AFI Top 100
June 21, 2007 9:30 PM   Subscribe

The American Film Institute decided the need for more money an update to their 1998 list of the 100 Greatest Movies was so pressing that they made a new list. Ebert (and friends) ask where's Fargo?. The IHT wonders why the past decade has only spawned four new, worthy movies. And, generally, no one seems super excited about it. (some links go to wikipedia to avoid registration on AFI's site).
posted by ztdavis (86 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting how few movies had female leads.
posted by papakwanz at 9:33 PM on June 21, 2007

Well I'm glad *that's* solved.
posted by mazola at 9:33 PM on June 21, 2007

And this seems like a good chance to post this great list compiled by our own yankeefog.

(disclaimer: in response to my own ask question last year)

(can there be intramefi self link violations?)
posted by ztdavis at 9:35 PM on June 21, 2007

I saw this when it aired only because my cable was out. Same old tired, lame top 10 safe movies. Completely boring. Also, the big lebowski wasn't on there anywhere.
posted by puke & cry at 9:35 PM on June 21, 2007

I will be taken for a troll, but so it goes: the Coen brothers do not make great films. Often interesting, usually cynical, but great? No way.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:41 PM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Completely boring... the big lebowski wasn't on there anywhere.
Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

*Reads updated list*

Star Wars gets bumped up two, and The Sixth Stupid Sense?
Feck this shite.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:42 PM on June 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

the Coen brothers do not make great films.

You mean great like Tootsie (62)?

The interesting thing in comparing the two lists is to see the big leaps and dives. Vertigo leaping fifty places to become the top rated Hitchcock movie? The Searchers leap sixty points, probably because of the boffo DVD last year. The African Queen drops fifty places? Ben Hur one step away from dropping off the list, and good riddance, too.

Godfather climbs one notch towards its inevitable displacement of Citizen Kane at #1. The Graduate begins its plunge that will speed up as Baby Boomers drop dead. It will be more fun to compare this list to one in twenty years (betcha Sixth Sense isn't on it).
posted by Bookhouse at 9:55 PM on June 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I have here a heartfelt message from a reader who urges me not to be so hard on stupid films, because they are 'plenty smart enough for the average moviegoer.' Yes, but one hopes being an average moviegoer is not the end of the road: that one starts as a below-average filmgoer, passes through average, and, guided by the labors of America's hardworking film critics, arrives in triumph at above-average.

Yeah. I have to agree with this. I don't know about the "guided by the critics" bit, but the "average moviegoer" argument has always annoyed the piss out of me. If you're using the stupidity of some hypothetical audience as a defense, you've already lost the argument. This comes up again and again when I discuss The Matrix. (*ducks*)

At any rate, I've seen most of the movies on that list and liked most of the ones I've seen. Are they the best? Dunno. My favorite movie of all time is John Carpenter's The Thing, so perhaps I'm not the person to go to. It seems like a safe, harmless list. Nothing I'd get my panties in a bunch over.
posted by brundlefly at 9:57 PM on June 21, 2007

Bookhouse, yeah. Sixth Sense won't be on it, but if The Searchers is missing, I'm resigning from the human race.
posted by brundlefly at 9:59 PM on June 21, 2007

Schindler's List needs to move way the fuck down that list [NOT HITLERIST]
posted by dhammond at 10:01 PM on June 21, 2007

brundlefly, you've seen IMDB's top 100, surely? Their list, since it is based on user votes, is very heavily weight towards the kind of guy (or gal) that likes movies like The Thing. Or anything Tarantino. Or recent.
posted by ztdavis at 10:02 PM on June 21, 2007

Im all for the MacGuffin, but The Sixth Sense is all MacGuffin.

After youve seen it once or twice, theres no reason to ever bother again.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:04 PM on June 21, 2007

ztdavis, you're lumping The Thing together with Tarantino? Thems fightin' words! :)

Carpenter seems influenced by some of the older directors that I like (Hawkes, Ford), whereas Tarantino just seems to reference them.
posted by brundlefly at 10:08 PM on June 21, 2007

My favorite movie of all time is John Carpenter's The Thing

Ah, good point. That isn't on there anywhere either. wtf, man.
posted by puke & cry at 10:09 PM on June 21, 2007

Senor Cardgage, what do you mean? What's the MacGuffin is The Sixth Sense?
posted by Bookhouse at 10:09 PM on June 21, 2007

Fuck Fargo. Where's Mulholland Drive?!
posted by dobbs at 10:10 PM on June 21, 2007

I am flabbergasted at Forrest Gump and Titanic being on the list. Is there something wrong with me? I thought they both were huge formulaic movies, with absolutely no subtlety. I don't get it.
posted by generic230 at 10:15 PM on June 21, 2007 [3 favorites]

What? NO Planet of the Apes?
Or Sperms of Endearment!

