We live in a "What have you done for me lately?" world. Present-day mediocrity or failure can often obscure past glories. Just ask Kelly Clarkson.
Last night, this reality hit me once again when I was watching the AFI's special on the 100 Greatest Films of All Time. The list originally came out 10 years ago, so last night's unveiling was designed to account not only for movies released in the last decade, but also adjust for shifting opinions on the original 100 films since the initial list was unveiled.
As the updated list was revealed, one fact became clear to me. James Dean has clearly dropped the ball over the last decade.
In 1996, two of Dean's three films were on the list. "Rebel Without a Cause" was firmly planted at #59, and "Giant" was respectably at #82. On this year's list, both films were nowhere to be seen. The message seems to be clear - James Dean has slacked off the past decade and his films have been hurt as a result. The same can apparently be said for Mozart, as "Amadeus" was also left off the list, despite coming in at #53 in 1996. Quit resting on your laurels, Wolfie. It's like you haven't done anything worthwhile since the Requiem.
Naturally, to balance out the free fallers, there were some quick risers on the list as well. "Vertigo" flew from #61 to #9 in the past decade, and "Raging Bull" skyrocketed from #24 all the way to #4 with a bullet last night. Eat that, Schindler's List! How's that right hook taste, Lawrence of Arabia? You pansy.
Among new entries, the most baffling addition to the list had to be "The Sixth Sense," or as I like to call it, "The movie everyone in America saw in 1999, raved about, and then after thinking about it for a few minutes, realized it was actually kinda cheesy and probably not worth watching again." It inexplicably appeared at #89, ahead of "The French Connection," "Pulp Fiction," and "Goodfellas." It even beat out "Do the Right Thing." As if Spike Lee needed anything else to be pissed about.
On a related note, kudos to George Lopez for using his clout to make sure "Porky's" gets it's due in the litany of American cinema. However, if Lopez had done his homework, he would know that "Porky's" is a Canadian film, and therefore ineligible to appear on the list. Were it not for that technicality, I think it's safe to assume "Ben-Hur" would definitely have been bumped from it's spot at #100.