Best of the Decade – Project Introduction

by HELEN GEIB

This post introduces the Commentary Track “Best of the Decade” project. Mostly for my own amusement I’ve written it as an FAQ. Real questions- and comments- are welcome in the Comments section.

Q: What is the Best of the Decade project?

A: Over the next several months, Commentary Track will be publishing the results of its year-by-year review of the best films of the 2000s. While this will ultimately produce a list of the best film of each year from 2000 to 2009, the list is not the project. The project is an opportunity to make a survey of the decade, to re-visit and reassess the great films of the last 10 years, to encourage others to watch the films we most love and admire, and to promote discussion.

Q: Are you really claiming that this is the definitive list of the best movies of the decade?

A: Not at all. First off, we don’t claim, even collectively, to have seen every great movie made in the last ten years. Nor have we all seen the same master list of movies. As non-professional (i.e., unpaid) critics, our individual lists are defined by opportunity, time, and interest. Second, we are divided among ourselves about what should have won and even what should have been up for consideration. None of the votes was unanimous (although a couple of years did produce a consensus pick), and we expect our readers to argue for their own favorites in just the same way.

Q: When will you announce the winners?

A: Each month, we’ll announce the results for two years. The announcements will begin in August with the winners for 2000 and 2001 and finish in December.

Q: Who are the panelists?

A: All eight of the Commentary Track writers participated in the voting.

Q: Where did the shortlists come from?

A: Each of us submitted our top three titles for the year. No. 1 and 2 picks automatically made the shortlist. No. 3 picks made the shortlist only if the title appeared on at least two lists. The shortlists vary in length, in some cases dramatically; this reflects how close or far apart our individual lists were for that year.

Speaking more broadly, the shortlist is the combined list of our top-ranked films for that year. Regular readers may like to play at matching titles to writers.

Q: How was the voting handled?

A: Everyone ranked their top three films from the shortlist and the ballots were tallied by Condorcet voting.

There was a tie-breaker vote in two years where the initial round of voting produced a two-film tie; the winner each time was chosen by a four to three vote (the editor abstained). Using her awesome powers as project leader, the editor decreed a tie result in one year where the writers’ selections were simply too far apart to produce anything even approximating a consensus.

Q: Whose idea was it to do this?

A: Rishi Agrawal initiated the Best of the Decade project and the group quickly signed on.

Q: How can I participate?

A: Comment! Comments about the project, the shortlists, and the results are highly encouraged. In addition, a poll will be posted for each year so that readers can vote on the same shortlist we voted on. Or if your top choice isn’t on the list, there’s a line for write-in votes.

Q: What else should I know?

A: We’ll be publishing new reviews of many of the “ten best” films. Great films inspire passionate responses and our hope is that our selections and reviews will inspire on-going discussion.

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Possibly Related Posts: (Commentary Track generated)

Helen’s thoughts on “best of” lists.

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