Reconsidering the 100 Greatest Movies Project

It’s been a while since I talked about my 100 Greatest Movies Project, my attempt to create the definitive list of the greatest movies of all time by combining all the lists that have come before. In fact, I haven’t talked about it very much in over three years, back when I was still on Blogger. I haven’t done anything with it because I’ve wanted to get someone else on board to help write essays in praise of the movies on the list. If you’re interested, e-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com.

If you’ve been following the project (and you probably haven’t), and you’ve seen the list of all the lists used for the project since we moved to the new site, you’ll notice that when we made the move, I added a bunch of lists to the list without announcing it. Everything from on down, except imdB, was added to the list back when we moved to two and a half years ago. Everything from on down I added Monday night. (And I finally found the list Australia’s Channel 9 created in 2006, only to find it wasn’t suitable for my purposes.)

One of the principles I used when structuring the project was to split all the lists into “critics’ lists” and “people’s lists”. That is, I drew a distinction between those lists that were composed by a panel of experts, and those lists that were composed by polling the people. My intention was to supplement the Overall List with separate Critics’ and People’s Lists, making the numerous and obvious differences between the two different classes of lists more readily apparent.

But while scouring the Internet for these new lists, I saw the critics/people distinction start to break down. The list taken by the UK’s Channel Four c. 2001, the most famous list there, apparently had the actual movies on the list determined by a panel of experts, but left it to the people to rank them. Empire magazine’s 2008 Top 500 list was composed by both a readers’ poll and a poll of experts, with no indication of how the two were weighted (the experts themselves were divided into “Hollywood’s finest” and film critics), and at least one other list was composed similarly.

And then there’s the effort put forth by the people at They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? This one, quite simply, gives me a headache.

On the one hand, it’s a pretty straightforward critics’ list, amalgamating lists taken from various experts at various points in time. On the other hand, some of the lists they have come from polls taken by the Village Voice, Time Out, and Sight and Sound, polls whose results I already have, which means they would effectively be double-counted. On the other hand, many of the lists included are not otherwise counted, often because they are unranked or are individual critics’ lists not used to create a larger list, except this one.

On the other hand… ultimately, this list is really trying to do the same thing my list is: compose a list of the greatest movies of all time by combining all the ones that came before. In other words, it could very well render my list unnecessary.

On the other hand, even by the standards of a critics’ list this list is artsy. Eight of the top 25 are from Europe (not counting British movies with enough of an American flavor to make the AFI lists); I’d be surprised if my final top 100 contained that many from anywhere outside the United States. At least one and maybe two of the top ten are likely not to even make the overall top 100, or the critics’ top 50. Ladri di Biciclette is #14 but might not even make my top 100 critics list. While the focus is on what the critics think, it’s clear that this list completely abandons any notion of kowtowing to what the hoi polloi think, and is ultimately more of a film connoisseur‘s list. In that sense, maybe my project still has a niche to fill. I wouldn’t go so far as to claim it’s a consensus list for the 99% – I’m certainly not ditching the critics’ lists – but it’s worth noting that the balance of lists, when the new lists are considered, leans decidedly towards the people’s side (though I might throw out a number of people’s lists to get the balance back in line).

What do you think? Should I include TSPDT, leave it out, create my own offshoot of the list for my own purposes, or abandon the whole Greatest Movies Project? And what should I make of Films101’s effort?

Webcomics’ Identity Crisis, Part VI: On Greatest Lists and the State of Webcomics

Finally, on to the second of the two topics that spawned this series.

The Floating Lightbulb is interesting enough that I’m considering adding it to my RSS reader. And I’m not just saying that to get onto its webcomic blog list. I have a feeling Bengo would probably berate me for focusing too much on the old popular, “self-promoting” comics and not enough on smaller comics that could actually use the attention, even though I do still have an open channel for people to e-mail me with comics they think I should review at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com, even if the comic isn’t their own. (Note, Bengo: for just the webcomics posts and not the other junk, be sure to include /search/label/webcomics in the URL!)

And really, that problem is at the heart of one of Bengo’s issues with Xaviar Xerexes.

