Let the record state that, as of Friday, November 16th, 2012, I have seen the entirety of the Internet Movie Database’s Top 250 films.
Every year I set myself film goals to achieve by that year’s end, and for 2012 the greatest of these was to finish the IMDB Top 250 once and for all. It wasn’t exactly the hardest task – by January my tally was around 220 – but the list is constantly in flux, so keeping up with the new entries, as older ones slid off into popular obscurity, remained a challenge.
Along the way there were some great surprises this year; The Intouchables, Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder, Tarkovsky’s Stalker. Others, like Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, I could be confident I would enjoy and quietly embarrassed I had taken this long to get around to seeing. There was also a few I had been putting off intentionally for years; The Deer Hunter (troubled but strong), Million Dollar Baby (a genuinely nice surprise), De Palma’s Scarface (hideous, overlong and the wrong kind of camp).
Of course, the nature of the IMDB list is that it is always changing, but having topped it once, I no longer care if my personal score plummets as film tastes change. Within a week from now I may no longer be able to say I have seen every film on the list, but I certainly won’t be checking it with any regularity any more. Not that I ever took much note of it; as a list of great films it is far too populist, given over to emotive or “cool” films rather than genuine cinematic triumphs, eternally topped by The Shawshank Redemption, a truly pleasant but inherently ordinary film.
What next? There are many lists to topple. The Sight & Sound Top 100 is appealing, although with films such as Sátántangó (450mins) and Shoah (600mins) still to be tackled there, the question remains, as always, when will I find the time?
It seems only natural that the final film on my IMDB Top 250 checklist, as watched on Friday, was Kim Ki-duk’s deep, metaphysical contemplation on the passage and circular nature of time, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter… and Spring. As time passes on, this film critic is eternally aware that more great films are being made each year and further greats are being rediscovered. The quest goes on, and while I beat my own goals year after year, there’s no avoiding the fact that the to-watch list will defeat me in the long run.
Oh well, at least I can wash my hands of IMDB for now.
[Be sure to check out this brilliant fan edit of the complete IMDB Top 250 in 2-and-a-half minutes]