Sunday Showdown: AFI vs IMDb #82

It’s the Sunday Showdown: continuing my comparison of the American Film Institute’s and Internet Movie Database’s Top 100 films.

This week, #82: Amadeus vs. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.

amadeusAmadeus. Hmmm… What is there to say about the film telling the life story of Mozart? For the original 1998 AFI list, Amadeus was #53. But Amadeus was one of the 23 films that completely dropped off when the AFI list was updated in 2008.  (Of those 23, only Amadeus and The Third Man are on the IMDb list.)  I’m not surprised it dropped off. It’s really one of those films that the story is great, but the movie is only good. I liked it as a period piece, but for me it still had that 1980s feel to it for some reason.


Sunrise — impressive techniques

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans has been called the Citizen Kane of silent films.  I can see why. For a film made in 1927 it had some pretty groundbreaking cinematography.  It was directed by the German Expressionist director F.W. Murnau, but filmed in America (therefore eligible to be on the AFI list – no foreign films for that list).  It won an Oscar for “Unique Artistic Presentation” at the first ever Academy Awards.

I had no difficulty choosing Sunrise over Amadeus.  I think IMDb should take a hint from the AFI list and get rid of Amadeus completely. It’s not a top 100 film.

So the score: AFI – 13, IMDb – 6.

Next week Spartacus (More Kubrick!?!) vs. All About Eve.  Never seen either. Not really looking forward to the three hour Spartacus epic. Four of my last six movies have been 3+ hours in length.  And Easy Rider, which was only an hour and a half, but felt like three hours.


Sunday Showdown: AFI vs IMDb #83

It’s the Sunday Showdown: continuing my comparison of the American Film Institute’s and Internet Movie Database’s Top 100 films.  #83: Titanic vs. Once Upon A Time in America

once-upon-a-time-in-americaFitting that these two were up against each other seeing as they are both the longest movies EVER. I didn’t really enjoy Once Upon A Time In America, but I made it through. Barely.  That phone ringing… I thought I might have to shoot my television (if you’ve ever seen it, you know what I mean).  I definitely enjoyed Titanic much more.  Although, [spoiler alert] the ship sinks.

So, at this point, AFI is still winning 12 to 6.


Titanic (1997) Once Upon A Time in America (1984)
#84 Easy Rider (1969) The Green Mile (1999)
#85 A Night at the Opera (1935) Full Metal Jacket (1987)
#86 Platoon (1986) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
#87 12 Angry Men (1957) Inglorious Basterds (2009)
#88 Bringing Up Baby (1938) The Great Dictator (1940)
#89 Sixth Sense (1999) Braveheart (1995)
#90 Swing Time (1936) The Bicycle Thief (1948)
#91 Sophie’s Choice (1982) The Apartment (1960)
#92 Up (2009) Goodfellas (1990)
#93 The French Connection (1971) Downfall (2004)
#94 Pulp Fiction (1994) Gran Torino (2008)
#95 The Last Picture Show (1971) Metropolis (1927)
#96 Do The Right Thing (1989) The Sting (1973)
#97 Blade Runner (1982) Gladiator (2000)
#98 Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) The Maltese Falcon (1941)
#99 Toy Story (1995) Unforgiven (1992)
#100 Ben Hur (1959) The Elephant Man (1980)

Next week, Murnau’s silent classic Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (AFI) and Amadeus (IMDb). I haven’t seen the first and don’t remember the second well, so I’m looking forward to both.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs IMDb #85

After a couple week absence, I’m back with the Sunday Showdown: The American Film Institute’s Top 100 vs. the Internet Movie Database’s Top 100. This week we’re at #85: AFI’s A Night at the Opera vs. IMDb’s Full Metal Jacket.

Everybody might want to mark this day on their calendar.  I actually enjoyed a Stanley Kubrick film. Okay, maybe “enjoy” is too strong a word. But I was very pleasantly surprised by Full Metal Jacket.

I liked it better than The Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera . I am not a Marx Bros fan, and A Night at the Opera is not nearly as good Duck Soup anyway.

But moreover, to compare apples to apples, I enjoyed Full Metal Jacket more than last the last comparison, #86’s Platoon.  I had never really watched either of them before – too young when they came out in the movie theater in the mid-80s, too apathetic all the years after. War movies aren’t my favorite.

I liked Platoon, but was mildly irritated that the real fighting and betrayal was between the U.S. soldiers.  (Although I get it: that was the point… we are our own enemy).  But I thought the story was fine, acting was fine, everything was fine.