I’m probably going to do a review of the Floating Lightbulb itself one day, and when I do I’m probably going to say that Bengo is a more cerebral John Solomon. Bengo doesn’t hate all webcomics – though the Floating Lightbulb doesn’t do much in the way of actual reviews at all – but he certainly seems to hate most of the personages in mainstream webcomics. In his eyes, most big-time webcomics creators are self-promoting jerks who probably cheated to get to the top and as such are bad role models, and most webcomic bloggers are ego-strokers, often with rampant conflicts of interest, who shill the same comics over and over again. Not every webcomic blog gets this charge, not even biggies Tangents and Websnark; mostly the vitriol goes to Gary “Fleen” Tyrell and Xerexes, proprietor of Comixtalk.

Xerexes has been working with his readers for the better part of a year now on a project to list the “100 greatest webcomics”. For Bengo, this project is more than a questionable idea producing an arbitrary and opinionated ranking. It’s serious business.

Back in November, Bengo published a lengthy list of objections to the project, and mused about it further about a month ago. One of Bengo’s bigger concerns is not merely that the list will route people to the same webcomics that are already popular while “impoverishing” smaller titles, but will mislead journalists in a similar fashion, “resulting in lazy, redundant coverage” and possibly discrediting webcomics itself (not to mention the list) if the aforementioned “bad role models” (not to mention just plain bad comics) are exposed and ridiculed (“THESE are the greatest webcomics?”)

I don’t think the situation is as dire as Bengo suggests, and Xerexes in his list’s latest incarnation has indirectly responded to at least some of his concerns. Bengo’s first post seems to be working on the assumption that the “greatest” list would in fact be a mutation of a “most popular” list. By contrast, Bengo would seemingly prefer it take the form of a “best” list, which would not only be forever under construction, but forever incomplete and to some extent influenced by popularity, since no matter how many webcomics you’ve looked at there’s probably some comic out there read by maybe five people that’s greater than whatever 200 webcomics you have on your list.

If we’re working on the sort of criteria that shaped the AFI’s greatest movies list (which all of these Internet “100 greatest” lists cite for some reason. My inspiration is VH1’s fixation with such lists, not exclusively AFI.), however, the exclusion of “quality” as a criterion in favor of popularity is to some measure excused by the fact that neither would really be as influential as influence, which is more influenced by popularity than in a medium as diverse as film. Making a “greatest” list as opposed to “best” or “most popular” also should make the list more useful as an entry point for journalists: we wouldn’t be saying these are necessarily the cream of the crop and the very best webcomics, but they are certainly important, and here’s why. One of the things I’ve been thinking about the role of the Greatest Movies Project is as a survey of film history for the layman; by moving from movie to movie, and reading what was said about each, a reader could get a better appreciation of “how we got here” and of the milestones of film history.

If Ctrl+Alt+Del were to make it on a “greatest webcomics” list, it wouldn’t be because of its popularity so much as the fact it’s had more influence on the form of copycat gaming comics, for better and for worse, than, say, Penny Arcade. (Mostly for worse, so if CAD is even in the top 75 of any list, I’d start sympathising with Bengo. And I’m at least a marginal CAD fan.)

But I do have some quibbles with Xerexes himself. For one, I don’t think webcomics as a medium are old enough or mature enough to support a full-on 100 greatest list; it’ll be definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel when you get to the bottom. You could maybe support a top 20, but I’d be hard pressed to think of enough webcomics influential enough to fill out even that list: Penny Arcade, Sluggy Freelance, Girl Genius, xkcd, PVP, Dinosaur Comics, umm, User Friendly, Order of the Stick (only because of the copycat webcomics it spawned), Irregular Webcomic… ummm… maybe Perry Bible FellowshipBob and GeorgeThe Devil’s Panties… does Dilbert count? can you tell I’m really reaching for candidates and I’ve only just now reached 13? Imagine the sort of webcomics Xerexes will have to come up with for the 80s and 90s!

