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 #84

The Sunday Showdown: The American Film Institute’s Top 100 vs. the Internet Movie Database’s Top 100.

This week: #84: Easy Rider (AFI) vs. The Green Mile (IMDb)

easyriderIt’s difficult for me to express how much I disliked the film Easy Rider. I can sit back and objectively say I understand why it’s in the National Film Registry. It captured an era in our history. A ridiculous, drug-using, free-loving hippie era, but an era nonetheless.  Unfortunately, I have little patience for drug-using, hippie films that insinuate everyone else are unenlightened bigots because they’re not riding across America on motorcycles with long hair.  Not to mention the movie was formulaic and preachy, and at a couple points just plain ridiculous.

Written by Peter Honda and Dennis Hopper. Directed by Hopper. Produced by Honda. Starring Honda and Hopper. Hmmmm. Perhaps less nepotism in this little family would’ve produced a film better than random glad-to-meet-ya scenes punctugreen_mileated by music videos.

So although I didn’t think The Green Mile necessarily deserves to be in the Top 100 (along with a few others on the IMDb list including [sorry A2] Back to the Future and The Prestige), it still wins it for me.

So at this point AFI is still winning 11 to 6. Can it be that I really do agree with the scholars over the masses?

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 (#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 (#90)

#90: AFI’s Swing Time (1936) vs. IMDb’s The Bicycle Thief (1948)

I ran into the same quandary with #90 as I did with #91 last week (Sophie’s Choice vs. The Apartment): do I pick the movie I enjoyed more or the movie I think is better? In my head, I know The Bicycle Thief is the better movie that Swing Time. It’s an Italian film; the roles played by non-actors (unbelievable given how good everyone is) set in post WWII Italy. The movie is bleak and realist. I had seen it before in a film class in college and thought it was depressing then.

Still depressing 20 years later.

Then I watch Swing Time – arguably Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers’ greatest film (of the ten they made together). It’s light-hearted and a joy to watch.  Here’s a clip. The whole dance, but especially the last 30 seconds, is mesmerizing:

So once again I’m faced with the dilemma: choose the movie I know is better or the one I  really enjoy? This time I have to go with the one I know is better. So I choose The Bicycle Thief, even though it’s so dreary…

Finally IMDb wins one! It’s been a while. Score is AFI – 8, IMDb – 3. Next week: Sixth Sense vs. Braveheart.

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 (#92)

I’m not a big mob movie fan. They are generally too violent with accents too Northern for my taste.  But I enjoyed watching Goodfellas again, since I haven’t seen it in probably 20 years.  It’s a different take on the mob, trying to include a bigger glimpse into the lives of the wives/children.  It was nominated for Best Picture (ironically, with The Godfather, Part III) but lost to Dances With Wolves (speaking of someone needing to hire a hit man…).

I am also not a big animated film fan. As a matter of fact I am delighted my kids have moved out of the Happy Feet phase and are now interested in going to see films I don’t need to take a Xanax before watching.

But Up! is one of the few animated films I don’t mind watching.  When I first saw it, those beginning clips – you know, the story of Carl & Ellie – had me sobbing out loud in the movie theater.  My two youngest kids even started crying, I was crying so hard.  Ellie had an “Adventure Book” with a section entitled “Stuff I’m going to do” – the adventures she wanted to take in her life. Carl wanted to take those adventures with her, they always planned to, but then life passes and before they know it they’ve run out of time.

Other things happen in Up!: an annoying kid, some balloons, a female bird named Kevin…  All enjoyable stuff that cheered me up from my original sobbing jag. BUT THEN, Ellie’s Adventure Book comes back out, and we realize she did get to live her adventure: her long, happy life with Carl. Cue water works from Janie again.

