Friday, June 05, 2009

When did it get to be 3 a.m.?

Well, Doug was right.

Flickchart is, in fact, the pixelated version of mainlining a theoretically more addictive version of heroin straight into your eyeballs, while simultaneously licking Krispy Kremes and letting out one of those awesome farts that makes you bite your lip and pump your fist.

Since I was eight years old, I've been making lists - and no list has been more abundant, or ever-changing, than "My 10 Favorite Movies." In its first incarnation, I'm quite sure The Goonies was at the top. Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Die Hard have all resided in the penthouse as well (ok, Die Hard still does).

Flickchart, though, introduces a new way to formulate this list, something so deceptively simple, and perfectly crafted for wasting days on the Internet. Basically, you're given the choice of two movies, and you click on the one you like better. Once you've done this tens, hundreds, thousands - ok, ten thousands of times, your list will start to take shape.

Where else are you going to be asked to compare Hotel Rwanda and Barb Wire? And how do you make a decision between Coming to America and Amadeus? And if you've always gone back and forth between the first two Godfathers - well, it's the moment of truth, amigo.

Remember, though - you gotta be honest. You can't pretend Roger Ebert is standing over your shoulder, critiquing every selection. If you like Finding Nemo more than The English Patient, well dammit, click Finding Nemo. It might be embarrassing to choose Animal House when The Deer Hunter is its competition, but if that's the way you feel, go with it (I did). And as painful as it is to select anything over The Karate Kid, sometimes you just have to. That's the only way you're going to come up with an honest representation - and besides, a top 10 list full of "heralded classics" would be pretentious and boring.

And it's not a perfect system. I was never given an opportunity to select some of my favorite films, and it doesn't seem to remember your previous answers. And you really have to make thousands upon thousands of selections to get any factual representation. I worked at it for much longer than I care to admit, and still see some glaring errors.

What follows are my results. They certainly aren't perfect; if given the option, I'd switch the order of a few. But it's damn close.

Here's the system I used, if you care: I rated 1,500 movies face-to-face, poster-to-poster. After that, I pared it down, and ranked only my top 50 against each other. After that, I went a step farther and ranked only my top 20. That allowed me to focus on the true contenders, but mostly, it was just a time saver. After trudging through this for awhile, I didn't want to waste any more minutes comparing Raiders of the Lost Ark and K-Pax.

The top 20:
  1. Die Hard
  2. Jaws
  3. The Right Stuff
  4. Boogie Nights
  5. Goodfellas
  6. Midnight Run
  7. Shakespeare in Love
  8. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  9. The Great Escape
  10. Aliens
  11. The Hunt For Red October
  12. The Royal Tenenbaums
  13. The Empire Strikes Back
  14. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  15. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  16. The Shawshank Redemption
  17. Mulholland Dr.
  18. Glengarry Glen Ross
  19. Heat
  20. Alien
A few notes:
  • Again, there are a few things I'd adjust. I do rate Shakespeare in Love higher than most, and it's a legit Top 20 contender - but it ain't that high. If I could manually adjust this thing, it would fit in nicely just below Shawshank. And in almost every list I've ever made, Field of Dreams lands near the top. Here, it's at #23. Maybe that's The Amy Madigan Factor showing its true colors. I've always tried to ignore how much I hate her in it, but apparently Flickchart sees the truth.
  • No Godfather films. The first one is at #22, the second at #27. Low.
  • Predator is at #31 - higher than I would have thought, but kick-ass nonetheless. And I was actually given the choice between it and The Terminator - the age-old Best Schwarzenegger Movie argument. I went with the jungle-set classic.
  • The newest movies to rank high on the list are Children of Men (#25) and The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford (#33).
  • Flickchart is definitely dominated by films from the 1970s-on, so film historians may have a harder time populating a true list. Of course, this works for me, as I'm a low thread count-wearing buffoon who tends to like movies made in his own lifetime. Sue me.
  • Tom Cruise movies apparently gel together - numbers 35, 36 and 37 are Eyes Wide Shut, Magnolia and Collateral. Yes, I loved Eyes Wide Shut (though not as much as the other two; a flaw in the system).
  • The first Sylvester Stallone movie on the list is at #55 - Rocky IV, which is actually my fifth favorite Rocky entry. Rocky comes later (#69), then Rambo (#78) and Rocky Balboa (#101). I only remember being given one chance to rank Rocky III, against something like Goodfellas,which I presume is why it comes in at #1,174. Suffice to say, the list shows greater fallibility the farther you go down. For the record, even I would never put Rocky IV 50 spots before Cool Hand Luke and Seven.
  • I feel safe to say I'm the country's only Bush voter who selected The Motorcycle Diaries over The Passion of the Christ.
  • What actor appears most in the top 20? Well, as far as I can tell, it would be a tie. Robert De Niro acted in three (Midnight Run, Goodfellas, Heat), but so did Alec Baldwin - sort of. He was featured in The Hunt For Red October and Glengarry Glen Ross, but he also was the Royal Tenenbaums narrator. Steven Spielberg directed the most, with three (beating out John McTiernan's two).


Nathan said...

Josh, Awesome post. Glad you're enjoying the site. We have a lot more in store (ranking by Actor and Director is coming, among other things). We're aiming to be the ultimate place for intense movie lovers exactly like you. Thanks!

Carrie said...

Wow, straight from the source comments! Anyway, apparently Nathan doesn't like me because I've requested an invite twice and haven't gotten one. Am I missing something?