Godfather or Apocalypse?
Following unasked in the footsteps of some others on the internet, I am making my 10 Best Movies in History List.
My life has been like an ongoing Sophie’s Choice for the past two hours as I try to winnow the history of all the movies I love down to just 10 (I may have to make it 20). But one rule guiding the winnowing process that seems inarguably fair is that if you are going to pick just ten (or 20) films from all of history, you can’t have more than one by any given director.
And that rule leads directly to the eternal question: The Godfather or Apocalypse Now?
Here’s how I lay out the conundrum: The Godfather, technically perfect, flawless structure and execution, masterfully restrained and epic at once - wins on points. Apocalypse on the other hand - insanely grandiose, overreaching, exploding from the screen - wins in some rounds so completely and awesomely that it all but scores a TKO.
Clearly, if my restrictions were relaxed, both films could make a top 20 or even a top 10. But without rules in life, there is nothing to separate us from the beasts. And so only one may stand. Should we reward Apocalypse for insane ambition even with its overreaches, or do we take Godfather as perhaps the most perfectly executed of films?
Few other directors pose this stark a conundrum. With Scorsese for instance, I feel like choosing between Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Mean Streets and - for me - King of Comedy, is clearly a matter of taste and each Scorsese fan will naturally gravitate to one of those, and gravitating to one, few would feel that more than one need to be included. Somehow any one of those does speak to the body of work, whereas in the case of Godfather and Apocalypse, the singular overwhelming achievements almost leap above their creator’s personal portfolio.
For Spielberg, a case could be made for either Jaws or Raiders, although I wouldn’t make it for the latter.
Kubrick has half a dozen films that would sit comfortably on anyone’s list but again, I think preference will dictate a clear spokesman from the pack.
Hitchcock or John Ford fans might have a very hard time choosing just one, but again, as there are so many clear threads tying their oeuvres together, I don’t think many could demand that more than one be included.
Billy Wilder: the choice between Sunset Blvd and Some Like It Hot is a tough one. Both very different movies. One really can’t speak for the other. And both near the upper ranks of any list worth anything.
Stand by for the blockbuster list!