The Queue: 366 Movies I Haven’t Seen Because I’ve Been Busy Doing Other Things—Part I (January 2024)

The Queue: 366 Movies I Haven’t Seen Because I’ve Been Busy Doing Other Things—Part I (January 2024)

When Matt asked me to take the reins of his new-movie-every-day challenge, I immediately said yes—partially because my watchlist is dispiritingly long and ever-growing, and partially because 2024 is a leap year, which means I get to watch an extra film and one-up his 365-day streak.

In the past when I saw new movies, I was usually left to the whims of film classes and cable TV. Nowadays, unless I go to the theaters, I’m more likely to replay a Zelda game or rewatch a classic Simpsons episode than seek out something new.

As a result, I now have serious gaps in my knowledge of cinema. I still haven’t seen classics like Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets, Hayao Miyazaki’s Howls Moving Castle, Robert Altman’s Nashville, or Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, and I’ve yet to watch a Sam Peckinpah or Ingmar Bergman film. I aim to fix all that in 2024.

To help me along the way (and to make sure I’m watching a variety of films I might not otherwise pick), each month will have a different theme.

January’s Theme: 2023 Films

The rules:

1) Every day, I must watch a film I’ve never seen before.

2) The phone goes away. No distractions.

3) At least two-thirds of the movies I watch must fall within the theme. (The other third can be whatever, but I’ll try to prioritize new/recent releases.)

4) My reviews must be 33 words or less. Matt gave himself 32 words; I’m giving myself 33. I get an extra movie, so I get an extra word.


(In the order that I watched them.)

1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem (directed by Jeff Rowe, Kyler Spears)

I wanted my first movie of the year to be light and fun, but I wasn’t expecting it to be genuinely spectacular. In my opinion, 2023’s best superhero film. Cowabunga!

2) The Iron Claw (d. Sean Durbin)

Oscar for Maura Tierney when? Also for Zac Efron and the rest of the cast, of course, but she makes the most of her limited screen time. What a devastating performance.

3) Poor Things (d. Yorgos Lanthimos)

I absolutely love Yorgos Lanthimos’ camerawork and use of color here. Emma Stone owns this dementedly funny take on Frankenstein.

4) Maestro (d. Bradley Cooper)

This gets four stars for that Snoopy cameo alone. The rest is stylish enough that it’s easily in the top 5% of biopics for me. Haters gonna hate, but this is art.

5) Rustin (d. George C. Wolfe)

As a biopic, it’s just too conventional for my tastes, but it’s nice to see Bayard Rustin getting some attention and recognition.

6) Beau Is Afraid (d. Ari Aster)

Weird, surreal, unsettling, often very funny. Not sure if everything pays off, but I’m glad this movie exists, even if it kinda lost me in the final act.

7) A Thousand and One (d. A.V. Rockwell)

Teyana Taylor is as great as everyone says, and so is the rest of the movie. Can’t say enough good things about this—from the writing to the music. What a directorial debut.

8) American Fiction (d. Cord Jefferson)

I was hoping it would be closer to Sorry to Bother You based on the trailer, but nevertheless, the satire here is still a lot of fun.

9) Godland (d. Hlynur Pálmason)

Another film with A+ cinematography and camerawork. This one will sit with me for a while. The only downside: Now I need to go to Iceland!

10) Showing Up (d. Kelly Reichardt)

Embarrassingly, this is my first Kelly Reichardt film, and I regret not watching any of them sooner. I really vibed with this one and can’t wait to watch more of her work.

11) Infinity Pool (d. Brandon Cronenberg)

I can’t decide if this is Brandon Cronenberg’s Hostel or Brandon Cronenberg’s "The White Lotus"—or maybe both? What a freaky little film.

12) Fast Charlie (d. Phillip Noyce)

Sometimes, you just want to watch a movie where Pierce Brosnan plays a hitman with a Southern accent, and what can I say? It delivered!

13) Definitely, Maybe (d. Adam Brooks)

I went in thinking this would be a basic rom-com. I didn’t expect it would make me cry!

14) Birth/Rebirth (d. Laura Moss)

I love Frankenstein stories, I love mismatched characters forced to work together, and I love seeing HIPAA violations in film and TV, so this was right up my alley.

15) Elemental (d. Peter Sohn)

It’s cute! I enjoyed it! Pixar’s world building remains unmatched when it comes to attention to the smallest details.

16) Society of the Snow (d. J.A. Bayona)

Solid and brutally effective survival thriller. As someone who prefers the beach to the snow and eats four meals a day (plus snacks!), I think I’ve discovered my worst nightmare.

