Right off the bat, I will be
writing this entry in first-person, something that I am usually opposed to but
for the purpose of this article, I think it works. Also, this entry is
excessively long but it doesn’t feel that long and is totally worth it for you,
the reader. Trust me. Why would I lie about that?
This time of year has historically
been one of my favorite times of the year and I am not talking about the
holiday season. (Working in retail for seven years has ruined the holidays for
me.) No, what I’m talking about is the time when new members are elected into
the Baseball Hall of Fame.
As a student of history, literally (I have a BA in History),
I love discussing the history of just about anything but especially the history
of baseball. Because the rules of the game have basically stayed the same for
more than a century, players can be compared to one another relatively simply.
Sure, the game has changed some over the years. Eventually, minorities were
allowed to play. The mound got smaller and the players got bigger and stronger
and faster but ultimately everything is the same. A pitcher still throws the
ball from a distance of 60 feet, 6 inches. A hitter still has three strikes or
four balls to do something and nine people play the field.
In much the same way, movies can be compared to one another.
Sure, technology has improved and
censorship has lessened but at its core, the
essence of film has remained the same. There is a reason that the works of
Shakespeare still get remade and re-imagined for a modern audience. People want
drama. People want laughs. People don’t want their intelligence insulted
with contrivedplot devices
. Good entertainment is good entertainment now and will always be
Because of its timeless nature, I have decided that if
anything lends itself to a Hall of Fame as much as baseball does, it would be
movies. In an effort to keep things parallel, I will be inducting five movies
into the inaugural class of the Times Herald Movie Blog Hall of Fame.
In the 75-plus years that the Baseball Hall of Fame has
existed, some less-than-ideal players have been inducted. However, that first
class included five of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of cleats. With
that precedent set, the bar is almost impossibly high for the THMB Hall of
Fame. Much like Cobb and Ruth and Mathewson and Wagner and Johnson are among
the best ever
, it is my hope that history will look back (or continue to look
back) favorably on the following five films.
I used a wide variety of criteria to determine which films
would be part of the Class of 2012, including Rotten Tomatoes
is the easiest way I know of to find a conglomeration of critical reviews; awards
and recognition which are an easy gauge of the opinion of those in the
industry; and watchability, which is my attempt to weed out the films that may
be critical darlings and widely respected in the industry but do not have mass
appeal. (One of the best examples of this type of film is “2001: A Space
Odyssey, which has achieved critical and commercial success
widely regarded as incredibly, unbelievably boring
Without any further ado, allow me, the official Keeper of
the Times Herald Movie Blog, to introduce the first class of the THMB Hall of
Fame, arranged alphabetically.
Beauty and the Beast
Disney has been making movies for more than 70 years and in that time have made
some real unforgettable pieces of cinema, starting with their very first
feature “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” Since that time, the company is responsible
for the movies that helped to define the childhood for generations of young
people. With great films such as “Bambi,” “The Lion King,” and “Cinderella,”
the contributions of Disney to film cannot be overstated. And that is before
they partnered with Pixar to churn out instant classics such as “Toy Story,” “Finding
Nemo,” and “The Incredibles.” However, as classic as these movies may be, none
of them was able to do what “Beauty and the Beast” did: get nominated for the
Best Picture Oscar.
In the 60 years prior to the release of “Beauty and the
Beast,” no animated movie had ever got nominated for Best Picture. In the 20
years since, only one other animated feature has nominated for Best Picture and
it took an expanded field of 10 for “Up” to earn that nomination.
Being nominated for Best Picture, on its own, is probably
not enough to warrant induction in the inaugural class of the THMB Hall of
Fame, which is why Beauty and Beast’s other major contribution needs to be
noted: it revolutionized the use of computer animation
, through a program
called “Computer Animation Production System
,” or CAPS, which opened the door
for the Pixar/Disney juggernaut to completely change the nature of animated
Since its release, “Beauty and the Beast” has made more than
$345 million at the box office, won numerous awards, and even spawned a
Broadway musical. Not since “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” has an animated
movie broken as much ground as “Beauty and the Beast” and that is before you
take awards into consideration. When all is said and done, there is no doubt that
“Beauty and the Beast” deserves to be in the THMB Hall of Fame.
It may seem clichéd to put this film on
the list, but there is a reason that basically everything ever created
considers this one of the best, if not the best, movie ever made. Orson Welles
life story of Charles Foster Kane, which *wink, wink* was only loosely based on
the life William Randolph Hearst *wink, wink*, completely revolutionized film
making, from using non-linear storytelling to the way in which it was shot.
Without “Citizen Kane,” it is probable that many of the other movies on this
list would either not have been made or been made very differently.
Mayans appear to have missed the mark with that one. Or the whole thing was a
media creation and blown way out of proportion. Either way, we are still here and
now have a potentially infinite amount of time to watch this flick. The reasons
that “Citizen Kane” needed to be seen before the end of days are the same
reasons that this film warrants its spot in the THMB Hall of Fame’s inaugural
In addition to
its groundbreaking impact on the film, the film was added to the National Film
Registry in 1989, “Rosebud” was ranked by the American Film Institute (AFI) as
the 17th best quote in film history, and it likely would have won
the Best Picture Oscar in 1941 were William Randolph Hearst started a smearcampaign and essentially crushed the film that was “loosely” based on his life.
