AFI’s 100 Years 100 Movies: Restructured

Many great movie lists are treated like the bible in the film community, whilst others are greatly mocked. The American Film Institute have some of the most famous lists in the world, often filled with classic movies that are regarded today as cinema’s finest. Starting in 1998 with 100 Years, 100 Movies, the AFI broadcasted a presentation every year, with different categories for different films. But like any list available on the internet, people are ready to disagree. So, with that in mind, I wanted to take a look at their 100 Years, 100 Movies list – more specifically the latest 2007 version and try to re-rank them in the eyes of a twenty-something film fan. This is not my personal ranking of them but instead where I think this list would be now thirteen years on. Without further ado…

100. Annie Hall (Originally 35th)

A 70s film that’s depiction of New York and style ended up being replicated by greater filmmakers.

99. Sophie’s Choice (Originally 91st)

In a film confused by structure and emphasis, Meryl Streep gives one of her finest performances.

98. Swing Time (Originally 90th)

One of the famous collaborations between Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, though the musical numbers aren’t as memorable as others.

97. M*A*S*H (Originally 54th)

Defined as one of the finest American comedies ever made, which is hard to believe as many more daring comedies were coming out around the same time.

96. Yankee Doodle Dandy (Originally 98th)

Many may see James Cagney as a gangster but in reality, he loved musicals. You can see the enthusiasm he has for this genre in a worthy performance that carries just about everything else.

95. Unforgiven (Originally 68th)

A lot of people class Unforgiven  as their favourite Clint Eastwood movie, but I think the extra decade hasn’t taken too kind to this Western compared to his previous Spaghetti Western affairs (as well as the John Wayne escapades of the 40s and 50s).

94. High Noon (Originally 27th)

Running under ninety minutes, High Noon is a fine simplistic Western story that unfortunately loses a little of its cinematic value by feeling like a TV pilot that was happening at the exact same time.

93. The Last Picture Show (Originally 95th)

Bogdanovich’s coming-of-age film around American suburbia is still as poignant today.

The Last Picture Show. Image Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

92. The Sixth Sense (Originally 89th)

M. Night Shyamalan was in line to be the next Spielberg and in 2007, his recent run of critically-panned movies  seemed to be waiting for a quick corner to turn around. Unfortunately for him, it would take many more years for this stretch to finally end.

91. Forrest Gump (Originally 76th)

Some think it’s a classic, whilst others hate it for its pro-establishment message. But together, Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis made one of the films that would define the 1990s in an  already revolutionary decade of film.

90. The Wild Bunch (Originally 79th)

Once again, similar to Unforgiven, a Western film that now seems foreshadowed by the European depiction of the Old West.

89. The Bridge on the River Kwai (Originally 36th)

There’s a very high chance this is one of your dad’s favourite films. It has an effective story that now just seems to be remembered for its final conclusive scene.

88. Titanic (Originally 83rd)

Despite how hard James Cameron is trying to finish his career with his constant comments about ‘female empowerment’, Titanic reached a financial accomplishment that seemed impossible at the time.

87. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Originally 50th)

Many people forget how critically celebrated this franchise was, and its special effects today are still A+. But those Hobbit films can leave a sour taste in the mouth looking back now.

86. Spartacus (Originally 81st)

One of Kubrick’s least talked about films, but even working in the studio environment, he made one of the finest American ‘Epics’.

85. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Originally 73rd)

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid isn’t just a classic but also gave us one of the greatest duos of all time in Robert Redford and Paul Newman.

84. A Night at the Opera (Originally 85th)

A lot of Marx Brothers’ work starts to merge together when looking at it from a  wider angle, but they are still comedy classics with sequences that have been spoofed into cliché status.

A Night at the Opera. Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

83. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Originally 24th)

It’s a family film for the ages – but it’s also less of an achievement in Spielberg’s filmography.

82. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Originally 67th)

A classic adaptation of Edward Albee’s play, fronted by two fine performances from Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

81. The Maltese Falcon (Originally 31st)

Dropping this 50 places may seem harsh but in the context of Film-Noir, this isn’t the top of the barrel compared to others.

80. Toy Story (99th)

In the 2007 article, Toy Story was highlighted as one of the most ambitious animated projects to have ever been undertaken, and in 2020, it continues to retain its title..

79. Network (Originally 64th)

Remembered for its quotes, lead character and award-winning screenplay, Lumet’s Network is still one of America’s finest films.

78. King Kong (Originally 41st)

Its effects were ground-breaking and in 2020, may still be the best Kong film around.

77. Sullivan’s Travels (Originally 61st)

A feel-good film that mocks the very Hollywood system that it came from.

76. It Happened One Night (Originally 46th)

A story that’s inspired many, Frank Capra gave us one of the very best rom-coms here.

75. Rocky (Originally 57th)

Sport films never appeared to be taken seriously, that was until Rocky came about.

Rocky. Image Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer.

74. Tootsie (Originally 69th)

A simple comedy that looked further within its concept and exploration of female actors.

73. Duck Soup (Originally 60th)

The Marx Brothers’ finest film. Filled with classic sequences, each brother highlighted what they brought to the world of comedy.

72. Intolerance (Originally 49th)

It may be four short stories merged into a 3-hour runtime, but Intolerance is one of the films that changed movies for the better.

71. Saving Private Ryan (Originally 71st)

Keeping its original place, Spielberg’s war drama is still an unforgettable depiction of World War II.

70. West Side Story (Originally 51st)

Its musical numbers are still as memorable as ever, but we just may not love it as much now as in 1961.

69. North by Northwest (Originally 55th)

Hitchcock replaced his genre of suspense for spy-action and gave us one of the most memorable scenes in movie history.

68. Blade Runner (Originally 97th)

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is aging like fine wine and its 2017 sequel has helped that argument even more.

Blade Runner. Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

67. Chinatown (Originally 21st)

Often labelled as the greatest screenplay of all time, it’s evident to see why.

66. The African Queen (Originally 65th)

The enthusiasm and energy of Bogart and Hepburn is no greater than in The African Queen.

65. Platoon (Originally 86th)

Almost 35 years later, Oliver Stone’s Best Picture winner still defines the war genre.

64. The Philadelphia Story (Originally 44th)

James Stewart. Cary Grant. Katharine Hepburn. A trio for the ages.

63. To Kill a Mockingbird (Originally 25th)

Still a classic, however To Kill a Mockingbird loses a few places due to the book having more social importance.

62. American Graffiti (62nd)

Some people don’t think George Lucas is a good director.  To those people, I present American Graffiti.

61. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Originally 26th)

A warming film that highlights the injustice of American politics, although Frank Capra hit bigger with It’s a Wonderful Life.

60. Cabaret (Originally 63rd)

A daring film that could summarise the 70s and Bob Fosse better than anything.

59. The Gold Rush (Originally 58th)

The film Chaplin wants to be remembered for, although many may prefer his other work in City Lights or Modern Times.

58. Pulp Fiction (Originally 94th)

Almost the entire film community are sick of talking about Pulp Fiction, because any teenage film fan replicated and watched it to death.

57. The Deer Hunter (Originally 53rd)

A Vietnam film that looked at the effects of the war back at home better than any other film of the era could.

56. The Grapes of Wrath (Originally 23rd)

John Ford does an excellent job adapting Steinbeck’s classic novel, making Henry Fonda a household name in the process.

55. The Searchers (Originally 12th)

Everyone knows it for its opening and closing shot parallel. It is arguably John Wayne’s finest film.

54. Ben-Hur (Originally 100th)

Ben-Hur did more for film than most people give it credit for (considering Gladiator is just a lesser version of the historical Epic).

