Lists, Top 5 Movies, Top 5s — June 6, 2012 at 2:44 am



You always see the AFI lists of movies that you as a movie aficionado are supposed to not just like, but love and revere.  You’re in a room with two other respected movie fans and they are rambling about The Godfather and you just can’t make the same connection, but feel strange piping in saying, “Yeah, it was okay.”  It’s a strange thing because while some films have poignant messages they still remain an extension of entertainment and have personal inflictions on its viewers.  A glance at my Warner Brothers Blu-Ray cluster this week has brought me back to other classics that I might like or appreciate, but will never make a top awesome list of mine.  Feel free to share your thoughts or perhaps even divulge your own dirty secrets.  Let shit getting real commence!


For years I’d listen to my grandparents speak of this movie as though it were golden.  The two would exchange a knowing nod and Grandma would quietly say, “The Bridge On The River Kwai”.  Classics were a focal point in their home and I loved The African Queen and Gone With The Wind, but by the time I was an adult, perhaps the expectations were too extensive to live up to whatever ideal I had conjured, but it just didn’t spin as big. It was a good character study about soldiers with an outstanding performance by Alec Guinness, but certainly not even gracing my top ten war epics of all time.


On The Waterfront is a great story, told in a compelling enough way, but for me the movie standing alone just isn’t all that spectacular.  I watch it again and again for one reason:  Marlon Brando.  It’s a smart movie that really has something to say, but what’s interesting about isn’t just what is said, but how Brando puts it.  With another actor, this movie could have been forgotten in time.  I just don’t put this one down as one of the greats, unless I’m championing Brando.



This film has been hammered to death here at MILF and parties across the blogsphere have marked their disdain for anyone who not just speaks out against Citizen Kane but is somewhat indifferent to it’s cinematic prowess.  I will not speak directly negatively except to say, “It was kinda slow and boring.”  I appreciate it, respect it, and it deserves many accolades and affection, but noted everywhere as the greatest film of all time is mind boggling to me.  I could name twenty films easily off the top of my head that I feel have aged more gracefully and could remain relevant to a young audience today. This was the Warner Brothers Blu-Ray I received that inspired this list, but after several attempts at watching the whole thing, I feel the same, unlike Casablanca that last week I found to be much smoother and more entertaining than my initial attempts.  Sorry purists, couldn’t make this list without including it.  Though for you purists, the 70th edition is pretty damn amazing.


E.T. could have easily been replaced with Johnny 5 and it wouldn’t have made a huge impact on  my opinion of the movie.  Some of the scenes between our alien and Elliot were genuinely wrought with emotion that was tangible, but the film on a whole loses me with each viewing.  I just stop caring and surf the tele for some Ninja Warrior.  Spielberg is a genius and this film is still loved by many.  I am few.


Stop snapping and singing damn it.  I not only don’t praise West Side Story as a great film, but I don’t even consider it that great a musical.  Yes, the Romeo and Juliet theme was revitalized for stage and musical cinema, but frankly my dear I don’t give a hoot, even with my beloved Natalie Wood.  Give me some Guys and Dolls, the real gangsters of musical cinema.

Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.


  • I couldn’t agree more on number 1 and 2.

  • I can understand people who don’t really care too much for Citizen Kane. I actually find it extremely depressing and beautiful, but that’s me. I was shocked to see ET on this list. I can’t agree with that at all but…

    Thanks for having the guts to put it out there though!

    • I have the utmost respect for Citizen Kane and how it changed cinema. The impact it made is undeniable, I just don’t personally feel it’s the greatest film ever made, and while I will watch it from time to time, it isn’t necessarily a film that I will ever pull out with purposeful viewing.

      On the other hand, ET, can’t really say anything other than it’s just a personal opinion.

  • Great list, Heather! I’m in roughly the same boat with you about classics in general. One I watched recently that I don’t get all the love for is Sunset Boulevard. The story was really good, but the overacting was downright painful.

    And I didn’t even care for ET as a kid, much less an adult.

    • You know I had the same reaction! I enjoyed it but I knew I was more amused by parts than I probably should have been. A different generation perhaps? Who knows, but I feel the same way you do.

    • Amen, Rachel! I felt the same way. Watch A Streetcar Named Desire sometime (or try to, or just watch the first 20 minutes) and tell me you don’t feel the same way. Aggravating as shit!

      • Oh geeze. A Streetcar Named Desire is painful. That would definitely be on my version of this type of list.

      • Oh yeah. Watched that back in high school the first time (for Brando) and laughed my ass off. Tried it again a few years later in college when I was more “mature” and still laughed my ass off. I’m done with that one.

      • Oh I don’t know about Streetcar. I guess I can see how it is overly dramatic, it is a Tennessee Williams play though, so I expect the over acting and drama, just like Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. I just adore those kind of movies so women like Vivien Leigh, Natalie Wood, and Liz Taylor can just be devastatingly bat shit crazy. A personal thing I suppose.

