Eric D. Snider

Eric D. Snider's Blog

‘What’s the Big Deal?’ needs big deals

Thank you all for your suggestions for “Eric’s Bad Movies” a few weeks ago, and feel free to continue contributing ideas by posting comments in that thread. Now I come to you again seeking suggestions for my other column, “What’s the Big Deal?”

The criteria are completely different for this column. The idea behind “What’s the Big Deal?” is that there are many films the average person has heard of that are supposed to be “classics,” but that maybe the average person hasn’t seen. And sometimes you’ll watch one of those movies, expecting a classic, and when it’s over you think, “Well, that was OK. But what’s the big deal?” This column is meant to lay out what the big deal is.

My experience has been that if I plop down and watch some “classic” film for the first time, without any advance preparation, often I’ll come away underwhelmed. There’s a good reason for this. A movie from, say, 1960 wasn’t made for me. It was made for people in 1960. I don’t have the same frame of reference that the film’s intended audience would have had. So then I’ll read what other people have written about the movie and I’ll realize, oh, it was the first film to do this, or a good example of that, or it came out while this trend was popular, or while this topic was in the news, or whatever. Once I have some context, it increases my enjoyment of, and my appreciation for, the film.

Basically, I’m looking for movies that are generally regarded as “classics” or “important,” where the REASON they’re such a big deal isn’t obvious from watching it. Of course, greatness that seems self-evident to one viewer might be obscure to another — which is why I’m eager to hear readers’ suggestions for films that fall under the “What’s the Big Deal?” category for them.

Here’s what I wrote when I started the column, for further background.

Here’s a list of what I’ve covered already:

All About Eve (1950)
Annie Hall (1977)
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Breathless (1960)
Casablanca (1942)
Chinatown (1974)
Citizen Kane (1941)
City Lights (1931)
Days of Heaven (1978)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
Dracula (1931)
Easy Rider (1969)
8 1/2 (1963)
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (1966)
The Graduate (1967)
Jules and Jim (1962)
Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
M (1931)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Mr. Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
Nashville (1975)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Psycho (1960)
Raging Bull (1980)
Rashomon (1950)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Rules of the Game (1939)
The Searchers (1956)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
The Third Man (1949)
Touch of Evil (1958)
12 Angry Men (1957)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Vertigo (1958)
Z (1969)

80 Responses to “‘What’s the Big Deal?’ needs big deals”

  1. MattW Says:

    I’m no expert on what movies are classics, or are worth your “Big Deal” stamp, but here a few that I’d enjoy reading about:

    The Godfather
    Rear Window
    The 10 Commandments
    The Sound of Music
    Dirty Work

  2. JDay Says:

    Godfather II

  3. MJ Says:

    Do you count newer movies that seem to have achieved classic status? If so, I could never understand why “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was so popular, even though I really enjoy foreign films and especially Asian film.

  4. Turkey Says:

    “It Happened One Night.” I saw it, thought it was cute, and even funny in a couple of parts, but Best Picture? And Best In Everything Else the Academy Saw Fit to Create at That Time? What? Really? OK….

    Also, “Duck Soup.” I’m sure it’s superior and all that, but it looks so painfully boring I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch it. So please give me a reason (or three or four) to do so.

  5. Turkey Says:

    Also, I went back and read the original suggestions and I kinda-sorta second “Dr. Zhivago.” I second it because I don’t get what the big deal is AT ALL, and on the other hand, I don’t second it because I BLOODY HATED THAT FILM. It’s not even that it was just dull or left me underwhelmed as you said, it’s that I could actually feel my brain seeping out of my skull because I was so bored. I’ve never been so bored watching a movie in all my life, and this is coming from someone who fast-forwarded through “2001: a Space Odyssey” and slowed down only when somebody talked. That film is nothing but people staring for 55 hours straight. Staring at each other, staring at empty fields, staring at paint drying…. Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif (even a young Rod Steiger)! This should have been a wonderful movie with that cast. And yet, I want to reach into the film and beat everyone inside it with a crowbar.

    So you could explain that one. But I can’t guarantee I’d appreciate it even after that.

