Thursday, August 30, 2012

Beginning Discussion on the British Film Institute's Global Poll of Critics and Filmmakers for a List of the Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time

Original Post: The British Film Institute conducts a global poll of critics and filmmakers every decade and for the first time in a long, long time, Orson Welles Citizen Kane is not the number #1 film. To check out the 50 films that made the list and to see what film is now #1: The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time

Olivia: I liked this list very much! It gave me some good tips for classics I hadn't heard about.

I just can't help but feel that it may be a bit too guided by the idea that "if it's an old classic it is better than a modern work". I think that a lot of modern day film directors are somewhat disregarded because they live in the modern day and what they produce isn't the same kind of artistic expression as it was in the past. It seems that as soon as you see a movie is in black and white there is automatically more respect for it.

I think the list is missing films by Inarritu, Almodovar, Malick, the Cohen brothers, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Wes Andersen, Wim Wenders, and so on... One of the most beautiful films I have ever seen was "Eternity and a Day" by Theo Angeolopos but it was totally skipped over.

Anyway, my point is some modern day film makers' work isn't given as much credit as I believe it objectively deserves because it isn't called a "classic".

Michael: I agree with you on this and all lists of these sorts are problematic (even our own) because they reflect the biases and perspectives of the "chosen" participants (in this case we can see a strong emphasis on the "classics" and films that reflect on the art of filmmaking -- as we would expect from "professional" critics and filmmakers).

I must admit I haven't seen any Angeolopos films yet (although I almost bought a european box set of his films earlier this year) -- thank you for the recommendation. Maybe we should engage the class in a poll and see what we would come up with as the best films... we could publish the individual lists and the cumulative results (kind of like BFI?)

Thank you for your thoughtful response -- as for the other filmmakers you mentioned, my favorites are:

Innaritu -- Amores Perros
Almodovar -- The Skin I Live In
Malick -- The New World
Coen Brothers -- Miller's Crossing
Jeunet -- Amelie
Anderson -- The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Wenders -- Until the End of the World (although I just got a British DVD of Alice in the Cities so this may change)

As you can see, these choices are idiosyncratic and they probably reflect my feelings and experiences when I saw them ... and as I re-experienced them.

Michael Benton's Top Ten List:

Apocalypse Now (USA: Francis Ford Coppola, 1979: 153/203 mins)

Ran (Japan/France: Akira Kurosawa, 1985: 162 mins)

2001: A Space Odyssey (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1968: 141 mins)

The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria: Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966: 121 mins)

La Commune: Paris, 1871 (France: Peter Watkins, 2000: 345 mins)

Heaven's Gate (USA: Michael Cimino, 1980: 149 mins)

Shortbus (USA: John Cameron Mitchell, 2006: 101 mins)

Matewan (USA: John Sayles, 1987: 135 mins)

Harakiri (Japan: Masaki Kobayashi, 1962: 133 mins)br />
Dead Man (USA/Germany/Japan: Jim Jarmusch, 1995: 121 mins)

Olivia Schroeder's Top Ten List:

1. City of God/Cidade de Deus (Brazil: Fernando Meirelles, 2002: 130 mins)

2. Amores Perros (Mexico: Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000: 154 mins)

3.The Seventh Seal/Det sjunde inseglet (Sweeden: Ingmar Bergman, 1957: 96 mins)

4.Apocalypse Now (USA: Francis Ford Coppola, 1979: 153 mins)

5.Suzhou River/Suzhou he (China: Ye Lou, 2000: 83 mins)

6.Ran (Japan: Akira Kurusawa, 1985: 162 mins)

7.Never Let me Go (USA: Mark Romanek, 2010: 103 mins)

8.Eternity and a day/Mia aioniotita kai mia mera (Greece: Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1998: 137mins)

9.Double Indemnity (USA: Billy Wilder, 1944: 107 mins)

10. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Shannon Barnett's Top Ten List:

