Fandango Groovers is hosting another blogathon, and since it was so much fun to compile my thoughts on his ‘Mixtape Movies’, I had to bite at this one too. This was really, really hard. He’s saddled us with the task of finding ten films we’d recommend to someone who has been ‘out of pocket’ between the years of 1943 and 2011. This was inspired by a snippet from the upcoming ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, where Steve Rogers makes some notes on things he’s been told to catch up on, now that he isn’t frozen any longer. On that list was two movies, ‘Rocky’ and ‘Rocky II’. Why anyone would wish those film blunders on anyone else is beyond me, but that isn’t the point. We are now asked to compile a list of ten films we’d recommend from someone who has missed out on 68 years of awesome cinema.
How do you narrow this down?
Part of me thought of compiling my list of my ten favorite films. If I did that, it would look like this (alpha-order):
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Jules et Jim
La Dolce Vita
My Man Godfrey
Pierrot le Fou
Rocco and His Brothers
The Smiling Lieutenant
Some Like it Hot
But, I’d have to remove three of these films because two of them are from the 30’s (and he would have been warm blooded at that point) and one of them is from last year, which is passed the 2011 cut-off. So you’d have to take out ‘Laurence Anyways’, ‘The Smiling Lieutenant' and ‘My Man Godfrey’ and replace them the next three in line; ‘In the Bedroom’, ‘The Red Shoes’ and ‘The Last Picture Show’. But this got me thinking; are these really the ten films I’d recommend to someone who has missed out on everything, or would I want to show them a comprehensive look at the progressive nature of film over the past 68 years? I mean, this top ten could work for that, in that it shows a wide range of genres, themes and directors, but is THIS the list I think best describes all that cinema has offered over the years?
But I didn’t want to just stick to AFI’s selection or even Sight & Sounds selection of the ten best films out there. If I were to stick with AFI’s list (excluding films ineligible and likewise bumping up those that would take its place) I’d have this list:
The Bridge of the River Kwai
It’s a Wonderful Life
Lawrence of Arabia
On the Waterfront
Singin’ in the Rain
Some Like it Hot
All of these are decent films (one of them crosses over onto my personal Top Ten) but even this list seems ridiculously one note. Sight & Sound’s list is certainly better, or at least more diverse. Here’s theirs, with the same exclusions and replacements):
2001: A Space Odyssey
Au hazard Balthazar
Now, I personally haven’t seen three of these, so I can’t judge for a certainty, but this does look closer to what I would recommend mostly because there is some culture here and the themes and genres are far more varied. Still, I had to take a look at not just my personal taste, but what I think I would want this certain somebody to know about film, life and how the two have intermingled over the years.
So this is what I’ve come up with:
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (04)
The Godfather (72)
In the Mood for Love (01)
The Little Mermaid (89)
The Purple Rose of Cairo (85)
Star Wars (77)
The Thin Red Line (98)
Now, this list obviously does not contain my personal top ten films of all time (although there is one crossover) and it isn’t what the world of movie critics have ascertained as the best either (although there is one crossover) but instead this, for me at least, covers the widest base of WHAT films are all about. You have horror, sci-fi, comedy, musicals, animation, gangster not to mention varied directorial styles, the birth of the French New Wave, classic films that redefined cinema and the way we look at it as well as films that encompass why film is so important. There are topical themes like war as well as more universal themes (well, war affects us all, but I mean more on a day to day) like love and loss. Oh, and then there is ‘Heathers’ because it is important for any man waking up after YEARS of frozen slumber to be wholly aware that teenage girls are the devil.
I know that there are a lot of films missing here. I toyed with including ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘Psycho’ and ‘Titanic’ for VERY different reasons, and I struggle to find a western I wanted to include and so I opted for none. Still, in my eyes, this is a list that I would be proud to hand to someone and say “look, this is what you’ve missed…now let’s watch some more movies!”