More to the point, I certainly hope the lists he has now aren’t ranked yet, if not to fix some questionable-at-best rankings (Sluggy, quite possibly the most influential webcomic not named Penny Arcade if not overall, as low as #6 on the comedy list, and Diesel Sweeties at #5? OOTS at #13 on the comedy list alone, so probably lower on the final one? Kevin and Kell, which I just mentally added to my overall top 20 above, at #19 on comedy, which means it won’t make it into said top 20 on the final list? Dinosaur Comics at #24 on comedy? The drama list led by Nowhere Girl, a comic I hadn’t even heard of, whose main credential is winning an Eisner – worthy of my overall top 20 but hardly enough for #1? Dresden freaking Codak as high as #12 on drama? CAD not listed anywhere when neither list has reached #100 yet, regardless of what you think about its quality? That’s before getting into the classification of some of the strips in one class or the other…) then to avoid rendering the release of the final list anticlimactic.

To some extent, Xerexes has already ruined the anticipation for the release of the final list by putting out his various draft lists and involving the people in the construction; for someone who’s been running a comics news site as long as he has, it seems odd that he still has to hit up his readers for ideas. The AFI precedes the releases of its various lists by putting out unranked lists of 400-500 nominees for its panel to vote on; Xerexes’ most recent list being split into separate comedy and drama lists may reflect the wisdom of that approach. (I can’t begrudge no further splits or longer lists when neither list has even hit 100 on their own yet. Incidentially, the relative paucity of dramatic webcomics may also hint at questioning whether webcomics are mature enough to have this kind of list.)

To go further, I suggest that when the final list is revealed, if Xerexes isn’t planning to do so already, rather than release the whole thing at once the same as the draft lists and not only defuse the anticipation but reduce the distinction between the final and drafts (another concern of Bengo’s), reveal each comic one at a time, accompanying each with a short essay on the webcomic in question and why it belongs on the list. That would allow the list to be a real resource to anyone looking to dip their toe into webcomics, and allow it to be a potential help to webcomics rather than a potential hindrance in the vein Bengo fears.

I also have a concern about apples-and-oranges comparisons, but not those of Xerexes (comedy v. drama) or Bengo (ongoing series v. finished series), though it’s similar to Bengo’s and he touches on this in the first post. I started this series (paradoxically, in Part II) talking about how there were, for a long time, two forms of comic (books and strips) and how webcomics have joined them. (Xerexes is on record as agreeing with me here that webcomics belong at the same table with comic books and strips.) I’ve seen “greatest comic books” lists and at least one “greatest comic strips” list, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single unified “greatest comic” list combining the two. There are just so many differences between the book and strip forms, and they’ve had such a different history, and that’s even considering the fact a lot of comic books are periodicals much like strips. (How do you compare Action Comics as a whole with Peanuts as a whole?) In a form with facets of both, how do you compare the two? How do you compare one-shot infinite canvas comics of the sort Scott McCloud supports and other one-timers fairly with more periodical comics? If you exclude the former, do you risk excluding some of the real pioneers of the medium? (Are any true pioneers like Cat Garza represented anywhere as is?)

I think that, done right, a “greatest webcomics” list could do a lot to ease newbies into webcomics and help legitimize it as a medium (or a form of a medium). (A “greatest comic books” list helped ease me into that medium.) If nothing else, it would be an entertaining excersize and debate. But I have, as I get the sense Bengo has, a bit of a concern whether or not webcomics have done enough to deserve such a list yet. Are there enough “great” or influential webcomics? Do webcomics represent a diverse enough experience or are they loaded with nothing but ha-ha? And perhaps most important, are there webcomics good enough, serving as good enough “role models”, to truly justify the praise given to them? Even on my “top 20” list above, how many would remain on even a top 100 list in just 10 years if the potential of webcomics are sufficiently explored by then? I say PA, Sluggy, Nowhere Girl, Dinosaur Comicsxkcd, and some comics (Girl Genius, Irregular Webcomic) that will prove more influential later than they are now… and that may be it. Odd as it sounds, even PVP, Megatokyo, and User Friendly will have to fight for a spot, and only time will tell if even comics as critically acclaimed as OOTS and Gunnerkrigg Court prove influential enough and stand the test of time enough to make the list and score a high ranking.

