Movies are a series of photographic images that are projected by light onto a flat surface for people to watch. It must be a movie to make the Canon.
This list accepts silent movies, as well as movies with soundtracks. This list accepts any duration of movie, from short ones only a few seconds long to others that take several hours to view. This list accepts movies in black and white, full color, and any other color, any combination or variation. This list accepts movies first shown in a movie theater, on TV, as well as those first shown on the internet. This list includes dramas, comedies, some abstract splashes of color and shapes, some cartoons, some from almost every region and era, and movies in any language including invented languages.
Some kinds of movies not eligible include movies that are mostly made for reasons of education, history, and ones where the message may be important, but the method it was recorded with is not exceedingly inspired. The movies in the Canon are movies that question the medium, that challenge its limits, that seek to get across complex ideas and feelings, and they are movies that make us feel good because of how amazing they are, and they may point us a way to good or better living. They tend to be movies where everyone involved was in the right frame of mind and gave the best of their abilities to the job.
You might care about this list because it's a complete thought. There are scores of movie-lists that compile the favorite picks of numerous people, giving us the most popular picks of a set group, but that means that no matter how well-versed some people in the group might be, their individual lists get diluted, and we miss out on their rarest picks, picks that they might have chosen for the very fact that they think an important movie has been neglected! Then there are scores of favorite-lists by movie-makers, which sounds more promising, but these tend to only show the path of how the movie-makers came up with their individual styles, and don't really speak of cinema as a whole. Lastly, there are thousands, or millions of movie-lists by movie-lovers and critics but these seem plagued either by picks that are already popular or that are of one or a few particular genres.
My list attempts to compile the best movies period, any genre, any length, any language, any subject matter, any era. I am looking at movies that propel the development of cinema, in terms of understanding our world, reality, each other, ourselves, as well as improving our engagement and communication with all of these.
How did this list come about?
I also realized how dominated movies are by loud sensations, such as shock, and how dominated movies are by celebrity, by advertising budgets, by our access to watching them or even to knowing that they exist, how dominated movies are by what has alreay worked in literature, and what has already worked on the theatrical stage. My list came about when I discovered that the best movies were not the ones that did the job of literature or the stage, but the ones that offered things no other art-form could, and that they communicated something new and essential to humanity. So, I guess, if you want to pigeon-hole my list, you could say it's a positive, humanist, and globalist list of innovative cinematic expression.
Is this a complete list?
After I listed all the movies I could think of, I realized that their ranked order kept changing, some movies fell off after not seeming as worthwhile as they first had, and some movies that I, at first, took as trivial, kept coming back to my memories and begged me to rewatch them and cherish them. These movies were re-added. Sometimes, you think you're free of a movie but it comes back to haunt you in thrilling ways. Sometimes you think it's the greatest masterpiece since Mozart's 25th symphony, but a couple weeks or months later, it feels like it was only great for that one night, and any moment of greatness in it is impossible to point out. This is a list of movies that have consistently kept me warm at night, smiling through the day, proud of my sisters' and brothers' achievements, and that have helped me keep my faith in our species. I believe these movies speak not just to the years in which they were made, but to all times. It's true that new ideas are constantly being born, and that sometimes old ideas become outdated, but there are also instances when an idea that someone thinks is perfectly expressed in a brand-new movie has been expressed much better decades ago. So, in short, this list is not bound by new releases, remakes, nor by a bias towards the classics. It seeks the true mind, the best mind, the purest heart. The Canon will, by its very nature, never be completed.
Are you saying that movies not included here are "bad movies"?
Of course, every movie that we see, like every experience we have had, helps us each shape our own outlook. Many help shape us as individuals. In this way, every movie we see is important. However, such importance, alone, does not qualify movies to be listed here. Some movies have sentimental value, such as one you first saw with a loved one, living or deceased. Such situations, alone, do not qualify movies to be listed here. Many movies are important for the instructions they give us. These include social commentary, political documentaries, and medical and scientific instructionals. Most of these are important in the information they give, the way a tutorial on how to successfully deliver a pregnancy is, or a tutorial on how to set-up a garden, but they will not be included in the Canon if they don't engage the audience on the artistic level and/or add anything to the medium itself.
Dreams for this list?
The project began as a plan for a book, for which I had hopes that some entries would be elaborated with comments by the likes of: Agnes Varda, Jacques Rivette, Shirley MacLaine, David O. Russell, Abbas Kiarostami, Woody Allen, Terrence Malick, Bernardo Bertolucci, Richard Linklater, Mike Leigh, Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach, Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray, Helena Bonham Carter, Audrey Tautou, Javier Bardem, Jennifer Lawrence, Zhang Yimou, Juliette Binoche, Diane Keaton, John Waters, Gena Rowlands, Jim Jarmusch, Jean Pierre Gorin, and Joyce Carol Oates. I still harbor this dream. RIP Abbas Kiarostami, Bernardo Bertolucci, and Agnes Varda.
Why "movies" and not "films"?
On this page and every other page on this blog, I refer to the art-form in question as "cinema". When I'm discussing a particular work or a selection of works, I refer to them as "a movie" or "movies". This is for multiple reasons. The first and most important reason is my effort to combat the tendency many people have of trying to separate the medium into two groups, art films and entertainment or fun movies. I don't see such a distinction. If a movie is boring and can't keep your interest, then why would you consider it art? If it's so unintelligible that no one wants to watch it, it hasn't served the purpose of art. It hasn't done its job of rejuvenating your spirit or causing you to reflect. It has only wasted your time. On the other hand, if a movie is tons of fun, it is art, because it strikes a chord with us. My goal is to find the most watchable gems among the movies that have been revered as art, and to find the most important ideas in the movies that people have been dismissed as silly pop. They are all movies, there are just better movies and not so good ones.
Secondly, the term film doesn't even make sense anymore since most movies are recorded digitally now and not on film at all. So, time to update our vocabulary.
Where should I email?