Re-ranked

I’ve now rated 500 movies on Flickchart, so I figured I’d post my updated top 20. New ones are bolded.

  • Casablanca
  • Kill Bill Vol. 1
  • Young Frankenstein
  • The Fifth Element
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Memento
  • WALL-E
  • Rear Window
  • The Princess Bride
  • I Love You to Death
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Tampopo
  • Return of the Jedi
  • Fantasia
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • The Matrix
  • Mulan

Not that exciting, but at least the embarrassments are off the first page. I spent a fair amount of time trying to think of movies the algorithm wasn’t showing me. That works fine, but it removes the “I hadn’t thought of that in years” effect of the random matchups.

I think I’m about done, because I’m running out of movies I’ve seen. I’m sure I’m missing a couple hundred, but I’m having to click the “Haven’t seen that” buttons more and more.

Naturally this is all for fun… especially since I’m relying in many cases on memories of when I saw a film up to 40 years ago. I mean, I haven’t actually seen A Clockwork Orange since college; maybe it’s not as much of a mindfuck as it seemed then. I suspect that TRON is way less cool than it seemed in 1982. I also wonder if my memory that Roger Moore Bond films were cheesily entertaining would hold up. I mean, he’s no Sean Connery, but it would be a good night at the movies.

Ranking movies

At Mefi there was a posting on FlickChart, a site where you can rate movies. It’s simple: you are presented with two movies and choose which one you like better. (If it gives you a movie you haven’t seen, you just ask for another.) Then you do more and more, till you wonder where your time went. It’s very addictive. (Fair warning: it serves up ads with each choice.)

So, you’re very soon presented with some very weird choices:

  • Mad Max vs. Animal House
  • Memento vs. Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • Best in Show vs. Mulan
  • Bound vs. This is Spinal Tap
  • Psycho vs. What About Bob?

You’ll have to develop your own policy on genre comparisons. Is an Important Movie always better than a really well done comedy? Is an eye-candy sf spectacular better than a cleverly written plot?

Some things that I’ve discovered in my own rankings:

  • The question that helps me the most is “Which would I see again first?”
  • Real posers are rare– I can almost always decide immediately.
  • Even if I liked a trilogy or series, I rank the sequels way down.
  • I’m definitely a creature of my times. If it was big in the 70s/80s/90s, I probably saw it and think fondly of it.
  • Though a few of the hits of that time feel hollow in retrospect. Close Encounters, ugh. I can’t imagine watching E.T. again.
  • Disney movies are my trash bin. That was kind of a surprise, because I’d have felt very differently when I was 10, or 20. But I have little desire to see Pinocchio or Sleeping Beauty again. Pixar holds up better.

You’re a bit at the mercy of their database, which is skimpy on foreign and obscure films. I’ve now rated 300 films, and my top 20 are:

  • Kill Bill Vol. 1
  • Young Frankenstein
  • The Fifth Element
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Memento
  • WALL-E
  • Rear Window
  • The Princess Bride
  • Princess Mononoke
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • Return of the Jedi
  • Fantasia
  • The Matrix
  • Mulan
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Kill Bill Vol. 2
  • Home Alone
  • Back to the Future
  • A Fish Called Wanda

A lot of the list actually seems wrong to me. A lot depends on what actual choices you were presented, and I’m sure I haven’t yet chosen between #20, A Fish Called Wanda and #21, To Kill a Mockingbird, or #22, Black Panther. I don’t know what Home Alone is doing there, either. I’m not sure why Airplane! and Casablanca and The Sting and The Godfather and Galaxy Quest aren’t there, since I feel like I’ve rated them pretty highly. Do The Right Thing only just appeared in the choices, so it hasn’t had a chance to move up. And movies like Tampopo, The Triplets of Belleville, La Gloire de mon père, Blow-up, Allegro Non Troppo haven’t appeared at all. I’ll probably keep playing with the list, and it’ll look very different soon.

(Also, for some reason Youtube has been offering me clips of Kill Bill recently, and I find them pretty cool. I wouldn’t have called it #1 though.)

There’s a dearth of Important Movies currently, probably because of the pandemic, to say nothing of Trumpism. When my twitter feed is full of catastrophes, I don’t really crave enlightenment and/or education from the movies. I mean, Gandhi really is a deeper, more affecting movie than WALL-E, but if they were both on, I’m afraid I’d switch to the cartoon.

Still, there’s just enough truth in the list to point out two types of movies I really really like. One, visual spectacles, especially ones I’d never seen or imagined before seeing the movie; if they’re spectacular enough they can be forgiven some incoherence. Two, cleverly written movies: mind-blowers like Memento and Rear Window; near-perfect comedies like Young Frankenstein and Princess Bride.

Anyway, if that inspires you to rate your own list, have fun!