Thursday, June 15, 2006

The pitfalls of cheerocracy

As reported by Angry Pregnant Lawyer, CBS aired "100 Years... 100 Cheers" Wednesday night. Members of the American Film Institute are given a list of 300 films and choose the ones they find the most inspirational. The 100 highest vote getters comprise the heavily hyped but ultimately meaningless list. You can find the complete list here, but the top ten are:

1. It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
2. To Kill a Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 1962)
3. Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
4. Rocky (John G. Avildsen, 1976)
5. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)
6. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
7. The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford, 1940)
8. Breaking Away (Peter Yates, 1979)
9. Miracle on 34th Street (George Seaton, 1947)
10. Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998)

And the Spielberg bias rears its ugly head. I'll let E.T. slide, but Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan? Seriously? Great movies, but not overwhelmingly inspirational. I guess I should feel silly if the two-plus hours of dark moments stuck with me. These so-called experts can't seem to follow directions. I hate that.

Why should I care? Long-time readers will remember that I belong to the American Film Institute, and I cast my votes late last year. Some of my choices made the cut -- eventually -- but my main complaint is that this list looks like any other list of 100 films. Also? No Speed. That film gets me out of a funk every time, and it wasn't even among the 300 choices.

The silver lining is that the AFI was as excited by Russell Crowe as your average hotel clerk, waiting until #93 to decide, "Oh yeah, we're supposed to like A Beautiful Mind." Whatever.

Put me in charge of Hollywood and you'll see a different list. And more Indian people.


Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Yeah, I'm with you on Saving Private Ryan. I was sitting next to my husband bitching that it's actually the opposite of inspirational--it's pointless. (And I say this as someone who likes war movies. Glory, Tears of the Sun, We Were Soldiers, loved them all.) SPR seemed like a pointless mess to me.

m said...

of course, Speed has a lot of fun associated memories... which may explain your affinity to it.

"There's a bomb on your bike..."

"EJ, take two steps, reach out, and GRAB MY HAND..."

eliz said...

I too love Speed! It is a guaranteed pick-me-up. I have to agree about Saving Private Ryan. I felt physically exhausted after that movie - definitely not inspired to get up and change the world, I could barely get off the couch.
I would think that more movies like Rocky would have made the top ten. That's what I think of as traditional inspirational Hollywood. How about other sports movies: Knute Rockne, All American "win one for the Gipper!", Remember the Titans, etc.

Mike said...

How did you become an AFI member?

Quinn said...

I vote for Neel to be in charge of Hollywood. Can I vote more than once? I vote Neel again.

Neel Mehta said...

Welcome, eliz and m.

APL: I liked the Jeremy Davies character a lot, and enjoying one performance goes a long way with me. SPR may be a pointless mess, but I don't necessarily remember it that way. Same goes for Elias Koteas and The Thin Red Line.

Mike: Why I joined is explained here. How I joined is easier. I went to the website and paid $50, most of which I get back in that subscription to Premiere.

Quinn: You just know everyone's gonna complain once the Hindus are in charge of Hollywood.