Friday, May 27, 2005

Friday Night at the Movies

The two Sir Richards of film criticism at Time, Schickel and Corliss, have just revealed their joint effort to list not THE but A Top 100 List of movies that are great or best or not to be missed.

[Link here:]

The list has raised some controversy by design. The critics even say right up front that they have tinkered with the list to NOT BE a definitive list, set in stone, as THE best, not to be amended or argued. Well, their ploy has worked. The list is being compared to many others, including similarly long lists and more selective lists, such as those at Salon and in the Sight & Sound Top Ten Movie Poll taken every ten years since 1952 and last in 2002.

When I was in college, I took a good many classes in film "appreciation" and criticism. Most Monday nights, I'd go to Jester Auditorium and pay about a dollar to see a classic, "important" or intriguing movie, complete with a memeographed set of study notes with which to consider the film and to put it in perspective, to put into both its cinematic and historical contexts. And I'd write papers about everything from "Citizen Kane" to "The Searchers" to "Blow Up" to "Emmanuelle" to "Apocalypse Now." By the time I was about 25, I'd already compiled a list of 100 Favorite Films, a la the 100 list at the back of Hallowell's Film Companion. (All of the films below would make that list now.)

Some movies remain important and the best of the best, and this is a great deal of consensus about them. In many cases, I agree. I know and like the insider/critical ("Citizen Kane," "The 400 Blows," "The Wild Bunch") choices and the people's choices ("The General," "It's a Wonderful Life," "North by Northwest").

What follows are two top movie lists blogged from the hip of ABN - The Top Thirty or So Greatest of the Great (American Classics) and Two Dozen or So I Really Like Myself (a more eclectix mix in addition to the greats).

Here are the Top Thirty or So Greatest of the Great (imminently well crafted, well-acted, well-respected and, above all other factors in this context, WATCHABLE, in roughly chronological order). Each might deserve a viewing every few years, just to keep our sights high....

The General
The Gold Rush
City Lights
Duck Soup
The Thin Man (series)
The Wizard of Oz
Citizen Kane
Fantasia (and now add a few selections from Fantasia 2000, especially the "Rhapsody in Blue" sequence - brilliant)
It's a Wonderful Life
The Big Sleep
The African Queen
Singin' in the Rain
On the Waterfront
Sunset Boulevard
West Side Story
Some Like It Hot
To Kill a Mockingbird
Dr. Strangelove
The Graduate
Bonnie and Clyde
Little Big Man
The Wild Bunch
The Sting
The Godfather(s)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
Dances with Wolves
Schindler's List

And now, Two Dozen or So I Really Like Myself (in addition to the above) - and which easily and readily come to mind right now, thus some more recent than most classics, a few foreign and again, in roughly chronological order...

Destry Rides Again
The Third Man
To Have and Have Not
Paris When It Sizzles
Breaking Away
Cannery Row
Miller's Crossing
The Fisher King
L. A. Story
Unstrung Heroes
The Player
Life is Beautiful
Shakespeare in Love
Waking Life
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Royal Tenenbaums
Big Fish
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind


At 5/29/2005 7:02 PM, Blogger portuguesa nova said...

Your list has me over at Netflix adding to my already impossible-to-get-to-the-bottom of list...I understand that these "official" lists are compiled by Americans for Americans, but wish they'd have more of an international focus...though from that regard the Time list seems better than others.

At 5/30/2005 3:04 AM, Anonymous rq said...

Try LADIES IN LAVENDAR with outstanding performances by Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. Not saying it will make your list, but certainly worth a look and a masterpiece of British understatement. Subtle, American movies are NOT subtle.

At 5/30/2005 8:48 AM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Yes, interesting that the more subtle, artful movies didn't come as readily to mind, and I certainly was not going for a list with any pretentions this round - but perhaps will list more movies and include movie reviews on this blog in the future.

At 6/06/2005 5:57 PM, Anonymous heidi said...

Lawrence, I'm sorry, but I am going to have to take you to the movies someday.

The Royal Tennenbaums??!??! Aw, c'mon!

(shaking my head in despair :))))

This is sad, son, just sad.....

At 6/06/2005 7:00 PM, Blogger Lawrence said...

Royal, it's a movie I love, even more after watching the DVD special features - love Gene and Angelica, love Alec Baldwin's voice over. Love, love some of the scenes. And it is a very crafty movie, not the norm for Hollywood - and quirky, I love quirky!

At 6/07/2005 6:48 AM, Anonymous heidi said...

Arrggghhhhh!!!!!! The horror, the horror!


I'll go the the movies w/ RQ anyday. ;)

At 6/08/2005 5:53 PM, Anonymous i think you know who said...

Lawrence, Lawrence, Lawrence, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Even Kool-Aid comes in many flavors. No filmaker is better than Kurosawa. IKIRU (hankie required)is always on my top 5 list and RASHOMON and DERSU UZALA are also wonderful. Tarkovsky must be experienced. THE SACRIFICE is difficult, appropriate for someone struggling to keep his sanity, vainly or not, and beautiful. Assail your internal movie clock (you'll know what I mean) by sampling the Iranian,
Kiarostami. I really liked A TASTE OF CHERRY. Just one more in an exercise that could go on and on, maybe not best of quality but just skip one of THE THIN MAN series and see Bunuel's THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE.
"A better nation can be in America's future only after she is honest about her past. A good place to start would be to scrape the rapists off of Mt. Rushmore" Anon.


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