Just Keep Swimming

The Most Popular 'Beyond the Balcony' Posts in 2023


Happy New Year! Welcome to 2024!

2023 is not in the running for one of the best years ever for my career, and subsequently, not a great year for a prolific site and podcast. But there were some shining gems in my life including an incredible trip with my family gifted to us by my very generous mother-in-law, several readers showed support to prove this site mattered to them, and sharing the stage at the historic Brantford Sanderson Centre with my family to perform Beauty and the Beast.

Moments of greatness can also be found here as I did write articles, even if it was not anywhere close to my goal of a post a day. But 2024 is a new year, and I'm ready to make it one of the best for the site and The Movie Breakdown.

Before we leap ahead, I want to look back at what were the most read pieces on Beyond the Balcony in 2023.

10. My Crystal Ball is Broken: The Results of My Way Too Early 2023 Oscar Best Picture Nominee PredictionsI bill this as a pop culture and movie site, so it is always nice when many readers flock to the pieces that actually are about movies, even if this one was about how poorly I predicted what would be the Best Picture nominees for the 2023 Oscars, Now to be fair to myself, I made the prediction 9 months before the nominations were made when I didn't even know about several of the movies that did land a nod. The 'Way Too Early Oscar Best Pictures' nomination piece is yet another thing I didn't do in 2023, but considering how popular this post turned out, I will take another stab at it in 2024. I think 5 correct predictions is my record.

9. 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania' Review: Big Imaginative Adventure Hampered by Little Stakes and Emotions: Hey look! People like to read movie reviews on a movie site! What a concept! Sadly, the movie turned out to be a big disappointment, but it seems despite it not working for many audiences, the review was still something many wanted to check out. This was the last review I wrote in 2024, which is pathetic. The global domination plan is to have at least one review of a new release a week along with countless other similar types of movie writing throughout 2024, hopefully, you get to read far more recommendations.

8. Children's Stories Perfect for a Disney Animated Adaptation. . . Or Maybe Not: Sometimes I write silly things, and apparently, sometimes you even want to read them. I am grateful that my goofy side and instincts to just write something random sometimes pay off. I plan to scatter such silliness around the site in 2024.

7. Opening NightEven though this site is a pop culture and movie site with a readership that largely has never met me, I write about my life and family a lot. The goal is to try to make this a site that uses my personal experience as a way to frame the conversation of arts and culture. I usually assume most readers want more movie talk and less personal talk, so I'm always shocked and happy to see a personal piece like this one take off. This is actually a really short piece but was part of a series where I was hyping up a huge event in Everett's life as he was about to be performing in a big production of Newsies Jr for Theatre Ancaster's Junior Broadway program. I am grateful and humbled by how many turned out to see Everett, and it is wonderful how many cared about this major milestone in our family. It was this production that then inspired me to return to the stage, and led to our entire family getting our song and dance on, which I will write with more depth soon.

6. Siskel & Ebert Display the Danger of the Critic Roadblock: This post is actually from April 2022, but somehow found its audience this year. I know there were a few major sites that wrote retrospective articles on the pair of critics this year, so there was an increased interest in the famous duo. This could be a reason why more discovered this piece in 2023 than the year it was posted. My site is also tagged as a part tribute to Roger Ebert and his partner in movie criticism, which could be another reason why this popped up when those scouring the net for pieces on them, Or maybe the post's success came from frazzled drivers stuck on the highway who accidentally wandered in after being lured by a keyword in the title. Either way, I think this is a pretty good article describing an aspect of film criticism that gives a better understanding of how to have healthier movie discourse.

5. Theatre Ancaster's 'Newsies Jr' Proves the Magic and Value of the ArtsThis is yet another more personal piece that really exploded in views, but also was one of my many articles where I trumpet the importance and value of arts and creativity in our society. I am crushed by how many schools and regions are cutting out art programs and diminishing their value, which I think shows a complete ignorance of the magic and necessity for things like music, theatre, creative writing, fine arts, dance, and various other forms of expression to be promoted and cultivated. I've seen the magic it has conjured in my kids' lives, and obviously, my soapbox resonated with many readers and stragglers who found their way to my site.

4. Happy Birthday Danika: 8 Years of Adventure, Imagination, Attitude, Kindness, Mischievousness, and Love: You love her! You really love her! The high ranking of this piece is likely a combination of readers who actually do like personal posts and the fact I stopped writing for long stretches in the proceeding weeks so this remained on the front page for an extended time. This meant more readers got to enjoy my daughter's irresistible cuteness.

3. There is Nothing Strange About the World of Awesome Discovered in This Birthday Cake: The majestic draw of Danika's birthday and the wonder of the Spicer woman continue to benefit the site in regards to reader numbers. This is also a case that it was on the top of the page for a long time, but I love that many got to see the spectacular talents of my skilled and wonderful wife, Emily.

2. Explaining My Four-Star Rating System: Huh? This was a piece from January 2018 that was written just to give an idea of what each star meant when I bestowed it upon a specific movie. If I remember correctly, some readers and listeners were questioning why a movie they loved got a three-star when one they didn't like as much got a four, so I wrote a piece to explain how I viewed the whole star rating system and why I use it. It is far from one of the best things I wrote, and it likely is dated since it was several years ago, my views of criticism and the rating system evolve over time to reflect our culture and who I am as a person. Yet somehow this several-year-old explainer post exploded in popularity this year, and I'm trying to think what controversy or current event caused people to wander over to this article. My best guess is many incorrectly lean more towards an objective view of art criticism and thus become more hostile when a review doesn't jibe with their cherished opinion, and so people were out seeking validation on their star rating viewpoints. Or maybe I got a lot of views from astrologists.

1. The Summer Box Office Challenge Update: Is the Glorious Streak Over???This is one of the most baffling success stories on the site as it reached almost 8 times more readers than most other articles on this list. This means it went viral with many new readers checking it out and it got quite a few shares across the online sphere. But why? I like to think the Summer Box Office Challenge is just that big of a zeitgeist-spanning hit and everyone truly came together over what was my first-ever loss in the challenge. But that is more unlikely than a mermaid popping out of my swim spa and asking me for a date. Because mermaids tend to date within their species plus I'm taken. My best bet is that I posted this around the time of the Barbenheimer craze and both Barbie and Oppenheimer are mentioned here a few times. It was hitting that golden SEO ticket that Google was craving at the time.

These were the top rankers of 2023, and 2024 will have many more articles, stories, and reviews to catch your attention. I appreciate all the amazing readers and listeners for the various things I create, and thanks to your support, this will be the best year yet.


Speaking of support, several incredibly kind and generous readers have contributed during a time when my writing career has become stagnant. If you love the site and podcast and want to ensure I can craft something every day and you're in a position to help out then I'd really appreciate a donation. You can do that right here.

The goal is to start a Patreon this year once I know there is enough interest and I figure out all the tiers. If you do support me now then I'll automatically add you to the tier level of your contribution if that is a thing you're interested in. Why should you donate? It can guarantee more movie reviews, silly humour, odd fiction, movie retrospectives, movie news analysis, parenting adventures, and other OpEd-style pieces. If you love my articles and reviews then a donation keeps that going, and if you don't, well thank you for checking me out anyway.