Friday, November 13, 2009

My 100ish Best American Films - Updated

In 1998, the American Film Institute put on a 100 Best American Movies show. I’ve long been interested in movies—I was publicity director for my university’s film group--so I put together my own list at the time. It wasn’t markedly different from the AFI’s list but did generally incorporate more comedies and removed some films that were arguably more important than objectively excellent.

no-country-for-old-men-poster

In the years since I’ve occasionally discussed the list with friends. New deserving films have come onto the scene. I’ve also taken a fresh look at some films I included on my list or excluded from it and tweaked my opinion in a couple of cases.

This new list is based on all that. It also cheats. Although I did prune a few movies that were probably near the bottom of my best-of rankings, I came to the conclusion that sticking to a strict 100 movies list would result in two things happening: Eliminating some older films that, while still enjoyable, require a certain historical perspective to fully appreciate and eliminating some newer films that I very much like today but may or may not stand the test of time.

I didn’t go nuts but there are maybe ten or so extra films. Much of the commentary from my earlier list still applies; I didn’t go hog-wild adding a lot of separate films on a similar theme or in a similar style (think Woody Allen or Pixar). In addition, while I haven’t included anything just because it’s supposed to be “great film-making,” I haven’t necessarily included movies that I like but would have trouble justifying as “best” or “ground-breaking” in some respect. (Thus, a number of favorite science fiction films are excluded.) This isn’t a films-for-a-desert-island list although the two would have a fair bit of overlap.

At some point perhaps I’ll add some commentary to these choices but, for now, here’s the list.

  • 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
  • ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, THE (1938)
  • AFRICAN QUEEN, THE (1951)
  • ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
  • ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930)
  • ALMOST FAMOUS (2000)
  • AMADEUS (1984)
  • AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973)
  • ANNIE HALL (1977)
  • ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944)
  • APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
  • AVIATOR, THE (2004)
  • BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)
  • BIG CHILL, THE (1983)
  • BLADE RUNNER (1982)
  • BONNIE & CLYDE (1967)
  • BRAZIL (1985)
  • BREAKER MORANT (1980)
  • BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S (1961)
  • BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE (1935)
  • BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, THE (1957)
  • BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
  • BULL DURHAM (1988)
  • BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
  • CASABLANCA (1942)
  • CHINATOWN (1974)
  • CITIZEN KANE (1941)
  • CLOCKWORK ORANGE, A (1971)
  • CABARET (1972)
  • CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981)
  • DAY OF THE JACKAL, THE (1973)
  • DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
  • DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)
  • DUCK SOUP (1933) [but it could just as easily be NIGHT AT THE OPERA (1935)]
  • ED WOOD (1994)
  • ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
  • FANTASIA (1940)
  • FARGO (1996)
  • FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956)
  • FRENCH CONNECTION, THE (1971)
  • FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)
  • GIANT (1956)
  • GODFATHER, THE (1972) and GODFATHER PART II, THE (1974)
  • GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
  • GOODFELLAS (1990)
  • GRADUATE, THE (1967)
  • GRAPES OF WRATH, THE (1940)
  • GUNGA DIN (1939)
  • HAROLD AND MAUDE (1972)
  • HIGH NOON (1952)
  • HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940)
  • INHERIT THE WIND (1960)
  • IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
  • KING KONG (1933)
  • LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
  • LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1995)
  • LIFE OF BRIAN (1979)
  • LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy (2001/2/3)
  • LOST IN TRANSLATION
  • MALTESE FALCON, THE (1941)
  • MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, THE (1975)
  • MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, THE (1962)
  • MARY POPPINS (1964)
  • M*A*S*H (1970)
  • MATRIX, THE (1999)
  • MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939)
  • MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935)
  • MY FAIR LADY (1964)
  • NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)
  • NETWORK (1976)
  • NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
  • ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)
  • PAPER CHASE, THE (1973)
  • PATTON (1970)
  • PHILADELPHIA STORY, THE (1940)
  • PINOCCHIO (1940)
  • PLAYER, THE (1992)
  • PRODUCERS, THE (1968)
  • PSYCHO (1960)
  • PULP FICTION (1994)
  • RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
  • REBECCA (1940)
  • REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955)
  • SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993)
  • SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998)
  • SIDEWAYS (2004)
  • SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, THE (1991)
  • SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)
  • SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
  • SOUND OF MUSIC, THE (1965)
  • STAR WARS (1977) and EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, THE (1980)
  • STING, THE (1973)
  • STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, A (1951)
  • SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
  • TAXI DRIVER (1976)
  • THIN MAN, THE (1934)
  • THIRD MAN, THE (1949)
  • TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
  • WALL-E (2008) – or just about any other Pixar film of your choice
  • WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989)
  • WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988)
  • WIZARD OF OZ, THE (1939)
  • WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939)
  • YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, THE (1983)

Silents: GENERAL, THE (1927) GOLD RUSH, THE (1925) INTOLERANCE (1916) MODERN TIMES (1936) SAFETY LAST (1923) THIEF OF BAGDAD, THE (1924)

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