Making The List
In between preparing my entries, I though I would add some commentary on the most common questions I am asked.
One of the three questions I get the most is “how did you make your list”.
Well, here is the answer.
Starting a Master List
About 10 years ago, I decided to make a list of every movie I have ever seen. I created an Excel Spreadsheet called “Every Movie I Have Ever Seen.xls” (of course). It has the film’s name, year of release, director, genre and my own rating from 0 to 4 stars. (see below)
I created the list using a variety of sources.
1 – from memory and my own movie collection
2 – from reviewing Oscar winners and nominees on IMDb
3 – reviews of annual Top 10 lists from my favourite critics – here you will often find obscure films that I love because I discovered them through the critics.
4 – boxofficemojo.com – its has box office results in great detail, but especially from 1980 forward
The list sits now at about 1600 films and although I know it is not 100% complete, it was complete enough to create my Top 100.
Retrospective by Decade
From there, I did retrospectives by decade. Collected all films I rated 4 stars and made top 20 lists by decade as well as a list of all other movies I rated 3 ½ and 4 stars.
I narrowed it down to 200 films, then 150, 130. With 130 potential films, I created the Top 100.
The Top 20
The Top 10 films were easy and have not substantially changed since I started this project. Place #11 through #20 was just about as easy – though anyone of those films could easily be in my Top 10 as well. There are a couple of newer entries in the Top 20 that after many repeat viewing and after a few years have passed have become all time favourite. The Top 5 films have not changed in better than 15 years, even before I started this list.
#21 to 70
For the next 50 entries, I made groups of ten. I would review the remaing 110 films and pick 10 films at a time that I felt should be the next on my list, place them, wait a few days, review and tweak the new entries. Once I was happy, then I would repeat that until I arrived at number 70. I tweaked here and there. Added a film or two that I overlooked and then moved on to the most difficult part.
The Last 30
For the final 30 films, the order is less relevant. They are films that I feel ‘deserve’ mention. Although they are in some semblance of order, they are for the most part interchangeable.
When I was down to sixty films, I laboured more over what to include and what to leave out that anything else. They are all films I love.
(For example, I own every Bond, Star Wars, Star Trek, Rocky, Terminator and Potter film, but from all of those, there are a total of three entries on my list). The thirty films I left off are all films I love.
The Top 100 was completed in draft in December of 2013. It was tweaked a few times since then and has remained unchanged now for a while. It will change over time as new movies are released and as old ones are viewed again.
When I rate a film zero to 4 stars, this it what is means to me.
Zero – immoral, incompetent, should have never been made or all three. A special epic kind of bad. To quote Ebert… “aggressively bad, as if it was made to punish the audience”. So bad, you may want to see it.
½ star – Terrible film, but not quite bad enough to get zero.
1 star – bad movie, completely forgettable.
1 ½ stars – bad movie with a good scene or two, like a bad comedy with a couple of chuckles
2 stars – Fair. Some good qualities, some bad. Like a badly scripted action film with awesome effects
2 ½ stars – pleasant and forgettable. Enjoyed, would not see again.
3 stars – good movie, may watch again on late night TV. Safe to recommend
3 ½ stars – great film to those who love the genre
4 stars– all time classic, recommended to anyone who loves film
There are way more three and four star films that zero and one; Simply because I don’t go out of my way to see bad movies. About 8% of movies are 4 star, less than 2% have zero.