      • I don’t get these criticisms – A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (an EXPRESSIVE film about a drunk actress) and SUNSET BOULEVARD (about a past-her-time actress) are ALL about OTT acting. Thats the point. Tennessee Williams is all about expression and showing feelings clearly on the surface – over-acting is his style! Thats who the characters ARE. C’mon guys.

        Rather than the films themselves being flawed … maybe you simply dislike stories about over-acting actors.

        • Simon, please – you mean to tell me you aren’t cognizant of the vast contrast in overall acting styles from, say, the 40s, to today? That alone is off-putting to me, but when you throw in OTT acting on top of that, you go from “over the top” to “OVER THE TOP!!” Leigh in Streetcar is laughable.

  • I haven’t seen your #5 and 4. I agree with you completely on #3. It’s alright, but I’m rather indifferent toward it.

    I gotta disagree with #2 and 1, though. E.T. is charming, and I love the psychological and physical bond between E.T. and Elliot. And being raised on musicals, I just have a connection to #1 due to my mother singing from it (and a hundred other musicals) growing up.

    • (Of course, by “disagree” I don’t mean your opinion is wrong. I just meant that I personally feel of the opposite opinion.)

      • I know what you meant Nick. There was certainly a danger of posting this that some people will actually offended by my comments, but I acknowledged that all these films are GOOD in my book, I just don’t hold them up to the standards popular critics and a lot of people do. The only one I repetitively watch is On The Waterfront because Brando is worth it.

  • Citizen Kane is an interesting one. The first time I watched it a long while ago, I was pretty bored. Then we went through it in a film class in college, and it changed my perception completely. So it’s both a pivotal film in history and a frustrating movie at the same point. I’ve come down on the great movie side of it, but I can see why it ends up on this list.

    I’m going to watch West Side Story for the first time later this year, so it will be interesting to see how that works for me.

    • Citizen Kane is to be respected and I understand why people love it, just as they do ET, but after a few viewings at different points in my life ( one that took about the span of a month to watch from beginning to end) I cannot seem to connect with it.

      Good luck with WSS. It’s loved by many, but even as an avid fan of musicals, I can’t stand that one.

  • 1) I haven’t analysed ANY of these on the CLASSIC COLUMB. What does that say! (Ironically, I have analysed GUYS AND DOLLS)

    2) I have a funny feeling that the Sight & Sound Greatest Films of All Time, due to be released later this year, won’t have ANY of those films in the Top 20, let alone Top 5. Except CITIZEN KANE. Though it will have TOKYO STORY, something from the French-New-Wave and VERTIGO. So, other than CITIZEN KANE, most critics would agree with you.

    3) For all your anti-CITIZEN-KANE-ness, it was groundbreaking, unique and timeless. When you rewatch, I’m sure those three things must hold SOME weight. CASABLANCA, in comparison, its… y’know … a love story. sob sob. romantic-cinema at its best … but it wasn’t ground-breaking (just a good story), i’ll give it unique and timeless – it is a 1942 film about World War II. Just reflecting the time, no? CITIZEN KANE had direct parrallels to THE SOCIAL NETWORK!! Timeless.

    • I’m still not a gigantic fan of Casablanca. It’s taken several viewings for me to realize that it’s a pretty good movie, I’m not convinced it’s one of the greatest romances ever either. I’d take The African Queen any day of the week.

      As I said, I respect Citizen Kane, it just holds no personal connection for me at all.

  • crappin on E.T. is like drowning kittens. If it wasn’t for this film I wouldn’t be able to enjoy me delicious peanut butter filled reese’s pieces today! It’s all about the candy sweetheart!

  • I’m with you on West Side Story. Never was much impressed by that one (despite the excellent dancing and a few good songs).

    Citizen Kane I think has suffered because it’s constantly being touted as the greatest movie ever made. Not even my favorite Welles, if I admit the truth. But it is iconic and changed Hollywood filmmaking worked. Also, if you ever get a chance to see it on a big screen, it makes a world of difference. It’s made for grandeur.

  • I have mixed feelings about your NOT the top 5. First, all film is subjectively viewed and can be compared to anything “like Star Wars” – my first thought is indifference.

    #5 “It was a good character study about soldiers with an outstanding performance by Alec Guinness…like Star Wars”
    #4 “It’s a smart movie that really has something to say…like Star Wars.”
    #3 “I appreciate it, respect it, and it deserves many accolades and affection…like Star Wars.”
    #2 “Spielberg is a genius and this film is still loved by many…like Star Wars.”
    #1 “Stop snapping and singing…like Star Wars.”

