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AFI’s 10 TOP 10

June 18, 2008

First of all, I want to come clean about not watching the special that aired last night.  There are two reasons for this.  First, I don’t need to wait around for three hours while celebrities talk about these movies.  I’ve either seen them, or I haven’t, and of the ones that I HAVE seen, I either liked them or I didn’t.  Second reason:  I’m a HELL’S KITCHEN addict, and it was down to the final four last night.  I admit it, I think Gordon Ramsay is an interesting study in contrasts.  When you look at him you think he’s a really great guy to hang out with…then you see him in action in the kitchen, and it’s stay out of his way or get cussed out.  Then he turns around and enthusiastically congratulates you on a job well done, and heaps the rewards on you like he’s Santa Claus.  I’d love to saee him do an animated feature one of these days.  I think he’d have fun with it.

Back to the lists.  The first category is animation, and I’m not surprised that SNOW WHITE topped the list.  It was the one that started it all for the Disney Company.  I’m also glad to see that BEAUTY AND TTHE BEAST made the cut, along with SHREK and TOY STORY representing the latest trend in animation.  I guess there weren’t meant to be any real surprises there.

Next up is Romantic Comedies.  Being single, I’m not much of an expert on this genre, but what a pleasant surprise to see CITY LIGHTS in the top spot.  I remember seeing this when The Disney Channel had airing rights to the Chaplin library, and was very much taken with the story of the Little Tramp falling in love with the blind flower seller.  It is a timeless story, with a bittersweet ending.  I did see MOONSTRUCK, or rather, I tried to watch it, but just couldn’t relate to it (again, probably the bachelor element coming into play).  I’m hardly surprised to see that make the list, or my mom’s pick, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE.

Westerns are another genre that I’m no expert in, unless you count the three Western comedies Disney made in the 1970’s, presumably to compete with BLAZING SADDLES (which did not make the cut, sadly).  I saw THE SEARCHERS in college as part of a film studies course, but I don’t remember much about it.  The reason is not that it was a bad film.  The reason is the projector had a very bad speaker, and in an auditorium setting, the last thing you need is to have to watch a movie, and not understand the dialog.  My parents would be thrilled to see CAT BALLOU on the list.  It’s not just one of their favorite Westerns, it’s one of their favorite movies of all time, period.  Need I mention the horse scene?

I’m a little disappointed with the Sports category.  Just a little.  Sure, ROCKY and RAGING BULL are the top two.  That’s not the disappointment.  CADDYSHACK is in there, too.  Again, not a disappointment.  I would have liked to have seen either MIRACLE or COOL RUNNINGS make the list.  MIRACLE is just great film-making, with amazing re-creations of the games that the 1980 U.S. Hockey team played at Lake Placid.  And isn’t it great to see Kurt Russell return to the Disney Studios 30 years after his Dexter Riley series?  As for COOL RUNNINGS, yes it’s another comedy, yes it’s another Disney film, but there’s so much real heart and emotion in it.  I still get choked up during the final scenes, when the Jamaican Bobsled Team crosses the line holding up their sled.

It’s no Mystery that Hitchcock is well represented in the Mystery category.  I won’t get specific about the actual movies themselves, since I haven’t seen too many of them.  One of the strictest rules I govern myself with here is that if I don’t know a movie, I won’t talk about it.

Were you surprised that WIZARD OF OZ is the number 1 Fantasy movie in its category?  Neither was I.  I think just about everyone who has seen this movie can quote at least part of it, complete with inflections.  This list I find an interesting mix of modern favorites and classics.  HARVEY and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE are there.  By the way, did you know that Joe Raposo wrote a musical version of LIFE?  If you can get a copy of UNSUNG MUSICALS 3, you’ll hear two songs:  the title track, complete with a typical Raposo jazz bounce, and “In A State” a rousing dance number that incorporates the classic Charleston melody.  On the modern side, I see BIG made it, as did GROUNDHOG DAY, FIELD OF DREAMS, and my pastor’s favorite LORD OF THE RINGS.  I like balance like this, but I am surprised that the most famous Wizard to battle He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was not there.  He must have been busy at the Ministry of Magic.

The Sci-Fi category seemed to take a modern classic turn.  I was never a fan of 2001, but who am I to argue with popular opinion?  If you all out there enjoy it, I’m glad.  You all know how I feel about E.T.  I also remember the first time I saw STAR WARS.  It was weird to find myself cheering for revolutionaries for the first time in my life, once I understood that The Empire was actually evil.  Hey, I was only six or seven.  I’ll also remember BACK TO THE FUTURE as the last movie my maternal grandmother would ever get to see before having to go into a nursing home.  I’m grateful that her last movie was a fun one.

I’m going to by-pass the Gangster genre.  Truthfully, I find most of these movies too violent or foul-mouthed for my taste.  I hope that those of you who do enjoy these movies found your favorite in there.

Order in the Court.  The biggest surprise for me in this category is not seeing PHILADELPHIA in the list.  This is no easy movie to watch, and seeing Tom Hanks’ character go from being relatively functional and healthy to a shell of his former self is heart-breaking. Then again, A FEW GOOD MEN is no walk in the park either.  I would have put MY COUSIN VINNY on the list, simply to balance the heaviness of the others.  All together now, “The two youts….”

Finally, the Epics, and boy are there some heavy-hitters on this list.  You’ve got Lawrence, Ben, Oskar Schindler, Scarlett and Rhett, and Spart6acus and Moses himself.  Wow.  just wow.  And, yes, my personal favorite, the first billion dollar box-office winner: TITANIC is there too.  This is one list I don’t think I can argue with.

What are your thoughts?  What would you have put into your top 10 in these categories?  Post them here, and I’ll see you next time!

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