June 22, 2008

What are the new classics?

Entertainment Weekly does a very nice job of ranking the new classics — movies, TV, etc. — from the last 25 years. From the movie list:
1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
10. Moulin Rouge (2001)
11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
12. The Matrix (1999)
13. GoodFellas (1990)
14. Crumb (1995)
15. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
16. Boogie Nights (1997)
17. Jerry Maguire (1996)
18. Do the Right Thing (1989)
19. Casino Royale (2006)
23. Memento (2001)
24. A Room With a View (1986)
32. Fight Club (1999)
33. The Breakfast Club (1985)
34. Fargo (1996)
44. The Player (1992)
77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
91. Back to the Future (1985)
From the TV list:
1. The Simpsons, Fox, 1989-present
2 The Sopranos, HBO (1999-2007)
3 Seinfeld, NBC (1989-98)
5 Sex and the City, HBO (1998-2004)
6 Survivor, CBS (2000-present)
12 South Park, Comedy Central (1997-present)
14 The Daily Show, Comedy Central (1996-present)
17 The Office (U.K. version), BBC2 (2001-03)
18 American Idol, Fox (2002-present)
21 Roseanne, ABC (1988-97)
22 The Real World, MTV (1992-present)
28 The Larry Sanders Show, HBO (1992-98)
30 Late Show With David Letterman, CBS (1993-present)
38 Beavis and Butt-head, MTV (1993-97)
39 Six Feet Under, HBO (2001-05)
43 Late Night With Conan O'Brien, NBC (1993-present)
45 Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO (2000-present)
49 Twin Peaks, ABC (1990-91)
55. Pee-wee's Playhouse, CBS (1986-90)
63. Mystery Science Theater 3000, Comedy Central (1989-96), Sci Fi (1997-99)
64. The Osbournes, MTV (2002-05)
69. The Colbert Report, Comedy Central (2005-present)
75. Project Runway, Bravo (2004-present)
79. The Comeback, HBO (2005)
83. Absolutely Fabulous, BBC2 (1992), BBC1 (1994-2004)
From the book list:
4. The Liars' Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
(The book list is heavily weighted toward fiction.)

From the style list:

1. Madonna at the MTV Video Music Awards (1984)
2. Sarah Jessica Parker in the opening credits of Sex and the City (1998)
3. Michael Jackson in the ''Thriller'' video (1983)
4. Sharon Stone at the Oscars (1996)
5. Kurt Cobain and grunge style (1991)
7. Amy Winehouse's frocks, bold bras, and sky-high bouffant (2007)
13. Tom Cruise's Ray-Bans and tighty whities in Risky Business (1983)
16. Courtney Love's vintage slip dresses, Mary Janes, and home-grown dye jobs (1995)
17. The leather trenches and Neo-style shades in The Matrix (1999)
48. The goth look of Robert Smith and the Cure (1987)
From the tech list:
3. TiVo (1999)
4. iPod (2001)
5. YouTube (2005)
7. Digital Video Cameras for Consumers (1995)
9. Satellite-Radio Stations (2001)
From the video games:
1. Tetris (1985)
Ha ha. Sorry, I'm old!

From the stage list:
21. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (1998)
Sorry, I've seen a lot of these — the most expensive of these cultural pleasures — and didn't like them very much.

Romantic gestures (these aren't numbered for some reason):
• John Cusack blasts Peter Gabriel outside Ione Skye's window in 1989's Say Anything...
• Ewan McGregor breaks into ''Your Song'' while wooing Nicole Kidman in 2001's Moulin Rouge (2001).
• After her beloved Pedro (Marco Leonardi) dies making love to her in Like Water for Chocolate, Tita (Lumi Cavazos) eats matches, literally igniting her inner flame and burning her whole ranch to the ground.
Movie posters (pictured here):
The Devil Wears Prada
The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Jungle Fever
The Silence of the Lambs
Death scenes:
• Steve Buscemi + a woodchipper + the pure white snow of 1996's Fargo = arguably the most hilarious ooky death on film.
• Mel Gibson, sans intestines, bellows ''Freeeeedommmmmm!'' in Braveheart (1995).
• Warring exes Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner fall to their doom on a chandelier in 1989's The War of the Roses.
• Jack telling Rose not to say her goodbyes before freezing to death in Titanic (1997).
• Lucy Liu losing her head to Uma Thurman's blade in Kill Bill Vol. One (2003).
More lists at the link, but I'll stop here.


Once written, twice... said...