    Upon further reflection, Bridge over the River Kwai SHOULD I feel be spoken in hushed tones. Additionally, ET is unique and heartfelt as orginally produced and its parts are NOT interchangeable like Legos. Finally, West Side Story is and always will be classic. On the Waterfront is a seminal role for Brando and movies. Disclaimer: I haven’t seen Citizen Kane. Those points aside. Rankings are subjective.

    What might Heather’s top 5 be??

  • Of course it’s subjective. Opinions are like cookies.

    Aside from ET and West Side Story I like the other movies listed, they just don’t make me drip with affection and I felt like talking about it, because some people are afraid to open that train of dialogue.

    Classics that I love are The African Queen, Gone With The Wind, Apocalypse Now, The Godfather, A Streetcar Named Desire, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Vertigo, and of course Star Wars to name a few. I dig many a classic.

  • I know this is gonna shock you wildly, but the only one I wildly disagree with you on is E.T.

    Also going to wildly shock you….I’ve not seen 5, 4, or 1…and I haven’t seen 3 in a long-ass time.

    Man, I Love Films! 😀

    • The problem with a lot of classics for me is my desire to see them is based on this reluctance of, weeeeeeeeeeellllll if I consider myself a serious movie fan and am going to champion flicks like Bad Boys and Labyrinth I damn well better sit down and give these a go. Then I’m resentful about HAVING to watch them. I thought that was my problem with Casablanca. I still only think it’s a good, not great movie, but I wasn’t sure if my own opinion was influenced by my begrudging. And this is why I’m insane.

  • I think Lauren nailed it re: Kane. Being labeled #1 on that AFI list was possibly the worst thing that could ever happen to it, because now everyone looks at it and assumes that it has to be brilliant and better than everything else they’ve ever seen. No movie could live up to that expectation.

    Not that I think you’re doing that, Heather.

    • No, I’m not. But I don’t think you’re wrong either, and can say there are plenty of films that I’ve felt I probably didn’t like as much as a should because of expectations. It’s human nature to have them and it’s difficult not to harshly judge after.

  • It took me a long time to love E.T. For some reason I never liked it as a kid but I’ve fallen for its charm later in life.

  • This is a good list if only because it’s perfectly fine not to love the classics even if it’s arguably important to watch them. Not that I want to get into that fucking debate again– I just think it takes chutzpah to admit you don’t care for films like this.

    For my part, I’ve long made it clear that I do not much care for Citizen Kane, though I do accept it as a great film simply because of the objective impact its had on cinema as a whole. It has value, but that doesn’t mean I have to adore it as a story.

    I’m also not crazy for West Side Story, either. But I do dig On the Waterfront and Bridge on the River Kwai.

  • Thank you so much for saying that about ET. As a child of the 80’s its lauded to define our generation and I have to disagree. Its a sweet kids movie, however “kiddie” movies dont hold up. Watch Mighty Ducks or Sandlot and its painful despite being a childhood favorite.
    Citizen Kane is long and boring. Its poignant and did and was revolutionary for its time. But being Important and enjoyable to watch are different things.
    I agree with West Side Story too- Its just not really watchable. Although I find Oklahoma equally painful.

    • Musicals are tricky to me, and some just don’t age well, and then others that I hated as a kid, like Sound Of Music, I adore now. But West Side Story I hated now and then.

  • I agree that some of these movies might be overdone on peoples great lists, although “River Kwai” would certainly make mine. I never had a connection with Wizard Of Oz or Gone With The Wind. Both of the movies just seem over the top, and where I can understand “Wizard” being loved for its music, “Gone With The Wind” just seems like a movie TRYING to be climactic at every moment. I think it gets old at about the three hour mark.

    • I love both those films and yet I can see why they would be someone else’s favorite and what you say about Gone With The Wind is completely reasonable. It feels that way to me too, but I give any movies that take place in the south a free pass to be mellow dramatic. I’ve never really been down south so I don’t know what it’s truly but in my mind, it’s all hot and sweaty, and wrought with crazy emotions and everything just being more intense! hahaha

  • I wouldn’t go as far as you with E.T. but I don’t revere it as much as many. I had it at 8 or 9 on my Top 10 Spielberg list. I have no desire to rewatch it which may be saying something.

    I actually like On The Waterfront but it does hinge on Brando’s performance. Though, I thought there was enough there that he took a good story and made it a great film.

    You know my CK opinion. That’s a better example of a great performance in a boring film. I actually don’t revere it but I wasn’t born in 1910 so who knows???

    Mine is always The Godfather which is a good film. Same as Godfather 2. Again, came out in a time before my birth. Yet I think alot of other films before my birth are superior films and AFI has it ranked at #2 all time currently which I don’t understand. Honestly, I’d rather watch Goodfellas for Gangsters and can’t help but like films near the AFI Top 10 (like Star Wars, Jaws, Raiders, Casablanca and even Schindler’s List) more.

