EDITORIALS

Sunday Discussion: How Many Top Ten List Movies Will You Even See?

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December 23, 2007

How Many Top Ten List Movies Will You Even See?

We're already in the thick of the awards season and nearing the end of the year which means top ten lists are appearing in excessive quantities. Sure, it's all fun and games to see what's getting the most mentions or the top awards, but I pose a question to all those regular moviegoers out there: how many top ten movies will you even see? I remember before I started doing this, I don't think I'd ever see a movie on anyone's top ten list. And now I'm curious to see how many of you even see any of the movies from the top ten lists at all.

I get the impression that the typical moviegoer probably doesn't see more than one or two of any movies on a top ten list. It just seems like the critics and their "I'm-better-than-you" attitudes must go out and get their 15-minutes of fame by publishing a year end top ten list of movies no one will really see but they think are the best of the best. Let's take a look at a few of this year's big contenders. Movie City News has an impressive scoreboard to use for reference.

The two movies getting some of the most mentions are No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. These are the two that most people will probably end up seeing, or some other combination including Zodiac, Once, Juno, Sweeney Todd, or Michael Clayton. I know real movie aficionados and film fanatics have seen most of these, but I also have friends who haven't seen a single one of the films I just mentioned above, nor do they even want to see them.

But what about Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, or Atonement, or Away From Her, or La Vie en Rose, has anyone seen any of these? I know most people have seen Ratatouille, but what about Persepolis, the other great animated movie this year? And you can't forget the shoe-in for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars and one of my personal faves: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I doubt anyone is going to see that, sadly, because it's a phenomenal film. In the same vein, did anyone even go out and see The Lives of Others when it stole the Oscar in February from Pan's Labyrinth? Are you starting to see what I mean?

What I'm wondering is what exactly this means for everyone's tradition of posting year end top ten lists. Does it discredit them or make what they do obsolete? Or does it just go to show that audiences are too lazy to care about what's good? It seems to me that these top ten lists are "elitist" lists that are created by snobby critics instead of typical moviegoers and thus don't even mean much. Everyone can make their own personal top ten lists and include movies they had an interest in to begin with, but if no one cares about Before the Devil Knows You're Dead and yet it's being called one of the best movies of the year - then someone is wrong.

So I'm curious, what do these top ten lists do for you? Do they cause you to gain interest in a particular film that you haven't seen yet that has been mentioned a lot? Or are they rather just something you check out quickly and forget about because you have your own favorite films from 2007? How many top ten list movies will you even see this year?

