So, I promised that this series of articles was coming almost a year ago when I started The Movie Frog, but then the Frog went on hiatus for several months, and after that it was a matter of playing catch up to finish out the 2011 film year. Now that I'm finally posting my Best of 2011 series ( intro here and the tech awards here) every Saturday in July, it is time to explore yet another corner of The Movie Frog swamp and begin the classic cinema series, which will be posting on Wednesdays starting next week.
In this series I will be highlighting the very best in film from the birth of cinema (there are a couple of films on my list that predate the first World War) to 2010 (the last year that predates The Movie Frog). I hope to eventually cover 1000 films. At one film a week, this will take a loooong time. In creating this list, I scoured top 100 (or whatever) lists of films from dozens of different sources, including critics, film preservation and history organizations, popular opinion polls, etc. I then combined these with my own personal list (which was only one of many) and compiled the results paying attention to both how many lists a film appeared on and how highly it was placed on the numerically ranked lists.
As a result, the top 250-400 movies on the list pretty solidly hold the title for greatest films of all time according to the general consensus. After that, I will begin making some editorial decisions about the films that these lists have delivered to me for consideration. Most of the top 250 will probably not be big surprises to most of you who are obsessed with such things. For those of you who love movies but have yet to really dive into the history of cinema, I can unequivocally state that these offerings would make an excellent starting point.
As in most of life, seniority does count, especially to place near the top of this list. It takes time to be able to really tell if a film is going to speak to people in a way that lasts. Today's special effects extravaganza is just a campy relic in thirty years if it doesn't have a little meat on its bones. Some films spark great admiration in the context of the specific moment in time of their release, and find that in hindsight the glow fades considerably. Only one of the top 100 (#99) was made in the twenty first century. Any film that continues to inspire and fascinate for years and decades has proven that it is more than popular entertainment, it is art.
As for the top ten, which we'll be covering between now and September 19th, there are two from the 1940's, two from the 1950's, three from the 1960's, and three from the 1970's. Three directors have two films each in the top ten. The Oscars may discriminate against genre films, but this bunch contains a thriller, a science fiction film, a horror flick, a musical, and a comedy. Only three of these films won Best Picture.
All ten of these films were on almost every list I looked at somewhere, including my own.
The top three are pretty much always the top three in these discussions. Over ninety percent of the "greatest film " lists that I scoured through had one of these atop it. They are without a doubt the films most commonly referred to a the greatest ever. They range from 1941 to 1972.
Okay, enough (almost) teasing you about the coming weeks. Please join me on a journey to explore the greatest works of Godard, Pixar, Bogey, Nicholson, Hitchcock, Chaplin, Nolan, Hepburn, Kubrick, and Kurosawa. I will leave you with this quote about next week's film (#1) by Roger Ebert:
"No one making " " thought they were making a great movie. It was simply another Warner Bros. release. It was an "A list" picture, to be sure...but it was made on a tight budget and released with small expectations."
Keepin it hoppin,