Living Without Google: A Story in Tweets

Could you live without Google for a week?

I survived just that harrowing experience, despite being a very heavy user of the wide breadth of Google services and products. I was happy to be joined in this crazy little experiment by Nitesh Arora, a relatively light Google user; the contrast in our experiences by the end of the week was very surprising indeed.

Here is our story, in tweets:

Incredibly frustrated in the first few minutes of going #GoogleFree by just trying to find the Google logo on Flickr or Bing’s Image Searchless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Are there any free RSS readers that /don’t/ sync to Google Reader? #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi you use a LOT of google products…seriously :Pless than a minute ago via HootSuite

Just realized I “can’t” use Google Maps app on my phone…finding address for businesses is going to be a pain the arse now. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

It’s only been 2 hours, but going #GoogleFree is almost as bad as #summerclasses. Almost.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Ooh, good call. I did like it when I tested it a few weeks ago. #GoogleFree RT @probablydan: @rkudeshi Bing iPhone app!less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

#GoogleFree is a movement, @Nitesh_Arora is doing it too! Hey @probablydan @mostaghimi @peteabbate @alexromano up for the challenge?less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi you kidding? I for one welcome our new @google overlords. also I’m on a blackberry- life sans google is worse w/o a usable browserless than a minute ago via web

@rkudeshi I’m def not. Having an Android automatically DQs me several times simultaneously. Plus wouldn’t want to. But admire those who canless than a minute ago via web

@rkudeshi I’d totally try social media free week but then I’d have no one to tweet/post to tell them about it. Plus my ego wouldn’t allow itless than a minute ago via web

@alexromano @rkudeshi I don’t understand why I’d want to be #GoogleFree. They’re pretty good at what they do.less than a minute ago via web

@peteabbate 1) privacy 2) see how pervasive one company is on the web 3) determine if it’s possible (and how difficult) 4) crazy ol’ Ravi!less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

My thoughts and reaction to going #GoogleFree, in video: [yes, I note the irony]less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

wondering how @rkudeshi is going #googlefree while documenting his experience on google-owned YouTube??? :)less than a minute ago via web

@JoshuaBamboo I had my sister upload it ;-). Slightly cheating, but people wouldn’t watch it otherwise (and not terribly timely next week).less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

D’oh, my voicemails are stored (and transcribed!) in Google Voice. Don’t call, just text me? #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

@rkudeshi Best of luck with this week! I bet it’s tough!less than a minute ago via web

Started making a list of YouTube videos I want to watch next week…it’s already double-digits :-/. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Just realized I hadn’t checked my email at all today…I haven’t missed anything important & I’ve been way more productive. Yay? #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Are music videos on hosted by Google? I know they’re crossposted to YouTube, but not sure on the main site. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi All I know is the music videos hosted on Vevo have a butt load more advertisements then the same exact ones on YouTube.less than a minute ago via web def using YouTube tech (, now UMG trying to force MTV to use it too ( Wow. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Thinking about adding links to my social media profiles to the ol’ resume…yay/nay/whoa?less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi im thinking the lack of google is hurting your judgmentless than a minute ago via New Flock

#GoogleFree Day 2: not nearly as bad as yesterday. Bing search/maps are good enough. No Gmail/GReader/YouTube makes for one productive dude.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi If you have Silverlight installed use the awesome @silverlight version. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@nitesh_arora how’s #GoogleFree going for you? Had to make any changes whatsoever? ;-)less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi very slight ones…no youtube is fine but my default search on everything is google. oh well, bing works :) #googlefree is easy!less than a minute ago via HootSuite

Learning just how many unique Google services are nice, but hardly necessary: Voice, Alerts, DNS, Buzz, Picasa, arguably Reader. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi google voice is absolutely essential for me- when I changed phone numbers, its the only one I gave outless than a minute ago via ÜberTwitter

@rkudeshi i used to use flock for rss/browser since it was basically just firefox with an rss. but then i found greader and never went backless than a minute ago via New Flock