  6. Kyle Says:

    Apocalypse Now
    North by Northwest
    Ben Hur
    Seven Samurai
    Sunset Boulevard
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Blade Runner
    The Best Years of Our Lives
    Bridge on the River Kwai
    The Apartment
    Gone With the Wind
    King Kong (1933)
    Breakfast at Tiffany’s

  7. Joel Says:

    The Apartment is a good one. (As in, I want you to do an article on that so that more people see how good that movie is).
    The General (Buster Keaton)–tried to InstantWatch this the other day, but the version on Netflix has a terrible soundtrack to it, I think. Really sucked the life out of it.
    The 400 Blows
    Double Indemnity

  8. Carole Says:

    I second Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I think a lot of it watched it in high school because of the Deep Blue Something song, but then afterwards, most people were like “What’s the big deal?” So yes, ideal.

  9. Aaron Says:

    Cool Hand Luke

  10. BeeDub Says:

    The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

    Double Indemnity (1944)

    This is Spinal Tap (1984)

    Jaws (1975)

    Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

  11. Morgan D Says:

    Not to get lazy, but just about anything by Alfred Hitchcock is great and probably in need of explaining as well.

    Die Hard (1988?) Perhaps too modern and too copied to need an article.

    Bad Seed

    The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) And for some synergy you can do the Kevin Costner version for the “bad movies”.

    Ben Hur

    Fiddler on the Roof. (It gave me the same experience that Turkey described)

    The other two “man with no name” movies


    American Graffitti

  12. Hayley Says:

    Hitchcock seems to figure pretty highly on this list. I second North By Northwest, and also perhaps The 39 Steps?

  13. David Manning Says:

    I would have figured “The Birth of a Nation” would have been done by now, so I’m suggesting that.

  14. Amp Says:

    I third Breakfast at Tiffany’s, second Cool Hand Luke and Lawrence of Arabia, and add The Big Chill.

  15. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Ugh, you guys are gonna make me watch the super-long “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Dr. Zhivago,” aren’t you?

  16. Rob D. Says:

    No way to Cool Hand Luke! That movie was and still is a big deal. One of the best movies ever made. I’ll go with Clockwork Orange. I thought that movie was just pretty good.

  17. eneyone Says:

    ++ to any of those long epics — “El Cid” hasn’t been mentioned yet. My dad thinks it’s great and my wife and I stopped at intermission due to sheer boredom.

    Also, I’ll fourth “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (hint: don’t forget to mention the famous kissing in the rain scene. Was that the first?). Here’s a second to “American Graffiti” and “It Happened One Night” (same reaction as Turkey, and also shock and confusion at the fact that it didn’t really happen one night).

    Personally, I think most of Hitchcock holds up today, but maybe it’s just me.

    I don’t know if anyone has a hard time understanding the Big Deal on “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” but I saw it again recently and really did think it was a Big Deal, especially given the difficulty Spencer Tracy had doing it (he died not too long after, and Katherine Hepburn never watch the finished product due to her emotions for Tracy, at least thus saith the Wikipedia), and his providing the inspiration for Up’s main character.

  18. Amp Says:

    @Rob D, I think that’s why Eric should do it. Everyone knows it, and that it’s great, but after watching it I know I, for one, thought, “What’s all the fuss?” (Okay. I really thought, “What’s the big deal?” but that phrase has gotten a lot of use lately.)
    And Eric, if I can sit through Lawrence of Arabia (which I did) I think you can. I really, really want to know why ANYONE likes that movie. In the words of my mother-in-law, it felt like torture.
    I want to cast another vote for Seven Samurai. I know it’s had quite an influence, but I just wasn’t impressed when I saw it.

  19. B Says:

    I think you should do some Anime. My suggestions, therefor:
    My Neighbor Totoro
    Grave of the Fireflies.

  20. Biff Miffle Says:

    Some of the Coen Brothers movies, particularly Fargo.

    Also, Battleship Potemkin.

  21. JD Dancer Says:

    Full Metal Jacket?

  22. Jacob Says:


    WHAT?!? How could you not see that “Best Years of our Lives” is a big deal? It’s . . . I can’t even describe how lost I am but that inclusion!

  23. Another Eric Says:

    Ben-Hur and Lawrence of Arabia are favorites of mine that need no explanation, but I’d still enjoy seeing a couple of pieces about them.

    Fiddler on the Roof, Bridge over the River Kwai, and The Sound of Music are others I enjoyed but would still be interested in reading about.

    Ones I would second, or third, etc:
    Apocalypse Now
    Blade Runner
    Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    The Godfather (both I and II)

    And some that haven’t been mentioned yet, but really, what’s the big deal?

