Friday, June 22, 2007

Orson Welles says, "We're number one again...and even I'm bored by it."

I imagine this is how the conversation went at the American Film Institute a few months ago. Picture a bunch of film critics and academics hanging out in the Smart Guy Lounge, nursing their remote control-induced tendonitis and comparing Criterion Collections.

"Hey, you know what we haven't done since 1998?"
"Compile a list of the 100 Best Movies of the last 100 years?"

And then they took all of the film titles from the 1998 list, put them in their commemorative Charlie Chaplin bowler hat, jumbled them around, tossed them in the air, then had an underpaid TA type up whatever fell behind the sofa.

I'm convinced this is how the "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies -- 10th Anniversary Edition" came to be. What other reason could there be for yet another list of the 100 best movies from the EXACT SAME GROUP...give or take a few scholarly types?

I wouldn't normally feel hostile about a list of movies except they put Citizen Kane at the top again. Why, in the name of Gene Siskel, do they keep doing that? Does it absolutely earn a spot in the top ten? Sure, I'm all for it. But number one, over and over and over again on every list ever made in the history of mankind? At this rate, it's happened so often I wouldn't be surprised to hear it was the original first commandment. Yes, it's a great movie but surely there must be something else out there to give it a run for its money, right? Right? Maybe something French and obscure? Or old and obscure? Or something from Scorsese to make up for his one measly Oscar? At this point, if it's anything short of a Corey Feldman movie, I'm ready to consider it.

Here's the list itself (it's a download) if you want to try to find your own new best picture nominee for the next time they do the list...which at this rate will likely be next month.


Shan said...

One can easily quibble about lists (and lord knows I've been blogging about "lists" quite a bit lately), but I think that's kind of the purpose. Put them out there for discussion and reaction. I understand "reevaluating" them every so often, or updating it to include movies since the last list was developed. But one of the arguments is counter-intuitive. Yes, Kane is one of the (if not THE) greatest achievements in cinema. And it hasn't gotten "worse" over time, so why move it? However, TPTB did feel that some movies (my beloved Fargo, for example) HAVE gotten worse or are no longer worthy?
I don't have a problem with Kane at 1, and The Godfather and Casablanca make up a worthy Top 3. And I was giddy to see Vertigo crack the Top 10. (I still don't get Singin' in the Rain, however).
Regardless of the outcome, it does raise money for a good cause, engender awareness for quality films, and give us something to blog about. So it's not all bad.

Liz said...

That's true. It is for a good cause and does spark good conversation, but it seemed like there were so few changes in the new list that it was just kind of pointless. I'm all for lists and the AFI should continue making lists, I'd just like to see them make different lists. And I'm just cranky about Citizen Kane because personally I don't think it's the greatest movie ever made. Technically, it's brilliant, but the movie lacks emotion for me. I don't know what I'd put in it's place, but I get tired of seeing it deified all the time. And Citizen Kane just seems like a lazy choice because every single academic is always going to put it at number one or else they get booted out of the academic movie watchers club. And now I'll stop ranting. :-)

Steve B said...

CK is a boring and horrid movie. IMHO. But I like Road Trip so what do I know.

Liz said...

Perhaps if Tom Green had been in Citizen Kane, the world would be a different place today.

Bert said...

If Hollywood would stop remaking Marvel Comics...maybe we would have a replacement!
The entertainment industry is getting lazy.....
We watch a lot of movies..being parents with young children. I can't think of anything other than movies done by Pixar that are original and memorable.
I hope it's not me!
Mind you, I'm still waiting for an Austin Powers box set to come out..forgive the

Steve B said...

They have gotten lazy. Everything is a remake or a comic as you say. And being one who hates comics as well as Citizen Kane I am just plum out of luck when it comes to movies these days.

I am trying to think of the last original movie I have seen just this year and right now I can't think of one.

Thomas said...

The fact that so many movies changed their relative placements on the list so dramatically really makes the list seem kind of farcical. An authoritative list should have had some minor rises and falls with a few newer movies slotted in between the previous ones. I agree with most of the movies being in the top 100 in some order, but I am still wondering about Tootsie being included at #69. It seemed like an Alan Smithee slid that in when no one was looking.

Liz said...

Thomas -- I agree completely. And personally, I think there were a lot of Alan Smithee's participating in this list.