I’ve just blogged about the worst movies ever made, which means I should probably pay attention to some of the best films that have ever been made. In response to the American Film Institute’s 10th anniversary list of the 100 Greatest Hollywood films, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) has released their list of the Top 100 movies. I’ll try to write a more detailed post about this topic later, but there are a few things I like about the AWFJ list.
First, they list the films alphabetically, avoiding the absurd idea of a single “greatest” film of all time. They also chose to create a list that’s international in scope, including films that were not made by Hollywood studios (love the inclusion of Run Lola Run, All About My Mother, Central Station, Vagabond, and Jules et Jim, among many others), while also allowing them to avoid some of the more unsupportable arguments about what counts as an American film, arguments that apparently led to the exclusion of The Third Man from consideration for the AFI list this time around. And their annotations describing why they chose to include certain films are well worth reading. It’s a playful, entertaining, and occasionally combative list of films that challenges the AFI orthodoxy, and more importantly, the list serves a far more important function than merely valorizing the already established Hollywood canon by acknowledging some of the ways in which taste itself is socially constructed. Some other interesting choices:
- When Harry Met Sally: I don’t like romantic comedies and generally find them painful to watch, but even I have to admit that When Harry Met Sally is one of the best films of its genre.
- His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby: I was shocked that these classic screwball comedies didn’t make the AFI list. In HGF, Rosalind Russell’s fast-talking reporter proves to be a brilliant match for an equally fast-talking Cary Grant.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High: I believe I mentioned Fast Times in my complaint about the AFI list and still think that it belongs in the conversation because of its influence on two subsequent generations of teen comedies.
I certainly don’t agree with all of their choices (I could live without Erin Brockovich and Tootsie) and I’m still convinced that any of these lists should include more documentaries, independent movies, and experimental films, but as a tool for tweaking the AFI canon, it’s a good list, a nice piece of water-cooler or blog conversation.
Update: On a related note, The Shamus also offers the BFG 100 over at the Bad for the Glass blog, 100 films that weren’t included on the original AFI list, many of which should have been.
Update 2: Anne Thompson offers her own Top 100 list and links to several others.