It’s an even year, although the nicest thing you can say about 2020 is that it was odd. But, in any case, even years mean it’s time for my Favorite Films sort, something I have done offline for about 30 years and have done online for the past eight years. You can see my previous entries here (including how I do the sort by pairwise comparison).
This year, the total of films sorted was a little over 400. Two years ago, it was around 570, but I was able to do a deeper culling as I added cards for the newly watched films for this year.
Just as with two years ago, there was some major shakeup in the top 10, along with 15 additions to the top 50 that were either new or sorted lower on a previous year. Some of the results are shocking. Why, Die Hard isn’t even my favorite Christmas film any more!
Hush, you. One Christmas movie delivered because it clearly had correct postage.
Anyway, here are the ground rules:
- These must be feature films (narrative or documentary). Short films aren’t included.
- Film series or franchises do not count as one entry. Each must fend for itself.
- TV movies can be included (I don’t think any are in the top 50)
- TV mini-series are not included.
- Regular TV series are right out.
- These are my favorite films, not a “best of.” If anyone else entirely agrees with my list, one of the two of us is an evil doppelganger/replicant/host.
- There is no rule # 7.
So, without further ado, counting down from 50:
50) The Hunt for Red October
48) A Few Good Men
47) Casino Royale
46) The Court Jester
42) Black Panther
39) Big Fish
37) Das Boot
35) The Godfather
34) Midnight Run
33) Minority Report
32) Never Cry Wolf
31) Breaker Morant
30) Rob Roy
29) The Godfather, Part II
28) The Count of Monte Cristo
27) North by Northwest
26) The Namesake
25) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
24) Schindler’s List
23) Citizen Kane
21) Children of Men
20) The Princess Bride
19) Singin’ in the Rain
18) Galaxy Quest
17) Once Upon a Time in the West
16) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
15) Guardians of the Galaxy
14) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
13) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
12) The Little Prince
10) Black Hawk Down
9) Field of Dreams
8) The Empire Strikes Back
6) The Lives of Others
5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
3) The Shawshank Redemption
2) Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World
1) Raiders of the Lost Ark
And, as before, here are some…
Basic Stats (note: genres overlap, based on IMDb genres)
- Total Comedies: 7
- Total Dramas: 30
- Total Action-Adventure Films: 27
- Total Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films: 23
- Total Westerns: 1
- Total War Movies: 13
- Total Musicals: 4
- Total Animated Films: 3
- Total films with Liam Neeson: 2
- Mean average year of the 50 films (rounded up): 1992
- Decade with the most favorites: 2000s (13 films), followed closely by the 1980s (12 films)
- The film at #51 which at least one reader will insist should rank higher: Sense & Sensibility (1995)
All right, here’s some other thoughts…
What a lot of war
Okay, I guess it’s not the majority of films, but 13 is “nontrivial.” You pair that with all the dramas, and it does seem heavier. I’ve also noted that, in general, though I inhale TV shows these days — thanks to the omnipresent streaming services — really none of them are sitcoms. Evidently I get my comedy in the ‘quippiness’ inherent to many an action-adventure (the majority of the films in the 50).
Perhaps I should revisit a few more comedies for next time.
No Trek and Star Wars goes Rogue
In perhaps a strange turn of events, considering my epic Star Trek TV sorting earlier this year (whose sorting methodology I adapted from here) no Star Trek film is in the top 50.
Trek films 2, 4, 6, and 8 are all in the sort and “Wrath of Khan” has been in the Favorite 50 frequently. I guess the familiar is no longer the favorite.
Similarly, The Empire Strikes Back, perhaps always in my favorite list, has retired to a lower place behind young upstart Rogue One.
As with other longstanding films on the list, I guess the personal resonance only goes so far and I’m ready for new things, which may explain why…
Hamilton did have the votes
Because I maintained a strict personal blackout on the play, I didn’t know most of the details or any of the music about Hamilton (musicals not being my thing anyway, despite working on dozens of them in a former life). And then it came to Disney+ and blew us all away.
But Hamilton was a damn fine musical and if “concert films” like The Last Waltz and Woodstock are eligible for the sort (which they are), then Hamilton certainly was. And I watched it several more times after my wife and my initial watch just to be sure. I wasn’t going to throw away its shot.
Besides Hamilton and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse being brand new entries to the sort that also got in the top 50, I also noticed the average age of the top 50 went from ‘1986’ in the 2018 sort to ‘1992’ now. I suspect that average will continue to rise in 2022.
As with the comedies, should I delve into the deeper trove of classic films? Maybe.
No Christmas in the Favorite 50
There’s always a few films that are undoubtedly favorites that, nevertheless, fail to break the top 50 — and that seems frequently the case with both spy-fi and holiday films.
While a Bond film actually broke into the top 50 this year (Daniel Craig’s debut in Casino Royale), Die Hard, which supplanted the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street as my favorite Christmas film, was itself supplanted.
The interloper, Klaus, narrowly missed out by coming in at #54, so perhaps it’ll get in next time, as The Little Prince did this time. Die Hard is still in the overall 100 at #80. You really should check out Klaus though. It’s delightful.
So there you have it. Another sort in an altogether too long two year interval, this year being at least 14 years long. Here’s hoping there’s more joy in 2022, and if I’ve inspired anyone to check out some films, my job here is done.