@DominicPody Gah, YouTube link…can’t watch :-/. than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi how much time are you spending finding articles without the amazingness of reader?less than a minute ago via New Flock

@mehal88 Very little. Downloaded a desktop RSS app, need to install it. Using Twitter, Flipboard (iPad app), and Techmeme more for now.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Interesting #GoogleFree moment during road trip: Navigon’s GPS app couldn’t find Pat’s or Geno’s, so we had to use Bing to find the address.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Very cool Bing feature: search for any song and it lets you listen to the entire thing thanks to #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Oh, interesting…Bing/Zune only lets you play the full song the first time, then 30-second snippets every time after. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Seeing no real changes in my daily life by going #googlefree …using bing on my mac & changed the default search on my BlackBerry=mostly itless than a minute ago via HootSuite

Can’t decide if #GoogleFree is making me more or less productive…email/RSS/YouTube time is now apparently being used for bubble baths.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi Do you have a rubber ducky to keep you company? lol PS Props for proving that #Google doesn’t, in fact, run the world! #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via HootSuite

@AshODonnell No ducky :-(. Based on the last few days, they’re getting pretty close (almost feels like I’m going through drug withdrawal).less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Interesting #GoogleFree revelation: with an RSS reader, I start working after reading. Without it, I just explore the Internet endlessly.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Whoa…Bing’s image search has a very cool feature to find more sizes of the same picture. Immensely helpful. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Pretty sure I’m going to stick with Bing image search & Bing maps after this week. #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

The best thing I’ve learned this week: you really don’t need to leave your email open 24/7 (or even as much as 2/7). #GoogleFreeless than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi I never left my email open 24/7. In fact I was awfully surprised the large number of people who actually do.less than a minute ago via web

@rkudeshi I guess a lot of people do it for Gmail’s chat options, but I’ve always been a fan of the standalone Google Talk application.less than a minute ago via web

@TheyCallMeGTab That’s why I did. I usually closed it when I was writing/studying, but now having it closed by default is a lot better.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

Hard to believe it’s the last day of going #GoogleFree. Last few days, I’ve barely noticed being without Google (other than YouTube).less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

@rkudeshi Same here! Bing gives me pretty good search results…youtube was missed though :/less than a minute ago via HootSuite

Today @rkudeshi & I are free of #GoogleFree … Only major changes during the week? Google Search & Youtube.less than a minute ago via HootSuite

Woo, #GoogleFree finally over! Both harder & easier than it seemed.less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac

So, was that better or worse than you would’ve thought? Up for trying the #GoogleFree experiment yourself, for a week or maybe even longer?

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Could You Live Without Google for a Week?

Google, in little over a decade, has become the most pervasive company on the Internet. They freely give away their best products and we have correspondingly embraced them.

Off the top of my head, here’s a quick list of the Google products I frequently use (and you probably do too):

  • Google Search
  • Gmail
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Docs
  • Google Maps
  • Google Reader
  • Google Voice
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Image Search
  • Google News
  • Blogger
  • YouTube
  • FeedBurner
  • Picasa
  • Google Adsense
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Checkout
  • Google Buzz
  • Google Talk
  • Google Latitude
  • Google Alerts
  • Google Groups
  • Google Translate
  • Google DNS

These are just the ones I personally use; more of you probably use things like Android, Buzz, or Latitude, not to mention all the different Google services hidden in the code of millions of websites across the Internet. The full list of Google products is downright scary (click here if you dare to take a look).

So What’s the Problem?

Other than potentially Facebook, there is no company we trust with more of our personal data. As benevolent as Google may be (their unofficial motto is “don’t be evil“), they are still in the business of harvesting data and finding ways to profit from it.

Even if you don’t trust Google with your mail or calendar, many of their services (Analytics, AdSense, FeedBurner, etc.) are embedded on websites you visit. If you want to view web videos, Google-owned YouTube has become the de facto standard.

