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In an attempt to add to my movie knowledge, I’ve set a task for myself – I’m going through the IMDb Top 250 and watching every film on the list. I’m at 206 movies so far.

Watching classics all the time is like eating steak every night – it’s definitely awesome, but you get used to it. After 206 steaks, your guts bung up. The movies that make up the IMDb list are all a certain type: worthy, epic, long, and more often than not, by Clint Eastwood. (Gran Torino is in the top 100, higher than Return of the Jedi. FUCK that noise).

But hey, I’m a trooper, I can do this. Apart from the odd clunker (Pirates of the Caribbean?) there are some movies that have been a revelation, and so clearly influential it’s staggering. Rashomon, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Les Diaboliques, The Battle of Algiers, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Harvey and The General blew my goddamn doors off. Watch them if you haven’t.

There’s some I’m not looking forward to (Life is Beautiful, ugh. UPDATE: IT WAS AWESOME) and some I can’t wait for (Seven Samurai – UPDATE: IT WAS AWESOME), but it’s a good exercise for everyone who loves movies and needs to fill in the gaps.

If you want to play along at home and track your progress, there’s a site called icheckmovies that let’s you tick off what you’ve seen. My list is here.

What I learned: Obviously, the more movies you watch, the better you will understand what works and what doesn’t. It’s the most enjoyable way to improve your work apart from actual writing. There are definitely trends throughout the decades, and genres come and go, but there’s one thing all these films have in common: amazing characters. A great character IS a great movie in most cases. So if you can master that, you’re halfway done.

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