We're told these are our favorite 20 movies of all time

The internet is nothing if it's not a repository for time-wasting addictions. One of our new favorites is Flickchart. By using some kind of fancy algorithm, Flickchart compiles your favorite movies by simply asking you an either/or question for a pair of movies. For example, which is better, The Dark Knight or Swingers? Click your favorite of the two, then up pops another pair. And so on.

Over the last few months, we clicked on 6000 of these pairs. Yes, 6000. The process allowed us to rank over 1000 movies. We tried to stick to one guiding principle in making the choices - would we want to see the movie again? Sure, we all can appreciate the originality of Citizen Kane or the raw power of The Deer Hunter. But like so many films, once was enough thank you very much.

So what did Flickchart tell us?

* We have contemporary tastes. The oldest movie on our top-20 is 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and that one's probably ranked too high.

* Comedies aren't worthy. As much as we love a good comedy, our top-20 is exclusively action, drama, or thrillers. (Although curiously, one could argue that Dazed and Confused is a dramedy with a good dose of humor.) We're just like the Academy, it seems. Only "serious" movies are worthy of our praise.

* Nostalgia counts for a lot. Is The Breakfast Club truly among the best ten movies ever made? Of course not. But it struck just the right chord with us at just the right age and has ever since been an iconic film with a special place in our memory.

Here's our list (as of now):

1. Dazed and Confused - We really love this movie, but didn't realize how much we love it. But a number-one ranking feels right. In fact, it was just on some random cable channel today. We flipped past it, saw it, wound up watching 20 minutes. Considering it's mostly about high schoolers hanging out in a single 12-hour period, it's surprisingly compelling.

2. Die Hard - Obviously. The standard bearer for all post-80s action. I'm going to count to three. There will not be a four.

3. Children of Men - To give you an obnoxious Hollywood pitch, "It's Die Hard meets the end of the world." Genius. Probably the best post-apocalyptic movie ever.

4. Jaws - We can watch any part of it at any time - and it's probably playing on TBS right now. You're going to need a bigger boat.

5. Erin Brockovich - We're big fans of director Steven Soderberg and this is one of his best. The investigative thriller masquerading as a melodrama, with Julia Roberts giving the performance of her career. Even so, this ranking seems kind of high. One thing about Flickchart, the more movies get added to the list you're comparing, the harder it is for titles to move up or down. You have to hit just the right combination to bump a title one way or another. It's like slots.

6. Lethal Weapon 2 - Classic action comedy. We've seen it countless times, thanks mostly to the summer of 1989 when we worked at a movie theater that played it. I'm not a cop tonight, Roger.

7. Star Wars - At this point, I think we can all agree there's a certain amount of corniness here. And it's way too long. And the effects are... well, they're kind of quaint now. But nostalgia alone puts this in the top 10. We were in kindergarten when this thing blew our minds. These aren't the droids you're looking for.

8. The Breakfast Club - Way too high. A few more hundred clicks and this one would likely take a tumble.

9. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - We ranked this one high early in the process, before we came up with the "would I watch it again?" rule. And it's been hard to get it to fall. We watched this again recently and we're probably good for another five years or so. What are you worried about? The fall'll probably kill you.

10. Syriana - We only saw this once, but it's the kind of gritty, complicated, "real" movie we always love. It stuck with us.

11. Lost in Translation - Yes yes, this is an acquired taste. Few of our friends liked it. But it's incredibly poetic and lush, a calm, quiet movie about random connections that have an unexpectedly profound impact. Plus, it's got Scarlett Johansson at her absolutely most enchanting.

12. Thelma and Louise - Perfect in just about every way, including the controversial ending. The men are all pigs (except for Harvey Keitel), but so what? Most times, yeah, we're all pigs. I can't tell if they're smart or lucky. Brains will only get you so far and luck always runs out.

13. No Country for Old Men - Another fairly recent title, but one that was seared in our mind. Epic scope, powerhouse acting, big themes, and a palpable sense of foreboding.

14. Memento - Probably ranked too low here. One of the most ridiculously clever scripts ever written. A masterpiece of plotting. Absolutely worthy of repeat viewings.

15. Spiderman 2 - It may be the best superhero movie of all time. Name a better one.

16. Empire Strikes Back - Definitely ranked too low, but Flickchart never asked us to pick between Star Wars and Empire. Star Wars would lose every time. The best of the six movies, without question. Anyone who says otherwise deserves to be frozen in carbonite. They should be perfectly fine... if they survive the freezing process.

17. Silence of the Lambs - Another polished gem from start to finish. Swept the five major Oscars (Actor, Actress, Director, Script, Picture). We won't blame it for launching the post-90s obsession with serial killers. Insert your own fava bean joke here.

18. Titanic - We were tempted to not vote for this one. It's a little embarrassing to admit liking this because now - 15 years later - it's become cool to make fun of the movie's dorkier elements and the way it appealed to 12-year-old girls (which is also the reason it made $1 billion with a B). But if we were to be perfectly honest, then it belongs on this list. We'd watch it again.

19. Independence Day - Another popcorn movie that appealed to wide audiences but wouldn't be in a discussion about truly "great" cinema. But there's something to be said about making good, solid populist entertainment. Ask Steven Spielberg. Among end-of-the-world disaster movies, none are this rousing and shamelessly patriotic. Bill Pullman for president.

20. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - This one's ranked too high. We admired it, enjoyed it. But we wouldn't rush out to see it again. Probably the film snob in us put a thumb on the scale for this one.

If you're curious, just missing the top 20 were: Swingers, Gone Baby Gone, Tootsie (a comedy!), Tombstone, Contact, Sunshine, Atonement, Forgetting Sarah Marshall (another comedy!), Rear Window (an old movie from before we were born!), and Slumdog Millionaire.

For the record, had Flickchart given us a chance, we would have put The Parallax View in our top-10. One of the creepiest, gritty, and most claustrophobic political thrillers ever made. Warren Beatty tries to infiltrate a secret agency that creates assassins. Rent it.

1 comment:

  1. Add The Parallax View to your Flickchart here: http://www.flickchart.com/movie/28FF494EEF