erik lundegaard

That BBC 100 Greatest Movies List, By Genre

BBC top 100 American movies by genre

In BBC's list, crime is strong, comedies are holding their own, but musicals are way over yonder in the minor key. 

OK, another post about BBC's list of the 100 greatest American films, as chosen by 62 international critics

First thing I noticed? Not a lot of musicals. Also not many animated movies: one, to be precise. A superhero movie made the list, which is new, plus two documentaries. And an experimental short from the 1940s? OK. I guess. But one wonders how.  

Which genres did well? That most American of genres, the western, did OK. So did crime drama and film noir, both of which are wholly American, despite the latter's French nomenclature and the European pedigree of many of its most famous practitiioners.

(Side thought: How many of the directors on this auteur-heavy list of great American movies are foreign-born?) 

Comedy did OK, with some interesting choices (ex: “Groundhog Day”), while horror got the usual nods (Hitchcock, Kubrick) plus one unusual one (“Night of the Living Dead”). The critics weren't loving the war movies. In fact, there's more of what I call “mystery thriller w/perverse sexuality” than there is of war.

This last comment indicates a problem with even attempting what I'm attempting. What genre is “The Tree of Life,” for example? Or “Casablanca”? Or “Crimes and Misdemeanors”? Is this last a crime drama? A crime drama with comedy? A comedy with crime and drama? What's the difference between a crime drama and a film noir? Entire books have been written on that subject. I can't help recalling James Baldwin's great line about how our passion for categorization, our attempt to order the world neatly, has “boomeranged us into chaos; in which limbo we whirl, clutching the straws of our definitions.” That's me, here. But I keep doing it. Or attempting it. 

Proviso stated, here are the genre numbers. (I've added the “mystery thriller w/sex” subgenre into the “thriller” category):

  • Drama: 31
  • Comedy: 16
  • Western: 10
  • Film noir: 9
  • Thriller: 7
  • Musical: 5
  • Sci-fi: 5
  • Action: 3
  • Horror: 3
  • Romance: 3
  • War: 3
  • Documentary: 2
  • Animated: 1
  • Superhero: 1
  • Short: 1

Essentially it's a dark brooding list with a few oddities, like “Forrest Gump” at No. 74. (I put that one in its own category: “drama, comedy.” It seems a drama to me first. You could go: “drama, fantasy” or “drama, history,” too.)

For a list that ends with “Citizen Kane” at No. 1 and “The Godfather” at No. 2, it's also a fairly hip list, which makes “Gump” an even odder inclusion. Maybe it's getting its hipster fans now, who are reacting to my generation's overall shrug on the subject.  

In the meantime, for masochists, the list as sorted by genre (or its best approximation):

Film Genre
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972) action-adventure
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981) action-adventure
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975) action-adventure
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994) animated
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933) comedy
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938) comedy
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993) comedy
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936) comedy
50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940) comedy
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924) comedy
30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959) comedy
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931) comedy
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925) comedy
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967) comedy, dark
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964) comedy, dark
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960) comedy, dark
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940) comedy, romance
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941) comedy, romance
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977) comedy, romance
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985) comedy, sci-fi
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982) documentary
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975) documentary
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976) drama
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984) drama
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974) drama
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978) drama
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) drama
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975) drama
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975) drama
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980) drama
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924) drama
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) drama, comedy
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) drama, coming of age
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989) drama, crime
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973) drama, crime
81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991) drama, crime
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994) drama, crime
20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990) drama, crime
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976) drama, crime
10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) drama, crime
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927) drama, crime
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972) drama, crime
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002) drama, crime
46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) drama, fantasy
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013) drama, history
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939) drama, history
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1983) drama, history
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915) drama, history
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) drama, history
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942) drama, history
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941) drama, history
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964) drama, psychological
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004) drama, sci-fi
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951) film noir
100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951) film noir
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955) film noir
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950) film noir
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941) film noir
54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950) film noir
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) film noir
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944) film noir
12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) film noir
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968) horror
62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980) horror
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) horror
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961) musical
80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944) musical
70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953) musical
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952) musical
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) musical fantasy
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999) mystery thriller w/sex
60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986) mystery thriller w/sex
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001) mystery thriller w/sex
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958) mystery thriller w/sex
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948) romance, drama
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942) romance, drama
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959) romance, weepy
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982) sci-fi
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980) sci-fi
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977) sci-fi
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977) sci-fi
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968) sci-fi
40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943) short, experimental
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008) superhero
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959) thriller
33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) thriller, psychological
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946) thriller, romance
90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) war
78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993) war
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946) war
98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980) western
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939) western
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948) western
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954) western
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969) western
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978) western
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962) western
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959) western
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971) western
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956) western

More later. 

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Posted at 01:42 PM on Wed. Jul 22, 2015 in category Movies - Lists  

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