Monday, August 3, 2009

On The Concept of a Top 100 List

There will be lists. Society's favorite obsession has become my own. You should expect nothing less from the little blog of mine. Give me a topic and I'll hand you back my hastily ranked preferences. It's what I do.

But really, it's what we all do. Flip through just about a
ny popular magazine and you're sure to find a list somewhere. We read them, we critique them, sometimes we swear by them and most often, we talk about how we could do better. Right now, however, I'm speaking in very specific terms: top 100 favorite films. That's the project I'm about to embark on, and so I thought I'd explore the idea behind it a little. For starters, here's some very recent thoughts by Roger Ebert on the topic.

Ebert's article touches o
n a couple of points that I want to emphasize here. First, that it's not what's left off a list that matters so much as what's included on it. I've got 100 open spots on my list, and that's just not going to be enough to contain all the great films, classics and otherwise, that I'd like to include. That's not even to mention the "great" films that won't come anywhere near my list. In obsessing over what doesn't make the cut, you're likely to miss the more interesting debate over why certain films did manage to sneak in.

The other poi
nt worth reiterating is that lists constructed by individuals are far more interesting than ones compiled from critics lists or magazine polls. It's not merely that favorite films lists compiled by famous directors, critics or industry folk give insight into their work, it's the idea that an individual list has actual personality. Greatest films of all time lists (I'm looking at you AFI) attempt to conform to an established cannon. Quite frankly, they're boring. I happen to like Citizen Kane a lot, but it's not in my top 100 and I'm much more inclined to perk up at a list that doesn't stick the same dozen or so films at the top all the time. An individual list tells you a lot about the person, and though some selections are prone to raising eyebrows, it's fun, dare I say fascinating, to see what someone might come up with that's a little bit out of the box.

nd ultimately, my top 100 are personal favorites. This is no claim to being "greatest" just a collection of films that have shaped me in one way or another. Some you'll know by name, some you may have seen, but I'll bet that a good portion will be news to you. And that's wonderful, because if you like lists for the same reasons I do, then seeking out unknown entries is all part of the fun. Hopefully, my selections inspire some additional viewing on your part.

nally, I guess the temptation to point out what's missing is great indeed, so great that I myself can't even resist. In the next entry, I'll cover some films you can expect not to appear in the top 100, perhaps inciting outrage at some of my exclusions, but I'd hate for you to wait all the way until #1 before realizing that 2001, The Godfather and Raging Bull won't be making the cut. Stay tuned.


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