Every year at about this time, newspapers and magazines compile lists of all the things we should have seen or read about, or known about in the past 12 months. At the “dead time” between Christmas and New Year, the media revels in presenting swathes of articles on useless information that only really fills column inches and not much more.
What movies should you have seen? What books are everybody but you reading? What were the top ten releases on Netflix? What were the dumbest things celebrities and politician said or did? What were the top 15 sporting comebacks of the year? Do you know these 25 kitchen hacks that can save you dollars each year? What are the most popular names for dogs? And on and on and on it goes.
“We have annual award events that honour the so called best and most accomplished of practically everything.”
Lists are fabulous things – so long as they are used as they are intended – to create a blueprint of things you need to know that you could very easily forget – like a shopping list or a list of things you need to take care of in the week. That’s what lists were designed for. In our social media plagued world, friends will occasionally send invites to publish your list of ten most important songs, or films, or books, or actors, or Disney characters, ad nauseam. I find those things nigh on impossible to do. Mainly because it is too difficult to distill a lifetime of experience into one handy wee list.
We have annual award events that honour the so called best and most accomplished of practically everything. The Oscars, for example, is the night when films nominated from the thousands produced in the previous year are given a trophy and guaranteed millions of dollars in future ticket sales.
“Some of them have even been quite enjoyable but none of them have come close to films that I have watched over and over and still resonate with me, each time I see them.”
Sometimes, in my opinion, (and this is all really just my opinion) a film that I think is truly deserving wins the top gong. Strangely, my opinion and that of the Academy are often at odds. I have spent a lot of time watching films. I’ve watched nearly all of the “classics” and a great number of films that can be characterised as “arty”. Some of them have even been quite enjoyable but none of them have come close to films that I have watched over and over and still resonate with me, each time I see them.
One of those films won few plaudits. In 1989 the Oscar for best film was awarded to Rain Man. The other nominees were, The Accidental Tourist, Dangerous Liaisons, Mississippi Burning, and Working Girl. Nowhere in that list is the film I believe should have won. For sheer invention, suspense and drama, riveting plot, fantastic cast, pithy comebacks, and unscrupulous and brazen villains, Diehard takes the cake. I know I’m not alone in having seen it well over 20 times since it was released. I had a benign argument with a friend that it is one of the best Christmas films ever released. They didn’t even know it was a Christmas film but it surely is.
“Each year I hope that the Academy and I will be in agreement. We seldom are.”
In the 30 years since it was released Diehard still attracts new and loyal followers. Sequels were made and they were good, but none as good as the original. Bruce Willis’ star may have faded now but in the late 1980s he was pure cinema gold and Diehard was the perfect vehicle for an actor who played a character who could overcome any situation, outfox any opponent, and take a heck of a lot of punches and still win the fight.
Don’t get me wrong, I liked Rain Man. Was it the best film of the year? Not in my opinion but in the world of Oscars, what I think counts for nothing and that’s just fine. Each year I hope that the Academy and I will be in agreement. We seldom are. And that’s the thing about awards and lists – they are subjective. They are opinion and not always shared. That’s probably the reason I don’t indulge in top ten lists when prompted on Facebook. I like the things that I like and not everyone else will. So I’ll save lists for what they were designed for – pointing me toward the things I need, next time I go the supermarket.