Some say that the top ten list is arbitrary, a trivial ranking of preferences. But if the response I’ve gotten from the participants of You Aught to Know is any indication, then their greatest power isn’t necessarily in the rankings themselves, but the process of putting them together. With ten films to be culled from thousands, the process demands one to seriously consider not only what their favorite films are, but why. What about our values and sensibilities are make our choices meaningful to us? What aesthetic and thematic flavors unite and divide viewers? More to the point, what do these works of art say about us as people?
There are already countless lists which rank the best films of the previous decade, but I couldn’t resist seeing what the people whose opinions I value had to say. Each participant was given a simple yet potentially difficult task: rank their ten favorite films released in the United States from January 1, 2000-December 31, 2009. The lists were to be placed in order of preference, with each film assigned a point value based on its position on each list. I tallied the results and am now unfolding what amounts to the top third of the list, daily, culminating with the top scoring film being unveiled on March 7, 2010, the day of the 2010 Academy Awards. I'm titling this little endeavor You Aught to Know, a pun and cultural reference that was ultimately the best thing I could come up with.
Much to my surprise and delight, many participants expressed great pleasure at the challenge and opportunity to spend time contemplating the films that pulled at their heartstrings and electrified their minds. I can only hope that it’s as much fun to read the results as it was for people to participate.