in Criterion Month

As amusingly bizarre as Colin’s conclusion to this year’s Criterion Month was, I thought the occasion deserved even more fanfare. You see, this marks five years of Criterion Months, since we started this tradition way back in 2017. That was uniquely the only time we did two Criterion Months in a year, as we followed that up with another one for that year’s Shocktober. We could afford to do those sorts of things those days, because life was so simple. Back then, we streamed Criterion movies on Hulu and TCM’s FilmStruck and had even more incentive to do this because the Barnes and Noble John worked at was still open. Things sure have changed a lot since then.

We’ve collectively reviewed 182 movies (I refuse to include Cyberspace Jam), let’s break them down.

First of all, who’s reviewed the most movies? That would be John, although it’s awfully close. So close you might be wondering, why isn’t it a three-way tie? Well, because John usually takes the lion’s share of Shocktober on by himself, the crazy bastard. When we did that Shocktober, I only reviewed eight movies (plus a Horrorble) and Colin did nine, meaning John had to review a cursed 13 films that month. I did some catching up by reviewing 11 movies in both 2019 and 2020, but we still haven’t closed that gap. I guess John’s got an excuse to miss a couple reviews in the future if he wants.

Looking at our star rating spread, you can see that we’ve really enjoyed the movies we’ve watched. Despite my “draft the best movies of all time” approach, my average rating of about four stars is actually a little bit lower than Colin’s, since he’s never rated a Criterion Month movie lower than three stars. John’s average is a bit lower, closer to three and a half stars, but that’s still quite high. He’s given our lowest rating, a half star, and also is the only one of us who has not awarded fives stars to anything yet. On the other hand, I give those out the most, having so far awarded eight movies our highest honor. Also, none of us have given a movie exactly one star yet, so that’s something to look forward to.

I grouped all the movies we reviewed by the decade they were released in and honestly… the results didn’t surprise me at all. It’s a fairly normal distribution. Not a lot of stuff before the 1950s, an obvious preference for the 1960s and 1970s, and then consistently fewer films each decade until we reach the present. We didn’t see a movie from every decade of the 20th Century, but I’m not sure if there even is anything in the Criterion Collection from before the 1920s. The earliest year I could find on Criterion’s site is 1921, and we have reviewed that movie, just for a different Shocktober.

The Phantom Carriage would be the oldest movie Colin reviewed (although if you want to get technical it should be 1923’s Safety Last!) and the latest would be 2016’s Personal Shopper. John’s spread is the biggest, his oldest movie was 1922’s Nanook of the North and his most recent was our altogether latest, 2019’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which arguably didn’t come out until 2020. My oldest was Body and Soul and most recent was Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture, my only 2010s movie. I wonder what the first 2020s Criterion Month review will be?

The last bit of analysis I was able to do was on the countries we’ve represented with our reviews. Again, it’s not surprising to see that we focused almost entirely on North America and Western Europe, since that’s the obvious place our tastes and what the Criterion Collection has to offer meet. I didn’t think the United States would have such a commanding lead, but I guess all three of us have come to appreciate the need to have a few picks that don’t have subtitles every time we do this. Also, it’s on me more than the others, of the 67 American films we’ve reviewed, I drafted 28, John 21, and Colin 18. France is doing well in second place and right now we have a tie for third between the United Kingdom and Japan. Italy is the last country that’s reached double digits in reviews, we’ve drafted 10 movies from there. This is all definitely worth thinking about next time we do this.

Anyway, I would love to have some more charts to show you, but this is all the data I already had collected. I’ll definitely start recording movie length going forward, as I’d love to know who’s seen the longest film, the average Criterion Month pick length, and the total time we’ve spent watching these movies. Also genre could be interesting, depending on how specific Criterion gets on their site. But the one thing these facts and figures can’t show you is how much fun we’ve had writing all these 182 reviews. The only way you can find that out is by going back and reading each and every one of them. And I know just where you can start: my recently completed, super late review of Le cercle rouge.

  1. That’s some fun math! My guess is that the top 3 longest movies would all be my picks: A Brighter Summer Day, Jeanne Dielman, and The Emigrants

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