The #1 Romantic Drama (#3 overall).

The #1 Romantic Drama (#3 overall).

Here it is: the final AFI list. It is also the sparsest, for a variety of reasons, including the fact that I’ve been busy trying to get my Academy Award posts ready for later this month, because it takes forever to do the links for a list this long, and because I’ve been working at Borders a lot to make up for the fact that my job for AAS no longer exists. So, with no links or quotes or descriptions, I simply give you the 100 best dramas.


Ingmar Bergman directing Fanny and Alexander, one of his 16 films on the list.

Ingmar Bergman directing Fanny and Alexander, one of his 16 films on the list.

One more genre after this and that’s Drama.  This list is outside the scope of AFI’s lists, of course, because these are Foreign Language Films.  This is the list in fact I said I would do months and months ago.

Since it takes forever to do the links (that’s why the last few lists have taken so long), I’ve just linked the directors, and only on their highest-ranking film.  I’ll eventually do the 100 Best Directors list, but it won’t be until after the Academy Awards because from the nominations to the awards I’ll be doing a daily post on each Oscar category. (more…)

Sterling Hayden explaining the way things are to Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove (1964).

Sterling Hayden explaining the way things are to Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove (1964).

You’ll notice I didn’t say the 100 Funniest Comedies. Because it’s the 100 Best. That was the problem with the way AFI did their Comedy list; they tried to make funniest mean the same things as best. Now the funniest films, in order from 1 to 5 for me would be: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, A Fish Called Wanda, Airplane, The Producers and Blazing Saddles. They’re not the 5 best (though all are on this list), but they’re definitely the 5 funniest. As for the best? Well, since I have so much a longer list to choose from for this category, I went with a top 100. I’ve attached a quote for each film. Some you may not find funny. Some won’t make sense unless you’ve seen the film. And I don’t include films I’ve already categorized in another genre’s list (like The Princess Bride or Almost Famous). So here they are – the 100 Best Comedies. (more…)

For Your Consideration for Best Picture - The Dark Knight

For Your Consideration for Best Picture - The Dark Knight

I’m not sure why AFI decided to go with Sports instead of Action-Adventure. Act-Adv films have a long tradition in film history, from the great Errol Flynn films down to the great comic books films of today. And this list encompasses a whole range of them: swashbucklers, literary adaptations, James Bond films, comic book movies, kung-fu, cop films, spy films.

I could have split this up and done Action films separately from Adventure films, but the two have always been blended together by everybody else, so why not just make one list?

I didn’t bother to list the directors with the films this time, because for a lot of these films, it doesn’t really matter who directed them. No list of genres is so resplendent with mediocre directors as is this one. The top 10 has a lot more A-list directors (in terms of talent as opposed to money), including John Huston (twice), John Boorman, Quentin Tarantino and Michael Mann. But in the end, depending on what he chooses to do after Batman, it might turn out that Christopher Nolan is the most talented director on this list. He’s made six films so far, and with the exception of Insomnia, each film has been better than the last. Of course, it will be hard for him to top The Dark Knight, but we’ll see (his films, in order: Following, Memento, Insomnia, Batman Begins, The Prestige, The Dark Knight). (more…)

Alfred Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock

These are actually two different genres of film that are often combined.  I will be separating them out and giving a top 10 for each.  The essential difference is that in a Mystery, the audience (and characters) are trying to find out what has happened, while in a Suspense, you are trying to find out what will happen next.  In other words, in a Mystery, you chase someone and in a Suspense film you get chased.

Of course the bald man to the left was the master of suspense films.  He’s got four in the top 10 and four more in the next 10.  The other 16 films are by 16 different directors (unless you believe the rumor that Orson Welles directed a lot of The Third Man), and surprisingly, Stanley Kubrick is not one of them. (more…)

Can Fargo (1996) be classified in many genres?  You betcha!

Can Fargo (1996) be classified in many genres? You betcha!

The American Film Institute seems to have trouble telling the difference between a genre and a subgenre. A genre encompasses a type of film with a number of distinguishing traits (in this case, a Crime film, a film which focuses on criminals, whether a specific one, or a group of them). A subgenre is one specific group of genre films (in this case, a Gangster film, which is a Crime film that focuses on gangsters, as opposed to other subgenres of crimes films which include True Crime, like In Cold Blood, or a Heist film, which I think is fairly self-explanatory). When AFI did their lists of the top 10 in 10 Genres, they kept using subgenres. My goal is to include the genre as a whole. Thus, I give you the 25 best Crime films.

With a slight caveat. My spreadsheet uses on genre for each film, and all Foreign films get swept up in Foreign. So these are really the 25 best English Language Crime films. The Foreign films that would have probably found a spot on this list would be Shoot the Piano Player, City of God and M. But I’ll cover them all in Foreign Film.

There are a few films that AFI put in the Gangster genre that are good enough for this list but I don’t consider Crime films. If the primary focus is on the cop, rather than the criminal I don’t consider it a crime film (eliminating The Big Heat and Touch of Evil). Bullets over Broadway and Some Like It Hot are comedies that happen to have gangsters. And On the Waterfront is a drama. (more…)

I’ve managed to have an article posted on with a link to the blog, without having a film blog in the last couple of weeks, thanks to work and Comcast somehow killing our internet for a week.

