Monday, December 15, 2014

A Day in the Life of Flickchart

I casually mention Flickchart here on my blog a lot, but if you've never been quite sure what it is, well, let me walk you through the process.

The basic idea of Flickchart is a simple one: It shows you two movies and asks you to choose which one is better in your opinion. If you haven't seen one or both of them, you can click a button to indicate that and they will never come up again unless you manually add them back into your chart. You can also rank "filters," meaning groups of movies that have something in common. For example, I could rank only movies directed by Woody Allen, only musicals, or only movies in the top 100 of my chart.

Over time, this ranking of one movie as better than another movie creates a chart of your favorites in order. Granted, it takes a lot of ranking to get it to this point. My chart is probably 90-95% accurate right now, but I've ranked movies almost 140,000 times in almost five years. So if "making a list of my favorites" is your main goal with Flickchart, you're probably going to get impatient very quickly when the movie at the top of your chart is Terminator 3 for some reason. But, for me, the fun of Flickchart is in pitting two movies against each other and making me choose one. It's a fun exercise in and of itself, and the list creation is just a nice extra.

I've heard other people argue that too many of the matches are impossible to choose a winner for. It may be easy to choose between The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers as comic book superhero movies, but how do you choose between Se7en and Finding Nemo? They're too different, it's comparing apples and oranges. Or how can you compare two brilliant movies, like The Godfather and Rear Window? For me, though, I love trying to find something that will edge the other out, even if they're completely different -- or too similar in quality to make it an easy choice. (Incidentally, I think would choose Se7en, oranges, and Rear Window.)

The other thing I like to remember is that my chart is fluid. It's a reflection of my tastes right now. Plenty of movies start high on the chart and then, as time goes by and I realize that it didn't have a lot of lasting redeeming value, it starts dropping. So I don't have to agonize too hard because even if I choose one over the other, that doesn't set it in stone forever. A few weeks later, I may get a match-up where I choose the losing movie against the movie 3 spots up from the original winner. My chart changes in small increments all the time.

To demonstrate this, I figured I'd go through a couple match-ups with you guys right now. I'm a pretty quick decision maker, so some of these will be no-brainer choices for me, but hopefully I'll get a couple where I'll have to think about them. I'll be ranking my own chart today, which has 2277 movies on it currently, so it won't show me any choices I haven't seen. Feel free to chime in about where you think I've chosen all wrong!

#1: Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) vs. La Haine (1995)

I would like to rewatch Bridge on the River Kwai someday, but on its first viewing it was much more interesting to me than La Haine, which had a good ending but meandered too much for me up until that point. Checking my stats, it looks like Bridge is at #170 on my chart while La Haine is at #1460, so voting for Bridge doesn't do anything as far as chart movement.

#2: Jeff, Who Lives At Home (2011) vs. Crazy Heart (2009)

This is a slightly tougher match-up for me, as these were both movies I liked but didn't love. I watched Crazy Heart as one of the first movies in my movie challenge this year, actually, and was a little surprised by how much I liked it. Jeff, Who Lives At Home, on the other hand, I liked, but not as much as I thought I would. So let's give the nod to Crazy Heart for now.

#3: A Time to Kill (1996) vs. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

This is a very easy choice for me. I found A Time to Kill boring and The Pursuit of Happyness charming. Pursuit is a little less than 700 spots higher than A Time to Kill, so my chart definitely reflects accurate feelings about them both.

#4: Bully (2011) vs. The Spanish Prisoner (1997)

Documentaries are often difficult for me to rank against non-documentaries, and there are some Flickcharters who feel the same way and choose not to include them in their lists at all for that reason. I do include them, but their chart rankings always feel inaccurate. However, this choice is easy, as I thought Bully was one of the better documentaries I've seen and The Spanish Prisoner didn't work for me at all. Bully takes it here.

#5: Brief Encounter (1945) vs. Hot Fuzz (2007)

I probably owe Brief Encounter another watch someday, as I'm not sure I was at all old enough to understand it when I watched it, but until I rewatch and rerank, Hot Fuzz takes it as my second favorite of the Cornetto Trilogy. (#1 is The World's End.)

#6: The Devil Wears Prada (2006) vs. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Two chick flicks! Definitely not my favorite genre, but I happen to really like Sleepless in Seattle -- it's written very well -- and found The Devil Wears Prada OK, but a little tiringly overdramatic. Sleepless wins here.

#7: The Thing (1982) vs. VeggieTales: An Easter Carol (2004)

Shorts are another thing that are hotly contested among hardcore Flickcharters. I let some of them in but not others -- 30-minute shorts like VeggieTales or the Charlie Brown specials are in my chart, but shorter ones don't tend to make the cut because at that point I feel like I'm ranking a YouTube video and I apparently think of those differently in my head. All that being said, though, An Easter Carol was one of the most boring VeggieTales movies out there -- it didn't even have any good songs -- and so The Thing wins, even though I wasn't crazy about it.

#8: Hustle & Flow (2005) vs. Mr. Superinvisible (1970)

I saw Mr. Superinvisible once as a kid and thought it was kind of dumb even then. Hustle & Flow, on the other hand, is a solid and well-done story that I enjoyed a lot. Easy win for Hustle & Flow.

#9: Girl Shy (1924) vs. Big Business (1988)

I actually JUST saw Girl Shy about a month ago, suggested for my movie challenge by one of my Flickcharter friends. I liked it, especially the madcap race to the church that took up the last third of the movie. That was terrifically fun. I haven't seen Big Business for years, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't hold up. I'm pretty sure it's ranked low on my chart. Yeah, it's at #1929, which is unfairly low, because I remember not thinking it was terrible, just kind of bland -- not bad enough for the bottom 300 on my chart. But it doesn't get a chance to move up today, as Girl Shy wins.

#10: Interiors (1978) vs. Copying Beethoven (2006)

I had to think for awhile before I remembered what Copying Beethoven even was, which doesn't bode well for that movie... especially since Interiors is a solid, interesting Woody Allen drama. Interiors absolutely takes it here.

So I didn't have any chart movement in those ten match-ups, which is fairly frequent now, since, as I said, my chart is pretty much in order -- but I still enjoy the exercise of comparing two movies against each other. It also reminds me of movies I should rewatch at some point and brings to mind movies I haven't thought of in ages.

This was a fun time, and I may have to do more match-up blogs like this for you guys in the future. And, hey, if you're inspired by this to sign up for your own Flickchart account, add me as a friend, browse through my chart, or talk to me about the first match-ups you're given!

No comments:

Post a Comment