Today, it is almost downright impossible to surf the Internet without encountering Google. The privacy implications are astounding. Heck, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has even suggested everyone be entitled to a name change to avoid the all-seeing eye of Google.

Google isn’t content on resting its laurels on its web services, either…they’re rapidly expanding into operating systems. Google’s Chrome OS, a browser-based operating system, is looming. It will launch on netbooks, but how long until it is refined enough to run on full laptops and tablets?

Google’s Android operating system for smartphones is also seeing incredible adoption; it’s gone from an iPhone also-ran to doing more than 200,000 activations every day (the iPhone 4 sold 1.7 million units in the 3 frenzied days following its launch; Google’s regular pace is now matching that in little over a week year-round).

One Man’s Bold Experiment

Today, I face a dilemma: I willingly use and love many Google services but I am increasingly concerned about the privacy implications. So what am I going to do about it?

Very simple; I’m going to try and go for an entire week without using a single Google service.

My goal isn’t to make this permanent; I think Google provides many great best-of-breed services. What I do hope to do is raise awareness of the pervasiveness of Google and identify some good (and hopefully a few better) alternatives to many Google products.

Effective immediately, I’m blocking all Google services from my computer (with one small caveat; more details tomorrow!). If I click through to a Google-owned website (for instance, shortened YouTube links on Twitter), I will not view the content. I will not use programs that exclusively sync with Google services (for example, desktop RSS readers that sync with Google Reader).

Will this be hard? Honestly, I have no idea. Google has been a major part of my life ever since I started using a computer. Using the Internet without Google is as incredulous an idea to me as using a computer without Internet access.

Could You Go #GoogleFree too?

Think I’m crazy? Think you could you do it too, even if only for a day? Join me on Twitter (I’m @rkudeshi), where I’ll be using the hashtag #GoogleFree to chronicle my journey!

How do you think I will do? Any suggestions on Google alternatives? Chime in below in the comments and let me know what you think about my crazy idea!

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Twitter Just TKO'ed with

Twitter's on the warpath!

Twitter is on a warpath and the casualties are counting.

iPhone apps? Twitter bought the best one, Tweetie (and they recently released their own official apps for BlackBerry and Android).

URL shortening? Twitter gave rise to and now they just cemented its downfall.

A better web client and built-in picture support? The smart money says it’s coming, and Seesmic, TwitPic, and others should be scared.

Back in the Good Ol’ Days

TinyURL launched in 2002, but didn’t gain widespread appeal until Twitter adopted it as its official URL shortener. Back then (2006-2009ish), Twitter had nary a concern for money. They were focused on building the best service possible (or at least one that didn’t go down every other minute) and welcomed an ecosystem of outside apps and services built on top of the basic Twitter platform. This dichotomy worked out beautifully: Twitter wanted to grow and scale, and they basically got free outside help.

Back then, it was actually in Twitter’s own interest to avoid monetizing the service. As the anecdote goes, you don’t know what a company’s worth until it starts making money. That is, without ads or paid subscriptions, Twitter’s earning potential seems limitless. Seem counterintuitive? Perhaps at first. Basically, once a company starts making money, by implementing ads or charging for premium services, investors start realizing just how much — or how little — a company is truly capable of making. But until that point, everyone can still dream of fistfuls of cash just dropping from the sky.

However, the honeymoon can’t last forever. Now, with investors presumably breathing down their necks and Twitter becoming a true pop culture phenomenon (the Oprah moment!), Twitter needs to start figuring out how to pay off investors and become a financially successful company with plans for an IPO down the line.

In Pursuit of Money

Make no mistake, all of Twitter’s recent changes are a result of the company “growing up” and preparing to launch its advertising platform. Without controlling how the end-user views tweets, it becomes impossible to guarantee the wide dissemination of Twitter’s own advertising platform (that is, without hijacking the Twitter stream with spammy and unimaginative advertising tweets, now explicitly prohibited by Twitter’s recently revised Terms of Service).

