With this being our Connectors Choice Awards issue, and with the Academy Awards taking place as I write, I figure it’s fitting to reflect on my New Year’s resolution for 2011 — finishing the American Film Institute’s two lists (1998 and 2007) of the 100 best movies ever. That’s 123 movies combined (and a lot of hours on the couch).
Keeping in mind that I had seen almost a quarter of those flicks before putting the AFI lists in my sites about 10 years ago, here are a few thoughts on some of the other classics:
Best of the best: “Doctor Zhivago.” No better way to spend 197 minutes, especially in the dead of winter. If looking for eternal hope in the middle of strife is your thing, this is your baby. Of course, I was predisposed to feel this way. My mom had been telling me for years about her favorite movie, and, sure enough, she was right. Best of the rest: “Casablanca,” “On the Waterfront,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “Network,” “12 Angry Men.”
Thanks, but no thanks: I can’t say “The Graduate” is a good movie, let alone one of the 20 best ever. I must be missing something: Not exactly great are “Citizen Kane,” “Gone with the Wind,” “From Here to Eternity,” “Rebel without a Cause,” “Fargo,” “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.” Favorite character: As you might guess, it doesn’t get any better than Julie Christie’s “Lara.” I can hear the balalaika now. Favorite actor: In keeping with the Zhivago theme, I’m going with Rod Steiger. But it’s not just his Komarovsky. Is there a better entrance than his gum-chomping Chief Gillespie opening scene in “In the Heat of the Night?” Favorite director: David Lean. What a trifecta with “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” and “Doctor Zhivago.”
Ginger or Mary Ann? With movies come all kinds of staple arguments. Here are my answers to a few of those debates: When it comes to the Godfathers, I’m going with II over I. In terms of Hitchcock, “Psycho” > “North by Northwest” > “Rear Window” > “Vertigo.” As for John Wayne, “Stagecoach” gets the edge over “The Searchers.”
Silence wasn’t golden: Being a words guy, I thought I’d like all those silent flicks of the 1920s. I didn’t. In fact, to my surprise, I preferred some of the futuristic classics, such as “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “A Clockwork Orange,” and “Blade Runner.” Speaking of the future, I still haven’t watched movie No. 123, “The Grapes of Wrath,” if only because I’ve vowed to read my 15-year-old copy of the book in advance. I’m thinking I best start turning a few pages in March. The Indians opener is less than a month away, and the only thing more fun than movies to watch and talk about is baseball.