I brought a large collection of movies with me this year. Most notably, a large majority of the AFI 2007 top 100 films. Michael and I have made it through the first half. Since I want to share (and can) the following is my version of the ranking. Three movies are left at the bottom because I could not find them before I left. The three are Unforgiven, Sunrise:A Song for Two Humans, and M*A*S*H*. Because of that, they remain at the bottom of the list. If I do see them, then I will make the appropriate changes. Since I took the time, I will add a brief commentary for each. I will acknowledge my limited film expertise so there is a lot I missed because of that, but I tried my best.
As I worked through the films, a separation formed in a natural manner. So to steal a little from Bill Simmons and to group them in the way that my mind did, I have broken them into categories.
With out further adieu, the best of the bottom fifty:
Just Plain Bad- These made me question why they even are included within a top 100 list.
47. The Last Picture Show – I have no idea why this makes the list. Drawn out plot with no likable characters.
46. Nashville – Jeff Goldbloom prevents this from being the worst
45. Cabaret – Poorly cast, could have been alright
44. Do the Right Thing – Spike Lee’s message was beyond me. Should I be happy with the ending? upset? Should I like anyone in it?
43. The Wild Bunch – Spaghetti Western, no more no less
Worth a Single View – Enjoyable, but seeing once is more than enough
42. The Deer Hunter – Cimino directs a great movie for far too long. Trimmed could be twenty spots higher.
41. The French Connection – Fun until the ending. Crime and corruption just comes to an end with text on the screen.
40. Raiders of the Lost Ark – Indy takes on some bad guys, but never gets going in any real direction. Spielberg directs poorly.
39. The African Queen – If not for Bogey and Hepburn, a weak film. But brilliant acting makes it all better.
38. All the President’s Men – Same as TFC, the ending is sudden and unfulfilling. The action builds and it ends.
37. Sophie’s Choice – Kevin Klein, he is the whole reason
36. In the Heat of the Night – The importance of this film is still relevant today.
35. Blade Runner – Ridley Scott could use a little help with lighting and dialogue, but Ford is just broken enough that it does well.
Surprisingly Good – These were the ones that I expected to be towards the bottom and found that they more than deserved their place amongst the list.
34. Yankee Doodle Dandy – Hated the first five minutes, but Jimmy Cagney had me disappointed to see it end.
33. Rocky – A film about boxing with only five minutes of fighting. I forgot that the plot is what makes this so great.
32. American Graffiti – Kids moan about high school, but who better than Dryfus and Howard?
31. Forrest Gump – Jenny is a tough character to like, but there is Bubba.
30. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – Pre-crazy Taylor could act.
29. Modern Times – Chaplin does industrialization. Anything with The Tramp will lead to laughs.
28. Tootsie – Hoffman dresses like a woman and falls in love with a woman. He makes an ugly lady. Much funnier than I thought it would be.
Just Great – Enough said.
27. West Side Story – Great songs carry a weak adaptation of Shakespeare.
26. The Gold Rush – When Chaplin dreams of his dinner roll dance, I was both amused and deeply saddened. Not many films can accomplish that.
25. Ben-Hur – Stunning cinematography. The chariot race fills every inch of the widescreen. Proving the waste that is scan and pan.
24. Titanic – Having it seen it a few times here and there since its enormous debut, it gets better each time.
23. Sullivan’s Travels – Light and enjoyable. What Sturgess does.
22. Easy Rider – Two motorcycle dudes slowly become compelling.
21. Pulp Fiction – Tarantino is reserved and brings the best acting out of an above average cast.
20. Spartacus – Kubrick takes a different direction and Russell and the audience benefit
19. The Apartment – McClain’s is the best, Lemon is no slouch
18. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Newman + Redford make the perfect pair. It has its out of place moments, but is what The Wild Bunch could have been if more balanced
Outside Looking In – Just missed out on the best of the bottom 50. They are all close enough that they can be changed in any order. This is the best I could do.
17. The Sixth Sense – M. Night did hit a home run with his first film. Makes all that follow seem rushed.
16. Goodfellas – Second best mobster film to Godfather (1 and 2)
15. Swing Time – Fred and Ginger dance with a final number worth watching one hundred times.
14. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – Long, slow plot, over acted, but I love it every time.
13. Toy Story – My favorite animated film ever.
12. Saving Private Ryan – Direction is weak from SS, but the script and cast are both too good to allow it to fail.
11. A Night at the Opera – Marx brothers have fun and I laughed the whole time.
10. Duck Soup – Not a mistake, the Marx brothers are back to back. This gets the nod ahead for its political satire. Having never seen them before these two films, I can understand why they were so successful.
Almost There – It is hard to explain this distinction, but in my mind there is a clear difference between these few and the top five.
9. Network – A news anchor wants to commit suicide on national television and he is given a promotion. A satire of 70’s media that has been eerily accurate in terms of where news and programming have gone since.
8. Bringing Up Baby – Hepburn is a brat, Grant is a nerd, throw in a tiger for fun and you have this delight.
7. 12 Angry Men – Ever member of the audience is in the jury. The best part is not knowing if he did it or not. Tension is kept on low as the room closes around the men.
6. Taxi Driver – DeNiro is worst actor and character in this film. That is a compliment.
I Do Not See How Fifty Movies Can Be Better
5. North by Northwest – Hitchcock makes Grant run around Mt. Rushmore in a case of mistaken identity. Just when you think you understand what is going on, the rug is pulled out.
4. Jaws – Moby Dick on film. The main character is not seen until later. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
3. A Clockwork Orange – Feature some Beethoven and Singing in the Rain, toss in the direction of Kubrick given a futuristic England and you have a thoroughly disturbing final product…somehow he makes it not only watchable but enjoyable
2. The Silence of the Lambs – Hopkins and the use of first person shots are its strongest points
1. The Shawshank Redemption – The only thing worth saying is that there is not a single thing wrong with any aspect of this film. It is as close to perfect as possible.