I recently had a debate with a friend (for the record- this was a harmonious conversation- no one was called any names and no one was labelled) What was the debate about? Why are people’s favorite movies different from the movies they consider best.

My friend’s hypothesis was this: If something is your favorite, why wouldn’t it be the best?

I (shockingly) said that just because I enjoy watching something doesn’t mean it’s a great movie.

So what makes a “great” movie.  I always think it’s when every aspect of the movie just works. The acting, screenplay, sets, soundtrack, editing and cinematography all work together to make a movie that is well rounded and sound. The director has assembled all the pieces of the puzzle and it is complete (also why I understand why the Best Director winner is often the Best Picture winner) When I think about a great movie, “The Godfather” comes to mind.  I consider this movie as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen. I think it is a great movie.  Yet, I don’t think I’ve watched it more than twice.  I don’t think I’ll watch it again.

Why?

Because though I appreciate it as art, it doesn’t actually make me feel good when I watch it. It’s heavy.  I don’t need to add more heaviness to my life. If I’m rewatching a movie at home on a weekend I want to be uplifted.  I want light and easy.

But it’s more than just light, easy and uplifting that separates favorite from best. I think “Shawshank Redemption” and “Schindlers List” are first rate, solid movies. They end with a positive spin.  Yet, I’ve  seen each of them only once.  I think they are two of the best movies ever made, yet I have absolutely no inkling to rewatch.  Why? I guess I want the  conflict to be light and easy.  I don’t want to see struggles of WWII.  I don’t want to see life in prison. I don’t want to go through the angst again. Great movies tend to be heavy on conflict. I am not a fan of conflict.

So what are favorite movies? Simply, these are the movies that I will watch if I see they are on TV.  The conflict isn’t too daunting, the endings are happy, or at least uplifting, and they make me smile. Movies like “The American President”, “Dave”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. I have seen these movies too many times to count:  I could karaoke to these films because I know the script so well.  Yet I know there are flaws- I know they are not even close to being perfect.  But there’s still something about them that makes me love them.

So: Take stock.  Are your favorite movies also the ones you consider the best?

44 thoughts on “Favorite v. Best

  1. ‘Best’ as per whose opinion? Just because a movie wins an award doesn’t mean it’s best in my view. 😉

    I’m not trying to argue…but case in point: Black Panther had so much hype when it came out, right? My Twitter feed was full of admiration. I didn’t see it in the theatre but we watched it on NYE on Netflix. Although I liked the actors and acting, I thought the movie was meh. The fact that it didn’t win some award recently doesn’t impact my opinion at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is all personal interpretation, what speaks t9 you. I thought “shape of water” and “birdman” we horrible yet they both won best picture. No one is going to convince me they’re good movies though

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have favorite movies that fall into several different genres. I wouldn’t necessary say they are all the “best” in terms of the specific criteria you mentioned when you talked about the things that make a movie great. They fall more into the category of best at making me laugh, best at making me feel, think, cry, etc. And then there are some that are just best at being cozy, feel good movies. Bottom line, many favorites and many bests! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes and no. My favorite movies include The Lord of the Rings trilogy (one of the best fantasy films) and Casablanca (one of the best films ever), but some of my other favorites are definitely not the best films. The best films represent the best combination of a movie’s elements- script, acting, music, costume design, etc.- and plenty of films I love have some major flaw. And that’s fine. We don’t always have to be watching the ‘best’.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree that there’s some overlap ….Casablanca being one of mine that straddles both lists. But there aren’t that many. I’m going to do a movie theme this week so I’m going to really think about my lists

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! And I totally agree with you. Plus, I can personally relate having watched films with my son who is an assistant director and in the director’s guild. (He actually votes on best movie, best director, etc. ) So when he discusses a film he talks about the lighting, how it is filmed, camera angles, if it’s “hand held” (something I hate because it makes me dizzy – think the first Hunger Games- ) . He discusses the editing, the fade in or away shots,… he notices every mistake in a film…that a particular extra was sitting in a restaurant but used again as the hotel baggage boy …. something that should never happen. I wouldn’t notice, but he keys in to every little detail that we, the untrained viewer don’t see. Best picture from the POV of an artistic director is totally viewed differently. It’s about the visual affect. A script which should flow. He doesn’t vote on the actors. But, he looks at everything else. He’s focused on everything but them. Even the wardrobe, the sound, the background music etc.

