AFI’s Top 100 Movies

afi top 100 movie reviewThe husband and I are slowly working our way through AFI’s Top 100 movies. We’re skipping films we’ve both seen before, but watching everything else.

Here are our opinions about these critically acclaimed stunners. Watch along with us and let us know what you think.

1. Citizen Kane

Lane: I liked Citizen Kane, but at the end, Keegan and I looked at each other and went, “It was good, but why was it number 1?” After listening to about five YouTube videos from well-respected directors, we learned it was ground-breaking. The scope and scale of the story were unique for the time. Overall, I liked it, but have others on this list that I preferred.

Keegan: It definitely took some research to understand why this is on the top of everyone’s list after seeing it.  It’s good. It’s well done, but it is a stretch for me to say that it’s the greatest movie in history.

2. The Godfather

Lane: Keegan and I watched this one several years ago. I liked it, but didn’t feel like immediately renting the other two…so my review is only so-so.

Keegan: The Godfather really has everything: action, love story, family, crime, conflict, and tragedy.  The iconic cast brings home some of the most famous scenes and lines of all time.  It’s a bit too long for my taste, but deserves a top 5 rating.

3. Casablanca

Lane: Ah, Casablanca. My Grandma Shirley and I shared a love of old movies, so this was one of the first tapes she ever gave me. Watching it as a little girl, I didn’t understand a lot of the World War II references, but as an adult, it adds great depth to what is already a timeless love story. Also, watching Ingrid Bergman act is pure magic.

Keegan: I was skeptical at best when we started watching this movie.  It’s good.  Really good and makes you want to move South to a gin-joint and travel back to the simple days. Bogart is cool in a way you can’t learn and has charisma that is a lost art.

4. Raging Bull

Lane: I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be into this story about the rise and fall of a boxer, but it is unbelievably good. Shot in black and white it shows the power of a great story and knock-out performances.

Keegan: I rented this in college and loved it.  It’s gritty, painful, exhausting, and non-stop.  De Niro is so in your face throughout the whole movie that you feel like you are a part of the family that despises him.  One of a kind.

5. Singin in the Rain

Lane: Singin in the Rain offers a comedic, behind-the-scenes view of the motion picture industry. Released in the 50’s, it’s depiction still resonates today. Also, Gene Kelly makes dancing with an umbrella look cool, which should be reason enough to try this one out.

Keegan: I hate to admit that I didn’t hate this movie.  I think it helps that I know Gene Kelly used to work his a$$ off to prepare for all the dance scenes.  It’s funny too.  The movie takes place when stars were making the transition from silent film to talkies, which I found interesting. So yeah, I actually liked this one.

6. Gone with the Wind

Lane: I have loved this movie since I was a little girl. It’s portrayal of the South is highly romanticized and totally un-PC, but I still love it. The romance between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara is frustrating and wonderful. Gone With the Wind is easily one of my favorite movies of all time.

Keegan: This movie is good, but frustrating in many ways.  It’s long – like two DVD’s long.  I guess being a guy I was really fustrated* (no “r”) with Scarlett the whole movie.  I also just wanted Rhett to get on with his life and forget this dame, but this flick is more true to life than I wanted it to be.  I get why this is rated so highly on all the lists, but that doesn’t mean it was for me.

*This is an inside joke we make with one another. Sometimes, you’re just so frustrated you leave the “r” out. – Lane

7. Lawrence of Arabia

Lane: This movie nearly killed me. It is so long. And in a desert. Movies in sand, space or sea are always visually boring for me. We almost didn’t put in the second disc.

Keegan: See above.  Honestly, awful.

8. Schindler’s List

Lane: I first saw this in high school, but didn’t really appreciate it at the time. Keegan hadn’t seen it, so I had the chance to watch it again. Schindler’s List is a heart-breaking portrayal of the Holocaust. If you haven’t seen it, take some time to try it out.

Keegan: I never got a chance to watch this when it came out, and I really didn’t care to, because it sounded boring and sad.  But, this movie is fantastic.  Liam Neeson is terrific in it, and you will just love how brazen, defiant and intelligent his character is throughout the whole movie.  He’s a con-man’s con-man for good reasons.  I should have watched it sooner.

9. Vertigo

Lane: Jimmy Stewart gets a lot of credit for Vertigo, but Kim Novak’s performance is spot-on. The mystery and suspense are trademark Hitchcock. I really liked this movie, but would have ranked Rear Window (my favorite Hitchcock film) above it.

Keegan: This is one of the first Hitchcock movies I’ve ever seen, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a twisting and brilliant crime thriller that was way ahead of its time. It holds up today and probably for a long time.