Ben-Hur. Image Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

53. The Best Years of Our Lives (Originally 37th)

Set one year after the end of World War II, a film already depicting the hardship of returning to normal life deserves more credit than it’s given.

52. Midnight Cowboy (Originally 43rd)

The perfect example of Hollywood changing into the New Age, Midnight Cowboy winning Best Picture paved the way for the decade of Auteur filmmakers like Scorsese and Coppola.

51. The Apartment (Originally 80th)

Billy Wilder has a widely celebrated filmography, but you couldn’t think of a film more perfect to put a smile on your face than The Apartment.

50. Easy Rider (Originally 84th)

Also being released in 1969 like Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider  has a higher relatability in 2020.

49. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (Originally 34th)

There’s a reason this film is in most lists when it comes to box office and that’s because Snow White was unlike anything before it. It’s a piece of history and also one of Disney’s best.

48. Modern Times (Originally 78th)

Chaplin’s satire on labour still has an important message today.

47. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Originally 38th)

Films like this dared to be bold when others wouldn’t; The Treasure of the Sierra Madre highlights how selfish humans can really be.

46. Bringing Up Baby (Originally 88th)

The comedy’s timing is still precise and the leading duo couldn’t be better.

45. On the Waterfront (Originally 19th)

Similar to the films of James Dean, On the Waterfront resembles the anger that young Americans felt to the older generations of the time.

44. The Sound of Music (Originally 40th)

Ideal viewing for a Sunday afternoon.

43. Nashville (Originally 59th)

Altman’s ensemble film is still as subtle and inspirational as it was in the seventies.

Nashville. Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

42. The Godfather: Part II (Originally 32nd)

A masterpiece of filmmaking, with unforgettable performances by De Niro and Pacino.

41. Shane (Originally 45th)

Whilst many Westerns were filled with anger, Shane stays ahead of the curve by making its central point the beauty of passivity.

40. In the Heat of the Night (Originally 75th)

Sidney Poitier has been in an array of classic films and this may just be his best.

39. Vertigo (Originally 9th)

Vertigo is still essential viewing to any film fan.

38. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Originally 66th)

As years go by and adventure films continue being released, the notion that Raiders is the perfect adventure film becomes more recognised.

37. The French Connection (Originally 93rd)

Probably any chase scene ever released after this film took influence from The French Connection.

36. Schindler’s List (Originally 8th)

Schindler’s List is one of the most profound and hardest movies to watch, yet it is needed more than ever.

35. Gone with the Wind (Originally 6th)

If you’re going off word of mouth and recognition then Gone with the Wind was the first ever global blockbuster.

34. All About Eve (Originally 28th)

One of the finest ensembles ever, fronted by one of Bette Davis’ best performances.

33. Sunset Boulevard (Originally 16th)

Disguising itself as a noir, Billy Wilder was able to depict the negative side to Hollywood and its inhabitants.

32. Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Originally 39th)

Kubrick highlighted the idiocies of war and the people running it before Twitter was ever a thing.

31. Goodfellas (Originally 92nd)

A film that can be re-watched at anytime, anywhere.

Goodfellas. Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.

30. A Streetcar Named Desire (Originally 47th)

It’s hard to adapt a novel as good as Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, but Elia Kazan certainly did.

29. Double Indemnity (Originally 29th)

It’s style. It’s narration. Barbara Stanwyck. The finest Noir there is.

28. Bonnie and Clyde (Originally 42nd)

13 years has been kind to New Hollywood and thanks to that Oscar fiasco, many more people are aware of this classic.

27. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (Originally 82nd)

The only ever winner of Best Unique Production at the Oscars, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is a technical marvel.

26. The Silence of the Lambs (Originally 74th)

Hannibal Lecter is one of the most interesting fictional characters in history and this is just the cream of the crop.

25. Raging Bull (Originally 4th)

The sound and editing rhythm to Raging Bull can never be replicated in any sport film.

