June 21, 2007

AFI 100. Again.

Citizen Kane To celebrate the 10th anniversary of that controversial list of the top 100 movies of all time, itself a celebration of the 100th year of movies back then, the American Film Institute (celebrating its 40th anniversary) has gone and conducted its poll and done that list right up all over again. Edward Copeland posts both lists for comparison and comments: "Some additions are welcome, some omissions are shameful and some newcomers are a joke. Other deletions are welcome (Sorry Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and Fargo, but you didn't belong.) The rise and fall of some titles are interesting, more for the drops than the sudden rises (though I have to ask how, in the new list, The Deer Hunter jumped so many spots when it only grows weaker over time). My happiest news: The General's rise from not on the list all the way to No 18. The Searchers' huge leap is also welcome and impressive."

Updated through 6/27.

Jeffrey Wells points to more math going on at Wikipedia and remarks: "The AFI has been whorishly shopping its once-distinguished brand on the tube for years with best-this and best-that presentations, and none of their efforts at self-promotion signifies a damn thing (except for their own diminishment)."

More commentary: Brendon Connolly (film ick), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Drew Morton (Dr Mabuse's Kaleido-Scope), Chuck Tryon (Chutry Experiment) and Patrick Walsh (Cinematical). And at the House Next Door, Matt Zoller Seitz adds a few more lists.

Updates, 6/22: More commentary: ST VanAirsdale (Reeler), Kevin Lee, Michael Newman, Nathaniel R and - here's a must-read: the Self-Styled Siren.

Glenn Kenny lists 100 "great American movies" that didn't make the list.

Update, 6/23: Keith Phipps gets a conversation rolling at the AV Club.

Update, 6/24: A few of Dave Micevic's mentions of what films should be on the list but aren't what films are but shouldn't be may surprise you.

Updates, 6/25: Edward Copeland presents his own 100.

The Siren's Alterna-List: "This list is not, most definitely not, a gathering of the All-Time Greats, though there are certainly some that could qualify.... So, organized by category, here are 100 American films the Siren would love to see get some love from the AFI."

Adam comments at Another Green World.

Update, 6/26: The Alliance of Women Film Journalists draws up their own list, too.

Updates, 6/27: The Shamus posts his own 100.

"I filled out the AFI Top 100 ballot," writes Variety's Anne Thompson, and of course, she posts that ballot on her blog. "I realized that some movies had slipped in my estimation over the ten years since I last filled out the same list. But one director had come up in my estimation considerably, which surprised me: Capra. His oeuvre is holding up really well."

Flickhead presents his 100 - in chronological order, no less.

Damien's got 100 at Windmills of My Mind.

"European sensibilities and styles - imported via Sjostrom, Stroheim, Curtiz, Wyler, Wilder, Lubitsch, so many, so many - were essential to the evolution of Hollywood, and hence, American moviemaking," argues Glenn Kenny.

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Posted by dwhudson at June 21, 2007 3:51 PM


The original AFI list has been something of a touchstone for me, more than anything because it inspired Jonathan Rosenbaum to draw up his alternate list. Interestingly, the new list includes four films (Do the Right Thing, the General, Intolerance and Sunrise) from Rosenbaum's 100 among its newly-listed titles, as well as one he'd considered but ruled out due to its ambiguously American background (Blade Runner, which is at least a lot more American than the Third Man).

The new list also cuts the number of 1939 films down from five to three (bye bye, Wuthering Heights and Stagecoach). This means the year with the largest representation no the AFI 100 is now 1969: Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the Wild Bunch.

Posted by: Brian at June 21, 2007 6:49 PM

Addendum to previous comment: actually 1969 is tied with 1982, which also has 4 films on the new AFI 100 (E.T., TOOTSIE, BLADE RUNNER & SOPHIE'S CHOICE).

Posted by: Brian at June 21, 2007 7:37 PM

OK, was just informed that 1976 also has four films (TAXI DRIVER, ROCKY, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, NETWORK).

Still think it's interesting that 1939 lost a little of its lustre.

Posted by: Brian at June 22, 2007 11:45 AM

Regardless of my personal quabbles with the list, I think it's an interesting albeit flawed exercise. Most of the weakest films (in my esteem) actually come from the new representive years, like 69' and 82'. Sophie's Choice? I just don't get it.

What really pleases me about the list though is the inclusion of more silents than before, Sunrise, Intolerance, The General and the Chaplin fare. I hope this at least encourages some budding cinephiles to seek out some other great silent masterpieces American or otherwise.

Posted by: Justine at June 22, 2007 2:19 PM

I would like to ask, without any chauvinism involved, what makes Lawrence of Arabia (no.7) an American film? Apart from the American production company and the producer, the subject (based on an English writer's book), the director, screenwriter, cinematographer, editor, art directors (and most of the crew), and most of the cast was British. I suppose, by the same token, Kagemusha could be considered American.

Posted by: ronald bergan at June 23, 2007 1:50 AM

Can I just say "hear hear" to the exclusion of Fargo from this new list? It's just not that good, really.

Lawrence of Arabia is great but really it has no place on a list of great American films. Same goes for A Clockwork Orange and The Third Man, whose inclusion on the original list I always thought was idiotic.

Posted by: James Russell at June 24, 2007 12:10 AM