Features and Columns · Movies

New Year’s Movie Resolutions

By  · Published on December 20th, 2016

Dear FSR

2016 was a good year for film – what’re you doing in 2017?

At some point in your life, you’ve likely been faced with a question that has no solid answer. Some people may take such a puzzle to a trusted confidant, a friendly pastor, or the esteemed annals of Yahoo! Answers. But will they have the expertise needed to solve your most pressing film predicaments?

Think of Dear FSR as an impartial arbiter for all your film concerns. Boyfriend texting while you’re trying to show him your most precious Ozu? What’s the best way to confront the guy who snuck that pungent curry into your cramped theater? This is an advice column for film fans, by a film fan.

Dear FSR,

Do you make New Year’s resolutions about movies? I kind of want to but I think it might be too dorky – what do you think?


Auld Lang Sighin’

Dear Auld Lang Sighin’,

It’s almost the new year and 2016’s depressing march is almost finished. We can finally stop worrying so much about the year’s stuffed In Memoriam sections and start worrying about next year’s. The silver lining of the year is that it was spectacularly good for movies. Not New Year’s Eve movies which, if Wikipedia can be trusted, include 1979’s More American Graffiti and four remakes of a ship-turned-upside-down disaster movie. But just regular ol’ movies. Indies, blockbusters, genre flicks. Everything a movie lover could want had at least one stellar showing this year.

What would I change about it for next year? I think that goes into much more personal territory. Not so much about the movies, but about me. My habits have flaws more easily discernible than those of the films I watch, which means I can decide to improve them far more effectively. It’s not like I’m going to eat less popcorn to lose weight or watch more wholesome movies to improve my morality – if anything that’ll lead me to being a fatter, crankier person in my free time.

My movie resolution will go back to how I consume the movies I love. Sometimes I’ve planned to go watch old movies or knock some particularly embarrassing classics off my Shame List.

In 2017, I want to separate my -ivities.

I mean how people watch movies with either an assumed subjectivity or objectivity. Everyone’s obviously watching with subjectivity because we’re not aliens to this culture and even if we were, that in itself is a subjective stance. But some people like approaching a film in a vacuum for purity’s sake. That’s fine, especially when so much film writing is stretched to meet the needs of the day (“How does The Jungle Book foretell the coming of a Trump presidency?”).

That’s something that’s been nagging at me lately, the time spent making connections rather than assessing the core of a film’s construction and letting its associations naturally blossom from analysis. That grows out of the endless cycle of hype, press releases as news, and trailer dissection. The cycle has grown so large that it’s hard to escape its gravitational pull. Writing outside this circle withers and dies without an audience groomed to expect otherwise.

So that’s a little specific to my job, to how I consume movies, but I’m sure it opens synaptic doorways for you as well. Maybe watch fewer trailers, go into more movies blind. Let yourself be surprised and excited by films again. Movies don’t have to be metered against our expectations for them, that’s just advertising.

The best movie experiences I had in 2016 were when I left my home without knowing what I was going to do that day and wandered into a movie. Even if it wasn’t a great movie (looking at you, Sausage Party) I relived so much emotion that I hadn’t experienced in years.

Anticipation made potent by its briefness, uneasiness and surprise hiding unexpected delights. Even streaming movies based off their title alone gave me instances of childlike glee.

Some of this came from not watching with an agenda. I wasn’t trying to spin a piece, broaden my horizons, or catch up on a recommendation. These were movies for me, plucked from the universe on my own volition. 2017 might need a lot of self-care and movies are the best medicine I know.

But enough about my resolution – what’re yours?

Happy New Year,


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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).