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  • Daniel M.
    For me I was going to watch these films or not long before these top ten lists came out. For casual fans I suppose it does influence their decision-making, but it seems that critics and their top ten lists exist only to bolster their standing among other critics. In fact, all they do is show how out of touch they are with movie-goers. The films I have seen this year, and most other years, wouldn't make the top ten, unless you counted the top ten box office list.I would respect a critic if they thought popular movies were worthy of their sacred texts, i.e. top ten lists. P.S. to (some) film critics: stop being such film snobs. --- btw: I have seen There Will Be Blood (good), Sweeney Todd (good) Michael Clayton(not so good, except last 10-15minutes), and Zodiac(BAD).
  • Yeah, I've seen or plan to see most of the movies you mention in the post. A single top ten list doesn't do much for me, but when I see that several critics pick the same movies for their lists the movies are probably worth seeing.
  • I agree with Daniel on numerous things. I was going to see most of these movies long before the lists started coming out...I just haven't gotten to see some (There Will Be Blood, I'm Not There, Diving Bell, Persepolis, and The Savages) because they haven't opened in my city yet, but once they do I will be there. Also, I too wish some critics would pick some of the big blockbusters once in a while. I know that back in Spider-Man 2 days, it was on a few lists, and I can foresee the future now...The Dark Knight will be on many lists. I have seen probably 90% (and I will see 100%) of the films on most of these lists and for the most part, I agree, but the critics lists don't affect my own list. There are a few surprises on my list that would never in a million years show up on any critics list. But, its all in good taste. I have seen roughly 150 movies this year so its difficult to pin point it down to just ten. I imagine the critics have the same trouble. Sometimes critics can be snobby about their lists though.
  • Check out this site to see the top ten lists listed again in order of how many lists they have been on, and how many top spots. http://criticstop10.wordpress.com/
  • mikel zikela
    Top ten lists generally won't influence me too much, but if I see a film constantly mentioned on several top 10's, I may want to see it. I was already interested or had seen at least half the films one most of the top 10's long before any lists came out. I had wanted to see and did see films such as Atonement, No Country For Old Men, Zodiac, Sweeney Todd, Ratatouille, etc. long before I saw any lists. Still need to see Youth Without Youth (even though lots of people loathe it) and There Will Be Blood.
  • Kelly B.
    I'm sorry Daniel, but I don't understand how you can call a critic's top ten list an "elitist" list. It seems to me that you are basing that on the idea that critics don't care about what movies make the most money, which is exactly how it should be. Critic's reviews shouldn't be based on their "buzz" and box-office receipts, they should be based on the films that the critics think are the best, socially and artistically. For example, you imply that simply because many people haven't heard of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, it shouldn't be included on a top ten list. Thats absurd, not only because it is a phenomenal film, but who cares how much buzz surrounds it. For buzz to exist, the films have to exist, and buzz is not an essential element to a good film. I think that insinuating that critics only pick "elitist" films is ridiculous, because that's their job. Their job, at least when compiling a top ten list, is to pick the BEST films out there, not just the ones that everyone knows about. If the average movie-goer put together a top ten list, it would be filled with big bidget tripe. Movies like Transformers and 30 Days of Night would undeservedly make the list. In other words, of COURSE their lists are elitist, they are picking ELITE films. Thats the point.
  • Nathan
    I got a NetFlix subscription about a year ago which has just recently began to kick off my movie connoisseur...ism. The problem with most of the top 10 lists is they focus very heavily on dramatic and often bloody films. I still have a huge problem with gore, which makes watching movies like Sweeney Todd and There Will Be Blood, a lower priority. So just about every top 10 movie that is a quirky comedy I have seen. I also like thrillers and documentaries, but documentaries have not been making the lists much lately. Michael Moore isn't the only documentary maker and I think a lot of critics ignore them more than they should. The other problem is that as a poor college student, I rent movies, and not see them in theaters. So a lot of these movies, I won't see till they make it through my 150+ movies in my NetFlix queue sometime around Oscar season next year.
  • kelley
    i like all of them and all of their films.they are so ggood.Zodiac AS as if appeared on a website.someone saw his profile with hot & sexy photos on "WealthyKiss.com", a dating site for celebrities and millionaires. It seems the profile looks sincere and attractive. Maybe even clebs feel lonely and lost sometimes. They also need love and fun. hehe.. Maybe sometimes they really need a soul mate rather than a rich buddy.
  • Keith
    So I'm curious, what do these top ten lists do for you? Do they cause you to gain interest in a particular film that you haven't seen yet that has been mentioned a lot? Or are they rather just something you check out quickly and forget about because you have your own favorite films from 2007? How many top ten list movies will you even see this year? These top ten lists are great for me because they show me what I should check out, as I am very interested in all kinds of film, including the "elitist" films that come out during awards season. They do cause me to gain interest in the films that they showcase; I knew nothing of Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, Atonement, or The Diving Bell and the Butterfly until I saw them on numerous top ten lists and as golden globe nominees, and now I will go out of my way to see them. I differentiate between the films on the top ten lists and my favorites; those may be great films and explore great technical and narrative achievements, but that doesnt compare with a movie that I am thoroughly entranced by or one that I can watch over and over. Take for example, Super Bad and lets say Atonement. Super Bad was one of my favorite films of 2007, but it is in no way a BETTER film than Atonement, which I enjoyed, but that I couldnt watch over and over again. I've seen Atonement, Zodiac, and Ratatouille and I will be seeing Eastern Promises, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead, Into The Wild, Sweeney Todd, and hopefully No Country for Old Men within the next few days. I would love to check out all of the films on the top ten lists, and I very well may, but I may not have the time or the ambition to do so in the future. In some way I do think audiences are too "lazy" to care about these great films. I want people to appreciate great cinema, but the majority of movie-goers could care less about what a critic says is one of the best films of the year. Instead that movie-goer will go see what will entertain them for a couple hours. On the weekend of Oct. 26th both Saw IV and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead were released. By the time both movies were gone from theaters, Saw IV had taken in $63 mil, and Before the Devil Knows You're Dead almost $6 mil... Im not cursing the movie-goers at all, if they want to be entertained by all means, they should do so by seeing whatever movie they wish. It is sad though that such a film as Before the Devil Knows You're Dead which has gotten such great reviews, does so poorly at the box office. I don't think making these "elitist" top ten lists discredits the critics. The critics are making these lists based upon whats great and what every important person in hollywood, especially Oscar voters, thinks is great. And we all know that, and since that is a given, each and every person nows what they are getting into when they look over a critic's top ten list. The academy does not give out the award to everyone's favorite film of the year, but to the best film of the year... whatever that means
  • Richard
    I pick my favorite movie of the year, 300 this year, if its not on anyones like, then I could give a rats ass as to what they think.
  • Richard
    I'm sorry I was giving an example of last year...
  • Matt
    Are you asking whether reviewers are sometimes elitist? Well, of course they are, occasionally. (Some are more often than others.) But if you are asking are they elitist BECAUSE they don't agree with the general movie-going public, well, I think maybe you're just looking to stir some comment debate (which is ok). Because I can't imagine that you actually believe that a movie is "good" if it makes a lot of money. I've seen many times when someone likes a specific movie, they'll say something about how it made a lot of money as proof that it is a good film. Please! Here's a list of 2006 highest-grossing films: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Night at the Museum Cars X-Men: The Last Stand The Da Vinci Code Superman Returns Happy Feet Ice Age: The Meltdown Casino Royale The Pursuit of Happyness Are any your list of favorite films from 2006? Pursuit of Happyness is the only one that deserves to maybe be mentioned as a pretty good film. I liked some of the others here a lot or a little, but they are in no way great films worthy of a top ten list. Other years are even worse. At least some of these movies were pretty well-made.

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