17) Air (d. Ben Affleck)

It’s the textbook definition of a crowd-pleaser, and this crowd (i.e., me) was pleased.

18) Rye Lane (d. Raine Allen-Miller)

I loved pretty much everything about this one … the acting, the dialogue, the wide-angle lens, the use of color, the sense of humor. One of the most charming movies from last year.

19) How to Blow Up a Pipeline (d. Daniel Goldhaber)

Tense and effective. The first piece of pop culture to make me miss AP Chemistry since "Breaking Bad"!

20) Earth Mama (d. Savanah Leaf)

Love how experimental and understated this is. A solid debut for Savanah Leaf and Tia Nomore.

21) Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (d. Sam Fell)

Stop-motion is always so charming, and Aardman never disappoints. Not quite at the level of the original (what is?), but it’s still a good time.

22) L’immensità (d. Emanuele Crialese)

At one point, Penélope Cruz’s trans son yells, “Can you stop being so beautiful?” and no, I think it’s literally impossible. The “Prisencolinensinainciusol” church sequence is a standout.

23) Flamin’ Hot (d. Eva Longoria)

Apparently none of this actually happened, but it had me craving Cheetos afterwards, so mission accomplished, I guess? Regardless, Eva Longoria has some nice flair as a director.

24) The Eternal Memory (d. Maite Alberdi)

Another solid, Oscar-nominated documentary from Maite Alberdi. Emotionally devastating, even if it left me feeling uneasy about how much of it is consensual versus exploitative.

25) Mission: Impossible—Dead Reckoning Part One (d. Christopher McQuarrie)

Not quite as good as Tom Cruise’s last sequel (the blockbuster masterpiece Top Gun: Maverick), but he yet again proves why he’s the greatest movie star of all time.

26) Nimona (d. Nick Bruno, Troy Quane)

I got some nice How to Train Your Dragon/Shrek vibes from this. Hope they get to make plenty of sequels!

27) Joy Ride (d. Adele Lim)

Return to Seoul’s raunchy cousin, and the funniest movie I’ve seen in a while … there’s literally an LOL moment every minute! But it also has enough heart to make the emotional beats land.

28) Somewhere in Queens (d. Ray Romano)

Loved it! My grandma was Italian, so any movie about the Italian-American experience (e.g., Goodfellas, My Cousin Vinny, Fatso) is an automatic 10/10. Why doesn’t Laurie Metcalf have an Oscar yet??

29) Golda (d. Guy Nattiv)

No joke, I think this has the most cigarettes I’ve ever seen in a movie.

30) Jules (d. Marc Turtletaub)

Funny, cute, charming, and bittersweet. It lands somewhere between E.T. and Cocoon, and I’m glad I watched it!

31) The Zone of Interest (d. Jonathan Glazer)

An understated, unsettling masterpiece about the banality of evil, in which a family lives their normal, mundane lives in a home next door to hell. Just how similar to the Hösses are we?


Favorite Movie: The Iron Claw. Every now and then, I think about that conversation in the final scene and start crying again.

Favorite Performance: Vivian Oparah got a BAFTA nomination for her performance in Rye Lane, and it’s so well deserved. She just about steals the entire film with how effortlessly charming she is!

Biggest Surprise: I had no clue what to expect with Jules, and the only thing I knew about it was that an alien lands in Ben Kingsley’s backyard (R.I.P. his azaleas). I thought it would be a harmless diversion, not a legitimately good sci-fi dramedy! And the performances from Kingsley, Harriet Harris, and Jane Curtin are all just as great and help bring the emotion.

Bonus Shoutout: I assumed I’d like A Thousand and One based on what I’d heard about it, but I didn’t anticipate how much I’d love Gary Gunn’s score! Most of the time when I see a movie, the music is the first thing I forget (especially if there aren’t lyrics), but the opening theme has practically lived rent-free in my mind. One of the biggest Oscar snubs of the year.

Did I Successfully Watch a New Movie Every Day? I failed on day one! I started TMNT on the 1st, but I was falling asleep during the climax and didn’t finish until the next day. (Through no fault of the movie—I was just tired.) I was good the rest of the month though.

Did I Successfully Stay Off My Phone? Lol no. I will try to do better in the future 😔

*Feature Image: The Iron Claw (A24)

Michael is a screenwriter from Long Beach, CA. Some fun facts about him: he used to coach swimming, his favorite show is Futurama or AHS depending on his mood, and he was voted Best Eyes in 8th grade.
More posts by Michael Owens.
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