Orson Welles got the last laugh, though, when AFI named it the greatest film of all time. Its spot in the THMB Hall of Fame is about as close to a slam dunk as
you can get.
The Dark Knight
potentially controversial choice, Christopher Nolan’s 2008 film doesn't have
the history that several of the other choices have and it doesn't have as grand
of an award pedigree that other films have. What it does have, however, is a
legacy as long as any other film, despite being put on celluloid only five
First, and perhaps most noteworthy, The Dark Knight is
almost solely responsible for the first change in rules to the Best Picture in
more than 60 years. Because The Dark Knight failed to garner what many
considered to be a well-deserved nomination for Best Picture (It made more than
a billion dollars worldwide, was named Movie of the Year by AFI, and came in
with a robust 94 percent
on Rotten Tomatoes, or the same score as eventual
winner “Slumdog Millionaire
.”) After the public outcry over the perceived snub
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences changed the rules to allow for
up to 10 nominees
“The Dark Knight,” for better or worse, also redefined
several genres of movie.
First and most often cited, superhero movies not only became
the new vogue but only if the film takes a serious and realistic approach to
the subject. Gone are the days when superhero movies include scenes of Batman
pulling an American Express card out of his utility belt
or Superman going back in time
by flying around the planet and reversing its rotation. Instead,
superhero movies feature rich guys using high-tech, but realistic, technology
and the perceived magic is kept to a minimum.
Even broader was the impact that the Dark Knight had on
films with established characters that were being “rebooted
.” These reboots
required darker, more serious versions of the characters in a darker, more
sinister environment. Although this trend began with “The Dark Knight’s” predecessor,
“Batman Begins,” it was not until the Joker burned a stack of money pushed as
he pushed the Caped Crusader to his limits did the bleakness of society fully
As if changing the rules of the art and award were not
enough, the film also featured one of the most captivating performances of one
of the most captivating villains in the history of cinema in the form of Heath
Because of all of these factors, “The Dark Knight,” despite
not having an extended run in the culture thus far, deserves to be in the
inaugural class of the THMB Hall of Fame.
The Godfather: Part II
Choosing between “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II” may seem
like a fool’s errand. The former redefined what a gangster movie is capable of
while the latter expanded upon that while also introducing the notion of a
sequel that is equal to, if not better than, the original. Ultimately, the sequel wins it because it is
everything that the original is, but is also a stylistic expansion to Welles’
“Citizen Kane” and features one of the greatest film performances in the
history of the medium, launching one of the greatest careers in history, as
well, when Robert DeNiro portrayed young Vito Corleone.
For those who have not seen either film, “The Godfather” was
perhaps the first film to show the mafia as a calculating, meticulous
organization rather than the previously-portrayed “bang, bang, shoot’em up”
type that had been seen in film before. The films focused on the rise and
eventual fall of Michael Corleone, who had no interest in the family business
but ultimately gave in and took it over, which is where Part II picks up.
Because the original did all of those things, it certainly
warrants consideration for the THMB Hall of Fame. However, what sets it sequel
apart is the fact that it is a sequel
. Upon its release, “The Godfather: Part
II” became the first sequel in history to win Best Picture and since that time,
only one other sequel, “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” has won
In addition to winning Best Picture, “The Godfather: Part
II” also won five other Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for
DeNiro; is ranked as the third best film of all time according to the IMDB 250;
and was named the second best sequel in film history, behind only “The Empire
Strikes Back,” by Grantland.com
This selection will not be
without its controversy as its predecessor is also considered one of the
greatest films ever made. However, as previously stated, it is because this
film is a sequel that it ultimately earns its spot in the inaugural class.
It is hard to classify what kind of movie this is because it covers
so many different areas. It’s a horror movie about a giant shark that eats
people. It’s a suspense movie
about finding shark and waiting for it to strike.
It’s a classic buddy comedy
with tough guy Quint and nerdy scientist Hooper.
And it excels in all of this.
Even more importantly, however,
it launched the career of arguably the greatest American director of all time
in Steven Spielberg. Without “Jaws,” it is quite possible that Spielberg’s
career would have been completely different and other Hall of Fame films
not have ever been made.
The launch of Spielberg’s career
was not even the biggest cultural impact of this film, though. The film was so
terrified the culture after it was released that Great White Sharks began to behunted
the global population to the point that the fish was on the
brink of extinction and the population has still not recovered.
Its impact on film can still be
felt, as well. The less-is-more approach to showing the creature is something
that modern horror films continue to emulate and composer John Williams’ minimalist
added to the tension so much that musical cues continue to dominate film.
The THMB Hall of Fame class may not be
perfect. I tried to avoid clichéd picks, but there is certainly a reason that
these films are so widely viewed as great works. When there are more than a
century of films to choose from, narrowing it down to just five selections can
be daunting. Ultimately, though, the five films above are all no-doubt Hall of
Famers and that is really all that can be asked out of an inaugural class.
How’d I do? What should or should not have been on the list?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or get at me on Twitter
@TheTonyFiorigli and let me know.