Ty Burr’s Watch List is a newsletter designed to answer the eternal question: Why can I never find a good movie to watch on TV?

It works like this: Two or three times a week, a film recommendation lands in your in-box, with some context, a little history, an anecdote or two, something to make you laugh or ponder. You’ll find plenty of new movies in the mix, especially on Fridays, but also curated choices from recent years and deep cuts from across the decades – the genuine oldies as well as ones that jump-start your personal nostalgia for the 1970s, ‘80s, or ‘90s.

A click on the article’s headline in the email takes you to the website version; a click on the banner at the top will lead you to an archive of all previous newsletters. You don’t have to read each and every newsletter (I sometimes write a lot and won’t take it personally), but know that when you find yourself with channel-surfing fatigue and just want an interesting movie or TV show to take in, you can go to the archive, click on the “Good Movies” subheading, and go from there.

If you’d like to cut down on email by receiving a weekly recap rather than the individual postings, turn on only the “Weekly Digest” option on your “My Account” page. If you’d like to read essays regarding my spiritual practice and other personal matters, toggle on the “Zen Journal” switch on the “My Account” page.”


The recommendations might include recent comedies like “Shiva Baby” (above) or throwbacks like the 1999 Kirsten Dunst-Michelle Williams political farce “Dick.” Dramas like “Minari” and “Maudie” and “Menashe.” Foreign classics like Ozu’s “Late Spring” (below) and home-made sleepers like “Starlet,” an early work by Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”).

You’ll learn about little movies you probably haven’t heard of (“Supernova,” from 2020, starring Stanley Tucci and Colin Firth, below, as a couple in twilight) and bigger ones you may have missed (“20th Century Women,” from 2016, featuring another Annette Bening performance that should have won an Oscar and didn’t). You’ll be reminded of forgotten gems from the glory days of the New Hollywood era (“The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” 1974) and from more recent years (Ron Howard’s terrific 2013 race-car drama “Rush”), as well as new works like Bo Burnham’s “Inside” that push the boundaries of the form.

What you probably won’t find lot of are franchise blockbusters and heavily digitized action-fantasy fare – the major studios’ current order of business. The better ones, maybe. (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” definitely.) In general, superheroes and souped-up mayhem bore me to tears, and I’m betting enough of you agree to make a go of this. Movies about people are still being made and distributed and, in fact, are more accessible than ever. Ty Burr’s Watch List shows you where they are and why they are.

Who am I? For the first two decades of this century, I was a film critic and cultural columnist for the Boston Globe. In 2017, I was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism. Before the Globe, I reviewed movies and other pop culture for Entertainment Weekly for eleven years. Before that, I programmed movies on Cinemax and HBO for the better part of the 1980s, and so on back through a late Boomer’s lifelong intoxication with cinema. Short answer: I’ve seen a ridiculous number of movies. Does that mean I know what I’m talking about? Probably, yes. Does that mean my tastes align with yours? Not at all, but there’s an easy way to find out.

This is a free newsletter, and the hope is that you’ll recommend it or forward it to friends. If you choose the option of a paid subscription, you’ll gain access to additional essays and commentary and you can leave comments and engage with me and other readers.

More about me, if you’re curious: I’ve written two books, “The Best Old Movies for Families” (Anchor, 2007) and “Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame” (Random House, 2013). Both are available online and from independent booksellers. I’ve also written an e-book, “The 50 Movie Starter Kit: What to Know if You Want to Know What You’re Talking About” (2013), to which Ty Burr’s Watch List will serve as a never-ending weekly addendum and which is available only online. When I worked at Entertainment Weekly, I wrote or contributed to several slim hardcover volumes of movie lists that were sold at newsstands as “bookazines,” a neologism that should have been smothered in the crib. I will spare you their titles.

I live outside Boston with my wife and an extremely photogenic dog. No, really.

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What do you want to watch tonight? I'm a movie critic with four decades in the trenches and I have some thoughts for you (not always about movies).


Ty Burr 

Author, Ty Burr’s Watch List: Movie recommendations and pop culture considerations from a critic with four decades in the trenches. Occasionally: Birds, politics, meditations.

Kevin Conley

Big fan!