INTRODUCTION: MAKING THE LIST
I suppose every movie fan has a different approach to lists. I’ve been making lists of my ‘top’ movies for many years now. Carlito’s Way was my first number one pick. I thought that, before launching the 100 day odyssey of awesome that will be the unveiling of my brand new Top 100 I’d share a few thoughts about what the list, and the concept of lists, means, establish the ground rules I used to make the list, and give you a little insight into how I approached compiling this extensive revision of all my previous lists.
I have one absolute rule for inclusion in the Top 100 - perspective. To think about including a film in this list I need a little distance from it, it needs to have matured in my mind, even if I’ve only seen it once, because some films, with a little reflection, seem better or worse than they did immediately after seeing them. To this end I’ve excluded all films that I’ve only seen for the first time in 2010. This means no Kick Ass, which I suspect will change at a later date. I have also excluded short films. I could quite easily have included cartoons like Feed the Kitty, The Rabbit of Seville and High Diving Hare, and Francois Ozon's live action short See the Sea, but this is a list (and a site) about feature films.
My lists take a very long time to make, largely because each time I do them I start from scratch. Some people (the excellent internet critic James Berardinelli is one), whenever they add a title to their list, simply slot it in, shunt everything down one place, and let the old number 100 drop off the bottom of the list. That doesn’t work for me, largely because I think it assumes that your opinion on the other films in your list is immutable, which frankly I find to be bollocks. As I mentioned, Carlito’s Way was my first number one pick, and until recently Magnolia ranked in my Top 5, there haven’t been 100 new entries since then, but both of those films have fallen out of the list, because, though both are great,my appreciation of cinema, my taste, is always evolving, and these days there are other films that simply work better for me. Given that I’m always trying to expand my horizons where cinema is concerned, I find this rip it up and start again approach to be the most logical for me.
Many movie fans I know have two lists; Favourite movies and Best movies. Over the years many people have tried to explain to me the nuances of the difference they perceive between these two categories. Perhaps I’m a philistine, but the way I’ve always seen it is that they see a Favourites list as being for movies that entertain you, and a Best list as being for movies that are striking in their artistic achievement. I’ve never bought into this separation at all. For me a movie is judged by how it affects me, by its technical credentials (and how well they work for the movie) and by how well it achieves what it has set out to achieve. I don’t think a movie can hope to be listed among the great films I am about to begin listing without excelling in all those categories. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a movie has to be a technical masterpiece to make the list, as long as its technical qualities serve the film. Neither version makes the list, but the two versions of Last House on the Left are perfect examples of this; the later film is much more technically sound, both in terms of camerawork and acting, but it is by far the less effective film.
I also find the idea, which seems to me inherent in separating ‘Favourite’ and ‘Best’ films, that you can’t love a challenging film, or a film that hasn’t set out to entertain you, as much as a really enjoyable piece of entertainment to be somewhat, well, silly. Many of the films you’ll find in my Top 100 haven’t set out to entertain, but their achievements lie in different directions, directions which are just as valid.
So, that’s why this is simply a ‘Top’ 100. You can interpret that however you please. For me, these are the 100 films that, after 21 years and something north of 7000 movies, stand out for me. They are my best, they are my favourites, they are the films that, if my house were burning down, I’d want to save. I think they encapsulate a great range of cinema, they are, most of all, the films I love and the films I want others to see and to love too.
I've been meaning to do this for some time, and now that the list is finally ready I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I will enjoy writing the individual posts for each film, and I hope that along the way you will find some new films to love.