Thursday, June 17, 2010

Watching The Top 250

Late last night I finished watched my last of imdb's top 250 movies. As of today, I have watched every damned movie on the list. It's been a wild ride. And since Toy Story 3 comes out this weekend, I need to get a post up documenting the occasion while it's still technically true.

So... thanks to everyone who works at imdb and spends hours configuring their database. In particular, thanks to the nerds who suggested that they run their ratings data through a bayesian filter, whoever you are. Thanks to my mom and dad for subsidizing my video rentals and for not complaining when I was monomaniacal about the netflix queue two summers ago. Thanks to the workers at the reserve desk of the Vassar library, who were kind enough to waive a few late fees for a starving student. Thanks to everyone who ever sat through a weird old movie with me over the past four years. Gratitude. Finally, a shout out to all the playa haters, who never thought I'd make it here. What now, haters?

Among the subset of movies that I watched specifically due to my quasi-compulsive need to finish the list, my faves were On the Waterfront, The Killing, The Seventh Seal, Dial M for Murder, Kind Hearts and Coronets, M, Manhattan, Mulholland Drive, The Ox-Bow Incident, The Thing, Touch of Evil, and Yojimbo. These movies tend to be funny, short, and don't spell out too much for the audience. The movies that I tended to like the least were ones that seemed to be popular for political reasons, like Crash or Gran Torino.

All in all, the top 250 is undoubtedly violence obsessed. Every one of the current top 25 movies has violence as a major crux of the plot. And of the top 100, only 9 movies do not fit this criteria: It's A Wonderful Life, Citizen Kane, Forrest Gump (arguable), Amelie, Wall E, Spirited Away, Elephant Man, All About Eve, and The Apartment. In that sense they are nothing like my daily life.

My quantitative vote history on imdb is here. There is one useful site to track your own progress on the top 250, which, should you choose that path, you can find here. I warn you, it may not always be easy. There will be times you'll want to give up, times when you'll forget why you devoted a precious slice of your time to such a desolate and inhuman list in the first place. All I can say is, get busy living, or get busy dying.