This is webcomics’ identity crisis: this basic insecurity over acceptance in the wider world of comics, and in the world at large, rooted in our own insecurity of our own worthiness and conflicted with our quest for a separate identity from comic strips and books. We seek acceptance because we seek validation for this silly little ritual of ours, that what we’re doing is truly worthy of being considered an art form. It’s a battle that’s been waged before by all new media since the beginning of time. Even theatre and printing were perhaps once dismissed as a vulgar diversion for the masses. Comics fought long and hard for acceptance in the pantheon of art and it wasn’t until the 80s and 90s when they started to get it, thanks to material that finally showed comics had grown up, not to mention the birth of a scholarly tradition of the material with Understanding Comics. Even within comics, comic books were once dismissed as inferior to the strip format until Superman came along.

Webcomics have its Superman (called Penny Arcade) but they still have insecurity. I still have insecurity. Before I started this series and probably even after I wondered why I was focusing on webcomics, such a sketchily-defined subset of comic strips or of comics in general… I considered doing a 20 Greatest Webcomics project before I heard of Xerexes’ effort but wondered if it was worth separating from comic strips and comics in general… Thoughts like these could be holding webcomics back. (Don’t even mention its place as a subset of Internet art.) Webcomics are still a young medium (for the most part, significantly younger than I am, so very literally in adolescence – film started getting introduced to the world in 1893 but Birth of a Nation blew the lid off its potential in 1915, so we still have six years or so to go), not only unsure of where its future lies but of what its basic identity is. It still clings to Scott McCloud’s advocacy, though it is starting to wean itself of that, and only slowly starting to round into permanent shape. It still clings to the past, to its mothers. Most of what it considers “great” is still ongoing – which means most of what it will consider “great” probably hasn’t started (or been discovered) yet.

At the same time, webcomics have a lot to be proud of. We’re ahead of the curve compared to a lot of other fields when it comes to the Internet and making it in this strange new medium. At least some of us have found a stopgap revenue stream, and even that is enough to bring hope and promise that will attract more people to our little corner of the Internet. The quest for revenue models has blessed us with a lot of wisdom everyone else on the Internet would be wise to consider. We’ve developed a tradition of criticism already that challenges webcomics and pushes them to be better. Our artistic aspirations drive us higher and higher, and we’re starting to get some webcomics really worthy of praise compared to other media. There’s still a ways to go, but we’ve built a good foundation. Which is why right now we have one foot in two worlds.

This is a critical, exciting time in webcomics, one I hope no one takes for granted. Not only is our form going through the difficult, exciting process of maturation, we may now stand poised for a potential revolution that will affect the course of our medium for all time. Between the ongoing recession (which will have a profound impact throughout the Internet) and the changing circumstances of the rest of the comics industry, the future is now, and it has the potential, depending on the influx of talent from refugees, to take all of us for a wild ride. Perhaps these new developments will be what finally gets webcomics out of its identity crisis and allows it to come into its own as a cultural and aesthetic art form.

And perhaps it’ll propel us ever closer to that day when we will look at a list of “100 greatest webcomics” and not bat any more of an eye than we would for an equivalent list in any other art form.

I can’t wait to see what it would look like, and I imagine it would include at least some comics we can’t even imagine today (though some fledgling comics earning those first snippets of praise and pushing into Tier 2 now, like Union of Heroes, may well rank highly when that day comes).

But I also can’t wait to see how we get there.

At any rate, it appears I’ve incorporated the epilogue into this sixth part. So I’m scheduling this post for a post time of Friday, even though I’m wrapping it up at 11:30 PM.

This week/year: the future of webcomics – and the past of movies

I don’t intend to be late with Tuesday’s fifth part of “Webcomics’ Identity Crisis”, but I had basically no time at all to use the Internet across the entire weekend, and didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked on certain things. I spent a lot of time sleeping, or at least napping, trying to shake off some weird feelings, and having issues with certain things. Meanwhile, what bump Part IV produced was basically limited to what came up on search engine results. I’m definitely leaning more towards Thursday than Wednesday for Part VI.

