At least according to Terry Teachout, this idea has been going around. Terry’s own list is here (it’s a pretty good one). The idea is to take each year of your life and list your favorite film from that year.
For me, “favorite” is a simple concept. It’s whatever resides at the matrix of what I like the best and what has meant the most. I tend to emphasize this quality over what I think is “great” anyway (though, unsurprisingly, there is considerable overlap…we tend to elevate what we like, though I also like to believe that what we like can elevate us).
I want to drill down a bit, though (including links to those films I’ve written about at length and mentioning the close competition, when it exists), so I’m going to post these by decade…starting conveniently enough with the decade I was born in and am most fascinated by…
1961 The Guns of Navarone (J. Lee Thompson…and, for once, truth in advertising)
1962 The Miracle Worker (Arthur Penn) (over The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Ride the High Country, Cape Fear, The Manchurian Candidate…I could go on. Easily the strongest film year of my lifetime.)
1963 Charade (Stanley Donen) (over The Great Escape and Hud)
1964 The T.A.M.I. Show (Steve Binder) (Actually a strong year, but….no competition)
1965 A High Wind in Jamaica (Alexander Mackendrick) (over That Darn Cat and The Truth About Spring)
1966 Gambit (Ronald Neame) (over A Man For All Seasons and El Dorado)
1967 The Graduate (Mike Nichols) (over Wait Until Dark, Hombre, Don’t Look Back and the Soviet version of War and Peace)
1968 Monterrey Pop (D.A. Pennebaker) (over Where Eagles Dare…Interesting decision if I took one of those liberties I’m prone to take and considered Elvis’ Comeback Special a film. Glad I don’t have to make it.)
1969 Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler) (over Support Your Local Sheriff...it was a very strange year.)
Overall, a strong decade. As will be the 70s. After that….dicey.