About two weeks ago, I unveiled my Top 100 Favourite Movies of All-Time. Now, if you've made a list like this, you'll know how freaking hard it is. You have to pick and choose out of all the films you have ever watched which films you'd like to see in your top 100. Then you have to pick and choose out of those selections so you're left with 100 of your favourite movies. And then you have to decide which films are better than which, ordering them all perfectly. It's a hard, but totally awesome job. I particularly loved it when I picked up a free copy of Blue Valentine from work and exclaimed, "I just got my 21st favourite film for free!" What I didn't like was the fact that my fellow staff members looked at me strangely.
A couple of days ago a friend of mine said that Despicable Me was his favourite movie ever. Not thinking about whether what he said was a hyperbole or actually a well-thought out statement, I suddenly just blurted out "really?" He thought this was because I didn't like the film, but I actually really did like the film (seriously, every time I go to my niece's and she suggests that we watch a movie I always pick Despicable Me...I've probably seen it at least five times now). But even though I really enjoyed the film, it would never factor into my top 100 favourite films, because I simply don't see it as 'favourite film' material. To be perfectly honest, though, if you were to put a gun to my head and ask me to choose between watching Despicable Me or my 39th favourite film There Will Be Blood on a Friday night, I'd probably go with Despicable Me. That's because I don't think after a full week of school I'd be down for any milkshake drinking, just easy breezy entertainment.
So what is it that makes 'favourite film material'?
As much as I'd like to say my entire 100 favourite films list came down to films I just simply loved and could watch over and over again, it really didn't. I'm talking films like Confessions of a Shopaholic or even something which was as generally well-received as X-Men: First Class. Yes, I loved them. Yes, I have watched them more than some of the films that actually made my list. But I just don't see them as 'favourite film material'.
'Favourite film material' is something which can't be accurately determined, and there's no rulebook. Except, it almost feels like there is a rulebook to creating your list of favourite films. Y'know, we feel like we should include those arty movies (otherwise known as 'pretentious' movies) just so people will be impressed with our range. And then comes all of the 'essential' movies. Ones like The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption and Taxi Driver, plus anything by Stanley Kubrick. No matter if you'd rather watch some guilty pleasure movie or even comedy as well-received as The Hangover instead of the three hours of The Godfather, we can always tell which film would make the list. That's not to say that I don't like The Godfather. I love The Godfather. But I'm one of those people who, when I rewatch a film, it's usually a recent comedy because if I'm rewatching it's usually because I can't be bothered putting my brain in a movie. If that makes me a bad person, then I am sorry.
Obviously, if you're going to put a film in your list then you better make sure you actually like it. In fact, like is not the right word. You should love the films you put in your list. Because if you don't love at least 100 films out of all the films you've seen, then I don't think you could call yourself a 'movie-lover'. Unless you purposely put yourself through all of the bad movies ever.
'Best Films I've Ever Seen' vs. 'Favourite Films'
I've always been under the impression that there is a difference between the 'best films I've ever seen' and my 'favourite films'. I'm not sure why exactly this is, but it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm not really sure what the best film I have ever seen is. However, I do know that my favourite film is Memento, followed by Schindler's List. Schindler's List is a film that I'd be more inclined to say is the best movie I've ever seen, but the fact of the matter is that I just like Memento a little bit more - it's my favourite out of the two.
The problem with the 'best films I've ever seen' is the fact that many people misinterpret it as 'the best films ever'. So, if I were to place Schindler's List at the top of my list, people would be bound to disagree because it wasn't a perfect movie, and then start hammering me about my choice. The problem is that people tend to forget that it's the 'best films I've ever seen', and I have different tastes to other people. People just look at the 'best films' and forget the whole personal taste thing. If one was looking for a best film list, then they should go onto IMDb and look at the top 250. And even then people will still complain about The Shawshank Redemtption being number one. Truth is, there's never going to be a movie which everyone agrees on. And it's then when these 'favourite films' lists come in handy because even while people may not agree with your choices, they better bloody accept them because they're your favourite films, not theirs.
Is it okay to have newer films in your top 100?
Admittedly, I have a lot of newer films in my top 100. Particularly in the higher ranks. I've been told this is wrong, but I don't care. I think this goes with the well-known statement around us film-lovers that films that were made ages ago are simply better than the ones made now. That may be true, but we have had some great movies come out in the last few years. For example, one of the movies I picked in my top 10 was The Social Network. Now, for a lot of people, this was top 10 stuff for 2010, but not top 10 stuff for their favourite films. The reason I ranked The Social Network so highly is because it's exactly the type of movie I'd like to make, and the script-work is literally music to my ears. In fact, I believe that The Social Network is one of the best movies I've ever seen. You may disagree, but no matter what year the film was made in, it all comes down to personal taste, not what other people think. Plus, my top 10 is filled with the likes of Inception, Inglourious Basterds, Mean Girls (if any of you try to say I'm wrong for having this movie in there, I will get as mad as Regina George), and The Dark Knight. All recent movies. All movies that I love. No problem.
That's not all. I had included three 2011 releases in my list, and one hasn't even come out in America yet. These movies are The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris and Melancholia. Admittedly, Melancholia was a tough choice to include in my list, but I simply adored that movie and it's been haunting my dreams for weeks now. Even though I feel strange about including two extremely new movies, this is what I think: imagine that someone back in 1939 was making a list of their favourite movies, and one of the films that was included was Gone with the Wind. That was a new movie, then. Now it's one of those essential movies. We never really think about the future of the new movies that we've watched. Who knows, in twenty years, people may think The Tree of Life is the most meaningful movie ever made (well, I don't know, but I can see that it will be liked a lot more in the future than it is now). And I just simply love Midnight in Paris more than I could possibly say. Yes, movies do get better with age. But hey, if you include a newer movie in your top 100 now, you may be the one in twenty years who goes "I had that in my top 100 from the very beginning!" Yes, it's the little things like this that make loving movies 5% awesomer for me.
Anyway, back to the point...
So now that I have talked all of my feelings out about having favourite films (I'm sorry if it didn't make sense), I've come to realise that maybe my friend wasn't too wrong having Despicable Me as a favourite film. After all, it comes down to personal taste, and what people have and haven't seen. Maybe there's no such thing as 'favourite movie material'. But one thing is that just because one doesn't have some artsy movie or an old movie or even The Godfather as their favourite film doesn't make them any less of a film lover. Some people just love movies more than others. Everyone has different 'best films they've ever seen'. And after all, I doubt many people have taken at least 20 hours out of their life just to decide whether they liked Memento or Schindler's List more. It was a tough decision, but I decided that Memento deserved the top spot because every time I think about how great it is, I just want to cry. I can watch it whenever - it challenges me. You know, people who have made a top 100 list have probably thought it out more than you would ever know.
But then again, I think it will always be deemed a crime for a film blogger to have 27 Dresses as their favourite film.
So, what do you think about the favourite film business? What is your all-time favourite film, and why? What is 'favourite film material' to you?