    When I watch a movie I can watch and rewatch anything that has a sense of romance. I love a mystery. But once it’s solved I don’t want to see it again. I’ve watched pride and prejudice a million times because I love the story. Same with the 1969 version of Romeo and Juliet. I long to hear Shakespeare’s words and see Romeo first gaze upon his Juliet. I could watch the original movie Overboard a dozen times because it makes me laugh. Same with the movie Elf. I too love Dave! And the Am. President. I like romance. And happy endings. I could even watch them on an old TV. It doesn’t matter.

    My son always has to have the most updated viewing equipment because it has to look perfect. The aspect ratio and the lighting has to be perfection. The sound must be exquisite. Yes, best picture is art. Most enjoyable picture depends on the viewer. They are two different things.
    Now that my son is in the industry he said watching a film is often distracting for him because he gets too technical. He is too busy seeing the behind the scenes things. The flaws. And often it spoils the movie for him. Because he always wants to change the editing. I suppose for him it’s like a painter… the image on canvas is never quite perfect enough…
    But, I just want to sigh and smile at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Olivia Hussey and what was his name…the Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet is just……I can’t even come up with the words to say how much I love that movie!!

      Like

  5. It’s interesting that you site The Godfather as a near perfect movie, yet shy away from revisited look/sees. Could it be, and this goes double for me, that we may have, collectively, lost our ability to appreciate what is tragic in the human condition and the necessary narrative burden of apprecating that calamity can await, any and all, and just around the corner. So we opt for lighter fare. Family fare? But it should give one cold comfort that “The Family” can argubly be assigned as the antagonist in The Godfather Saga.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The family….ha…..I think you’re right to a certain degree. If I’m home relaxing I want something comforting. Now, I still see movies that push me to uncomfortable realizations and such, and I appreciate and like them, but doesn’t mean I’m rewatching them…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Never thought about this before but you’re absolutely right; Schindler’s List was perfect in almost every way but completely without levity so traumatic to watch. However Dangerous liaisons was sad at the end but there are amusing moments- maybe it’s the balance that’s appealing. Really interesting post 😊 cxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right….I think it’s the balance….there has to be enough light to get you through the dark. Plus, DL is sort of a soap opera, so you can take it with a grain of salt…

      Like

  7. If you asked me this question, ten or fifteen years ago, I would have told you yes— I adored Titanic back in the day. But as I’ve aged, I still appreciate but I don’t watch it all the time. Now? I’m not sure. I know for a fact that my faves aren’t considered “the best” but I simply just like them a lot, find pleasure in them, or I just like to pass the time with it on. Like this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “My Cousin Vinny” was one of my favorite movies! It is a wonderful representation of the difference between the North and the South. When I was a new transplant from New York to Alabama, it made me feel comfortable like a plate of Mac and Cheese.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehehe. It’s hard to beat the magic of some originals. Age difference perhaps?? She hasn’t had the many years to be attached to the original. Lol. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before someone remakes Sound of Music. But I really hope they don’t!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. For me, it’s a mixed bag. Some of my favorite movies are also what I would call “the best” movies, but others (Like “Christmas Vacation”) certainly aren’t. Still, I watch them several times and enjoy them so much!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The conversation with my friend really got me thinking. Different films effect us in different ways, and we need all those different sides to us. I love movies and it’s been fun this week thinking about the different ways they come into my life

      Like

  10. I loved Zootopia for about 6 months, from the first time I saw it to the time I saw it after my son moved out (my son hated it so we waited until he moved to watch it). I saw a much different movie the second time. Initially I saw a great adventure about finding a way to succeed and the second time I could hardly even see the movie because I could only see my baby boy struggling in the horrible world. I haven’t watched it since. The movie’s quality never changed but it sure changed ranking with me! BTW, I love Dave and The American President! I over watched those along with LA Story, Housesitter and My Blue Heaven.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s