Monday, December 29, 2008

American Film Institute's Top 100

For about the past two years, I've been steadily watching films off the 2007 American Film Institute list of the Top 100 U.S. movies, and I've finally seen them all. The last one for me, by the way, was "Bringing Up Baby," a romantic comedy from the late 1930s starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. "Baby," it turns out, is a little leopard that distracts the audience while Hepburn desperately tries to woo Grant. Forgive the lame segue, but this film-watching process has felt a bit like birthing, at least in its duration. Most of the movies were at least worthwhile, though, and I highly recommend this sort of list approach to anyone, like me, who can't ever seem to find anything to watch at the video store. I discovered many fantastic films on the list that I probably never would have seen otherwise. Those include: "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," "Raging Bull," "Network," "Some Like It Hot" and "Gone With the Wind."

My least favorites: "The Searchers," "High Noon," "Dr. Strangelove," "A Night at the Opera" and "Annie Hall."

On my list, the No. 1: "The Wizard of Oz."

Although I love many of the films on this list -- including "Citizen Kane," "The Godfather," "Star Wars," "The Sound of Music," "West Side Story," "Cabaret," "The Sixth Sense," "Pulp Fiction," "Toy Story" and the ones listed above -- "The Wizard of Oz" best captures in my mind the mysterious magic of film making, when the process of character and plot development perfectly complements the imagery and the journey of the viewer to a very special place.

Next, I'm going to look back at the original list, from 1997, and see what films were dropped off in 2007. I'll view those efforts, too, and consider what changes I would make to the overall list, then report back.

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