What's most noteworthy to me on both the directors' and critics' lists is the age of the films. Either no one has been making truly great movies in the last 30 years, or there is a tremendous amount of nostalgia at play.
I will admit a personal preference to the style of more modern movies...and by that I mean 1970s onward. Granted that the big studio system has historically made a tremendous amount of crap for mass consumption, but I don't think that's necessarily much worse in the last 30 years than it was before. Every decade has had their pulp movies and pulp directors. But I think every age has also had its gems.
And then, of course, there is the matter of personal taste. Sometimes a movie can be perfect (or almost perfect) for what it is.
For example: Can an action movie, that doesn't try to be more than a great action movie, be an all-time great? I would submit that Die Hard is a truly great movie, although it isn't aiming to change the world. But it is, on many levels, an almost perfect action movie. Bruce Willis really delivered a likeable hero who was a break from the invincible Schwarzenegger/Stallone creations of the time. Alan Rickman has to get some credit as one of the all-time best action movie villians. And the action, itself, was visceral, intense, had great tempo, and built to a really fantastic last half hour. But, since Die Hard is really just an action movie, can it get into discussion as an all-time great movie? It's certainly one of my top 50 FAVORITE movies to watch. In the same category, Raiders of the Lost Ark...it's pure entertainment, but it is pitch perfect from opening to closing credits.
Another few movies that may never see a professionally done all-time-top-50 list, but just hit the ball out of the park for what they were trying to do:
Alien/Aliens (totally different movies, but both really awesomely done)
Incredibles/Wall-E/Ratatouille/Toy Story/Toy Story 3
Drunken Master 2
The Dark Knight and Inception
The Bourne Supremacy
I'm personally very partial to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy viewed as one 12 hour movie, but Jackson seemed to have about one scene or part in each movie that missed (The Mirror of Galadriel scene; he missed on the way he handled Treebeard; the forced Legolas moment in the Battle of Pelennor Fields and the handling of the Paths of the Dead), and brought me out of the movies just enough to feel that they are awesome, but imperfect. Hard to be perfect translating something as long and complex and most definitely not written for Hollywood as LOTR to the big screen, so I'm not criticizing the job he did. But they aren't perfect movies...just great ones.
Someone mentioned Animal House...and it actually begs the question: like an action movie, can a comedy ever break into these lists? I think a truly great comedy is one of the hardest things to do, and I have trouble right now wracking my brain for a comedy that is so good all the way through that I'd call it a really great movie. By definition, comedies are not serious movies...can one be so good as to be taken seriously as an all-time great? If so, which ones?
Last edited by davekay1971; 04-07-2012 at 10:15 AM.
Brian Zoubek on what was going through his mind walking to the free throw line with 3.6 seconds remaining in the 2010 National Championship game and Duke up by 1: "Fifty percent [of me is] thinking, This is what I've been dreaming of doing my entire life. Fifty percent I'm crapping my pants."