Monday, January 05, 2009

10 best American movies of the 20th century

Stanley Fish sets out to start an argument by naming the ten American movies he considers the best of the 20th century. My own list would be almost completely different. In chronological order:
  • City Lights (1931)
  • Casablanca (1943)
  • The Third Man (1949)
  • Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • The Godfather, Part II (1974)
  • Blade Runner (1982)
  • Pulp Fiction (1995)


Anonymous said...

Both good lists. I would have left off Sunset Blvd, but you gotta have Citizen Kane on there. Hard to keep GWTW off the list unless, you know, you disqualify lost cause propaganda. I'm a big fan of The Graduate, even though it seems to have declined in critical esteem lately. "Best Years of Our Lives" was an inspired choice by Fish, IMO. I think there are better Noir examples than The Third Man, which I've always found kind of overrated (ditto "Touch of Evil", btw). Double Indemnity is probably my favorite. I've always loved "The Desperate Hours." "The Maltese Falcon" is a San Francisco treat. For Neo-Noir and one of my personal favorites of the last 10-12 years: LA Confidential.


noaml said...

Picking Godfather II over I clearly signifies you have taste. Coming from Nils though, I would've expected Hands on a Hard Body. 12 Angry Men maybe?

What are your top ten for this year? If you haven't seen Let the Right One In, you must. The main character is a 12yr old female vampire that's really a castrated male vampire. You know...your kind of movie.

Nils said...

No lost cause propaganda--hence, no GWTW, and no BoaN, either. F that shite.

I hate to say this, but I find Citizen Kane to be kind of a boring movie. Technically brilliant, and with inspired passages, but a lot of it I just couldn't go for. "Best Years of Our Lives" is a good movie, but I think it's a movie only an historian could love--it so demands to be taught, since each character embodies an archetype of a certain cultural or social formation of the late 1940s.

I didn't even consider documentaries, Noam. That's a different list. A lot of the greatest documentaries I've ever seen have actually been made just in the last few years, notably "Fog of War," which is almost perfect. If I were to limit myself to the 20th century (and again, to American movies), I'd have to think about it, but of the top of my head, these come to mind: "Koyaanisqatsi," "Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control," "Roger & Me," "When We Were Kings," "Eyes on the Prize," "Hearts and Minds," "Berkeley in the Sixties," "Hearts of Darkness," "Hoop Dreams," "Crumb," "The Civil War." My favorite documentary of all time, by far, however, is "Cane Toads," which I've seen perhaps a dozen times.