CPO: The Best

I have triumphantly returned after an extended Turkey day/server problem hiatus.

Well, it isn’t much of a return. I never really left. My backlog of DVD reviews have slowly been trickling out of the DVD Lounge.

There is also nothing particularly triumphant about this column either.

All that out of the way, let’s get into the meat: we’re at that time of year. We’re halfway into December with no ability to turn back. This might mean HOLIDAYS. Even though necessarily believe in any gods and I think that spirituality is a waste of time, I still plan on celebrating all of the holidays. Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, Winter Solstice Pagan Hippie shit day, etc. Hell I’ll even have a 2 month-belated Eid ul-Fitr.

But in this glorious time of over-eating, gift-giving, indoor trees, egg nog, and socks full of coal, there remains a black splotch.

The Best-of lists.

“Best of” lists are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist.

And they’ve already begun. Chances are, by the time you read this, your local critics and local critics associations have already chosen their respective “ten best” films of the year, lists which, by the way, will consist of exaggerated accolades for films which you won’t be able to see till January or later.

This of course points out the arbitrary nature of ranking art by year. Am I the only one annoyed by this thing?

Perhaps the critics aren’t to blame. More likely it is the studios who plan their prestige pictures for the ass end of the year, as Oscar voters are unlikely to remember things which have happened 6 months prior to the Oscars.

But still, “best of” lists are a bit tempting. It’s a cinematic snapshot, a chance at capturing the artistic Zeitgeist. Everything is all up there on paper (or on the computer screen), ranked, stated cleanly and concisely. One gets to point out some good films which may otherwise go overlooked or just share the joy of movies that people already know.

There were a bunch of good films this year. Films that are worth talking about and including on the lists. We had the surprise hit 300, the delightful Korean monster flick/ political satire The Host, the beautiful Ratatouille, the charming send-up which was Hot Fuzz, and the flawed yet charming nostalgia double play of Grindhouse.

Best of lists are, however, undeniably square.

I don’t want to be square.

(I should point out that the fine critics here at Popcorn Junkies, being the cinematic media outsiders and hepcats they are, will afford our readers lists which will be neither boring nor fascist.)

I also don’t want to do a “worst of” list. For one thing, it would require many arbitrary decisions on my part. Would one include a film like Zodiac which is roughly 9 hours long, yet still feels the need to have pages worth of epilogue text? Or would it include Direct-to-DVDs obscurities like Haunted Boat or HP Lovecraft’s The Tomb? These are definitely worse than Zodiac, but would hardly qualify as films. Plus, I haven’t even seen things like 13 Cum-Hungry Cocksuckers 7. In fact, it is safe to say that none of us have seen the majority of the films of 2007. (Imdb lists nearly 16,000 films for the year. I just don’t have the time to watch 43 movies a day. And who wants to watch porno with dudes in it?)

And I’m feeling that a “worst of” list would be too mean for this holiday season. I was looking over the shot list for the student film of a friend of mine, and thinking about all the horrifyingly mundane tasks film-makers go through, and all the work it takes to make even a lousy movie.

In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.

So where does it leave us?

I say we all work together on a “best of 2007” list which is decidedly un-square. Audience participation and the like. We’re not going to be the People’s choice awards. Doing a “best of” list by committee would give us a bunch of beige films.

I say we all make up a category or seven, and nominate a film or two for selection.

Like,

Best film of 2007 which I haven’t seen yet
No Country for Old Men
Eastern Promises

or maybe

2007’s most admirably futile attempt at evoking suspense when the conclusion has already been revealed in the first act:
Breach

or maybe the

How the holy Hannah did this film gross nearly 170 million award
Wild Hogs

The possibilities are endless.

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