Thursday, August 15, 2013

EW's Greatest Movies in 1999

Nearly a month ago, I commented on Entertainment Weekly's new list of the 100 All-Time Greatest Movies. I commented after seeing Roger had done so. Now Roger has put up (with comments) the list of movies that EW had on the list in 1999, but which had fallen off the list by 2013. It's a surprising amount of films! EW is a surprisingly fickle lot. This is part of the reason why those "of all time" lists always baffle me: nearly half the list changes in just 14 years.

So, naturally, here are my own comments on them.

5. Raging Bull (1980)
I was surprised but also not surprised when it wasn't on the 2013 list. Critical consensus for a long time was that this was Scorsese's masterpiece, the one that should have won Best Picture in 1980 (and, for a lot of people I've read or talk to over the years, whose loss shows the overall meaninglessness of the Oscars). Apparently, EW has decided Scorsese's true masterpiece is Mean Streets, one of his earliest films. For most people, though, the label seems to have shifted to GoodFellas, another film that Was Robbed of the Oscar. (For the record, I don't think either film was the best of its year, though I do think GoodFellas was second best.) Raging Bull is a great, powerful film. I'd like to see it again.

7. The Godfather, Part II (1974)
I was surprised not to see this one on the 2013 list, too. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of this one. It's a great film, but it's not, well, The Godfather. I think it's because I find the scenes with the young Vito very compelling, but not so much of the stuff with Michael, not until he gets run out of Cuba. It's because in the first film, he has that whole journey, that whole descent into evil. In this picture, he starts evil and then just stays there, until suddenly becoming, I guess, more evil. More ruthless. I've just never been as into it with all that Hyman Roth stuff. Great picture overall, but not a true favorite of mine the way the first is. But I've had a lot of arguments with other film buffs over the years about whether or not it should have won the Oscar. (My pick: Chinatown.) Or should I say, I've had variations of the exact same argument.

16. Star Wars (1977)
Another surprise omission from the 2013 list. I'll be honest, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite of the series, but Star Wars is the real deal, if you catch my meaning. It's the genuine masterpiece.

23. Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Indeed. Roger mentions this being scary, which it certainly is, but which is one of my favorite aspects of it. It's why my favorite Disney movies are the earliest ones, before they started shying away from fairy tale darkness and genuine fantasy weirdness.

24. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Very funny, very cute. I love Katharine Hepburn in it. My wife is very annoyed by this movie. This is like the keystone to half of the Coen Brothers' female leads.

27. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
I've always liked this one, but--and this almost never happens--when I read the novel in college, my estimation of the film went down just a little. The film is sanitized in comparison. The novel really burrowed deep inside me and stayed there. I wish I could write something with a third so much power. None of that takes away from Jane Darwell's touching performance, though.

28. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
A masterpiece.

33. Jules and Jim (1962)
Also a masterpiece. I wonder why this was suddenly dropped. I wonder why any of these films was suddenly dropped. Having spent most of July with Truffaut, I can say he made a lot of great films, but this was probably his best.

34. Sherlock, Jr. (1924)
Fantastic Buster Keaton film, with one of his classic chase scenes.

35. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
When I saw this in high school, I thought it was silly and dated. Then I just suddenly wound up watching it on cable about six or seven years ago with Becca, and I really enjoyed it. Not just enjoyed it, but loved it. Becca loved it, too, which surprised me.

36. 8 1/2 (1963)
Excellent film. I'd love for TCM to do a Fellini spotlight the way they did Truffaut last month. As I said on the last one, my favorite Fellini film is Nights of Cabiria.

42. Aliens (1986)
Aliens is a fun movie, but Alien is a masterpiece.

46. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957)
I first saw this movie on video on a day when I stayed home sick from high school. I was very sick that morning, almost delirious. I was just in the early stages of what ended up being three years of seriously pursuing the big, famous films and giving myself a real base as a film buff. By that afternoon, the breeze was coming in the window, I had a refreshing Pepsi, and I suddenly became very lucid. I put this video in the VCR (got it from my library, which had only just started carrying films), and I had one hell of an afternoon. This is a great film from a maker of great films.

51. Children of Paradise (1945)
What a beautiful film to simply drink in and enjoy. I know that in the 90s, the consensus among French critics was that this was the greatest film in French history. I wonder if that's why EW originally included it.

53. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Someone always gets pissed off at me for saying it, but I like the 1978 version better.

59. The Lady Eve (1941)
I've never liked it. Preston Sturges just leaves me cold.

62. Henry V (1944)
Not bad, but I prefer Branagh's version. More passion, more mud and blood.

65. The Third Man (1949)
I like it, but I also think it's overrated.

67. Airplane! (1980)
I'm sorry to see this one get dropped. One of the funniest movies I've ever seen.

68. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
A masterpiece. I would've dropped Frankenstein before dropping this one.

