Are you a habitual rewatcher, or do you crave freshness? Is going to the theater important to you, or are you happy streaming movies on a smaller screen? The way you answer those questions probably influences the way you think about the big question our bloggers tackled this week, which comes from Joe in Chicago, IL: “If you could watch only 100 movies for the rest of your life (as many times as you want), how many would be old favorites and how many would be new to you?”
Nigel: Mostly new releases
One hundred is an insanely small number for this, when you think about it. I adore every movie in my Flickchart Top 100, and the idea of not having the option to watch any of them ever again is distressing. So, to attack something like this, I have to be ruthless. Is it enough to keep just Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
, The Empire Strikes Back
, the original Back to the Future
or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
as keepsakes to represent their whole franchises? Or do I tell myself that I’ve seen them enough times, and I would rather watch all the new Star Wars
films as they come out?
The idea of having another Edge of Tomorrow or Guardians of the Galaxy come into my life (movies that I would happily rewatch) is appealing. Losing old favorites is not. I crunch the numbers. If I opt for only new films, 100 averages out to 4 per year for the next 25 years. Is this really enough? Will I pick the right ones? How many films that I might love will pass me by? Is it better to choose the safe route and hold on to old favorites? Never mind all the classic films that I’ve never seen!
One thing is certain: I would never again see a film that is older than I am. I would stick with the new. I’d watch an awful lot more trailers to try and decide what I’m going to see. With a quick glance at my Top 100, I decide that, at the moment, I would keep Up
(my #9), Children of Men
(my #13), Life of Pi
(my #35) and Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book
(my #83), and let the rest live in my memory. But I mourn them like children. This question is evil. Maybe I should keep all 100, and just get my new content from TV shows. . . — Nigel Druitt
Jandy: Mostly “new” classics
I’m not much of a rewatcher as a rule, so it’s pretty hard to consider the idea of only watching 100 new-to-me films ever, and that’s not even saving space for my all-time favorites! I’d take my #1, Rear Window
, because it’s virtually everything I love about Hitchcock (my favorite director) in one film. And I’d take Band of Outsiders
(my #4) and The Young Girls of Rochefort
(my #32) because they satisfy my French New Wave
and musical needs. Musicals
in general are going to be tough — do I leave it with Rochefort
or also take Singin’ in the Rain
(my #3), West Side Story
(my #8), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
(my #9), or however many other musicals I adore? It’s so hard to choose among them, I might leave them all behind and rely on the fact that I’ve almost memorized them. Moving further down my chart, I think I’d need The Big Sleep
(my #11) for noir and Bogart/Bacall, and The Adventures of Robin Hood
(my #21), and Fargo
(my #23). And Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(my #29). This feels like it’s getting out of hand, and I’m only up to seven! This is a question not just of favorites but of rewatchability. Like I said, I don’t rewatch often, but all of the films I’ve listed I’ve seen at least three times, and some more like seven or eight times. As much as I prefer watching new-to-me films, I may never find any that I love as much as these, so when I’ve seen my 100 and everything afterward becomes a rewatch, I’ll know I have at least some that I can rewatch endlessly. By that token, maybe I should add The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
, which I’ve watched a thousand times with my three-year-old and still enjoy.
After choosing a few favorites, my strategy for choosing new-to-me movies would change. I tend to like most things I see, so I’m not overly worried, but I would probably take fewer risks, venture into unknown territory less often, and avoid any films I fear might be “vegetables.” With only 100 slots, there’s no space for things I respect but don’t love. I’d probably hew close to well-regarded films from favorite directors, filling in blind spots that fit closely with things I love. I’d watch very few actually new
films — perhaps just those by the Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson and other directors I consistently love. For the rest, it has to be sure things only, which for me usually means classics. — Jandy Hardesty
Hannah: Mostly old favorites
It’s pretty rare for me to rewatch movies. In fact, I’d guess that nearly all the movies I rewatch are the ones in my Top 100 itself. The idea of using any one of those precious 100 spots to gamble on a new movie is almost paralyzing. At the same time, however, I think of movies like 2014’s The Last Five Years
(my #40), a movie I was almost guaranteed to love thanks to my adoration of the original source material and my faith in the actors stepping into the main roles. I would have been devastated if I hadn’t gotten to see it because I’d hit my 100-movie mark.
That being said, new favorites like The Last Five Years
are few and far between. I suspect the last new movie I was that excited about before that was The Phantom of the Opera
back in 2004, and that was a colossal disappointment. (Who in the world could believe Gerard Butler as either a genius opera teacher or
a hideous monster?) I’d venture to guess there aren’t many must-see new movies out there for me that are worth the risk of disappointment, and I’d be much better off populating my tiny collection with the movies I already know and love. In the end, I’d reserve perhaps 10 spots for future favorites and fill the other 90 with the films that I know will come through for me again and again. — Hannah Keefer
David: All old favorites
Most of my favorite movies have a lot of rewatch value, at least for me. I tend to have strong associations with them, and I get quite attached to them. I named my cat after a character from The Godfather, for example, and it seems like every time I watch those movies I see them in a new light. It’s the same for most of the movies in my top 100: I revisit my favorites every few years and almost never fail to find something new in them, or in myself and my reaction to them. As a result, I think a hundred well-chosen favorites could provide enough movie-related novelty to last a lifetime. With virtually all of the Studio Ghibli movies (to remind me of my time in Japan), most of the James Bond movies (I’ve seen them more often than anything else), the Lord of the Rings trilogy (to go along with my favorite books), and a healthy sampling from favorite directors like Kurosawa, Kubrick, and Lean, I’d fill a list of 100 movies all too quickly.
Forget exploration. In the first place, most of my favorite directors are either no longer with us or no longer making movies. Moreover, with dozens of deserving titles inevitably missing the cut, I can’t see a justification for gambling on unknown quantities. I’m confident my time-tested favorites would hold up for me over the years, but I could never be sure about a new-to-me film, so I’d just as soon not take the risk. — David Conrad
Jeff: 100 copies of John Wick
Just kidding. Inside joke. I like John Wick
All jesting aside, I would pick 100 of my favorite movies, and I’ll tell you why: if I only have 100 movies to choose from, clearly I am deserted. Things are not going great for me. I would need to take comfort in something, and comfort would not come from foraging for food or finding a decent place to poop. I guess “comfort” encapsulates how I feel about movies. I tend to love the ones that take me to a fun place, not the ones that try to challenge me.
Here’s how I see this whole thing going down. Upon awaking from whatever disaster caused me to become deserted — let’s say an airplane traveling from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California, crashes under mysterious circumstances — I would take care of the basics. Food, water, shelter, fire, maybe staking a pig’s head in the ground — you know, make the place feel homey. After that, I would discover a bunker that has electricity and is stocked with my 100 favorite movies and get down to the really important work: watching them. Ghostbusters
, Star Wars
, Indiana Jones
, John Wick
. . .
Cut to 6 months later, and I’ve had a complete mental breakdown. Have you seen that movie Bronson with Tom Hardy, the one where he creates a separate identity in order to survive prison? I imagine something like that would happen to me, only I’d end up believing I’m Ray Stantz and be worse off than I was before. Upon observing a rescue craft hovering around the island, I would instinctively turn to the side and say, “Listen! Do you smell that?” without any smirking irony, and the other person would sniff the air.
Except there’s no one else there and I no longer remember my real name. — Jeff Lombardi
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