With a few hundred movies now being released each year it is impossible even for professional reviewers to see them all. As for the rest of us, we probably aren't interested in seeing all the films that come out, but we would like to see something worth watching. But how many times have you shelled out the big bucks at the theater only to really regret the loss of your time and money. Come on, I know some of my readers wasted their money on the Wild Hogs movie.
How do you choose what movies you will see? I think most people decide based on film trailers or the recommendation of a friend. Experience should suggest such sources are often unreliable. Trailers can misrepresent a movie and friends typically can only tell you if they liked a movie or not. Most of us need more than that to go on. I've blogged on why we should go to the movies, and how we should watch them. Here are two ways you can choose better movies before you sit in the theater or pop in the DVD.
Find some reviewers you like. Look around, do some reading or listening, and find some reviewers that help you better appreciate movies. Don't just find people who consistently give a thumbs up to the same movies you like, but look for people that can talk about a movie in a way that helps you better understand the film. These are people that can give you solid guidance, and even if you disagree with their final score of a movie, you'll be better able to appreciate a film because of it. If you don't know where to start the most fun, easily accessible and smart reviewing team are Adam and Sam from the podcast FilmSpotting. I also like A. O. Scott of the NY Times.
Follow your favorite directors (not actors). Can you tell someone who your favorite directors are? If not, then go back and consider the movies you really enjoy. Who directed them? The director is the man behind the film that makes it what it is. While he does not act alone, his vision, leadership and talents are what give shape to the movie you love or hate. Replacing him/her would change the movie substantially enough to give us a completely different experience. Knowing who's agreed to direct an upcoming movie is a great heads up. For example if David Fincher, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan, or Danny Boyle (to name just a few off the top of my head) are directing a new movie, I start paying attention: it could be very good.