Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Best of the 2000s

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend regarding movies. It's the sort of thing I do a lot. During the conversation, I realized that all the movies I liked best were from before the year 2000. In fact, during the conversation, I realized that I was having trouble thinking of a movie from between 2000 and 2009 that I found myself really craving to watch again and again. I was trying to think of a movie that I wanted to watch the way that I always kinda want to watch Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park, or a film that seemed like a classic. The only movie I came up with was The Departed.

So, I fired up the internet to consult with the experts. Happily, Metacritic had already done most of the heavy lifting. Back in 2010, Metacritic compiled a list of the best films of the decade. Their methodology seems sound enough for a project such as this. They consulted 37 different critics' lists of the best movies of the decade. The intent was to compile a list of 25 films mentioned by the most critics. As it happened, 26 films were included because 26 films were included on at least 4 of the 37 critics best of lists.

The films were then sorted by the number of times they were mentioned by that group of critics. The number one movie on the list was the film mentioned in the largest number of critic's lists, in this case There Will Be Blood (17 mentions). Ties are listed alphabetically. This leads to some interesting hiccups in the data. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Mulholland Drive were each mentioned by 11 of the 37 critics. More critics (4) ranked Mulholland Drive as the best film of the decade than ranked Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as the best film of the decade (only 3). Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Mulholland Drive were both ranked 2nd, but Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is listed in a higher position.

The list also shows the Metascore generated by Metacritic based on the reviews. The film with the highest Metascore on the list, Pan's Labyrinth (a whopping 98) is ranked 11th on the list, and tied with Amelie (Metascore 69), Children of Men (Metascore 84), Memento (Metascore 80), United 93 (Metascore 90), Wall-E (Metascore 94). The disparity in the Metascores of films ranked the same would be an interesting topic of discussion. How much of this disparity is due to changing opinions about the films in the years since they were released and when the list was compiled? How much is due to the factors used in the Metascore?

The list is remarkably democratic. It features mainstream blockbusters, and smaller more artistic fair. It also features films in at least 3 languages, and films from as many continents. There are films from every year on the list except 2009. Although, Metacritic erroneously lists The Hurt Locker as premiering in 2009.

Finally, in addition to the 26 films I've already discussed, Metacritic also listed any film selected as the best film of the decade by at least 1 of the 37 critics. In all, 21 different films were listed as the best film of the decade by at least 1 critic. There was no runaway winner.

I'm going to watch them all. Every film ranked as the best film of the decade, and every film in the Best 26 of the decade list. Many of them, I have seen before. Some of the ones I have seen before, I promised myself I would never see again. That said, I am going to try to keep an open mind. Maybe one of these films will end up on the list of movies that I am dying to watch on those days when I am home sick with the flu or on those mornings I'm trying to recover from a long night the night before.

It's going to take me a while. So, I begin with Synechdoche, New York...

As always, I'm Coming to You From Out in the Void

Steven

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