Twitter bought Tweetie and rebranded it Twitter for iPhone because it was, by far, the best mobile client available. Creating its own app from scratch would’ve required significant effort and expenditure and many power users may have stuck with Tweetie anyways if they believed it to be better. By adopting the best client as its own, Twitter guaranteed widespread initial acceptance.

In contrast, picked up steam on its own, but only went mainstream after Twitter started using it as the default shortener on Power users liked it because it provided analytics and, more recently, branded URLs for its Pro service users (such as TechCrunch’s or the New York Times’ However, with Twitter’s impending shortening service, will lose its most valuable asset: prominent placement on

In short, URL shortening services went viral, but only because they helped users maximize the utility of Twitter’s infamous 140 characters limit. If Twitter now allows full URLs in tweets, why would anyone bother using a URL shortener?

Without Twitter, can a URL shortening service still be a viable (and profitable) company? If Facebook’s copy-rather-than-acquire precedent is any model, competing services are going to have a tough time.

Will Get Rocky Balboa’ed or Can It Bounce Back?

Now, the onus is on to innovate or die. They have already begun offering some premium services, but they need to go much farther.

I suspect they will need to shift some of their focus from their core business (short domains) to other ancillary services, like small landing pages for consumers or a full-fledged analytics service for microblogging services (like Tumblr and Posterous, in addition to Twitter).

Or they can just hope Google acquires them.

What do you think – can survive this onslaught from Twitter or are they just a feature, not a company?

[photo credit: flickr/mdverde]

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I'd Pay For a Hulu Subscription If…

Hulu logo

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Hulu, the premier online legal TV watching destination, will be launching a paid subscription version next month. Hulu Plus, as it will be called, will charge $9.95 monthly for access to the back catalog of some of the shows which they currently only have up to 5 episodes of. Would you pay for such a subscription service?

Despite being an avowed television and digital media aficionado, right now I would NOT pay for this type of plan. As it stands, access to a few more episodes from the current season of the shows they have available is simply not compelling enough for me to fork over $120 of my hard-earned money every year. However, what can Hulu do to get my money?

I’m glad you asked. I’d pay for a Hulu subscription if…

  1. HD Video

    Simply put, the paucity of HD shows on Hulu is maddening. They have a few in a special walled-off section of the site, but they’re one-off episodes, not for entire series (or even seasons of a show). In order for any paid subscription plan, Hulu simply must offer HD versions of their shows – 720p will suffice, but 1080p would be even better.

  2. Can I watch on my TV?

    Hulu, understandably, has tried to restrict companies like Boxee from being able to play its videos on TV-connected devices. This is primarily because Hulu is actually owned by the major broadcast networks (NBC, ABC, and Fox each have a 30% stake in the company). However, in order for any Hulu paid plan to have traction, consumers MUST be able to watch shows on their TV. Ideally, this would be through partnerships with companies like Microsoft and Apple, on the Xbox 360 and Apple TV and other such devices.

    The most important caveat is that rights holders (read: the networks and production companies) should not and can not be allowed to restrict their shows from being watched on TVs. When Amazon released the Kindle 2, they included a text-to-speech feature on all ebooks; however, after pressure from book publishers, they allowed this feature to be restricted on a per-book basis. For Hulu Plus to be successful, Hulu must not succumb to outside pressures as Amazon did.

  3. Access on more portable devices (Netflix model)

    Netflix has succeeded in the digital video space because of its ubiquitous access. Simply put, Hulu must follow Reed Hastings’ lead and do the same. As a consumer, I want to be able to start a television show on, continue watching it on my TV, and then finish it on an iPhone or iPad. Hulu Plus may find consumers willing to pay for access on their computers and televisions, but it won’t be a ball-out-of-the-park hit unless it is available on the products consumers are increasingly using: phones, tablets, and digital media players.

  4. More formats (Silverlight instead of Flash?)

    Many people are happy with I am not.