    An American in Paris
    Chariots of Fire
    Dr. Strangelove

  24. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Another Eric, could you tell us what it is that you love about “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Ben-Hur”?

    For that matter, anyone who has a suggestion along the lines of “It seems obvious to me why this is a big deal, but an article might be good,” feel free to elaborate. Jacob, why is “Best Years of Our Lives” so worthy of its Big Deal status? Rob, why is “Cool Hand Luke” such a no-brainer?

    Also: I don’t think there are any anime films that are enough of a Big Deal in the first place. They don’t ever show up on the “all time classics” or “1,000 best movies ever made” lists. I’m not saying there aren’t any that are good enough to be Big Deals, just that none are recognized as such.

  25. Scholarastastic Says:

    I’ll also throw in a request for “American Graffitti,” I watched it with my roommate when she watched the movie for a class assignment and we both were confused about its Big Deal-ness.

  26. Rob D. Says:

    Cool Hand Luke is a no-brainer of being worthy of it’s status. To me, that is a top 10 movie of all time. I’ve seen many Paul Newman movies but I think that this is his best work. George Kennedy is also great and was the perfect guy to play Luke’s enemy/friend. Besides the great acting, The movie is full of raw emotion. You really feel for Luke throughout. It’s tough for a movie to get us to truly care for its main character since they only have under 2 hours to do it. We do care though! Maybe it’s because of Newman’s acting, but it’s also a script that doesn’t go all Hollywood on us. If that movie was made today, it wouldn’t have been so subtle and realistic. In a 2010 version…….. I’m sure Luke would have escaped, got the women, and sent a postcard from Vegas or Hawaii. Everyone would have left the theater with a smile on their face but it wouldn’t have a been a big deal. I’ll take tears and emotion in a realistic movie that makes you feel something.

  27. Morgan D Says:

    Actually most of my movies I listed are along the lines of “I know why its awesome but…”. I simply put them because I’m kind of a dweeb and kind of “do my homework” or just read reviews over at rottentomatoes about a movie before I watch it. So other people who have a life and may not read some articles before hand might benefit from this. I also haven’t taken any film history or film studies classes so I want to see what a “pro” says about the movies I think are great, and see if my amateur opinions hold up.

  28. Amp Says:

    An American in Paris is a great one for this column. It was great! Until the end, and then it went nuts. And I left confused.

  29. Josie Says:

    Umbrellas of Cherbourg, please! I had to watch it for a film class, and loved it, but my husband just scratched his head and looked at me oddly.

  30. Adam Says:

    I enjoyed your review of Zardoz in Eric’s bad movies, but I was thinking you could also do it for What’s the big deal. It would be more for humor though.

  31. Tertium Squid Says:

    I submit in all seriousness that Star Wars: A New Hope is a worthy subject, as so much has changed since it came out. Write it for people born after 1985.


    The Conversation
    American Graffiti

  32. Ryan Says:

    The Grand Illusion
    Seven Samurai
    The 400 Blows
    Beauty and the Beast (1946)
    Picnic at Hanging Rock
    The Wages of Fear
    The Red Shoes
    Black Narcissus
    Black Orpheus
    The Passion of Joan of Arc
    The Last Temptation of Christ
    The Bank Dick
    The Vanishing
    Solaris (1972)

  33. suzann Says:

    The Philadelphia Story-1940
    It’s supposed to be a classic romantic comedy, but I didn’t find it funny… I wondered at the time what I was missing. Maybe you can figure it out.

  34. Nick Says:

    Night of the Living Dead. More or less the first modern horror film. Similar reasoning for the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, though perhaps neither of those are high brow enough for such a column. And, continuing the horror theme, The Exorcist, as it was a damn big phenom at the time yet I suspect many modern viewers will be pretty nonplussed. Ditto the original Dawn of the Dead as another horror film sure to come of as quite bizarre and perhaps off putting to most modern viewers.

    High Noon for the whole McCarthyism angle and the later reply in Rio Bravo.

    Taxi Driver as the major breakout for Scorsese and Schrader, though perhaps this is redundant with the Raging Bull article.

    Pulp Fiction or Reservior Dogs. Obviously these are fairly new, but the post-modern style is so common now that uninformed viewers may not see the innovation.

    Jaws as Spielberg’s first big hit, defining the notion of the blockbuster etc.

