Goodreads for Film, but Actually Good
January 18, 2021 8:42 AM   Subscribe

Film social media site Letterboxd is growing rapidly amid the pandemic and the explosion of streaming options. Is Letterboxd Becoming a Blockbuster? (NYT/ and The Future of Film Talk? (The Ringer). Check out Letterboxd’s 2020 Year in Review, with the site’s highest rated and most popular films, plus weirder categories like most obsessively rewatched and most loved to hate. Previously.
posted by adrianhon (31 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
I like Letterboxd quite a bit, although the ads have become rather obtrusive of late.
posted by brundlefly at 8:50 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

I mostly use Letterboxd as a way to keep track of my progress in watching the 1,001 Movies to Watch Before You Die and Ebert's Great Films and as a more convenient interface for JustWatch. I'm not personally very good at writing reviews and frankly most of the reviewing there is a little too fanish for my taste.
posted by octothorpe at 9:16 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

Wow, I don't think Letterboxd has been on my radar at all, and I just clicked through to the 2020 Year in Review, and it's really really great. The pull quotes from the reviews showcase some excellent writing ("On one hand, it’s pretty shocking to see that such a confidently presented and steady film is actually the feature debut for director Darius Marder. On the other hand, it’s almost expected that this could be the case when a film feels so unique and fresh." "Sayna is like King Midas but instead of gold everything she touches turns to art.")

I watch a movie or two a week and I kind of try to keep up with what new movies I might like to see, but I had never heard of any of these top movies of 2020 except for "Soul." (I'm a little surprised I'd never heard of "Minari.")

This looks like an outstanding resource, and I am extremely glad to know about it.

(brundlefly, is an ad blocker a possibility for you at all?)

Thank you so much for posting this, adrianhon! My upcoming Saturday nights thank you.
posted by kristi at 9:25 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

I started using Letterboxd as a way to track my own movie-watching, but lately I've found it to be a fantastic resource for discovering interesting movies. If I enjoy something, I'll look for other highly-rated movies by the same director, or similar movies recommended in reviews; Letterboxd has a much "cleaner" and easier-to-navigate database than, say, Google or IMDB.

A couple of years ago I stumped up for Pro membership which removes ads and adds some neat features. I would like Letterboxd to keep existing and not get swallowed up by Google or Amazon, and $19/year feels like a fair price to chip in!

I also follow Mefi-fave Demi Adejuyigbe there, who frequently writes insightful and hilarious reviews, including this piece of perfection on One Night in Miami....
posted by adrianhon at 9:29 AM on January 18 [6 favorites]

brundlefly: "I like Letterboxd quite a bit, although the ads have become rather obtrusive of late."

I pay the $20 a year for the Pro account to get rid of ads. It's a pretty trivial amount of money for how much I use the site and I like to encourage that revenue model.
posted by octothorpe at 9:31 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]

I love Letterboxd. I use the JustWatch integration very often--like, to filter by year, genre, etc. and then see what's available on the services I have access to. I think it's a 'pro' feature unless you were grandfathered into it or something, but it was especially helpful for watching a bunch of SF/F films by decade--I eventually listed my favorites on Letterboxd as well: SF/F & Horror Favorites, 1970-1979 and SF/F & Horror Favorites, 1920-1929. Incidentally, Metafilter's social explorer lists a few dozen other Mefites who are there.
posted by cpound at 9:34 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]

As with Goodreads for tracking the books I read, I just use Letterboxd to record everything I watch. I pay no attention to the 'social' aspects at all. Neither interface is ideal, and one of these days I should just export and make my own spreadsheet so I'm not subject to ads or someone else's "business model." But in the meantime, it's nice to use both apps especially for searching and auto-filling key fields.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:03 AM on January 18

The poetic Minions review by Sydney Wegner linked in the NYT article is just wonderful.
posted by oulipian at 10:57 AM on January 18

Yes. Letterboxd is really nice as a film diary service. I like seeing what other folks have been watching, but I particularly like that their activity is presented in a fairly unobtrusive manner - the home screen emphasizes the gestalt of your community and your friends, not a torrent of activity. You can get to your friend-specific feed, but it’s a little buried, and B that’s good.

That said, while I really like using Letterboxd, it seems janky as all get out. It’s been a minute since I switched from Anrroid to iPhone, but there were no ads in the Android app. None. And I still remember how at some point they had to update the green plus button at the bottom to suggest adding the current film whose page you’re on because dopes like me kept searching for a movie and then clicking the plus button instead of the tiny three dots in the corner.

So, uh... I love using Letterboxd, but it doesn’t always seem that slick.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:58 AM on January 18

(brundlefly, is an ad blocker a possibility for you at all?)

I have them whitelisted as I want to support them. Then again...

I pay the $20 a year for the Pro account to get rid of ads. It's a pretty trivial amount of money for how much I use the site and I like to encourage that revenue model.

...I really should do this.
posted by brundlefly at 11:03 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

... and having finally read that Times article, that jankiness makes sense! I hope those nice dudes have good plans for when bad people start showing up, and I hope they add TV show support.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:04 AM on January 18

Also, JustWatch -without Letterboxd- is incredibly potent. If you only care about knowing what movies you can see on the services that you’re paying for, it’s really aces.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:05 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]

While I don’t tend to check the lists much, I do like this concept list by Dave Wiegel that has a movie explicitly set in every year between 2008 and 2058.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:15 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

Just the other day I was wishing for this type of service to keep track of the movies we watch in the hurdy gurdy household. I had no idea about Letterboxd! Thanks for posting.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:32 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Metafilter's social explorer lists a few dozen other Mefites who are there.

I've added mine.

