June 24, 2008

EW indeed

I let my ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY subscription lapse a couple of years ago largely because of their increased reliance on stunts like this. Anyway, curious to see what the consensus around here is for their list of the 100 Best Films of the Past Quarter Century. (The "New Classics," they're calling it.) The Top 10 reads like this:
1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)
3. Titanic (1997)
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
5. Toy Story (1995)
6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
9. Die Hard (1988)
10. Moulin Rouge (2001)
If you think Moulin Rouge is a real say what, honky?! choice, you haven't seen the rest of the list, which ranks Napoleon Dynamite above Back to the Future and There Will Be Blood, thinks bizarrely highly of Casino Royale, and would draw most laymen (that's who this is for, right?) to the conclusion that very few films have been made outside the United States since 1983.


Anonymous said...

Hannah and Her Sisters? Man, they must really love Woody.

And Toy Story 2 is succchhhh a better movie than Toy Story 1. And they all pale in comparison to Brad Bird's Pixar offerings. Did they even watch what was on their list?

Blue Velvet at #4 gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling however.

Bill C said...

Indeed, can't complain that BLUE VELVET's on there.

Apropos of movies that didn't make the grade, Malick's THE NEW WORLD is being reissued on DVD (and hopefully BD) in October in a new 3-hour cut. Hallelujah?

Dave Gibson said...

Who has time for piddling crap like "A Taste of Cherry", "The Ice Storm" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" when timeless classics like "Michael Clayton" and "Pretty Woman" can be enjoyed again and again..

No "Heathers" or Michael Mann? Bah!

In more filmus genericus terms, I'm a little surprised that middlebrow classic "The Big Chill" aint here...guess the boomers really are getting older.

Ryan said...

That entire issue is one giant "what the fuck?". Their list of the new "classic" albums is especially egregious, with Justin Timberlake's most recent album somewhere in the 20's and The Smiths' "The Queen is Dead in the mid-60's.

O'JohnLandis said...

The fact that a lot of the great films of the last 25 years are on here hopefully won't blind anyone to how awful the list is.

Big is better than No Country? Wow.

I'm not usually a "let's make a list" guy.

I'll have a Top 25 of the last 25 years done by 8:00 tonight.

Dare you to make your own.

prashin said...

I think one I'll agree with is Die Hard. Others on my list would be, off the top of my head (all American in spirit of the list):

Thin Red Line
There will be blood
Punch-drunk Love
Big Lebowski
Bringing out the dead
Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind
Mystery Train
Gangster No.1

Notable Mentions: Buffalo Soldiers, Birth, Ronin, Fountain, Undertow, NCfOM, Die Hard 3, Predator

Hmm... a lot of these seem very recent. I'm probably missing some out. But 80s generally sucked and 90s weren't much better.

Bill C said...

Reports of the '80s sucking are greatly exaggerated, Prashin. Just look at Alex's list from our 10th Anniversary project last year; then there's BAD TIMING; THE ELEPHANT MAN; PARIS, TEXAS; EVIL DEAD II; a litany of Alan Clarke masterpieces; TENEBRAE; THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY; MONA LISA; THE PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO; FANNY AND ALEXANDER; UNDER THE VOLCANO; 36 FILLETTE; RAISING ARIZONA; VERNON, FLORIDA... And these are just off the top of my head!

I would agree with O'John that the list does contain its share of gems--and that shouldn't remotely stop you from hating on it.

prashin said...

Can't believe I forgot Vernon, Florida! one of my favorite films that one.

There were some good ones in the 80s, no doubt, especially foreign films. One that comes to mind is Come and See, but pound-for-pound I think 80s were probably the worst decade in film history, definitely for Hollywood. In late 80s, we saw probably the best action films ever, but overall an unremarkable decade, don't you think? I think of it as a buffer between the glorious 70s (pound-for-pound greatest decade, shine that 40s!) and indie movement of the 90s.

prashin said...