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest

2. Fight Club

3. C.R.A.Z.Y.

4. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

5. Little Miss Sunshine

6. 50/50

7. Breakfast at Tiffany's

8. Chinatown

9. Titanic

10. Shutter Island

Jason Matthew Harris's Top Ten List

1. Lady and the Tramp

2. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

3. Peter Pan

4. Toy Story

5. Mary Poppins

6. Gangs of New York

7. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

9. Pirates of the Caribbean the Curse of the Black Pearl

10. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Joseph Decinque's Top Ten Film List

1. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

2. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

3. Psycho (1960)

4. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

5. The Thing (1981)

6. Night of the Living Dead (1968)

7. Taxi Driver (1976)

8. The Exorcist (1973)

9. Halloween (1978)

10. Cannibal Holocaust (1980)

Tyler Salyers' Top Ten Film List

1. Halloween

2. American History X

3. Fight Club

4. Inglourious Basterds

5. The Dark Knight

6. Pulp Fiction

7. The Royal Tenenbaums

8. Eraserhead

9. The Departed

10. Boogie Nights

Andy Yate's Top 10 Film Lists

1. Star Wars Return of the Jedi

2. LOTR: The Return of the King

3. Taxi Driver

4. The Godfather

5. Night of the Living Dead

6. Full Metal Jacket

7. Nightmare on Elm Street

8. The Exorcist

9. Jaws

10. Psycho

Tessa Folsom's Top Ten List

1) The Labryinth (1986)
2) The Nightmare before Christmas (1993)
3) Zeitgiest (2007)
4) Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
5) Cigarette Burns (2005)
6) Ten Little Indians (1965)
7) The New Rulers of the World (2001)
8) Ink(2009)
9) Harold and Maud (1971)
10)Dark City (1998)

Lucille Watkin's Top Ten List

1) Cinema Paradiso
2) American Werewolf in London
3) Silence of the Lambs
4) Blazing Saddles
5) Casablanca
6) Resevoir Dogs
7) Princess Bride
8) Cannonball Run I (no, I'm not kidding, I love this movie)
9) Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
10) Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Emily Barron's Top Ten List

1. Casablanca (1942 starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, directed by Michael Curtiz)
2. The Breakfast Club (1985 starring Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, and Molly Ringwald. Directed by John Hughes)
3. Psycho (1960 starring Anthony Perkins and Vera Miles. Directed by Alfred Hitchock)
4. The Godfather (1972. Starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. Directed by Francis For Coppola)
5. Schindler's List (1993, starring Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes. Directed by Steven Spielberg)
6. Dial M for Murder (1954 starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelley. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock)
7. Pay It Forward (2000 starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osment. Directed by Mimi Leder)
8. Finding Nemo (2003 starring Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres. Directed by Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich)
9. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002 starring Elijah Wood and Sean Astin. Directed by Peter Jackson)
10. The Dark Knight (2008 starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger. Directed by Christopher Nolan)

Lindsay Scott's Top Ten Films

1) National Lampoon’s: Christmas Vacation- 1989- Comedy. Directed by Jeremiah Checkik Starring Chevy Chase
2) Dumb and Dumber-1994- comedy. Directed by Peter Farrelly. Starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels.
3 Tommy Boy- 1995- Comedy. Directed by Peter Segal. Starring Chris Farley and David Spade.
4 Happy Gilmore- 1996- Comedy. Directed by Dennis Dugan. Starring Adam Sandler
5 Rushmore- 1998- Comedy. Directed by Wes Anderson. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray.
6 Ace Venture: Pet Detective- 1994- Comedy. Directed by Tom Shadyac. Starring Jim Carey.
7 Beetlejuice- 1988- Comedy. Directed by Tim Burton. Starring Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, and Geena Davis.
8 Team America: World Police- 2004- Animation/Comedy. Directed by Trey Parker. Starring Trey Parker and Matt Stone (these are also the writers)
9 Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - 1988- Animation/ Comedy. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd and Joanna Cassidy.
10 The Royal Tenebaums – 2001- Comedy. Directed by Wes Anderson. Starring Gene Hackman, Gweneth Paltrow, and Anjelica Hutson.

