Your Flickchart Top 20: Gift or Curse?

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.

You may also like...

22 Responses

  1. I’ll answer the primary question: You’re wrong about Jurassic Park being better than T2!

    I too take great pains before giving a win to a movie that would move it into the top 20. But I also don’t think you should think too hard about it — the instinctive impulse is what’s important. Then again, that’s how Cocoon ended up in my top 20 for 2-3 months.

  2. Travis McClain says:

    “The Dark Knight” topping “Star Wars” doesn’t bother me; “Lawrence of Arabia” not topping both of them bothers me! I’m tempted to make remarks about your personal top 20, but that’s really none of my business. I do, however, find it very representative of a lot of Flickcharters in that it is heavily skewed to 1) franchise movies and 2) movies from the 90s onward. I am also guilty of this, I will admit, and I can’t help but wonder what the larger implications are.

    Does this mean that Flickchart’s users are primarily interested in action/geek franchises and/or movies that have been released during their own lifetime (most users, I’m assuming, were born in the very late 70s at the youngest)?

    That’s the most obvious interpretation of the data, but I also have to wonder if it’s not also evidence that movie fans in general have better feelings about a movie they’ve seen in a theater (or at least remember being released theatrically); that it somehow personalizes the movie for them.

  3. johnmason says:

    I’m usually a pretty quick Flickcharter: Within seconds, I’ve selected one movie or the other, and it’s actually pretty nowadays that a particular matchup really stumps me.

    But, having said that, I constantly second-guess myself. I hit that “Undo” button all the time. And, sometimes, I allow the fact that a movie jumps 200 spots up my chart to make me undo my decision.

    I’ve begun to realize that, although I’m quick on the draw, I’m actually pretty timid with my Flickchart. I hardly think it’s perfect yet, but I really do need to work on that instinctive ranking. Often, the first impulse IS the best.

  4. johnmason says:

    @Travis McClain:

    You’ve got an interesting theory about people leaning towards films they’ve seen in a theater. I’ve seen five of my Top 20 in the theater, including Jurassic Park (I was a perfect age for that one) and my Top 2. But I didn’t see the two movies that most threaten my Top 20 (Up and WALL·E) in the theater; I don’t know whether that criteria applies to me or not.

    As for older films, well, I have to admit that I personally seem to have a bias towards them. Probably the highest-ranked film on my chart that is older than I am is Jaws, so that would say something about my love of blockbusters.

    I don’t mind comments on my favorite films; blatantly negative criticism would be something else entirely! ;-)

  5. johnmason says:

    Let me also say this: I rank very much according to how much I ENJOY a film. For example, I might think that Requiem for a Dream was technically a very good film, but it made me feel like crap, so it’s in my bottom 20.

    Meanwhile, the merits of Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day as great cinema might certainly be debatable, but dammit, I had a GREAT time watching that movie in the theater as a teenager, and have enjoyed it every time I’ve seen it since; I do believe it’s in my Top 30.

  6. KingofPain says:

    Quite a few of the movies in my Top 20 have been favorites for a long time, so I suffer no inner conflict whenever a lesser movie goes up against them.

    I can say that my tastes do not favor blockbusters, or recent movies. I try to watch a mixture of old and new as much as possible. The thought of having a list of favorites like the one above makes me throw up in my mouth a little. I like some mainstream hits and lighter fare, but damn. I try to expand my comfort zone at least a little bit every now and again.

  7. Charlie Johnson says:

    I’m taking a different approach to Flickchart. If you look at my Profile (PCNewOnes) you’ll see that there are only 150 or so movies listed (at the time of typing). That’s because I’m only admitting films into my list that I’ve seen since I took a personal vow on 19th November 2009 to watch more films, to consider them more closely and to form an opinion about each and every one afterwards.

    Since that date I’m up to 189 films (come on Flickchart, there’s more than 30 I’ve seen recently that aren’t on the database yet!), and it’s having an interesting effect on both my top 20 and bottom 20.

    You see, I feel as if the extremes of my list are set in concrete and I’m loathe to adjust them much. I’ve honed both ends of my list with some very fine tuning and that intense effort, sweating over films that I love or loathe, has rewarded me with top and bottom 20 lists that I can definitely say I’m happy with. In fact, that precision is now extending to my top 30, which isn’t shifting around all that much.