24. The Graduate (Originally 17th)

Focusing on the boredom of youth, The Graduate boasts one of the greatest endings ever.

23. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Originally 33rd)

An important, must-watch film about the superiority complex of authoritative officials.

22. Lawrence of Arabia (Originally 7th)

Spielberg believes Lawrence of Arabia would cost around $300 million to make today and you can see why.

Lawrence of Arabia. Image Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

21. Do the Right Thing (Originally 96th)

Spike Lee is one of the finest and underappreciated filmmakers we have, and this film right here showcases his style.

20. All the President’s Men (Originally 77th)

A high-tense political thriller about the Watergate scandal two years after Nixon’s resignation.

19. Some Like It Hot (Originally 22nd)

Marilyn Monroe’s most famous film and arguably Billy Wilder’s most enjoyable.

18. A Clockwork Orange (Originally 70th)

Following a recent re-release in cinemas, Kubrick’s tale of violence and reform is as refreshing and bold today as it was in 1971.

17. 12 Angry Men (Originally 87th)

It’s really quite extraordinary how perfectly tight this film is in every department.

16. The Shawshank Redemption (Originally 72nd)

IMDb has this as the number one movie of all time. Time has still been kind to The Shawshank Redemption.

15. Jaws (Originally 56th)

Actually the first ever blockbuster, Jaws changed the way movies were made and released forever.

14. The Godfather (Originally 2nd)

Slow on the first watch but rewatch after rewatch, this still stands as one of the greatest films of all time.

13. Rear Window (Originally 48th)

The limitations Hitchcock set himself with Rear Window allowed one of the most creative films he ever made.

Rear Window. Image Courtesy of Universal Studios.

12. The Wizard of Oz (Originally 10th)

Perfect for all ages – The Wizard of Oz is one of the best films to watch even today.

11. Star Wars: A New Hope (Originally 13th)

Despite what you think of the franchise now – the first film in the Star Wars saga is still one of the finest Sci-Fi’s around.

10. Casablanca (Originally 3rd)

America in the 40’s ditched the optimism for realism even in their love stories, making Casablanca the greatest love story ever told.

9. Psycho (Originally 14th)

Psycho redefined the genre of horror for the better.

8. Singin’ in the Rain (Originally 5th)

The greatest musical ever made, Singin’ in the Rain showcases its love for the arts through its classic musical sequences.

7. The General (Originally 18th)

Imagine a silent Mad Max: Fury Road; The General is exactly that. 

6. Apocalypse Now (Originally 30th)

Apocalypse Now is more than just a ‘Vietnam movie’. It took 16 months to film and all the problems faced were certainly worth it.

5. Taxi Driver (Originally 52nd)

The definitive New York movie. Taxi Driver isn’t just a demonstration of violence but the loneliness that causes it.

Taxi Driver. Image Courtesy of Columbia Pictures.

4. Citizen Kane (Originally 1st)

It’s crazy how much we have to thank Orson Welles for when it comes to the advancement of filmmaking. Citizen Kane highlights all of this and more.

Citizen Kane. Image Courtesy of Everett Collection.

3. It’s a Wonderful Life (Originally 20th)

George Bailey is the finest character ever shown on screen and James Stewart knocked the ball out of the park with his performance. It’s a Wonderful Life is a film that will give you hope for all eternity.

It’s a Wonderful Life. Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

2. City Lights (Originally 11th)

Boasting the greatest closing scene ever, City Lights sees Chaplin at his best; he  has never evoked so much emotion as he does in this film.

City Lights. Image Courtesy of United Artists.

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Originally 15th)

2001: A Space Odyssey was made for the big screen. Sound, performance, visual, narrative – everything is at the peak of its performance. Kubrick’s greatest ever movie and defined the change that New Age Hollywood was about to go through. Still better looking than most sci-fi movies today. The greatest film that America has ever made.

2001: A Space Odyssey. Image Courtesy of Warner Bros.