But there was nothing even close to Vincent D’Onofrio going absolutely nuts like he did in Full Metal Jacket.  It was so painful to watch but impossible to turn away.  Plus Adam Baldwin (not a Baldwin brother, for those of you not in the know) was in it, looking exactly the same as he did in Firefly – my Jayne hasn’t changed much over 20 years.

Kubrick makes it onto the lists seven times – more than any other director (Spielberg and Chris Nolan both come close with five apiece). So I guess I might as well make my peace with him.

So the score stands at AFI – 11; IMDb – 5.

Next week is Easy Rider (AFI) v. The Green Mile (IMDb).  Believe it or not, haven’t seen either.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs IMDb #86

The slightly late Sunday Showdown – comparing AFI’s with IMDb’s Top 100. This week #86: AFI’s Platoon vs. IMDb’s 200l: A Space Odyssey

I can keep this pretty short. I’d seen Platoon before. I’m not a big fan of Ollie Stone. Too rough around the edges for me. But at least it is a complete story, unlike anything Kubrick I’ve seen so far. Plus, the lead singer guy from In Living Color was in Platoon. Plus+, it offers one of the most iconic film images from the 80s, if not all time.

2001:A Space Odyssey.  Sigh. I know I am supposed to like this movie, but I really don’t. I will give you that it had some special effects pretty advanced for its time (1968). And it influenced some of those whom I highly respect (Spielberg, Lucas, Scott).  But that’s pretty much all I’ll give you.

The movie is boring, and without the use of psychedelic drugs, almost impossible to get through. Much less take seriously.  Unfortunately I think Kubrick is the reason why so many “normal” people say they aren’t science-fiction fans. They saw 2001, said “WTH?” and never tried another sci-fi movie again. My mother is one of those people.

(But, as an aside, if you have a newer iPhone, ask Siri to “open the pod bay doors.”  She’ll harass you, but it’s fun.)

So my pick for this week is Platoon. Never thought I would pick a war movie over a sci-fi. 2001: A Space Odyssey shows back up as #15 (#15?! Oh, for heaven’s sake) on the AFI list. It’s against Goodfellas.  I like Goodfellas, but it definitely would not be my #15. Of course, neither would 2001.

So the score: AFI – 11; IMDb – 4

Next week: AFI’s A Night at the Opera (Marx Brothers) vs. IMDb’s Full Metal Jacket (basically Platoon from Kubrick’s POV).   Haven’t seen either.  Can’t see how this is possibly going to be an easy match-up.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs IMDb #87

Continuing my weekly battle between the American Film Institute (the scholars) and the Internet Movie Database (the masses). This week:

#87: 12 Angry Men(AFI) vs Inglourious Basterds (IMDb)

Quinton Tarantino – Such a Basterd

The one thing I love about Inglourious Basterds is Brad Pitt’s pronunciation of Nazis: Nat-zees.  Really this film was more of a social experiment than anything else: is the highly-graphic, utterly-gratuitous Tarantino-esque violence more acceptable if it portrayed against the Nat-zees rather than some poor kid named Marvin in the back of a car?

I was pretty okay with it until the David Bowie music video about 2/3 of the way through.  But Tarantino has always been known for his complete disregard for cinematic rules… so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.   You always know what to expect with Q.T.: a spit in the face to all things normal.

Regardless, how do you compare Inglourious Basterds to 12 Angry Men?  Definitely no graphic, gratuitous violence in 12 Angry Men (and seriously, in comparison to Basterds they really don’t seem that angry).   Unfortunately, I’ve used 12 Angry Men too many times as a group dynamics-teaching exercise in my college classes to really see it as an award-winning film any longer.

12 Ang… Zzzzzzzzz…

12 Angry Men shows back up as #8 on the IMDb list – totally unbelievable to me, especially for IMDb. It definitely won’t win as #8. I’m not even going to choose it as #87.  That’s right; this week I’m going with sheer entertainment value over award-winningness. 

Maybe if Henry Fonda could’ve worked the word Nat-zees in there, the results would’ve been different.

So IMDb gets a vote — bringing the overall count to AFI – 10, IMDb – 4. Next week  2001: A Space Odyssey (the movie I love to hate) and Platoon.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#88)

#88: Bringing Up Baby vs The Great Dictator

Finally, two comedies!!  Thank God.  I was almost at my limits of “drama” (Where drama = me crying my eyes out week after week over sad movies).

The Great Dictator (IMDb). My confession: I’m not a huge Charlie Chaplin fan.  I appreciate him for what he is: one of the greatest silent film comedians, but I’ve never been much interested in watching his movies.  The Great Dictator was Chaplin’s first true talkie and was one of his greatest commercial successes.

