2016 Year in Review

We’re proud to announce our fifth-annual Letterboxd Year in Review. Our hearty congratulations to Barry Jenkins and Moonlight on taking the top spot for 2016. After the Mad Max: Fury Road juggernaut of 2015, we began 2016 with no idea what film might win people’s hearts, and as much as we made no secret of our Mad Max obsession, we’re taking immense pleasure in seeing a low-budget movie with a diverse cast of mainly unknown actors and no franchise history top the list.

Thanks to all of you for another bumper year on Letterboxd! You’ve been busy: almost ten million more films marked watched than in 2015. Two million more diary entries. Half a million more reviews written. 30,000 more lists created. That’s why we made Letterboxd: for you to record your life in film.

The calculations

We’ve spent the past couple of weeks compiling and fine-tuning the results, based on our community’s combined ratings as at January 1, 2017. We use the same method every year to calculate the results: films must be feature-length (sorry, O.J.: Made in America), narrative or documentary (sorry, Lemonade) and have been rated by a minimum number of members (sorry, 20th Century Women). Other than these criteria, all films that had at least a limited theatrical run in the US during 2016 are eligible for inclusion, which explains why some films that premiered at festivals in 2015 are included (e.g. Green Room). For this, we must once again thank Mike D’Angelo for his excellent resource: a definitive list of the year’s NYC theatrical releases. (The only sections in which this release window rule does not apply are “Ones to Watch”, which highlights the highest rated films seen by a smaller number of members, and “Most Obsessively Rewatched”, which can include films released in any year.)

As on the site, we differentiate between popular films (a measure of the amount of activity a film receives regardless of rating) and highly rated films. Rankings in the “Highest Rated” categories are based on the same weighted average used on the site (the ‘weighted’ part refers to a mechanism that ensures a more accurate average rating for films with a low number of ratings, and is based on the approach used by IMDb).

All of the above will explain why the official Letterboxd Year in Review differs from Jack Moulton’s excellent and popular Top 50 list, in case you’ve been following along with that. It also explains the omission of Ezra Edelman’s terrific 463-minute O.J. Simpson miniseries, which otherwise would have taken the top spot in the documentary category—as it did have a butt-numbing theatrical release—and which you should definitely check out in the comfort of your own home!

The results

No more dilly-dallying, here it is:

The 2016 Letterboxd Year in Review

On devices with keyboards, we recommend using the up/down arrow keys to navigate between pages. As for previous years, we’ve compiled longer lists for the main categories and published these under the yir2016 tag.

We sent this year’s review to our Patrons for feedback a couple of days ago, and asked them to suggest some lesser-seen reviews they enjoyed this year. You’ll find their suggestions near the end of the review, along with a message from one of our favorite directors. Happy new year and thanks for participating!

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