If you’ve been following along with my Essentials series, you may have noticed that my choices tend to skew toward the new. The majority of my picks come post-1977. I figured it was time to clear something up. Though I titled this series “Essentials”, I don’t carry any illusions of deciding what films have actually been essential to the form. These are my essentials. The films that I consider an essential part of my taste and personality and life. It is within that scope that I have selected these films, and though some would consider me uncultured for my choices, I cannot deny that my greater exposure to newer films has made them a more integral part of me.
I love old films, don’t get me wrong. You’ll see that in this entry with one of the choices. I wouldn’t even say that it’s an issue of preference. I have no specific bias against older films; I love many of them dearly and I’m always looking to watch more that I haven’t seen. Do I really think South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is better than Sunset Blvd., or that it’s at all more worth my time? Maybe not. Probably not. But the simple truth is that when I consider the films that contribute to my make-up, one of those is a rightful classic, while the other is a film that I hold truly dear.
Lest I sound like I’m apologizing for my choices, I must stand firm. I think there is an unavoidable bias in critical circles against new films. I simply do not buy into the premise that the films today are somehow less worthy of consideration than those of the 40s or 50s. The great films of today are as good as at any period in film history. Take, for example, the Coens’ remake of True Grit. Upon release, many critics praised it for its craftsmanship, but somewhat casually dismissed it as a lesser work because it does little more than entertain. I propose that had the film been released exactly as is, but in the year 1959, it would today be considered one of the greatest examples of the genre.
When we think about older films, there is a tendency to hold them up on a pedestal. I’m not entirely sure why this is the case. All I know is that I have no such pedestal. A classic can be released in 2011 just as it could in 1938. I just happened to have connected more with films released in a more modern era. I can also assure you that when we get past this initial list of 20 and into the categories, there will be plenty of older classics for you all to chew on.
Anyway, on with the list! Click to Read the List.