very bad OCD if they took the time to keep track of all that.  Good thing I don't know anybody like that...

Now, with all that out of they way, do I dare to do another Big Year?  Nobody would fault me if I stopped now, and the entire project would both start AND stop with "Star Wars" films - it's a nice symmetry.  And 2,200 is a great number, but 2,500 is a better number, a rounder number.

How many fims are left on the watchlist?  It's 160, which is better than last year at this time (190?) and you'd think that when filling 300 slots with 160 movies that I'd have 140 open slots left over, but that's just not how this works.  When I took a break in early November, the watchlist was down to 130, and it ballooned back up to 160 in under 2 months.  There are still lots of 2015 films to add, plus TCM will be doing their annual "30 Days of Oscar" programming in February, and I may pick up a few classics that have fallen through the cracks.  So with 160 films to fill 300 slots, plus additions, maybe I can hit it just right.

What's ahead for 2016, if I do another "Big Year"?  Well, 2015 was supposed to be the "clean-up" year, and thematically, I was all over the place, as one might expect in the 7th year of this project.  But 2016 is REALLY going to be the clean-up year, at least once I get past March. 

a) What's on the list already, what am I looking forward to most?  A lot of films from 2014 & 2015, like "American Sniper" and "Foxcatcher", "Despicable Me 2" and "Big Hero 6", comic-book flops like "Fantastic Four" and "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For", a neat chain devoted to Angelina Jolie, Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, then at some point I'll open up The Burt Locker (the films of Burt Reynolds), and I'd like to finally watch the films of Cheech & Chong.  There's an action chain connecting Liam Neeson films and Tom Cruise films, for sci-fi there will be "Lucy" and "Serenity" and "Snowpiercer" and "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes".  And music-based films like "Whiplash", "Idlewild", "Get on Up" and "Sid and Nancy".  A couple Brad Pitt films, "Boyhood", and maybe "Exodus: Gods and Kings" around Passover time.  Three more from Bill Murray, and at least four films about time-travel. 

b) What needs to be added, more films from 2014 & 2015, like "The Martian", "Spectre", "The Hateful Eight", "Krampus""Ant-Man", "The Man From "U.N.C.L.E", "Trainwreck", "Inside Out", "Ted 2", "Southpaw", "Black Mask", "Minions", "Pixels", "Pitch Perfect 2" and "Irrational Man" - that's probably enough of a list to get me started.  But then I also have to consider the 2016 release schedule for new films - like "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice", "Captain America: Civil War", "Deadpool", "X-Men: Apocalypse", the new "Ghostbusters", "Kung Fu Panda 3", "Star Trek Beyond", and GAAAH, what else? 

Anyway, the new year kicks off in 2 days - and I THINK I know where the next chain has to start.  I'll take some time over the next 2 days to play around with it.  Back in 36 hours or so.

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