Alexander Gray's Top Ten List

1. Garden State (US, Zach Braff, 2004, 102 min.)
2. Shaun of the Dead (UK, Edgar Wright, 2004, 99min.)
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas (US, Henry Selick, 1993, 76 min.)
4. Clownhouse (US, Victor Salva, 1989, 81 min.)
5. Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (US, Rachel Talalay, 1991, 89 min.)
6. Tombstone (US, George Cosmatos, 1993, 130 min.)
7. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (US, Milos Forman, 1975, 133 min.)
8. Jurassic Park (US, Steven Spielberg, 1993, 127 min.)
9. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (US, Robert Zemeckis, 1988, 104 min.)
10. Snatch (UK, Guy Ritchie, 2000, 104 min.)

Faith Diamond's Top Ten List

1. Streets of fire
2. Princess Mononoke
3. Hackers
4. The usual suspects
5. Moulin Rouge
6. Trainspotting
7. Equilibrium
8. Girl with the dragon tattoo (Swedish version)
9. Hellboy 2 the golden army
10. Amelie

Fall 2012 ENG 281: Introduction to Film Studies Poll

#1 (17 points) Apocalypse Now (USA: Francis Ford Coppola, 1979); Fight Club (USA: David Fincher, 1999); The Nightmare before Christmas (USA: Tim Burton,1993); Psycho (USA: Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

#5 (16 points) Casablanca (USA: Michael Curtiz, 1942)

#6 (15 points) Ran (Japan/France: Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

#7 (14 points) The Godfather (USA: Francis Ford Coppola, 1972); One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (USA: Milos Forman, 1975)

#9 (12 points) Halloween (USA: John Carpenter, 1978); Taxi Driver (USA: Martin Scorsese, 1976)

#11 (11 points) Night of the Living Dead (USA: George A. Romero, 1968)

#12 (10 points) Cinema Paradiso (Italy/France: Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988); City of God/Cidade de Deus (Brazil: Fernando Meirelles, 2002); Dawn of the Dead (USA: George Romero, 1978); Garden State (USA: Zach Braff, 2004); The Labryinth (UK/USA: Jim Henson, 1986); Lady and the Tramp (USA: Clyde Geronimi, et al, 1955); National Lampoon’s: Christmas Vacation (USA: Jeremiah Checkik, 1989); Return of the Jedi (USA: George Lucas, 1983); Streets of Fire (USA: Walter Hill, 1984)

