Musings over my end-of-the-year-list frustration
It was the first thing I noticed as I ventured into the world of cinephily this summer, joining the Filmspotting forum community and opening this café.
I soon found out that true film fans make lists. A lot of lists. Top 5, top 10, top 100, even top 1 000 (but that guy is just insane). We appoint winners and make verdicts left and write: the best, the worst, the craziest, the cutest, the funniest, the coolest. Just about anything can be organized and ranked into a neat list.
I think there is something very reassuring in this. As long as we can put the world into a 1-10 order, we have reasons to keep believing that our existence is comprehensible as well as controllable. If there is chaos and uncertainty luring in the darkness, we can defy it and expel it with a neat bullet list.
And admit it: nothing can strengthen your usually weak ego like the aura of knowledge and authority that a well thought out ranking order provides. We’re refuse to embrace whatever movie we accidentally stumble upon without asking questions. We know how to distinguish good from bad. We’re opinionated. We know what we’re talking about. Or at least we pretend we do.
As a newbie in the film fandom I realized that I had to try to get into this if I’d ever become an accepted member in the fellowship. After some struggling (remember, I’m the kind of person who usually can’t decide between cake or pie since I like both) managed to make something that resembled to a top 100 list. It was as if I’d gone through a passage ritual, passing a test, buying myself an entrance ticket to a new world. Now I wasn’t just an ordinary theatre visitor. I was organized. I was opinionated. If not quite yet a cineast, I could at least deserve the title Film Nerd. (No, don’t ask me to link the list. I’m still too embarrassed and discontent about it. Maybe next year.)
A time of frustration
That was a long introduction, but I wanted to make it clear how important lists are to people like me and most other film bloggers. They’re fun, they take a lot of work to make, they’re interesting to read and discuss. It’s essential. And that’s also why this time of the year is so utterly annoying and frustrating for people like me. People who live in far distant, low prioritized countries..
You see, one of the things I love most about blogging about films is that it gives me an excuse to talk to and get to know people from all over the world. I argue as much with people on the other side of the Atlantic as I’m comparing my impressions of my latest movie encounter with a Swedish blogger who lives in the neighbor city. The blogosphere recognizes no boundaries, especially if you like me have taken the decision to participate in the global discussion.
But one time a year we’re brutally reminded of that the globalization hasn’t reached the world of movies yet. A handful of movies – basically the ones that are most likely to become victims of global illegal downloading epidemics – get a synchronized global launch. Movies such as Harry Potter or the Twilight saga. But the smaller a movie is, the longer can I expect to wait for it to come up here. If it ever will come up, that will say. Quite a few of the movie discoveries I’ve made this year have been of ones that never even were shown in a theatre, titles such as Animal Kingdom an Moon.
Towards the end of this year, when all the list frenzy starts and the Oscar speculations kick off, this has become increasingly painful. Highly appreciated movies such as The Artist and Hugo won’t have their premier until late in March.
So what is a Swedish blogger to do?
Should I adjust my list to imitate the launch schedule in US, just to make it equivalent to other top lists? In that case I would have to wait making up a top 2011 list until late April at the earliest. It would feel a bit dishonest. After all it would be 2012 movies to me. And besides, who cares about the “2011 movies” at that point? That discussion is done and over with, ages ago. People have moved on and are busy ranking the movies of 2012. I’m hopelessly late to the party.
The other option is to rank all the movies that were released in 2011 in Sweden, regardless of when they came up in the rest of the world. In that case I would match late releases such as MMMM, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Drive and The Skin I Live In against Never Let Me Go, The King’s Speech, True Grit, Winter’s Bone and Black Swan. But 50/50 will not be taken into consideration since I haven’t had the chance to see it yet. How much sense will such a list make to anyone outside of Sweden?
A cop out solution
It’s an unsolvable dilemma, a brick wall raised between bloggers from different nations and regardless of what I’ll eventually decide for, it will leave me with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction.
I want to make my 2011 list when everyone else is making it. I want my 2011 list to be true and to reflect the movies I watched in 2011. Not the movies I watched in 2012. And I want to make a ranking that easily can be compared to other people’s ranking lists and spark a good discussion.
Frankly I haven’t yet made up my mind yet. I might cop out of it, stop pretending that order is possible.
Or instead of making a top list, I could hand out some awards, not necessarily always of the serious kind. My fellow Swede Emil at A Swede Talks movies made an inspiring example. Perhaps I could do something similar?
In any case: that will have to wait until next week. After all, the year hasn’t finished yet and it boggles my mind how everyone can be so quick to toss out the awards and lists, in some cases weeks before the end of the year. And even if it’s late now, we still have a few precious hours to go. I could squeeze in one last movie before the clock strikes and perhaps THAT very movie will turn out to be the best one of all. You never know.
But now it’s now time to close this final blog entry of 2011. I will end it with an image from a great New Year scene, one of my favorites.
Thank you everyone who has popped by during 2011 to listen to my ramblings and talk about movies over a drink! You’ve made this place to exactly the cozy, friendly little place I dreamed of.
Happy New Year!