Also, must add that Alex's taste suits 80s more than mine does. I'm not much of a slasher flicks kinda guy, even my favorite ones are from 70s: Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Black Christmas.

Another 80s film that was great: Cannibal Holocaust.

Paul S. said...

I'm surprised they didn't put Shawshank on their list. Not that I would put it on mine (I think it's average, at best), but it's the middling type of crowd-pleaser that EW lives to trump.

jer fairall said...

OK, I can at least *understand* most of this list without agreeing with it, the only two real WTF's for me being Michael Clayton and In The Mood For Love. The latter reeks of wanting to represent foreign cinema, and the choice of it over Pan's Labyrinth, Life is Beautiful or Cinema Paradiso (the exclusion of which all surprise me a bit) a bit for obscure cred. The former I actually think is possibly the worst movie on the list (or at least second to Napoleon Dynamite) and, thanks to Made of Honor won't even be remembered for being Sydney Pollack's last screen performance in five years time.

Also surprised that Shawshank isn't on here either, come to think of it. Ditto Pirates of the Caribbean, Finding Nemo or Planes Trains and Automobiles.

The omission of The Royal Tenenbaums is quite shameful, but I guess at least The Notebool wasn't on the list.

jer fairall said...

Also, what's wrong with Hannah and Her Sisters, anonymous?

And oh yeah, Clueless but not Heathers?! Grr.

Dave Gibson said...

I suppose its well-nigh impossible to quantify these sorts of things, but it’s still a lot of fun. It’s true that the “eighties” have often been unfairly maligned. (show me a guy who says he hates 80’s music—I’ll show you a guy doing the electic boogaloo to Flock of Seagulls in his bedroom) I’d argue that, at least in Hollywood terms (and let’s face it, that’s what this list is all about) the eighties were markedly better than the nineties or even the current decade. Hughes, Burton, Mann, Jarmusch, (Johnathan) Lynn, Zemeckis, Errol Morris, Lynch, James Foley, Cronenberg, Fassbinder, Scorsese, (Carroll) Ballard, Herbert Ross (yes, Herbert Ross), Stone, Phillip Borsos, Pollack! The Coens, Woody, Spike, Eastwood ….yikes! So many great directors did a good chunk of their best work in the eighties. Hey, this is when Barry Levinson didn’t suck! Even the junky horror schlock (Friday, Elm Street etc) was a damn sight better than the alternately hateful and timid PG stuff that passes for ‘horror’ these days. Not to say that the academy ever got it right throughout the 80’s but—that’s nothing new.

prashin said...

Hughes made one great film, which was primarily a bugs bunny rip-off. Get over it.

Burton, Mann, Coens, Foley, Spike and Cronenberg did their best work in 90s. Scorsese, Pollack, Woody and Eastwood in the 70s. And who the fuck are Lynn, Borsos and Herbert Ross again? Nevermind.

The guys I'll concede are Jarmusch, Morris and Stone; two of which are on my list.

Fassbinder and Lynch are generally terrible, so lets not go there but a strong case can be made that Fassbinder burnt out in the 70s.

So just because these guys were working in the 80s doesn't mean they did their best work then! I mean what was this greatest Eastwood film in the 80s that I don't know about, Heartbreak Ridge?

I think some of you guys who were coming of age in the 80s tend to romanticize the decade a lot more than it deserves. Now I'm talking pound-for-pound here.

Anonymous said...

I dislike the list not for what's not on it but for what is, particularly in the music section. "In Rainbows" is scarcely 8 months old and somehow it bests "OK Computer"? The blurb about Nirvana's "MTV Unplugged" completely disses "Nevermind" without acknowledging that the former could not exists without the latter. And then it throws in indie-cred boosters like "The Soft Bulletin," "Turn On the Bright Lights" and "Funeral" but backhands all of them in their descriptions. There's no accounting for taste, but this list MAKES NO SENSE.

The movies and books sections are just as bad, and the style section continues to be a waste of paper & ink. I've been subscribing to this rag for 16 years, and in the last two months they've published two of the worst issues ever (the other being "The Next A-Listers," which is arguably even more insane than this nonsense).

