Top 10 Lists: How We Choose


Lots of folks have asked me over the years: “how do you decide which movies go on your yearly 10 best and worst lists?” I’d like to share that with you.

I’m a movie geek in the greatest sense of the word. I love movies, I speak movies, I live movies. I’ll see just about any movie ever made no matter the genre, director or subject. I have a genuine, pure LOVE of movies; this is why you’ll often see an eclectic variety on my lists each year. I’m not a film snob, but that’s not to say that the artistic side of me doesn’t appreciate gorgeous cinematography, skilled editing, expert direction, masterful acting or beautiful musical scores.

Any movie I paid to see more than once, twice or even three times automatically earns a Top 10 Best slot. Every single movie on my lists (even the Honorable Mentions) are ones I either have or can’t wait to see again and again.

On the flip side, any movie that I wanted to walk out of (it’s rare that I actually ever walk out of a movie) automatically earns a spot on the 10 Worst list. If a movie failed to entertain me, I view it as a complete failure. I also weigh movies based on the talent involved — if a respected filmmaker or actor makes a boring piece of garbage, it gets me so angry and ultimately makes my Worst list. Above all, movies are meant to entertain and if they succeed at doing that, then I’m happy.

I tend to agree with Roger Ebert’s philosophy on film (it’s my favorite quote of his and I quote it often): “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”


In case you’re wondering, here’s how I choose my yearly top 10 movies: first, these are lists of MY favorite movies of the year. It’s not a list that’s designed to impress anyone. I am not writing for “Film Comment,” and I am not tasked with determining what were the greatest cinematic art works each year (that may or may not be a different list).

Second, the key touchstone for me in deciding whether a movie will or will not go on my list is whether I was entertained. The corollaries of that are: Did it make me laugh? Did it upset me? Did it make me feel joy or sadness in the way the filmmakers intended?

Third, is it a movie I want to see again — specifically, would I watch it again RIGHT NOW, or does the prospect of sitting through it another time make me groan?

These are my only criteria. I don’t care how many respected critics I matched with. I don’t care how many of my picks received Oscar nominations. With that said, I hope you enjoy my lists!

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