Sunday Discussion: How Many Top Ten List Movies Will You Even See?
by Alex Billington
December 23, 2007
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?