10. The Wizard of Oz

Lane: You can’t live in Kansas and not like The Wizard of Oz. It is against the law. One of my oldest friends (now, sister-in-law) and I used to act out this movie when we were small. She was Dorothy, and I was all the other characters. It was a little tricky, but we made it work.

Keegan: It’s the Wizard of Oz.  You don’t get much more essential as far as “movies to watch” go.  It’s standard issue for kids at some point in elementary school.  Morals, social issues, parallelisms, and so many underlying themes with the story.  It’s THE classic.

11. City Lights

Lane: City Lights is a silent film, and I prepared myself to suffer accordingly. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Charlie Chaplin’s physical comedy is still relevant and funny today.

Keegan: This was my first slient film.  I was skeptical yet trying to keep an open mind going into it.  Chaplin’s ability to tell a story with actions and without words is dumbfounding.  The movie gives you the occasional written plot line, but Chaplin doesn’t need them.  It’s really entertaining, and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

12. The Searchers

Lane: Let me start by apologizing to my father. I grew up watching Westerns and John Wayne, but I did not love this movie. The scenery was pretty, but it was really slow for me. Sorry, Dad.

Keegan: I like this movie.  It is a classic western with the Duke being the Duke.  Lane’s right, it’s a little slow, but that’s how Westerns go.  Slow, and then lot’s of action. Then, back to slow again.  John Wayne makes the film, as usual.

13. Star Wars

Lane: Umm, so I know this was ground-breaking, but I did not feel this movie. I hadn’t seen it until we started this project, which means I had basically been living under a rock for the last 30 years. I can appreciate it, but needless to say, I won’t be watching the full trilogy.

Keegan: I was thrilled when Lane said she hadn’t seen this movie.  It has been a long time since I watched it from start to finish.  If you have ever been a little boy dreaming about far-away galaxies in space, George Lucas brings them to life.  It was unlike anything of it’s kind in the 70’s and is still one of kind today.

14. Psycho

Lane: So, creepy. I watched this with friends in high school and just thinking about it gives me the ebbe-jebbies, which is a real condition.

Keegan: The original horror flick.  If you haven’t seen it, you need to.  There are so many quotes and pop-culture references still used today from this movie.  How many times have you seen a shadow cast on the outside of a shower curtain and been freaked.  You can thank this movie.

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Lane: This film was visually stunning. Some of the futuristic ideas actually exist now, which is extremely cool. But, I was a little bored watching it. It took a long time to get to the meat of the story. So, overall, it was not a favorite of mine.

Keegan: I was very pumped for this one.  I had only heard about it and had never seen anything on it.  The writers were very brilliant in creating a future world with gadgets that we actually use today.  I’m going to come clean however, I didn’t love it.  Forgive me fellow geeks.

16. Sunset Blvd.

Lane: I first saw this film in college and fell in love. Gloria Swanson is brilliant as an aging child actress. Watch it to learn where all those quotes came from and see a true artist at work.

Keegan: This film has one of the most repeated movie lines of all time “…Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” It’s interesting to see the foundation for that line. It’s a good movie, and another one that was ground-breaking for its premise and casting a leading lady beyond her prime.

17. The Graduate

Lane: The Graduate is so good. The love triangle could have resulted in a really cheap, forgettable movie, but the film is visually stunning. Each frame (especially the final one) is carefully thought out. Also, I want Mrs. Robinson’s wardrobe. Every. single. piece.

Keegan: There are so many fantastic things about this movie. Dustin Hoffman plays the character, and the generation he represents, perfectly. He’s frustrating and ideological, and Hoffman absolutely nails the role — a must see film.

18. The General

Lane: Another silent film. I once again braced myself for a boring movie, but was giggling after a few minutes. Buster Keaton carries the movie from start to finish – performing stunts with comedic genius. If you’re unsure about silent movies, start with this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Keegan: Yep, not a single word in this one. However, when a silent film makes everyone’s top 100 list, you can bet it will be entertaining. Buster Keaton is a physical comedian only rivaled by Chaplin.  It’s a rare and brilliant comedy.

19. On the Waterfront

Lane: I love this movie. I watched it in college for a class and made Keegan see it before we ever started this project. Marlon Brando gives an incredible performance as Terry Malloy. The movie is captivating from start-to-finish.

On a side note, the film was directed by Elia Kazan, who has made a long list of noteworthy movies. He was widely criticized for naming names during the Hollywood Blacklist years. If you’ve never read about McCarthyism or some of the anti-communist practices that were happening in the United States during this time, I recommend picking up a book on it.