Other Vote Getters

9 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (USA: Richard Fleischer, 1954) 9 American History X (USA: Tony Kaye, 1998) 9 American Werewolf in London (UK/USA: John Landis, 1981) 9 Amores Perros (Mexico: Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2000) 9 The Breakfast Club (USA: John Hughes, 1985) 9 Dumb and Dumber (USA: Peter Farrelly, 1994). 9 LOTR: The Return of the King (USA/New Zealand: Peter Jackson, 2003) 9 Princess Mononoke (Japan: Hayao Miyasaki, 1997) 9 Shaun of the Dead (UK, Edgar Wright, 2004) 9 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (USA: Tobe Hooper, 1974) 8 2001: A Space Odyssey (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1968) 8 C.R.A.Z.Y. (Canada: Jean-Marc Vallée, 2005) 8 Hackers (USA: Iain Softley, 1995) 8 Peter Pan (USA: Vincent J. Donehue, 1960) 8 The Seventh Seal (Sweeden: Ingmar Bergman, 1957) 8 The Silence of the Lambs (USA: Jonathan Demme, 1991) 8 Tommy Boy (USA: Peter Segal, 1995) 8 Zeitgiest (USA: Peter Joseph, 2007) 7 The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria: Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966) 7 Blazing Saddles (USA: Mel Brooks, 1974) 7 A Clockwork Orange (UK/USA: Stanley Kubrick, 1971) 7 Clownhouse (USA: Victor Salva, 1989) 7 The Dark Knight (USA: Christopher Nolan, 2008) 7 Happy Gilmore (USA: Dennis Dugan, 1996) 7 Inglourious Basterds (USA: Quentin Tarantino, 2009) 7 Moonrise Kingdom (USA: Wes Anderson, 2012) 7 Precious (USA: Lee Daniels, 2009) 7 Toy Story (USA: John Lasseter, 1995) 7 The Usual Suspects (USA/Germany: Bryan Singer, 1995) 6 The Exorcist (USA: William Peter Blatty, 1973) 6 Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (USA: Rachel Talalay, 1991) 6 La Commune: Paris, 1871 (France: Peter Watkins, 2000) 6 Little Miss Sunshine (USA: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2006) 6 Mary Poppins (USA/UK: Robert Stevenson, 1964) 6 Moulin Rouge (USA/Australia: Baz Luhrmann, 2001) 6 Rushmore (USA: Wes Anderson, 1998) 6 Schindler's List (USA: Steven Spielberg, 1993) 6 Suzhou River (China: Ye Lou, 2000) 6 The Thing (USA: John Carpenter, 1981) 5 50/50 (USA: Jonathan Levine, 2011) 5 Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (USA: Tom Shadyac, 1994) 5 Dial M for Murder (USA: Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) 5 Full Metal Jacket (UK/USA: Stanley Kubrick, 1987) 5 Gangs of New York (USA: Martin Scorsese, 2002) 5 Heaven's Gate (USA: Michael Cimino, 1980) 5 Pulp Fiction (USA: Quentin Tarantino, 1994) 5 Resevoir Dogs (USA: Quentin Tarantino, 1992) 5 The Royal Tenenbaums (USA: Wes Anderson, 2001) 5 Ten Little Indians (UK: George Pollock,1965) 5 Tombstone (USA: George Cosmatos, 1993) 5 Trainspotting (UK: Danny Boyle, 1996) 4 Beetlejuice (USA: Tim Burton, 1988) 4. Breakfast at Tiffany's (USA: Blake Edwards, 1961) 4 Equilibrium (USA: Kurt Wimmer, 2002) 4 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (UK: Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones, 1975) 4 Never Let me Go (USA: Mark Romanek, 2010) 4 A Nightmare on Elm Street (USA: Wes Craven, 1984) 4 Pay It Forward (USA: Mimi Leder, 2000) 4 The Princess Bride (USA: Rob Reiner, 1987) 4 Shortbus (USA: John Cameron Mitchell, 2006) 4 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (USA: William Cotrell, et al, 1937) 4 Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (USA: Robert Zemeckis, 1988) 3 Cannonball Run (USA: Hal Needham, 1981) 3. Chinatown (USA: Roman Polanski, 1974) 3 Eraserhead (USA: David Lynch, 1977) 3 Eternity and a Day (Greece: Theodoros Angelopoulos, 1998) 3 Finding Nemo (USA: Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich, 2003) 3 Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Sweden/Denmark/Germany/Norway: Niels Arden Oplev, 2009) 3 Ink (USA: Jamin Winans, 2009) 3 Jurassic Park (US, Steven Spielberg, 1993 3 Matewan (USA: John Sayles, 1987) 3 Team America: World Police (USA: Trey Parker, 2004) 2 The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Germany: Robert Wiene, 1920) 2 The Departed (USA: Martin Scorsese, 2006) 2 Double Indemnity (USA: Billy Wilder, 1944) 2 Harakiri (Japan: Masaki Kobayashi, 1962) 2 Harold and Maude (USA: Hal Ashby, 1971) 2 Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (USA: Guillermo Del Toro, 2008) 2 Jaws (USA: Steven Spielberg, 1975) 2 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (USA: Gore Verbinski, 2003) 2 Titanic (USA: James Cameron, 1997) 2 TLOR: The Two Towers (New Zealand/USA: Peter Jackson, 2002) 1 Amelie (France/Germany: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001) 1 Boogie Nights (USA: Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997) 1 Cannibal Holocaust (Italy: Ruggero Deodato, 1980) 1 Dark City (Australia/USA: Alex Proyas, 1998) 1 Dead Man (USA/Germany/Japan: Jim Jarmusch, 1995) 1 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1964) 1 Shutter Island (USA: Martin Scorsese, 2010) 1 Snatch (UK: Guy Ritchie, 2000) 1 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (USA: Mel Stuart, 1971)


  1. Furthermore, in the process of canon building there is a certain time generally needed for films to gather critical weight to be considered classic/great films by a wide range of critics (or other assessors of "greatness/excellence") -- is this a leveling process that often leaves out the truly unique, startling and controversial films?

