100 Films’ 100 Favourites: The Conclusion

About four years ago, I had a crazy notion: that for my 10th blogging anniversary (still several years away at that point) I could do a year-long series of posts discussing my 100 favourite movies — an idea in keeping with my blog’s theme and also a grand way to celebrate it lasting a whole decade. After several years spent mulling over options, about 18 months of writing, and literally hundreds of hours dedicated to the project, it’s finally at an end.

The full list can be found on its dedicated page here. In this post, I’m going to list the second half of my also-rans (the first half can be found here) and do what I always enjoy doing at the end of everything: share some statistics!

During my selection process for this project, my almost-final long-list stalled at a little over 150 films. Due to posting my final selection in alphabetical order, I was able to list 21 of those almost-made-its at the halfway point. Here are the remaining 34:

Little Shop of Horrors
The Living Daylights
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Match Point
Men in Black
Mission: Impossible
Mission: Impossible III
Monsoon Wedding
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
The Mummy (1999)
Natural Born Killers
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Pitch Black
The Princess Bride
The Proposition
Psycho (1960, obv.)
School of Rock
The Silence of the Lambs
Singin’ in the Rain
Sleepy Hollow
Spellbound (2002)
Stagecoach (1939)
The Terminator
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The Truman Show
Underworld (2003)
Unforgiven (1992)
Where the Truth Lies
You Only Live Twice

With the list now complete, what can I observe about my favourite movies?

Well, for starters, the total running time of all 100 films (counted from either their best version or the version that counts for this list) was a smidgen over 209½ hours. That means my average favourite movie runs 126 minutes.

99 of them include English as a major language. In fact, the only foreign language film on the list (unless you want to argue that For a Few Dollars More or Once Upon a Time in the West are originally in Italian) is Ghost in the Shell… which I’ve only ever watched in its English dub. Oh well.

26 other languages are represented one way or another, with the most prolific being German (12 times) and French (nine times), I guess in war movies and the like. Other regulars include Arabic, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, while the wide variety of one-offs include Latin, Nepali, Urdu, and Klingon (and that not from a Star Trek film).

A high proportion of English films naturally suggests many of them come from the US, and indeed 91 are wholly or partly US productions. Second place, unsurprisingly, goes to the UK, with a hand in 21 of my picks. Another popular co-production partner of US blockbusters is Germany, leading them to third with 12 films. A further 15 countries put in an appearance, from the likes of France (five), Canada (four), New Zealand (the Lord of the Rings trilogy), to one-timers from the likes of Australia, Hong Kong, Denmark, and Mexico.

In terms of temporal location, my favouritism towards recent films is abundantly clear: the top decade is the 2000s, despite only seven of its years being eligible for inclusion, providing 41 of my choices. And second is the ’90s, with 34, leading to a full three-quarters of my favourites being from the last quarter-century (and from just 17 years of that time, in fact). The ’80s accounted for 12, before there were five apiece from the ’70s and ’60s, two from the ’40s, and one from the ’30s. Nothing from the ’50s, nor the ’20s or earlier. In terms of specific years, 2003 was most represented with nine, and was also the year when I first saw the greatest number of my favourites, with 14. Every year since 1988 was represented; and since the birth of the blockbuster in 1975 the only missing years are ’76, ’78, and ’87.

Despite something of a focus on movies I first saw in childhood (thanks to the nominal cut-off being when I was 20), the most prolific BBFC and MPAA ratings are 15 (38%) and R (41%). Every certificate was represented, even one NC-17.

Across the 100 films, there were 74 directors (or directing partnerships). The most prolific, I think unsurprisingly, was Steven Spielberg, with six films. In second was, of all people, Robert Zemeckis, thanks to Back to the Future being a trilogy (plus Roger Rabbit). Other multi-timers include Martin Campbell, David Fincher, Peter Jackson, and Ridley Scott, all with three; and Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Greengrass, John Lasseter, Sergio Leone, Baz Luhrmann, Tony Scott, M. Night Shyamalan, Bryan Singer, Quentin Tarantino, and John Woo, each with two.

