The A List: The National Society of Film Critics' 100 Essential Films

The A List: The National Society of Film Critics' 100 Essential Films

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by Jay Carr

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The 100 essential films of all time (you might be surprised what they are) and why they matter (you might be surprised about that, too).  See more details below


The 100 essential films of all time (you might be surprised what they are) and why they matter (you might be surprised about that, too).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Perhaps it's the relative youth of the medium, but there's something about film that inspires the endless creation of lists. In the latest attempt at canon making, the National Society of Film Critics has compiled 100 of the most essential not necessarily best films of all time. Each choice is defended in a brief essay by a prominent critic like Peter Travers, Morris Dickstein or J. Hoberman. The films range from predictable giants Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bonnie and Clyde, Star Wars, The Godfather to more idiosyncratic selections like The Exorcist and Schindler's List. The critics convincingly argue that there is something artistically important about each of these pictures. The essays are often personal (with a refreshing absence of grandiloquent commentary), making the choices hard to dispute, even though heated debates are precisely what the book means to inspire. Dave Kehr's piece on Birth of a Nation and Eleanor Ringel's on Gone with the Wind show why these films, as racist as they are, deserve inclusion. Among the personal anecdotes is Roger Ebert's recollection of seeing The Battleship Potemkin, the classic Soviet revolutionary film, outdoors on a summer night in Michigan. While not every film lover will devour it cover to cover, these individual takes on old favorites make this good reading and a handy resource. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The films here are listed alphabetically, and range from Annie Hall and Breathless to La Dolce Vita, Double Indemnity, High Noon, Fargo and The Wizard of Oz. Most of the movies are well known, but a few art house or historical favorites show up too. Commentaries are only a few pages long, and contributors lean heavily toward accessible writers, more daily newspaper reviewers (like ex-Boston Globe critic Carr) than, say, essayists for Film Comment. I'm not sure why The Boston Herald reviewer gets included and a legend like Pauline Kael does not, but the lack of esoteric focus on critics and films should help make this a good book for film courses and budding film aficionados. KLIATT Codes: SA�Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Perseus, Da Capo Press, 352p., Levinson
Library Journal
These two volumes by Ebert, possibly America's most famous film critic, and by the American Association of Film Critics, a group that includes Ebert essentially define the canon of American film studies. Both volumes provide short essays on 100 different films. Although one list has been chosen by a group of film writers and critics after much discussion and dissent and the other is a highly personal compendium of "landmarks of the first century of cinema," the lists are stunningly similar. Together, they provide a survey of the American and foreign films that have provoked the most interest in American film critics. It would be fair to note that American films dominate, with American productions accounting for 50-60 percent of the titles in both volumes and the rest of the world being represented by an assortment of European works and a handful of Asian films. Ebert's essays are culled from his weekly feature in the Chicago Sun Times (check out the paper's web site to read the essays); The A List entries are written by a number of well-known film writers, including Carr, Andrew Sarris, Robert Sklar, and Armond White. The essays in both books are well written, accessible, and, in many cases, thought-provoking. Whether both books are necessary purchases is another matter. It is unlikely that any moderately comprehensive collection will need another couple of essays about Citizen Kane; 2001, A Space Odyssey; or Battleship Potemkin. However, the collections do discuss many lesser-known films, such as Dance, Girl Dance; Happy Together; and the British "Up" documentaries, and so could be a wonderful introduction to 20th-century cinema for the general reader. Both books are recommended for academic and public libraries, though the fact that Ebert's essays have already been published and in circulation for some years recommends The A List over The Great Movies if a choice has to be made. Andrea Slonosky, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Da Capo Press
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A List: The National Society of Film Critics' 100 Essential Films 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very helpful book that list 100 of the greatest films ever made and what makes them so important. The essays written on each film are in depth, but never boring. The films were selected by the National Society of Film Critics, which is a very distinguished entity. I would trust their judgement as I agree with many of their choices for landmark films. Some of the films included in the book are the 1915 silent/French cinematic triumph 'Les Vampires', 1955's 'Rebel Without a Cause', and 1960's 'Psycho'. Highly recommended!