Thursday, 26 June 2008

Lists: Love Them of Leave Them?


In the past two weeks numerous lists have made there mark such as the AFI's Top 10 Films in 10 Genres listing "America's 10 Greatest Films in 10 Classic Genres" and Entertainment Weekly The New Classics - 100 Best films from 1983-2008.

There have been some rumblings over such lists and their importance that has got me thinking. Why do we like or dislike lists? If we dislike them, why do we talk about the so much? Do we not agree with them? Was our favourite film left out? Is it a lot of strutting around and who knows the most contest? On the flip side, why do we love them? Is there a sense of accomplishment or validation when you've seen all or most of the films? Is it a way to find new films?

I'm a list person myself. When lists like this are released or newly found, I'm looking for a print-friendly version and an orange highlighter to mark the ones I've seen and then analyze the ones I've not seen to see if I'd add them to my list. I find that takes a list from great to grand is when you really connect with it. When it is full of favourites but has lots of new things to recommend and discover. I also have a strong preference for lists that include a definition. For example, the recent AFI 10 on 10 is clearly American films. This is one reason I don't particularly connect to it as I enjoy Canadian and International film. I did find the Entertainment Weekly list fascinating as it really showed what the last 25 years in film was like, themes that have been consistent throughout as well as new trends and influences. Ironically, I'm more likely to watch films I've not seen from the AFI list over the EW list.

Overall, I love reading lists and I love making lists (scary movies, westerns, influential films). I think that reading lists even makes you more likely to make lists. The more lists the better I say!

What is your take on lists?

Lists of note:
IMDb's Top 250
Movies You Should See Top 1000 Movies You Like
My 101 Films I Can't Believe I Haven't Seen
1001 Films To See Before You Die - by Stephen Jay Schneider ( link)


Suzie Ridler said...

I sometimes feel like lists chain me, make me commit to something...those are the lists I avoid. Like I have to hold onto them. I can't stand paperwork and clutter.

The lists I DO like are the ones that help me because I have no memory, LOL. I am crazy for shopping lists, I get overwhelmed and very distracted at the grocery store. It prevents me from buying too many things I don't really need right now.

When I get overwhelmed on the logistics of life, they also help me but I must feel like I can throw them into the recycle bin at any time. Does that make me weird? Such a commitment-phobe!

Nayana Anthony said...

I'm a list girl... usually because the lists often turn me onto movies I've not seen, or remind me of really good ones I've not thought about in a while.

I always have a bit of disagreement with any list (except my own, of course!) I think the debate's part of the fun.

Anonymous said...

I'm not obsessive in trying to see everything on a list, but I admit that I do print them off and check off things I've seen. Sometimes it just reminds me of particular blind spots in my film education (westerns, for instance, or film noir) and that gets me excited about discovering some new films.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Oh I love all the different answers!

Suzie, that is too funny throwing them out! I love it. Whatever works sounds good to me - that sounds like a great way to clean the slate.

Nayana thank you for reminding me that debate can be fun! That is so true, even if it gets my feathers in a flutter!

James I think you hit the nail on the head about blind spots. I did a western marathon last November to fill in some blanks. I think I may have to do a romance or comedy one to fill in some other gaps.

Jamie said...

I love lists! They're fun to make and fun to explore, at least I think so.

I bet one of the reasons we make lists is to create a bit of order in an overwhelming field of information. There are so many movies out there in the world (plants, foods, baby names, you anme it) that creating a list gives us a bite-sized piece we can engage with. So, um, writing your own list is like creating your own menu - or something like that.

Daniel said...

Tough call here. I enjoy looking at these lists, but I get frustrated thinking about making my own and being forced into narrowing my choices down!

If they're not numbered lists (like a "Best" instead of a "Top 10"), I'm a little more comfortable.

Anonymous said...

"Is there a sense of accomplishment or validation when you've seen all or most of the films? Is it a way to find new films?"

Yes and yes. I've never really tried making my own list (except by year).

Does anyone know of a site or reference that has a list of every film ever made, except for IMDb?

Anonymous said...

I'm not too much into making lists but I do love looking them over, mostly to see what people are into or recommend. I don't get a whole lot of validation from being able to say that I've seen all of the movies on the list but for my personal interest in classic film, it certainly provides a starting point for digging into a history/genre I'm not familiar with rather than just taking a shot in the dark.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Aha, looks like we all like checking them out but not necessarily making them!

Yes Jamie they can make order out of chaos! Organization ftw!

I agree Daniel, I'm not a big fan of numbered lists. Things can be great for so many reasons it's hard to compare them on the same lines.

Cinexcellence - I do usually use IMDb for the film reference of almost everything. There are some books, like the annuals (Videohound) that are pretty comprehensive, and heavy!

Polly said...

Chiming in late here, but I have a lot of fun keeping track of movie (and book and music) lists here:

I'm definitely a list girl! I see these kind of lists as a "study guide" to film history...

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Thanks Polly for the reminder of the Lists of Bests site, I haven't popped by there in a while but I think it will provide some great info for an upcoming project!

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