I mentioned recently that I had finally gotten everything back from my old USB drive, and some of the stuff included would start filtering out in the coming weeks. One of the things getting my stuff back allows me to do is the 100 Greatest Movies Project, a list of the greatest movies of all time compiled from all the ones that have come before (and there have been quite a few). On the web site, you can read all about the Project, including the lists involved, and some information about the system used to calculate the list. You can also use Da Blog’s 100 Greatest Movies Project tag to learn more about the Project.

What’s missing, and why the list itself isn’t up yet, are actual entries for the 100 movies involved, explaining why these movies are so beloved. That’s where you come in! I’ve written some entries myself and I’ve had someone else write some too, but mine aren’t that great (I haven’t watched very many of the movies myself), and my second can’t do everything, so I’d like at least one more volunteer to contribute their writing to the Project, complete with full credit for your entries. If you’re a film buff e-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com if you want more information.

(If you can include in your workload an entry on Some Like It Hot in particular, all the better.)

I’d use a one-word title for this post, but it might get me kicked off of Blogger and/or force me to bump my PW rating up to NSFW.

One problem (possibly) gets solved, and another crops up. So soon after finding out I could be getting a real battery for my laptop, my USB drive stops working. Because my last USB drive got lost, and both were my only means of backing up the contents of my old hard drive, and the one before the last one stopped working when the USB connector started sliding in and out and I was never able to get my files off it, if I can’t recover the information on there I have effectively lost everything I had worked on that’s not on the Internet or my desktop dating back at least to April of last year.

Sandsday will still go up as normal, since I work on those strips on my desktop, but there were some updates for the web site that were saved on the USB drive but not uploaded to the site that will now have to wait. I should be able to re-upload my street sign images from my trip to Whidbey Island earlier this month, but I will also have to re-write the applicable section of the street sign gallery, which will be a pain. Especially since my dad could be taking me on a road trip as soon as this weekend, which will be a street sign bonanza.

More distressingly, if I can’t recover what’s on the USB drive (or find my old one) I will have to abandon the 100 Greatest Movies Project and take the preview site offline. I worked on writing up a major chunk of the movies for the Project last summer (at least a third), and I also collaborated with a second on a few, and now all I have is what’s on the web site (i.e. nothing, really), the sample(s) I sent to the second, and the ones written by the second only when we weren’t together. Among the writeups lost are fairly lengthy ones by me that I can’t really palm off to anyone else because they contain analysis of the list itself.

Damn it.

Getting the house in order when the visitors are already here

So it seems we have a few more readers now than we did a week ago, especially with a second LiveJournal linking to us. Yesterday and the day before, Da Blog had nine times more visitors than it did the day before that, so it seems some housekeeping is in order.

First: RSS feeds. The-zaniak has created a LiveJournal feed for Da Blog, and my response is: Um… you do know Blogger comes with its own RSS feed, right? If you have IE 7 or Firefox, you should see an RSS icon light up when you see the page. (I can only speak to IE there; I don’t know how it works for Firefox.) Unless I get something else cool from having an LJ feed, it seems a bit unnecessary. This has prompted me to add feed links to the sidebar. (If you wanted to create an LJ feed, you’d have done better to create one for Sandsday. I’d create one myself if I knew how to create an RSS feed from a pre-existing MySQL database.)

I’ve also posted in the past on the idea of Da Blog as a collection of sub-blogs, and as such I’ve also added a list of all of Da Blog’s labels to the sidebar. They come complete with their own feeds; this post explains how you can form them. Both those new sidebar items are right below the larger blog archive, which makes them, and Da Blog Poll, less visible.

I’m also re-opening and extending by one week one of Da Blog Poll questions, removing the Random Internet Discovery from the list of options and replacing it with the fairly self-explanatory “Explorations into History”, which could include such things as my opinion on the presidents. Although I have saved the other results to a personal file, if you are one of the three people that have voted on the poll before, I strongly urge doing so again. If you vote “other” I expect you to specify what you have in mind on this post (where you can also learn more about the options) or this one. This is probably the last time I’m going to re-open this particular poll, which has existed in some form almost since Da Blog was founded. I’m also giving you until the end of August 16 to tell me whether you think I should post every time I put up a new strip. You can vote on any or all of the poll questions. I also encourage you to contribute to the poll on the front page of the web site.