Bill C said...

"Fassbinder and Lynch are generally terrible"


O'JohnLandis said...

Here's my list of the Top 25, Last 25. My only rule was that each spot could contain only one film. Before Sunrise/Sunset might have made the list if they could be counted as one, ditto Kill Bill.

1. Pulp Fiction
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Hable con ella (Talk to Her)
4. Naked
5. Hannah and Her Sisters
6. Hero
7. Dogville
8. Capturing the Friedmans
9. Ghost World
10. Wonder Boys
11. Ratatouille
12. Spirited Away
13. Spoorloos (The Vanishing)
14. Babe
15. After Hours
16. Noises Off!
17. Changing Lanes
18. The War Zone
19. Groundhog Day
20. Oldboy
21. The Matrix
22. Seven
23. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
24. Braindead (Dead Alive)
25. The Last of the Mohicans

Five of the next ten would be Lynch, Anderson, and Anderson. It also would have helped if I could have picked between the two Niccol screenplays. I made this list from a top 75 or so, and it was kind of a pain in the ass. Give it a shot anyway.

Dave Gibson said...

I likes our talks about lists."Noises Off!" That's a neat pick.Continuing the gloriously arbitrary 80's vs Whats I Likes thread for a second--I was thinking specifically of Eastwood's "Honkytonk Man" and "Bird"--two of my absolute Clint. favourites. Scorsese? "Raging Bull", "King of Comedy", "After Hours" and "The Last Temptation of Christ" is what I'm thinking, much of Marty's most daring work came in the "Tiffany" decade. Cronie? "Videodrome", "The Fly" and "The Dead Zone" are among his best--and "Dead Ringers" remains his masterpiece among masterpieces. Herbert Ross directed some entertaining crap, some unwatchable crap--and "Pennies From Heaven" which is approximately 10 light years away from alleged "musical" "Moulin Rouge!"

Plus: "Tapeheads", "Repo Man", "Miracle Mile", "Night of the Comet", "Big Trouble in Little China", "Conan", "Buckaroo Banzai", "Robocop", "Suburbia", "Permanent Record", "Rivers Edge", "Hoosiers", "Time Bandits", "Better Off Dead", "The Thing","Running on Empty", "Local Hero", "Gregory's Girl", "Wish You Were Here!", "Someone To Watch Over Me", "Housekeeping", "Desert Bloom", "Testament", "The Quiet Earth", "The 4th Man","Mephisto", "Montenegro", "Au revoir Les Enfants", "Atlantic City", "Bolero","Bad Taste", "A Christmas Story", "Kagemusha","Desperately Seeking Susan","Bad Influence", "Roxanne", "The Fox and the Hound", "The Aviators Wife", "Fright Night", "Grave of the Fireflies", "Glory", "Never Cry Wolf", "Identification of A Woman","The Howling", "Once Upon A Time In America", "Prizzi's Honor", "The Dead", "Re-Animator", "Zelig", "The Last Metro"

Anonymous said...

Did you guys know that the pilot for Alan Ball's "True Blood" leaked online? I'll post more on it after I download and watch it.

Curious: why has there never been an FFC review of The Wire or The Sopranos? Those shows are much better than a lot of the "past quarter century" cinema.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and ignoring my off-topicness of the prior post.

Re: Hannah, I like Woody better when he's funny. Juvenile, I know.

Hey Changing Lanes and Capturing The Friedmans some classics I forgot from early in the decade.

prashin said...

Honkytonk Man, really? Alrighty then.

Bill C said...

No "The Wire" or "Sopranos" because we were only offered the later seasons for review. I ignored this principle for "Deadwood" because I knew Walt was already a seasoned viewer of the show.

A great Eastwood movie not on EW's list: A PERFECT WORLD.

Rick said...

Eh, I suppose After Hours plays on some level (it is kind of entertaining), but I am more apathetic about the characters in that movie than I am about the WNBA playoffs.

jacksommersby said...

