the candler blog

The 56 Films that Opened in New York This Year Without a Review in The New York Times

Movies

Media folks whipped themselves into a tizzy yesterday over news that The New York Times is no longer reviewing every single film that opens in New York City. Variety broke the story like it was the Pentagon Papers, but the grey lady’s co-chief film critic A.O. Scott took to Twitter (and an interview with Indiewire) to throw cold water on the idea that this was any sort of scandal.

As the paper of record, editorial changes at the Times may certainly reverberate throughout the industry. I’m not sure this change is quite the “blow to independent, documentary films” The Wrap is making it out to be, but it certainly is a change.

I got to wondering which films that have opened in New York City this year have not recieved a Times review. So I set to work (with the help of my pal Clint Bishop, whose programming skills probably saved me 100 hours of copy/pasting) figuring it out.

We took Mike D’Angelo’s invaluable “New York City 2015 Commercial Releases” list and fed all of the titles into Metacritic, looking for links to Times reviews. From there, we took the remaining titles and manually searched for reviews.1 I checked IMDb for alternate titles and fed those into the search as well to see if something was lost in translation.

I should note that this methodology is not perfect. We did not check every single reviewed film that the Metacritic script spit back out at us. Also it doesn’t account for certain inconsitincies, such as three films by Ruben Östlund, The Guitar Mongoloid, Involuntary and Play, recieving a single omnibus review.2 However I’m confident that the films listed below did not, in fact, recieve a review. I’ve got the browser history to back that up.

I want to clarify one more point. D’Angelo’s master list does not, to my knowledge, adhere to the same standards that the Times’ editors do. I may well be subtracting apples from oranges here. Some of the films listed below may have had a theatrical run but would never have recieved a Times review in any year. But it’s my best guess for now.

In the end, 56 out of 380 titles released in New York City were not reviewed in The New York Times from January 1 to May 22.3 The majority of those titles, 24, are American. The next largest grouping, 10 films, are from India.

I haven’t seen a single one of these films so I can’t really speak to any common threads. For the most part they look exactly like the sort of titles Scott mentioned in his Indiewire interview: “obvious four-walls, vanity releases and movies that would have been straight-to-video releases in the past.”

So here they are, the 56 films that opened in New York without a review in The New York Times.

Image from Accidental Love.

  1. site:nytimes.com is a very helpful prefix for these sorts of searches.

  2. These films are each counted separately for my total film release count.

  3. I exempted 5 shorts compilations released in New York City: Sundance Film Festival Animated Shorts; 2015 Oscar-Nominated Animation, Documentary and Live-Action Shorts; and Remarkable Shades of Gay

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