For better or worse, the world was slightly more open in 2021 than it was in 2020. Of course, this meant we also had more things to cover at The Arts STL this year: movies shown in actual cinemas, the tentative steps local theater companies took to return to live performance, even an actual concert or two, to the tune of 182 articles for the year, or exactly one every other day. Not a bad pace, considering, well, everything!
This year also saw the debut of two great new music features in Live from the Boom Room, a weekly series of live performances by a bevy of talented local musicians captured on video by our friends at Blip Blap Video, and The Found Five, wherein our musical guide Jim Ryan introduces you to five new songs that caught his ear with special attention given to new and independent artists. Both features will continue into the new year, and I hope you’ll continue to check them out.
When I dove into this year’s stats, I was thrilled to see that overall page reads increased by more than 25% over last year. That’s a testament to the skills of our writers, and I must offer a hearty thank you to them for their writing, and to all of you readers who keep checking out our site week after week. What caught the most of your eyeballs this year? Here’s the list:
1. It was number one in 2019, it was number one in 2020, and yes, it’s number one again this year: Sarah Boslaugh’s look at an edition of the Smithsonian’s The Real Story documentary series about Patrick O’Brian’s historical fiction novel Master and Commander. This article is at least showing some feet of clay in that its total page views went down year-over-year (just barely…by a whopping 57!), and that rather than quadrupling its closest comer like it did last year, it started the year out behind and didn’t catch up and overtake the #2 article until December. But as long as people keep googling “real master and commander” and clicking on the fourth link down, it’ll probably continue to place highly on this list.
2. One of the most anticipated movies coming out of this year’s Slamdance film festival was End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock, a documentary on the women of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe defending their land and their heritage from encroachment by an oil pipeline. Our Film Editor Sarah Boslaugh’s review was one of the very first ones published, which meant a ton of attention for the article when it was first published in February.
3. Coming in third is Sarah Boslaugh’s review of Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of Exploitation Pictures. Published in March of 2020, it made #9 on the list last year, but for whatever reason, attention in this article peaked last winter and continued to be pretty high through August, and interest in it remains steady. I don’t know, maybe it has to do with talking about movies with titles like Sex Madness and Elysia: Valley of the Nude? [shrug emoji]
4. Our first review of a movie screening in actual theaters in over a year was Sarah Boslaugh’s look at Truffle Hunters, an unassuming, gorgeously shot documentary about, well, people who hunt for truffles. Most of the interest in this one started a few months later and has remained steady ever since.
5. For the second year in a row, the #5 spot is occupied by Hannah Sophia Lin’s look at the top K-pop artists of the 2010s.
6. For the second year in a row, the #6 spot is occupied by my review of the first volume of the manga Rent-A-Girlfriend.
7. Published at the very end of 2020, people continued to take a look at Sarah Boslaugh’s favorite streaming series of that year.
8. This was my first year checking out the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase, and I was thrilled to see readers checking out my review of Interrobang, a sex comedy anthology written and directed by former St. Louisan Paige Feldman.
9. Similarly, I was happy to see my review of Webster University grad Nathan Sutton’s actors showcase drama New Year place highly as well. I viewed the film as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival, but I hope it gets a wider release in the new year, as it is absolutely worth checking out.
10. People swarm the Arts STL site every Monday to check out the latest in Blip Blap Video’s Live from the Boom Room series, but the most viewed (at least through this site) was this performance by Finn’s Motel’s Joe Thebeau.
Much like last year, half of 2021’s most-read articles weren’t even posted in 2021! If like me, you’re wondering what the most-read new articles were last year, wonder no more!
1. Sarah Boslaugh on the documentary film End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock.
2. Sarah Boslaugh on the documentary film The Truffle Hunters.
3. My review of the sex comedy anthology film Interrobang from this year’s St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase.
4. My review of the film New Year from this year’s St. Louis International Film Festival.
6. My preview of the St. Louis-made grindhouse film Fountaine and the Vengeful Nun Who Wouldn’t Die.
9. My interview with award-winning cartoonist Christina “Steenz” Stewart on completing her first year on the daily comic strip Heart of the City.
That’s a wrap for 2021. We look forward to introducing you to more great art and artists in a hopefully safer and much less chaotic 2022! | Jason Green