    1. I believe that the very best movies go straight to the top (and are "KNOWN") with only word of mouth. When people experience a movie that is REALLY a breakthrough everybody knows immediately. Of course, we live in a post-word-of-mouth cinematic environment. No great movie is going to come out without a preview, and a website that just won't happen. They all have that now. But my point is that a truly great piece of art relies on nothing: it is recognized as what it is. We live in a world where we are so identified with the mediocre that we forget what a great film is.

  2. Here is another more extensive list that tracks the "attention/acclaim" films receive as a marker for their "greatness": They Shoot Pictures Don't They: The 1,000 Greatest Films

  3. An initial draft for the top ten best films off the top of my head -- this whole notion of what is the "best" is very difficult and problematic:

    Apocalypse Now (USA: Francis Ford Coppola, 1979: 153/203 mins)

    Ran (Japan/France: Akira Kurosawa, 1985: 162 mins)

    2001: A Space Odyssey (USA/UK: Stanley Kubrick, 1968: 141 mins)

    Heaven's Gate (USA: Michael Cimino, 1980: 149 mins)

    The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria: Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966: 121 mins)

    8 ½ (Italy/France: Federico Fellini, 1963: 138 mins)

    Code Unknown (France/Germany/Romania: Michael Haneke, 2000: 118 mins)

    Do the Right Thing (USA: Spike Lee, 1989: 120 mins)

    Shortbus (USA: John Cameron Mitchell, 2006: 101 mins)

    Dead Man (USA/Germany/Japan: Jim Jarmusch, 1995: 121 mins)

    This will probably change over the next couple of days

  4. Just the last decade, and excluding documentaries. Too hard to think about an all-time list. In no particular order:

    - The Lives of Others (von Donnersmarck, 2006)
    - Omagh (Travis, 2004)
    - Million Dollar Baby (Eastwood, 2004)
    - Mongol (Bodrov, 2007)
    - Capote (Miller, 2005)
    - Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004)
    - Hotel Rwanda (George, 2004)
    - Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Jackson, 2003)
    - Hustle and Flow (Brewer, 2005)
    - Mesrine (two parts, Richet, 2008)

  5. This is so hard for me... I have around five or ten favorite movies of every genre, and it is very hard to compare and rate them.
    I also believe that watching a movie depends a lot on the mood and state of mind of the subject that is watching it. Some of my favorite movies I can only watch if I am in a particular state, nevertheless I profoundly admire and appreciate them.
    It is especially hard for me to compare films by Bergman, Fellini, Dreyer, which are hard to watch but are rewarding, in a sense, like reading Russian classics, with more pleasurable films like the ones by Jeunet and Andersen, which are very good but less difficult to plow through.

  6. My first 30 some movies. It's all pain from here on...
    City of God

    Cries and Whispers

    Love is a bitch

    The seventh Seal

    In the mood for love

    Barry Lyndon

    Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulin

    Never Let me Go

    Apocalypse Now

    Eternity and a day

    Double Indemnity

    Touch of Evil

    Blue Velvet




    The thin red line

    Habla con ella

    Y tu mama tambien

    The mission

    Il bidone

    La dolce vita

    They shoot horses don't they?

    On the waterfront


    Who's afraid of Virginia Wolf?


    Battleship Potemkin

    Death in Venice

    Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind

    Annie Hall

    Clockwork orange

    Vergus Daad

    The third man

    The deer hunter

  7. Alright! It's done, published, no looking back now!