The movie is pretty slow, the slapstick too overly-familiar to an audience watching now. But Chaplin playing Hitler – particularly his speech in “German” – is sheer brilliance; the comedic timing just as relevant for today.  At any moment in that speech he could’ve broken into “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!!” and I totally would’ve believed it was SNL.

What is interesting to me is The Great Dictator was on the IMDb list and not AFI. But AFI stuck with Chaplin’s silent classics: Modern Times (#69), The Gold Rush (#58), and City Lights (#11).

Bringing Up Baby is a wonderful screwball comedy. Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant throw out zany one-liners faster than I can keep up. It’s a 90-minute running joke that is a joy to watch.  It’s not my favorite screwball comedy – don’t worry, it’s coming –, but it’s definitely one of the best.   If it gets a bit silly at times… that can be forgiven.

So once again I’m going with AFI this week. I liked The Great Dictator, but Bringing Up Baby just has that undeniable spark.  But I’m sure Charlie will get a future vote from me. This brings the score to: AFI – 10, IMDb – 3.

Next week’s 12 Angry Men vs. Taratino’s Inglorious Basterds.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#89)

The #89 week’s AFI/IMDb challenge is between Braveheart and The Sixth Sense.

Remember when Mel Gibson wasn’t the punch line of a joke? Me neither. So watching Braveheart from a 2012-Janie’s perspective was much different than when I watched it from a 1995-Janie’s perspective.

Don’t get me wrong , the movie is still graphically violent, brutal, heartbreaking and epic in its… 3 hour epicness. And nobody who was over twelve years old in 1995 didn’t run around yelling, “You can take our lives, but you cannot take…” Yeah, you know it. I didn’t even have to finish.

But Mel is not the guy he was nearly 20 years ago. Regardless of how bat-crazy he is now, he was still beautiful as William Wallace.  Even being tortured from beginning to end in Braveheart.

Of course, cute little Haley Joel Osment was pretty much tortured from beginning to end in The Sixth Sense, also.  And in 1999 we all ran around whispering “I see dead people…”  So as far as catch phrases go, I guess both films are equal.

I am not a huge M. Night Shyamalan fan. I think he is mostly a one-trick pony.  But dang, what a trick! The man can definitely set a mood, as long as that mood is spooky. But I loved Sixth Sense.  I really can’t believe it didn’t crack the IMDb’s top 100.  Definitely gets my vote for this week.

So AFI gains another vote, making the score AFI – 9 to IMDb – 3. Next week some comedies, finally! The great screwball Bringing Up Baby vs. Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#91)

#91 – Sophie’s Choice (1982) vs. The Apartment (1960)

Note to self: Do not watch Sophie’s Choice the same week as losing a close family member. Or any other week.

The movie is sad. Like, rip your heart out of your chest so you never have to feel this much pain again, sad. Piercing to watch from beginning to end.  What is Sophie’s “choice”? (spoiler alert) The biggest is having to choose, as she arrives at a concentration camp, which of her two young children will be executed immediately and which will be sent to the children’s camp.

But the movie is also about Sophie’s other choices: staying with her abusive lover, not telling of her family’s anti-Semitic views, her refusal to grasp the new beginning offered to her, and finally, her decision to kill herself. A fun romp.

But despite the fact I NEVER EVER EVER want to see this movie again, Meryl Streep deserved the Best Actress Oscar she won for this film. Plus every other actress award in the known universe. Seriously, she was that good.

The Apartment I had also never seen before. Billy Wilder’s follow up to Some Like it Hot, it is a comedy that forgets it is a comedy part way through, but then remembers again by the end.  It won Best Picture in 1960, surprising given the themes of the film: adultery, attempted suicide and more adultery.

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacClaine were nominated for Best Actor/Actress although neither won (a fact Kevin Spacey found so upsetting he dedicated his 2000 win for American Beauty to Lemmon’s performance). And they both were really good, although neither Streep’s caliber.

But on to Janie’s Choice: On the surface the decision is between Sophie and The Apartment. But really my choice is: do I pick the movie I enjoyed more or the movie I think is better? I definitely enjoyed The Apartment more, but Sophie’s Choice kept me on edge. So I’m going to go with Sophie.