I have a mind to write my congressman. If I knew who that was. If they were in Saving Ryan's Privates I would.

But. yeah. Adding The Sixth Sense in there was fucking lame.
posted by tkchrist at 10:16 PM on June 21, 2007

Schindler's List needs to move way the fuck down that list

Or off the list entirely. The only film that should be made about the Holocaust is Shoah.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:16 PM on June 21, 2007

Now that you mention it, Bookhouse, yeah. A big-ass twist doesn't equal MacGuffin. You're right, S. Cardgage, that The 6th Sense doesn't hold up over multiple viewings, but a MacGuffin is an interchangeable something that drives a plot. A really obvious example would be the skate case in Ronin.

Also, fuck Mulholland Drive. Where's Lost Highway?!
posted by brundlefly at 10:18 PM on June 21, 2007

"A Night at the Opera" replaced "Duck Soup".
I disagree with this list.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 10:23 PM on June 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

What? NO Planet of the Apes?
Or Sperms of Endearment!

I think you mean "Planet of the Gapes". And don't google that.
posted by puke & cry at 10:26 PM on June 21, 2007

The only worthwhile thing to come out of the superfluous, three-hour CBS special was the one minute commercial for the (long rumored) Blade Runner final cut rerelease.
posted by Curry at 10:33 PM on June 21, 2007

If this list had any integrity whatsoever, the only changes would be the inclusion of new movies, and the consequent shifting down of old entries.

If any of the movies that were on the original list were reordered relative to each other then that's essentially an admission that this is all PR and money grubbing. It's not like "Casablanca" or "The Godfather" have changed in the last ten years, so there should be no reason for them to have switched places.
posted by Riki tiki at 10:34 PM on June 21, 2007

Please, not E.T. Not twice.
Yay, Buster Keaton!

27 27
33 33
36 36
39 39 39
40 40
41 41 41
42 42
46 46
50 50
51 51
52 52
54 54
57 57
59 59 59
60 60 60
62 62
67 67 67
69 69 69 69
71 71 71
72 72
74 74
75 75 75
76 76 76 76
77 77
82 82 82 82
90 90
94 94 94
posted by the Real Dan at 10:48 PM on June 21, 2007

Speaking of Tootsie I got that on netflix recently with Hoffmans other "great" Krammer vs. Krammer. What a horrifyingly bad piece of shit. Both of them. I remember seeing them before when I was a teenager. But lordie. Talk about not holding up.

It's not like "Casablanca" or "The Godfather" have changed

Oh. You did know about the directors cut they uncovered with the original ending. They are on the tarmac and Rick turns to Victor and kicks him the nuts while Louie holds his Victors arms behind his back. "Your not even French, you goddamned poser! YOUR AUSTRIAN! Here's your papers of transit you pompous idiot!" Yells Rick as he punchines Laszlo. And then he and Ilsa board the plane for Cuba to sit out the war fucking each other stupid.
posted by tkchrist at 11:15 PM on June 21, 2007 [4 favorites]

This list lead me to some web searching, and I was surprised not only that there was a US conference of Catholic Bishops film rating office, but that they recommended "Little Miss Sunshine" in their top 10 of 2006.

The only movie of the four new ones that I'd have considered putting on the list is Saving Private Ryan.

I think the problem with an AFI list is that the great movies are increasingly foreign made. I predict the list will devolve considerably with time.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:51 PM on June 21, 2007

The AFI lists always remind me of Seanbaby and Old Man Murray. Ah, memories. I wish they finished this list.
posted by painquale at 11:55 PM on June 21, 2007

I like this newer list better, especially since The General has made it.

Remember, it's the 100 greatest movies, not 100 best movies. You can browse the Criteron collection if you want to see a list of the best movies ever made.
posted by parallax7d at 12:13 AM on June 22, 2007

Young Frankenstein, people. Yes, in my personal inventory, it just edges out Dr. Strangelove.


Since we're all listing our personal outrages, I will simply offer that E.T. is embarrassing Spielbergian pap and that Easy Rider is a nearly unwatchable disaster.

If you give me a couple years, I'll make this list by filming Metafilter: Skot Is An Idiot Douche, a documentary about how I'm an idiot douche, with my moronic past comments narrated by people like Morgan Freeman and Paul Rudd, and occasional asides with Marlee Matlin explaining my comments in the context of my deep connection with Ramtha.

You will all cry in your chairs, I promise you. Because it's going to be terrible. Whether it's going to be terrible enough to make this list, I don't know.

That's up to the future. And Ramtha. Blessed be.
posted by Skot at 12:16 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Speaking of Tootsie ... Talk about not holding up.

