The 2013 Update of My “Favorite Movies” List

Tree of Pulp 1I like to make Events out of these things. For the last few months, I’ve been looking forward to my annual shuffling of favorite movies, anticipating some major changes. If you had asked me during that time what my all-time favorite movie was, my answer would have been the same as it had been for almost seven years, but suddenly with an asterisk. A challenger had arrived, a film that I wanted to rewatch at the end of May to determine how high it would climb on the list. Last August, the newest Sight & Sound poll declared a new “greatest movie of all time,” unseating another film that had claimed the distinction five times in a row. This inspired me to shake up my own list, now in its tenth incarnation, the upper reaches of which had become even more stagnant than the S&S results (my entire top five remained exactly the same for six years).

The results will shock you!

Tree of Pulp 2Okay, not really, but I feel like I accomplished what I always set out to do when I toy with the list: the changes have made it a more accurate and insightful guide to my taste in film. At first, when it became clear that this would be a two-horse race, I was excited at the prospect of a new number one. But in the last week or so, I’ve started to think in terms of co-favorites. We can all acknowledge some level of silliness in ranking all these films, as if I can ever be absolutely sure that I love one just a little bit more than the one ranked below it. My current #1 and #2 are so incredibly different from each other — they accomplish different goals and elicit different responses from me — that I’m tempted to say, “I love a variety of movies, but it’s really these two that best sum up all the different things I love about the medium.” In the end, though, I don’t think there’s any point to doing this if you’re not going to be consistent. Unless I have a change of heart in the future, there won’t be any ties here.

So what caused some of the changes from last year’s list? The biggest event was my Disney marathon, when I watched all fifty-two animated “canon” films. As a result, a lot of those movies made some big moves on the list, with three exiting completely and one joining the list for the first time. Also, it was a little over a year ago that I started buying movies on Blu-ray, building my collection primarily with films already on the list. I’ve been able to watch quite a few of them and determine if they had been in the right place or not. (A note about my use of the words “accurate” and “right” — yes, of course I know it’s all personal opinion, but it’s opinion based on memory, and the older the memory, the more my judgment will be based on vague impressions and nostalgia rather than a reckoning of the movie as a whole.) Finally, as per my finicky rules, the movies of 2012 are now eligible to join, whereas any 2013 movie I’ve already seen would have to wait until next time (although I haven’t loved any of the mere seven I’ve seen to date anyway).

Tree of Pulp 3It seems like every time I do this, I get a little more embarrassed about some of the movies I count among my favorites. There are definitely some I need to see and judge anew when I have the time. My defense of any criticism (beyond “It’s my list, make your own”) is that this is, was and always will be a work in progress, just like me. I feel like my taste in movies is still in the adolescent phase — developing at a rapid clip, but ungainly, swinging wildly between the juvenile and the pretentious. For every time I discover brand new (to me) reasons to love something, there’s another time I find reasons to feel like I’ve given something else way too much slack (or worse, like I’ve been seeing something that wasn’t there).

With each new stage in life comes a moment of pause when you wonder how you ever got by before knowing or doing what you know or do now. So it is with my resolve, dating back only to January of this year, to work at this blog consistently — a major part of which was the decision to write about movies regularly and thus make me more articulate in my critiques. It’s such a no-brainer: practice is key, and simply watching movies without working out my thoughts afterwards would get me nowhere. There’s always the fear that your writing will be nothing but crap, but anyway, those days are behind me now. I’ve committed to writing about film because I love it.

Tree of Pulp 4The full list can be accessed at the top of the page or here, but below are lists of movies I added over the past year and movies that I saw again and decided to remove.

Entries Exits
454. Some Came Running 393. The Sword in the Stone
449. Monsieur Verdoux 386. The Jungle Book
436. Broadcast News 254. History of the World: Part I
433. The Game (1997) 236. The Great Mouse Detective
422. Shoot the Piano Player 104. The Pink Panther Strikes Again
416. Fury (1936)
406. 3 Women
373. Skyfall
371. The Beguiled
360. The New World
356. Sherlock Jr.
355. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
348. Yojimbo
343. The Secret World of Arrietty
339. Looper
321. Cinderella (1950)
320. (Marvel’s) The Avengers
305. Lincoln (2012)
296. Pina
288. Django Unchained
282. Paris, Texas
277. A Christmas Story
268. Zero Dark Thirty
263. Mulholland Dr.
245. Life of Pi
230. Blow Out
225. Moonrise Kingdom

One response to “The 2013 Update of My “Favorite Movies” List

  1. Pingback: Supplemental Post: Pulp Fiction, Meet The Tree of Life | Infinite Crescendo·

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