So after 10 movies into the showdown, AFI is ahead 8 films to IMDb’s 2. So far I’m pretty steadily agreeing with “da scholars” rather than “da masses”:

AFI’s Top 100 IMDb’s Top 100 (as of 1/1/12)
#91 Sophie’s Choice (1982) The Apartment (1960)
#92 Up (2009) Goodfellas (1990)
#93 The French Connection (1971) Downfall (2004)
#94 Pulp Fiction (1994) Gran Torino (2008)
#95 The Last Picture Show (1971) Metropolis (1927)
#96 Do The Right Thing (1989) The Sting (1973)
#97 Blade Runner (1982) Gladiator (2000)
#98 Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) The Maltese Falcon (1941)
#99 Toy Story (1995) Unforgiven (1992)
#100 Ben Hur (1959) The Elephant Man (1980)

Next week is Astaire and Rogers’ Swing Time vs. The Bicycle Thief (Adam’s all-time favorite movie, if I’m not mistaken). I might be persuaded to vote for Swing just to see Adam’s head explode.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb (#98)

#98: Yankee Doodle Dandy (AFI) vs. The Maltese Falcon (IMDb)

This week’s AFI/IMDb Showdown was Yankee Doodle Dandy vs. The Maltese Falcon. Although it wasn’t quite as bad as comparing Toy Story and Unforgiven last week, it was still pretty difficult. Again, two entirely different genres (musical and film noir) but at least these were made in the same time period (early 1940s) and were both black and white.

I should say right from the beginning my choice for winner this week is The Maltese Falcon. It’s the first of the gorgeously cynical film noir genre of the 40s & 50s. John Huston (writer/director) was a genius.  Plus honestly, I would be hard pressed to vote against anything with Humphrey Bogart in it.  I’ve been on a huge Bogey kick the last year or so. I love The African Queen, Key Largo, The Big Sleep and, of course, Casablanca.

[As an aside, I got on said Bogart kick because last year I happened to hear the 1981 classic song “KeyLargo” by  Bertie Higgins – which I remembered, frighteningly enough, from my childhood. Includes such lines: “We had it all… Just like Bogey and Bacall… Starring in our own late, late show… Sailing away to Key Largo…”

In case you need to experience some of that sheer goodness:

Dude is smoking, has awesome facial hair, AND rocks a gold necklace & white sports jacket/shirt open to the waist.  You’re welcome.] 

But even though my vote goes to The Maltese Falcon, the biggest surprise came from Yankee Doodle DandyWas that James Cagney – famous for playing gangsters – singing and tap-dancing in the biography of George M. Cohan? Sho’ nuff was.  When I think of James Cagney, I think of The Public Enemy: Aw, you dirty, double-crossing… open up in there, you hear me?” (Admittedly, I think of that because of my many times on the Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studio, not because of the actual movie). But to see him singing and dancing was a pleasant surprise, although he’s still not one of my favorites.

So, after three films, the score stands 2-1, in AFI’s favor.  Next week’s showdown: Blade Runner vs. Gladiator.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb

#99: Toy Story (AFI) vs. Unforgiven (IMDb)

Each week I’m comparing one movie from the AFI and IMDb’s Top 100 listThis past week comparing #99 was pretty ridiculous:  AFI – Toy Story; IMDb – Unforgiven. Seriously, how do you compare these two? It would be like comparing, say, a children’s animated film to a western. Oh wait, that’s exactly what it is. The only similarity is they both had a cowboy.

Or as a friend put it: Not sure how to compare “Unforgiven” and “Toy Story”. One is an interesting story about an aging cowboy who leaves home with a new young friend. They face an implacable foe who has killed many of their kind before and struggle to overcome adversity in an unfamiliar surrounding. In the end he just wants to get home . The other is “Unforgiven”.

Toy Story’s Cowboy Woody

I mean both are great for what they are: Toy Story was the first ever feature-length movie made entirely with CGI and was also the first Pixar full length film. Plus Joss Whedon was one of the screenwriters (a huge plus for me). Kids have been screaming “To infinity and beyond!!!” to each other for years because of this stupid movie.

Unforgiven’s Cowboy Munny

Unforgiven is a dark western, directed, produced and starred in by Clint Eastwood. It won Best Picture for 1992 (certainly a step up from the last “Western” to win Best Picture before that – Dances With Wolves  in 1990). It is obviously Clint Eastwood’s hat-tip to the Spaghetti Westerns where he got his start. And it was added to the National Film Registry’s list of films to save in case of a zombie apocalypse or something like that.

How to choose, how to choose?  Neither genre is my favorite.  I find it difficult to become emotionally invested in animated films.  Westerns I usually find pretty boring – Unforgiven, for all its positive qualities, was no exception. (Although Eastwood’s William Munny does get Father of the Year award for leaving his two young children alone on the farm for weeks while he went off chasing some bounty).

But I have to choose, so my vote goes to AFI again this week for Toy Story. (Don’t worry any Unforgiven fans, it’s going to show back up at #68 against The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – that should be a good pairing).

So far the score is AFI -2, IMDb – 0.