Tonawanda News


April 9, 2014

DUVALL: Making a list, checking it twice

Tonawanda News — Maybe I was thinking about David Letterman’s impending retirement. Or maybe it was because my brother posted it to Facebook. I spent a couple hours the other day crafting two top 10 lists, of my favorite books and movies. 

There’s something satisfying — and slightly maddening — about making lists like this. It feels good to have an official opinion about such things. I’ve read lots of books, seen lots of movies. The best have greatly improved my understanding of the world, and of art.

At first it seemed like a daunting task. What criteria should one use in deciding what makes something worthy of a place on an all-time favorite list? Is it personal preference? Critical appreciation? Should diversity in composition of the list itself be considered? Because I really like reading crime fiction but it seems silly to make a list of favorite books and have half of them from one niche genre.

I ran into a similar problem on the movie list: Somehow my favorite director, Martin Scorcese, didn’t make a single film that ranked on my list. How is that possible?

Now I understand why he had to wait 40 years for an Oscar.

Another oddity on the movie list: Though I generally enjoy them, I didn’t have a single movie about war on there. I rectified this — and another problem, every film was directed by a man — by adding “Hurt Locker,” directed by Kathryn Bigelow. 

I started with the movie list, which took about an hour to finish. I kept thinking of more films that were contenders. Then there was the ranking question. I knew my favorite movie of all time, “Chinatown,” but after that it got a little murky. I decided to make “Bull Durham” — my favorite sports movie of all time — No. 2 because it’s probably the movie I’ve watched the most over the years.

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