That bravura video review of the Dirty Harry DVD series is the main reason I keep going back to FFC day after motherfuckin' day. With keen observations by Ian and unsurpassed DVD points by Bill, this is the site for any home-video fan who expects nothing but the utmost quality from a website such as this.

(Oh, and I think the EW's top-100 is about as valid as a rubber crutch.)

Anonymous said...

Does that mean that complete series reviews wouldn't be impossible if HBO offered them up? I'm beginning to believe that The Wire may be the very most important filmed document on the subject of race and class.

Alex Jackson said...

Okay, spent way too much time on this. Here are the top 25 that I think should not have been included.

1. Broadcast News
2. Scarface
3. Dazed and Confused
4. Gladiator
5. Clueless
6. The 40 Year Old Virgin
7. Hoop Dreams
8. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
9. Dirty Dancing
10. Napoleon Dynamite
11. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
12. The Sixth Sense
13. Scream
14. Shrek
15. Swingers
16. There’s Something About Mary
17. The Lion King
18. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
19. Fatal Attraction
20. Office Space
21. Men in Black
22. Speed
23. Witness
24. Moulin Rouge
25. This is Spinal Tap

And here are the top 25 that weren't on the list, but I would have put on instead.

1. Gummo (1997, Korine)
2. Eyes Wide Shut (1999, Kubrick)
3. Come and See (1985, Klimov)
4. Grindhouse (2007, Rodriguez and Tarantino)
5. Kalifornia (1993, Sena)
6. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003, Tarantino)
7. Dogville (2004, Von Trier)
8. Platoon (1986, Stone)
9. Bringing out the Dead (1999, Scorsese)
10. Magnolia (1999, Anderson)
11. Marie Antoinette (2006, Coppola)
12. Palindromes (2005, Solondoz)
13. Birth (2004, Glazer)
14. Punch Drunk Love (2002, Anderson)
15. Batman (1989, Burton)
16. Traffic (2000, Soderbergh)
17. Elephant (2003, Van Sant)
18. The Thin Red Line (1998, Malick)
19. Freddy vs Jason (2003, Hu)
20. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, Zemeckis)
21. After Hours (1985, Scorsese)
22. Return of the Jedi (1983, Marquand)
23. Gremlins (1984, Dante)
24. JFK (1991, Stone)
25. The Fountain (2006, Aronofsky)

Figure that about one in three titles on the EW list belong there. There are some good mentions, along with Blue Velvet there's No Country and There Will Be Blood, Pulp Fiction, Ed Wood, Boogie Nights, Blair Witch, Eternal Sunshine, Rain Man. Lots of names that would have otherwise been on my top 25.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Jack. I've always loved how Dirty Harry's politics grabbed you by the scruff of the neck, and I jumped at the chance to review the whole series--particularly to mount a formal defense of The Dead Pool. In terms of Eastwood pictures made in the last quarter-century, I'm just glad that no one thinks too highly of Sudden Impact, in spite of its ridiculously iconic catchphrase. That reminds of an interesting question, though--how much is EW letting influence determine quality on this list?

Dumbjaw said...

EW offers up a list without merit for anyone in my opinion: and I hate lists that include too large a mix of hits, hypes and oscar nominations. But then again, list making is kind of spurious and self defeating (because you’ve never seen all the movies out there and there’s no accounting for personal taste).

From a personal standpoint I'd like to see a list that somehow tells a story of the past 25 years in regards to the experience of cinema in general (for instance the role of Hollywood, the independent scene, the internet, dvd’s, and the ever fatter bottom line drawn underneath it all) and one that also touches on the political and cultural ideas of the 1982-2007 period (cinema as a lens through which we view some of the governing principles of our society).

By the way, I'm cheating by making it a 26 year period so I could include Blade Runner and The Thing in my list below.