Hm, it's been a while for me, but Bill Murray and Teri Garr and Pollack's acting debut? Yes, Hoffman at his most whiny, and drag is not exactly cutting edge anymore (if it ever was *cough* Some Like It Hot), but what a great cast. Except for the banana. The banana was the worst bit. Anyway, this was probably the film that I most underestimated how much I would like it before actually seeing it. But you're right that this was very much a movie of a moment, probably made at the last moment when it would make sense to.

the Coen brothers do not make great films

I need unguent.

Seriously, quality varies, and I could almost lose the argument on The Ladykillers alone, but Fargo is my vote for the most American film of the 90s, and Miller's Crossing is endlessly watchable, and Lebowski is such an entity unto itself as a piece of filmmaking you don't know what to do with it.

Anyway, I do think this list is most effectively analyzed in social terms, such as the way that The Graduate seems to have fallen slightly from favor or that Birth of a Nation has been replaced by Intolerance. It's a shame that The General, Sullivan's Travels, The Last Picture Show and Blade Runner weren't on the first list to begin with, and there are several that are no great loss to fall off it such as My Fair Lady, but how on earth have people forgotten The Third Man? Then you have the constituency nominees (including Blade Runner) like Do the Right Thing (probably deserved) and Toy Story (which if it didn't demonstrate a new form of animation would simply be a highly successful cute story).

And of course I could nominate half-a-dozen great films that weren't, apparently, even balloted, from The Misfits to Five Easy Pieces.
posted by dhartung at 12:29 AM on June 22, 2007

I saw Tootsie in the theater when it came and and thought it incredibly stupid shit. This was my reaction when considering contemporary action. Might as well have put "9 to 5" in there too, the same kind of stupid shit. Seriously, just having a great cast isn't any indicator of a great movie.
posted by Eekacat at 12:49 AM on June 22, 2007

All I can do, when I look at the majority of this list, is remember what MacReady might say -

"Yeah? Well, fuck you too!"

(Yay on Miller's Crossing!)

(And Toy Story got me a lot of weird looks when I completely lost laughter management skills when noticing the sign from 'Virtual Realty'...)
posted by Samizdata at 12:50 AM on June 22, 2007

(The MacReady line always struck me as brilliant since that's the sort of thing a 'real badass' would say in 'real life.')
posted by Samizdata at 12:51 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

What's the problem with ET? It's for kids you old cynical bastards, and inspired a damn lot of them.

They could've at least given Carpenter an entry with Halloween or Escape from New York.
posted by Roman Graves at 3:38 AM on June 22, 2007

Apparently, when Eekacat was a kid, a comedy movie stole his lunch money.

I don't see what those two movies have in common beyond, you know, Dabney Coleman, and of course Tootsie is not just a great cast but a great director and an almost-great writer, and it's on the National Film Registry, and it won an Oscar for Jessica Lange, and so forth.

Anyway. Trying to suss out what it is about the movies that changed position or came on or off the list entirely, the major factor seems to be cultural relevance. The Cold War probably influenced the position of both Zhivago and Strangelove, for instance. Nowadays not even college seniors remember the Cold War. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is an historical relic in these days of a multicultural America (and as Atrios recently noted, the really odd thing looking back is that nobody in the movie is the slightest bit bothered at a 40ish man picking up a 20ish woman at a faculty party). Butch Cassidy and Bonnie and Clyde speak to an outlaw-as-rebel cultural moment that is no longer celebrated. A Clockwork Orange was about society on the brink, but we muddled through after all (and the message about society as psychological conditioning isn't popular anymore).

I'm not sure that I find such a common theme among the new movies, though. Some of them just really should have been there already, but why they are newly recognized as relevant, I'm unable to say. All the Presiden'ts Men and Spartacus -- perhaps even Cabaret -- may be bows to political realities.

And I can't figure out how Ben-Hur hung on by the skin of its teeth.
posted by dhartung at 4:17 AM on June 22, 2007

What? No Goonies? Pfft!
posted by chillmost at 4:50 AM on June 22, 2007

Well, waddaya expect from a list produced by public votes? Of course crap like Tootsie is going to be on it. Every septuagenarian in the country gets a chuckle out of it. Even my hard-core religious in-laws love that movie.

Frankly, I don't think a list like this should be allowed to include any movies made in the past 20-25 years or so, to help weed-out the newness and familiarity. Any movie included in a list such as this should have some proven legs.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:04 AM on June 22, 2007

If we're going to put Lynch in there, Muholland Drive? Fuck that shit, Pabst! Blue! Ribbon!!

I would be happier with these sorts of lists if they were expanded to be, say, 230 films, then broke them out, giving each decade only 20 films to select. This would mediate two tendencies: the urge of old fogey movie critics to worship wretched, ancient, wooden black and white films, and the unfortunate lack of brainspace the average moviegoer has, wherein xXx: State of the Union kicks out the most recent thing they saw, like Chinatown.