In front of the camera, the most prolific leading actor was Harrison Ford, mainly thanks to a pile of Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies. Second place is shared between Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen, John Rhys-Davies, and Hugo Weaving — three of them boosted by Lord of the Rings being a trilogy, so perhaps the crown more properly belongs to Mr Hanks. I don’t feel I can accurately do a full run-down of actors because I didn’t go through the full cast for every film. I mean, for one example, Gabriele Ferzetti is in both On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Once Upon a Time in the West but I didn’t mention him in my abridged cast list for either. Who knows how many stars and supporting actors have slipped through the cracks in this manner?

Easier to quantify is the top genre. That’d be Action, with 44 films, closely followed by Adventure, with 37. There were also 32 Thrillers, 28 Dramas, and 27 Sci-fi films. Next after that were Comedies on 26, which surprised me a little because, as a rule, I don’t think I like comedy movies all that much. The only other genre with over 20 was Fantasy, while the likes of Anime, Biopic, Film Noir, and Horror had just one representative each.

I classed 45 of the films as adaptations, which possibly says something about how much movies rely on other media. And speaking of originality, 20 of them are sequels. Similarly, there were nine superhero movies (not counting the likes of Blade or Flash Gordon) and four true stories. There were five James Bond movies (I limited myself!) and three animations each from both Disney and Pixar. There were also three remakes, all of them re-adaptations.

Obviously I love all of these movies, but what do other people think? Well, 34 of them have Oscars, sharing 103 gongs between them, and a further 19 were at least nominated for one. The average Rotten Tomatoes score is a lofty 91% — the highest being shared by Mary Poppins, Toy Story, and Toy Story 2, all of which can boast 100% tallies; the lowest, somewhat unexpectedly, is Man on Fire, with just 39%. Over at IMDb, the average rating is a much lowlier 7.9, spreading from The Shawshank Redemption’s high of 9.3 to the 5.3 shared by Daredevil and Josie and the Pussycats. At the time of posting, 38 of my choices appeared on the IMDb Top 250.

And that’s just about it! I feel like I need a rest…

…though, it’s a bit unfair that I didn’t bother to pick any favourites from my last 10 years of viewing… and it is almost my blog’s anniversary, too…


100 Films’ 100 Favourites

As you may or may not have noticed, this is the 10th year that I’ll be doing 100 Films in a Year (the blog’s 10th birthday is in February 2017). I also (whisper it) turn 30 this year. Argh, the big three-oh! (“Oh, shut it,” says anyone over the age of 31.) To mark this confluence of momentousness, throughout 2016 I’ll be running a new series of posts covering my 100 favourite films.

Taking one film at a time, the series will run all year, hopefully biweekly (as in twice a week, not fortnightly), meaning I can just squeeze all 100 in by December 31st. The plan is to post every Wednesday and Sunday, regular as clockwork (fingers crossed…) All the posts will be collated on this page (not this page, that page).

I will say at the outset, these are not the 100 films I consider to be the greatest ever made (whatever that actually means). Far from it, actually. These are my personal favourites. I suppose to some people that’s one and the same, and of course there’s some overlap, but this list also includes the guilty pleasures (if you believe in such a thing); the films which you know aren’t ‘great’ but you love anyway; or even just films that aren’t as objectively fantastic as something else, but I personally prefer.

Now, there are some caveats to this announcement. (Of course there are — it’s me.) If you really don’t care about The Rules, or some of my thoughts on the selection process, or a few hints about what’s to come, then I’ll see you on Sunday for #1. Otherwise, read on…

I say “The Rules”, but there’s only one major caveat to the whole shebang: the only films eligible for inclusion were ones I’d watched before I started 100 Films. Is it cheating to flat-out exclude anything I’ve watched in the past nine years? Well, here’s the thing: all of those films have already been reviewed here, and while some would benefit from a deeper going-over, others have been thoroughly covered as it is — if I were to review The Dark Knight again, it would be the fourth time I’d covered it. So from a pure list-making perspective, yes, it’s a bit of a cheat; but in terms of what adds more interest and value to this blog and its archive, and therefore to you, my dear readers (well, hopefully), it’s this method.