1. The Thin Red Line (1998, Malick)
2. Blade Runner (1982, Scott)
3. Fargo (EW list) (1996, Coen)
4. Rushmore (EW list) (1998, Anderson)
5. This Is Spinal Tap (EW list) (1984, Reiner)
6. Ghost World (2001, Zwigoff)
7. Before Sunset (2004, Linklater)
8. Unforgiven (EW list) (1992, Eastwood)
9. Trois Coleurs : Rouge (1994, Kieslowski)
10. The Ice Storm (1997, Lee)
11. JFK (1991, Stone)
12. Short Cuts (1993, Altman)
13. Lone Star (1996, Sayles)
14. Grosse Pointe Blank (1997, Armitage)
15. The Thing (1982, Carpenter)
16. Crimes And Misdemeanors (1989, Allen)
17. Brazil (1985, Gilliam)
18. Goodfellas (EW list) (1990, Scorsese)
19. Platoon (1986, Stone)
20. Local Hero (1983, Forsyth
21. Hana-Bi (1997, Kitano)
22. Naked (1993, Leigh)
23. L’Emploi Du Temps (2001, Cantet)
24. The Thin Blue Line (1988, Morris)
25. Reservoir Dogs (1992, Tarantino)

Substitions for the EW list titles:
The Squid and the Whale (Noah Baumbach), Safe (Todd Haynes), Raise The Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou), 1984 (Michael Radford), Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg).

Bill C said...

Echoing Ian here: thanks, Jack. You're too kind.

And yeah, if HBO ever bundles a complete set of "The Wire" we'll aim for it--though we *still* haven't gotten around to doing that "Six Feet Under" box set.

Keith Uhlich said...

I'll bite with the rehabilitation of the 80s theme, and take a page from Bresson's top 10 to Sight & Sound

1. Pauline at the Beach
2. Pauline at the Beach
3. The Green Ray

renfield said...

The list of albums is proof of the disintegration of pop music into an almost entirely commercial medium. Without the resources to catalog the vast troves of independent and self-released music (wherein 99.9% of exciting developments are occuring/have been occuring since the early 90s), I don't see much hope for a proper canon of pop musicology emerging.

On the other hand, EW's extraordinarily inconsistent list nonetheless evidences the excitement many of us feel in this era in cinema. As cringe-inducing as some of the inclusions and omissions may be, there's an invigorating amount of chutzpah in appointing new-classic status to the likes of Blair Witch, the various sequels, South Park...to me, a statement that much has yet to be defined and canonized as to the values of cinema.

So, is The Bourne Supremacy really that good?

And I can't imagine that Pulp Fiction and Blue Velvet wouldn't be towards the top of most FFC readers' lists.

Dave Gibson said...

This sure beats workin', I pared a list of 100+ down to 25. Over twenty of my 100 picks were also on EW's list. Trying to think of "classics" may be a different exercise than just stumping for what you consider the best (i.e. If I worked at EW I can't imagine my push for the Alan King doc would get very far). Perhaps 'classics' inherently need have somewhat of a widespread appeal to be considered as such? S'pose this illustrates the meaningless of the exercise--but, damn if it isn't fun...

After Hours (1985)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Cache (2005)
Crash (1995)
Crumb (1995)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Dying At Grace (2003)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Ghost World (2001)
Grizzly Man (2005)
Hana-bi (1997)
Housekeeping (1987)
Millers Crossing (1990)
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Safe (1995)
Short Cuts (1992)
Spoorloos (1988)
Taste of Cherry (1997)
The Age of Innocence (1984)
The Double Life of Veronique (1991)
The Ice Storm (1997)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
Yi Yi (2000)

Walter_Chaw said...

"Rose is a pistol. She's whip-smart, has attitude to burn, is sexy, extremely strong, yet has a vulnerable side that would surprise her closest friends. That description also fits Red Sonja."
- Robert Rodriguez.

Thank you, Robert Rodriguez.

Dave Gibson said...

Chain-mail brassiere? Rose McGowan?

Sign me up.

Justin said...

