Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gifts for Everyone!

Every year since this blog has been around, I’ve posted a list of films that I think should be added. Except for the first year, before I actually posted reviews, it’s become a Christmas tradition.

This year, though, the Listmakers opted for a major overhaul, going back to the beginnings of film and adding a ton. Technically, they re-added three, switched out another 47, and stuffed two more Toy Story films into a single entry and called it 50 new films. In that spirit, I’m going to suggest a bunch.

However, to be fair, a number of the films they added really deserved it. I’m going to keep those and suggest enough to round the number up to an even 50. I will suggest no re-adds (even though Amelie and The Big Lebowski should never have been removed). I will almost certainly repeat some from earlier lists like this one, though. First, we need to see what I’d keep from the new 50 (and I’m going to sneak in two bonuses by keeping the three Toy Story films as a single entry). These are:

1. The Adventures of Prince Achmed
2. Amour
3. Argo
4. The Cabin in the Woods
5. The Devils
6. The Exterminating Angel
7. F for Fake
8. Field of Dreams
9. The Goddess
10. The Great White Silence
11. Lincoln
12. Les Miserables
13. The Man with the Golden Arm
14. Mrs. Miniver
15. Oklahoma
16. Skyfall
-- Toy Story 2 and 3 (rolled in with the first one)

So this means I get to add 34. First are the ones I have suggested in the past:

17. …28 Days Later (suggested 12/30/09)
18. Animal House (suggested 12/30/09)
19. Bullit (suggested 12/30/09)
20. Ed Wood (suggested 12/30/09)
21. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (suggested 12/30/09)
22. The Great Dictator (suggested 12/25/12)
23. In Bruges (suggested 12/25/12)
24. The Incredibles (suggested 12/30/09)
25. Inherit the Wind (suggested 12/25/11)
26. Jason and the Argonauts (suggested 12/25/10)
27. Kung Fu Hustle (suggested 12/25/11)
28. Leon the Professional (suggested 12/30/09)
29. Misery (suggested 12/25/12)
30. Office Space (suggested 12/25/11)
31. Quadrophenia (suggested 12/25/10)
32. Safety Last (suggested 12/30/09)
33. Shaun of the Dead (suggested 12/30/09)
34. The Skin I Live In (suggested 12/25/12)
35. Stalag 17 (suggested 12/30/09)
36. Stop Making Sense (suggested 12/25/11)
37. Tron (suggested 12/30/09)
38. Wait Until Dark (suggested 12/25/10)
39. Wallace and Gromit in The Wrong Trousers (suggested 12/25/10)
40. The Warriors (suggested 12/25/11)

This leaves me with 10 more that should’ve been added. Here they are:

41. Attack the Block:

A good idea goes a long way, even on a limited budget. When that good idea comes with talent, you sometimes get a movie like Attack the Block. I loved how inventive this is and I love the relationship between the kids, who are truly each other’s family. Worth seeing, especially if you’re a science fiction fan.

42. Beetlejuice:

As strange as it sounds for a guy with such a varied career, Beetlejuice is one of the defining roles of Michael Keaton’s career. It’s also one of the defining comedies of the 1980s, and at some level, every horror comedy that has followed it hs borrowed something from it.

43. Born Yesterday:

I held a grudge against the Oscars for awarding one to Judy Holliday over Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard…until I watched Born Yesterday. This quickly became one of my favorite comedies of the 1950s. It takes someone very smart to play as dumb as Holliday plays, and her work here is a wonder to behold.

44. Defending Your Life:

I’ve talked about my love of Albert Brooks in the past. I tend to like his work a lot. Of all his films, this is the most inventive and starts with the strangest premise. Even better, it really makes the premise work all the way through and even earns the ending it comes to. That’s rare.

45. The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind:

I’m not what I would call a Jim Carrey fan, but more and more I really respect him when he plays dramatic. This is visually arresting, and is so weird that it has to be seen. And as weird as the story is, everything holds together flawlessly. Smart filmmaking, smart writing, great performances.

