What are you people—on dope?!

The results of the OFC 100 Best Films survey are in. Overall, it’s a pretty good list, and it does what it set out to do—namely, recognize some cult and offbeat favorites that tend to get overlooked by the likes of the latest AFI list. It’s a noble ambition; one I’m proud and grateful to have participated in. Real film fans know, for example that "The Empire Strikes Back" is the best of all the "Star Wars" movies; we not only voted it onto the top 100 but ranked it above "Episode IV: A New Hope." Balance has been restored to The Force. Yet for all its iconoclastic intentions, the OFC list seems to have ended up, in some ways, as parochial as the AFI list.

While ironic, this is hardly unexpected. Any time you have a group of rag-tag outsiders trying to take on an established (and some might say elitist) entity, the outsiders invariably take on an elitist pall all their own. It’s simply the nature of an exercise like this. Even when the process is a result of backlash and outrage getting it on under the upturned nose of the AFI.

Nocturnal Omissions
Now, I know everyone is going to have his (or her) own little shit-storms of righteous indignation about things that didn’t make the list. But that’s one of the great things about blogging—whether it’s about films or quilting or whatever: you can participate in a discussion where, even if your opinion is in a statistically insignificant minority, your voice is still heard (if only by random blogosphere passers-by Googling the lyrics to drinking songs from movies). All that said, I can’t help but be appalled by the absence of films that deserve inclusion among the 500 greatest films ever made.

How is it possible to recognize "Silence of the Lambs," but not "Manhunter"? "Field of Dreams" but not "Bull Durham"? And how is it possible for "Die Hard" to finish at #30, but "A Room with a View" doesn't even rate a nomination?

Actually, I have a theory about that. The 502 nominees on the OFC list were compiled by about 50 Web site writers. Some are paid professional critics, but most are simply avid film enthusiast bloggers like me (with a few rather glaring differences in appreciation for the movies mentioned above). To be nominated, a film had to be included on at least three contributors’ lists. If you look at the list of contributors, it’s pretty easy to see how an Edwardian-era comedy of manners is not likely to get on the radar of two other mostly male movie watchers whose tastes apparently tend more toward, well, people punching each other (Raging Bull, Fight Club) and shit blowing up.

I guess what I’m saying is that I know—and truly appreciate—the genuine enthusiasm that everyone brought to the table, blind spots* and all. It really does make up (mostly) for the slights. And I long ago learned to live with the reality that The Right Stuff never seems to make the final 100.

Here’s my official ballot. One final note: because the final tally was based on the number of times a film was mentioned and how highly it was ranked, I tried to give some of my personal underdogs a boost. I don’t actually think that "Out of Sight" is objectively a better film than, say, "The Godfather." But "The Godfather" doesn't need any help topping the OFC list. Just like it did on the AFI list.

The Middlebrow OFC 100:

