10 Kinkiest Screen Kisses... 20 Finest Film Killings... Top 25 Movies That 5 Magazine Editors Remember Fondly... 15 Movies To Do Your Laundry With... 7 Amazing Movies Featuring Aardvarks... 2 Movies John C. Reilly Actually Wasn't Cast In...
5 Reasons Why People Compulsively Come Up With Lists About Movies
1) In the midst of chaos, the mind craves order
2) The muse has gone AWOL but the deadline, she is here
3) You are now master of your domain
4) It's a welcome distraction from the daily news
5) Everyone else is doing it!
Maybe it's like that phenomenon remarked upon in drug addiction: the addict is trying with each abuse to recapture the experience of that very first time he or she got high. Because sure, who hasn't enjoyed, early on in life, some seminal list-making experience?
Someone asked you (hangin' round the schoolyard, sittin' round the campfire, smokin' in the boys' room -- wait, you were too young to smoke): What are your five favorite movies? And you got to think them up. And you felt the delicious tension that comes from so many pressures -- are you leaving one out, which one could you lose, which would make you look cool, which would brand you a dork, etc. -- along with the ticking clock and the awareness that in some essential way, you were being asked to define your personality, nay, your very self.
Heady stuff. And of course, key to the fun of the game is the primal "I show you mine, you show me yours" of it all; make the list and you are instantly in comparison, no longer a stone alone but tacitly coupled with a fellow human. Underscoring this is the frisson of illicit excitement that humans, bless our pointed little heads, are so prone to derive from such comparisons, as the subtext is actually: will I get to be right?
People hate to be wrong. And when one makes a list of the Best, or the Worst, or the Greatest, or the Most Memorable, et al, you vying to be right. The prize you're after may range from a smiling nod to an appalled dude are you weird! but the "win" in list-making is a sense, however fleeting and ephemeral, of authority: I know what's scariest, funniest, grossest... and okay, buddy: try and top this.
You could say competition is a vital component, or you could look at it as... communication, in a more positive spin (e.g. I do of course know better than you, but it's entertaining to hear what you think is right). And built into this kind of intellectual trading is information: strange but true, you might actually learn something (had The Best of Youth not shown up on a number of film critics' "10 Best" lists last year, I would've been deprived of one of the great cinematic experiences of the decade).
All of this is by way of saying, they're at it again. Well, "they" are never not at it these days (I've been guilty of such list-making, myself) so I'm not exactly delivering news. But the latest Movie List making internet rounds is this here thinger: The Top 50 Movie Endings of All Time.
You gotta love the hyperbole. What the list oughta be called is The Top 50 Movie Endings Most Beloved by 10 Writers at Filmcritic.com, but that doesn't quite have the same impact now, does it? ...OF ALL TIME!!! From since before there were even movies!!! Can't you just see those giant letters carved out of concrete, like in some old Cecil B. DeMille flick? I don't know about you, but I am humbled.
I'm also of course game. No sooner did I begin reading than I was caught up in the familiar intellectual knee-jerks and oh-mys, as in -- that one?! You thought that was a great ending? And the cine-study lit-crit pedant in me (he's in there, a little bearded dwarf in tweeds who resides just left of my liver) immediately started carping over details (they got The Graduate's ending wrong, since the rules of their game cite "the last minute of the movie" as the requirement, not an entire ending sequence, and as my little bearded tweedy dwarf knows, the actual last minute is that inspired long take on the bus [as discussed in the end of this post], so even though I agree that the The Graduate belongs on the Top Movie Endings list, technically... and so on).
C'mon (as if you haven't looked at the link already), you know you want to know what they got wrong (i.e. leaving out your favorite) and what they got right (i.e. smartly agreeing with your taste completely). And as such lists go, I'll confess to being tickled by one which is entirely made up of spoilers -- you can't agree or disagree unless you've already seen the movie, which of course requires a few quick woa, gotta skip this one click-downs. That is, if you'll own up to having not seen the entire 50.
Coincidentally, another addition to the Movie List canon cropped up recently that's more apropos to this blog turf. Take a gander at 14 Truly Sexy Sex Scenes, courtesy of the Onion's A.V. Club. With a far less pretentious and less controversial list approach (14's a neatly arbitrary number, and they're not bothering with any "Greatest" hype), they had me at #2 (Y Tu Mama Tambien ) and cinched it at #s 4 and 5 (Betty Blue and Don't Look Now). And hey, now I get to do some, um, research, on account of there's one or two herein that I've never seen...
You can't beat 'em, so you join 'em. Thus I'm now wondering, naturally, what might be the Top Ten Greatest Romantic Comedy Endings? The Filmcritic gang list 5 out of their Top 50 that qualify (and I would concur that at least #20 and #10 would definitely make my cut), but something tells me... you might have an opinion?