Friday, June 27, 2008


So Entertainment Weekly has made two lists: one is a list of its Top 100 movies of the last twenty-five years, and the other does the same thing with books. You know the drill: the ones I've seen or read are in bold, with occasional comment. (However, a couple of provisos: yes, I'd include the Star Wars prequels, so sod off, haters. And as T & C point out, the list excludes The Shawshank Redemption, which is well-nigh inexplicable.)

1.Pulp Fiction (1994) (Wouldn't be my best, but I'm not going to quibble.)

2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03)
3. Titanic (1997)
4. Blue Velvet (1986)
5. Toy Story (1995) (Come now. It isn't even the best Pixar movie; this is absurdly high to put this movie.)

6. Saving Private Ryan (1998) (Again: come on, now. It's just not that good a movie once the Normandy stuff is past. And with all due respect to T & C, the film's construction seems to strongly imply that we're dipping into Ryan's memories. The whole bit at the beginning with him walking through the graveyard isn't even necessary; nor is the coda.)

7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) (I consider it a great film; a lot of its atmospherics set the stage for horror filmmaking in the 90s and beyond.)

9. Die Hard (1988) (One of the iconic action movies, obviously. I haven't seen it in a long time.)

10. Moulin Rouge (2001)
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) (I can't believe this is almost twenty-five years old.)

12. The Matrix (1999) (Meh. It was really cool the first time I saw it, but I liked it less each time I watched it after that. I tried once to watch The Matrix Reloaded and I fell asleep.)

13. GoodFellas (1990) (I really do think this is overrated, and that it wasn't robbed at the Oscars.)

14. Crumb (1995) (This looks fascinating; I'd love to see it.)

15. Edward Scissorhands (1990) (A sentimental choice for me, since this movie was what The Girl I Thought Was Cute saw on our first date. She would later become The Girlfriend, then The Fiancee, and then The Wife.)

16. Boogie Nights (1997)
17. Jerry Maguire (1996) (I heart Cameron Crowe, as I've long established. I may have mentioned this before, but I saw this movie in a theater in Buffalo, and since it came out just a handful of years after the Cowboys beat the Bills in two straight Super Bowls, the shot during the big game at the end of the Cowboys coach glowering actually got a cheer from the audience.)

18. Do the Right Thing (1989)
19. Casino Royale (2006) (This seems a bit quick to anoint as a classic, but it's such a good movie that I'm not going to complain.)

20. The Lion King (1994) (I know, I just said this the other day, but I'm starting to suspect this movie of being wildly overrated.)

21. Schindler's List (1993) (Superior to Saving Private Ryan in every way.)

22. Rushmore (1998)
23. Memento (2001)
24. A Room With a View (1986) (I think this is the only Merchant-and-Ivory movie I've seen. I watched it during the last week of summer vacation before my junior year of high school, after a guy I'd met at music camp two weeks before had told me that this movie "made him want to fall in love". And yeah, it did. Haven't seen it in years, though.)

25. Shrek (2001)
26. Hoop Dreams (1994)
27. Aliens (1986) (Meh. Again, The Abyss is a much better movie.)

28. Wings of Desire (1988)
29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
30. When Harry Met Sally... (1989) (A favorite of mine.)

31. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
32. Fight Club (1999) (I don't like this movie, but I can't find anything wrong with it. It's simply not my cup of tea.)

33. The Breakfast Club (1985) (This was a staple in college.)

34. Fargo (1996)
35. The Incredibles (2004) (I don't grok this as much as some others, but it's a fine, fine film.)

36. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
37. Pretty Woman (1990) (Really? Last time I watched it, I came away a bit disappointed.)

38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) (Ah, yes. I need to watch it again.)

39. The Sixth Sense (1999) (I figured out the "twist" halfway through, but mainly I suspect because of an unplanned intermission when the film broke and I had five minutes to think it through.)

40. Speed (1994) (Or The Bus That Couldn't Slow Down....)

41. Dazed and Confused (1993) (I need to see this.)

42. Clueless (1995)
43. Gladiator (2000) (I want to see this, kinda-sorta. I loved Kingdom of Heaven.)

44. The Player (1992)
45. Rain Man (1988)
46. Children of Men (2006)
47. Men in Black (1997) (Really? It was a clever enough comedy, but was it that good?)

