As the end of another year approaches there’s a mad rush to post year end top ten lists as critics groups announce what they consider to be the best films and performances of the year having only just seen some of the movies hours earlier. In 2011 there was a big concern over whether the New York critics would see David Fincher‘s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in time for voting (I believe they saw it one or two days before). This year the down-to-the-wire contender was Martin Scorsese‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, in fact, it was so close the International Press Academy (IPA) wasn’t able to see the film before announcing their nominees for the 2013 Satellite Awards. To put these year-end horse races into perspective, they still nominated it for five awards.
I mention all of this as I have am in the middle of compiling my personal year end top ten for 2013, but before I do I wanted to open the doors to a new project I’ve been working on for the last three months, a project I’ve dubbed in the navigation as “Best Movies“, but just as easily could be considered a section looking at my favorite movies as well as serving as a sort of cinematic time capsule.
At this moment the “Best Movies” section only includes my previous year end top tens, beginning in 2003 with links to my reviews for each movie, my write up for each year and some thoughts on the list, looking back on each and how my opinion and tastes have changed.
In addition to past top tens, I will also begin tracking my favorite films of the current year as a way to keep a running tab throughout the year of the best films I’ve seen at any moment. If you click through right now, you’ll see the list of films currently under consideration for this year’s top ten.
Top Tens, however, are only a small fraction of what this new section will ultimately be.
Back in 2007 I started a feature called Cinematic Revival where I would watch films I’d either missed or those that were considered classics and would write up an essay on each. It was fun, but it wasn’t a genuine feature considering I had no perspective from which I was commenting on each film outside of the fact they were considered classics and great films by others. Not exactly much of a “revival” if you ask me as much as it was a regurgitation of what others had said without as much personal perspective as I would have liked. I still use the tag on occasion, but the idea of covering individual films eventually turned into my weekend What I Watched features.
When I began the “What I Watched” section the goal was to watch the films many considered great and offer up a few thoughts, but nothing all that definitive. Or watch obscure titles I’d read about or others had mentioned in passing in an attempt to expand my cinematic palette.
As a way to track a selection of titles to watch I made a spreadsheet with every Best Picture winner, the current IMDb Top 250, the AFI Top 100, Empire’s Top 500, the Toronto Film Festival 100 Essential Films and, of course, Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies”. You’ll find all of these lists on each page in the “Best Movies” section.
This spreadsheet made for a list of films covering a wide range of tastes and genres and I’m still working through it today, but the point was to familiarize myself with these films before commenting on them. I’m a firm believer that it takes more than one viewing to truly get to know a film, or get to know one’s opinion of a film. It’s why it takes me so long to come up with my year end top tens and why it’s so hard to write reviews, sometimes only days after seeing a movie.
This leads us to this “Best Movies” project as I will once again begin writing editorials on individual films, but instead of picking films I’ve never seen or those others consider “great” or to be the “best” this will be my list of what I consider not only to be the “best” movies, but my favorite movies. It’s why it won’t only be a section dedicated to the films of Jean-Luc Godard and Stanley Kubrick, but titles such as From Dusk Till Dawn may find its way in there or Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
It’s a section directly influenced by Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” essays, a way of looking at film’s history without our nose in the air, but from a personal and passionate perspective. I love the idea of a list that could include Stephen Sommers‘ The Mummy alongside Henri-Georges Clouzot‘s The Raven, Michael Mann‘s Collateral and Godard’s Breathless.
As I begin adding films, additional years will begin to appear in the “Best Movies” section. I will revisit recent films just as much as older titles. Sometimes a film I have watched for the very first time may make an appearance and perhaps ten years down the line I’ll have to revisit it again. Point is, it’s a way of listing my favorite films without the need to rank them from 1 to 100, but instead to merely express an appreciation, share and discuss it with you.
When I started this site in 2003 I never imagined how much I had to learn about the history of movies. Ten years later and I haven’t even scratched the surface. Through this feature and the coming years I hope to expand my horizons, learn and share the journey along the way.
For now, click here to begin exploring my “Best Movies” section and check out my previous top tens and my comments on each as well as a link to each list on Letterbxd.com. Coming soon I will have my official Top Ten of 2013 and beginning in 2014 I will begin adding individual titles to the list, but in the meantime I’d love to hear suggestions on which titles you think belong on a list of the “best” movies of all-time.