Monday, June 15, 2009

A Sophie's Choice about...well...Sophie's Choice (or, yet another vast interweb sinkhole of time)

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered the miraculous, time consuming website called "Flickchart." The concept is simple:
  • Two movies pop up on your screen.
  • You click on the one you like more, and the system registers your choice.
  • Two more movies pop up, and you click again. Rinse, repeat.
  • The system ranks your choices over time.
That's it. Who thought it could be so damned addicting? Well, 4,000+ rankings later, evidently me.

Here's how it looks:

It's a fun little exercise that lets you determine exactly what your favorite movies of all time are.

A few thoughts on the process:
  • I guess you can use any subjective judgment you want. Personally, I'm applying the standard of "favorite." Which in my book, is an unscientific amalgamation of "well crafted," "artistically appreciated" and "enjoyably rewatchable" (factored through a prism of "do I own it on DVD?," "do I stop and watch it every time it's on TV?," and "how much have I had to drink?").
  • This poses some interesting questions. For example, Requiem for a Dream is without question a stunning piece of cinematic achievement. I own it on DVD. It's (rightfully) critically adored. But would I rather rewatch that than Big Trouble in Little China?
  • It's rough going at first. You'll see lots of the same movies over and over again, as the rankings start to pile up.
  • You can select "haven't seen it" for one or both of the choices. This does you the favor of creating a list of movies you haven't seen, so the next time you're wandering aimlessly around Netflix or the guide on DirecTV, you can pick out something new with ease. (or, you can continue to ignore the Larry the Cable guy oeuvre, as always).
  • You'll find out things about yourself, like even though Tom Cruise believes in alien volcano spirits and is a couch jumping punchline, I have a fondness for many more of his movies than I thought I would. (I FLOVE Minority Report, and I don't give a fuck what anyone says, Vanilla Sky is a great goddamned movie).
  • Some choices are painful and impossible. Animal House or Caddyshack? Godfather or Godfather II? Wrath of Khan or Terminator? Chinatown or Casablanca? Fight Club or Almost Famous? Vertigo or Rear Window? Sleeper or Love and Death?
  • Sometimes, I'm not sure what's going on with the algorithms. For example, The Big Lebowski was at the top of my rankings for a while, since nothing came up against it in the head to head choices that moved me to select anything other Lebowski. To the best of my recollections, I never picked against it. It was in the #1 slot for a while, then suddenly, without coming up for a head to head, it dropped out of the top 20. Hmmm.
  • Or, some flicks that you might "mentally" have in your top 10 or top 20, don't come up as frequently as you might want. Or when they do, they come up against an unbeatable choice, like Empire Strikes Back or Raiders of the Lost Ark, and vanish into the ether for a while.
  • Did I mention it's a huge, but eminently enjoyable, time suck?
You can go pick up the crack pipe at the Flickchart website, here.

You can also compare your choices with your friends, too. If you want to find yours truly, you can do so here. (or, if that doesn't work, my profile is "shanc13")

Hope to see you there.

(Also, someone should really do this with seasons of TV shows).


  1. Shan,

    Thanks for the review! We've got a lot more in store for the site as we get closer to opening it up out of private beta.

    Flickchart is starting out with movies, but it's only the beginning of our master plan. TV, music, video games, and more are all in the planning stages.

  2. Yeah, this site is unbelievably addicting...I sat there saying "One more" for about two hours last night.

    Then I sat there for 10 minutes debating Pulp Fiction vs. Kill Bill Vol II with myself.

    Why do I get the feeling that "Flickchart" will be mentioned in my divorce papers?

  3. Like crack, no? I can totally empathize with that "one more..." thing. Hee.

    Some of those decisions are HARD. I haven't gotten too many of those yet - most of the examples in my bullet point were hypothetical matchups, though I did have decide between Khan and Terminator. After much debate, I shouted with the Shat.

    (in your scenario, I would have gone with Pulp Fiction).