Any critic voting in the Sight and Sound poll that was announced yesterday (my coverage here if you care to compare lists) will tell you how impossibly difficult it is to select 10 films as the best of all time. Occurring every 10 years since 1952, this is really the only list that matters. They have to select with their minds and their hearts, and the two don’t always coincide. If you’ve seen all the masterpieces, how do you choose between all that is perfect? And how would you like to be the critic who finally displaced “Citizen Kane” as the best movie of all time?
I don’t have nearly as much pressure on my head (not yet), but it hasn’t stopped some of my friends from asking what are my all time favorites.
I tend to dodge the question (often pretentiously, I might add). “Well, how do you rank works of art anyway?” “Oh, you probably haven’t heard of them.” “I’ve just seen so much that it’s so hard to choose.” And then I’ll say something about how I’ve seen the Harry Potter movies a lot because they’re always on HBO and I have a sister with no qualms of re-watching stuff, so maybe those could be called some of my “favorites.”
Often, I don’t even like the word “favorite.” “Best” and “favorite” usually go hand in hand. If I called “Drive” the best movie of 2011, it’s because it’s the one I most want to see again AND because it’s the most important/best made/critic-y jargon bullshit.
There’s also the possibility that I just haven’t seen enough films. In fact, I know I haven’t seen enough. One day decades from now when my Excel spreadsheet of classic films to watch is completely marked up with yellow highlights, when I’ve written and read all I can about them and am looking back on my entire life of watching movies as opposed to looking forward to what’s coming out this Friday, then maybe I’ll make a decent list.
So for all those reasons and more, I’ve never officially made public what are my all time picks for best movies ever. I’ve always had titles in mind, but they’ve never been put on paper like this. It’s damned hard to do.
But I’ll concede that in this instant, “best” does not mean “favorite.” I’m not going to lie and pretend that some obscure foreign movie I’ve seen once two years ago means more to me than something I’ve seen dozens of times since I was a kid. At the same time, that movie I know by heart is probably not even in the same conversation technically or historically as that obscure foreign film.
It’s why I’ve decided to provide TWO lists. One has the movies I would call the most powerful and most significant movies ever made. The other has the titles that I could never forget. They define me as a critic and a person. Continue reading “My Best (and Favorite) Movies of All Time”