Why so serious?


Compare lists from the British Film Institute, the IDS staff and IU Cinema Director Jon Vickers. Buy Photos

Why not? The IDS staff has grown up in a media world saturated with stories of economic turmoil, a campus full of political unrest and box offices dominated by superheroes.

“The Dark Knight” trilogy paints a big binaristic picture of civilian uprising and government corruption, with a cape thrown in for good measure.

Compared to the largely introspective movies in the top 10 of the British Film Institute’s Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time, “The Dark Knight” trilogy seems as brash as it is. So do the rest of our blockbuster selections.

The IDS poll might growl, “I am arthouse’s reckoning.”

Pretentious generalizations aren’t called for because top 10 lists can only tell us so much. But, the differences between the BFI and IDS top 10 lists are at least a little revealing.

The BFI top 10 list only includes films released before 1970.

The oldest film on the IDS list is “The Godfather,” from 1972. “Star Wars” is the only other entry released before 1994.

These results are not too surprising from a random selection of journalistically-minded undergraduates. Many of the movies on the IDS list are found far and wide on the Facebook pages of 1990s-kids and the IMDb top 25.

The IDS top 10 better represents what movies casual filmgoers love.

Many of the arthouse classics and cinema forerunners on the BFI list deserve the prestige they’re afforded. I’m not gonna pretend like “8½” doesn’t floor me every time I watch it.

Even so, blockbuster juggernauts like “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings” deserve equal accolades for delivering movie escapism at its most digestible and epic.

I’d love to see the late Chris Marker’s masterful “Sans Soleil” in the IDS top 10. I’d also love to see “Titanic” in the BFI top 10.

Sure, you’d never expect the most prestigious movie list in the world to rank “Avatar” up there with “Tokyo Story.”

That’s why the BFI list stinks to me. It stinks of critical stagnation and traditionalism.

Have there really not been any cinematic achievements in the past 40 years that equal the BFI’s top 10 of yesteryear? The IDS top 10 draws from students who care about the classics, students who seek out unconventional cinema and students who admitted they were far from film buffs.

Our very pop top 10 fills in some of the gaps in the BFI list.

I’m proud there’s room on our list for Hayao Miyazaki’s soaring anime “Spirited Away” and Disney’s feel-good football flick “Remember the Titans.”

These movies share the same searches for self that characterize the best of the BFI’s top 10. Movie lists should collect cinematic experiences that best move us to think and rethink ourselves.

These movies help us to escape the oppression of the mundane. They inspire us to challenge real structural oppressions. They replenish us after long days.

Maybe it’s critically embarrassing our staff crowned a movie trilogy completed this summer the best cinema they’ve ever seen.

Maybe it’s just as suspect for hundreds of critics and filmmakers to disregard the myriad achievements of contemporary cinema, pop or not.

In the best top 10, there’s room for Eisenstein and Spielberg, Cameron and Tarkovsky. I’m proud the IU Cinema shows similar interest in screening pop, pulp and prestige. I also appreciate the BFI list for introducing great films to the masses.

Still, I think the BFI’s contributors should have some blockbuster greats reintroduced to them by the masses they hope to influence.

Come on, BFI, why so serious?

BFI list

The BFI released its prestigious "Sight & Sound" poll at the beginning of August. The list comes out every 10 years and compiles the greatest movies of all time according to hundreds of filmmakers, academics and critics.

10. (1963)
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1927)
8. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
7. The Searchers (1956)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
4. La Règle du jeu (1939)
3. Tokyo Story (1953)
2. Citizen Kane (1941)
1. Vertigo (1958)

IDS Staff list
The IDS Top 10 was compiled from the lists of about 20 editors and staffers.

10. Forrest Gump (1994)
9. Remember the Titans (2000)
8. Star Wars (1977)
7. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-3)
6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
5. The Godfather (1972)
4. Spirited Away (2001)
3. The Lion King (1994)
2. Titanic (1997)
1. The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-12)

IU Cinema Director Jon Vickers' list
Of the 30 unranked films Vickers listed, we’ve chosen an interesting pick for each decade represented, with an additional choice for the 1990s, Vickers’ most represented decade.

Greed (1924)
Modern Times (1936)
The Third Man (1949)
Touch of Evil (1958)
The Leopard (1963)
Chinatown (1974)
Raging Bull (1980)
Wild At Heart (1990)
Taste of Cherry (1998)
The White Ribbon (2009)

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