There is no How To book on making your Top 10 Films of the Year list. As far as I know. You watch movies and you pick your favorites. It is generally an exciting process, and movie buffs like myself can spend way too many of our thoughts on compiling it. Not a simple task, picking just ten films. In fact I can spend so much time trying to figure it out, going over the same thing, that it can become so much of a melodrama. Not so much so I hope, that I just feel like lashing out and walking away.
Anne Thompson broke it down into five easy pieces over at Indiewire, claiming film critics follow certain rules when choosing their ten best. Selecting critically acclaimed movies, Oscar contenders, mainstream hits, an alternative film people might not have heard of perhaps. Be brief in description, list the movies on one page, and add photos. Keep it to ten, and mentioning any near-misses is optional. This is not gospel, but it is a guide, and kind of mimics your train of thought when making your choices.
Could you look at it like desert island movies? Would you want a diverse range for all tastes? I want a drama. I want a comedy. An Oscar contender, an indie. Animation. A candlestick maker. The way my list is shaping up (at the time of writing this) it appears that it is broken down into types or genres. Looks like two foreign language films will make the cut. A universally loved movie. A comedy, actually maybe two. Also a maybe is a horror. A documentary. But those classifications of choice are not particularly deliberate at all.
What I actually did (nerd warning ahead) when I started planning for my Top 10 Films of the Year a few weeks ago, is basically create a list of all the movies released in the US. Even though I am a Brit this keeps me in the consensus loop (given I am not a member of BAFTA yet). From that list I would pull out what I had already seen into a separate list. It’s a start.
David Poland of Movie City News I later read did a similar thing for his movies of the year list, pulling his contenders for 2014 straight from Box Office Mojo. He had his instant favorites, and would eject those he knew were not going to be in the ten list – even if he liked them of course. But he says he was sure of his favorites – for today.
With time being a factor I started to cut down the films released in 2014 right down to the ones I really wanted to see and the ones I ought to see, whether I wanted to or not – so I had the same colors in my palate as everyone else doing a list. That is fine by me because I love watching movies. Even with the enormous list now free of movies I would not be watching (for the time being anyway) there are still a lot of films I have to filter through and a lot of films still to watch. That was a few weeks ago, anyone who knows me will be aware of my movie binge-watching recently.
But there is still a long way to go. So my need-to-see list has to be broken down further if I want to publish my top 10 before next year’s Oscars. I first eliminate movies I ought to see but won’t have the time, and gamble that they would not make the list anyway. So mentally note them in a list marked Watch When The Dust Settles (this includes 22 Jump Street, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Maleficent etc etc).
So I should now be left with the movies I have not seen. Some of them being the “blue yonder arcane titles” Anne Thompson eluded too: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Cold in July, Dear White People, We Are The Best! I would like to see them, and only time (and means) will literally tell. Sometimes these are the types of movies that really tug with your love of the movies. I can also sit with my little girl and watch The Boxtrolls, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and Big Hero 6. They all count.
So primarily of course I still need to see a few of the big awards season contenders – like Birdman, Inherent Vice, American Sniper, Wild, and Selma. The latter is a crucial addition to the movies to be seen, but will have to wait until the February 6th release here in England. That has to be where I have to draw the line surely (if not before) for my final ten. So many top 10 lists have been and gone, and they will soon be old news. I don’t want my list to be old news. Not with all the work that goes into it. That will though mean I won’t be able to include potentials Mommy and Still Alice, both not released until March here. I need a deadline. I would say February 8th but that means The BAFTAs will take all my thunder.
So my Top 10 Films of the Year. How close am I? I’ll tell you, without naming and shaming any of the gems. There were four, five, maybe six movies I saw and thought, they are going to be in my list. A couple of them could well be my film of the year outright. There was a big chunk of movies that I really enjoyed but had to eliminate (David Poland style) as I knew they would not sadly make the final shortlist. Each one of them was a tough decision. Even tougher is going to be the ten (as I count them right now) movies that I have to whittle down to fill the remaining five slots – ten movies that make a great end of year list alone. Not including the ones I am yet to see in the next few weeks. How am I going to do this? Maybe I should do a Top 20 Films of the Year.
Not a great year for movies? Honestly, what nonsense. It is such a good year for movies in my eyes I welcome every single headache compiling my Top 10 Films of the Year is giving me.