So, here are the links so far to the various lists I’ve done in response to AFI and their 10 Best in 10 Genres Lists from earlier this year. I plan to eventually do a Best Of list for every genre, so Action-Adventure, Mystery, Crime, Comedy, Drama and Foreign will eventually get their day in the sun. But here’s what I’ve done so far:

Fantasy (Top 10)

War (Top 10 – Foreign / Top 10 – English Language)

Kids (Top 5 Non-Animated)

Musicals (Top 10 – Traditional / Top 10 – Non-Traditional)

Science-Fiction (Top 10)

Horror (Top 25)

Westerns (Top 10)

Animated (Top 10)

more film links below (more…)

My Lord of the Rings collection back in 2004

My Lord of the Rings collection back in 2004. It's somewhat larger now.

I own 24 copies of the book (it’s not a trilogy, it’s one book that the publishers decided to split into three).  I read it every year.  My wedding ring is inscribed in Elvish.  Is there any question what’s going to come in first?

But of course, the question becomes, what are the other 9?  Part of that answer depends on knowing what qualifies for the answer.  Field of Dreams and It’s a Wonderful Life do not, in spite of the AFI ballots.  Besides, how does Field of Dreams end up on their fantasy list but not their Sports list?  Also not on my list are Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins because they already went on the Kids list.  Besides, it wouldn’t be fair if Wizard of Oz was at the top of every list.

Anyway, the other films that AFI considers a Fantasy that would make my list if I considered them Fantasy are Purple Rose of Cairo, Being John Malkovich, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (all Comedies), Brazil (Sci-Fi) and King Kong (Horror).  And I classify pretty much every Comic Book movie under Action.

When I make a list of Fantasy films, I include films in which the primary world is Fantasy, in which things happen that don’t happen in reality, but not in a futuristic or science based setting.  So no Science Fiction films on this list.  However, for those of you who like Sci-Fi, check back next week for my review of the book Multireal by David Louis Edelman.  It’s worth reading.


Memorial to 54th Mass Regiment on Beacon Hill - immortalized in Glory (1989)

Memorial to 54th Mass Regiment on Beacon Hill - immortalized in Glory (1989)

While it’s true that a lot of War films fell into the Epic ballot that AFI sent out, it really should have had its own list. In fact, all War films can be broken down into sub-genre, depending on which war they are depicting.

As the title say, I’m putting forth my list of the top 10 War films. The “Doubled” refers to the fact that so many great war films have been Foreign films and since AFI ignores Foreign films, I’m including a separate top 10 list of War films that are non-English language.

For my scope of what constitutes a War film, it means a film that deals mostly with the aspects of a war itself, mostly on the battlefield (so, no Schindler’s List or other films focusing mostly on the Holocaust, or films that focus on the home front).

The interesting thing is that even though over half the War films I have seen are World War II films, the English language list is much more representative of other wars.

The final note is that in spite of having seen over 140 War films, only two of them do I consider to be truly bad: The Patriot and Pearl Harbor. Utter dreck, both of them. But for the most part, War films are usually well made, and if not too harrowing, decent entertainment. (more…)

There are some movies that are ridiculously difficult to categorize (what the hell are Fargo and Trainspotting?), but there are also movies that fall across the board into several categories.  For my database (of course I have a database – these lists don’t spring out of nowhere, I have all 5206 films I’ve seen listed), I assign one genre to each movie.  And for some films that can be tricky.  The Wizard of Oz is a fantasy film and a traditional musical, but I list it as a kids film.  But when I sorted out the Animated films, that only left a handful of kids films that were really worth mentioning.  And so, I am cutting this list off at 5, and here they are:

#5 – Babe (Chris Noonan) – 1995

I almost cut the pig and went with Enchanted, but even Amy Adams’ performance and the wittiness couldn’t overcome the pointlessness of her falling for Patrick Dempsey.  So, I went with the pig, even though I think he’s somewhat overrated.

#4 – The Miracle on 34th Street (George Seaton) – 1947

A true Christmas classic, which AFI classified as a Fantasy for some reason.

#3 – The Muppet Movie (James Frawley) – 1979

We played “Rainbow Connection” at our wedding.  Kermit uses the worst pun ever (“I was almost gone with the Schwin.”).  Big Bird has a hilarious cameo (“No thanks, I’m on my way to New York to break into public television.”).  It even has Orson Welles.  And of course, the fork in the road.

#2 – Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson) – 1964

A film I grew out of, then grew back into.  A perfect performance by Julie Andrews.  Magnificent songs.

The best Kids / Fantasy / Musical ever made

The best Kids / Fantasy / Musical ever made

#1 – The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming) – 1939

How much more can I say about this than has already been said?  This would be on the top of the list for almost any genre it can be placed in.  The book is enjoyable, a great children’s book, but the film is for everyone and it’s the performances in the film that truly make it come alive.  Judy Garland spent the rest of her life making films, but she was never as vibrant, as alive or as beautiful as she was in this.