Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Facebook 50 '11: Introduction

Last year a friend (Phil Dellio) invited another friend (Steven Rubio) and myself to participate in a countdown of our 50 favorite movies. It was staged in a Facebook group—Phil had just completed another countdown exercise in another Facebook group with another friend (Scott Woods), which was devoted to 100 favorite songs. I had some impression that Phil's impetus for these countdowns grew at least as much out of an infatuation with The Social Network as from an appreciation for Facebook, about which most of the planet now appears to be variously dubious. But the turn of a decade, approximately, is usually a good time (read: excuse) for copious list-making anyway and I was happy to sign on. And so we went at it, at a rate of two picks per week each (I posted on Tuesdays and Fridays) for nearly six months, with a few dozen others cheering and jeering us along in comments.

Though I have made many song and album lists, I had tried only once before, in the '90s, to formally make a list of favorite movies, and then it was just a top 10, riddled with so many ties and also-rans and otherwise yoking in so many titles along the way that I think I managed to mention nearly three dozen movies when it was all said and done. (Before that I had long nursed a favorite three, all of which have place names for titles, but only one of which appeared as a pick on this list; explanations forthcoming.)

Clearly it was time to try again. There are a million ways to do these kinds of things. The way we did it was to compose our lists separately (more or less), without consulting with one another. We knew this meant there was a good chance there would be duplications and even triplications. This created some concern, which we dealt with in different ways, as will be seen. Each pick was accompanied by write-ups that started around 300 words apiece but quickly grew, occasionally to mammoth proportions (by Facebook standards, that is—1,000+ words). We also did the best we could to find and point to representative and/or favorite clips culled off YouTube, which was often the most frustrating, time-consuming, and/or satisfying part of the exercise for me.

Phil and Steven have already reproduced their write-ups on their websites (well, nearly—Steven still has a dozen or so to go as I write this), so the least I can do is ape them, sticking with the Tuesday schedule that's so familiar to me now. I will point to their pieces as I go along, and also provide comments, as relevant, on how I came to pick the titles and rankings—how I came to construct the list. And, in the end (approximately one year from now, God willing), I plan to finish with an updated list of 50 favorites because a) I can't help myself, and b) I'm pretty sure the mutability of these lists (or my lists) even across only a couple of years is likely to be remarkable. These days I seem to be constantly looking at movies I have never seen before, or looking again and reconsidering movies I have, and even as I finalized this Facebook list I already had regrets and misgivings. "Second guessing, thy name is list-making." I will say that my #1 has been my #1 for approximately 25 years, and my #2 is looking more and more like a permanent fixture now too. Otherwise, who knows what that follow-up list will look like. First, however, the Facebook 50 of 2011.

Thanks to Phil and Steven for including me and to all the commenters in that Facebook group who kept us going and made it worthwhile. Thanks to Scott Woods for taking care of Facebook technicalities. The group is still there, by the way—anyone who wants to join and see the originals complete with comments, that can be very easily arranged. Just let me know, in comments or at the email on the right, and I will see what I can do about setting you up.


  1. How do i join this group? I'd love to, am crazy about movies and can hold my own in any discussion...



  2. Thanks Vikram. I can do that. Just leave me your FB name or send it to cantxplain@gmail.com.

    Apologies for the slow response time. We had an ice storm around here and I was knocked offline for six days.

  3. Cool idea - I'm thinking along similar lines sometime in the next few months, although the suspense of the countdown approach will be minimal since I already unveiled my entire top 100, haha. I'll have to start playing catch-up with your posts here...