It occurs to me that I keep alluding to my Alternative Movie List as if you keep up with every little blurb I poop out here. So, just for some background info, last summer I completed one of my life-long resolutions to watch the entire AFI Top 100. (Can I get certified for that?) My schpiel about it is here
After simmering for a bit with a funny feeling in my stomach, I realized why I had problems with the list including lack of female or minority or gay and lesbian storylines, female directors, and controversy. So I set to find my own personal Top 100. This is an ongoing project, and will probably never be “Finished” so to speak. I mean, they’re going to keep coming out with movies, and I’m going to keep watching them, let alone the cannon from the past. But I’m working toward my first edition.
It’s not that I’m trying to compete as an individual with the American Film Institute. I may be self-involved, but I like to think I’m not completely delusional. I’m really trying to come up with a visual of what I like in movies. What I want to see. What I value. I feel like it will inform me, by virtue of what I like to watch, of what I art I like to make. I hesitated to write that at first, because I thought, “Be honest. You like to watch Johnny Depp’s cheekbones.” Yes, but couldn’t one argue that Johnny Depp’s cheekbones are a triumph of evolutionary art and therefore a valid addition to a cannon? One could. I just did. Plus, beneath those cheekbones is a really good actor. Jokes aside, you aren’t going to see many films starring Paul Walker on my list, fun as he is to watch. (MAYBE Pleasantville…)
What I’m “struggling with” (i.e. using to procrastinate) is do I include Documentaries and Mini-series? My first instinct is no, this is supposed to be an Alternative movie list to be compared to the AFI Top 100. So that would mean come up with a list of 100 American made feature-length films. But why? It’s just me over here. I watch documentaries as often as I watch fiction. And while we could debate the myriad differences between documentaries and films based on real life events, they both have their ways of coloring the story in a certain way. So I lean in the all-inclusive direction. Thoughts would be appreciated.
Anyway, one some level, the list will just be movies that I love. But it will also be movies that push boundaries, give voice to those who haven’t had one, and movies that have made me think. Also, and I think this is sorely lacking on the AFI List, movies that have made me laugh my patoot off. Movies that I keep rewinding because some parts are so funny. Movies I schedules trips home just to have the priveledge to see my family watch it for the first time. And movies that have been a big part of my life.
At this point, I have nominated 179 movies (all feature length at this point). I’m not sure at what point I’m going to stop and say, alright. Time to make a list. I’m not sure how I’m going to actually make the list. Ranking strikes me as arbitrary, but certainly others will carry a little more weight.
To give an idea of where I’m coming from, here is a smattering of current nominees…some of which admittedly DO appear on the AFI Top 100. (one for each letter of the alphabet):
All That Jazz
The Best Years of Our Lives
Cape Fear (old one)
Drop Dead Gorgeous
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
Home for the Holidays
It Happened One Night
Jules et Jim
Kicking and Screaming (NOT the Will Ferrel one.)
Lover Come Back
The Man Who Cried
Night of the Hunter
O Brother Where Art Thou?
The Sword in the Stone
The Thin Man
Waiting for Guffman
Okay, almost every letter of the alphabet. Obviously, you can see that while I do commit much time and thought to this, I’m trying not to take it too seriously because, well, they are movies.