It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Except for 2020 and the first quarter of 2021 – the Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic – I have gone to the movies in theaters as often as my circumstances allow. Even when I lived in Bogota, Colombia in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I went to the movies in theaters (closed as long ago as the early 1990s) whose names (Teatro San Carlos, Teatro Almirante) I can still remember even 50 years later.
From 1972 to sometime around 2011, I went to the movies in the Greater Miami area at least two or three times a year. The best decades of my movie watching life were the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties, not just because that’s when most of the films that I love were released, but also because I had several groups of friends with whom I went to such theaters as the AMC-14 Mall of the Americas (which closed in 2015), Dadeland Triple, the Twin Gables, AMC Kendall Town & Country, and AMC CocoWalk.
Sometime in the late 2000s, my movie-watching habits changed. As I wrote in On Movies: My Favorite 2000s Movies, several factors were involved in the involuntary switch from watching most new theatrical releases in multiplexes to waiting till they were out either on DVD or (after 2009) Blu-ray.
These factors included:
- Many of my friends, especially those in their upwardly mobile late 20s and early 30s, got married and started raising families of their own
- Other members of my movie-going posse moved out of Miami to other states or even overseas
- At least one of my best friends and constant movie buddies (Richard de la Pena), died in 2007
- My mom’s health deteriorated, starting in 2005 with a diagnosis of a condition called “watermelon stomach,” followed by a bout of skin cancer, problems with her back that required surgery, and – eventually – the onset of dementia. The last movie she ever saw in theaters was 2005’s Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
- The estrangement between my older half-sister Vicky and I was resurfacing after laying dormant for several years. As hard as I tried to get along with her then, even going to the movies with her was stressful. The last film we saw in theaters was 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
In 2010, my mom underwent extensive surgery to repair a damaged spine. The operation – which was done at Miami’s Mercy Hospital and lasted eight hours – was successful. The recovery, though, was not, at least not in the long-term. This isn’t the time or place to get into that in detail; suffice it to say, though, that my mother’s decision to make me the primary caregiver and acting head of the household limited my ability to go out and socialize, much less go to the movies.
Because I became mostly homebound between May 2010 and July 2015 (the month of Mom’s death), I ended up watching most new releases at home. Even now, a decade later, I have a hard time remembering which was the last movie I saw in a theater before mid-summer of 2015 (the last one that I’m sure of is Shutter Island, which I saw with Ivan and Danny back in 2010).
After Mom passed away almost six years ago, I started going to the movies again. The first film I saw in a theater in 2015 was Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. Later that year I also went to see Bridge of Spies and Star Wars: The Force Awakens with my now ex-girlfriend.
Still, I saw most of the movies on my Favorite Movies of the 2010s list on Blu-ray. And because we’re burnin’ daylight, we better get on with that list. So…away…we go!
- Love and Other Drugs (2010)
- Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows, Part I (2010)
- Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows, Part II (2011)
- The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (2011)
- War Horse (2011)
- Prometheus (2012)
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
- Lincoln (2012)
- Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
- Skyfall (2012)
- Captain Phillips (2013)
- Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
- Bridge of Spies (2015)
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
- The Post (2017)
- Dunkirk (2017)
- It: Chapter One (2017)
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
- Darkest Hour (2017)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)
- Ready Player One (2018)
- They Shall Not Grow Old (2018)
- Apollo 11 (2019)
- 1917 (2019)
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)
 In the early years (2010-2012) of my mother’s final illness, I was fortunate to have been able to go out every so often and even date a gorgeous, divorced scientist who taught neurology at the University of Miami for almost a year. Plus my friends Ivan Kivitt and Danny Mason still lived nearby and took me to the movies every so often.