    The Maltese Falcon. Debatably the first noir. Substantially defined the roots of the genre, at least.

    The Deer Hunter. One of the first Vietnam movies, particularly deals with the effects in America. Apocalypse Now for similar reasons, plus the crazy story behind it etc.

    Blood Simple. Debut from the Coens, neo-noir, early example of vaguely postmodern filmmaking. Miller’s Crossing or Fargo would also work.

  35. Kimjustkim Says:

    I second (or third or fourth) The Godfather. Zero interest in that film.

  36. thursowick Says:

    “Gandhi” was a huge deal when I was in high school, yet I never watched it. I tried to watch it many years later when it was on TV, but I didn’t get into it and so I quit watching. I’ve always felt like I probably missed out by not seeing it. Did I? Is it a big deal?

  37. Joe Says:

    It’s A Wonderful Life

  38. Binky Says:

    Please, for the love of people, why is “Soylent Green” a classic?

    For that matter, I also don’t get the big dealishness of sci-fi classics “Planet of the Apes” or “Omega Man.” It’s a “What’s the Big Deal” Chuck Heston trifecta.

  39. Kathleen Says:

    I second Metropolis. Pretty goofy and very much a head trip. I liked it, but my dad thought it was the Zardoz of the twenties and I can sort of see where he’s coming from.

    The Maltese Falcon! There have been so many films noir since that it might not seem that special.

    The Public Enemy. Very early gangster movie that, again, might not seem special to a modern audience that has seen umpteen hundred gangster movies. Also, it’s pre-Code, so that’s also significant.

  40. Katherine Says:

    The Thin Man, of course. All the 1930s style with none of the 1930s depression. Plus everyone has incredible outfits and drink and drink but never get drunk.

  41. Stacy Says:

    I donno if there are absolutely NO anime “Big Deals”… Akira would also be my suggestion, if there WAS one. From everyone I’ve heard talk about it, it’s always been hyped as this really great movie and it has an 88 percent on RT, which surprised me. I would really like that one explained to me, but I would understand why this one wouldn’t make your list. Another possibility would be Princess Mononoke, a movie which I feel brought anime more into the mainstream in America, but although it is a beautiful movie, it is certainly not obvious from watching it WHY so many Americans liked it compared to other animes.

  42. Mike Says:

    I would nominate Bullitt which is seen as one of the benchmarks for action movies or at least my film professors deemed it so.

    Also you mention above that no anime have achieved “Big Deal” status yet. I disagree. Akira is mentioned a few times by other writiers on this post. It is considered by many to be the best anime of all time. I do not agree but it certainly has enough criticism written about it to match or best others already used for your column.

    One writier mentioned Princess Mononoke by Hideo Miyazaki and while that is a great film, I feel if you were to use one of his films, Spirited Away would probably be a better candidate.

  43. maxfrost Says:

    Duck Soup, dir. Leo McCarey (1933)
    Brazil, dir. Terry Gilliam (1985)
    A Man for All Seasons, dir. Fred Zinneman (1966)
    Au Revoir, Les Enfants, dir. Louis Malle (1987)
    Seven Samurai, dir. Akira Kurosawa (1954)
    Sid and Nancy, dir. Alex Cox (1986)
    Stardust Memories, dir. Woody Allen (1980)
    Matewan, dir. John Sayles (1987)
    Wings of Desire, dir. Wim Wenders (1987)
    Broadway Danny Rose, dir. Woody Allen (1984)
    Un Chien Andalou, dir. Luis Buñuel (1929)
    Touchez Pas au Grisbi, dir. Jacques Becker (1954)

  44. Danae Says:

    Cool Hand Luke.
    Why was that supposed to be so exciting? It made me want to fall asleep.

  45. Morgan D Says:

    Forgot to mention Blade Runner.

  46. jefers Says:

    I nominate The Fugitive

  47. Duke of Earl Grey Says:

    Alien (1979)
    Saving Private Ryan

    And you haven’t done Jaws, really?

  48. Ryan Says:

    Nosferatu (1922)
    Sherlock Jr. (1924)
    Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
    The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
    Vampyr (1932)
    The 39 Steps (1935)
    Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
    Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
    Out of the Past (1947)
    Night of the Hunter (1955)
    Rififi (1955)
    The Trial (1962)
    The Man who Shot Liberty Valence (1962)
    Le Circle Rouge (1970)

  49. Another Eric Says:

    Since I was asked, my single favorite thing about both Ben-Hur and Lawrence of Arabia is the music. Neither movie would grab me without it. Cinematography and acting come after that (especially for Lawrence), and Ben-Hur’s portrayal of Jesus is my favorite of any film, which I would credit mostly to the director.

