Top 100: Intro - The Part-Time Critic

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Top 100: Intro

I have been keeping a "Top 100 List" since 2003 and I've updated it around this time of year since then. Many people set their lists aside and make changes to them rarely, but mine has always been a very fluid list. Movies move wildly up and down the list year by year and help me to understand my tastes and feelings on film at the given moment in time that I make the list. I've always had some serious problems with my previous lists and I thought that his year (with the new blog and all) was the perfect time to address it.

There are two different schools of thought when it comes to making a "Top 100 list". The first school says to go with the "Best 100 Films", which is an attempt to make an objective list of films that could be considered the best ever. The other school says one should just make a "Favorite 100 Films", which really boils down to a subjective list of films that are enjoyed the most. Each route can have its strengths and weaknesses. Let's take Citizen Kane for example.

I enjoy watching Citizen Kane, but I don't really love it. I truly admire the monumental skill and talent that went into the film, but still don't find myself sitting in enjoyment, thought, suspense, or laughter when I take it in. While I would feel comfortable putting Citizen Kane on a list of technically amazing, profoundly insightful, and truly landmark films; I wouldn't say that its one of my favorite films, as I don't watch it that much.

On the flip side, there are several films that I watch all the time, but don't consider to be all that insightful or technically proficient. A film like Tommy Boy I may find more enjoyable for whatever reason than Citizen Kane, but by any objective measure it would clearly be inferior to Citizen Kane. Is there any way of combining the objective and the subjective? I think that ultimately it will be a subjective choice, but I do believe I have come up with a system that satisfies the deepest reasons for anyone to make a Top 100 list, and that for me is to try and sum up my unique experiences, preferences, and visions of film.

By titling the list "Top 100 Films I Can't Live Without", I believe I can mix successfully (as possible) objective criteria for films to be considered, as well as completely subjective criteria. There will be films that I may not thoroughly enjoy; yet I feel they should make the list, because for one reason or another I would not want to live without them. It might be that their message challenges me, or that they are triumphs in other areas. There will also now be films that may not be really credible in the critical arena, but that I would not want to continue living without it.

Creating a list like this has also helped me to diversify the genres present in the list as well. In the past, my lists tended to be heavy on the dramas (like the Oscars, who also strive to award the 'Best'), and light on the other genres. This new way of looking at the list has forced me to re-analyze my preferences. If I could only have 100 films the rest of my life, would I want the 2nd best Science Fiction film of all-time or the 32nd best Drama of all-time; regardless of whether or not that science fiction film can be considered "important", like a drama could. Would I want to put another drama on the list or another Marx brothers film? Should Chaplin's humor be there, Kubrick's cinematic vision? These are the kinds of questions I asked myself while putting this list together.

All of that to say that I really enjoyed putting this list together and I feel it represents my unique experience and taste in film. I'll be posting the my Top 100 film by film, and hopefully day by day, and I'll include a small commentary as to what makes each film one "I Can't Live Without". For some it will be the action sequences, others it will be the truthful insights into life, and others still it will be becuase of the way in which it challenges my views of life.

Feel free to comment on any or all of the postings. It won't hurt me if you disagree with my choices (looking over my list, I know some of these choices will be disagreed with), but I would love to hear your feedback about what makes each film essential or non-essential to you as well. I will be adding a sidebar with links to all 100 commentaries as they are posted. So sit back, and I hope you enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Even after as much as we have talked about it, I am still amazed with how much thought and work you have put (and still putting) into this. I am definitely excited to see how much it has changed with your new line of thinking. It sounds like a great mix. Although, I must say, I am also preparing myself for disagreements. I think I have an idea of a few films that will be in your top five but all this new thinking is making me question their exact positions. I still highly, highly doubt your #1 has changed. We shall see though (in 100 days apparently). I'm looking forward to it!