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How to Make a Ten Best List in Five Easy Steps

Here's how the top film critics assemble their annual ten best films of the year lists.

Every year, we check out the top ten lists of our favorite critics to see what we missed and should watch at year’s end. When parsing these picks, remember that most film critics who make a ten best list use the following simple rules:

1. Include a selection of brainy consensus critical faves of the sort that are likely to be Oscar contenders.
2. Add a few popular hits as well to show that you click with the mainstream.
3. Add at least one wild blue yonder arcane title, either foreign or up-and-coming indie, that will leave readers scratching their heads, impressed with your erudition. This proves that you saw way more movies than they did. (And does serve the honorable tradition of shedding light on really great films that people may have overlooked over the year.)
4. Explain yourself in readable short blurbs (that many click-chasing digital editors will format as a click-by-click photo gallery, but which readers prefer to scan on a single page).
5. Keep the Top Ten pure; if you want to write about the honorable mentions that almost made your list, fine, but the list itself should be pristine (going alphabetical is less macho than numbering your preferences). You should never have a tie, or do the chicken move of listing more than one title as number 10.

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