So a friend of mine is in class at a big time film school which annoys me *cough*Emerson*cough* and they whip out the AFI Top 100 Films. Automatically it’s the how many you’ve seen and you better go see the rest. So I take a gander at the list (both original and 10th anniversary) and I’ve seen a little over half. Then I begin to question well why are any of these movies on this list? No, I’m not saying any of them don’t belong on the list, but why is this list with these particular movies relevant to me?
Now it seems that AFI allows a chosen group of industry professionals vote on a certain group of nominated films which eventually compile the list. Then they run this 3 hour show with some of those people talking about those films. Now of course they choose the faces we would recognize because who wants to see a bunch of people we don’t know talk about movies we probably haven’t seen for the most part. These people pick older films because chances are they’ve been in the industry for years and are emotionally attached to these older films. Though is it more sentimental reasoning than technical reasoning? I think so. If it was more technical then we wouldn’t have seen the big changes we saw in the most recent list. Though it may not be a bad thing they vote like this for THEIR list.
Does this list matter? No. Because no one can tell me what the best movies are. Watching a movie is a personal experience. No one can watch it for you. They can tell you what happened, but that’s the closest you can get. So when these industry pros vote they are going by their personal experience. Sure there is some technical know how in there, but that technical stuff has to move you in some way in order for it to be effective. So when you ask your neighbor Bob what’s the best movie he ever saw and he says Rocky IV. He loved those montages because of how they made him feel. Does that make Battleship Potemkin one of the best movies ever made because they did it first? No, and Rocky IV may not be the best to everyone. However for Bob it is and for Bob that should be all that matters. He voted the same way AFI voters did, emotionally.
I don’t think Rocky IV would ever make AFI’s list, but I bet the same emotion Bob felt over Rocky IV is there on that list for one if not all of those movies. The industry is so afraid to let people vote on awards and lists like this because they feel like it will be a popular vote, but isn’t it no matter how you look at it? The popular vote among voters gets you on the list. It just so happens that those movies are considered respectable because of the awards they won or the stars in them or just because of who chose them. The public might choose Transformers, or Harry Potter. Who cares. If they love them then let them show it. Don’t hide from the public’s opinion and definitely don’t ignore it for lists like this.