That list is IMDBriffic. My list--which I like to call "25 movies 50 times better than Titanic from the time period under consideration"--is probably IMDBriffic in an alternate universe:

Akira (1988)
An Autumn's Tale (1987)
Battle Royale (2000)
A Better Tomorrow III (1989)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Casualties of War (1989)
Chungking Express (1994)
Duelist (2005)
Full Contact (1993)
Grindhouse (2007)
I Love Maria (1988)
Kill Bill (2003 & 2004. It's one movie and that's all there is to it.)
Lady Vengeance (2005)
Last Life in the Universe (2003)
Linda Linda Linda (2005)
The Matrix (1999)
Peking Opera Blues (1986)
The President's Last Bang (2005)
Princess Raccoon (2005)
Resurrection of the Little Match Girl (2002)
Running on Karma (2003)
Save the Green Planet (2003)
Shanghai Blues (1984)
Shaolin Soccer (2001)
Starman (1984)
Swallowtail (1996)

Make that 26 movies (I went into my Criticker account for ideas and then couldn't decide what to take out.) My list has the opposite problem from the EW list--you wouldn't think Hollywood made too many movies during the past 25 years, what they did make was Asian influenced, and Europe didn't make anything!

(Didn't even think of Dave's point about "classics" when I was doing this. Most of my Asian picks are widely acclaimed by the people who pay attention to Asian commercial cinema, so maybe they qualify.)

Bill C said...

Here's another question: why are the 3 LotR films treated as being created equal? That's just evasive.

Alex Jackson said...

Have to say that I'm pretty pleased with my selections, even though I do only have one foreign language film on there. I would have probably included Y Tu Mama Tambien if it wasn't already on the EW list, and The Decalogue and Grave of the Fireflies were pretty close; but yeah, I realized that I hadn't really seen many other foreign language films from the last 25 years that really struck me as cream of the cream. Mere inexperience I'm expecting. Being well-rounded and knowledgable is a constant battle, but this "best foreign language films of the last 25 years" project sounds like it would be worth pursuing.

Here's my scores for "having seen" from the lists displayed so far:

John Landis: 96%
Dumbjaw: 82%
Dave Gibson: 64%
Justin: 12% (!)

Anyway, I'm curious, does anybody have any guesses as to why Platoon and Who Framed Roger Rabbit have gone out of fashion?

Chris said...

Can we get a Wall-E talkback? I need the community to help me figure out if I am upset with the movie because I don't think humanity deserves to saved or just because it's to terrifying to be so cute.

I am consumed with love for Wall-E (the character) and disappointment with Wall-E (the movie). Help!

(Also, I'd say Pixar has made five or six of the best movies of the past 25 years.)

EDWANIKE C said...

1.The Sweet Hereafter
2.Miller's Crossing
4.Blood Simple
5.Pulp Fiction
6.Boogie Nights
8. Punch Drunk Love
9.Short Cuts
10.13 Conversations About One Thing

I am somewhat surprised they did not include Gladiator in their top 10, not that I am a fan per se but they were clearly going for what would have been the most popular with their readership as well as the highest grossing films. I am not quite sure how Toy Story would out rank Hannah and Her Sisters. I guess they needed to give Woody some respect. I resisted the urge to include more Coen brothers films in the top 10 but would definitely include more in the top 25.

O'JohnLandis said...

Miller's Crossing and Topsy-Turvy are both better than Dead Alive, but I couldn't decide which one to put in the Top 25, so I operated under a silent "no more than one per director" rule. I regret that.

Alex, if you've seen all of mine but one, tell me which one. And I really don't know why you chose to make a list that didn't include any films from the EW list. It doesn't really tell us much, you see.

The reason Kill Bill doesn't count is the cliffhanger. If it was one film, I don't know structurally how we'd get the information that her daughter was alive. And without that, it's cheating just to call them one film and move on. It's really cheating to do that with Lord of the Rings, and a silly pick besides.

Better Tomorrow 3? The Vietnam one? I can understand picking the kitchen sink sequel, but not the boring one.