Readers who were with me throughout 2010 know that I spent a significant amount of time going over the movies of the past – creating a top 10 list for every year dating back to 1927, which I used as my starting point because that is when the Oscars started. To do this, I went back and re-watched some of my favorite films from the past, as well as films I had never seen before. The project ended up taking longer than I anticipated, but I loved it. Readers will also remember that I included a segment for each top 10 list entitled: Significant Movies I Missed. And this is where this new series comes in. I plan to rectify that.
How I came to include what films got included on that list is simple – if it was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture, or an Oscar winner for Director or an Acting Category, it was also included. But most of the films came from the They Shoot Pictures Don’t They? Top 1,000 films of all time (www.theyshootpictures.com). As far as I can tell, this is the most extensive list of the greatest films I can find. I don’t know how they come up with the top 1,000, but they update it every year. At this point I have ONLY seen 622 of the 1,000 films. Now, I want to see the other 378. So the plan is that I will watch 1 or 2 or perhaps even 3 or 4 depending on time restraints, of these films a week, and review them – just like I review the new releases. I don’t plan on getting this series done this year that would require me to see more than one film per day, and I do have a day job. Also, it must be said that as far as I can tell 139 of the 378 films remaining are not easily available on DVD. I’ll start with the other 239 films, and go from there. Hopefully some of these other titles will make their way out by then.
Typically, I plan to start at the top and work my way down the list. I have seen all but two of the top 100 films - #69 Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1925) and #87 Voyage in Italy (Roberto Rossellini, 1954) – so I’ll start there. The basic plan after that is to work my way down the list. Of course, this is just a rough plan, and subject to my whims – I may move down the list to see a film I really want to, or may pick a film not on the list at all, but on another list – like Roger Ebert’s The Great Movies series.
As I said, I want to do at least one of these a week, but that may not be possible. For example Kieslowski’s The Decalogue is actually a series of 10 hour long films, Shoah is a 9 and a half hour long Holocaust documentary and Berlin Alexandarplatz clocks in at a brisk 15 ½ hours. So in cases like that, where I will have to break up the viewing, it may not be possible. The running time of these movies has put me off in the past. But free of any real deadline to get this series done I have decided I have all the time in the world.
I don’t expect I’ll love or even like every film on the list – there are far too many Godard films that made the cut for that to be possible (14 in total, which ties him for third with Bunuel, behind only Ford and Lang) – but I do promise that I will give my honest opinion on each and every one.
So tune in next week for the first installment.