The “Unrankables”

Nigel Druitt

An avid Flickcharter since 2009, Nigel is a self-described fanboy whose Top 20 is dominated by the likes of Indiana Jones, Frodo Baggins and Marty McFly. Nigel is the Canadian arm of the Flickchart Blog, but try not to hold that against him. You can find him on Flickchart as johnmason.

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14 Responses

  1. KingofPain says:

    I have difficulty wrapping my head around ranking short films or cartoon shorts. If a “flick” or “film” is like 7 minutes long, comparing it to a feature length movie hurts my head. True, there are some movies that I find so disagreeable that I could rank any given Bugs Bunny cartoon higher without a thought. But most movies have so much more content in them to consider compared to a short film. I’ll rank any feature length movie, whether TV, Direct-to-Video, or Theatrical. But shorts are too much of a hassle.

    I also have trouble rating any documentary that has an agenda or is informational. I’ll rank the ones that just show people doing their thing (like Grey Gardens, for example) but not anything pushing a political agenda or that is primarily about teaching the viewer something. If the documentary presents facts in order to allow the viewer to make up his/her own mind, that’s one thing, but I don’t want to be told how to interpret the facts.

    And I’m avoiding wrestling videos entirely.

  2. Tom Andersen says:

    Personally, I feel the addition of documentaries and short films to be a good one. For example, a Pixar short like “Lifted” is easily funnier than 90% of any full-length comedy I see, and would never hesitate in ranking it above, say Hangover, which is another really good comedy.

    I think taking it too far would be to add individual tv-series and episodes. I’ve seen that on other movie sites like where users add whatever they like.

    I think if you can find the movie/flick/short on imdb, you should be able to rank it here on flickchart as well.

  3. Nathan Chase says:

    It’s definitely been an interesting issue. The gray area also includes extended format documentaries or dramas that have only had TV presentations and video releases (things like Ken Burns documentaries, or HBO’s Band of Brothers).

    Ideally, we’ll have a separate TV-based version of Flickchart in the future – but even then we’ll have to decide whether made-for-TV movies should be included there or not, against sitcoms and game shows.

    The requirements are so arbitrary that everyone has their own thresholds, so we try our best to be inclusive rather than exclusive, where possible.

  4. Travis McClain says:

    Excellent topic! I’ve shared my thoughts elsewhere, but…since you brought it up

    As far as I’m concerned, theatrical release is entirely irrelevant in evaluating film. After all, I in all likelihood will only ever see the film in question at home as I don’t make it to the theater nearly as much as I’d like. I’m constantly discovering older movies, too; what difference does it make whether The Cowboy and the Lady ran in theaters in 1938 if I wasn’t there to see it that way?

    I do appreciate the pecking order, that direct-to-video releases are second-class citizens in the film world. The logic being that if a studio had any confidence in the movie, it would have at least merited a winter release to theaters. But then, in 1997 Warner Bros. released Batman & Robin to theaters and Batman & Mr. Freeze in SubZero direct to video. I’m pretty sure most Bat-fans agree that the animated feature was much stronger than the live action movie.

    Regarding documentaries, I laugh whenever I see someone object to “agendas.” Every movie has an agenda because every one of them originates with someone who is trying to influence the way you perceive the world, even if all you thought was happening was Moe slapping Larry and Curly. Documentaries are a personal favorite genre of mine, as I’m fascinated by human experiences. Unlike other films, documentaries depict real life. I may disagree with the interpretation of that depiction, but to dismiss the entire film out of hand? I can’t imagine doing such a thing.

    Regarding short films, I struggle with ranking them head-to-head against full length features but I’m thrilled that they’re included. To my mind, short films are comparable to silent films; they operate with different constraints than do full-length features. Short films are bound by their abbreviated run times, which generally means that there’s little fat to be trimmed from the final product. You wouldn’t guess it from a guy who has Lawrence of Arabia as his #1 film, but I adore short films for the precise reason that they remain focused. (There have been more than a few blockbusters in recent years that could have used a good editor; there’s simply no reason that the last two Pirates of the Caribbean sequels should have been nearly as bloated as they were.)

    The point of film is to tell a story, not to give us conveniently scheduled blocks of time to spend. There are many stories that simply don’t require 90-120 minutes to be told, and I for one applaud those filmmakers who can use 5-40 minutes and still weave complete yarns. Pixar’s short films are fantastic, and every one of them has clearly told a story in its entirety. Surely we’re not going to take it upon ourselves to start determining how complete a story “should be?”

