Wednesday, June 18, 2008

AFI's Latest List

We spent last evening watching the American Film Institutes latest list of 100 films: AFI's 10 Top 10. Naturally, as we went through it, we had a few "ughs!" some "wha?" some "where is?" and a few "wrong place." But we agreed with many of the choices.

I've now had a chance to look over the nominated films--50 in each category--and discovered most our "where is" queries are within the nomination list. I also discovered that some of the films I thought were in the wrong category also had nominations in what I thought were the correct category. For example, I think Bull Durham is one of the great romantic comedies of all time. It was nominated as a romantic comedy but made the top 10 as a sports film. Field of Dreams (what is it about Kevin Costner on the list?) was nominated as a sports film but made the top 10 as a fantasy film.

Only one of the Lord of the Rings cycle was nominated, and The Fellowship of the Ring came in number 2 on the fantasy list. If The Godfather Parts One and Two can both make the top 10 of gangster films, and Toy Story 1 and 2 are both nominated, there's no excuse for not even nominating the Oscar(TM)-winning The Return of the King. And, frankly, I thought they should both have been nominated in the epic category. After all, that fantasy The Ten Commandments was on the epic list.

I think that one less Marion Morrison film would not have hurt the western list in order to make room for The Magnificent Seven, a movie that even I have to stop and watch if I'm flipping through the TV channels and it is on. I cannot believe it wasn't in the top 10.

I've seen all 10 of the animation and science fiction winners, and eight of the gangster and epic films. My worst category (much to my surprise): courtroom drama, where I'm only certain I've seen four films. I've seen parts of many more.

While it did not surprise me to find that 2001: A Space Odyssey was the number one on the science fiction list, I'm still disappointed. While it is visually impressive (for the time it was made), it is boring beyond belief. A snore. I think that my friends who were on drugs the day we did a class trip to the Zigfield Theatre in New York to see it in 1970 were probably the ones who enjoyed it the most. I know I'm never getting those three hours back and I need them right now. I say this as someone who loved Sir Arthur's writing and I really like the short story "The Sentinel," which spawned the movie. But the movie is ponderous. I once heard someone say there's maybe 20 minutes of dialogue in it and last night Len said most of that is between Dave and Hal.

I was so pleased that The Day the Earth Stood Still was on the top 10 list. I remember when I first saw it on Saturday Night at the Movies and it still rates at the top of my science fiction list. For those who think science fiction is about ray guns--wrong! It is a way of exploring problems in this life when you can't address it with "reality." As a film, The Day the Earth Stood Still is closely related to The Crucible. It is about the communist witch hunts. I also recommend reading the short story "Farewell to the Master," upon which the film is based.

The other films I think should have made the top 10 lists are Inherit the Wind and Reversal of Fortune for courtroom drama, Lost Horizon for fantasy, A League of Their Own for sports, Iron Giant for animation (Lion King is so overrated) and Some Like It Hot, The American President and The Shop Around the Corner (which has spawned so very many variations) for romantic comedy. All were nominated (Some Like It Hot in the gangster category, not romantic comedy.) The Sure Thing was not even nominated for romantic comedy, but I suppose it is something of an update of It Happened One Night, which made the top 10.

I'm going to have Len and Michael go over the list and see if there are any films which none of us have seen to watch on a family film evening. I failed to mark 28 altogether, although there are many among those I've seen at least part of and some of which I've seen in remakes. A few of the films I've seen parts of, such as Al Pacino's Scarface, I'm not going to try and watch all the way through. Of the films I have seen, there are some I'm not interested in ever watching again. A Clockwork Orange is definitely at the top of that list. It, like Scarface, is just too violent. There's no point in spending all that time hiding my eyes.

I think that AFI should do a list of the top 100 books or stories adapted into movies. Maybe it would get people to read a little more.

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