The Backstory

Ryan Hardy
4 min readNov 28, 2020


If you’re like me, you might have said this a few too many times: “Oh yeah, that movie sounds cool. I’ll add it to the list.”

And for years, I did nothing with that list. And before there was an actual list, that was just something I said. Let’s fix that.

Why Blog About Movies?

Going to the movie theatre to watch the latest flick wasn’t a common occurrence when I was growing up. My sincere interest in movies started about 10 years ago when I started learning to play a musical instrument called a theatre organ. These instruments were wildly used in the 1910s-1920s to accompany silent movies. Its thrilling sound and intricate mechanical workings sparked my interest in playing the organ.

The historic Fargo Theatre, featuring yours truly and the Mighty Wurlitzer!

I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. (Yes — that Fargo.) When I started playing the organ, I was introduced to the other organists that played at the historic Fargo Theatre — a 1926 art moderne movie palace, home to North Dakota’s last remaining theatre organ. There, a non-profit called the Red River Theatre Organ Society produces their annual Silent Movie Night. The same group also produced a four-week series of silent films every summer, called the Summer Cinema Series. Over the years I was exposed to many of the great silent classics such as Buster Keaton’s The General and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last, among many others.

I love silent films. But to say that they are a great conversation starter with someone you sit next to at the DMV would be a bit of a stretch. At this point, I saw that there are so many great movies — both silent and sound — that I would enjoy and haven’t yet seen. Thus began The List.

The List

At the time of this writing, my “Movies to Watch” list is a cinematic Smörgåsbord of classic films, superhero movies, movie musicals, silent films, cult classics, and new releases. It also includes movies that I really should have seen by now, but haven’t, including but not limited to every Star Wars film, the Indiana Jones movies, and The Lord of the Rings.

A list of movies to watch. The movies that have been seen are marked with a date and a green check mark.
A screenshot of part of my List, as of November 28, 2020

The first (and possibly most ambitious) category on my list I wanted to tackle was the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the Spring of 2019, Avengers: Endgame was all that people in my University’s music department would talk about. Then there was me, who only knew about Iron Man or Captain America because I overheard people talk about them before in passing. I thought superhero movies sounded interesting, but I never invested any time watching them (naturally, the excuse at the time was that I was too busy and had to practice.) If I wanted to watch Endgame, I needed to truly understand what was going on. Who are all the characters? What are their backstories? After finding a list on the correct chronological order to watch the movies in, I entered into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Captain America: The First Avenger in May of 2019. The next three movies were watched in June 2019.

And that was it. I stalled out and the List lost its momentum. It gradually sank lower and lower in my notes app, somewhat akin to the Titanic’s decent into the frigid Atlantic, albeit not as dramatic or perilous.

But like any superhero movie (as I have since noticed,) there is always a comeback. And that happened in June 2020. The lack of in-person classes at my school and cancelled events due to the COVID-19 pandemic created the optimal schedule to continue the MCU adventure. And I did. By early November 2020, every released MCU movie had been watched. To say that it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. I feel that by watching the series, I had gained a greater appreciation for storytelling and special effects.

Other movies watched during that time included the five Spider-Man films (Into the Spiderverse is still on the list…), Tron, and Tron: Legacy.

Part-way in my journey through the MCU, I met up with on of my friends from school. After telling him about my movie-watching initiatives, which Avenger films are best, and why Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man is underrated, he remarked “You should have started a blog about that.” And as the typical Midwesterner does, I replied with, “Yeah, that would be cool. Maybe I’ll do it,” and promptly shelved the idea.

Sound familiar?

The Blog

Well, here I am. The movie that sparked the creation of this blog was 12 Angry Men (1957). I watched it last night, and found it so thought provoking and interesting that I felt like I just needed to write about it. Perhaps other people would find my thoughts interesting, or are looking for recommendations on what movie to watch next. As a musician coming into his last weeks of music school, time is precious. I’d hate to watch a dud movie unless there was something that I could glean from it.

This blog, as I see it now, will be a way to document the movies I check off my List and act as a virtual soap box to express what I thought about them. My hope is that these blogs will grow a community of both experienced movie lovers and those new to the expansive world of cinema (like I was, and still somewhat am…)

And with that, here’s to whatever comes next! Now if you will excuse me, I have some movies to watch…



Ryan Hardy

A musician exploring the world of cinema, one movie at a time.