    Lastly, regarding performance features, these can be dicey. The Criterion Collection has released a collection of Beastie Boys music videos, as well as the Monterey Pop Music Festival, so there’s that to consider. I don’t have a clear answer here, other than to say that as long as it’s an actual performance (stand-up or concert) presented in full I’m inclined to accept it as a film; if it’s obviously been structured for television broadcast (i.e., commercial breaks were obviously inserted) then I personally would reject it. But that’s me speaking as a Flickcharter ranking movies; my personal opinion is obviously not part of official policy around here!

  5. KingofPain says:

    @Travis McClain

    There’s a difference between a movie telling a story a certain way and a documentary manipulating actual real life events. If I’m watching a documentary that doesn’t just present facts but purposely and obviously skews them, that’s a whole lot different than a fictional movie presenting the story a certain way. I only rate documentaries that tell a story with real events, but don’t deliberately take liberty with the facts. I don’t “dismiss” them. I just don’t rate them with other movies.

  6. Tack Angel says:

    Let’s take a movie like “Shenmue: The Movie”. It had a limited theatrical release in Japan, had a standalone DVD release, and is feature length with a compelling story.

    But it uses footage and gameplay of the video game “Shenmue” for the film.

    Does that make it any less of a movie than the Made for TV Movie Serial “It”? I would hope not.

    Unconventional or not, they are still movies.

  7. Travis McClain says:

    @KingofPain – I fear I may have come across as a bit snottier than I’d intended with my remarks, and if I upset you I do apologize. That said, I would respectfully argue that it’s a misguided notion to believe that there are, in fact, any stories that present “just the facts” as Joe Friday might say. Every story makes choices about its heroes and villains, what to depict and what to exclude. To expect a documentary to be comprehensive is unrealistic. Whatever the topic, there’s no way a single film can present everything there is to be known about it.

    Of course the facts are presented in a specific light; few would find them interesting otherwise, and in any event the purpose is not to merely inform, but to present an argument. You have to understand this about documentaries, or you’ll go mad looking for cold, calculating objectivity that not only doesn’t exist, but is unreasonable to expect. Anyone who has ever written a college research paper knows all about being forced to omit interesting and worthwhile information because it didn’t fit the scope of the final product.

    Viewers of documentaries should explore the material further to get a fuller understanding of the topic; relying on one interpretation of facts is woefully insufficient. When evaluating a specific film, though, I think it’s best to defer to Ebert who argued that, “…a movie isn’t good or bad based on its politics. It’s usually good or bad for other reasons, though you might agree or disagree with its politics.”

  8. KingofPain says:

    The way I see it, in the case of writing a research paper, there’s choosing to leave out information for the sake of space and staying on topic AND there’s deliberately leaving out information that you know disproves or weakens your argument. Or, even worse, adding incorrect (or out of context) information for the sake of strengthening your argument.

    I understand that a documentary cannot include everything, but what it does choose to include (or not include) matters. I like documentaries about people, because I can at least view them as interesting “characters”. I don’t necessarily evaluate a documentary based on its politics, but I know that people often skew facts to make a point. If someone makes a movie for the purpose of influencing my opinion, it better be honest and thorough. That’s why documentaries are always in danger of being propaganda. I think it is reasonable to expect information to be accurate and objective, so I don’t like documentaries that stress a point of view. It’s better just to research the topic yourself, so you can be exposed to a broader range of perspectives. Documentaries are restricted by duration and having a streamlined argument. Real life is more complex.

  9. johnmason says:

    You know, I’m having a hard time with the shorts myself. I do love most of Pixar’s shorts more than a lot of movies, but when I’m finding “Presto” in my Top 50, I’m really starting to wonder. It really hearkens back to the days of Looney Tunes…and are those better than movies I have in my Top 100?

    So, now I’m finding myself ranking them on my original account, while leaving them out of my second account, which I’m trying to make as “accurate” as possible. I don’t know.

    But like Travis said: I love that they’re included.

  10. Rtaylor32 says:

    I don’t have a problem with it. I only add “flicks” to my flickchart that I want to appear on it. I personally like the idea that the site allows for so many choices. However it might be interesting to be able to filter out everything but feature length films. . .

  11. Nigel Druitt says:

    Rtaylor32: There is a separate “genre” filter for Short Films…

  12. Joe K. says:

    Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows barely qualifies as a film? Typical elitist response from someone that probably never even saw it.

  13. Nigel Druitt says:

    Joe: Acknowledged. I used to watch WWF wrestling back in the late ’80s-early ’90s (guess it’s WWE now…), when I was a lot younger and it seemed a little less weird. It hasn’t appealed to me for decades now, though…

    I concede your point, though, and also maintain that my point behind this article was that all of these things SHOULD be included on Flickchart.

  14. consptheory77 says:

    I came on this site to catalog everything I have ever seen, and I appreciate that I have the option to include TV movies, many of which are still not listed…”seen, but unranked” sounds like a good option to me.