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The more a movie fan ranks their favorite flicks, the more they start to develop their own style of ranking. The Flickcharting blog category page has a few examples personal chart creation methods, but let's sample a few more. This week's question asked the bloggers to share any rules they put in place for themselves while Flickcharting. Sometimes a few extra guidelines can help you get the most out of your chart, and we're about to see how.
If I've Seen It, I Rank It
I used to rank movies only if I could remember at least two moments from them. The falseness of that rule nagged at me, because, after all, I'd seen the dang things, and here I was telling Flickchart I hadn't! So in the interest of honesty, I decided to make a new rule: a movie gets ranked if I know I've seen all of it. The only issue that arises under this paradigm is when I'm not sure if I've seen a movie all the way through. Sometimes I really want to rank one, because I know I've seen most of it and I have opinions on it, but if I can't swear to have seen it all, I don't rank it. On the other side of the coin, ranking a movie I remember nothing about but definitely watched can be hard, but I really don't mind it. My "attachment" method of ranking just means it won't fare well. - David Conrad
The Top 50 Is Sacred
Every now and again I'll examine my Top 500 or so to see if any undesirables have snuck in during the ranking process. For whatever reason, I've decided that the first 500 films on my Flickchart should be more or less accurate. Outside of that range is a tangled wasteland of films that aren't bad enough to be cast into the lowest depths of my rankings, yet aren't significant enough to be allowed entrance into my arbitrarily defined "good" zone. They are left to fend for themselves.
Now, while I do keep a watchful on eye on the comings and goings of the Top 500, even those movies are not precisely ordered. Close, yes. But not exact. There is some freedom of movement. That is, until the sacred ground of my Top 50 is reached.
For a movie to be allowed in that range it really has to be something special and dear to me. I don't come home pumped after seeing the Blockbuster du jour (not that those types of films usually cause me to become pumped) and impetuously rank it into the Holiest levels of my Flickchart. That just isn't going to happen.
A Top 50 movie and I need some history. We need to have been through thick and thin. Even more so with my Top 20. These are the defining films for me as a movie watcher. They mean something beyond the transient rush of a one-time viewing. One day I may attempt to tame the wilderness outside my Top 500, but I will always be vigilant with what I allow into my Top 50. Always. - Chad Hoolihan
There are a lot of terms people will use to demean a film's place on their charts. "Recency bias"; "nostalgia"; "personal taste." I vote to forget that dismissal of love. With over fifty-six thousand films in the database, the highest number of films anyone has seen is brocka's amazing 15227 films ranked. Which means, unless you're brocka, you haven't charted even 25% of the films that exist; in that 75% (and, let's be real, it's likely more than 90%) of the films you haven't seen, there will be films that change the way you value your world, films that replace even your favorite film. At least, I think we should all be open to that possibility; the idea of watching a movie better than your favorite movie shouldn't offend you, only excite you at the idea that there's even more possible in the world.
One of my top five movies, a documentary named Living Stars, has only been ranked by 3 users; another, Leos Carax's film Mauvais Sang, has only been ranked by 35. If those are not the films that break your top 20, that's fine; but in that vast sea of the unknown, there is probably a film that deserves to be in your top 20. And, yes, there's a good chance it's a film people are liking quite a bit; it might even be the movie you watched tonight.
My proposition is this; a top 20 is one that can grow over time by ranking, as the philosophy of continued use of the site dictates. As a result, consider trying new films toward the top of your chart the way you might try on a pair of shoes. Walk with them for a while - consider whether or not they're as comfortable as the last pair you bought, or your first favorite pair.
If a film is blatantly too high, you can manually rerank it, or you can see what actually manages to topple the film in question. If you watched your #1 in a theater upon release, it's possible you knew immediately that the film was your #1. It can simply be fun to try having a new movie in your highest ranks; if Flickchart is ever becoming "a little dull," going with the more exciting, dangerous answer in a tough match-up can cause all kinds of delightful, equally accurate chaos. We all laugh over matching up Toy Story and The Godfather, so maybe try the other one and see how it fits. - Alex Christian Lovendahl
I don’t really have any particular rules for Flickcharting, per se, but I do find that it’s pretty difficult for things I’ve only seen once to make it into my top 50 or 75 - this is just natural, though, as I rank based purely on how much I like/love a film, and I’m both more likely to rewatch films I love and more likely to love films I’ve watched a lot.
As I discussed in a previous article, I also subscribe to the philosophy Fluid Flickcharting, which means I’m pretty open to things moving around a lot, which keeps me from making a lot of strict rules. I do add all films I’ve seen, including shorts, TV movies, and things I know I’ve seen but don’t remember at all. It makes for a messy chart in places, but I prefer it to be complete. - Jandy Hardesty
Gotta Watch It Twice
My only real hard and fast "rule" is pretty similar to what Chad and Jandy have already mentioned. Rewatchability is big with me; if I love a movie, I'm going to want to see it again. Every movie in my Top 20 has been watched by me a bare minimum of three times. So how can I possibly know if a new-to-me movie holds up to my tried-and-true favorites if I've only seen it once?
My rule came about because I burned myself once: In 2010, I came back from seeing Christopher Nolan's Inception by myself on opening weekend (oddly, in a barely half-full theater) and launched it straight up to #3 on my chart. Time passed, and I eventually got to that rewatch. What I discovered was that I did, indeed, still love Inception, but there were other Nolan films that stuck with me more, not to mention other movies in general that just brought me more enjoyment.
Inception currently hangs out around #80 on my chart - which, currently, is still a chart in rebuild, and other movies will still jump ahead of it. That's okay, I still love it (anything in my Top 100 is pretty much a 5/5 for me), but that experience made me realize that a new film needs time to sink in, to make me want to revisit it, before it can truly compete with the favorites. Now, new-to-me movies are never allowed within (approximately) my Top 100 until I see them twice. This has resulted in my rushing some second and third viewings of movies I've seen since Inception - including the one movie I most regret not seeing in a theater (Life of Pi) and the single movie I'm most glad I DID see in a theater (Gravity) - but that second or third spin is becoming enough for me to say "Yes. I really do love this movie THAT much." After all, for every Inception, there's a Heat, a film that would never have been Top 20 material when I first watched it, but on repeat viewings has become something like a cherished friend. - Nigel Druitt
No Shorts Under 30 Minutes
This wasn't always a part of my Flickchart rules. When I first began, I ranked everything I'd ever seen, including film shorts. I hadn't seen a lot of them, but all of Pixar's pre-feature shorts made it to the list. And then I realized that because they were so short, I had the trouble of thinking of them as entire movies. Ranking them against full-length movies felt unfair - like I was ranking a single scene against a complete film. The film was always going to win. Not to mention they all started blurring together in my mind. Finally, I made an executive decision: Nothing shorter than a half hour was going to make it into my chart.
This allows me to include half-hour Peanuts specials and the VeggieTales movies I watched as a kid, which do feel like complete films and are easy to rank against other longer movies, while excluding anything the length of an average YouTube video. I like film shorts, I watch them sometimes, but they deserve to be ranked solely against each other, not against Casablancaand Lawrence of Arabia where they will lose by virtue of their length alone. - Hannah Keefer