I Know Things About Lists

Entertainment Weekly has published an entire issue full of Top 100 of the last 25 years lists. They’re all pretty terrible (the music one might even be worse than the movie list I linked to). There doesn’t appear to be any information on how the lists were compiled, or what criteria were used to create them. Unlike the AFI’s lists, they don’t limit themselves to American films (or British films they want to pass off as American), as they’ve included a whopping six films that aren’t English language (Wings Of Desire, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, The Lives Of Others, All About My Mother, T tu mamá también, and In The Mood For Love). The emphasis appears to be on mainstream films that made a lot of money, the closest thing to a description of methodology I’ve found was quoted from the magazine by someone somewhere on the internet: “What makes a classic?…Over the last 25 years, artists have created a body of work that deserves recognition as classic…We include memorable works that have endured public consciousness despite shrugs from academics — and the Academy. Our selections run the gamut from justly praised critical darlings…to benchmark genre fare.” So, these are apparently the 100 films they managed to remember from the last 25 years.

Well, here at The End Of Cinema we have a higher opinion of lists than the folks at EW appear to. If the essential function of lists like these is educational and argumentative, if they are to stimulate a love of cinema, then shouldn’t they necessarily include movies that are great despite not reaching the level of public consciousness of, say, Titanic? A list like EW’s flatters the audience, anyone can look at it and see that they’ve seen 90% of it already and pat themselves on the back for how familiar they are with “classic” cinema. Instead of inspiring them to seek out films they haven’t heard of an might like, EW tells them that everything that makes a lot of money is a great film.

This is not what the lists here are all about. Lists have been essential to my own cinephilia, whether the Sight & Sound Top Tens I used to memorize from the back of one of Roger Ebert’s books when I was on breaks at the video store I worked at in my early twenties, the lists of Oscar winners I plowed through in my teens or Jonathan Rosenbaum’s Top 1000 Films list from his great book Essential Cinema, I’ve discovered more about cinema from following lists than I ever did studying film in college. To the extent that I have an audience, I hope my lists, personal and idiosyncratic and gap-ridden as they are can function as motivators and idea-generators and queue-builders for my readers. I don’t want to congratulate people, and I certainly don’t want to sell magazines.

So, as a rough corrective to the EW list, here is an alternate Top 100 Of The Last 25 Years. It’s not exact, I just took the top 4 films from each year 1983-2007 and put them in chronological order. So while it isn’t exactly my Top 100, it’s pretty close. And it’s a hell of a lot better than the other one.

Sans soleil
The Right Stuff
Trading Places
Stranger Than Paradise
This Is Spinal Tap
The Purple Rose Of Cairo
Out Of Africa
Police Story
The Mission
Hannah And Her Sisters
The Princess Bride
Broadcast News
Empire Of The Sun
Full Metal Jacket
Dangerous Liaisons
Bull Durham
The Last Temptation Of Christ
Die Hard
Do The Right Thing
Henry V
Crimes And Misdemeanors
Miller’s Crossing
LA Story
The Double Life Of Veronique
Barton Fink
Last Of The Mohicans
Reservoir Dogs
Three Colors: Blue
Dazed And Confused
True Romance
Searching For Bobby Fischer
Chungking Express
Pulp Fiction
Three Colors: Red
Dead Man
Kicking And Screaming
The English Patient
Big Night
Bottle Rocket
Boogie Nights
Happy Together
Taste Of Cherry
Lost Highway
The Big Lebowski
The Thin Red Line
The Flowers Of Shanghai
Eyes Wide Shut
The Wind Will Carry Us
The Matrix
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
In The Mood For Love
The Heart Of The World
Yi yi
Millennium Mambo
The Fellowship Of The Ring
AI: Artificial Intelligence
The Royal Tenenbaums
Punch-Drunk Love
The Two Towers
Blissfully Yours
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Last Life In The Universe
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . And Spring
House Of Flying Daggers
Tropical Malady
The World
The New World
Three Times
A History Of Violence
The Wind That Shakes The Barley
Still Life
Miami Vice
The Departed
I’m Not There
Flight Of The Red Balloon
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood

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