In my experience, it’s usually not that hard to pick a One Best–absolute excellence is by definition self-evident–but no sooner do you venture below the pinnacle than all sorts of other factors crowd into your viewfinder. When Time asked me to pick the best dance of the 20th century, for instance, I didn’t have to think twice before choosing George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments, but I found it much harder to decide on two runners-up, though I finally opted for Paul Taylor’s Esplanade and Antony Tudor’s Jardin aux Lilas. Up to a point, the problems of choice multiply as the list grows longer, though eventually they subside. I suspect that most serious moviegoers’ lists of the 50 greatest films (as opposed to their 50 personal favorites) would overlap substantially, but their Top Ten lists would wander all over the map….
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