  50. Marc Says:

    Seven Samurai – I really didn’t understand the appeal of this movie after I saw it, even though I understand that it was a film that influenced dozens of American filmakers.

    Metropolis – With the new footage found last year, this might be a good time to discuss this film.

    Birth of a Nation – Helped establish film grammar. Nothing special today, but was the Citizen Kane of its time.

    Blade Runner – It looks great and all, but this film did nothing for me. However, I did get the feeling watching it that I was missing something. One of those movies like Unforgiven, that might need to be seen twice to be fully appreciated. I would be interested in your thoughts on this movie in particular.

    I have to disagree on what you said about anime films, not that I am a great fan of them myself, because I’m not. I think most of them are full of shoddy animation that is passed off as ‘style’. BUT…you need to see Grave of the Fireflies. Ebert considers one of the greatest films ever made, animated or not. His great movies essay about it is very insightful, and the film itself is amazing.

    Once upon a time in the West OR Once upon a time in America – Once upon a time in the west is like a more artsy version of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I can understand how it would try someones patience, but it is a fantastic allegory of the death of the west. More people need to know about it.

  51. Mike Suskie Says:

    No one’s suggested Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress yet? It’s basically because of that movie that Star Wars exists, as George Lucas has cited the plot and characters as major inspirations for the trilogy. Definitely one to consider in my mind.

  52. Jarred Says:

    I’m not sure if this is a stupid suggestion, but I’d be very interested to see your What’s The Big Deal take on The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I mean, I know why it’s insanely raved over, I’ve watched it a number of unhealthy times, but I’d like to know from a technical, or political/social point of view, what the big deal about this film is. I know it deserves it’s big deal, I’ve just never known how to verbalize it’s dig-bealness…big-dealness.

  53. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Again, I’m not saying there aren’t some excellent anime films. There are. What I’m saying (again) is that none of them seem to have made it into the pantheon of films considered “classic” or “best ever made.” Looking at all the lists I can find of “1,000 greatest films of all time” or “1,000 classics to see before you die,” I don’t see ANY anime films listed. They don’t show up in film magazines’ top-100 polls, either. However excellent some of them may be — however much they may DESERVE to be in the canon — they aren’t yet. They’d be suitable for a column called “Underappreciated Classics” or “Movies That Are Great That Don’t Usually Get Listed on ‘Greatest’ Lists,” but not for “What’s the Big Deal?”

  54. Binky Says:

    “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” I just watched it and it felt like the movie equivalent of required reading in high school. I’m not seeing the big deal.

  55. Edna t Says:

    Labyrinth 1986 and the dark crystal 1982. My husband raves about these two films that “they’re awesome!”. No big deal… fact…..pretty bad.

  56. Marc Says:

    @ Eric

    Fair enough. I’ll substitute Patton for it then. Other than George C. Scott’s performance, I can’t understand the appeal of that movie.

  57. Rico Suave Says:

    Eric – if you’ve ever listened to my advice before and found it useful, you will listen to me know and do Napolean Dynamite. There is a huge divide between the people that like it and the people who don’t get what the big deal is that you might be the only person uniquely qualified to explain it.

  58. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Well, “Napoleon Dynamite” is only a Big Deal in that some people find it funny. Those people don’t consider it one of the best films ever made, or hugely important or influential or anything like that. They just like it because it makes them laugh. And the people who don’t find it funny, it’s not that they’re missing something that needs to be explained, something that would make them say, “Oh, I get it! Now it’s funny!” It just doesn’t make them laugh. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

  59. sue-bob Says:

    I 2nd/3rd/4th/whatever:
    – It Happened One Night (ditto: funny, but all those oscars?)
    – Duck Soup (or any Marx brothers movie- I want to find them funny but I don’t. changing comedy tastes? influential?)
    – Breakfast at Tiffany’s
    – Coen brothers’ Blood Simple
    – An American In Paris
    – High Noon (LOVE it now, but very bored the first time I watched it + as someone else said, the surounding history is interesting)
    – The Maltease Falcon (same as High Noon, it has a lot of awesome lines/moments you only notice the second time around + it’s influential + good example of an excellent book adaptation. Everyone I know, who’s just seen it for the first time, has gone “er, that’s it?”)
    – The Apartment (One of my favourite ever movies, but I think some people expect its tone to be darker/heavier and won’t watch + Wilder’s other movies get more press inc’ Some Like It Hot which I’ve often seen as number one on ‘Best Ever Comedy’ critic’s countdowns. How does it compare?) + on that note, Some Like It Hot.

