AFI Ten Best in Ten Genres

In a special show airing Tuesday night on CBS, AFI announced their picks for the ten best movies in ten different genres. They actually had a sweepstakes for this, which I entered. The objective was to guess their selection as the very best film for each genre. That’s exactly what I did, not necessarily vote for my personal picks. Well, it turns out that the AFI and I suddenly see eye to eye. With the exception of two categories, I think they got every one of these correct. Had I gone ahead and chosen my personal favorites, I may have guessed all of them correctly and maybe I would be sitting here writing this with $10,000 in Best Buy gift cards. Just a thought of what might have been. Oh well, on to the winners….

Animation
The Winner: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
My Pick: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
A no brainer here. It’s the ultimate masterpiece from Disney and a first of its kind.

The Runners-Up: Pinocchio (1940), Bambi (1942), The Lion King (1994), Fantasia (1942), Toy Story (1995), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Shrek (2001), Cinderella (1950), Finding Nemo (2003)

Note that with the exception of one movie, all of these came from Disney and/or Pixar.

Fantasy
The Winner: The Wizard of Oz (1939)
My Pick: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Okay, solid choice. I just thing LOTR is hands down the greatest achievement ever put to celluloid.

The Runners-Up: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), King Kong (1933), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Field of Dreams (1989), Harvey (1950), Groundhog Day (1993), The Thief of Bagdad (1924), Big (1988)

After No. 2 there’s not really a major contender to be found. I mean, should Field of Dreams really be included on this list? I think this is one genre that should have been scratched from this special.

Gangster
Winner: The Godfather (1972)
My Pick: The Godfather Part II (1974)
Personally, with a recent viewing of both, I think there is a significant difference in quality between the two. Both great films nonetheless. Usually, when we talk about one, we include the other anyways.

Runners-Up: Goodfellas (1990), The Godfather Part II (1974), White Heat (1949), Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Scarface: The Shame of a Nation (1932), Pulp Fiction (1994), The Public Enemy (1931), Little Caesar (1931), Scarface (1983)

I think Pulp Fiction is rated way too low here. It would be my second choice.

Science Fiction
The Winner: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
My Pick: 2001: A Space Odyssey
This may be my favorite of all genres simply because I couldn’t possibly list all of my favorites in just one list of ten. There are several films that I could argue for, and argue well, that deserve the top spot, but how can I go against the one-of-a-kind masterpiece from the greatest director that ever lived?

Runners Up: Star Wars-Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), E.T.- The Extra Terrestrial, A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Blade Runner (1982), Alien (1979), Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Back to the Future (1985).

I know E.T. has the love and support of a huge fan base, but if I had to pick a Spielberg film for this list, I would go with 2002′s extraordinary sci-fi noir Minority Report. Also, I think The Matrix needs to be on here as well.

Western
Winner: The Searchers (1956)
My Pick: Once Upon a Time in the West (1967)
What, no love for Sergio Leone? Not American enough?

Runners-Up: High Noon (1952), Shane (1953), Unforgiven (1992), Red River (1948), The Wild Bunch (1969), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971), Stagecoach (1939), Cat Ballou (1965)

This is where my opinion differs greatly from the AFI and practically every other film lover in the world. I’m not a big fan of the Western genre, so I may be in no position to say this, but I think a couple of these film are totally overrated. I don’t see what’s so great about Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Peckinpath’s The Wild Bunch. If anything, these films are a bit of a mess (bring on the lashback). A film that should be on here is Kevin Costner’s 1990 Best Picture Winner, Dances With Wolves.

Sports
Winner: Raging Bull (1980)
My Pick: Raging Bull
Raging Bull is not only the greatest of sports movies, but among the greatest of all movies as well.

Runners-Up: Rocky (1977), Pride of the Yankees (1943), Hoosiers (1986), Bull Durham (1988), The Hustler (1961), Caddyshack (1980), Breaking Away (1979), National Velvet (1945), Jerry Maguire (1996)

This is not a very interesting category past Rocky.

Mystery
Winner: Vertigo
My Pick: Vertigo
Vertigo is one of my top 5 films of all time, but pretty much any Hitchcock movie will suffice here. But I will give a shoutout to The Third Man, which is also in my Top 5.

Runners-Up: Chinatown (1974), Rear Window (1954), Laura (1944), The Third Man (1949), The Maltese Falcon (1941), North by Northwest (1959), Blue Velvet (1986), Dial M For Murder (1954), The Usual Suspects (1995)

The surprises here are The Usual Suspects and Blue Velvet. Those are great films, but you can probably come up with a solid list of 30 before you even get past the 1950′s.

Romantic Comedy
Winner: City Lights
My Pick: City Lights
City Lights was easily Chaplin’s greatest film, and even coming from someone who is just 20 years old, the movie is easy to appreciate.

Runners-Up: Annie Hall (1977), It Happened One Night (1934), Roman Holiday (1953), The Philadelphia Story (1941), When Harry Met Sally… (1989), Adam’s Rib (1949), Moonstruck (1987), Harold and Maude (1971), Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Another shout out to the original and winning Annie Hall, a close second.

Courtroom Drama
Winner: To Kill a Mockingbird
My Pick: To Kill a Mockingbird
This one is a particularly well made adaptation of what is arguably THE great American novel.

Runners-Up: 12 Angry Men (1957), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), The Verdict (1982), A Few Good Men (1992), Witness For the Prosecution (1958), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), In Cold Blood (1967) A Cry in the Dark (1988), Judgement at Nuremburg (1961)

I’m not in love with any of these movies, but I admire them.

Epic
Winner: Lawrence of Arabia
My Pick: Lawrence of Arabia
Lord of the Rings aside, this is the greatest film ever made. No director in the history of film could make epics like David Lean.

Runners-Up: Ben-Hur (1959), Schindler’s List (1993), Gone With the Wind (1939), Spartacus (1960), Titanic (1997), All Quiet on the Western Front (1931), Saving Private Ryan (1999), Reds (1981), The Ten Commandments (1956)

All Quiet on the Western Front is an epic? It doesn’t even have a 2 1/2 hour running time. No reason for Lean’s Dr. Zhivago and The Bridge on the River Kwai to not be on here. Turner Classic Movies recently did a special on epics, and it was pretty much a David Lean marathon. Enough said.


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