46. Hoosiers:

The stereotypical sports film is an underdog story. It’s not interesting when the best team wins; the team that doesn’t have much of a chance is always more compelling. Hoosiers does that better than pretty much any film I can name in the genre. Even if we know where it’s going, it’s still worth seeing.

47. The Iron Giant:

Can a film made to be entertaining to kids really satisfy an adult? It can, but it takes top quality writing, engaging characters, and a plot that matters. The Iron Giant hits on all of those cylinders. It’s also one of the few animated films with enough at stake to drive even a jaded viewer to tear up by the end. Criminally underseen.

48. Marvel’s The Avengers:

This is the biggest miss from 2012. The Avengers is a high point in super hero films because it does everything right. It gives us a great villain, gives each character a solid arc, and manages to include the entire cast, making everyone a critical player. It’s fun, exciting, funny, and a visual wow. I can’t wait for the next one.

49. Midnight Express:

A brutal film, but one created to expose something terrible. That’s never a sell for the popularity of a film at the box office; in fact, it would be easy to argue that those harder films have an uphill battle against an indifferent public. Midnight Express pulls no punches and is all the better for it.

50. The Truman Show:

Yes, a second Jim Carrey film in which his main part is as a dramatic actor. I don’t care about that. I only care that the Truman Show is one of the finest American films of the past several decades.


  1. I agree Safety Last should be in the 1001 book, that's a big oversight. Ed Wood would be in my top 3 Tim Burton films, it's probably my favorite of the Burton/Depp collaborations, with Edward Scissorhands a close second.
    I've added Born Yesterday to my watchlist

    1. Born Yesterday is tragically underseen. I can't imagine you won't enjoy it tremendously.

  2. I know we don't want to go there but Safety Last! is not on the list? It's on my Blind Spot list this year so I will get to it sometime this year but I never would have imagined it not being there!

    1. In my opinion, it's one of the biggest misses. The only Harold Lloyd is The Kid Brother, which is a fine film. It's just not Safety Last.

  3. Heck yeah, Attack the Block! A much smarter film than people give it credit for. Too underrated.

    1. And it has a weed room.

      No, you're right--it is a much smarter film that its premise would indicate.

  4. Can't argue with any of your 10 that I've seen (still need to see Born Yesterday, Defending Your Life, and Midnight Express), and I'm surprised most haven't already been added! How is Eternal Sunshine not in the book? That's one of the most inventive films of the 2000s!

    1. One cannot fully understand the ways and workings of The List. I can't fathom how the choices get made. I continually would like to swap out 50-100. That seems like a lot, but on a long view, that means I agree with 90-95%, which is pretty good by any measure.

  5. Defending your Life is Brooks most sentimental film and yet it still manages to be sarcastic, smart and funny. A black hole film at this house.

    1. I am completely fascinated by what you mean by "black hole film." I'd guess that you mean it sucks you in completely and doesn't let go. If that's the case, I agree completely.

    2. It's gravitational pull is so great I cannot escape from watching it.

    3. Nice. I will certainly steal that from you, but I promise I'll give you credit.

  6. Among your new 10 I hugely agree on The Iron Giant and The Avengers. They are both five star films for me.

    The editors tend to not add new animated films (WALL-E being the only one and they removed it the next year; Toy Storys and Prince Achmed are older ones) or superhero movies (The Dark Knight is the only one they've added and Batman is the only other one on the entire list, I believe.)

    1. Absolutely true--and those are both categories that should be better represented.

  7. Hoosiers, Hoosiers, Hoosiers! Great movie featuring a fantastic performance by Gene Hackman. My wife could have been in it. They filmed the final game in the Butler fieldhouse when she was a student there and they were looking for extras to fill the seats. Unfortunately, it was finals week so she passed.

    1. My brother went to Butler, although he was done by the time Hoosiers was filmed, and I think he was living elsewhere in Indiana at that time.

      It's worth noting that that same brother of mine co-wrote the biography of one of the guys the film was based on: