Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What you like is who you are

So suggests High Fidelity, which is apparently my favorite film of 2000. Specifically, Rob (John Cusack) says, "what really matters is what you like, not what you are like... Books, records, films -- these things matter."

You may already be familiar with Flickchart, a site that applies the mechanic of Kittenwar to the rating of motion pictures.* You are shown the posters of two films, and you click on the film you prefer. You do this a lot and it slowly, over time, builds a list of your favorite movies.

Sometimes, you are presented with movies that should never be compared (The Passion of Joan of Arc vs. Bio-Dome). Sometimes you are presented with a difficult choice based on which one you love more (a common one on the site for this is Ghostbusters vs. Back to the Future, which is easy for me: Ghostbusters by a mile). Sometimes, you can't decide which movie you dislike more (Star Wars Episode I vs. Episode II) Sometimes, because a particular movie just hasn't been put up against movies you prefer, it might stay artificially high on your list for quite a while. V for Vendetta is nowhere near my favorite movie, but it was positioned as such for about a week after I first signed on (it now sits at #283, which still feels stupidly high).

As my list took shape, I started to worry a little bit about the picture that was emerging. If what you like does define who you are, then according to Flickchart, I am a nerdy male in his late 20s or early 30s. Dingdingdingding!

I consider myself someone who enjoys movies and has sought to see a wide variety of films. Yet I am struck by how parochial my list of favorites is turning out to be. My top 20 matches in large part the current top 20 aggregated from all users both at Flickchart and at the Internet Movie Database (I do have my limits -- The Dark Knight or The Shawshank Redemption as the greatest movies ever?**); let's just say there is a high incidence of Tarantino and early Lucas.

Even looking year-by-year, I'm finding my favorites very predictable when considering the "nerd canon" of films. I'm feeling like I have a demographic predisposition.

I've decided that my second-favorite movies of these years tend to be somewhat more eclectic and unpredictable. So, subject to a handful of gigantic caveats***, here are my second-favorite movies of every year since I was born:

1979 - Alien
1980 -
1981 -
The Great Muppet Caper
1982 -
1983 -
Trading Places
1984 -
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom [Seriously?]
1985 -
1986 -
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
1987 -
The Untouchables
1988 -
My Neighbor Totoro
1989 -
Do the Right Thing
1990 -
The Hunt for Red October
1991 -
Beauty and the Beast [yeah, that's right]
1992 -
Hard Boiled
1993 -
Groundhog Day
1994 -
The Shawshank Redemption
1995 -
1996 -
1997 -
Austin Powers
1998 -
Dark City
1999 -
2000 -
2001 -
2002 -
Infernal Affairs
2003 -
City of God
2004 -
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2005 -
Caché [which I've seen twice, but only on an airplane]
2006 -
Casino Royale
2007 -
Michael Clayton
2008 -
2009 -
A Serious Man

Based on these and my above comments, you may very well be able to extrapolate my favorite movies in many of these years.

Please share some of your second-favorite movies in the comments!

* A tip-of-the-hat to fellow Grinnellian Adam Kempenaar and his cohost Matty Robinson at Filmspotting for making me aware of the site.

** I realize I'm making a false equivalence of community-proclaimed favorite and "best," but that's unfortunately how Flickchart, at least, describes it. The IMDB at least just calls it "Top 250 as voted by our users."

*** Caveats:
1. Remember, these are in terms of "movies I enjoy and hold as favorites," not "movies I think are 'better' movies."
2. Several of my yearly lists aren't really settled yet.
3. Flickchart defines the release dates of some end-of-year Oscarbait movies as being the beginning of the next year. Thus they call There Will Be Blood, for instance, a 2008 rather than 2007 film.


Jill said...

Thanks for pointing out this website, but I don't know if these constant Sophie's Choices are good for my heart! Right now they want me to choose between Amadeus and Saving Private Ryan. WHAA??

paul said...
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