Guardian does the ‘all-time greatest’ meme

Posted by · 6:05 pm · October 21st, 2010

Ah, lists. The gift that keeps giving — particularly in the world of film blogging, where they provide snappy short-form content, invite numerous comments and generate multiple hits when spread across a zillion pages.

Last year’s flood of end-of-decade countdowns surely satisfied even the most ardent list fanatic for a good few months, but with no such milestone to mark this year, The Guardian has returned to an old chestnut: the greatest films of all time.

The gimmick they’ve used for the project (the results of which have been unfolding on their website over the past week) is to subdivide the larger collective according to genre: the 25 best comedies, romances, action films, and so on. As if any all-time best isn’t prone to enough criticism, this doubles the opportunities for debate: now we can kvetch not only about the films that made the cut (or didn’t), but whether they’ve even been categorized correctly.

Cue the questions. Is Michael Haneke’s “Caché” really a crime film? Is it missing the point of “Lost in Translation” to define it as a romance? Most curious of all is their rather vaguely titled “arthouse and drama” top 25, a catch-all category that somehow winds up ranking “The White Ribbon” (#9) higher than a little film called “The Godfather” and its sequel (jointly at #15). Such lists are always vulnerable to “why X and not Y”-type  question, but seriously… what happened there?

Some of the surprises, at least, are pleasant ones: any project that shines a light on Victor Erice’s “The Spirit of the Beehive” (a high entry on a certain all-time greatest list of my own) has at least some of my approval, and cheers for a reasonably imaginative “greatest romance” list that finds room for “Harold and Maude” alongside “When Harry Met Sally.”

Still, it’s a silly bit of fun if taken as such — you peruse all the Guardian’s lists and writeups here. Thus far, the list-toppers are “2001: A Space Odyssey” (sci-fi/fantasy), “Andrei Rublev” (drama/arthouse), “Apocalypse Now” (action/war), “Annie Hall” (comedy), “Chinatown” (crime) and “Brief Encounter” (romance).

→ 17 Comments Tags: , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

17 responses so far

  • 1 10-21-2010 at 6:51 pm

    Pete said...

    The Guardian is one of the main reasons why UK is considered to have the worst press in the western world.

  • 2 10-21-2010 at 6:58 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    You’ve said that before. Try building on the statement, perhaps going a little easy on the unsubstantiated statements of global perception. “Is considered” by whom, for example? By Pete?

  • 3 10-21-2010 at 7:52 pm

    Patriotsfan said...

    I loved The White Ribbon (it was one of my favorite films last year), but to put it in front The Godfather and The Godfather Part II? Really? Also, even though my brother would vehemently disagree with me, I think Andrei Rublev is pretentious crap. The only part of Andrei Rublev that was really good, was the story near the end were the boy pretty much bluffs his way through building a bell tower. Had that been the sole focus of the film, it would be great, but as it is, the film is too long and way too sprawling.

  • 4 10-21-2010 at 7:56 pm

    James D. said...

    What am I missing from Chinatown? I have seen it four times now, and I still find it to be a bore.

  • 5 10-21-2010 at 8:22 pm

    Speaking English said...

    You find “Chinatown” boring yet you’ve watched it four times? Hm.

  • 6 10-21-2010 at 9:10 pm

    Red said...

    I would say that The White Ribbon is up there with the best of ’em, but put it ahead of the Godfather movies is rather crazy. Well, put them at #15 (in a subcategory, nonetheless) is crazy as well, but alas, everybody’s list is going to be different.

  • 7 10-21-2010 at 9:17 pm

    James D. said...

    Speaking English: One time was when I was young, one time was for an Urban Policy class, and the last two is to figure out what I am missing. What am I missing? It has a story that should be interesting to me, but I find the whole thing so drawn out.

  • 8 10-21-2010 at 9:17 pm

    Speaking English said...

    No way should “The White Ribbon” even be on there in the first place. If they were picking a Haneke film for that dubious ‘Art House and Drama’ category, “Cache” would be a better fit. But there’s simply no way either can be placed above “La Dolce Vita” or “The Passion of Joan of Arc.”

  • 9 10-21-2010 at 9:20 pm

    Speaking English said...

    James D.: if you don’t like it, fine. You’re entitled to that opinion and there’s nothing I can do to change that! For me personally, I find it a beautifully constructed noir with some of Dunaway’s and Nicholson’s finest work, wrapped around a haunting mystery lines with all kinds of ingenious metaphors and twists. The ending has to be among the most depressing ever! Classic 70s cynicism bathed in the rusty hues of corruption.

  • 10 10-22-2010 at 6:17 am

    JJ1 said...

    I, too, found ‘Chinatown’ a bore. I mean, nicely acted, looked good, blah, blah.

    Seen it twice, figured the story and the movie (as a whole) would click-in the second time for me. Nope.

  • 11 10-22-2010 at 8:13 am

    jason said...

    andrei rublev. i had that at home for over a month when i got it from netflix. i agree completely with patriotsfan. also, cache i did not care for. then again i don’t really like most hitchcock or coen brothers films either, so my opinion is pretty much worthless.

  • 12 10-22-2010 at 9:02 am

    Ivan said...

    I appreciate they don´t give Citizen Kane the first place.

  • 13 10-22-2010 at 9:21 am

    Jeorge. said...

    all you guys bashing Andrei Rublev need to get some culture.

  • 14 10-22-2010 at 10:09 am

    Dave said...

    I would definetly rank “The White Ribbon” above “The Godfather”.

  • 15 10-22-2010 at 11:49 am

    Patriotsfan said...

    Jeorge. can you be a little more specific than saying we “need to get some culture”. Some of my favorite films are foreign films that I’m sure are considered “cultured”. 8 and one-half, The 400 Blows, Jules and Jim, The Battle of Algiers, Wild Strawberries, Fanny and Alexander are all films that I love that would be considered “cultured”, so if you could expand on what you liked about Andrei Rublev, instead of resulting to key words like “culture”, that would be helpful.

  • 16 10-22-2010 at 12:02 pm

    Patriotsfan said...


  • 17 10-24-2010 at 1:27 pm

    Shaun said...

    Pete, are you joking? The Guardian is easily one of the UK’s better newspapers. Few people would agree with you. Do you read the Daily Mail by any chance?