like Goodreads, but for movies

It’s common (even clichéd) to describe a web service or app as “like X, but for Y.” It’s especially clichéd in cases where X=”Netflix” or “Uber.” But it’s the best way to describe what I’m looking for right now: “like Goodreads, but for movies.” I get a lot of use out of Goodreads, and, at this point, track pretty much every book I read and/or buy on it. The mild discomfort I get from sharing my entire reading history with Amazon is offset by the incredible usefulness of the service. (Which, now that I think about it, describes quite a lot of free, but troubling, web services. But that’s a subject for a different blog post.)

I have quite a collection of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. And I have digital movies in iTunes and other services. (Now all, thankfully, centralized in Movies Anywhere.) And I, of course, watch movies in movie theaters, and rent them occasionally, and watch them on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and so on and so forth. And I’ve really lost track of what I’ve watched and what I haven’t. I’ve started keeping track of some of this stuff in Evernote, but not in a really systematic way. And I try to add a note to Day One every time I watch a movie. But I’d really like something like Goodreads to get all of this information together in an organized fashion. (And I’d really like something that lets me scan the UPC codes off all my DVDs and Blu-rays, because I really don’t want to enter them by hand.)

So I did some internet searching and found a bunch of possibilities. First, it occurred to me that, since I like Goodreads so much, maybe Amazon owned something similar for movies. Amazon does own IMBD, and that seemed like a good place to start. IMDB allows you to create an account, and you can add movies to a watchlist, but it doesn’t have anything at all like the capabilities you get from Goodreads. So that’s one down.

And it also occurred to me that this might be something that Rotten Tomatoes would be in a good position to do. But, as far as I can tell, they don’t really do that either. So that’s another one down.

At some point, I might have had some of my DVDs cataloged in Delicious Library on my Mac. I stopped using that a long time ago, but apparently it still exists. But I don’t think it’s really a good candidate for what I’m trying to do either.

Searching for like Goodreads but for movies in DuckDuckGo led me to a number of semi-useful Quora questions, reddit discussions, and random blog posts. But a lot of them were pretty old and out of date. Sifting through recommendations, I found a few possible candidates that were still in business.

First, there was iCheckMovies. It allows you to create lists, and track what you have and haven’t watched, but there’s not much more to it, as far as I can tell. There’s no iOS app to scan discs.

Next up was Letterboxd. I liked this one enough to create an account and play around with it a bit. The web site looks really good, and there’s an iOS app too. But the iOS app doesn’t allow barcode scanning. Other than that, it’s a really nice service. You can easily track which movies you’ve watched and haven’t watched yet. And you can create your own lists to track things in other ways. There’s a CSV importer, but I don’t have my movies cataloged at all right now, so that’s of limited usefulness to me. There’s also a Pro tier for $19/year that gives you a few extra features. I’d be all-in on this one, I think, if only there was a way to scan barcodes.

The last thing I tried, which I only really stumbled across when searching for something else, was I’d gone to the site in the past to read news and reviews, and I was aware that they had a forum, but I didn’t know that they had built up a system for tracking Blu-ray collections. Well, they have, and it’s pretty good. They have an iOS app with barcode scanning, so that’s my one big feature need checked off. I used it to scan about a dozen DVDs, and that worked pretty well. Two or three of them weren’t in their database, but most of them were. And, since they’re disc-oriented rather than film-oriented, I’m not just tracking that I’ve seen (for instance) The Matrix, but that I own a copy on DVD or Blu-ray or whatever. So that’s helpful. They have certain standard categories, like “owned,” “rented,” and “wishlist,” but you can also add your own. The organizational features aren’t quite up there with Goodreads, but they’re ok.

So I guess that, for now, I’m going to try to get a bunch of my discs scanned into and go from there. I’m not sure how far I’ll go with it, but it’s better than anything else I’ve tried.

(I have a few related topics I want to write up at some point, but I probably shouldn’t try to shoehorn them into this post. One topic relates to a recent attempt to rip a DVD on my PC. Another has to do with my attempt to whittle down my DVD collection a bit. And yet another could cover my related attempt to actually watch some DVDs that I’ve had sitting on the shelf for 10+ years. But I’ll get to all that eventually. Maybe.)

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