The Difference Between Great and Favorite

2 Aug

Imagine a hypothetical situation:

“Mrs. Doubtfire?!! I love that movie!!” you loudly react as you overhear a film buff speaking to his friends. He looks at you grotesquely and says, “Uhhh no we’re talking about Man on Wire… (see:” as they scoff and turn their backs on you. You look at them and raise your eyebrow, turning away and muttering under your breath, “Douchebag.”

You’ve just been victimized by what most individuals (and myself) like to call a “pretentious film douche bag.” In fact, most cinephiles get a bad rep for the commonly held perception that most of us are arrogant, self-absorbed jerks who love telling you how bad your taste in film is. Indeed, some cinephiles do commit this rather nasty crime by ignoring a key distinction that makes taste in film purely subjective all the time: the distinction between a great film and a favorite film.

Often, these so called pretentious film buffs believe that in order for an individual to have great taste in film, one’s favorite films must belong to some master class of technically wondrous cinema. In my opinion, this is simply false. You can truly love watching a film without it being a masterpiece of cinema or some radically voyeuristic experiment. Take myself for example: I absolutely love the film 10 Things I Hate About You and if I see it on TV, unless there’s something I prefer even more, I’ll change the channel and watch it. It’s one of those films that I can’t watch enough times: that holds true for all my favorite films! Now I would not consider 10 Things I Hate About You a technical or narrative masterpiece; in fact, I wouldn’t even consider it a great film. Nonetheless, I still enjoy watching the film and it still connects to me on some level to the point where it is one of my favorite films; does that make my taste in film any worse than any other person? Absolutely not and that’s just the point I’m trying to make. There is no almighty, set-in-stone standard for liking films; either you liked the film or not. Maybe you even liked it to the point that you could watch it multiple times and never get bored. Whether that film is The Godfather or The Mighty Ducks does not matter. Just because one is (in terms of film aspects) clearly superior to the other, does not mean you cannot prefer The Mighty Ducks or furthermore, possibly not even like The Godfather (though I do find that highly doubtful). Whether you like a film or not is purely subjective no matter what any critic may try to tell you.

Moreover, it works the other way too. There exists a multitude of movies that I respect and admire as astonishingly well made films, yet they are not my favorites nor do I care for them particularly. This is okay too. Even if a film has the best reviews of all time does not mean that you have to unconditionally love it. Why even watch the movie in the first place then?? On the other hand, there are plenty of technically masterful films that are my favorites. It works in every way!

So I guess I’m just trying to tell you, as film viewers, to think for yourself and if someone tells you you’re stupid for liking or not liking a film, just ignore it. If someone says you just didn’t get it or you’re not intelligent enough, ignore it. Maybe the film spoke to them on some deep level, but not to you. You and you alone judge a film’s merits! Even here on this blog you can disagree with my assessment of films. In fact, I encourage it. It’s a great way to learn about other people and demonstrate your alternative preferences. So go ahead and love Mrs. Doubtfire! Just always remember that there is a difference between great films and your favorite films, and they do not always have to be mutually inclusive.



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