Sunday, July 01, 2007

AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies -- 10th Anniversary Edition (Part 4)

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

After blathering on in parts 1 and 2, I finally got to the actual AFI list in part 3. I covered the first 50 films, there; here are the remaining 50. Feel free to jump in with any notes!

51. West Side Story (-10)
One of my favorite musicals, as I recently mentioned. It's silly in many ways, if you turn too critical an eye on it, but sometimes you have to unplug from the irony machine and enjoy something for the pure entertainment it is -- and West Side is one of those instances.

52. Taxi Driver (-5)
My favorite Scorsese film, bar none. I'd put this way higher on the list, obviously, and I'm not pleased it's moving down.

53. The Deer Hunter (+26)
I'm very surprised by the big jump up the list for this. I loved the movie, and I think it's still tremendously affecting today, but I didn't expect the critical consensus of it would so dramatically increase over the past decade. I'm not displeased that it has.

54. M*A*S*H (+2)
Probably Robert Altman's fourth or fifth best film, but the one with the biggest pop culture impact, so of course it places highest on the list. What would I put ahead of it? Glad you asked! McCabe & Mrs. Miller, of course, which I think is one of the four or five best movies ever made. Nashville, which, if you'll cast your eyes downward, is five spots south of here. The Player, for sure. The Long Goodbye, I'd say. Maybe even Gosford Park. And of course O.C. & Stiggs. (No, not really. Sorry, Mike!) Then M*A*S*H. And I still haven't even seen California Split, so I might revise my opinion further. This is not to suggest I didn't love M*A*S*H -- I loved the film, the TV show, and the original series of comic novels. I just don't think this is Altman's best.

55. North by Northwest (-15)
Probably my second favorite Hitchcock. Cary Grant is awesome.

56. Jaws (-8)
If you're going to go with pure summer blockbuster entertainment, I'd put Raiders ahead of this. But then, this movie basically invented summer blockbuster entertainment, so I guess the ranking is fair.

57. Rocky (+21)
Another surprising big move up. I love this movie, and I think those who scorn it are thinking more of its sequels, or resenting it for the films it beat for the Best Picture Oscar, than of this excellent, heartfelt original.

58. The Gold Rush (+16)
Chaplin again. This is the one where he eats his shoe, right? I gotta watch me some of his films.

59. Nashville (N)
Most critics would probably call this Altman's best film. I'd call it his second best. Either way, I'm heartened to see it added to the list, and I hope to see it move up in revisions to come.

60. Duck Soup (+25)
More positive recognition for the Marx Brothers is just fine with me.

61. Sullivan's Travels (N)
I've never seen a Preston Sturges film, as far as I know, and I understand this is the one I most have to see. From descriptions of it, it sounds perfectly suited to my sensibilities, and I really, really have to rent it soon.

62. American Graffiti (+15)
I've never seen this all the way through. Shocking! Eh, I saw Happy Days. Same thing. (That's a joke.) I'm surprised again by a big move up the list. If anything, I'd expect Lucas films to be moving down, following the disaster that was the second trilogy. Oh well.

63. Cabaret (N)
Never seen it. I probably will, some day, but I'm in no hurry.

64. Network (+2)
I loved this movie. In some ways, it feels very dated -- but in other ways, it still feels ahead of its time.

65. The African Queen (-48)
Huge drop! I can't cast blame; it shouldn't have been a top 20 film to begin with. Still: John Huston + Humphrey Bogart + Katharine Hepburn = a slice of fried gold. I'm glad it didn't drop all the way off the list.

66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (-6)
Great stuff. Obviously.

67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (N)
I really want to see this.

68. Unforgiven (+30)
I love this movie -- it's in my top ten, easily, maybe top five. To me, it's the film of the '90s, rather than Goodfellas or Pulp Fiction or Fargo or whatever else you want to name. I would go so far as to call it the best film of the past twenty years. I think it's brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Watch it again, and pay attention to the power of the stories told within it. Nearly every story turns out to be a lie, from the tales the whores tell to get a gunslinger to avenge them, to English Bob's florid exaggerations, to the Schofield Kid's boasts of his killing prowess. All of which make Will Munny's murderous reputation all the more powerful -- first, when we believe the stories being told to us, as a weapon of fear, and then, after we begin dismissing the stories, as a horrific reminder that some stories are still true. God, I want to quit this post and go rewatch it right now. Love, love, love this movie.

69. Tootsie (-7)
Never seen it all the way through, but I've seen enough of it to wonder what all the fuss is about. Dustin Hoffman puts on a dress -- ha ha? As I said in part 3, Some Like It Hot was the last time men wearing dresses was funny, so that's already a mark against it. How the hell has this gotten a reputation as one of the best movies ever made?? I thought it was funny, the bits of it I've seen, but 100 best movies funny? Uh-uh.

