Nein, Nein, 99... The Mystery of the "9" List

My very good pal Egg of the Dead left a comment for me earlier today, and rather than have both it and my reply end up lost on the bottom of a post that will largely go unread, I felt that I would rather place them in a post of their own as well. This way, they can go largely unread on an even larger scale. But the questions raised tie in with my general philosophy of movies, movie ratings and the impatience of the average moviegoer.

Egg of the Dead's quiet request from Friday, October 10, 2008 4:22:00 PM:
Is there a list somewhere of your "9" rated movies that have cleared the 10-year hurdle? I'd like to see that.
Not that I give a damn what YOU think ;-)

My incredibly condensed answer:

Hmmm... maybe what I should do instead of that list of my favorite films on the sidebar is to put up a list of my highest rated films. (There is a big difference, you know..)

One could click on the link to my ratings on IMDB, but that list is always a work in progress, and I am still adapting films that I rated years back to my more recent "9" system. And adapting films at all levels to it as well.

And unlike Spout, where I have rated something around 6,000+, I only have just under 5,000 on IMDB (probably because it is easier to rate films in batches on Spout).

My basic rule about the "ten year hurdle" is that we are all so quick to declare that the latest film we have seen is the greatest thing ever. If you were to ask a five year old after they have left a film what their favorite movie is, most likely they will answer the name of the film they have just seen. I would like to believe that adults have a little longer memory on this, but time and time again, I find myself disappointed on my count. The way I size up or get to know new people I meet is to ask them (and I do this with everyone) what their favorite all-time film is. The vast majority of these people will claim something they have seen in the last six months, if not less. This is fine, especially if they are really, truly being sincere.

But it's not so fine when a movie site is relying on considered opinion, but is more often subjected to knee-jerk reaction or bubble-headed fumbling. I was recently tagged by someone new on Spout, and when I checked their profile, they had rated somewhere around 675 films, and everyone was marked with a five (out of five) star rating. From Hailey Duff video flicks to The Dark Knight and Space Chimps. Five stars on Spout means "I loved it", an abhorrent system for rating films, but there it is. Either this person, supposedly a teen or young college age girl, is someone who just loves everything she watches, and possesses zero critical faculties, or "she" is a middle aged dude desperately trying to pass himself off as a teen girl as a gag. If she is really the first thing, then she might be in the right place, because Spout's catchphrase is "Find Movies You'll Love." (Perhaps I am in the wrong place at Spout, since it's more than likely I won't love something, but in a small bit of foreshadowing, that will all come out in the wash in a few days anyway.)

Sure, I come out of films all fired up and raving how brilliant they are. But I wait a few days to write about them, if I do at all. Why? Because while I may have felt that initial thrill from going to the movies, I let myself come back to this horrible reality and muse on what I have seen for a while. For me, there are no films where "I don't want to have to think." That to me is a weakness. Even when I go to a monster movie, where many people feel they can check their brain at the door, I have to remain on point. There's too much at stake for me. There is a feeling that I get when I see a film I love that is better than any manufactured or nature-grown opiate. But even when I see that film, I still let myself come off the high. I need to reflect. I need to reassure myself that what I just saw is worthy of my further interest.

Somewhere out of this method, I have built the ten-year hurdle. It keeps me from rating films on IMDB with tens as soon as I get home from the theatre (well, nines now, I guess). It allows me to get angered when EW puts out "Greatest This and That of All Time" lists and then toploads them with films its reviewers saw in the past five years, to keep their forever younger audience from running away crying. It makes me not put my highest rating on something like Pulp Fiction until just a couple of years ago, when I was certain that my devotion was true. It proved itself to me, and I, in return, proved true to it.

So, my answer would be "No, there is not really a list, because I really haven't finished it yet." But I could take a crack at it. Looking at the films on my IMDB "9" list that were most recently released, there is Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, The Shawshank Redemption, Schindler's List and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. There are others that I will probably add in up through the late '90s, but I just haven't yet. Still doing that updating, but likely I will move Ed Wood, Crumb, Election and The Killer onto that list, amongst others, eventually. Recent films which could likely go on in a few more years would be The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Brick, The Incredibles and City of God.

And that's what I think. Not that YOU give a damn. ;-)


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