Keegan: This movie is actually a guy’s movie. Boxing, gangsters, the underworld, what more could you want? This was the first Brando movie I had ever watched of him in his prime. He was a stud who could stand up to anyone, and this film answers any questions as to why men admired him.

20. It’s a Wonderful Life

Lane: I had never seen It’s a Wonderful Life until we started this project. Yes, this seems impossible to me too. And, I loved it. I fell head-over-heels for this heart-warming story. Two, enthusiastic thumbs up.

Keegan: I’ve seen this one a lot, and I like it every time. If you need a bit of a re-alignment of what’s important in life, take a few hours and watch this movie  It’s a nice reminder, and you always feel better after you see it.

21. Chinatown

Lane: This was another film I’d seen in college for a class. Years later, I coerced Keegan into watching it with me before we ever started the project. If you’ve never seen it, you should know it has one of the greatest twists of all time. Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson are so good in this movie. If you really want to geek out, read up on the symbolism and history relating to the film. It’s really incredible.

Keegan: This movie still holds water today. It’s complicated, frustrating and its storyline could be inserted into any good, modern movie today. Jack Nicholson does his thing, and you never get bored watching him.

22. Some Like It Hot

Lane: Such a funny movie. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis make a great team, dressed in drag or as themselves. It’s amazing to think how risqué this film would have been at the time it was made.  If you’ve never seen Marilyn Monroe on-screen, start with this one. You’ll soon see why people still consider her to be one of the most captivating women of all time.

Keegan: I loved this film. It’s really entertaining, and Jack Lemmon is awesome. And Marilyn Monroe, well, it’s Marilyn Monroe.

23. Grapes of Wrath

Lane: I found this movie fascinating. I’d read about the Dust Bowl, but seeing it come to life in this movie was eye-opening. It’s hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for these families who were uprooted from their land and forced to start over.

Keegan: Ehh…this movie is like a three hour dentist appointment. I get that it’s true to life for what was happening in the Dirty Thirty’s, but man is it depressing.  You get to the end and then, feel like you have seen three hours of the nightly news.

24. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Lane: We did not rewatch E.T., since we both had seen it. I remember being completely captivated by this movie as a kid. The technology was incredible for the time, but the story is what I remember most. I love this movie.

Keegan: This is one of the greatest movies of all time. Spielberg made his name making this movie. I mean, it’s E.T.

25. To Kill a Mockingbird

Lane: I’d seen To Kill a Mockingbird before and really loved it. The overlapping stories of Atticus’s case and Scout’s adventures are wonderfully showcased on film. But, I have to say, I like the book even better than the movie. Read it. Then, watch this.

Keegan:  If you have seen “A Time to Kill,” you will know that its plot came from To Kill a Mockingbird. This movie is really great, but the ending doesn’t leave you with warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s very real to life. Robert Duvall makes a silent and impactful appearance in the movie. It’s definitely worth watching.

26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

I. LOVED. THIS. Capra has a way of creating inspiring characters and uplifting stories that have you hooked from the start. He does a great job of blending comedy with really some serious issues. The film explores the negative side of Washington and yet, I laughed out loud quite a few times throughout the movie. Back-door dealings and outside influences are at the center of this story, which still feels very timely today. If you haven’t seen it, give it a try. I liked it even more than It’s a Wonderful Life.

Keegan: If you want to get an old world glimpse of what today’s current politics are like, watch this movie. Jimmy Stewart delivers a fantastic and over-the-top heroic effort to set things right at the end of the movie. It’s another good versus evil classic.  Good wins out.

27. High Noon

Lane: I watched this one in college and didn’t like it at all. Well, clearly my tastes have changed, because I really liked it the second time around for at lot of reasons. First of all, Grace Kelly’s character is three-dimensional and not your typical, lady in a Western. She’s strong and opinionated – definitely one to watch. Katy Jurado is also really fantastic in this. Secondly, Gary Cooper’s quest to save the town and their reactions to his efforts offer great commentary on our ability to stand up for our own best interests and what is right. Last, but not least, the only thing I remembered about watching this in class was the symbolism with the clocks. I got a kick out of watching for them in nearly ever scene.

Keegan: One of the greatest western’s ever made. Gary Cooper is a stubborn, old marshal who is equally loved and despised by his town. His character has a sense of conviction that many characters in the movie don’t understand. And if you have to ask why he’s doing what he’s doing, you’ll never get it. The ending is how a western should be.

