Illustration of film strip in article about app Letterboxd
This app is the perfect way to discover more movies. (Illustration by Alice Yuan, Maryland Institute College of Art)

Letterboxd Changed the Way I Watch Movies

If you’re in a Netflix-watching rut, download the social networking app that inspired me to watch more films.

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Illustration of film strip in article about app Letterboxd
This app is the perfect way to discover more movies. (Illustration by Alice Yuan, Maryland Institute College of Art)

If you’re in a Netflix-watching rut, download the social networking app that inspired me to watch more films.

Over the past few years, I’ve gained access to many streaming services; as a result, I’ve become overwhelmed by the amount of content available. The first day I ever used Netflix, I spent a good 10 minutes just searching the service’s library for something to watch. There is so much available that it has become hard for me to continue watching certain movies or shows. New films are released monthly on these services and I start to slowly lose interest in the content that I’m currently watching. I did this constantly, until I discovered Letterboxd.

Letterboxd is a social network that allows its users to rate and review movies either online or via their mobile app. The platform is also known for its ability to let users create lists that rank their favorite films. Letterboxd itself uses this feature constantly to introduce its users to new films. I found the app while browsing the r/movies community on Reddit, and ever since, I’ve been hooked.

My first day using the mobile app was spent rating and reviewing as many movies as I could remember. The app’s rating system is a five-star scale, and as of now, I have rated 401 films. By the time this is published that number may be 501. That’s how much I enjoy it.

Reviews and ratings can be done easily, with just a few taps on a mobile keyboard. I find myself writing short reviews of movies when I get bored. I never really tried reviewing movies before, but this feature does a good job of making me interested in doing so.

Another Letterboxd reviewer is director Uwe Boll. Boll is known for directing some pretty terrible movies and for fighting his critics. Literally.

Boll’s Letterboxd profile, which is now deleted, was home to some very strange reviews. The reason I bring this up is to show how interesting the social media aspect of Letterboxd is. Anyone can create an account and post some reviews and make lists of their favorite movies. The review feature is just one of my favorite parts of Letterboxed.

Uwe Boll's CRAZY Letterboxd Reviews

Another one of my favorite features provided by the app is the ability to add movies to a watchlist. Currently, my watchlist has 97 movies in it. This feature is so convenient that I use it to decide what to watch on services like Netflix, rather than searching Netflix itself; on Netflix, I am constantly bombarded with recommendations for movies to watch, and the problem is that I’ve either already seen most of them or have no interest in them.

Since Letterboxd has pretty much every movie that’s ever existed, this isn’t a problem. Whenever I see someone online recommend a movie that looks interesting to me, I immediately open Letterboxd and add it to my watchlist. Each week it keeps getting longer and longer, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish it.

Another good Letterboxd feature is the implementation of JustWatch. JustWatch is a service that shows where movies are available for online streaming or purchase. For instance, if I looked up “Gangs of New York,” I would find that it is available to stream on Netflix with a subscription and that it is available for purchase on services such as iTunes and Amazon.

This feature complements the watchlist, as it allows me to go through each movie in my list one by one and see how I can watch it. This feature is great when you have access to most streaming services, since there is more variety on Letterboxd. JustWatch offers a better method for discovering movies.

Another feature of the app that leads to the discovery of new movies is the ability to search through the filmography of every director and actor. When you type in Steven Spielberg, you’ll see all of the movies he has ever produced, directed, written or even cameoed in. Every time I search for a director or actor, I find a new movie to add to my watchlist. For instance, I looked up the director of some of the “Fast and the Furious” movies and found a movie called “Better Luck Tomorrow.”

It turns out that this movie is actually a prequel to the “Fast and the Furious” series since it features Han, a character from the films, as one of its main characters. I ended up liking the movie a lot, but I’ve never seen anyone mention it online. After finding this underrated film, I was encouraged to seek out my favorite actors and directors to discover movies I may not have seen or heard of.

A lot of people may say that the purpose of Letterboxd is to rate and review movies, and they wouldn’t be wrong. However, I think that its true purpose is to inspire its users to seek out movies outside of their comfort zone. In an age where films in theaters are mostly sequels and remakes, this is a welcome approach.

I used to stick to action movies because those were the most familiar to me. Letterboxd has changed my movie viewing habits almost completely. Instead of just watching movies like “John Wick” and “The Avengers,” I’ve started watching movies like “Midsommar,” “Dinner for Schmucks” and “Blow.” When I created my account last year, I didn’t expect to spend almost every week watching movies just to add them to my profile. I’m looking forward to seeing what movies, new and old, I discover in 2020. So far, I’ve watched 16 different films. I expect this number to increase as the year goes on and new movies are added to movie theaters and streaming services.

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