    But given that I’m adding new films to my personal list almost every day, it’s very possible that I’m going to see something that’ll shake things up. In fact, I know there’s many films out there that I’ve seen before, that *will* shake things up when I get round to viewing them again. I can’t afford to be too closed-minded about it.

    Maybe when I hit an important milestone (say 1000 films), I’ll create a new account and start all over again with a blank slate. Just to see if it comes out the same a second time…

  8. johnmason says:

    @Charlie Johnson: I think that’s a really neat approach, only ranking films that you’ve seen since you started Flickcharting. It’s a great idea, really, and it saves the whole struggle about ranking films that you know you’ve seen, but can’t remember well. (For example, by all rights, I should not be ranking E.T. or Pulp Fiction, really; I’ve seen them, but it’s been so long, I don’t remember them well enough. As a bit of a completist, though, something in me compels me to rank them.)

  9. johnmason says:

    @KingofPain: Ouch. It takes all kinds, you know. Everyone’s tastes in movies are different. Hence, the beauty of Flickchart. I happen to like a lot of blockbusters. (I happen to dislike a lot of them, too, but that’s not the point.) I can’t criticize another person’s Flickchart, because everybody’s got their own opinion, and there’s no right or wrong.

  10. KingofPain says:

    I was just kidding, mostly. I share the same “no right or wrong” philosophy when it comes to liking movies. I rank according to enjoyment as well. My concern is more about diversity, I guess. I want to see as many different sorts of movies that I possibly can just to make sure I’m not missing anything.

    Even though I like some of the highest ranked movies on Flickchart, the combination of movies is disappointingly typical. I’m not a highbrow movie watcher by any measure, but I am a curious one. Too many people seem to like the same movies, as though the rest of film history doesn’t exist. There are so many other movies out there.

    I’m looking at the Top 100 right now, and it appears that Casablanca is the only old school movie listed. Casablanca is a good movie, but by looking at the rest of list I get the impression that nobody has ever seen any other “classic” movies. Casablanca is like some token classic. Sure, The Godfather movies are on nthere, but everybody picks those. All the other movies on the list are pretty much blockbusters or fairly recent. Come on! There is nothing on that list to indicate anybody even tries to explore a variety of movies.

    It’s depressing.

  11. King,

    I agree that with your take on the top 100. But that only means that Flickchart is an accurate snapshot of our society on the whole, which is probably a good thing. Sure, it would be great if FC were a paradise for discriminating film lovers, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up were #1. But I also like the fact that it has grown in popularity to the point that the way our society on the whole would really answer is reflected in the global rankings. If you asked most people their favorite movie, they probably WOULD say The Dark Knight, because that’s the touchpoint for a lot of young people, and for people with bad memories, it’s the most recent movie they can remember that blew them away. (It didn’t totally blow me away — a topic for another time.)

    You also have to consider the way Flickchart gives you movies, which I haven’t heard discussed that much on this blog. Until you discover how to open up the list to all the movies in the database, you keep ranking the original 350-400 — I don’t know if that number has increased, but when I first started back in October, I reached 10,000 rankings or so before I even realized there were any other movies to rank. (I guess I thought I caught Flickchart in its infancy.) Therefore, the titles that are part of that popular group of 350-400 are going to be far more significantly represented in the top 100 than Blow Up. And while we may quibble with those 350-400 titles, we really shouldn’t, because that helps in the democratization of Flickchart as well. If the casual Flickcharter happens upon the site and wants to see what it’s all about, he/she will be turned off if the first choice is between Blow Up and 8 1/2, and the next choice is between The Bicycle Thief and The Lost Weekend. He/she will just say “Meh” and move on.

  12. johnmason says:

    I think you both have very valid points.

    There’s also the fact that the movies that were originally on Flickchart have a great many rankings to them, and it takes a lot more rankings for a movie that is newer to the database to register.

    Take a look at the chart for 2009. The highest-ranked movies (so far) are Star Trek and Watchmen. I know that those two movies were in the database a lot longer than most of the other higher-ranked films from ’09. I would fully expect that Watchmen, at least, would rank a lot lower on the list, but the other films need to be ranked more before they rise on the global charts.

  13. KingofPain says:

    I became frustrated with the movies offered for ranking fairly early when I first started. I figured out how to rank my favored movies and had them arranged partially to my liking not long after. Maybe Flickchart should offer an option that allows users to rank movies of varying degrees of popularity, so not everyone gets stuck with blockbusters when they join.