Also, after nearly a year since the Web site was put up, I’ve finally deleted the long-dormant Da Blog Poll from the days when Blogger didn’t have its own poll element.

Finally, I’m offering you the chance to have your name in lights, as long as you won’t get paid for it, at least not right away. If you’re a movie buff – and not just the “Spiderman” kind, but one with a real grasp of film history – I invite you to join my 100 Greatest Movies Project, my seemingly endless quest to create the definitive list of greatest movies from all the ones that have come before, to sing the praises of the movies that make the list. E-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com if you’re interested and I’ll show you a sample write-up and a list of movies that are either on the list or close enough to make it on when I retabulate the list (or at some point in the future when new lists come out). I used the same principle in creating the NFL SuperPower Rankings, and released lists for last year, but it proved to be too much work. If you’re an NFL buff, and you’re willing to put in the work, you can have it for your own website as long as you credit me with the idea, and I’ll link to you on Da Blog.

And if you have any other ideas for what the web site or Da Blog could use, feel free to leave a comment on this post.

UPDATE 7/25: Okay, this is why I have long thought about leaving Blogger, because of unnecessary bullshit. Evidently for the last 24 hours the reposted poll and the two new features were at the top of the sidebar even though I had THOUGHT I had saved their moves. Then when I was told I had changes I hadn’t saved, it wouldn’t save, and then it would tell me “an error occured” no matter what I did after that. lk asfdasilnbg grlkldoe m,x bjfk dsndihtsgugvwbgjwhidxdyf

Still here, just getting the next 50+ years of my life set up

I feel like apologising to myself for not updating Da Blog more often. The comic strip, of course, has been updating every day come hell or high water, but it hasn’t grown at all. Not only do I not have any regular readers who don’t click on a link to arrive, but the ones I do have, who click on links? Most of them don’t look at any other strips. (Maybe that’s typical, and I just feel it more acutely because my strip is so small. I don’t know.)

There has been quite a bit going on in my life, though nothing earth-shaking. I haven’t been able to get any real job on-campus, which is a little distressing when you consider that, from what I’ve been told, I won’t be eligible for federal work-study funds for an on-campus job unless I get one by the end of this year. I’m sort of cursing myself for not being more aggressive and less procrastinating at the beginning of the year. Another part of the problem is that I’m not eligible for many if not most of the jobs I see listed on the primary on-campus job listing service, sometimes because I don’t have prerequisite courses, sometimes because I don’t have a driver’s licence (my own contribution to slowing global warming and probably the one most people should take instead of just getting a car that pollutes less, assuming they have good mass transit), sometimes because I don’t have “experience” even if I would do well once I had the job, and sometimes because I’m not a freak of a student. (And sometimes in the past I would disqualify myself because my interpersonal skills – not to mention my handwriting – are… iffy, to understate tremendously. Then there are the two jobs I applied for, was told I would be contacted to set up an interview, and never heard from again.) I’m a little skeered that my life is going to devolve into me becoming the stereotypical geek living in his parents’ basement with no job and spending his entire life playing video games and surfing the net.

I like to think I’m too smart for that, which brings me to my other point: my quest to determine what I will spend my college experience studying. I applied for college with a history major, because that was the academic field I already had the most experience and interest in. But now I’m interested in everything but history. Here’s a list – possibly incomplete – of other majors I’m considering or have considered: economics, English (Creative Writing), psychology, communication (or journalism or a variant), public affairs, math, anthropology, sociology, business economics, finance, and computer science. (This last one I started considering after how quickly I picked up CSS and PHP on my own time for my web site and comic strip respectively, which gives me a pretty spiffy-looking web site for an amateur effort. Compare the home page – link at top right of Da Blog’s sidebar – with my intentionally-retro-looking street sign gallery. In fact, at some point I need to try converting my sidebar to PHP so it can be dynamically updated.) As I write this I just got done meeting with an advisor who suggested “liberal studies” – an anti-major that can be oversimplified to “take whatever you want”.

