Thursday, June 21, 2007

10 Years Later

As per my contract as a pop culture blogger, I will post the new list of the American Film Institutes's top 100 American films, with commentary. A bold film is one I've seen, a blue one is one I would like to see, and an red one is one I have no desire to see.

General thoughts: I was pretty surprised that only four films from the last ten years made the cut this time around (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Sixth Sense, Saving Private Ryan, and Titanic), but suspect we'll see some others get in in 2017. Nice to see ,though, that so many films that were eligible last time but didn't get on did this time--including Toy Story and The Shawshank Redemption.

My biggest overall reaction to the list is that too much emphasis is placed (at least by the 1,500 voters) on innovation. Yes, Toy Story was remarkably innovative, and paved the way for a whole new style of storytelling in film. But several of the films that came after it, including its sequel and Finding Nemo have surpassed it, not just in technical achievement but in overall quality as well. I know that the estimation of "overall quality" is subjective, but I sense that for many voters Toy Story got a nod simply because it was the first. I'd say the same for Snow White, the only other animated film on the list. Is it really the case that the first animated film, made in 1937, is the best animated film, and that in 70 years not one animated film has surpassed it? I don't think so. But because it was groundbreaking, it gets noted. I'd just like to see voters credit innovation and being "the first" a little less. Were they to do so, I think we'd see Citizen Kane start to drop as well - after all, almost every article you read about its genius cites how many things it did first.

And now the list. Courtesy of Edward Copeland on Film, the numbers in parenthesis are the rankings from the original list.

1. Citizen Kane (1941) (1)
As I said above, I think this film's estimation is based too much on how innovative and influential it is. It is great, but I'd argue that other films took its innovations and achieved more with them.

2. The Godfather (1972) (3)
Nice to see this move up a slot.

3. Casablanca (1942) (2)
No arguments from this quarter.

4. Raging Bull (1980)(24)
A pretty huge jump, from 24 to 4, and one that. frankly, puzzles me. I've seen a fair number of Scorcese's films, and I'd rank Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, hell, The Departed over this. I never quite understood the love this film gets. I enjoyed it well enough, but found it a bit slow, overly deliberate, and a tad too conscious of its own black and white artiness.

5. Singin' in the Rain (1952)(10)
I love Singin' in the Rain, but this seems overly generous.

6. Gone with the Wind (1939)(4)
No desire. Part of me feels I should see it, but I can't work up the will.

7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)(5)
My thinking is that I'll start putting the ones I want to see in my Blockbuster queue, in order. This, then, goes first.

8. Schindler's List (1993)(9)
And the inching up begins. Anyone doubt this will move up another slot or two in 2017?

9. Vertigo (1958)(61)
A huge jump, and one I don't quite get. But I've never seen it, so can't argue. Still, my aforementioned plan is breaking down - there are other films on this list I want to see before I see this.

10. The Wizard of Oz (1939) (6)
This will likely drop out of the top ten in ten years, and that's OK. Still an amazing film. Part of what I love about it is that in amidst all of the tricks and awe-inspiring tings film can achieve, a woman singing a song on a stage in front of a backdrop is still about as powerful a thing as you can get at the movies.

11. City Lights (1931)(76)
Shameful admission #1. I have never seen a Charlie Chaplin film. I guess I should start here.

12. The Searchers (1956)(96)
Shameful admission #2. I have never seen a John Ford film. I guess I should start here. And let's take a moment to note the huge jump. What's going on there?

13. Star Wars (1977)(15)
A little bump. Nice. Although this points to the same "innovation over overall quality" argument from above. I mean, don't most people acknowledge that The Empire Strikes back is a better film?

14. Psycho (1960)(18)
That's a mild blue, though.

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)(22)
I do not like this film. Too enchanted with its own deepness - like The Matrix.

16. Sunset Boulevard (1950)(12)
Nothing grabbing me.

17. The Graduate (1967)(7)
Happy to see this drop some. It's a very well done, funny movie but a bit overrated.

18. The General (1927)
From not on the list at all to #18. Wow. (Although to be fair, this could have been at #101 last time. Which raises a point - how great would it be for AFI to release the entire list, with vote tallies, so we could see what missed the top 100 and by how much.)

19. On the Waterfront (1954)(8)
this will likely be #2 on the Blockbuster list. I do know, and love, the Leonard Bernstein score.

20. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)(11)
This dropping some is fair.

21. Chinatown (1974)(19)
Another one I just didn't get. I liked it well enough, but this great?

22. Some Like It Hot (1959)(14)
I love Jack Lemmon, so make it #3.

23. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)(21)
Actually, this might be #3. I love the novel, and the clips they showed last night were very compelling.

24. E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)(25)
Holding steady, as Casey Kasem would say.

25. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)(34)
Crap. maybe this should be #3. Or #2. I really want to see this.

26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)(29)
Jimmy Stewart dos righteous indignation like nobody's business.

27. High Noon (1952)(33)
Not a huge Westerns fan.

28. All About Eve (1950)(16)
Seemed a bit dated in the clips. Dropped quite a bit too.

29. Double Indemnity (1944)(38)
Not that high up though.

30. Apocalypse Now (1979)(28)
This has been on my Blockbuster list for a long while. got to move it up.

31. The Maltese Falcon (1941)(23)
This is pretty high up on the list as well.

32. The Godfather Part II (1974)(32)
I always find the Cuba stuff a little slow and confusing. Otherwise genius.

33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)(20)
I should go through this list and see how many films The Simpsons has parodied. Probably most of them.