I've only been using it a few years and largely use it as an aide-mémoire for what I've watched (especially as I've gotten older). My favourite features are the import and export functions as I tend to keep track of my viewing with a spreadsheet first then I upload that. That process is surprisingly painless (or minimally painless in anycase). Though looking through my viewing it now seems woefully incomplete for the years before 2019 - though I pick at it every so often. I prefer to use IMdb for my watchlist (the information there is better organised then on letterboxd). While I enjoy the lists people create I tend to not use it for any social media activities or reviews (the reading or the writing of them). But yeah useful service and hope it doesn't get absorbed by someone larger...
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:14 PM on January 18

Let's see some MeFi recommend list!

especially for horror
posted by Beholder at 12:27 PM on January 18

There are some things about Letterboxd I like quite a bit, the ease of linking to those people you wish to see comments or reviews from, the layout for browsing selections by year or cast/crew member, and the low bar to making comments and having them seen by others.

On the other hand the search functions kinda suck for anything but films by year, which IMDb is much better for (genre searches are always a mess at every site). The new ad policy is super annoying, with reloads on every page, some of which have to play through before being able to click off, blocking part of the screen. Following others when you don't have pro can mean pages of "added to watchlist" posts from some users, which is close to useless and irksome for keeping the things you are interested in harder to find. The recent changes also clearly point to a future of moving away from the peer to peer model that makes Letterboxd useful, to a more content/production driven sales experience, where the peer review function becomes a secondary consideration, the hook for the ads basically.

That said, if you poke around you can find some users who have consistently interesting things to say and/or may have some of the only things to say about less popular non-US films, or, if its more to your taste, there are those who will bring the funny too, which can also be pleasing in a different kind of way.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:32 PM on January 18

I mostly use Letterboxd as a way to keep track of my progress in watching the 1,001 Movies to Watch Before You Die

DUDE! Me too! (I think my Letterboxd account is linked in my profile, hit me up!)

Let's see some MeFi recommend list! especially for horror

I keep forgetting and remembering this one - Session 9. Scared the bejesus out of me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:33 PM on January 18

Letterboxd is worth it for this list alone.

Also, I'm rather proud of putting together this incredibly specific list.
posted by brundlefly at 12:47 PM on January 18 [1 favorite]

I love Letterboxd. Aside from being an easy way to track what I watch (this year, I'm including rewatches for the first time, so expect a lotttttttttt of terrrrrrrrible comfort movies), it lets me dig into deep and weird genres and really get that watchlist rolling.

Alas, my lists are stupid. The only one that's remotely good is Let's Get Drunk and Watch Bad Movies. Which is exactly what it says.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:33 PM on January 18

I absolutely love Letterboxd. It's one of my favorite all-time apps and I always use it as the yardstick for what other apps should be.

For example, Untapped collects a bunch of data but doesn't even tell you anything about what styles of beers you rate the highest, what style you drank the most of, how much cider versus beer you drink, what breweries you love, which days of the week you drink the most, nothing. It's ridiculous!

I'm also often saying things like, "I wish there was Letterboxd for cheese." Or, "Can you imagine if Ravelry could tell me about yarn categories like Letterboxd does with film genres?" Or, "I wonder what Goodreads or Kobo could do with user lists features like Letterboxd has."

I hope it stays awesome.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:08 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]

DUDE! Me too! (I think my Letterboxd account is linked in my profile, hit me up!)

We, um, already follow each other.
posted by octothorpe at 2:54 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]

ok, I've signed up. I hope I remember to log in and use it!
posted by rebent at 3:05 PM on January 18

I've been using Letterboxd since 2015 and I've found paying the $20 for the stats has really helped broaden how I watch films. For example, I might notice that a particular cinematographer has shown up multiple times involved with movies I've rated highly so I then click on their name and find out their other movies and watch them. There are so many little things like that.

One tip I have for people using Letterboxd is to be judicious with blocking people. When you block someone all of their reviews and comments are hidden for you, so all of those people that waaaay overuse the site and take up all of the oxygen in the room you can just block. I have most of the top users blocked for that exact reason. I don't really care to see the film critic twitteratti all scramble for the snarkiest hot takes. YMMV.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 3:29 PM on January 18 [2 favorites]

I joined, gave La La Land two stars, now let's see if I ever use it again.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:45 PM on January 18

Let's see some MeFi recommend list!

I joined Letterboxd in late 2016, and since 2017 I've been doing a ranked list of everything released that year which I managed to see in that year - here's my list for 2020 (and yes I genuinely think Spontaneous was the best 2020 film I saw in 2020 and I will die on that hill).
posted by mightygodking at 10:10 PM on January 18

I love Letterboxd - I worry it will become too popular and attract arseholes, though. It's just very nice and easy to use.

I use it to track what I've watched, and what I'd like to watch. Sometimes I write reviews, but usually it's more like a note to myself about what I liked or didn't like. Being able to see what my film-nerd friends are watching is fun and there's no real push to force interaction with everyone. It's a very relaxed site overall.

Oh and I love that I can give a star rating and/or a heart for a movie. Sometimes you need both, or neither.
posted by harriet vane at 4:31 AM on January 19

I gave up on star ratings and even went and deleted them from all my old reviews. I just never came up with consistent way to assign a number of 1 - 5 to a film and decided it was dumb to even try to apply a one dimensional rating to an art that's so multi-dimensional.
posted by octothorpe at 5:01 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

I also track my watch history but use because it also lets me track tv shows!
posted by soonertbone at 8:59 AM on January 19

We, um, already follow each other.

Oh, that was me from the past who burst in and said that. ....yeah, that's what happened.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:23 AM on January 19 [1 favorite]

Does the paid membership remove ads on the (android) app, or just the website?
posted by whir at 7:57 PM on January 22

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