10 Movies You Really Should See, AFI Be Damned

When I took the Facebook quiz, "How Many AFIs Top 100 Movies Have You Seen?", I was prepared to feel very guilty. (That one's free, White People Problems.)

Oct 14, 2011 at 4:00pm | Leave a comment

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Since we all have Netflix instant and bit torrents and iTunes and robot jetpacks, we have much less excuse not to have seen a classic film.

So when I used precious cinema-watching time to the Facebook quiz, "How Many AFIs Top 100 Movies Have You Seen?", I was prepared to feel very guilty. (That one's free, White People Problems.) Until I realized, "Hey, AFI forgot a whole bunch of movies. Really excellent onces, that I have seen. List: INVALIDATED."

If you're close to 30, you can remember way, way back to the 1990's when the AFI list went out. Like most teenage geeks in Ohio who did theatre and played D&D, my friends and I printed out the list and crossed off every picture we’d seen and then started the painstaking process of renting the ones we hadn’t. This was pre-Internet streaming -- Christ, this was pre-DVD. Some of us still had Laser Discs and made mix-tapes for the boys we dry humped on ACTUAL CASSETTE TAPES. We had to frequent our local libraries and go to a store they called “Blockbuster.”

You can see how many you've seen here.

Real quickly: before I get to picking my bones with AFIs list, here are the ones I haven't seen: "Lawrence of Arabia" (Peter O’Toole in a desert. I get it! He’s British and white and wears a turban! Dad movie.), "Bridge on the River Kwai" (More imperial British nonsense and bridges blown up. Another Dad movie.), "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (I am ashamed to consider myself a centrist and not have seen this.), "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (No need to see. Already saw City Slickers 2.), "High Noon" (Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly western where there’s a shoot out, Tombstone style and a donging clock. Got it.), and "The Birth of a Nation" (If I want to watch a piece of dated racism, I’ll rent "The Help." YEAH, I SAID IT.)

Now 10 that are definitely missing if we can get some 2000s love along with some GLARING oversights:

10. "The Royal Tenenbaums" (Maybe the best movie about a dysfunctional family ever. And Alec Baldwin narrates.)

9. "Boogie Nights" (Maybe the best movie about a dysfunctional "modern porno" family ever. Mark Wahlberg sings "You've got the touch.")

8. "Brazil" (Think "Brave New World" meets "The Life of Brian"....Terry Gilliam is a genius.)

7. "Finding Nemo" (Favorite Pixar and favorite Thomas Newman score. It even beats the opening credits to "Six Feet Under.")

6. "The Exorcist" (SCARIEST MOVIE EVER. Watch if nothing else so you can see Ellen Burstyn earn her red wings.)


5. "Miller's Crossing" (Coen Brothers at their best. Gabriel Byrne at his dreamiest. Did I mention Albert Finney is a badass in it?)

4. "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (Favorite High School movie. No questions, no debates. Perfect until Cameron has his hissy fit in his Dad's garage and you feel you stepped into a "For your Consideration" mailer.)

3. "Amelie" (Romantic. French. Stunning.)

2. "Big Fish" (Maybe Tim Burton's masterpiece. I dare you watch this and not be moved. Like, deeply.)

1. "Out of Africa" (Best love story ever. Meryl Streep's most imitatable accent, too.)

But it's possible that I missed some? Go ahead and feel free to pick your own bones. (Below. You know the drill.)