It’s hard for us to believe, but it was seven years ago that we were putting the finishing touches on our first issue of Reverse Shot. It might come as a surprise now, but when we launched our little magazine (which we occasionally referred to at the time as “Film Comment, Jr”), it was printed: we hadn’t even conceived of it as an online publication. In January of 2003 when Reverse Shot first made its appearance on the shelves and tables of New York film cultural centers (Film Forum, Walter Reade Theater, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Anthology Film Archives), the internet was not yet a cinephilic hub; the smartest writing about movies was not necessarily being done there. Think of it this way: the word “blog” was not widely known or used yet, and talented, hungry young writers were still scrambling around to find outlets for their passion. For Reverse Shot, we were spending hundreds of dollars every few months to get our thoughts out on printed matter—money we surely didn’t have. In retrospect, it seems our passion drove us to madness.
Now that 2010—the year we make contact—is nearly upon us, it’s of course time to look back on the past ten years of film, which brings with it the poignancy of recalling Reverse Shot’s first decade in existence. Many seem to think the aughts were a subpar decade for filmmaking, but that doesn’t alter the fact that, for most of our writers, it was arguably the most important in our development as thinkers and watchers. This was the decade when most of us left behind many of the preconceptions formed in youth, formed closer bonds to other people, and movies began to reflect something greater, truer, less academic. All told there might not have been as many excellent films in these last ten years as there were in the Nineties, but those films that moved us did so greatly and undoubtedly affected our growth. In short—putting aside all discussions of the transition to video, the rapid changing of viewing methods, and the alterations in distribution that marked the decade—from 2000 to 2009 we saw some damn important movies.
To honor the best of these years, we wanted to provide in-depth coverage. Lists by themselves reveal little; there are insights to be had in more rigorous retrospective study. So in preparation for this new symposium, we took the same approach as we do with our annual year-end blow-outs, in this case soliciting top-20 lists from those writers who have been significant contributors and staff writers for Reverse Shot at any point over the past seven years, and then using those top tens as ballots and tabulating a final list of 20 (number ones would receive 20 points; number twos 19 points, and so on) and then assigning different writers to write on them. We’re pleased with the results, and we will be revealing them once a day from now until January 1. So enjoy the fruits of our labors, and more importantly if you haven’t seen any one of the films of which we’ll be singing the praises throughout this last aught December, get thee to a video store—or, rather, your Netflix queue (sorry, that was so ’03).