I don't even know anyone who has seen Yankee Doodle Dandy. Surely it would have filtered down to the hoi-polloi if it were that great, right? And on the other side, IMDB always has an early ratings spike in movies that will eventually taper down to a more reasonable ranking once the advertising and rush from the 64 oz "BladderBuster" soda has worn off.

Bah, silly lists. Also, I'm with Brundlefly; one day film critics will wake up and realize that The Thing was the Ben Hur of its day, look at its unrated status; say, "You gotta be fuckin' kidding me;" and give it a little love.
posted by adipocere at 5:23 AM on June 22, 2007

What's the problem with ET? It's for kids you old cynical bastards, and inspired a damn lot of them.

Not this one. This kid had to be carried out of the theater sobbing hysterically. Here's what I remember about it: there's this wondeful alien, who becomes friends with a little boy. How Wonderful! I'd sure like to be friends with that alien! Oh, my god, scary men with guns chasing the wonderful alien! Then, hey, what's that? Hey, E.T. is laying dead in the bottom of a gully! WHAT THE FUCK!?

Sure, maybe a lot of other six-year-olds in the theater, more familiar with Hollywood conventions, realized that E.T. wasn't really dead, but I lost my shit. Lost. My. Shit. I still don't like to think about it. It's right up there with the time my babysitter showed me Sleepaway Camp.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:26 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

I wonder anew why The Producers never seems to make lists like these. And when it comes to telling a war story competently and honestly, A Bridge Too Far is hella better than that manipulative POS Saving Private Ryan.
posted by pax digita at 5:32 AM on June 22, 2007


Well, I guess they needed one with a female lead.
posted by sfts2 at 5:54 AM on June 22, 2007

What's the problem with ET? It's for kids you old cynical bastards, and inspired a damn lot of them.

But see, the thing is (and I love ET, just as I love almost all Spielberg movies) that when people talk about "Spielbergian sentimentalism," and so on, I don't quite agree. Steven Spielberg is one of the bitterest commercially successful directors working. No mainstream director is as consistently subversive; no director is so fully committed to depicting the failure of the ideal of the 1980s American nuclear family.

Time and again in his movies you get a nuclear family that's abandoned by its father figure to chase some wild-eyed fantasy, because in Spielberg's world families just aren't meant to hold together, for people prefer idle idealistic fantasies to the family structure that's supposed to be the realization of the American dream. In Jaws the family gets abandoned for some guy to chase a giant shark. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind the family (which is even more deliberately annoying, especially the screaming kids) gets abandoned for some guy to chase a spaceship. In Hook the family gets abandoned for some guy to play Peter Pan. And ET is a pretty clever trick, because while you, the audience member, are distracted by the little animatronic alien making its quirky noises, just as if you're the standard Spielberg protagonist, you don't have your eye on the ball--you're not noticing the single mother in the kitchen who drifts off to the edge of the frame and cries for a little while, then turns and re-enters the action with a false smile on her face as if there's nothing wrong. And listen to the wisecracks that the doctors make over ET's corpse--that is a complicated and bitter movie, with a deliberate sugarcoating to make the subversion commercially palatable.

The further in Spielberg's career we go, the more cynical he gets, and he still gets a sentimental rap. In A.I. we even get a movie that ends with [spoiler] a child cheerfully climbing into bed with the corpse of his own mother [end spoiler] and the general consensus is still, "Well, that movie was great, until it turned into a Spielberg movie."
posted by Prospero at 6:10 AM on June 22, 2007 [34 favorites]

"I brought you a copy of Sleepaway Camp, now wasn't that nice of me, hmmmmm?" I don't suppose your parents found out. "Oh no no, I'm afraid that they wouldn't approve of that at all."
posted by adipocere at 6:13 AM on June 22, 2007

I don't see a problem with only 4 films in the last decade being added to the list; obviously time is a huge factor in determining something's historical significance.

Yeah, but THESE films? Bah! Bah especially upon The Sixth Sense, but I'm not hugely swayed by the others, either. I'm not even really swayed by the argument that the last ten years of American filmmaking have been dross. Off the top of my head, and echoing others, I'd have to nominate Titus, Fight Club, American Beauty and LA Confidential as four films as worthy or worthier of inclusion...and okay, now that I think about it, none of those movies was released in the '00s, which is maybe saying something, but whatever -- point is, it's not ALL crap, even now.

(Man, but The Sixth Sense bothers me, though. I liked it and everything, but what the fuck. I'm sorry, but The Ring is a better movie than the goddamned Sixth Sense -- BY FAR -- and I would never in a million years dream of suggesting the AFI list include that!)