28. All About Eve

Lane: I loved this film. The primary characters are women, and they are STRONG and interesting. Bette Davis is fantastic in it, which you’d expect, but Anne Baxter is great too. I don’t have enough good things to say about it. Love, love.

Keegan: Shockingly, I didn’t love this film. There were entertaining parts and the overreaching storyline of “what goes around comes around” is kind of gratifying. But, this movie is not anything I would willingly subject myself to again.

29. Double Indemnity

Lane: Double Indemnity is full of sharp dialogue and double entendre. It’s smart and interesting and really great. Barbara Stanwyck is kind of magic in this role, as the conniving woman who’s pulling the strings. I adore this movie. They don’t make them like this any more.

Keegan: This movie was made in 1944 and was way ahead of it’s time. It has murder, seduction, adultery, and betrayal. I would think that’s pretty racy for the 40′s. It’s a good movie.

30. Apocalypse Now

Lane: Not a fan. I liked the first half of the movie, but then, it got long and really, really weird. There were some great performances, but Marlon Brando’s character was a little too out there for me in the end.

Keegan: I’m conflicted about this movie. Lane’s right, the first half is good, and then, the last half is like one of those stoner songs where there’s a 5 minute guitar solo at the end and all you’re thinking is “for God’s sake, just stop it already.” If they would have just killed Col. Kurtz early, it would have been a hit.

31. The Maltese Falcon

Lane: There’s a detective, a tricky lady and a twisty-turning plot. Humphrey Bogart has the charisma of 10 men. Two, enthusiastic thumbs up on this one.

Keegan: This is one of those classic private dick movies with the voice-over, over coats, fedoras, dames, cigarettes, and stiff drinks. It has murders, and a plot that keeps you guessing. It’s pretty much everything you would hope for from this style of film.

32. The Godfather II

Lane: We watched what I like to refer to as The Godfather I several years ago, so when it came up on the list we skipped it. I wish we had rewatched it before digging in to this one. I had forgotten a lot. I enjoyed the story line with DeNiro, but I will say I did not love this movie. I appreciated it, but found it really long. I can see why it’s on the list, but will probably skip The Godfather III. Please mention this to no one. Ever.

Keegan: I liked the content of this movie and the backstory of how Vito came to be, played by DeNiro, but it all seemed disjointed. The movie was really long and didn’t keep me engaged like the first. It’s a good movie and worth seeing, so you understand

33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Lane: I absolutely loved this one. Jack Nicholson is well known for his performance in this (and rightfully so), but I was equally impressed by all the other actors and actresses as well. Each carefully crafted character was believable and three-dimensional. The ending has a big twist, which for me, was unexpected, and it left me with a lot of questions about insane asylums, Jack Nicholson’s character and Nurse Rachett. Two, enthusiastic thumbs up.

Keegan: I had seen this once before in college, but liked it better this time than I remembered. Nicholson is awesome throughout the entire film, and I don’t remember hating Nurse Rachett as much the first time as I did this round. It has a tragic ending that seems to be consistent with the other films of this era. It’s one of my top 10 films.

34. Snow White

We’re waiting on this one from Netflix. Apparently, it’s very popular. We’ll add a review as soon as we’ve both seen it.

35. Annie Hall

Lane: Annie Hall is a quintessential Woody Allen movie, so I was sort of bracing myself to watch it. I’m not a big fan of his films and still get creeped out by his relationship with Soon Yi. However, as is often the case with the list, I ended up liking the movies I didn’t expect to. It was a little slow at times, but his character’s relationship with Diane Keaton in the movie is funny, flawed and real. Also, the fashion is really good. Overall, I would say I liked this one, but please don’t make me watch Scoop ever again.

Keegan:  I liked this one so much I had to ask what the plot was for this movie before writing this, and we watched it about 2 weeks ago. It had moments of entertainment, and I can kind of see why people like Woody Allen, but I’m out.

36. The Bridge on the River Kwai

Lane: I liked this one too, though it was long……………lots of walking around in a jungle here. I felt like huge parts of the film could have been whittled down. That being said this movie says a lot of important things about free will, following rules blindly, the follies that come with honor, and WWII. I would recommend watching it, but drink a little coffee first, okay?

Keegan: I was really excited about this film and really enjoyed about 4/5’s of it. The other 20% (as mentioned above) is a lot of walking, still shots, and close ups on stressed faces. It is a really good movie, and as much as you think you can predict the ending, you won’t get it right. I recommend watching this one and catching a nap from about the 2:00-2:20 mark.