    I’d like to add:
    – Guess Who’se Coming To Dinner? (still relevant? product of it’s time?)
    – Bringing Up Baby
    – To Kill A Mockingbird (an amazing adaptation? worthy of all those oscars? really?)
    – and…er…Spirited Away. *hangs head in shame*. Maybe it’s just too early for this one. But I have seen it on best movie countdowns (maybe that’s just in England) and it’s been very influential in making anime accessable to regular western moviegoers. When it originally came out I remember a TV movie reviewer making a big fuss of how many screens it was on (i think the widest uk release Miyazaki had at that point, but I’m not certain), then it won an Oscar and BAFTA and our local Blockbuster put up a whole shelf of copies and ordered in a couple of older Ghibli movies. A couple of years later Warners re/released Ghibli’s movies, dubbed by Hollywood movie stars, with matching covers. For over a decade, at least one terrestrial television network has played dubbed (and sometimes subtitled) Ghibli movies in the middle of the day like any other kid’s movie: I saw Kiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso this way. Now I see teenagers with Totoro backpacks and it’s IMDB’s number fifty-five on the top two-hundred and fifty.
    However, I can see that Spirited Away might not have made enough critics ‘best ever’ lists and might not have been out long enough. ————(…i guess…what I’m trying to say…is…I don’t know why I spent five minutes writing that…maybe if you’re doing a similar colum in ten years it’ll make that)

    Eric- Have you thought about doing a similar colum for cult movies? You could focus it more on the kind of movies that don’t have a wide enough following to make this list (i.e. Swimming With Sharks, Repo Man, etc) and movies too new to make ‘best ever/most influential’ lists (i.e. LA Confidential, Momento, etc). People could suggest favourite movies they think deserve a larger audience and/or cult movies they tried but didn’t get into, perhaps your review could be like a personal decider/recommendation.

  60. sue-bob Says:

    Wow, that’s a long post.

    Sorry for the many spelling errors. I tried to indent and accidently posted.

  61. Cascaderick Says:

    High Noon

  62. Tertium Squid Says:


    You know you want to.

  63. Jarred Says:

    I just considered Lost In Translation as a film that’s widely praised but after it, I thought, “Meh, what’s the big deal?” I can only imagine that it was unique at the time with its sleepy pace, and its ability to be soft without being too sentimental…I don’t have much of a professional idea of what made that film so “great” according to all the lists I’ve seen it appear on. Okay. That’s just another suggestion.

  64. Amp Says:

    I’ll put in a vote for you to do something about anime. None of the movies may be on ‘best ever’ lists, but as a whole, the genre has certainly been popular and influential. If you could take the best example of anime and use that to explain the phenomena in general, I could finally figure out what, exactly, the big deal with anime is. Am I even spelling ‘anime’ right?

  65. Kathleen Says:

    Guys, seriously, we may like anime, but give it a rest.

    Also, is there some kind of a cutoff or guideline in terms of how old it is, just for reference? Some people are suggesting really young movies and it’s probably too early to know how influential most of them are/will be.

  66. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Lost in Translation: “I can only imagine that it was unique at the time with its sleepy pace, and its ability to be soft without being too sentimental”

    “Unique at the time”?? You mean the faraway era of 2003? :-)

  67. King Kool Says:

    The original D.O.A. from 1950.

  68. Randy Tayler Says:

    In the mood for racism? Who’s not! Then let me suggest “Birth of a Nation”, which made films into major events, AND revived the KKK. That D.W. Griffiths sure knows how to have a good time!

  69. Ben Says:

    Seven Samurai
    Lawrence of Arabia
    Paths of Glory
    North by Northwest

    The Princess Bride
    This is Spinal Tap
    Inception (haha)

  70. osrevad Says:

    I think that The African Queen might be good movie.

  71. Ang Says:

    Nothing original to add except my vote for:

    Seven Samurai (never could sit through it)
    High Noon (can’t even make myself try)
    Umbrella’s of Cherbourg (I love it, would love to know more about its context, and can imagine some people being unimpressed by French people singing about umbrellas.).

