I had a friend at university who was obsessed with those films that you are ‘supposed’ to admire: those films which consistently top ‘greatest’ polls and are artistic, stylish and highly rated by cultural arbiters. Whenever he was asked to produce a list of his favourite films (this happened regularly in our group of geeky media students) it would exactly mirror the American Film Institute’s Top 50. This used to infuriate me to the point of apoplexy – I simply did not, would not and could not believe that he really felt Citizen Kane was the greatest movie ever made. He was a bullshitter regurgitating other people’s opinions in a bid to appear educated.
I make no bones about the fact that my favourite films are those ones which I grew up on, which I can quote endlessly and never tire of watching: The Goonies, The Princess Bride, Amelie, Withnail & I. I can admire the titles which are highly regarded but I don’t necessarily love them.
Thankfully, the internet has democratised such lists, allowing votes to be distributed equally and enabling everyone to have their say. And the greatest collection of votes is that of meta-movie website The Internet Movie Database.
IMDB is the most comprehensive database of movie information and opinion the world has ever seen. And their constantly changing top-rated 50 is the best reflection of what film fans really love. As a result, Citizen Kane and Casablanca share company with Fight Club and Forrest Gump, films from the thirties vie for top spot with releases from 2012 and Hitchcock, Spielberg and Scorsese slug it out to be considered the world’s best director.
And so, as a little project for myself and a little (hopefully educational) treat for you, I’ll be reviewing every single film in the top fifty over the coming months. I’ve seen most of them already, but a few will be new to me. Hopefully I’ll enjoy them. I hope you enjoy reading the reviews and that they inspire you to watch some of the classic films I’ll be writing about.