Saturday, November 11, 2006

Personal Canon: A Top 100

Here I go again. I love a good project and this one is a doozy. I will be counting down 100 Movies I Think About When I Think About the Movies: A Personal Canon. You may recall I tried this once before but this time I'm serious. I need something juicy to sink my teeth into whenever the upcoming Oscar season bores --it does on occassion: Oscar excitement, buzz, and news tends to come in waves rather than steady drops from right about now through the big night in February.

So herewith a few thoughts about the project.



This list is NOT
  • A greatest films of all time list. That list... well, I know you want it, but the truth is this: I see 100 newish movies a year and so it takes me a while to work my way back through the classics. I have seen a lot of movies in my life but I'm particularly weak on the 1940s and 1960s. I haven't seen enough films yet to do such a list. Ask me again in 2008. If I think a film is great (qualitatively) but I have no particular feeling for it outside of respect then it won't be here. The Godfather, for example, tops a lot of Top 100 Lists but it won't be on mine. It is great, yes. No argument here. But, because I am not personally attached to it, it's missing. Understand?
  • Set in stone. Expect revisions in years to come (provided I am still writing about movies in years to come. And I hope to be. Donate!)

What is this list, then?
  • It is a list of 100 films that I have some sort of deeper than usual relationship with. The original impetus for the list came years ago when Cinemarati asked its members to compile their top 100s under the heading "Movies I Think About When I Think About the Movies" Hence: "A Personal Canon." In some cases --let's say approximately 50% of the list --they'd also be on a list of "greatest movies of all time that I've seen"
How was it compiled?
  1. I looked at charts of everything I've seen and loved.
  2. I eliminated short films, television series, documentaries, and then (this is the sad part) any feature film from the past ten years. New movies have an unfair advantage being so fresh in the memory. And, for all the conjecture in the world, you really don't know how you'll feel about them in 10 years. Plus they get a lot of attention here and everywhere else anyway...
  3. I looked again at a list of everything I've seen from 1915 to 1997 and picked about 200 movies.
  4. I eliminated things I greatly respect but don't particularly love. Or flicks I love but didn't feel like watching again.
  5. I put them in order of affection / meaning / greatness to me. An excruciating process. If you ask me again tomorrow the order would change.

What you should do with the list
  • Read it. Enjoy it. Laugh at it. Praise it. Scratch your head at it in confusion. Whatever. "lick it up baby, lick it up" (Yes Heathers will be on the list)
  • Use it for rental ideas.
  • Comment on it. Everything is better if its participatory.
The list kicks off on Monday November 13th. I'll put a couple of movies up each week. If I've written reviews of them previously, there could be reruns (but most entries will be brand new)

* Oh, and before I get started... I should thank Nick who trailblazed the way with his non-greatest but 'movies I most love to love' list, a highly entertaining and diverse collection.

12 comments:

SamuraiFrog said...

I am absolutely looking forward to ripping this off, er, um... reading it. This is a great, fun idea.

Caleb Roth said...

Before you begin, How can you NOT be personally attached to The Godfather? If I insisted, would you see it again? That's strange, because The Godfather goes right to heart. It's not that euro-experimental movie you admire but don't love. I mean, you can love and admire everything you want, but that's a very rare opinion. Anyway, if your opinion were always the usual ones, how would I read them? Good Luck!

- cal roth

Unknown said...

So are you scrapping the old personal canon? That definitely had movies from the last ten years (ten years is a LONG time).

Anonymous said...

Don't you know Nathaniel has a thing about crime films? He doesn't love them. It's a quirk, but it's why we love him so :D

NATHANIEL R said...

the old canon is scrapped (it had short films, docs, tv series, etc... plus i made it long ago and it had recent films on it) I wanted to try a slightly different approach.

BUT a lot of the titles remain. EVENTUALLY I will probably split it into two lists (like Nick does: Greatest and Favorites) but until I see more old films this is how i'm doing it...

as for crime films --- ;) . There are a couple on the list I just don't have personal attachments to the Godfather And by personal attachments I don't mean whether or not I found the film moving (I certainly did find The Godfather stirring) --just that it didn't become something I thought about constantly or became obsessed with against my better judgment. Etc...

NicksFlickPicks said...

Nathaniel: ♥ ♥ ♥ on this idea.

And also: I am absolutely with you on The Godfather. I think I've seen it three times, and every time, I go, "This movie is great! Why don't I ever remember how much I love this movie?" And then I forget the whole plot and the whole movie again. Plus, I think Brando is kind of overrated in it. [Ducks] But I am all about Pacino in it.

Anyway: can't wait for the list.

SusanP said...

Looking forward to the list. I think the greatest/favorites is an important distinction to make.

Like Citizen Kane, a GREAT film, but not one I have a personal attachment to. I don't have a real personal attachment to The Godfather either, but definitely recognize its greatness. Actually, I find Godfather II gets to me more, even though it feels a bit long.

The 10 years idea is a good one -- makes me want to rethink the last favorite's list I did (which was really more top-of-my-mind versus well thought out).

Unknown said...

It'll just be hard to see a list without Dancer in the Dark, Moulin Rouge!, Far From Heaven, LOTR, Mulholland Dr., Eternal Sunshine, Brokeback Mountain, etc.

But fun to see all your old favorites that I don't already know.

And I believe the top 5 need not change at all over the new rules ; )

Caleb Roth said...

Everytime I see The Godfather, I speak to myself every single line of it. Every one.

Anyway, I'd like to know what are the movies you say the lines with.

- cal roth

Glenn Dunks said...

"Use it for rental ideas." - exactly. THat's what I use all these lists for.

I must say, I agree with the whole "personal" take on it. The list I keep is also personal. I mean, I don't think stuff like The Blair Witch Project or Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or Jurassic Park are the greatest movies ever made, but I really just love them and when I think of them I think of them fondly so in MY mind they sorta are the greatest.

Derek said...

Can't wait! You are the king of listmaking.

Anonymous said...

sounds like this will make for some good reading and even better viewing!

and no matter how "objective" people claim they are (with "greatest" lists), there's no getting away from one's subjective subconcious when it comes to choosing one movie (or book or song etc) over another. SOme times you can fight it, others it just slips in unnoticed.

SO good for you for coming straight out and saying this is what YOU like! :o)