I'm liking Vertigo's ascent, however. I imagine it has a lot to do with added attention due to the amazing restoration done a few years back, but I still think it may be the best of Hitchcock's thrillers. It's almost certainly the perviest and strangest.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:31 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Frankly, I don't think a list like this should be allowed to include any movies made in the past 20-25 years or so, to help weed-out the newness and familiarity.

Maybe. That would cut:

Platoon (1986)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Goodfellas (1990)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Unforgiven (1992)
Schindler's List (1993)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Toy Story (1995)
Titanic (1997)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

But if I had to make a rule like that, mine would be to have high box-office rank count against a film in a weighting scheme. Anything so LCD that it thrills me and all the gum-snappers and cell-phone yakkers in the row behind me (get off my lawn!) probably depends a lot on easy button-pushing (like you goddamned kids with your phones!).

And of course there's age: a list like this should be broken down by the age of the critics. Click a minimum and maximum age and then calculate the list. Not like most 20-year-olds really care what the octogenarian critics voted for, but it might help them to avoid certain films.
posted by pracowity at 6:37 AM on June 22, 2007

Very nicely articulated, Prospero. I've been trying to explain to people my appreciation of Spielberg in general (and the "happy ending" of A.I. in particular) for a long time, and you've done it much better than I have. I think I'll just link to your comment from now on.
posted by brundlefly at 6:43 AM on June 22, 2007

Since I'd rather not get dragged into the "movie x? what a piece of crap!" discussion, let me just say this.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (#67) is a fantastic addition to this list.

And - I dare say - a good rental for all of y'all this weekend.
Richard Burton is insanely good.

Tbola sez "check it out".
posted by Tbola at 6:56 AM on June 22, 2007

So ET replaces all its guns with flashlights and walkie-talkies and only falls one place?

Dang, I'd love to see what'll happen to The Godfather when it follows suit. Sonny all killed out by the toll-booth from horrible glare and static, Michael taking the cannolli but leaving the Mag-Lite - wait, that'd be awesome!

Look out, Citizen Kane!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:04 AM on June 22, 2007

And how!

What always blew me away was Spielberg's reputation as the safe, sentimental, family film director! when he was a fucking GORE FIEND! You go back to Jaws and you follow it all the way up, and that man constantly relies on really gruesome elements to further his stories along.

I'm not saying they're half bad, in fact, I dig most of them, but it always killed me to hear him get this reputation of vanilla when he had so much, well, naughtiness going on.
posted by cavalier at 7:08 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

I think the new list is a bit better than the old one.
posted by caddis at 7:15 AM on June 22, 2007

1. Seeing Forrest Gump on lists like this makes me immediately fanatasize about emptying out a tommy gun's clip into the fucking idiots who voted for it.

2. Count me in on the bandwagon to get The Big Lebowski more critical recognition. That movie's so brilliant it hurts.

3. So, my wife and I have started this program wherein we each made a list of 8 movies (7 good, one awful), and we take turns doing a little research about a movie on our list, and then spend an evening giving a little presentation over drinks about the context/initial reception/whatever of the movie, and then go home and watching it. It's a blast, and I really recommend doing something like that. It's interesting to see how much we deviate from the AFI list... although I suppose in a lot of cases, we've just picked different films from recognized directors (oh, and my eighth film, the rotten one, is The Devil's Advocate, and I defy you to find a worse movie than that steaming hunk of shit)
posted by COBRA! at 7:20 AM on June 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Tootsie and The 6th Sense, but no Cassavetes? What-everrrrr.
posted by squirrel at 7:23 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Spielberg apologists amuse me.
posted by JT at 7:35 AM on June 22, 2007 [3 favorites]

The Devil's Advocate, and I defy you to find a worse movie than that steaming hunk of shit
Oh come now! I think Al Pacino chews on the scenes quite handsomely in that film. He vaccilates wildly from actually chewing them, mouth a gape, to just nibbling on the sides. I'll have to see it again now to remind myself. Now, the rest of the movie, that was shite.
posted by cavalier at 7:45 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

This is just like those crap music lists that Rolling Stone keeps generating - it's just that AFI masturbating over movies instead of music. Any discerning movie (or music) fan could find at least 35% of the entries don't deserve to be there.

But as a nerd I am glad to see LOTR on the list...
posted by Ber at 8:00 AM on June 22, 2007

What we need is a list of lists of movie lists.
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:08 AM on June 22, 2007

Fargo was crap.

You know I'm right.
posted by tadellin at 8:30 AM on June 22, 2007

I could watch Fargo 100 times. But then I could also watch the original Italian Job--the one with Michael Caine--100 times. Stupid Rosebud.
posted by Lady Penelope at 8:35 AM on June 22, 2007

What a stupid, stupid list.

By conflating critical opinion, historical significance, present significance, awards received and financial success, AFI has managed to produce a list of a bunch of movies that people have seen.

Congratulations, I hope there was a tax write-off involved.

