We all know the drill by now: a magazine or website puts out a list of best or worse movies, usually in some round number ranging from 10 to 100. “Citizen Kane” tops the “best” category, and we all spend the better part of the day waging apples-and-oranges arguments over the relative merits of “Star Wars” vs. “Gone With the Wind,” convinced we are right.
Yahoo!, which realizes that good gimmicks were made to be beaten into the ground, issued its “100 Movies to See Before You Die” list this week. The usual suspects show up – including “Casablanca” and, appropriately enough, “The Usual Suspects.” There are enough quirky picks (“Die Hard,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) to get you talking, and enough omissions (“The General,” “The Producers,” “Taxi Driver”) to get you fuming.
The debates will play out in person, online – can’t wait for that next Facebook movie compatibility quiz! – until another list comes out and the whole old exercise starts anew.
Rather than dissect the meaning behind our collective compulsion to make lists and defend them to the death, or call for a boycott of movie lists (that would be the equivalent of Prohibition for film fans), we offer a modest proposal: let’s compile a list of great movies that never make these kinds lists.
We’ll kickoff the debate on the best of the perennially underrated with this offering: “My Favorite Year.” Mark Linn-Baker is a young comedy writer from Brooklyn in the 1950s working for a rollicking “Your Show of Shows”-like program. Peter O’Toole is the drunken, washed-up Errol Flynn-like swashbuckling actor the writer is charged with keeping an eye on. It’s hilarious and touching with some unforgettable moments, lines and performances – but you’ll probably never see it on any major “best of” lists.
Use the comments space below to nominate your favorite overlooked films – if the others won’t put them on a list, we will.
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.