100 Greatest American Films

Everyone now and then, someone takes the time to round up a new list of 100 of the greatest films of all time, and it always stirs up some debate, even though probably 75% of the list is the same as any other. A new list from BBC Culture, however, is a little different, because the news organization from across the pond has rounded up a list of the 100 Greatest American Films, as voted on by an international assembly of film critics.

Some of your favorites like The Dark Knight, Star Wars, Back to the Future and Jaws made the cut, but there are only two films from the past five years, and only five total from the 21st century. The top films likely won’t surprise you, but there are still some questionable inclusions and exclusions on this list.

See the full list after the jump!

Here’s BBC Culture‘s 100 Greatest American Films:

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)

If you’re curious as to how the list was compiled, BBC Culture polled 62 international film critics, ranging from daily newspaper reviewers, magazine critics, bloggers and broadcasters to authors of book-length academic criticism. Each critic was asked to submit a Top 10 list, and the Top 100 was calculated using a point system giving 10 points for a #1 pick down to 1 point for a #10 pick.

The criteria for a film to be eligible was that it had to be made by a US studio or funded in some way from an American source in order to be considered an American film. The director of the movie did not have to be from the United States (32 of them on the list aren’t) and the movie did not need to be made in America either.

Critics were “encouraged to submit lists of the 10 films they feel, on an emotional level, are the greatest in American cinema – not necessarily the most important, just the best.”

The filmmakers with the most mentions are Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder and Stanley Kubrick with five films each, followed by Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Howard Hawks, each with four films on the list, and both Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin each have three films on the list.

There’s not too much to argue with here, though I’m a little perplexed by the inclusion of films like Eyes Wide Shut, Mullholland Drive and The Tree of Life. They’re all fine movies, but as far as being in the Top 100 Greatest American Films, I wouldn’t think to include those. Frankly, I’d much rather see a film like The Social Network on the list, but this is all about personal preference anyway. [Note from Russ: Ethan is crazy.]

More importantly, I’m not sure how it’s possible that there are no films by The Coen Brothers or Paul Thomas Anderson on this list. Surely No Country for Old Men or Fargo deserves to be on this list from the Coens’ filmography. P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood also seems like a pretty glaring omission, not to to mention his Boogie Nights, which is about as American as a film can be, aside form being absolutely stellar.

On the other hand, I’m glad to see films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Groundhog Day on here. The Lion King is also a fine addition, but I’m a little disappointed that a few more animated films didn’t make the cut, especially from the likes of Pixar. It’s also interesting to see that as much hate Forrest Gump has gotten since winning Best Picture, there are still plenty of critics who still think it’s a great flick.

If you want a more extensive breakdown and write-up of the Top 25 films on the list, click on this link. Otherwise, sound off with your thoughts on the list in the comments!

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