    Simply put, using Flash to display videos is a nice cross-platform solution (and easier for web developers), but it stutters like crazy on my Mac computer (and multiple underpowered Windows PCs I use from time to time). On the other hand, I have never run into these issues while watching an ‘Instant Streaming’ movie on Netflix. This is primarily because Netflix employs the competing Silverlight platform made by Microsoft. Silverlight is a newer technology and is optimized for streaming web video; Flash was never designed for this purpose and such features have essentially been hacked on in the aftermath of YouTube’s wild success.

    In an ideal world, Hulu Plus will support Silverlight instead of, or at least in addition to, Flash. A man can hope, right?

  5. Fewer commercials

    Internet users are trained early to expect websites to fall into one of two categories: advertising-supported or subscription-based. falls into the former; users watch one or two commercials every so often in exchange for freely watching television shows. However, in order to get consumers to pay up for Hulu Plus, there must be fewer commercials.

    Unlike many other people, I do not expect Hulu Plus to be completely devoid of advertising. As NBC CEO Jeff Zucker has said on behalf of the entire television industry, “We can’t trade analog dollars for digital pennies.” With Hulu Plus expected to be only $9.99 monthly, it will already arguably be a much better deal than cable or satellite — which the average household pays nearly $75 for, but still has plentiful commercials on almost every channel.

All in all, that’s what it’d take for me, seemingly the perfect target audience, to pay for Hulu Plus. What will it take for you to subscribe to Hulu Plus?

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The Setup: Stuff I Use

Note: Idea borrowed from Paul Stamatiou with permission.

This is a list of applications, products and services I personally use on a regular basis. I was not paid for placement of anything on this list, they’re all things I personally find useful. If you have any suggestions about applications, products or services to try out or replace what I’m currently using, I’d love to hear about it!

Computer Setup

  • Laptop: 13.3-inch unibody MacBook Pro (2.53GHz processor/4 GB RAM/250GB hard drive)
  • Monitor: BenQ 24″ LCD
  • Mouse: Logitech MX Revolution wireless mouse
  • Keyboard: Logitech Wave wireless keyboard
  • Speakers: Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX speakers
  • External Hard Drive: Seagate Freeagent (500GB)
  • Home Server: 4 terabyte custom-built Windows Home Server (4x1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 HDDs)


  • Cell Phone/DAP: iPhone 3GS (black 32GB)
  • Digital Camera: Canon EOS Rebel XS 10.1MP DSLR camera
  • eBook Reader: Amazon Kindle 2
  • Video Games: Xbox 360 Arcade (20GB hard drive)
  • Media Receiver: Apple TV (40GB)
  • Router: Buffalo WHR-HP-G54 802.11g wireless router
  • Optoma DV10 MovieTime DLP Projector With Built-In DVD Player
  • Original Xbox with XBMC


  • Email/Calendar: Google Apps for my domain
  • Telephone: Google Voice
  • Backup: Mozy
  • File Sync: Dropbox
  • Web Hosting: MediaTemple (gs)
  • Video Rental: Netflix


  • Web Browser: Firefox
  • RSS: Google Reader
  • Blogging: WordPress
  • Twitter: Tweetie
  • To-Do Lists: Things
  • FTP: Transmit
  • Web Development: Coda
  • Virtualization: VMware Fusion with Windows XP
  • Media Player: VLC Player
  • Office Suite: Microsoft Office 2008
  • Music: iTunes
  • Photos: iPhoto
  • Backup: Time Machine
  • Other: TextExpander
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Oscars checklist 2018, take three: all 59 movies actually nominated, grouped by highest category

For anyone else attempting the Oscars Death Race (watching every movie nominated in every category!), I’ve again made a list of all movies and grouped them by their highest category. This way, it’s a little easier to see which “major” movies you have yet to watch and which other movies you still need to see.1

“Major” categories

9 movies nominated in Best Picture (with 55 total nominations between them!):

