A few months ago I went IMAX to watch Gravity with friends Rajan, Brendon and Dave. It was early on a Saturday evening, one of those nights that ended up including brave dinner choices and three hours of even braver karaoke – the likes of which will never be seen again. We hope.
But back to the cinematic part of the night. We got out of the theatre – emotional, exhausted and tired from dodging space junk – and the guys got out their phones, went into notes and added Gravity to ‘the list’. What is this list? It is what we’ve now come to call the Rajan System, or #RajanSystem. A simple, yet brilliant way to track every film seen in a calendar year, from best to worst, simply by adding every film you see to the list straight after you see it. If it is the best thing you’ve seen all year it goes straight to the top. If it was reasonable – you have to decide which two films it fits between.
At the end of the year you’ll have a complete list from best to worst, and through the year you can enjoy the same kind of outrageous debate I witnessed that spring evening at the Metro Centre. Unlike other film rating systems, you don’t have work to criteria or be balanced. Subjectivity is king!
I’m going to my first film of the year tomorrow, just in time to start implementing the Rajan System. For inspiration, I got the guys to give me their top five from 2013, with a few words on what they liked about each film. I think it makes for entertaining reading, but then, I adore lists.
5. Night Train to Lisbon – Individually & collectively, people are beautifully flawed. The best thing about this movie, is how you swing from loving to hating characters and back again with incredible frequency. (The disparate story lines were revealed over the course of the film magnificently)
4. Zero Dark Thirty – Everyone was tired. The Military. The intelligence officers. The politicians. 10 years is a long time. This movie was exhausting, but not once did I look at my watch.
3. Elysium – I was surprised that this stayed so high on my list for so long. Great story telling in an action movie is a rarity. But I could easily see myself living in a world where this could occur.
2. Gravity – 3d movies were invented so that we could experience the long, single shot sequences in films like this.
1. Silver Linings Playbook – Far and away the best movie of 2013. The silliness of everyday life with the seriousness that accompanies it. Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper were phenomenal.
5. Gravity – aka the “Movie You Have To See In 3D, You Guys, Seriously, Anything Else Won’t Do It Justice”. More of an experience than a film, Gravity induced more anxiety attacks this year than any other movie. In a good way.
4. The Croods – I am starting a one man campaign to get The Croods to win the Best Animated Feature Academy Award. This was the funniest movie of the year (cartoon slapstick has never felt so lively), and it featured Nicholas Cage’s best performance in FOREVER.
3. Wreck It Ralph – 2013 was a great year for animation, and Wreck It Ralph found the perfect Laugh/Heart balance. Maybe the best example yet of a kids movie being equally entertaining and affecting for adults (sorry Shrek, you’ve been usurped).
2. Lincoln – The anomaly of the #RajanSystem. I saw this very early in January, and for some reason every movie I saw after just couldn’t be placed above it. I couldn’t’ bring myself to say “this movie was the second best thing I saw this year, so Lincoln ended up my de facto #2. I thought I was going to hate it, but I didn’t.
1. Silver Linings Playbook – Bradley Cooper put in the best performance of the year, bar none. The direction was superb; subtle when it wanted, and visceral when it needed to be. This is what happens when everything comes together on a seemingly simple idea. A small miracle of a movie.
5. The Wolf of Wall Street – Toys with the excessive and indulgent side in all of us, by showing us exactly how much fun you can have with millions of dollars. There is some message about the consequences as well, although that part is a little more blurry.
4. Twice Born – Perhaps it made my list because it made the destructive powers of war, something my life is so far removed from, seem so real. Tragic and moving.
3. Stoker – We all have family secrets, but never has one been so exciting to watch unravel on screen, violently.
2. Lincoln – If you love extremely drawn-out, boring speeches (like me), this will inspire. For idealists and dreamers only.
1. The Great Gatsby – On reflection it’s hard to explain why this is number one; maybe because it was one of the first; maybe because I saw it Gold Class. Maybe its because we all have our Daisy, the thing that doesn’t turn out to be what we want it to. I don’t know, but somehow, The Great Gatsby is my number one movie for 2013.
Note: The Rajan System can only be applied to films you see at the cinema. According to Brendon, if you see a movie more than once, it’s allowed to go on the list more than once.