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TV Review: AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies – 10th Anniversary Edition

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Ten years ago, the American Film Institute released their list of the 100 greatest American films. Now, a decade later they’ve slightly revised the list. The changes are not without merit. Along with additions, some films were bumped up a few notches, some dropped a few. Even the top ten underwent changes.

The reasons for adjusting the list are understandable. The past decade has seen changes in the technology behind movies and has resulted in some spectacular films. Additionally, the world has changed and so a film’s impact on today’s society has been altered. It was with these considerations in mind that AFI broke out their collective red pens and began slashing at the 100. Consider some of the additions.

Toy Story entered the canon at #99. It was included since it was the first computer-animated film. A brief discussion ensued about the heart of the story; while it was a great little movie, its merit here is purely technical. Also included because of groundbreaking filmmaking techniques was The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. It entered at number fifty. It was the only one of the trilogy to make it. These both illustrate very well, however, why a revision of the list was needed due to technical aspects of filmmaking.

Some other noteworthy additions: Spartacus and All the President's Men. The former is a sometimes brutal war movie about the price of freedom; the latter an expose of the Watergate conspiracy. These are interesting choices given the current political climate of the United States. There was also a movie called Nashville included. It involved country music but there's no apparent reason for it to be #60 of the top 100 films. Hicks aren’t that big of a constituency in this country, are they? Or was this just a joke?

A very worthy addition: Blade Runner. There is no science fiction movie that makes a person think more about the meaning of humanity than this movie. Another note here, Harrison Ford seems to be in many of these one hundred movies. Interesting.

The top ten were scrambled a little from ten years ago. They were as follows:

10. The Wizard of Oz (#6 last time)

9. The Graduate (#7 last time)

8. Schindler’s List (#9 last time)

7. Lawrence of Arabia (#5 last time)

6. Gone With the Wind (#4 last time)

5. Singin’ in the Rain (#10 last time)

4. Raging Bull (#24 last time)

3. Casablanca (#2 last time)

2. The Godfather (#3 last time)

1. Citizen Kane – still number one

The biggest change is Raging Bull’s rocket-like rise to the top five. It’s been said that Scorsese’s film are exposes of masculinity and that this is his masterpiece. Are men questioning themselves more this past decade?

It’s no surprise that Citizen Kane is still on top. Everyone unanimously agrees that it is the greatest of movies and it does have spectacular moments and is a tremendous work of art. (Personally, I’d vote for Monty Python and the Holy Grail as the greatest ever; it did not make the list at all and that is greatly offensive).

The presentation of the films was well done. Not a lot of blabbing, just a little bit of analysis and some commentary. The whole program moved briskly. Three hours were over before you knew it. Another ten years will see another edition of the list and it will be fascinating to see what changes are made by then.

You can see the whole list at AFI's website.

Now, go to your local movie rental store, check out pay-per-view, or load up your Netflix queue, and let’s watch some movies.

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About Gray Hunter

  • Sister Ray

    Nashville is a Robert Altman movie from the 1970s. It’s an ensemble movie set in Nashville, but it’s not about country music in the way Coal Miner’s Daughter is. More a movie for film snobs than for “hicks.”

  • Mat Brewster

    Why are they still calling it a 100 years? Shouldn’t it be a 110 years now?

  • Gray Hunter

    Sister Ray,

    Thanks for your enlightenment. I have this aversion to “country” things, so while I appreciate Altman’s work, I just couldn’t stop myself from making a crack about the film’s namesake, the heartland of … that kind of music. I mean, they had some nasty banjo thing twanging away in the middle of the presentation. I nearly had to shut the TV off.

    Anyway … that’s all I meant. Some reviews and summaries of the film that I read mentioned that it was about country music and politics.

    Yeah, I think I’ll be avoiding this little film.

  • http://tvandfilmguy.blogspot.com TV and Film Guy

    Congratulations! This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net, which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States.

  • Hugh

    Holy Grail can’t be part of AFI’s list because it only includes American films.

  • bliffle

    “All Quiet On The Western Front” was dropped, but it is certainly a better film than “The Graduate”. Many movies of the 70s are persistently overrated because they were prominent in the formative years of the judges.

  • http://morganwick.blogspot.com Morgan Wick

    Holy Grail can’t be part of AFI’s list because it only includes American films.

    Then explain Lawrence of Arabia or Bridge on the River Kwai, both on the AFI list and both British films. For that matter, look at Stanley Kubrick’s contributions to the list, they’re technically made in Britain as well. The ’97 list included a couple more British films as well. It’s not just being non-American keeping Holy Grail off AFI’s list.

  • Morgan Wick

    Oh, and you have to register to see the list on AFI’s website. (Funny, that didn’t seem to be an obstacle one or two years ago.) Try Wikipedia instead.

  • Gray Hunter

    Morgan Wick,

    THANK YOU!!! You rock!! You are sooooo correct. Both British. Yes. So, then, we apparently need another article discussing why this is the case.

    I need to get hold of some people at AFI.

  • http://www.thefilmchair.com TheFilmChair

    I believe the British/American debate has to do with financing. Last year, “The Queen” was financed through all European companies, meaning it couldn’t be on the AFI list. Columbia Pictures, at least according to IMDB.com, is listed as a production company for “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Bridge over the River Kwai.” Python’s “Grail” is all British.

    Remember, it’s Hollywood. Always follow the money.

  • Bob

    “The Third Man” was financed by a British studio, yet it’s still on both lists. Then again, schlock like “Saving Private Ryan”, “Titanic” and Shayamalamadingdong has been added to the list, so go figure.

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