I can always watch "Hannah and Her Sisters." I think in many ways it is Woody Allen's most perfect movie. He is in it but is not a dominating character. Also, it ends on a surprisingly happy note. When I originally saw it in the theater in 1986 it was a big shock and I never seen such a happy audience leave a theater.

Chip Ahoy said...

No Star Wars or Encounter of a Third Kind?. Hmmm.

Ann Althouse said...

Chip... 25 years... do the math.

ricpic said...

Two films on the list, Moonstruck and Sideways, will become ever greater classics as the years go by.

The Sopranos is in another league altogether than anything else that ever was or ever will be shown on TV.

I don't know how many hours I logged watching Seinfeld. Can barely stand it now. Was the show not that good or did I change with age? I'll never know.

Anonymous said...

Sopranos should have been before Simpsons, but whatever.

Thank god they recognized The Comeback! I and only two other people I know consider that to be the best comedy (if you can call it that) on television, ever.

And Moulin Rouge! My favorite movie-musical of all time. (I'm young, sorry.)

Cedarford said...

Lists are dependent on who created them. The movie list omits some superb indies and low revenue flicks for mediocre lowbrow crowd-pleasers.
I didn't notice "The Usual Suspects", "Mystic River", "Chicago", "Cold Mountain", "Bladerunner" amidst the 30% cheese, 30% mediocre mass audience pabulum, 40% excellent. Gave up looking.

On TV shows, lot of crap on that list, but no "CHeers" unless I missed it?

Paddy O said...

I can't imagine any part of War of the Roses being a classic. But the rest of those death scenes fit pretty well.

What is a classic? For me, I think of something that is both artistically original/well done while also being popular. It's not always high art, but somehow is something others copy both for its perceived originality and because it is recognizable. And has a timeless quality to it.

I get most of those movies--except for Crumb. Maybe I am missing something about that one. I don't know how Boogie Nights is on that list either.

The television shows list doesn't seem as good to me. I notice NBC's reign has already mostly been forgotten. Where is Friends? Or the Cosby Show? Cheers is absolutely already a classic. ER? Others... St. Elsewhere, Magnum P.I.

I have a hard time thinking of shows like The Daily Show as a classic, even if it is important. How will it last? How is it timeless? The Osbournes? Hasn't that already been forgotten? Or is it a classic because it spawned the "live life with a celebrity family" genre?

I'm not sure the books fit at all. Are there classics anymore in literature? Great writers in that list, but I don't see classics.

The movie poster choices are just silly.

Joe said...

These are just the lists of entertainment the authors enjoined in the late teens and early twenties. And while still in the throws of the egocentricism of that age range assume that their preferences are even remotely reflective of the populace at large. Fifty years from now, almost no one will remember nor care about any of the items on the lists. Hell, in five most will be ignored almost completely.

amba said...

I nominate Annette Bening's death scene in "The Siege." She says some of the Lord's Prayer along with Denzel, but her last word is Insh'allah.

ron st.amant said...

"Maus" is brilliant. I sadly missed a chance to meet Art Spiegelman two months ago.

I still find "Purple Rose of Cairo", "Radio Days" and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" much better than "Hannah and Her Sisters".

Thankfully, "The X-Files" finished 4-th ahead of dreck like Sex & the City...the former set a trend for a generation of off-beat storytelling, including fellow top ten shows like Lost and Buffy

ron st.amant said...

p.s. How can they not include Kevin Spacey's moment of sublime realization just before Chris Cooper wanders out of the rain and into the kitchen in "American Beauty" for one of the great death scenes??

Christy said...

Ron, unless I missed it, American Beauty wasn't in the movie list either. Surprised me because we were all calling it an instant classic when it came out. I confess, I flipped right on by it on tv the other day, having no real interest in watching again.

I was just happy to find Gaiman's Sandman on the book list. Makes the rest of the lists ok with me.

Ron said...

I love crazy ass Bill Pullman in Zero Effect, but, hey, I know why it's not on a list like this!

What, no Reservoir Dogs? Scandalous!

William T. Sherman said...

"The Wire" is listed at #11 on the TV list. A hundred years from now it'll be considered the Mozart of our age, while the Sopranos will be as forgotten as Salieri.

Ron said...

Good Death Scene:

Billy Bob Thornton's "fade to white" at the end of Man Who Wasn't There.

John Stodder said...

Is "The House of Elliot" on the TV list? It should be.

