Everyone loves movies and everyone, probably, has a favorite movie site online. Here is one I enjoy: www.AFI.com (American Film Institute) What does it give you? In its opinion, what are the 100 greatest films of all-time, in order. You find their opinion as it was in 1997, and again in 2007. (Citizen Kane had the top spot both times.) What are the top 10 films in each of 10 categories? How about the 100 most inspiring films? How about the 25 best musicals? Who were the 50 best Heroes and Villains? If you guessed: Atticus Finch and Hannibal Lector, you agree with their top two choices. Ever thought of the 100 Greatest Songs from film? Hint: number 1 and 2 are: Over the Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz) and As Time Goes By (from Casablanca). How about the 2 greatest screen legends (one man and one woman)? You know this one, right? Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. And there are many other lists. My favorite? The 100 greatest movie quotes. Number one begins: “Frankly my dear…” And number two starts: “I’m gonna make him an offer….” Obviously, after visiting such a site, there is much information to discuss and debate.
For the rest of this article, I’ll give 10 categories of films, plus AFI’s Best Film in each, and my favorite in each. Obviously, what film is “best” can be debated. But what is your favorite in each category, like my favorites, is pretty subjective. I hope you enjoy what is to follow and visit the site, as well.
AFI’s best film: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
My favorite: Beauty and the Beast, both versions (1991 –the first animated film nominated for Best Film Oscar, and 2017 –thank goodness Emma Watson landed on her feet after leaving Harry Potter).
Category: Romantic Comedy
AFI’s best film: City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
My Favorite: Annie Hall (see above) (even though Woody Allen thought the relationship was “a dead shark”)
AFI’s best film: The Searchers
My favorite: Lonesome Dove I’m breaking my own rules, I know. I’m choosing a TV mini-series here. The script and acting are wonderful. Robert Duvall plays a great cowboy. The story covers a lot of the old west (ie, cattle drive, what happens when the ‘boys visit town, rustling, hanging when and where necessary back then, romance(s), and the good guys don’t all ride off into the sunset).
AFI’s best film: Raging Bull
My favorite: I’m sitting on the fence. The most enjoyable film for me: Field of Dreams –my favorite baseball movie, and that’s saying a lot. But the best and most realistic film: Raging Bull. How about a tie?
AFI’s best film: Vertigo
My favorite: The Maltese Falcon (Sam Spade v. Mary Astor: guess who wins?) edges Chinatown. Bogart edges Nicholson.
AFI’s best film: The Wizard of Oz
My favorite: A lot of competition here. With Field of Dreams already mentioned (see Sports), I like Big, and Miracle on 34th Street (a Christmas must), but I love Groundhog Day. (see above) Bill Murray, with enough time, becomes a good guy. Remember the groundhog driving? And Bill coaching?
Category: Science Fiction
AFI’s best film: 2001: A Space Odyssey
My favorite: Even a tougher choice than Fantasy. I like The Day The Earth Stood Still representing 1950s sci fi (1951 –and a lot of my youth); Terminator 2: Judgment Day (proving 2 is better than 1); Aliens (Sigourney Weaver at her very best; the monster should have stayed in its weight class); but I must go for: Blade Runner (Rutger Hauer makes a good case for what AI will bring in our future; M. Emmet Walsh is wonderful, as always; and Edward James Olmos makes himself known before Miami Vice).
AFI’s best film: The Godfather
My favorite: I agree. Sorry Pulp Fiction.
Category: Courtroom Drama
AFI’s best film: To Kill A Mockingbird
My favorite: A lot of great ones have been made. But my wife and I MUST vote for Gregory Peck (the handsomest man she’s ever seen, even with me in the room) and To Kill A Mockingbird.(see above) As good a performance as we’ve ever seen. But remember: A Cry in the Dark (Meryl was robbed of an Oscar here; she played such a nasty character even Oscar voters forgot her); 12 Angry Men (there’s never been a better cast; go to www.IMDB.com and check the names AND faces); Judgment at Nuremberg (a brutal and great film; my Father was among the liberators at Bergen-Belsen and brought home pictures; the film comes close to reality); The Verdict (Paul Newman was at his best here; but lost an Oscar that had to be made up later).
AFI’s best film: Lawrence of Arabia
My favorite: Saving Private Ryan. Tom Hank’s performance and my Father’s history in WWII make this choice for me.
And finally, a suggestion for your viewing pleasure (Romantic-Comedy): Defending Your Life (see above)(1991). A film written, directed, and starring Albert Brooks, co-starring Meryl Streep and Rip Torn. The film is best described as “the first true story of what happens after you die.” In the afterlife, everyone must examine the events of their lives to determine if they must return to Earth for another attempt at living appropriately or can they “continue to move forward.” Brooks’ life is examined; he meets and falls in love with Streep (of course); and is guided by Rip Torn (giving a hilarious performance) while Brooks fate is determined. For me, its Brooks’ best writing and acting efforts. A very funny film which might be correct in its opinion of our afterlife.