So I give this week’s vote to Up! not only because Pixar was able to make me cry (twice) but because they made a more beautiful love story in five minutes, with no talking, than most romantic films can do in two hours.  And just for my geek friends, I found this, possibly my favorite mash-up of all time (it’s entitled “Someone Who Loves You”):

So AFI wins again this week… Score now stands: AFI – 7, IMDb – 2. Next week: Sophie’s Choice vs. The Apartment.  Believe it or not, I have never seen either of these, so I go into it completely neutrally.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb Battle (#93)

#93: The French Connection (AFI) vs. Downfall (IMDb)

Downfall. I would assume most people have seen a part of this movie, but not in its entirety.  You might think you’ve never seen any of it, but if you’ve ever been sent a clip where Hitler is ranting about some football team, political figure, video game or anything else in the known universe, then you’ve seen part of Downfall.  My first contact with this meme was about the whole Taylor Swift/Kanye West debacle at the MTV VMAs. Cracked me up (severe language alert)

Since then, I’ve seen the clip a dozen times about other things. Downfall itself is about Hitler’s final days. The film is well acted, and supposedly factually based. But it is utterly depressing and baffling in a “how in the world could this really have happened?” sort of way. I’m not sure I would’ve called Downfall a Top 100, but I’m willing to cut it some slack because the meme has been such a pop culture phenomenon.

The French Connection.  Theoretically, I understand why The French Connection is in the Top 100 and won Best Picture. I understand why it was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry as being significant in some way. It’s pretty much the grandfather of the modern-day anti-hero action star (John McClane, meet your granddad, Jimmy Doyle).

There’s a lot of violence in the movie: whoops, just shot that guy in the back, whoops, just accidentally killed that FBI agent, whoops, just beat up on a bar full of black people – and that’s just what the “good” guys did. Of course, a blended line between “good” and “bad” is the point of the entire film.  There’s no happy ending and everything has a gritty feel to it.

It does have a fabulous car/train chase scene, I’ll give you that. But watching the film overall now, it just seems dated; early 70s toughness personified. And it could’ve been entitled “Following Bad Guys on a City Street 101” – seriously, the police tailing someone made up half the movie. Got a little tedious.

I’ll admit, it’s possible because I was watching Connection while running 10 miles on a treadmill my perception might be a little jaded. Whatever. It still wins this week’s battle. But against a stronger film than Downfall it wouldn’t have. That this film makes it onto AFI’s Top 100 while Metropolis doesn’t?  Something’s not right there.

So the score stands AFI – 6 to IMDb – 2. I got a little out of order; next week is Goodfellas vs. Up.  Still sigh.

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs. IMDb Battle (#94)

#94 Pulp Fiction (AFI) vs. Gran Torino (IMDb)

It pains me to make “Gran Torino” a loser. If haven’t seen “Gran Torino,” you really must. It’s one of Clint Eastwood’s very best in my opinion. A truly beautiful story of redemption and friendship. Eastwood’s character so reminds me of my own grandfather  – an external  gruffness housing a heart desiring fairness and justice. Deep compassion under a thin layer of racism. The story is just great. I’d seen it before and it was a pleasure to watch it again.

And Eastwood doesn’t talk to an empty chair one single time.

“Pulp Fiction.” This. Movie. Changed. Everything.  It was 1994. I was 21 years old. “Pulp Fiction” provided a visual soundtrack for the rebellious stage I was determined to go through. The movie was new, it was different. And I loved everything about it.

The 1994 Oscars for me is kind of like JFK’s assassination for my parents. I could tell you exactly where I was, who I was with, and what I was thinking. 1994 is the only year in history I can tell you all of the Best Picture nominees without looking them up (“Forrest Gump,” “Four Weddings & a Funeral,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Quiz Show,” and “Shawshank Redemption”).

I was in college, my friends and I were all over at our film professor’s house, and we all fell on the floor sobbing like toddlers when “Forrest Gump” beat out “Pulp Fiction” for Best Picture (doubly for me, I was secretly rooting for Shawshank). I like Forrest as much as the rest of America, but honestly “Pulp Fiction” should’ve taken it. How young and naive I was then, back before I realized the Oscars aren’t about daring and originality, but about doing the same old thing really well.

“Pulp Fiction” is #94 on the AFI list, but it is #5 on the IMDb (much closer to where I think it should be), so it will show back up later (against Singing in the Rain). I’ll admit I became less and less of a Quentin Tarantino fan as the years went on. But “Pulp Fiction” will always hold a piece of my heart.

AFI pulls ahead a little more, the score is now 5 to IMDb’s 2.  Next week is “Goodfellas” vs. “Up.”  Sigh. Yeah, that comparison ranks right up there with “Toy Story” & “Unforgiven.”