2001, Star Wars, The Dark Knight, and More Make BBC's List of 100 Greatest American Films

Tuesday, 21 July 2015 - 2:49PM
Comic Book Movies
Star Wars
Tuesday, 21 July 2015 - 2:49PM
2001, Star Wars, The Dark Knight, and More Make BBC's List of 100 Greatest American Films
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Sci-fi is all too often left out of the canon, in literature, film, and television, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that genre favorites like Star Wars and The Dark Knight made BBC's list of 100 Greatest American Films. The list was compiled by polling 62 international film critics, and while the first few are extremely predictable (Citizen Kane, The Godfather, Vertigo), there are a few surprises here and there, starting with 2001: A Space Odyssey coming in at number four.

2001 is easily hailed as one of the most important sci-fi films of all time, but according to these critics, it's one of the most important films of all time, without qualification. It beat the likes of heavy hitters like Casablanca, Psycho, and The Godfather Part II, and since it made the top 25 (the only sci-fi film to do so), it received its very own extended praise:

Opening quote
The key motif in Arthur C Clarke's alien invasion novel Childhood's End is that "the stars are not for man," an opinion infamously denounced by the author in the tome's epigraph. Yet the same is true in a way for 2001: A Space Odyssey, which contends that the next step in human evolution, the mastery of space-time, will require a higher species than Homo sapiens sapiens. Directed by Stanley Kubrick from a script he co-wrote with Clarke, the film is a triumph of imagination, intelligence and technique. It moves from the abstract to the factual and back to the abstract again with elegant precision in a manner that echoes man's own evolutionary journey. Within the cosmic confines of that pilgrimage, man's relationship with technology is incidental, a rung in the stairway to heaven. Bones, supercomputers, spaceships: these are nothing but tools helping human civilisation reach its apotheosis. But before that, Kubrick argues, will come man's annihilation. – Ali Arikan, Dipnot TV
Closing quote

Star Wars was next, at number 36, and I'm a little surprised that it beat The Empire Strikes Back, which came in at a low 76. Similar to The Godfather trilogy, the second installment is widely considered to be superior to the first, and yet both predecessors placed higher than their successors. 

Back to the Future, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Night of the Living Dead, Eternal Sunshine, and E.T. were all (rightly) represented as well, with the only comic book adaptation, The Dark Knight, barely making the cut at 96. This is reflective of changes in the film landscape; while sci-fi has been building credibility for several decades, comic book movies are just starting to gain legitimacy, almost entirely thanks to Christopher Nolan and Heath Ledger.

There are a few that I would imagine were close to making the list, such as Alien and Blade Runner, that I'm disappointed to see left out. And then there are movies like Jurassic Park and Avatar that are not my favorites, but like Star Wars, undeniably changed the landscape of film. And finally, there are my dream sci-fi inclusions that I know would never happen, like District 9, Children of Men, and Donnie Darko.

Here's the full list:

Opening quote
100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
98. Heaven's Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
78. Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1965)
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
46. It's a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin' in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
Closing quote

Via Slashfilm.
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BBC's List of 100 Greatest American Films