At least with some of their more constrained categories it's possible to engage with the list in a way that allows for comparison. For example, the Funniest Movies (requires login) is a great way to bring up how ridiculously overrated Some Like it Hot is. Take out Marilyn Monroe and the last joke and you have an eminently forgettable dudes-in-drag comedy.
posted by uri at 8:53 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

You're all wrong. Except the few of you who are right.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:02 AM on June 22, 2007

Sixth Sense is a great film from the perspective of craft. How Night uses red throughout. The scene where Bruce Willis is sitting with the kid's mother, and she leaves and the kid talks with Bruce - that bit alone is just brilliant on dozens of different levels. The suspense. The multiple layered meanings. The timing of it. The humor. The subtleties. The pathos. I can't speak to whether it belongs on AFI's list, but Sixth Sense IS on my list.

Your mileage will vary. I don't care.

That is I think ultimately what's at issue here. Rather than AFI or any other entity or person having a definitive list, each of us has our own list. If you have seen at least a hundred films, then you have an opinion which of them are better than the others. The criteria for you would be no more or less subjective than AFI, and you have as much right to such an opinion - and the making of such a list - as AFI or any other entity.

The question is, would other people, complete strangers to you, place more or less weight on the existence of your list versus that of AFI, and why do we perceive that the American Film Institute should weigh into this issue more (or less for that matter) than anyone else's opinion?

I could join in the fray here and agree with AFI on Citizen Kane (almost always in my personal top three), disagree with Godfather (always not on my 100 list at all), and discuss at length my ambivalence towards Casablanca (entertaining film but I question it's place in the top fifty). I could go down the whole list with my own personal thumbs up and thumbs down.

I don't know what the approach is yet, but this ain't it. We don't need lists. We need something else. Maybe a flow chart of some sort. I'd think maybe get multiple lists from a wide range of individuals? But that's how they do it at and the end result puts Godfather near the top again, which makes me physically ill.

I wanna find a method that rules out Godfather. Any list that presumes Godfather to be an even remotely great film in my opinion makes the entire list null and void.

Your mileage will vary. I don't care. I hate that film.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:07 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

where's Fargo?

North Dakota. You're welcome.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:23 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Time and again in his movies you get a nuclear family that's abandoned by its father figure to chase some wild-eyed fantasy, because in Spielberg's world families just aren't meant to hold together

but ask yourself where he got that world and it's pretty clear - walt disney movies

sleeping beauty, snow white, cinderella's fathers seem to be missing in action ... bambi's dad is off being the badass buck of the forest while his mom gets shot ... hercules' dad is a guy who sits around in the sky and shoots lightning ... mowgli from the jungle book is a feral child ... simba in the lion king is orphaned ... pinoccohio never had a mother ... although it's not made explicit in the film that i recall, peter pan left his mother as a young child

the little mermaid, beauty and the beast and aladdin are examples of motherless films ... and of course, one never knows what happened with huey, dewey and lewie's parents

toy story's got a single mom, finding nemo a single dad ...

so spielberg is a sentimentalist in the walt disney tradition ... i think it says something about our culture that our most sentimental art seems to depend on the nuclear family being broken up for its sentiment
posted by pyramid termite at 9:46 AM on June 22, 2007

Movies often have families that are separated or otherwise in conflict. This is not limited to Spielberg or Disney or anyone. Hitchcock used it too. So did Hawks. This is not an isolated incident in Spielberg films only. Heck. Lucas used it too. Anakin's family is major messed up from beginning to end.

The idea of a perfect family unit is at best a status quo thing, which is set up to fail by the end of the film. Maybe the reason why so many people diss Spielberg for this, and many others feel they have to apologize for him, is cuz he does it so well. I cite Spielberg's Poltergeist as a perfect example. Can the nuclear family withstand hell on Earth? By Poltergeist three, the answer is NO. Why? Cuz STORIES NEED CONFLICT.

I think I should repeat that cuz it's vaguely IMPORTANT. Why do family units get challenged and shaken up in motion pictures? Because STORIES need CONFLICT. Otherwise you get Leave It To Beaver.

Shakespeare's Hamlet is a pretty messed up family unit too. Romeo and Juliet is two messed up familes messing with each other.

You gonna blame Shakespeare on Disney?
posted by ZachsMind at 9:55 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Father, father - why hast though forsaken American cinema?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:56 AM on June 22, 2007

pyramid termite--I see your point, especially in your final paragraph, and I think there are some valid comparisons to be drawn between Spielberg's storytelling techniques and the techniques of (especially earlier) Disney movies. But I think an important difference in the way that families are treated in both instances is that in most Disney films, the dissolution of the family has taken place before the action of the film starts, and the expected narrative arc involves patching together some sort of surrogate semblance of a family, even if its members aren't genetically related. (You even see a hint of this in ET, to be fair--a surrogate father to Elliott more or less shows up at the end.)