Oh, and my computer has fallen all to pieces again. This happened rather suddenly over the weekend, and wasn’t even really caused by me banging on my laptop this time. First the sound card failed for no reason, and now all of a sudden the computer won’t boot all the way and the CD-ROM drive isn’t working so I can’t go into the Windows Recovery Console and fix what I figure is probably a comparatively minor problem.

I’m still hoping to get someone to help on writing up movies for my 100 Greatest Movies Project, although between Da Blog’s sluggish readership and the fact I don’t intend to pay anyone for it, I’m skeptical about the prospects of getting anyone anytime soon. I’m actually starting to consider a system where I would start putting up the list first and the write-ups later, except for the ones I think are perfectly ready as-is. But even if you aren’t up for the challenge, if you can lead me to someone who is I would greatly appreciate it.

So that’s basically it, although I would like to see if you have any advice. Look over what I already have on Da Blog and the web site, as well as the list of majors above, and tell me if anything leaps out at you.

Might the Greatest Movies be determined differently?

I’m considering making a change to my 100 Greatest Movies Project. You may recall that the Greatest Movies Project is an attempt to build the consensus list of 100 Greatest Movies from all the lists that have come before.

Except it’s not.

Simply put, the situation at the start of the list – in the realm of the 90s – is such that a film can make the list with only three, or even two, lists mentioning it. That’s hardly “consensus”. I’ve been considering a 1, 5, or 10 point bonus to the standard Borda count for each list a film appears on, which would also allow me to use parts of lists that go beyond 100, like imdB.

On the other hand, keep this in mind. Under the current system, a film getting rankings of 20, 50 and 80 gets 81, 51 and 21 points, which equals 153 points. That’s the same amount of points as a film getting a 40 and a 9. So one film is beloved by more people but the other has more devoted fans. One would think those would be equivalent, right? Or, even, the film with the more devoted fans should be deserving of a higher spot?

So perhaps I should reconsider looking into the other voting systems I mentioned in my very first post on the Greatest Movies Project, all of which have their various positive aspects. Many of them would probably be more work for me, but they might produce better lists. Of course “better” is in the eye of the beholder… What are your thoughts?

Oh, and I just want to remind you that you can be part of the 100 Greatest Movies Project and get your name in lights! If you want to write about the Greatest Movies for the Project, comment on this post or e-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com.

Thoughts on the Oscars

It seems very odd to me that the 50th Grammys, the 50th Daytona 500, and the 80th Academy Awards would all fall in the same year, indeed the same month.

I watched two of the three, and the broadcasts of the latter two made sure to reflect on the historic nature of the moment. Before the presentation of the acting awards and Best Director, the Oscars showed montages of presentations and acceptance speeches past.

I honestly don’t have much to say about the awards themselves, though I am glad that, for the most part, the awards themselves are the focus of the Oscars, unlike some awards shows I know.

I did see one interesting tidbit on Tim Dirks’ Filmsite: Every one of the Best Picture nominees could be classified as an independent, low-budget film. In fact, by Dirks’ count this was the third straight year where the Best Picture nominees were bankrolled outside the big-budget studio system.

There has always been a disconnect between the popular films and the critically-acclaimed best films that win Oscars. Could we be seeing the start of another disconnect – one that could start seeing big studio films disenfranchised from the big awards at Oscar time? Could the Oscars start doting over indy films like mad? Could it become little more than a film festival?

Not to say the nominees were overly artsy, or even unpopular. Lord knows I’ve seen plenty of ads for Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, or There Will Be Blood. From what little I know of them, those movies deserve every inch of praise they get. There’s no real danger of Best Picture going to a film as artsy as, say, The Seventh Seal in the near future.

Well, at least let’s hope not.

In any case, this seems as good a time as any to plug my 100 Greatest Movies Project, an attempt to present the definitive list of greatest movies by combining all the lists that have come before. It will be a celebration of the history of film and a chance to find out what really makes a great film. If you consider yourself a movie buff, a true movie buff that appreciates true greatness in film, consider writing for the Project (with full credits) and bringing some of the great films to life. If you’re interested, e-mail me at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com or comment on this post.