48. Scarface (1983) (I see this on a lot of "great movie" lists, and everyone I've met who has watched it tells me it stinks. Odd.)

49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) (Wow, I need to watch this all the way through one of these days.)

50. The Piano (1993)
51. There Will Be Blood (2007)
52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988)
53. The Truman Show (1998)
54. Fatal Attraction (1987)
55. Risky Business (1983)
56. The Lives of Others (2006)
57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)
58. Ghostbusters (1984)
59. L.A. Confidential (1997)
60. Scream (1996) (One of the more disappointing movies I've seen. It can't be taken seriously as horror, and it's not funny enough to rise to the level of clever spoof.)

61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
62. sex, lies and videotape (1989) (Wow, did this movie ever flummox the small-town Lutherans I watched it with in college!)

63. Big (1988) (OK, when did this become a classic? I bet nobody remembers this movie if not for the "Chopsticks" scene.)

64. No Country For Old Men (2007)
65. Dirty Dancing (1987) (I've seen parts. Meh.)
66. Natural Born Killers (1994) (I saw this and admired it, but I'm not sure it's a classic or anything. It's not even the best Oliver Stone movie from this period, and none of those appear on this list.)

67. Donnie Brasco (1997)
68. Witness (1985) (Should be higher. I hope Harrison Ford finds this level of inspiration again one day.)

69. All About My Mother (1999)
70. Broadcast News (1987) (I haven't seen this in far too long! I really loved it.)

71. Unforgiven (1992)
72. Thelma & Louise (1991)
73. Office Space (1999) (They said I could play my radio at a reasonable volume.)

74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
75. Out of Africa (1985)
76. The Departed (2006)
77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
80. Michael Clayton (2007)
81. Moonstruck (1987)
82. Lost in Translation (2003)
83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
84. Sideways (2004)
85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) (The Bollywood ending had me on the floor.)

86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)
87. Swingers (1996)
88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) (A friend at work and I like to express our mutual frustration by quoting this movie. "Come on, people! Throw me a frickin' bone here!")

89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
91. Back to the Future (1985)
92. Menace II Society (1993)
93. Ed Wood (1994)
94. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
96. Far From Heaven (2002) (I just checked this out of the library, and will report back.)

97. Glory (1989)
98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)

So, there are the movies. Omissions? I'm not sure what I'd knock off, but I'd include Apollo 13, Braveheart, The Shawshank Redemption, The Karate Kid, The Abyss, The Iron Giant, Stand By Me, Misery, Platoon, JFK, Nixon, and the in-my-opinion-criminally-underrated Dolores Claiborne.

As for the books:

1. The Road , Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000) (Sorry, but Prisoner of Azkaban is the better book.)

3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991) (Sheer genius.)

8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87) (What else is there to say?)

14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000) (Liked it but didn't quite get the fuss.)

16. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000) (God, yes. What a book. I've worn mine out and need to get a new one.)

22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela's Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003) (Another wonderful work; I like that EW is open to graphic novels.)

38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000) (Only the first book; I'm not sure I'll ever make it a sufficient priority to read the second and third. Nothing against Pullman's message, but that first book just didn't excite me to the point that I want to read the rest of the trilogy.)

41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996) (I haven't read the entire thing yet.)

47. World's Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000) (I thought this was wondrous from start to finish.)

54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000) (Gotta read this – I've owned it for six years now.)

55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak! Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001) (It told me what I already knew, but too many people don't know and worse, don't care.)

61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995) (I just read this last week!)

89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999) (I've read one of the stories within this collection, and I'll write about that story sometime soon.)

90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001) (I have a feeling this would also tell me what I already know.)

95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators' Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)

Not much to say there, I suppose. I need to read more, obviously. But from what I've heard, The Da Vinci Code isn't actually a good book, so why is it here? Just because it was the mega-bestseller of the year back when? I obviously haven't read enough of these to offer serious criticisms of this list, but one book I'd have in my list is Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. Come to that, no great SF or fantasy has been written in the last twenty-five years? I think not.

And with that, I think I'm caught up on lists for now. Bring on the quiz-things!


Anonymous said...

I seriously don't get all the love for There Will Be Blood. I like PT Anderson and all, but I found this movie meh.

Pauldub said...

For movies I would have to list American Splendor (2003). Giamatti as Harvey Pekar was amazing