Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Reel Facts & Opinions: Judging Art

Next week, this Blogger will publish his annual, two-part Best & Worst Films of 2013 columns. Two common questions that arise every year are…why, and how? The why comes from the thought of judging art; how can you determine which piece of art does its job better than the other? The how comes from the methodology; do we pick the Best films of the year because they were our favorites, or because they met a higher criteria better than the others?
To begin with, every movie-critic and blogger tries to get their Best Lists published at this exact time of year. Not only because the New Year has begun, but to get their selections out before the Oscar nominations are announced (Jan 16th this year). Everyone wants to be ahead of the curve, and no one wants their lists to look like they were just copied off of the Nominations. There is always a mad rush to do this, as many limited-release films from the previous year don’t get their wide-releases until mid-January.

This Blogger saw nearly 60 films last year, and kept a running list of the Top Five Best posted on Reel Speak starting in June. Picking that list, and the eventual final list, is similar to picking a winner in a football game; do we pick with our hearts (who we want to win), or do we pick with our heads (who we think will win)? In the case of picking films, the answer for this Blogger…is both. The obvious, and foremost criteria is very black-and-white; did the film tell a good story, how was it told, how was the acting, how well were things put together and written, how did it look and sound? The nuts-and-bolts go a long way and eventually into the heart-part of it; was this film enjoyable, did it connect with me emotionally (make me cry, laugh), how did I feel walking out of the theatre? That is how this Blogger has always judged a film, and as far as making a list goes, some films did it better, or worse than others.
So why rank art? Because it’s fun. Making lists and ranking movies will eventually inspire debate and discussion, as this Blogger certainly doesn’t expect the world to see things his way (although they should), and the whole purpose of Reel Speak is to spark thought.

Part 1 of the Best & Worst of 2013 will be published January 13th. Part 2 will land on January 15th. The Oscar Nominations will be announced January 16th.

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