TSPDT - Ain't Nobody's Blues But My Own: Flying in the face of consensus -- A selection of 250 mostly obscure, mostly overlooked, and/or mostly unloved films.
For the most part, TSPDT’s 1,000 Greatest Films project has garnered a generally positive reaction amongst the net’s film-list lovers. It seems to be reasonably well-liked. However, after the most recent update of the list in January 2010 many began to question that the list was becoming a little tired and predictable. There was a whiff of discontent in the air. The punters began to argue that the list was starting to swell with films that were too well-known (Saving Private Ryan, The Blues Brothers, etc) and/or too popular for their liking (The Dark Knight, Robocop, etc). Many of the ‘smaller’ films (My Love Has Been Burning, Blast of Silence, Mother India, etc) had fallen off the list, replaced by films that have for one reason or another connected more favourably (usually due to greater consumer exposure) with critics and filmmakers. The question beginning to arise was, “Is too much consensus a bad thing?” To poach from a post I made on Shooting Down Pictures (in response to the 2010 1,000 Greatest Films listing), "I can only agree that the 1,000 list seems to be becoming more mainstream with each passing edition. The more consensus included, the more middle-ground seems to be reached."
So then, does the middle-ground suck? Is too much consensus really a bad thing? Well, I guess it can be. But, with respects to the 1,000 Greatest Films listing, my answer is a reasonably emphatic no. The TSPDT 1,000 Greatest Films listing is what it is. It is a consensus list based on over 3,000 critic and filmmaker lists, and it will remain so. So this left the question, what about those films that receive a little bit of love, but not very much? Shouldn’t these films be championed as much as those that have already been championed by TSPDT and by many other institutions, websites and publications? The answer, this time, was a resounding yes, of course they should be.
So we thought, let’s do it. Let’s make up a subsidiary list of films that didn’t quite make the 1,000 Greatest listing. This would complement the TSPDT 1,000 nicely. But then we thought, well actually, that’s not going far enough. Many of the films we had in mind are on the cusp of the 1,000 and are (for the most part) pretty well-known films, and pretty well-regarded anyway. Films that closely match the DNA of many films within the 1,000. So screw that idea.
Then the answer suddenly became clear, and our indecisiveness ground to a halt. We decided that we needed to dig deeper and dig out films that barely get a mention in list circles. Films that have vanished from our minds (or never entered our minds to begin with). Films that, frankly-speaking, may be awful or may deservedly be unloved. Films that have for some reason connected with at least one person who was asked to contribute or voluntarily contributed his or her list of favourite films. So we dived into our database and extracted all the films that have only ever been cited once, and once only (amongst the 3,000-plus lists we have compiled). Then we reduced this initial list of films from 1,025 to 250 using a fairly random process and bingo, Ain’t Nobody’s Blues But My Own was born (or, should we say, re-born*). The only rule we set was strictly one choice per critic/filmmaker. Therefore, this list comprises of 250 films as chosen by 250 critics/filmmakers.