We all have techniques for how we choose books, films and other forms of entertainment. Some people use only one mechanism for choosing, such as being attracted by a pretty spine design on a book, or only seeking out music in certain genres. I will admit, I’m  usually a “pretty covers” book-picker at the library. And I’ve discovered some of my favorite books that way.

My goal with film, however, is to push myself out of my own box and watch as many films as possible from different time periods, countries, genres and the like (which is probably your goal as well, if you read film blogs like my own). As a result, I choose films for a great number of reasons. Here are the five most common techniques I’ve been using as of late.

  1. By actor:This one seems obvious. If you like an actor, you’re likely to watch as many films of theirs as possible, and to choose films just to see another (hopefully) great performance from that person.
    No matter what the film, any excuse to watch the fantastic Cary Grant for two hours is a good one. (image via boldjack.com)

    I tend to take this concept to a bit of a more obsessive degree, and have set the lofty goal of seeing the entire surviving filmographies of my favorite actors, including but not limited to Cary Grant, Barbara Stanwyck, Humphrey Bogart and Marion Davies. I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll be utilizing this technique for the rest of my life and even then probably won’t complete them all considering how many classic actors I love, but it’s still a great way to discover films that you haven’t seen.

  2. By blogs: Entering the world of classic film e-appreciation in March of 2010 opened my eyes to a whole ton of actors, directors and films that I may not have found otherwise. Over two years later, I’m still discovering films this way every day, and the habit has only grown since joining WordPress and discovering a plethora classic film blogs here.
  3. By browsing: If pretty book covers are a weakness of mine, pretty film posters and DVD covers are my kryptonite. A good number of the films in my “Through the library, alphabetically” review series are chosen this way. But it isn’t always just as simple as a pretty cover. The bright colors and flashy  illustrations draw me in at first, but a good plot synopsis is what completely ropes me in. I’ve also been known to be attracted by fun titles, or by the names billed on the front of a DVD.
    After the Thin Man
    The Thin Man series boasts beautifully illustrated DVD covers. Luckily, the films are even more impressive.

    Browsing doesn’t only work for library shelves or stores, either; it’s a technique I use on IMDb, Netflix and other film sites as well as the TCM monthly schedule to help my to-watch list grow.

  4. By recommendation: I utilize both word-of-mouth recommendations and electronic recommendations when choosing films, and I find that this is one of the best ways to discover films that I honestly would not have discovered on my own. Ever wondered why my blog contains quite a few reviews of British dramas, when most of my interest lies in classic Hollywood films? You can thank Netflix recommendations for that. Based on my ratings of Hollywood films, the site gives me recommendations for films both foreign and domestic, which is a system I’m sure most of you are all familiar with. Word-of-mouth recommendations are even better, because you never know what your friends or fellow film freaks are going to discover on a whim.
  5. By time: I try not to use this technique very often because the length of the film seems like a terrible way to choose a film. However, as a full-time student who also works, I sometimes want to squeeze films in when I don’t have much time to watch them, so I’ll pick a DVD/DVR’d film that’s only 70 minutes or hop on Netflix and find a quick pre-code to watch. Surprisingly, this technique actually works to my advantage much of the time. I find films that I wouldn’t typically choose, sometimes featuring actors that I haven’t even heard of, and I usually am not disappointed by them.

How do you choose films to watch? Share your techniques in the comments!

I have again adapted this idea from BookRatMisty’s Book Chat, because she’s a great lady full of great ideas.