The Greatest American Films

(I did not realize that I still had 2 blogs active on the old Blogger format, this is a post from about 7 years ago that I found on there, I’m going to rip a few of those old posts and place them here then deactivate my old blog, I can’t say I still stand by this post in particular but maybe I will finally finish my series analyzing each of these films)

I have always loved lists. Especially ranked lists. Ranking things is fun. The Princess Bride is my favorite book of all time, and it is filled with rankings. I love it. I don’t know why, but for some reason ranking lists makes me feel all warm inside. It’s almost like a sport except that the only people involved didn’t have anything to do with the original entree. Last year Roger Ebert came out and made his definitive statement on what he thinks the ten greatest movies are. Not as formidable as say the AFI, BFI, or even Tim Dirk’s truly epic filmsite.org. But what Ebert’s list lacks in quantitative omph, he makes up for with extreme pretension. This guy really thinks he can name the ten greatest films ever made? When all these other groups have to list hundreds of films? Well here is Ebert’s list:

Ten Greatest Films of all time (alphabetically).

Casablanca
Citizen Kane
Floating Weeds
Gates of Heaven
La Dolce Vita
Notorious
Raging Bull
The Third Man
28 up
2001: A Space Odyssey

for the entire article follow this link: Ebert’s List.

I think this list is flawed for several reasons. First off I don’t believe that Citizen Kane belongs in the top ten of any great film list except for lists concerning technical achievement or influence. Even though Citizen Kane is an amazing film in so many ways, I am sorry to say it is boring (I am in no way a minority on this position, except among Film critics). Also Ebert has made his list too broad. He brings in documentaries and foreign films. I doubt that Floating Weeds is truly the greatest film out of all asian cinema. Likewise for La Dolce Vita and Gates of Heaven for their respective categories. The other choices on the list probably merit their places.

In any case I have been inspired by this attempt to name the ten greatest films of all time and have decided to do so myself. I am only 100% certain of several of these choices. I could change my mind about half of them simply by watching another movie that I thought better deserving of the honor of ten greatest films. I have also limited myself to American films, and non documentaries. It isn’t that I believe American films are better than other films or that documentaries cannot compete. But this is a humble first attempt and I must limit myself if I am not to utterly fail. I have ranked my list chronologically. I believe this to be the closest approximation of the level of greatness of each film. The setting of precedent is vitally important in determining greatness. I have also not included silent films. I have a hard time with silent film and feel that I am a bad judge of their quality. I have also included several ties which many people will find troublesome. In actuality my list includes a total of 13 films. But I find these films truly to be of equal quality and import, so I see no reason to separate them from each other in ranking.

In any case here is my slightly less pretentious Top Ten Greatest American Films list:

Number 10
Batman Begins 2005 tie
The Dark Knight 2008 tie

Number 9
Schindler’s List 1993

Number 8
The Silence of the Lambs 1991

Number 7
Star Wars 1977 tie
Stars Wars: Episode V- The Empire Strikes Back 1980 tie

Number 6
The Godfather 1972 tie
The Godfather Part II 1974 tie

Number 5
Vertigo 1958

Number 4
Notorious 1946

Number 3
My Darling Clementine 1946

Number 2
It’s a Wonderful Life 1946

Number 1
Casablanca 1942

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