34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)(49)
See above.

35. Annie Hall (1977)(31)
Up there.

36. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) (13)
Way up there. Shameful admission #3 - I have only seen Alec Guinness in Star Wars films. Bad me.

37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)(37)

38. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)(30)
And again.

39. Dr. Strangelove (1964) (26)
George C. Scott was great in the clips.

40. The Sound of Music (1965)(55)
Probably a bit too high.

41. King Kong (1933)(43)
As is this. I know this makes me sound like a neanderthal, but in what way is this film better than the 2005 remake? It's not better acted, or directed, and the special effects are obviously worlds apart. (OK, it's better scored). Oh, yes - but it was first.

42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) (27)
Screw Warren Beatty; it's Gene Hackman that rules.

43. Midnight Cowboy (1969)(36)
I don't think I have ever not liked Dustin Hoffman in a film.

44. The Philadelphia Story (1940) (51)
for some reason, I feel really guilty about this one.

45. Shane (1953)(69)
The story Jeff Bridges told about his brother ruining the fight scene was hilarious. Still - Western.

46. It Happened One Night (1934) (35)
Nothing grabbing me.

47. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)(45)
I've read the play.

48. Rear Window (1954) (42)
I'll get to it some day.

49. Intolerance (1916)
I'm not quite enough of a film buff to rent this.

50. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Prediction: In 2017 this moves up, and The Return of the King joins it on the list.

51. West Side Story (1961)(41)
This should be higher than The Sound of Music.

52. Taxi Driver (1976) (47)
Liked it a lot, didn't fall in love with it.

53. The Deer Hunter (1978)(79)
Need to see if only for Christopher Walken.

54. MASH (1970) (56)

55. North by Northwest (1959) (40)
Someday later.

56. Jaws (1975) (48)
A bit too high.

57. Rocky (1976) (78)
A lot too high. Should be in the 90s.

58. The Gold Rush (1925) (74)
We'll have to see how much I like the first Chaplin I rent.

59. Nashville (1975)
Want to see more now after the brief segment on it.

60. Duck Soup (1933) (85)
Shameful admission #2. I have never seen a Marx Brothers film. I suck.

61. Sullivan's Travels (1941)
No real interest.

62. American Graffiti (1973)(77)
One day.

63. Cabaret (1972)
One day sooner. And did Liza Minnelli look good, surprisingly healthy and cogent, or was it just me?

64. Network (1976) (66)
Although I kind of feel I have already seen it.

65. The African Queen (1951) (17)
Big drop - wonder why? And I'm starting to get depressed by the number of these I want to see.

66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) (60)
Should be moving up, not down.

67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Another play I've read.

68. Unforgiven (1992)(98)
I actually need to see this again. Especially considering its jump.

69. Tootsie (1982) (62)
Is it possible that Bill Murray was never better than in this?

70. A Clockwork Orange (1971) (46)
Although it looks frightening.

71. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Bet this moves up in '17.

72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Bet this moves up more.

73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)(50)
I don't know. This might have to be #1 on my Blockbuster list.

74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)(65)
Maybe a little too high.

75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Not urgent.

76. Forrest Gump (1994)(71)
Probably a little too low.

77. All the President's Men (1976)
Hoffman and a William Goldman script? I need to get on this.

78. Modern Times (1936) (81)

79. The Wild Bunch (1969) (80)
If I had more time, maybe.

80. The Apartment (1960) (93)
Another Lemmon I need to see.

81. Spartacus (1960)
Depression mounting.

82. Sunrise (1927)

83. Titanic (1997)
Bet this drops out in '17. It shouldn't.

84. Easy Rider (1969) (88)
Dirty hippies.

85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
I still suck.

86. Platoon (1986) (83)
Can charlie Sheen act?

87. 12 Angry Men (1957)
That knife moment they showed looked pretty killer.

88. Bringing Up Baby (1938) (97)
Not enough time.

89. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Will move up. And should.

90. Swing Time (1936)
Don't remember anything about this.

91. Sophie's Choice (1982)
I've seen the end already.

92. Goodfellas (1990) (94)
May drop off in '17. Wouldn't crush me.

93. The French Connection (1971) (70)
Does the film tell us why he's named "Popeye?" I've always wondered.

94. Pulp Fiction (1994) (95)
I'm actually very surprised that this didn't move up more. I love, though, that of the three films that vied for awards in 1994 (Forest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, and this), it's Shawshank that came up highest.

95. The Last Picture Show (1971)
Getting to suicidal levels.

96. Do the Right Thing (1989)
Very happy to see this make it. One of my favorite films.

97. Blade Runner (1982)
Another one that I just didn't get all the hooplah about.

98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) (100)
Leaves in '17.

99. Toy Story (1995)
Nemo should be here, really. Except higher.

100. Ben-Hur (1959) (72)
William Goldman's favorite movie.

Until Whenever

1 comment:

Tom the Dog said...

It's funny that a lot of the films you don't want to see are among my very favorites, like It Happened One Night, The Wild Bunch, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Sunset Blvd., all of which are just tremendous. But then, we've already seen how widely our opinions diverge on Titanic and Shawshank, so maybe it's not that surprising.