70. A Clockwork Orange (-24)
Big drop down. I think as it becomes less taboo, it becomes less appreciated. Still very powerful.

71. Saving Private Ryan (N)
One of my favorite Spielberg films. Some people think it craps out after the harrowing half hour Normandy Beach opening scene; I disagree. I'm happy to see it added to the list.

72. The Shawshank Redemption (N)
I've said enough about this in part 1 already.

73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (-23)
Another big drop down the ranks. This is tremendously entertaining, but I don't mind seeing it slip.

74. The Silence of the Lambs (-9)
A very good horror movie, with a crappy ending. (The Buffalo Bill ending, I mean; the Hannibal ending is satisfying, although the fact that we've come to root for a serial killer is disturbing, which is perhaps what helps to make it such a fine ending to his story.) I wouldn't put it on this list, though.

75. In the Heat of the Night (N)
I suspect this is a very dated film, even though I've never seen it. Its entry to the list surprises me.

76. Forrest Gump (-5)
I loved this movie when I first saw it, and pretty much every minute after I saw it, it has sunk in my esteem. It's so facile, so manipulative, so shallow. Doesn't belong on this list.

77. All The President's Men (N)
I dig Redford and Hoffman, and Nixon resigned on my fourth birthday, which somehow makes me feel strangely close to the Watergate scandal. I really should've seen this by now. And yet -- I can never build up the interest to watch it. Some day.

78. Modern Times (+3)
Chaplin again! Curse you and your skinny walking stick!

79. The Wild Bunch (+1)
I'm a huge fan of this film, which, along with Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood's famous trilogy, redefined the Western. But if Leone added (or glorified) moral ambiguity to the genre, Peckinpah turned the corner to nihilism, along with several kegs of blood.

80. The Apartment (+13)
Maybe my second favorite Billy Wilder film, and perhaps Jack Lemmon's finest role. I like that it's climbing up.

81. Spartacus (N)
I liked it. I don't know that I like it enough to add it to this list, but I won't argue against it.

82. Sunrise (N)
Another silent film I've never seen. And I'll tell you what: I'll do you all a favor, and completely skip commenting again on the next entry.

83. Titanic (N)

84. Easy Rider (+4)
A cultural touchstone, but is it really all that great? I would vote no.

85. A Night at the Opera (N)
More Marx Brothers is okay with me!

86. Platoon (-3)
My world was rocked by this film back in high school. I watched part of it again recently, and, while still good, it didn't hold near that same power. I suspect it'll be gone when the next list is made.

87. 12 Angry Men (N)
Sure, they're angry! They're too dumb to get out of jury duty! The previous joke was intended to divert attention from the fact that I've never seen this movie.

88. Bringing Up Baby (+9)
I can't believe I haven't seen this, especially when I was going through my Hepburn/Grant/Stewart frenzy, post-Philadelphia Story, about fifteen years ago. I bet I will love it, when I get around to it.

89. The Sixth Sense (N)
Good movie. Won't be here next time around.

90. Swing Time (N)
I should see more Astaire/Rogers.

91. Sophie's Choice (N)
I may never see this. It's hard to get primed for a good depressing flick.

92. Goodfellas (+2)
One of the best films from the '90s, and, having seen the ignominious treatment of Fargo, inexplicably dropped from the list, it should be grateful it's still clinging to the bottom ten. It's probably not, though. It's an inanimate object, after all.

93. The French Connection (-23)
Big drop. I thought this was merely okay. Maybe I should rewatch it, but I don't think my opinion will change.

94. Pulp Fiction (+1)
I think this should be higher, at least 20 spots higher. The one spot jump up doesn't bode well for its future on this kind of list; it's still scraping the bottom.

95. The Last Picture Show (N)
Pretty good. Shouldn't have been added to the mix.

96. Do the Right Thing (N)
My friend Matt tells me this doesn't hold up as well as I think it does. I need to rewatch it. But until I do, I maintain this should be way higher on the list.

97. Blade Runner (N)
I'm cool with seeing this fairly random choice here. But you know what? If you're gonna throw a bone to a genre film like this -- pick RoboCop. Seriously. Come on, do me a solid, people!

98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (+2)
Never seen it.

99. Toy Story (N)
I'd rather see The Incredibles up here, but this is fine, too.

100. Ben-Hur (-28)
Barely clinging on to the list, after a precipitous drop. I'd really like to see it. Add it to the "some day" list.

I've only seen 34 of this bottom 50, which makes a total of 75 out of the whole 100. Hey, three quarters ain't bad! But I've been reminded of the major gaps that still exist in my film knowledge. Which is what makes the list worthwhile in the first place. To the video store!

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