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Monday Editorial: The Arbitrary Nature of Year-End Lists

Many media outlets rush to release their year-end lists at the end of a given year. In the cinema sphere, this often includes releasing films of the “Top Ten Best Films” or the more clickbaity “Top Ten Worst Films.” These lists have become ubiquitous, and many outlets rush to release them before the year is even older, often using screeners or press screenings to try and watch films that have not come out yet.

I have been creating personal lists for myself since I officially founded this site two decades ago, posting them on my old LiveJournal Blog. The advent of Letterboxd a decade or so ago made this process a whole lot easier and I stopped making posts about my Top Ten Lists around 2017. Part of the reason was laziness and part of the reason was no longer needing to try and explain why I liked these ten particular films over all the others I’ve seen over the year. Ranking films is still fun to do, but it is a rather arbitrary process, which has no set rules, other than basing the rankings on my star ratings, which themselves are quite arbitrary.

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How Joe Russo’s Tweets About Year-End Lists Raised the Ire of Film Twitter

One of the accounts I follow on the social network X, formerly known as Twitter, is that of Joe Russo. No relation to the other Joe Russo, who co-directed Avengers: Endgame, this Joe Russo is the producer of films such as Nightmare Cinema and The Greatest Beer Run Ever and the recently ended podcast Post Portem with Mick Garris. Throughout December, Joe Russo wasn’t afraid to share his opinion on year-end lists, including his absolute disdain for year-end lists.

However, Russo would begin gatekeeping year-end lists, with his own set of rules, including his insistence that all “Best of” lists include Godzilla Minus One:

Let’s just say that Joe Russo’s gatekeeping of year-end lists resulted in Film Twitter exploding:

Even I joined in on the fun:

What About My Year-End Lists?

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As has been the case for the last six years or so, my year-end list has been posted on Letterboxd. My top film of 2023 is Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, which I was certain would remain my top film of the year, even though I first waited to see various December releases, including the highly acclaimed The Zone of Interest. And yes, I included Godzilla Minus One right at the end of the list, ahead of my honourable mentions of Anatomy of a Fall, Someone Lives Here, and Past Lives, almost as a way to spite Joe Russo. Of course, year-end lists are arbitrary, so the films are all pretty much interchangeable anyway.

This post was proofread by Grammarly 
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