Coming around to Letterboxd

14 Mar

When movie website Letterboxd first started, I tinkered around with it a bit. I made a profile, rated a number of films on there, and explored the diary feature a little. Then I decided that it wasn’t something I needed. I already use a number of different sites to keep track of what I’ve seen, chiefly Flickchart, I Check Movies, and Swedish Filmtipset. Did I really need another one? At the time, the answer seemed to be “no.”

I’m changing my mind now, at least temporarily. I was lead back to the site after I decided to put together a list of all the films I’ve rated 5/5. At first I used IMDB for this, which turned out to be a horrendous battle against a UI dead-set on user unfriendliness. After venting my frustrations about it on Twitter, people told me to use Letterboxd instead. So I did. It became apparent right away that its list-making tool was way smoother, but then I started noticing other things I liked about the site.

(Said list of 5/5 movies is now available here on the blog too under the name 5/5 Solid Gold, and can be reached by clicking it on the top bar.)

The chief thing that makes Letterboxd different from other sites I use is its focus on community. Many websites just have you rating movies in a bubble. Sure, there might be an option to add people as friends, or maybe a forum, but they’re still mostly solitary experiences. Letterboxd is closer to a social network in a way, as you can always see what your friends are up to: what they’ve watched, what they’ve reviewed, what lists they’ve made, what reviews they’ve liked, and so on. It’s all integrated very well.

A typical movie page on Letterboxd.

A typical movie page on Letterboxd.

Another great thing about Letterboxd is its stylish look. Movies are often grouped together in grids by their poster arts rather than in the usual list format – though that’s available too – which is quite pleasing on the eyes. I also dig the way artwork or images from a film is used on its page, softly blurred into the background. Very cool.

So what have I been doing on Letterboxd so far? Mostly, I’ve been rating movies. I have a substantial backlog of films I’ve seen in my life – not as many as a lot of you I reckon, but it’s still in the 1500 range – and this should ideally all be caught up on. I haven’t done this in any organized manner; I’ve mostly looked through recent reviews on the site and rated whenever a movie I’ve seen has appeared, plus I’ve started rating all the films in my collection too. At the time of this writing, I have managed 609 ratings. Still a long way to go.

Letterboxd uses a 5 star rating scale, which suits me fine; 5 steps is what I’m accustomed too using. They allow for half-stars, though. At first I figured I’d ignore those and just use full stars myself, but eventually I realized there were some cases where I was a bit too torn on what score to give, or my memory of a film or its rating was too hazy, and this is where the half-stars come in handy. I’ll use them on Letterboxd, but most likely not elsewhere. I do prefer the logic of a 5 point system only having 5 steps.

The site also allows you to organize your watching in journal style, by which I mean that you can fill out on what particular date you watched a film, and even make entries upon rewatches and how your ratings change and all that. This is very nifty, and I wish it all had existed when I first started getting into movies in a big way five years ago. While I have a lot of time-related data to mine from Filmtipset, entering the whens of all my movies manually on Letterboxd is probably too much work for me to ever go through all my viewing history. We’ll see I’ll use it for future watching, however.

I’ve also made some more lists. In addition to the 5/5 list, I also have one of films I own but haven’t seen yet, and one of films I haven’t rewatched since buying them. I figure having them on display like this might work as an incentive to get around to them sooner. I’ve also started on cataloguing my DVD and Blu-ray collection, but that’s still very much a work in progress and is kept behind the scenes so far. I have some plans for further lists too. It’s weird how making lists can be so fun.

So that’s what I’ve been preoccupied with the last few days. If you’re already on Letterboxd or have been inspired to try it out, do look me up. My profile page is HERE. Maybe we can be friends there too.


Posted by on 14 March, 2013 in Misc.


6 responses to “Coming around to Letterboxd

  1. Nostra

    14 March, 2013 at 13:07

    It’s a cool site, which I really wanted to use, but had issues with importing my IMDB scores. Contacted them several times, but never got it to work. Don’t feel like entering them all manually.

    What do you notice about the community activity? What ‘s it like?

    • Emil

      14 March, 2013 at 15:37

      Too early for me to say. At the moment, it’s mostly people I follow on Twitter that I’ve started following on there too. You get to see reviews and stuff from everyone, and it seems quite easy to get in contact with new peeps there. I just like how well integrated the social aspects of it are to the personal activities, if that makes sense.

  2. Mr Rumsey

    14 March, 2013 at 13:19

    I tried this site a while back but didn’t get very far with it. You do make it sound interesting though, perhaps I’ll give it another go.

    • Emil

      14 March, 2013 at 15:39

      Once you have friends on there, whether they’re new acquaintances or old ones, it gets pretty fun. You can see whenever people see something new, and when you yourself rate a film there, you can see what your friends have to say about it as well. I dig the concept, and the execution.

  3. Travis McClain @TravisSMcClain

    15 March, 2013 at 15:03

    I’ve kept my ticket stubs for all movies I’ve seen since the end of 1995, and I’ve tracked all my at-home disc viewing since December, 2008 (when I began using DVD Profiler, an excellent DVD catalog program). Adding those viewing dates was time consuming, yes, but also pretty easy. I’ve worked out probably viewing dates for movies I saw in a theater during their original runs and if I’m off on those, so be it.

    My lists so far have primarily been for myself, though I’ve also created a handful that I think might be handy resources for other users. I’ve only recently begun tinkering with communal lists, starting with The First Movie You Remember Seeing in a Theater. The idea behind communal lists is simple enough: You offer a prompt and as each person comments, they pick a movie to represent them in the list and then you add said movie. There’s something neat about knowing a specific movie represents you on someone else’s list, but more importantly there’s the hope of discussion and getting to know one another. Most of my Letterboxd friends are people I only know through Letterboxd at this point.

    • Emil

      15 March, 2013 at 15:34

      I have fairly solid time data for most of my post-awakening watching, so I could fill all that out with enough time and energy. Everything before 2008 would be pure guesswork, though. It doesn’t help that I didn’t go to the cinema much pre-awakening. I know I saw The Matrix in theater, so that’s probably 1999, but then you have stuff like Seven or Forrest Gump that I first saw on TV, and that’s way trickier.

      I’ve been looking through the lists of people I follow on Letterboxd (mostly people I follow on Twitter, though I’m starting to make new acquaintances too), mainly to find films I haven’t yet rated – it’s more fun than just going movie by movie in my viewing history. I commented on that communal list of yours as well. I dig the concept, and hope you do more of them. Cool idea.


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