  1. Right Stuff, The (Kaufman, 1983)
  2. Young Frankenstein (Brooks, 1974)
  3. Out of Sight (Soderbergh, 1998)
  4. Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942)
  5. Bridge on River Kwai, The (Lean, 1957)
  6. Raising Arizona (Coen, 1987)
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird (Mulligan, 1962)
  8. Risky Business (Brickman, 1983)
  9. Lone Star (Sayles, 1996)
  10. Last of the Mohicans, The (Mann, 1992)
  11. Princess Bride, The (Reiner, 1987)
  12. Glengarry Glenn Ross (Foley, 1992)
  13. Life of Brian (Jones, 1979)
  14. Jackie Brown (Tarantino, 1997)
  15. Alien (R. Scott, 1979)
  16. It’s a Wonderful Life (Capra, 1946)
  17. Boogie Nights (PT Anderson, 1997)
  18. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hill, 1969)
  19. L.A. Confidential (Hanson, 1997)
  20. High Fidelity (Frears, 2000)
  21. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Kershner, 1980)
  22. Sideways (Payne, 2004)
  23. Day the Earth Stood Still, The (Wise, 1951)
  24. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)
  25. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Hughes, 1986)
  26. Shawshank Redemption, The (Darabont, 1994)
  27. Blade Runner (R. Scott, 1982)
  28. Groundhog Day (Ramis, 1993)
  29. Election (Payne, 1999)
  30. Cinema Paradiso (Tornatore, 1988)
  31. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg, 1981)
  32. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (A Lee, 2000)
  33. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977)
  34. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)
  35. Usual Suspects, The (Singer, 1995)
  36. Shining, The (Kubrick, 1980)
  37. Silence of the Lambs, The (Demme, 1991)
  38. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Lucas, 1977)
  39. Annie Hall (W. Allen, 1977)
  40. Graduate, The (Nichols, 1967)
  41. Tootsie (Pollack, 1982)
  42. Eternal Sunshine of theSpotless Mind (Gondry, 2004)
  43. This is Spinal Tap (Reiner, 1984)
  44. Aliens (Cameron, 1986)
  45. Jaws (Spielberg, 1975)
  46. Three Kings (Russell, 1999)
  47. Incredibles, The (Bird, 2004)
  48. Toy Story (Lasseter, 1995)
  49. Monsters, Inc. (Docter/Silverman, 2001)
  50. Office Space (Judge, 1999)
  51. Untouchables, The (De Palma, 1987)
  52. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Heckerling, 1982)
  53. Sullivan’s Travels (Sturges, 1941)
  54. Fargo (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1996)
  55. A Fish Called Wanda (Chrichton/Cleese, 1988)
  56. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Ritchie, 1998)
  57. Fifth Element, The (Besson, 1997)
  58. Godfather Part II, The (Coppola, 1974)
  59. Godfather, The (Coppola, 1972)
  60. Blow Out (De Palma, 1981)
  61. Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990)
  62. Great Escape, The (Sturges, 1963)
  63. Full Metal Jacket (Kubrick, 1987)
  64. It Happened One Night (Capra, 1934)
  65. Jurassic Park (Spielberg, 1993)
  66. Lost in Translation (Coppola, 2003)
  67. Field of Dreams (Robinson, 1989)
  68. Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)
  69. Casino Royale (Campbell, 2006)
  70. Brother, Where Art Thou? (Coen, 2000)
  71. Cool Hand Luke (Rosenburg, 1967)
  72. Almost Famous (Crowe, 2000)
  73. My Man Godfrey (La Cava, 1936)
  74. Royal Tenenbaums, The (Anderson, 2001)
  75. Amadeus (Forman, 1984)
  76. Blazing Saddles (Brooks, 1974)
  77. Apartment, The (Wilder, 1960)
  78. Conversation, The (Coppola, 1974)
  79. Back to the Future (Zemeckis, 1985
  80. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Gilliam/Jones, 1975)
  81. Bonnie & Clyde (Penn, 1967)
  82. Departed, The (Scorsese, 2006)
  83. Laura (Preminger, 1944)
  84. Planet of the Apes (Schaffner, 1968)
  85. Bourne Identity, The (Liman, 2002)
  86. Die Hard (McTiernan, 1988)
  87. Goldfinger (Hamilton, 1964)
  88. His Girl Friday (Hawks, 1940)
  89. In the Heat of the Night (Jewison, 1967)
  90. Lady Eve, The (Sturges, 1941)
  91. Lord of the Rings, The: The Fellowship of the Ring (Jackson, 2001)
  92. Miller’s Crossing (Coen, 1990)
  93. Notorious (Hitchcock, 1946)
  94. Das Boot (W/ Petersen, 1981)
  95. Once Upon a Time in the West (Leone, 1968)
  96. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (Verbinski, 2003)
  97. Saving Private Ryan (Spielberg, 1998)
  98. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Altman, 1971)
  99. Some Like it Hot (Wilder, 1959)
  100. Terminator, The (Cameron, 1984)

*In the interests of full disclosure and a willingness to acknowledge my own blind spots, here’s dozen films that I’ve resolved to see with all possible speed:

All About Eve
Army of Darkness
Days of Heaven
Dog Day Afternoon
Point Blank
The Professionals
On the Waterfront
Ride the High Country
Stalag 17
The Wild Bunch
Something by Bergman
Something by Fellini

Got any recommendations for the last two? In the name of building/restoring goodwill with my fellow movie bloggers, I really would love to hear some suggestions.


fish said...

I am a big fan of Dog Day Afternoon. It is Pacino at his best, before he became a caricature of himself. Not such a big fan of On the Waterfront or The Wild Bunch. Although I will admit that I have a generally negative response to most older movies, I just don’t like the style of acting from those eras. That said, Waterfront is interesting because you can really see how far ahead of his time Brando was in terms of his acting. He really raised the bar.

stennie said...

With the caveat that Fellini is probably not for everyone (he got his ass slammed in the "Academy of the Overrated" category in a recent SLIFR quiz), I would recommend:
- 8½
- La Dolce Vita
- La Strada

If you like those, you can move on to Amarcord, Nights of Cabiria, I Vitelloni, and others. I really love Fellini, against nearly impossible odds -- I tend to prefer my narratives a little more cut and dried (and a little less filled with clowns and circus people). He just takes great joy in what he does, and I think that shows all over his movies.

As far as Bergman goes, I'm still fairly illiterate there myself, but I really quite liked Seventh Seal. It's funnier than I expected it to be -- not unintentionally funny, either.

Dr.Strangelove said...

Happy to see Peter Sellers @ #24 with '...how I learned to love the bomb'. But there should have been mention of his last movie "Being There". It is fantastic & one of, if not my favorites.

Anonymous said...

Amarcord, by Fellini, is a gem. For Bergman, try the terribly depressing Chrise and Whispers. And don't miss out watching The Man Who Would be King and Woody Alen's Love and Death.

RC said...

thanks for sharing your list...i actually didn't participate in this because i felt like my list would be too recent and miss important past films.

i am participating in edward copelands best non-english language list, and in the process of catching up as much as possible.