Why I haven’t put up the results of the Golden Bowl (and a few other news and notes)

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted the results of the first Golden Bowl between LSU and USC, and it’s for the same reason I decided to drop the SuperPower Rankings. The Golden Bowl tournament turned out to be a lot less fun than I had hoped.

For almost every game, I had to pore over the numbers and probably reached a lot of wrong conclusions. I found myself breathing sighs of relief when the two people who voted on the second and third rounds agreed. It wasn’t as time consuming as the SuperPower Rankings but it left me with a sense of dread entering each round.

I had been planning on having a grandiose, John-Facenda-esque description of the Golden Bowl, but I barely managed to work up the knowledge or desire to write any description at all throughout the tournament. I have a feeling I would have fallen well short. Not only is a college football playoff far from an original idea, but others are doing much of what I intended to do a lot better than I would have.

That said, unlike the SuperPower Rankings, I’m still doing this next year. I like the Golden Bowl name, I’m hoping Da Blog grows enough in the next year that I won’t have to break ties at all, and I feel that a lot of simulated playoffs or proposed brackets blindly follow the BCS standings. I’ve heard it argued that a plus-one system would have ignored Georgia or USC in favor of Virginia Tech or Oklahoma; what that ignores is that a plus one would have forced the pollsters to pay more attention to the top four the way they pay attention to the top two now, which likely means #5 Georgia would have gotten past V-Tech or the Sooners, since they arguably had a stronger case for a national title shot than either. (Yes, I know V-Tech was my number 1 seed.) A true simulated playoffs that follows close to what the reality probably would be should follow the NCAA guidelines.

So, this ends the brief spurt of productivity from Da Blog from football. Sure, we’re a few steps away from the Super Bowl – the Patriots just blew past their 17th team, as reflected on the site – but that’s a fairly small part of what we do around here.

No, don’t run away! Come back! I know a lot of you are here for the football, so what can I do to get you to stick around?

Well, let’s start with my 100 Greatest Movies Project, which has been described in the past on the off chance you came here before it was cool. If you happen to be a fan of the movies, and not just the standard popcorn fare but all the classics from Hollywood’s golden age to the present day, I could use you to explain to the masses why they better recognize. If you want to write tributes and descriptions for Hollywood’s greatest films, let me know in the comments or at mwmailsea at yahoo dot com.

But I have another plan to induce the teeming masses to come here. And stay here. I have plans for a new regular feature that I have high hopes for, one that could potentially attract a much larger audience than what I’ve achieved so far. One that could start as soon as tonight.
What is it? Well, let’s just say you can expect to see a lot of this sometime soon:

Da Blog in LA Recap (what prodigious output!)

For the most part, my week in LA consisted of little more than hanging out around my dad’s house. I had some enlightening conversations with him about heavy topics and briefly caught up with some family, but not much happened.

Some catchup from the week that was:

  • NFL Lineal Title news: Carolina picked up the core Lineal Title off the Rams. They face Houston next week. The Colts will be defending against the Titans next week. If Houston and the Colts win unification would come Week 3. Atlanta and New Orleans are rooting for Carolina and Tennessee to win respectively.
  • After a week of no CFB lineal changes we get changes galore this week. Florida held on to the Princeton title against Troy, while LSU demolished Virginia Tech to retain the 2004 Auburn title. But Boise State falls to Washington while BYU loses to UCLA, making unification between the 2006 Boise State and 2004 Utah titles likely. UCLA plays Utah next while Washington plays Ohio State; the latter has a very high risk of averting unification. Unification is certain, however, if both teams retain.
  • SuperPower Rankings will start being hosted on the web site tommorow. They are currently delayed; Sporting News is joining the race but SI appears to be dropping out and if USA Today has any power rankings ongoing they don’t have this week’s up yet. My Week 2 picks are partly dependent on the SuperPower Rankings and are similarly delayed.
  • The voting-method-for-100-greatest-movies poll received no votes whatsoever in almost two months. I’m ashamed of you.