My wife got me into this. On the surface, it's male kryptonite: The story of two upper-class English sisters who, left penniless by their wastrel father, begin a couture shop in 1920s London. But it's a Jean Marsh production, and it expands and expands the world of these two women until it becomes a whole world of people, rich and poor, conservative and radical, all viewed with equal sympathy and understanding. It is also about the best depiction of business I've ever seen in any film.

There were three seasons of it in the early 90s. I don't remember it being out. I think it ran on A&E in the US, when A&E was bidding to be the next PBS, which was a long time ago. Among other things, it is beautifully shot in luscious high-end video, on what appears to be location with a high budget. The acting is wonderful, almost completely by people I've never seen in anything else, (although one of the sisters apparently ended up on CSI, a show I never watch). It's on DVD. It's great. It's up there with the Sopranos and Mad Men as the best things I've seen on TV, but it's a real buried treasure.

knox said...

death scene: Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential. Man, could he hold still.

John Stodder said...

What the hell is "Friends" doing so high on the TV list? The only list that show belongs on is 'Most-hyped.' What a terrible program. My inner liberal says who cares about all these comfortable white people? My inner conservative says who cares about all these yuppies who don't know the meaning of work? My inner comedy writer says this show is not funny, just pseudo-clever.

Bill said...

What's the significance of the bold-faced items?

Cabbage said...

Michael Clayton!?!?!!!?!?

wither Lebowski?

Cabbage said...

100 albums and no "Nevermind"?


Padre Steve said...

"Saving Private Ryan" and "The Passion of the Christ" would have been on my list!

Ann Althouse said...

dynodude9181 said..."Thank god they recognized The Comeback! I and only two other people I know consider that to be the best comedy (if you can call it that) on television, ever."

Add me to your list.

Cedarford, Bladerunner is 1982, so it misses the cut.

Paddy O., I think everything you mentioned is on the lists. I've cut all the lists down to show the things I personally like, with boldface for my special favorite on each.

blake said...

Kinda pointless, ranking the classics of, what, 1983-2008? We don't really know yet.

Now, 1883-1908? We could make a good stab at that.

But I doubt a magazine with a self-proclaimed week-long attention span could name anything from that time period.

George Grady said...

The list of greatest video games is hopeless. None of Planescape:Torment, Star Control 2, Secret of Monkey Island, Wizardry 7, System Shock, Ultima or Ultima Underworld? Two different Metroid games? (Sure they're good, but c'mon). And seriously, Oblivion? It's a fine game, but a classic? They needed to find a bit of a broader sample on these.

knox said...

Of course, as soon as we see these lists we complain! But I have to say the book section was particularly bad in terms of ranking. I mean, I know this is "Entertainment Weekly" and so they're coming from more of a lowbrow perspective (and I have NO problem with that. I don't usually much like the highbrow perspective.) But "Fast Food Nation" ranked way, way above "Bonfire of the Vanities" ?? The title alone is already way dated. Just one of many bizarre choices.

Alan said...

Some notables are missing: Ghost, Working Girl, Something Wild, You Got Mail.

Alan said...

Even more movies I think are classics are missing from the list. Like Get Shorty, Payback, and Snatch.

Susan said...

I think Miami Vice should be #1 in theme songs. Great song that pulled you in to watch and along with the music throughout each episode, influenced the way music was used in other TV programs. Glad to see Miami Vice get a mention in Style as well but it wasn't just the clothes, it was the style of a whole city.

chuck b. said...

Too bad Veronica Mars didn't get to run another year or two. That was a fun show.

Arrested Development was hilarious the first time, but I haven't found subsequent viewings on DVD to be worthwhile.

New Project Runway on July 16!

chuck b. said...

This place is like a hot tranny mess up in here!

This jean jacket is a hot mess, but these stirrup pants are fierce!

John Stodder said...

How will they top that guy?

John Stodder said...

Also, my wife loved "The Comeback" as much as you, Ann. I thought it was okay, but not consistently interesting.

George M. Spencer said...

These lists are a wheezy magazine's way of attracting reader attention and new advertisers. Junk.

Who reads Entertainment Weekly? Anyone?

1970_baby said...

The Liars Club was great- the follow up book (can't remember the name!)was great too. Good enough to read twice.

Crimes and Misdemeanors was way better than Hannah and Her Sisters! When Woody Allen's sister tells him about her date going to the bathroom on her, I am in convulsions on the floor, laughing, and unable to breathe. Woody Allen's best acting moment in any movie, ever. Plus, the whole good and evil thing going on with the protagonist was sublime.