the dark knight

BBC Culture did something pretty fun today, as they released their list of the 100 Greatest American Films, as determined by a poll of 62 international film critics.

How did they define what made an “American film”? If it got its funding from an American source, it was eligible to be selected.

Here’s the full, very Billy Wilder-heavy, list:

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100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1965)
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

No Coen Bros? No Paul Thomas Anderson? No Wes Anderson? Egad! I will say that I applaud any list that tosses Citizen Kane back in its rightful spot at the top. Back when Sight and Sound did their poll a few years back, Vertigo had crept over Welles’ masterpiece. I love them both, but the greatness of Citizen Kane is indisputable, particularly when you compare it to other, stagier, classics of the same era.

But, to not bury the lede as it concerns the interests of The Beat, The Dark Knight is the only comics based film to make the cut. An interesting choice, and for my money it’s easily the best superhero film (any capes and tights offering that takes a visual page out of Michael Mann has a little more going for it than, say, your average X-Men movie), but is it one of the Top 100 American Films of All Time? I don’t even think it’s Christopher Nolan‘s best film, so probably not. But, it’s nice to see our favorite medium get a little bit of respect in this part of the critical community.

I’d have replaced it with American Splendor myself.

9 COMMENTS

  1. The Dark Knight is a legitimate classic and Nolan’s best film. None of his other movies to date, save for Inception, will be talked about 30 years from now outside of film snob circles. The Oscars were officially completely out-of-touch when they didn’t award it Best Picture.

  2. You know as long as we’re taking down Confederate flags how about we also stop including “The Birth of a Nation” on greatest film lists. Alternate suggestion: anything by Pixar.

  3. Interesting list. And not to create a firestorm or anything, but I don’t think Star Wars really belongs on any Best Movies list. Has anyone actually watched Star Wars lately? It’s not a good film. Viewed through the glowing haze of nostalgia I still enjoyed it, but at the same time was surprised at how it really doesn’t hold up. Half the time I felt like I was watching a movie that would be parodied by the MST 3000 guys.

  4. They put “Groundhog Day” as one of the greatest? I like the movie and all, but really? I don’t think I can trust this list.

  5. You know as long as we’re taking down Confederate flags how about we also stop including “The Birth of a Nation” on greatest film lists.

    It’s on lists like this because of what it invented, not the actual content of the film. Trying to cover up old art, film, historical information, etc due to modern sensibilities is intellectually dishonest.

    Has anyone actually watched Star Wars lately? It’s not a good film.

    It’s still an excellent film and you’re definitely in the minority view not liking it. I’m not sure what you hate about it. Is it the acting, writing, special effects?

  6. Has anyone actually watched Star Wars lately? It’s not a good film.

    >>

    It is a good film .. as long as George doesn’t decide to add much more to it.

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