  • [13] The Shape of Water
  • [8] Dunkirk
  • [7] Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • [6] Phantom Thread
  • [6] Darkest Hour
  • [5] Lady Bird
  • [4] Get Out
  • [4] Call Me By Your Name
  • [2] The Post

5 more movies nominated in Best Actor/Actress:

  • [4] Mudbound (Best Supporting Actress / Mary J. Blige)
  • [3] I, Tonya (Best Actress / Margot Robbie and Best Supporting Actress / Allison Janney)
  • [1] Roman J. Israel Esq. (Best Best Actor / Denzel Washington)
  • [1] All the Money in the World (Best Supporting Actor / Christopher Plummer)
  • [1] The Florida Project (Best Supporting Actor / Willem Dafoe)

4 more movies nominated in Best Original/Adapted Screenplay:

  • [1] Logan
  • [1] Molly’s Game
  • [1] The Disaster Artist
  • [1] The Big Sick

1 more movie nominated in Best Cinematography:

  • [5] Blade Runner 2049

“Minor” categories

5 more movies nominated in Best Animated Film:

  • [2] Coco
  • [1] Ferdinand
  • [1] Loving Vincent
  • [1] The Boss Baby
  • [1] The Breadwinner

5 more movies nominated in Best Foreign Film:

  • [1] A Fantastic Woman
  • [1] Loveless
  • [1] Of Body and Soul
  • [1] The Insult
  • [1] The Square

5 more movies nominated in Best Documentary:

  • [1] Abacus
  • [1] Faces Places
  • [1] Icarus
  • [1] Last Men in Aleppo
  • [1] Strong Island

Technical categories

10 more movies nominated in technical categories (Best Score / Song / Sound Editing / Sound Mixing / Production Design / Makeup & Hairstyling / Costume Design / Film Editing / Visual Effects):

  • [4] Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • [3] Baby Driver
  • [2] Beauty and the Beast
  • [2] Victoria and Abdul
  • [1] Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • [1] Kong: Skull Island
  • [1] Marshall
  • [1] The Greatest Showman
  • [1] War for the Planet of the Apes
  • [1] Wonder

Short film categories

5 more movies nominated in Best Live Action Short Film:

  • [1] DeKalb Elementary
  • [1] My Nephew Emmett
  • [1] The Eleven O’Clock
  • [1] The Silent Child
  • [1] Watu Wote/All of Us

5 more movies nominated in Best Animated Short Film:

  • [1] Dear Basketball
  • [1] Garden Party
  • [1] Lou
  • [1] Negative Space
  • [1] Revolting Rhymes

5 more movies nominated in Best Documentary - Short Subject:

  • [1] Edith+Eddie
  • [1] Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
  • [1] Heroin(e)
  • [1] Knife Skills
  • [1] Traffic Stop

By the numbers

There are 24 Oscar categories, with 5 nominees in almost every category (Best Picture has 9 nominees again this year, Makeup & Hairstyling has only 3 nominees per usual).

That means 122 total nominations. Altogether, there are 44 feature-length films and 15 short films nominated (3 fewer than last year!).

If you group everything by their highest-nominated category, you’re looking at…

  • 19 “major” category nominees
  • 15 “minor” category nominees
  • 10 technical category nominees
  • 15 short category nominees

So if you want to watch…

  • All the Best Picture nominees: 9 movies.
  • All the BP + major nominees: 19 movies.
  • All the BP + major + minor nominees: 34 movies.
  • All the BP + major + minor + technical nominees (AKA no shorts): 44 movies.

And if you wanted to watch everything…59 movies!

  1. Of the 34 feature-length English films nominated (AKA everything but the docs/shorts/foreign categories), I’ve managed to watch all but 3 so far: Mudbound (a Netflix original, but I’m hoping they re-release it in theaters now), The Breadwinner (foreign animated movie that I apparently missed in November), and…The Boss Baby (really?!). ↩︎

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