    I understand the psychology of why certain movies are ranked highly, but seeing the same movies all the time gets tedious. I check out a lot of movie rating sites, and this “problem” is prevalent. Like I said, I’m not a film snob or anything like that. I guess I’ve just evolved beyond thinking that debating the merits of the Star Wars movies ad infinitum is the pinnacle of movie appreciation. I don’t necessarily want all art films listed in the Top 100, I just’d like to see more variety.

  14. johnmason says:

    And @KingofPain:

    I really must make a confession. Some movies that were in my dad’s VHS collection when I was a teen, and I COULD have watched, but chose not to (for reasons that escape me now), include: Casablanca, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Bonnie and Clyde…. I still haven’t seen The Godfather, and sometimes I wonder if I won’t just keep it that way, just so I can keep telling people that I’ve never seen The Godfather.

    I do certainly try and broaden my horizons from time to time, but I guess I see movies as entertainment first and art second. (Which is not to say I don’t think a movie can be both; I think most of the films in my Top 20 qualify as art, but Children of Men, especially, would be what I consider a good example of that.)

    I just know that a lot of times, I’ll try something a little more obscure that’s gotten good reviews, or whatever, and I don’t see the big deal. And my favorite Best Picture Oscar winners are always going to be movies like The Return of the King, Gladiator and Titanic. Can’t help it. Oh well.

    I do want to try new movies from time to time. But, I never seem to have enough time (especially since I spend so much of it on Flickchart!), and so I tend to stick to what I really do think I’m going to like.

  15. Nathan Chase says:

    You’re correct that at first you’re shown more popular movies. The more you rank though, the more obscure of a selection you’ll get. You’re also correct that most people will get bored and frustrated very quickly if the matchups were truly random among all 12,000+ films that we have in the database. The regular “All Movies” mode is set to gradually ease in less popular films into the matchups, but we also offer the more unique filters, like “Only Unranked” or any of the decade/year/genre filters that really let you explore your options in a broader fashion.

    We have quite a few ideas that should make for some more interesting ways to view the Charts. All in good time.

  16. johnmason says:

    I almost always use the “Your Whole List” filter, while checking the “Only Unranked” every once in a while. I should really probably switch it up every now and then….

  17. KingofPain says:


    Probably about seven years ago is when I really started trying to diversify my tastes. Before that, I didn’t venture out into unknown territory quite as much. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve discovered quite a few movies that I never knew I’d enjoy.

    I don’t care if a movie won awards or is considered a classic; I just watch the movies and decide for myself what is good. It takes some time, but eventually your horizons will be broadened. You just have to jump in and find your own way.

    There is no movie that you have to like. It doesn’t even matter if you watch The Godfather. But there could be movies out there you don’t know about that might open up your perspective on film. I don’t think anybody is destined to just like blockbusters, or whatever. Tastes can evolve.

  18. How come I never get this many comments on *my* Flickchart blog posts? ;-)

  19. johnmason says:

    Because I opened up a can of worms by brazenly throwing my Top 20 out there… ;)

  20. Since we’re talking about the way movies are presented, maybe I’ll see if Nathan wants to chime in on this one … is it really random when I get a duel between Apocalypse Now and Apocalypto? Or between Redcated and Rendition? Or between Raging Bull and Rocky? I’d love to know how those filters work … although I also understand that the wizard needs to stay hidden behind the curtain …

  21. Nathan Chase says:

    Yeah, all of those would be random for sure. The holiday matchups are our doing, and we might occasionally throw in some other gems, but on the whole the ironic pairs you get are conjured from the mind of the machine.

    We do have many other things we want to do filter-wise, and to the algorithms of what you’re presented with, and how efficient vs. fun the process is… there are a lot of plates to spin, but we’ve got no shortage of ideas, only shortage of time to do it.

  22. johnmason says:

    21 vs. 21 Grams was a fun one I had a while ago. I love when those kinds of matches come up. And I always like the holiday ones. (Good one for April Fool’s Day, by the way, Nathan.)

    I must say, yet again, that you guys do a really great job running this site. It’s really appreciated, and with regard to all the ideas you’ve got, well, I’m just amazed at how much you guys already DO get done!