37. The Best Years of Our Lives
Lane: This chronicles the lives of several men after they return home from war. It was really good (though a bit longer than I would have liked). The performances were fantastic. In particular, I thought Myrna Loy was exceptional.

Keegan: I don’t remember this movie at all. It was that good.

38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Lane: In this movie, Humphrey Bogart is a gold digger who scores big. He and his partners slowly fall apart as they sit on the fortune. Sounds exciting, right? Well, it was incredibly long. I didn’t think I was going to make it all the way through it, but I did. I don’t have many positive things to stay about this one.

Keegan: This movie went on and on and on. It was an interesting take on the dynamic of trust between gold miners. It definitely give you a moment of thinking “Yep, I bet that’s what it was like.” There was constant tension and over the top music to punctuate the drama. Did I mention it went on and on?

39. Dr. Strangelove
Lane: I’ve never liked this movie, which probably makes me completely unhip. Just call me uncultured. I don’t care. I’ll be watching the Real Housewives.

Keegan: I’d never seen this movie (obviously), and I was really excited to watch it. I thought it was great. The characters were quirky, and I found this movie to be really entertaining. That makes me the hip one.

40. The Sound of Music
Lane: We skipped this one, because we’ve both seen it before. However, I’ve loved The Sound of Music since I was a little girl. From ages 5 to 8, I felt the urge to dance around like Liesl every time I saw a gazebo.

Keegan: This show is required watching for anyone who grew up in the rural Kansas School districts (prior to being broke). It’s a happy film, so there’s that. I never cared for it much.

41. King Kong
Lane: This movie was so long. I could appreciate that it was ground breaking, but hope to never watch it again. Ever.

Keegan: If you think about the special effects created for the movie and the technology for the time it was made, this movie is really amazing. The story line is so so and the acting is so so and the movie is so long, but the effects were impressive for being a 1933 film.

42. Bonnie and Clyde
Lane: Hmm….I’m not sure what to say about this one. I liked it, but I remember getting bored. Faye Dunaway’s wardrobe in it is on point, but it dragged a bit despite the thrilling premise.

Keegan: I liked this movie, but (shocker) it was long. Why are all these movies so freaking long? I thought Warren Beatty was really good in this, and I found the relationship between Bonnie and Clyde to be entertaining (apparently Clyde was a bit of a prude). Didn’t see that coming.

43. Midnight Cowboy
Lane: So disturbed by this movie, so disturbed.

Keegan: See above. Ok, really. You keep waiting for it to get good. It doesn’t. It just gets strange.

44. The Philadelphia Story
Lane: This is one my favorites. Katherine Hepburn is fantastic in it. The dialogue is smart and fast-paced. Keegan hated it. (He does not have great taste in movies – read most of his reviews to find out.)

Keegan: If you like movies where there is a lot of witty banter, BOY HAVE I GOT A MOVIE FOR YOU. Gents, this movie will present you with an excellent opportunity to catch a nap. I did.

45. Shane
Lane: Hmm…..I’m not sure what to say about this one. I saw it once in middle school. I didn’t like it much then. I felt similarly about it this time around – though may have liked it a bit better.

Keegan: Come on Lane! Shane is a classic. Cool stranger from out of town. Saving the day and riding away. It’s the classic hero story. Who doesn’t like that plot?

46. It Happened One Night
Lane: I loved this movie. I’ve been a big fan of Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable for at least 20 years now. Their on-screen chemistry is off the charts in this classic romantic comedy. Watch it and skip Keegan’s review.

Keegan: If you loved Philadelphia Story, then get excited because this movie will be like a sequel. Conversations galore while I snored.

47. A Streetcar Named Desire
Lane: So in high school, I was a theater geek. I read a lot of Tennessee Williams’s plays, including this one. I saw the movie about the same time, and while the performances are epic in this one, I wished the movie script had stayed a little truer to the original.

Keegan: Marlon Brando was really good in this movie, but not a very good dude. Pretty horrible actually. It’s a really good movie with lots of levels and complicated characters. It’s not Rambo, but it doesn’t suck.

48. Rear Window
Lane: I love this movie. It is one of my favorites from Hitchcock. It’s incredible the way he draws intriguing storylines from glances into apartment windows. Aside from centering around a good mystery, it’s also pretty funny. Two thumbs up.

Keegan: After the snoozers (literally) we’ve been watching, I had the bar pretty freaking low for this one. I really enjoyed this movie. I’ve never seen a Grace Kelley movie, and she’s not bad to watch.

I really like Jimmy Stewart also. He’s a solid actor. The story line moves well and it’s entertaining for being shot from one set. Good movie.

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