Lost in Stagnation: or How I Realized I Had A New #1 Movie
“What’s your favorite movie”? This is a question some of us may have had to answer more than once upon telling people we’re into film. Some will reply by saying there are many films they love, but when pressed, we tend to have that one film we always revert to as a standard answer. For me, that film has been American Beauty ever since I first saw it over a decade ago. Once Flickchart implemented its changes to how re-ranking movies was done, I immediately made sure to put it at the top of my list. That was where it belonged. I didn’t even have to think when it appeared in a random match-up. It’s American Beauty! It’s #1! Of course it wins!
But what Flickchart is all about is to make you think of the movies you’re picking between. Having this automated thought process really went against everything Flickchart stands for. The mentality I employed led to a certain stagnation in my list. This is something I eventually remedied. First, however, let’s switch gears.
Lost in Translation is the movie I always bring up as example of how film taste can change and evolve. I first saw it when I was just starting to get into movies in a big way – the transition from casual to movie-nut, if you will. I had heard good things about it and had always been a big fan of Bill Murray, so I really wanted to check it out now that my movie fandom was kicking off. Looking back, it’s clear I wasn’t ready for it. On a forum I frequented at the time, I wrote: “Right, I’ll admit it: I didn’t get it. Nothing really happened, and there wasn’t any clear-cut message I could interpret. Weird to see Murray in a serious role, though.”
Some time passed, and I had started my first movie blog. I had some visitors (mostly real life friends) but didn’t get many comments on what I wrote. So in order to promote interactivity, I encouraged people to recommend films to me and I would rent and review the first three mentioned. Of course, with friends being friends, they intentionally gave me less-than-appealing films. I ended up having to watch the hum-drum romcom No Reservations and the painfully unfunny Pamela Anderson/Denise Richards comedy Blonde and Blonder. But the third recommendation was Lost in Translation, which was suggested to me by an old classmate from high school (or the closest Swedish equivalent). So I rewatched it and found myself experiencing that feeling of familiarity you sometimes get with films. “Oh right, this is that fun part where…”. But this didn’t make sense! How could I have that reaction if “nothing really happened” in the film, as I had first thought? I still found it quite slow, and the point still went over my head, but I conceded that I thought the film to be okay. Enough for me to buy the DVD soon after when I found it on a sale.
Since then, as my taste in film has evolved, Lost in Translation has grown on me more and more each time I see it. I’ve constantly found new things to enjoy, marvelled at the wonderful performances, and I even carefully fell in love with Tokyo itself – the first watch had actually turned me off from ever visiting the city. I finally started to see the point of the film. What it had to say about mid-life crises and quarter-life crises, and the way two strangers can relate and bond to one another when in an alien place… It all began to make sense to me.
A year or two later, the movie wound up somewhere on the lower edge of my top 10, and I thought “Wow, what a journey it has been for that film.” But it wasn’t going any higher. I had this very rigid idea of my top 10 at the time, what movies were on it, and the rough order. It wasn’t going to change too much. Maybe two movies shifted places every now and then – such as perennial 2006 rivals-in-my-mind Crank and Once – but nothing more than that. When we’re on Flickchart, we constantly have our top 20 staring us in the face. If I was going to have my eyes glaze over it all the time, it should at least look nice and tidy.
But one day not too long ago, from out of the blue, I said “No, screw that. Why am I keeping my list so sterile and unchanging? There’s no reason for this!”. So I set Flickchart to the Your Top 20 filter and forced myself to really think about the films involved in the choices, rather than just automatically going “Well, Amélie is my 2nd favorite film ever, so it’s going to win pretty much every match-up it’s in”. It was startling to realize just how inflexible the top of my list had been. Now, most films climbed and fell a lot. It felt quite refreshing.
And then, when Lost in Translation came up against my long-time favorite American Beauty, I found myself unable to to pick the latter – my unchallenged constant #1 movie ever. Now that my brain was working in high gear and really pondering all these wonderful films, it wasn’t even a hard choice. How could I NOT pick Lost in Translation? It’s an amazing film, filled with unforgettable moments. I replayed my favorite scenes over and over in my head. The shooting of the whisky commercial. Murray singing More Than This on karaoke. The heart-to-heart talk between him and Scarlett Johansson about having kids. The hospital visit. That perfect ending. Then I thought about American Beauty, and while I still very much adored that film, the choice was easy.
It was kind of a mildly shocking experience in a way, but there it was: Lost in Translation was at the top of my Flickchart. My new favorite movie ever. American Beauty had been bested, now sitting at the #2 spot. Even now when I glance at my top 20, it looks really strange to my eyes. Yet also so right.
Sometimes when we’re on Flickchart, we just want to relax and maybe kill some time. We just rank away – click, click, click – not really thinking too much about our choices. This is fine to an extent, but I would highly recommend to at some point do what I did: use the Your Top 20 filter, really THINK about the great movies you have before you, and try to dismiss any established notions you have about what your list should look like. You might just end up with a new answer to that old chestnut “What’s your favorite movie?”. I know I did.
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Emil as eshegnev on Flickchart. If you’re interested to submit your own story or article describing your thoughts about movies and Flickchart, read our original post for how to become a guest writer here on the Flickchart Blog.