Further to that, there are still some repeats, because down the years I’ve reviewed a handful of previously-seen titles — indeed, at least one that I’ve reviewed would’ve been a dead cert for this list, were it not for that very re-watch having an impact on my opinion (that’s Sin City, by-the-by). For anyone interested in a guessing game (or just generally curious), I’ve already reviewed 18 of my 100 picks. On the bright side, the posts in this favourites series won’t just be straight-up reviews, as you’ll see soon enough.

As anyone who’s ever tried to compile a list of their favourite movies will know, it’s hard. Doing a list this long relieves some of the pressure — my list of “absolutely must include”s was indeed long, but not close to filling all 100 places. Because of the length, there are films that would be genuine contenders for my all-time top ten best movies I’ve ever seen, and others that I liked very much but are ‘making up the numbers’. Which is a little harsh — it’s less that they’re padding the list, more that I’d know where to start cutting if I had to make room. Besides, that’s probably where the more unusual and surprising choices will be found.

Throughout the selection process, value judgements have to be made — some films lose out on the day that might’ve made it on another. The biggest losers (as it were) were a handful of films I remember loving but have never got round to re-watching. As I’d only seen them once, and over a decade ago at that, I didn’t feel qualified to include them instead of films I was more certain of my opinion on. So pity Battle Royale, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, A History of Violence, JFK, The Mark of Zorro, Munich, Philadelphia, Where the Truth Lies, and several more — if I’d made the time for their re-viewing (and I did do some, just not enough), things might have been different.

Nonetheless, eight films that I’ve only seen once did still make the list. Now I feel like I’ve made some silly choices…

What kind of films made the cut? Well, to be perfectly honest, there’s a lot of really obvious stuff on here. My even longer long-list contained a few more oddities, but the well-known classics (and modern classics) have that status for a reason, and they ultimately won out… most of the time. There will be a few surprising omissions, I’m sure, and hopefully a few surprises littered about too. If you’re wondering about specific inclusions/omissions, the films will be in alphabetical order, so you might spot omissions before the end… unless they begin with, y’know, Z. (Hint: there are no films beginning with Z.)

A certain kind of film makes up the majority of the list. “Juvenile” would be too strong a word; “mainstream” would not be far from the truth. Remember, this is a list compiled from films I first saw up to the age of about 20 (albeit selected from the perspective of being nearly 30). It was only at the very tail end of this time that my experience of cinema really began to broaden beyond what one might semi-pretentiously call the Anglospheric mainstream. That period of widening horizons overlapped with this blog’s birth, as you might observe from some of the films featured in my very earliest days. So films from those first tentative, sometimes faltering, steps into a greater appreciation of Cinema don’t really find a place on this particular list.

That said, don’t imagine things will be limited to Disney musicals and Spielbergian action-adventures. Indeed, some people would look at this list and think it fairly represents the breadth of cinema. Certainly, it could be worse. But I shan’t spoil anything by suggesting how many of them should be viewed with subtitles, or how many were produced before the year of my birth, or how high the percentage of American movies is — though I think we all know that such statistics will inevitably be trotted out when I reach the end.

A list of favourite movies is always a work in progress — there are always more classics to discover, or hidden gems that most people don’t adore but you do, not to mention all the new films they can’t stop making. You might argue most of the latter are dross, but there’s always something worth seeing, and every once in a while a genuine classic comes along.

The work-in-progress factor is even true of this list: it may be locked to films I first saw 10+ years ago, but re-watches and the shifting opinions of age can always bring change. By the end of this project (or the middle, or even the start), I might think I should’ve made some different choices. Even still, over the next year you’ll see an at-least-passable version of my 100 favourite films.