69. The Conformist (1970)
This is the first one here that I haven't seen. I really need to see this.

70. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
I do love this one. Of the films from the "Disney Renaissance" era (generally considered to be 1989-2000), this one is my favorite. Cried and cried and cried when I first saw it; one of the most emotionally affecting movies of my life.

71. To Be or Not to Be (1942)
Another of the funniest movies of all time. "Heil myself." And sometimes, for no reason, I'll suddenly say "So they really call me Concentration Camp Ehrhardt?" because I know Becca will laugh.

72. M (1931)
Yes, absolutely. An early sound masterpiece, utterly chilling.

73. Great Expectations (1946)
Another great David Lean film. (Incidentally, I have Oliver Twist on my DVR.)

74. Funny Face (1957)
I haven't seen it. I'm just not a big fan of Audrey Hepburn.

75. Tootsie (1982)
This one's on my DVR, too. I want to do an 80s Revisited on it. (Though I have a couple of others that I still haven't written.) I've never really warmed to this movie (except for Bill Murray), and now that I'm nearly 40 (Jesus Christ!) I'd like to see if it speaks to me differently.

76. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
This is an excellent, excellent film. Angela Lansbury is amazing in this thing. I was never sure what to expect, but when I got there... wow.

77. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
It's an important film, but I always wonder if people putting this on a list like this are doing so academically or out of a sense of historical obligation. I mean, it is a great film--I saw it in high school when I was seeing The Great Films--but I never see anyone talking about how it's a great film, just about how it's a Great Film. So... maybe I feel that despite being a powerful, important film, it's also a bit overrated?

78. White Heat (1949)
I saw this for the first time a few years ago and was underwhelmed. Cagney's great in it, but I just didn't enjoy it that much.

79. It’s a Gift (1934)
This is a very funny movie, but if we're talking WC Fields, I think that neither list including The Bank Dick is an egregious oversight.

80. Nosferatu (1922)
Beautiful-looking movie.

82. Diabolique (1955)
Wonderfully creepy.

84. Blow-Up (1966)
When I recently did my underwhelming list of my favorite movies of the 1960s, this was my third. I only saw this in the last two years, but it's easily one of the best and most absorbing films I've ever seen. A real masterpiece.

85. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
I'm surprised this was dropped. It's a powerful movie. It's still relevant. It's always vital.

87. L’Age d’Or (1930)
Powerful, excellent stuff. Bunuel is amazing.

88. The Producers (1968)
Probably still my favorite Mel Brooks film. But of course it is, because it has Zero Mostel. This is one of those films that never stops being funny for me, even when I know all the gags.

89. Wings of Desire (1988)
Jeez, I still haven't seen this, and I've wanted to since I was in high school.

90. Pickup on South Street (1953)
Great flick. For my money, Fuller's masterpiece is The Big Red One, which is more genuine than Saving Private Ryan in every conceivable way.

91. Mildred Pierce (1945)
Excellent movie. The 1940s are honestly not my favorite era of filmmaking, but this is one of the greats from that time period. (So is Mrs. Miniver. Not on either list.)

94. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Of course this made the 1999 list, because it was so hipper-than-thou to point out thoroughly You've Got Mail ripped it off. I think this movie is okay.

95. Tokyo Story (1953)
Excellent movie.

96. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
One of my all time favorites.

99. Swept Away… (1975)
I've never seen it and would really like to, it's just never floated into my range. I keep hoping TCM will show this or something. I've seen the godawful Madonna movie. That will not color my opinion of anything except Madonna's awful acting. I don't know why anyone would ever cast her in anything ever again, since that movie is definitive proof that she cannot act.

100. Celine & Julie Go Boating (1974)
I don't know this movie.

Well, there's all that. Roger also lists some of the movies on EW's genre lists that weren't in the main 2013 list, but this post is running long enough with my windbag-ness, so I'll get on those later.


DrGoat said...

I'll volunteer to be the one who gets irked, (not pissed off), that you like the '78 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers better than the original. If for no other reason than Kevin McCarthy.

Tallulah Morehead said...

But, DrGoat, McCarthy is in BOTH films!

(I prefer the '56 version, but the '78 version is excellent. I have a lobby card from the original framed on my living room wall, signed by both McCarthy and Dana Winter.

SamuraiFrog said...

I did a whole post about it years ago, but Kevin McCarthy's ongoing cameo is one of my favorite things in movies. (He reprises his "They're coming! You're next!" cameo in both Robert Rodriguez' Roadracers and Joe Dante's Looney Tunes: Back in Action.)

DrGoat said...

I stand corrected Tallulah. Still like the original, but I agree the second one was not bad at all.