But in many of Spielberg's movies the dissolution of the family (which is usually dysfunctional in one way or another) takes place during the film instead of beforehand--in the case of Close Encounters, especially, the breakup of the family is the direct consequence of the film's supposedly happy ending. Or take War of the Worlds, in which a single father spends the screen time trying either to reunite his broken family or to create a new family structure in its place, and on both counts he almost completely fails (at the end of the film he's still not allowed in the house with his ex-wife; moreover, his daughter callously forgets all about him as soon as she sees her mother again, despite what father and daughter have been through together. He does patch things up with his son, though, the best that can be expected).
posted by Prospero at 10:10 AM on June 22, 2007

Geez, I know the only way you get to drama is to have conflict and resolution, but I didn't know caps locks for cool was also an element!

Playful snark, playful snark, go on go on.
posted by cavalier at 10:16 AM on June 22, 2007

Because STORIES need CONFLICT. Otherwise you get Leave It To Beaver.

which oddly enough, lasted for 6 years, was syndicated to death and is now considered to be a classic part of american culture

there had to be some conflict going on there somewhere
posted by pyramid termite at 10:18 AM on June 22, 2007

If you diss Spielberg for the dissolution of the family, you must diss Hitchcock as well. Mr and Mrs Smith predates Jolie & Pitt, and Lombard & Montgomery did it MUCH better without as many absurd special effects. Hell, Turner & Douglas did it better in War of the Roses and they practically phoned their performances in.

In fact, I DEFY you to show me a single (decent) film in which there is not some conflict within the family unit, either as a part of the tale's status quo, or by the end of the film.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:31 AM on June 22, 2007

Spielberg makes fantastic movies that capture the minutiae of (post)modern life. Or so it seems when I'm baked and watching one of his movies. Wim Wenders' Paris Texas is pretty good that way, too.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:31 AM on June 22, 2007

Fight Club should have made the list, well before The Sixth Sense.

I agree with Saving Private Ryan though. That was a truly powerful film.
posted by quin at 11:59 AM on June 22, 2007

I beg to differ re: Saving Private Ryan.

The first 20 minutes were some of the most stunning footage ever seen in a war film. I watched a man my father's age, no doubt a veteran, get up and leave the theater in a hurry during the beach sequence.

The remainder of the film had me WTF'ing left and right as one unbelievable plot element after another intruded cumulatively on my heretofore willing suspension of disbelief. I know it's a fictive drama based very loosely on an actual situation that arose during the invasion -- it's not a docudrama like Tora! Tora! Tora! or a character study like The Desert Fox -- but anachronism piled on improbability on top of utterly contrived situation until I felt like I was watching a live-action version of a Sergeant Rock comic book.

The tagline beginning "In the Last Great Invasion of the Last Great War..." should've warned me: Somebody evidently forgot all about Market-Garden (A Bridge Too Far), Iwo Jima Okinawa, the Rhine crossing, and for that matter almost every major battle on the Eastern Front, most of which dwarfed Overlord in sheer scale.
posted by pax digita at 12:53 PM on June 22, 2007

ZachsMind: I see several films near the tops of the AFI lists that have little to do with any familial relationships, conflicted or otherwise.
posted by pax digita at 1:03 PM on June 22, 2007

I watched a man my father's age, no doubt a veteran, get up and leave the theater in a hurry during the beach sequence.

I watched a guy have to be carried out of the theatre on a stretcher sobbing so hard after Schindler's List and that was in Mississippi.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:05 PM on June 22, 2007

20's - 1
30's - 3
40's - 11
50's - 16
60's - 17
70's - 20
80's - 8
90's - 11
00 - 1

From my experience [my opinion, too] it seems that anyone who studies and loves films would never, ever say that the 1970's, the 1980's or the 1990's had better films than the Golden Age of Hollywood - the 1930's and 1940's. It's crazy. Almost every movie made since the 1960's has been derivative of some other [better] film that precededed it.
There are many films on this list that should never make a list of 100 greatest.
posted by Rashomon at 2:46 PM on June 22, 2007

Screw Fargo, they bumped The Third Man and Fantasia...

And bumped Birth of a Nation to bring in Inolerance, meh. Interchangable silent epic snoozefests.

Can we all agree that it was good that The Jazz Singer got bumped and that it didn't belong on the first list in the first place?
posted by davros42 at 2:51 PM on June 22, 2007

Ugh, all the Crapolla movies should be off the list entirely, he's so overrated. Godfather and Apocalypse Now were influential but they're not good movies, and both have been eclipsed by much better films in the same vein.
posted by rottytooth at 2:57 PM on June 22, 2007

...they bumped The Third Man...