    Again, good movie that I just feel people like more than they should. Certainly a Top 100 film but #2 or #3?

    Honestly, I think the entire AFI Top 100 is flawed in it’s rankings.

    I also just feel like a lot of film writers like a lot of these films because they feel they have to and that perturbs me. It’s why I started writing about films in the first place. Not to say that applies to anyone who regards Godfather in high esteem. Different movies connect with different people. I have unusual, unhealthy respect for films like Road House and The Negotiator. So, chances are, if you loved The Godfather, I’m not talking to you. But everyone knows a few movie snobs that cling to these films because of what critics and filmmakers before them have said. Boom!

    • Because Kai, movies aren’t always all about making some socially conscious point, or educating us, or some self righteous message. Sometimes movies are just about entertaining an individual, and if that individual spin kicks more often that necessary or does the splits on a counter or puts Michael Biehn in every film they make, and that is what makes a person happy then isn’t that also just as important, if anything even more important. Movies are my escape from reality. I have educated opinions, but I still watch movies to be entertained, if they don’t, they can piss of.

      I would just like to say how happy I am to read all the responses to this. I knew it could have gone over with negativity, but I’m please people are taking it in it’s intended form and sharing their own movies that they don’t particularly love either.


      • The best tool a film writer has is their honesty. If you’re not being honest, you’re not doing it right, and sometimes that means you’re going to end up not liking a classic.

    • The problem with the AFI list … is that it is exclusively American. Not all of cinema is american and the most groundbreaking films are generally NOT american. The US had an important time pre-1940 but they weren’t that groundbreaking again until the late 60’s/70’s.

      Personally, the Sight & Sound poll is a bit more encompassing. Any ideas of other polls which are more international?

      • Well, it is the American Film Institute.

        America and Hollywood were monumentally influential on almost all aspects of filmmaking, particularly during and post-war, with the near destruction of French, German, Italian and British studios. You don’t get French New Wave or New German cinema without the influx of Hollywood films. Not that American cinema is the only cinema, but it is among the most influential on a global scale. It’s possible to undervalue it just as much as overvaluing.

        Any poll is going to leave off something: why include Citizen Kane and not Lawrence of Arabia? Why are dramas usually prized over comedies? Why do we love French New Wave but not pre-war British? But arguing about what film was MORE influential is pointless, unless you’re talking about advances in technology (i.e. The Jazz Singer is a terrible movie but very important).

  • I agree on 1, kinda on 2, disagree on 3-5. Especially 5.

  • These are some bold choices. Of course, a list like this is bound to meet its detractors. Frankly, I have to disagree on each of these, except for one.

    5. Bridge on the River Kwai. Set the standard for POW film, which became very prevalent for a while before fading into oblivion. Alec Guiness is brilliant, and that whistling tune is iconic. But it’s a great story about the shades of grey that guide a soldier’s choices. Deep and thought-provoking. You are wrong to include this.

    4. On the Waterfront. Seriously? Besides the amazing performances of Brando and Steiger, this is Kazan at his best. While the allegory of the blackballing of Commies in Hollywood may be outdated, it’s still a brilliant piece and fascinating story. You are even more wrong to include this.

    3. Citizen Kane. No. In no way can this be on the list. I suppose many consider it the greatest film ever, which it is not, thus technically is overrated. But this is the standard by which all autuers have since followed. So ground-breaking in terms of non-chronological storytelling, having the main character be an anti-hero (or even a villian), and the very use of camera angles…. without Citizen Kane, there would be no Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, or anyone else awesome. This is truly a marvel in filmmaking. You are so, so wrong for including this.

    2. E.T. Have you no soul!?!? Have you a dark, dense lump of coal where your heart once beated!?!? What is wrong with you!?!? And how many Best Picture nominees contain the phrase “penis-breath”? Go reassess your life.

    1. West Side Story. This belongs here.

    My own five most overrated classics? In no particular order: Lawrence of Arabia, 2001: A Space Odyssey, West Side Story, The African Queen, The Apartment, and Forrest Gump.

  • I enjoyed E.T. as a kid and the other day, I caught the end of it and it brought me back to 80’s/90’s.

    Haven’t seen West Side Story but I can understand where you come from with The Bridge on the River Kwai. It certainly is a long movie.

    Fun list Heather!

  • i love west side story, but probably because of the place in my life it takes me back to, and the person who introduced it to me…which i think is true for a lot of film fans with a lot of different movies…dancing gang members aren’t really timeless, but the message behind the movie i think is…natalie wood is of course amazing, and i don’t really mind that it isn’t her singing…i do skip over “something’s coming”…and can understand why musical’s aren’t for everyone…

    as far as e.t…i hated this movie as a child…so sad…but as an adult and watching it with my kids, i have a new appreciation for it…

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