Try this right now.
First, find a pencil. Snag a piece of paper. Write down what you feel are the 100 best American motion pictures ever made. Oh, and try not to get self-conscious about it: If you re not familiar with silent film, by all means, ignore Charlie Chaplin. Never could get into Gone With the Wind? Sure, blow it off. But wait, did you remember Disney? Do you have a preponderance of Jessica Alba films, yet no Jessica Tandy? Seriously, Chariots of Fire? And not a single Lord of the Rings picture?
OK, finished? Now step back.
Is that your final answer?
Probably not, and it wasn t the final answer back in 1998 when the American Film Institute first asked 1,500 filmmakers, actors, producers, critics, and historians to compile a list of the 100 best American movies of the past 100 years. As with any list of the 100 best works of English literature or 100 best Rachel Ray catch phrases, a fight is being picked. And everyone watches a good fight. Which is why tonight on CBS at 8 (on WTOL-TV, Channel 11), the 40-year old list-happy Los Angeles institution is doing it all over again. And what could be more natural than a movie-advocacy group making a sequel?
AFI s 100 Years ... 100 Movies: The 10th Anniversary Edition, hosted by Morgan Freeman, is not really a 10th anniversary celebration of the first list. According to an AFI publicist I spoke with who sounded as befuddled as I was the 1998 list took into account movies made through 1997. This list factors in the 10 years of movies made since the previous list.
The details are being kept hush hush until the special airs, but we can all assume what s on it: Citizen Kane, Schindler s List, Vertigo, etc. The usual suspects. Which is why, as I did back in 1998, I am providing my own list of the 100 best movies ever made a list based on a wide-ranging survey of one, myself. The AFI asks its voters to consider cultural impact, award winners, critical assessment, historical significance. My criteria, as in 1998, is simpler: Do I love it? Does it leap to mind when someone asks what my favorite movie is? If I were watching TV and stumbled on it, would I have no choice but to watch the rest?
As with the AFI, my new list considers the classics that have been made in the past decade, and what are worth leaving behind. A few I ve dropped include Network, Say Anything, and City Lights. Steven Spielberg, even more interesting now than he was in the 1970s, has a greater presence on my new list, but Martin Scorsese has lost a film or two. One must be brutal about these things. Besides, ask me to draw up this list next week, and I ll hand you a different list. Anyway, clip and save, and as they say, let the whining commence.
Contact Christopher Borrelli at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6117.