*Boggles* The Third Man is almost a perfect movie, the acting, the script, the editing, the camera work are all fracking amazing.
posted by octothorpe at 3:15 PM on June 22, 2007

WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn't seen these films already, and if you haven't, why have you read down this far? Go to silly!

Pax Digita, Citizen Kane is at its core a testament to the nuclear family. Because Kane never had a stable family in his youth, the movie argues, he was always struggling to fill the emptiness. The sled symbolized more than a cold trip down a snowy hill. It meant everything he lost when his childhood ended so abruptly.

Godfather IS all about family. Not necessarily the stereotypical nuclear family, but the mafia demands a respect and loyalty among its community that exemplifies family, perhaps better in some ways than an actual one. Even if it weren't tho, I'd argue it's not a decent film.

Casablanca is about preserving the nexus of family - the love of a husband and wife. Rick could destroy all that with but a word, but he opts to do the right thing instead and lets Ilsa run off with her husband, presumably to start a stable family unit that he'd never be able to provide her, being the kinda man he is.

Raging Bull is about the breakdown of the family unit, through jealousy and adultery, and the powerful blood bond of brotherhood.

Singing In The Rain is a romance with a Hollywood happy ending, and was made in 1952: prior to The Graduate, all happy ending films were presumptively predecessors to family. Don & Kathy lived happily ever after. He presumably got her barefoot and pregnant, just as we assume Victor Laszlo got Ilsa barefoot and pregnant. Shame they never made a Singing In The Rain 2.

I'd continue down the list, but I'm out of time. My point is, ALL films have family at their core, because humanity is, at its core, about family.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:47 PM on June 22, 2007

The 3 movies that should not have been bumped from the list: A Place in the Sun, Amadeus, The Third Man

The 3 moviesthat should not have been added to the list: Titanic, Titanic, Titanic

The 3 movies I would have liked to see bumped: The Graduate, Easy Rider, Yankee Fuckin Doodle Dandy

The 3 most highly acclaimed Classics that I loathe: Singing in the Goddamn Rain, Raging Bullcrap, Oh Shit It's Shane

And yeah, the AFI list is a paean to the glory of the penis.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:43 PM on June 22, 2007

how on earth have people forgotten The Third Man?

Worst omission of the new list, bar none. Particularly galling given the addition of Titanic and Sixth Sense.

how ridiculously overrated Some Like it Hot is. Take out Marilyn Monroe and the last joke and you have an eminently forgettable dudes-in-drag comedy.

Your opinion is wrong.

Same old tired, lame top 10 safe movies. Completely boring.

Yeah, there were so many better movies in the past 10 years. Right.

Also, the big lebowski wasn't on there anywhere.

See, the list does have some merit.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:04 PM on June 22, 2007

My girlfriend acted surprised when I told her I've never seen The Big Lebowski.

She went on to say that pretty much all the other men she's known in her life, including father figures, previous boyfriends, present platonic friends, the postal worker who brings her mail every morning, complete strangers she meets on the street, they all praise The Big Lebowski and go to 'festivals' about the movie, which by her description sound like Star Trek fan conventions only with jocks and gang members instead of geeks and nerds.

And the way she says "all the other men in my life" sets my teeth on edge (which is hard to do cuz I have an overbite), as if I have to watch this film so that I can have an opinion on it and thus prove my manhood.

Naturally, on principle, I'm giving that movie a wide berth. That, and Brokeback Mountain. And The Crying Game. And Sling Blade. And American History X. And any sequel to Silence Of The Lambs. I refuse to watch these films on principle.

I cried at the end of Cool Runnings. I don't have to prove my manhood to anybody.


oh. and the AFI list still sucks.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2007

ZachsMind, I understand your aversion to seeing The Big Lebowski completely. Whenever everyone is telling me to see a movie, I avoid it like the plague, then give out and sufffer through things like The Boondock Saints or anything by Guy Ritchie.

But I saw Lebowski when it came out and fell in love with it then and there. I have not been to festivals, and had no idea that those happen. It's funny and smart as hell, and very worth seeing, even if you don't got apeshit over it. Top 100 of all time? I doubt it. But it's really, really fun.

/not a jock or gang member, with the muffin-top to prove it

Also: the AFI list does indeed suck. Always has. Even more so with the exclusion/inclusion of The Third Man/Titanic.
posted by brundlefly at 2:37 AM on June 25, 2007

By the way, I cried at the end of Ice Age. Damn, I'm a mess.
posted by brundlefly at 2:41 AM on June 25, 2007

What. ZachsMind, you refuse to watch films because they come highly recommended by other people? What is a movie hipster called anyway? A film critic? I guess not, as a film critic usually watches a movie before passing judgement...

For somebody with some really interesting and engaging theories on the role of family in film, I find this kind of obstinance very strange.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:58 AM on June 26, 2007

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