At the end of his best-of-aughts piece (in which he names Charlie Kaufman ‘s Synecdoche as the best of the bunch!), Roger Ebert finishes with a thought that I’ve conveyed several times myself. Actually thousands of times, in a sense.
“All of these films are on this list for the same reason — the direct emotional impact they made on me,” he explains. “They have many other qualities, of course. But these evoked the emotion of Elevation, which I wrote about a year or so ago. Elevation is, scientists say, is an actual emotion, not a woo-woo theory. I believe that, because some films over the years have evoked from me a physical as well as an intellectual or emotional response.
“In choosing the list, I decided to bypass films that may have qualified for their historical, artistic, popular or ‘objective” importance. No lists have deep significance, but even less lists composed to satisfy an imaginary jury of fellow critics. My jury resides within. I know how I feel.
“Almost the first day I started writing reviews, I found a sentence in a book by Robert Warshow that I pinned on the wall above my desk. I have quoted it so frequently that some readers must be weary of it, but it helps me stay grounded.
“It says that while ‘a man goes to the movies, a critic must be honest enough to admit that he is that man.’
“That doesn’t make one person right and another wrong. All it means is that you know how they really felt, not how they thought they should feel.”
Here’s my initial reaction Synecdoche, by the way — eighteen months ago, feels like a lot more.