Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

AFI Recap: #1 – #10

I’ve decided to start a new segment in this blog where I recap the AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies list.  I will be summarizing the films ten at a time giving a brief paragraph about what I thought of the films and what rating I give it out of four stars.  It may take a long time to get through the whole list, as I still have to watch some of the movies which are further down the list, but now is as good a time as any to start.

1. Citizen Kane (1941) – The top of the list.  Is Citizen Kane thrilling and exciting? Not overly. To be honest, if I were recommending older films to someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience with film history, I would not start with Kane.  However, for someone who has acquired more appreciation for the art and history of film, it is a sight to behold.  Spectacular in almost every aspect.   starstarstarstarstar

2. Casablanca (1942) – The ultimate classic and one which actually meets and even exceeds its expectations and reputation.  One of my personal top 10 without a doubt.  A great story with great characters against a great, exotic backdrop.  Casablanca is chock full of wonderful lines and magical moments.


3. The Godfather (1972) – Another movie that completely lives up to its reputation.  The Godfather tells a compelling and intriguing story which is accentuated by some fantastic acting and directing.  Many people praise both Brando and Pacino for their work here, but my favourite performance is James Caan as the hot-tempered Sonny. starstarstarstarstar

4. Gone With the Wind (1939) – When Gone with the Wind was released in 1939 it wasn’t just a movie, it was an event.  Adjusted for inflation, it still holds the title of highest grossing movie and with good reason.  This is a truly epic tale full of scope and wonder.  Yes its four hours long, but I would say that the length doesn’t hinder it but instead adds to the saga-like feel and massive ambition.  And on top of all that, it is a spectacular character piece as well.  starstarstarstarstar

5. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Talking about epics, here is the granddaddy of them all.  Like Gone with the Wind, Lawrence is another grand epic story which at its heart is really a character study.  The mysterious TE Lawrence may remain an enigma to us at the end, but even so we feel like we know him that much better regardless.  This is also one of the most visually gratifying movies ever made thanks to David Lean’s masterful eye.  A true masterpiece.


6. The Wizard of Oz (1939) – I admire The Wizard of Oz for what it was able to do for so many generations of children, which is to provide a source of imagination and fantasy in a way few films have been able to top.  When I watch it now I still appreciate the nostalgia of those days when I would sit cross-legged in front of the TV as I watched, though some of the musical pieces and goofy acting prevent me from really enjoying it as I once did.   starstarstarstarnostar

7. The Graduate (1967) – I didn’t appreciate The Graduate as much as other people did.  I liked its unconventional story and ending and I did connect a bit with the character of Ben who seems reluctant to start his adult life.  but there was just something else missing which prevented me from really grabbing onto this.  It might require another viewing.   starstarstarstarnostar

8. On the Waterfront (1954) – In my mind this movie was the turning point of Hollywood acting.  The performances here by Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, and especially Marlon Brando brought a true sense of realism to their roles, instead of the quick-quipped line-selling of the previous two decades, and revolutionized screen acting. starstarstarstarstar

9. Schindler’s List (1993) – A modern masterpiece.  Spielberg was somehow able to take a dark and depressing topic like the Holocaust and tell a fully comprehensive story with flesh-out characters all while hitting us hard with the true grievousness of this tragedy and yet leaving us with hope and satisfaction in the end.  One of the most powerful movies I’ve ever seen. starstarstarstarstar

10. Singin’ in the Rain (1952) – I don’t really like this movie, mostly because I simply don’t like musicals.  I also didn’t like the wink-at-the-audience attitude throughout this film.  That said, I do highly respect the talent involved in the dance numbers here, I really do.  I just don’t like the movie that much.  Click here for my full review.  starstarhalfstarnostarnostar

My favourite film out of the ten: Casablanca

4 Responses to “AFI Recap: #1 – #10”

  1. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog. Nice place over here! And a good, meaty post to start on. I have to watch Citizen Kane now, I’ve been meaning to for ages.

  2. Way to pull out some big guns on the first ten, very nice. You handled Citizen Kane perfectly; though it is number one, it isn’t for everyone. I’ve actually seen people fall asleep through it, so sad. And Lawrence of Arabia is so beautiful for both the eyes and ears. Wonderful.

  3. Thanks for the comments. Yeah, Citizen Kane is not for the average modern-day moviegoer. I would argue that Casablanca and Godfather are though.

  4. See, if I was AFI, this would be the top five: 1. Gone With the Wind, 2. Lawrence of Arabia, 3. Citizen Kane, 4. Limelight (1956), and I’d either put 2001: A Space Odyssey or Sunset Boulevard as number 5. ‘Cause I’m weird. *shrug* Great recap, though!

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