  72. Jarred Says:

    Oh Wow, how embarrassing for me…
    I actually have no intellectual response.
    Except here: you see, Lost In Translation was nominated for all these Academy Awards (Best Picture; Best Actor; Best Director) and for all those nominations, I cannot see what the big deal was…how was Bill Murray’s performance worthy of Best Actor, how was the directing worthy of Best Director, etc.
    These are not snide remarks here…
    These are genuine questions.
    You see?
    Have I won you over yet?

  73. Eric D. Snider Says:

    Jarred: Don’t worry, you’re definitely not alone in wondering What the Big Deal Is about “Lost in Translation.” Your comment about it being unique “at the time” just amused me. I recently heard a teenager refer to “Gladiator” — which came out in 2000 — as an “old” movie. And then I thought of this Onion article:

    Classic Movie ‘Avatar’ Updated For Today’s Audiences

  74. Neil S. Cody Says:

    Sixteen Candles.

    This film isn’t that old but I’ve heard it lovingly quoted and referenced in popular culture since my childhood. At 28 years old, I’m not exactly a stranger to 80’s cinema, but this one’s always described as a quintessential “80’s movie;” a perfect snapshot of its time.

    Long story short, I saw Sixteen Candles on cable today for the first time and my reaction was a sort of semi-enthused “meh.” Eric, I’m sure your audience would be interested (and I know I am) in your affection or lack thereof.

  75. Binky Says:

    I’d love to get some perspective on “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” because it is a deal that I do not get.

  76. Jacob Says:

    Good heavens, you leave for a little less than a week, and look what happens . . .

    And Eric, in retrospect, probably the fact that I’m a History nerd who first watched it after taking a class on History as seen through Literature. So, I could be wrong about it’s universal appeal. To me, however, it’s the first big film to tackle PTSD in all its forms, the many changes which would come to American society, and it presaged the Baby Boom. However, although it beat (if memory serves) It’s a Wonderful Life, Olivier’s incredible Henry the Fifth, and something I can’t remember starring Gregory Peck at the Oscars (despite lacking the star-power of these), it is not seen as a classic. None of my current coworkers have seen it; for only one is the name even “vaguely familiar.
    Entonces, I recant my previous position. I’d love to see you cover it.


    PS: OH, and don’t forget — what other movie features Hoagy Carmichael teaching piano to a double-amputee? I’m not a film historian, but what other films feature double amputees in any form, much less played by an actual amputee, not an actor in prosthetics? I love this film.

  77. Brett Says:

    First, a disclaimer. I love many of the movies I am about to list. But I also know many people who react surprised when I mention them as awesome or as a must-see. There are a few here that I wonder about too. I bet you can’t guess which ones!

    The Big Lebowski
    Star Wars
    Night of the Hunter
    Double Indemnity
    Dr. Strangelove
    Sunset Blvd.
    French Connection
    When Harry Met Sally

  78. moo Says:

    How about all the classic Spielberg films;

    Close encounters of the third kind
    Raiders of the lost ark

    They’re all revered, but I mostly remember ET and Close encounters as ones that used to put me to sleep as a kid.

    I think he’s way overrated as a director (not a bad one, mind you and hes a great producer, just… overrated director).

  79. Pelotinus Says:

    This is a list which is more an excuse to watch again these films:
    Duck Soup – Leo McCarey / Marx Bros.
    Blade Runner – Ridley Scott.
    The Tales of Hoffmann and/or The Red Shoes and/or Black Narcissus and/or Peeping Tom – Michael Powell – Emeric Pressburger (come on, you’ve made Hitchcock and Truffaut twice, but no Michael Powell?)
    Brazil – Terry Gilliam.
    Metropolis – Fritz Lang.
    Once Upon a Time in the West and/or Once Upon a Time in America – Sergio Leone (it wouldn’t hurt to review Duck, You Sucker, but it’s not as known as these two).
    I don’t know if “Cannibal Holocaust” (Ruggero Deodato) fits as a Big Deal (or as a movie you would watch and/or tell anyone to watch), but maybe it’s interesting for a debate.

  80. Nessie Says:

    North by Northwest. Please explain how this was #4 ont eh list of 4th most thrilling movies of all time. I was more thrilled by Pocahontas.

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