The Quickest Way To Get To Know Someone: Ask Their Top 5 Movies

My absolute No. 1 favorite let's get down to it pop culture question? #top5movies, baby. Here's the xoJane staff's lists so you can see into our very SOULS.
Publish date:
December 31, 2012
movies, psychographic profiles

I don't remember the first time I started the top five movie test. But it's my favorite icebreaker slash psychographic profiling tool I have -- from a stiff at a cocktail party to a first date to the bodega guy who suddenly starts giving you free shit.

Because think about it. You can't politely ask if someone has good taste or not. But you can ask what their top five favorite movies are.

I posed it to Twitter the other day, and someone asked me if a terrible movie would ever be a dealbreaker -- for a friendship or a relationship. Sure. Something aggressively bad like "The Hangover 2" (when "The Hangover" was such a triumph, in so many ways) or maybe that Tucker Max movie. Pick those? Yeah, I'm judging you, baby.

Pick movies I've never heard of? Cool. I love to learn -- and it gets me excited that if I recognize one or two other movies on your list, then we might have similar tastes, and then I get all juiced on the idea of how much more top-of-the-line cinematic culture there is for me to consume out there.

That's one of my main loves in life: pop culture that rocks me, changes my world view permanently, takes me to another universe. Great books, great movies, great writing, great TV, great music. That shit, no matter how depressed or alone or forlorn I might be, for some reason it pushes me on in a big way. It connects me to other people.

As the philosopher Arthur C. Danto once summed up the wisdom of Nietzsche: "Science makes life possible; art makes life bearable."

Indeed. (Spoken in the voice of Omar from "The Wire," because yes, that is my current pop culture artistic obsession right now. And fuck anyone who doesn't think TV counts as art. "The Wire" is a Picasso, motherfucker. Just finished Season 3. No spoilers, please.)

Since New Year's Eve is coming up, and some of you might be like me, only wanting to go to a party if you know you'll have more fun than if you were at home with, say, popcorn and a movie or some other cultural delight, here's the official xoJane #top5movies from editors, writers and some of our favorite contributors, too.

Oh, and, natch, a window into our very souls.


"Coal Miner's Daughter,”“Ghost World,”“Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,”“Waiting for Guffman,”“Wet Hot American Summer.” Honorable mentions: “Drop Dead Gorgeous,”“A League of Their Own,”“Bring It On.”--Emily

“Reality Bites,”“Kill Bill I & II” (because it was intended as one film I count it as one), “Showgirls”“Gone With The Wind,”“Knocked Up.”--Corynne

"The Graduate," "Annie Hall," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "When Harry Met Sally," "Heathers." Honorable mentions: "Best in Show," "Harold and Maude," "Badlands," "City of God." -- Mandy

“Heathers,”“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,”“Amadeus,”“Singin' in the Rain,”“Mommie Dearest.” (That's my regular list, not my former-film-student list, which is way more snooty and annoying. OKAY OKAY I'll give you the snobby list too! I'll make these the honorable mentions: “The Apartment,”“Sunset Boulevard,”“Fanny & Alexander,”“And the Ship Sails On,”“Red” (the Kieslowski film, not the recent one with Bruce Wills, obvs). -- Lesley

“Raising Arizona,”“Jaws,”“True Romance,”“Alien/s,”“Broadcast News.” Honorable mentions: “Wayne's World,”“Rushmore.”--Julianne

“The Shining,”"National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation,”“Beetlejuice,”“Best in Show,”“The Muppets Take Manhattan.” Honor Roll: “Empire Records,”“Waiting for Guffman.” And okay, fine, “The Joy Luck Club” because I think it's HILARIOUS. --Louise Hung

“The Royal Tenenbaums,”“Secretary,”“Gosford Park,”“From Hell,”“V for Vendetta.” -- s.e.

“Clueless,”“Dazed and Confused,”“Back to the Future,”“Sixteen Candles,”“High School Musical.” Can you tell I don't give a shit what people think about me! -- Daisy

“Rosemary's Baby,”“Suspiria,”“Mean Girls,”“Chinatown,”“Spirited Away.”--Madeline

“Coal Miner╒s Daughter,”“All About Eve,”“The Night of the Hunter,”“Bullets Over Broadway,” and my all-time favorite “Apocalypse Now,” which I watch as I am falling asleep almost every night. --Alison

"Chinatown," "The Thin Man," "The Princess Bride," "Blade Runner," "North By Northwest." Honorable mentions: "Pillow Talk," "Kill Bill" (both parts, but especially the 2nd), "Grease," "Sunset Boulevard," "Vertigo," "Labyrinth," "Christmas Vacation," "Some Like It Hot," "The Fountain." -- Somer

“Clueless,”“The Graduate, “Secretary,”“The Wiz,”“Wild at Heart.” Honorable mentions: “Network.” -- Olivia

“LotR” (extended editions, of course), “The Muppet Movie” (original), “Willow,”“Doom,”“Elf.” Honorable mention: “Muppets From Space.” I couldn't pick between “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” so all of them. All of the time. (But not “Generations.”“Generations” is dead to me.) (And only the original “Star Wars” movies.) --Marianne

Historically, the only movies I truly love tend to be those where groups of youngsters learn the true meaning of friendship. Hence: “The History Boys,”“Dead Poets Society,”“All I Wanna Do,”“Newsies,”“Now and Then." Honorable mentions: “A Knight's Tale,”“Star Trek XI," “Inception,"“Josie and the Pussycats.”--Kate

“The Last Unicorn,”“Reservoir Dogs,”“Muriel's Wedding,”“Strictly Ballroom,”“Silence of the Lambs.”--Rebecca

“Rosemary's Baby,”“Step Brothers,”“Romy & Michele's High School Reunion,”“Pierrot Le Fou,” ”The Tree of Life.” Honorable mentions: “Psycho,”“There Will Be Blood," ”Eyes Without A Face,”“Almost Famous.”--Hannah

“Krustaliov, My Car!,”“Pierrot Le Fou,”“Thin Red Line,”“Magnolia,”“The Royal Tenenbaums.” Honorable mentions: “Lonesome Dove,”“Big Lebowski,”“Good Will Hunting.”--Tyler

“Seems Like Old Times,”“Better Off Dead,”“Going Places (Les Valseuses),”“Choose Me,”“Winter's Bone.” -- Mark

“Death Race 2000,”“Kind Hearts & Coronets,”“The Royal Tenenbaums,”“All That Jazz,”“To Be or Not to Be (1942)” -- Allan

Please do share your #top5movies in the comments below. PS: I don't rank mine as 1 to 5. And I think "honorable mentions" help keep the whole process sane and fun rather than a more painful "Sophie's Choice" type ordeal. If you've never picked yours, dig deep into your heart right effing now.

For me, the question I ask is: What movie changed me? Like, change-changed. Or what movie inspires love on par you might have with a family member or your fondest memory.

Yup. Like that. You have ours. Now, discuss. Debate. List yours, darlings.


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