While I was watching some classic film trailers and montages on YouTube I stumbled upon the original segment the American Film Institute (AFI) did for Citizen Kane when they declared it the best movie ever made (once in 1997, and again in 2007) on their 100 Years 100 Movies list. The list itself came under a lot of criticisms from film experts and critics because it is simply impossible to group 100 movies and declare them as the best, especially if the list includes dramas, horror films, romance, comedies and thrillers. As one critic declared it, it's like comparing oranges to apples, and declaring bananas to be the best fruit ever.
I want to offer my two cents on this. On one hand, I agree with the critics that it's near impossible to declare which film is the best. You see, I believe that films are very personal experiences, subjective so to speak, and what may be the greatest to me may be the worst for you. So, trying to make an official statement out of a subjective idea will bring out a lot of opinions forward.
On the other hand… just like I have the right to make this website and declare MY favorite films of all time the AFI has the right to try and declare which films are the best ever made, regardless of genre, filmmaker and concept. Critics have the right to agree or disagree because like I just explained, movies are very personal.
Here's how I see this…
When they talk about the best movies ever made, I think of the following criteria:
- The movie, no matter the genre, is an excellent example of what filmmaking can be
- It has left a huge impact on society and the industry
- It's a great success in terms of critical acclaim and audience acceptance
- It inspired many generations of filmmakers and have either created tributes or borrowed techniques from these films
So a movie like Singin' in the Rain CAN be considered to be the best among the likes of Schindler's List and Citizen Kane because it it's a well made film and definitely one of the best in its genre.
As an another example, Disney's Fantasia is considered to be one of the best films ever made, despite being animated, because it pushed the envelope in terms of filmmaking and the animation genre, and was successful at it
To sum this up, yes, trying to find THE best movie ever made is near impossible and trying to declare it as a fact would be foolish. But, I think the AFI, critics and the fans have the right to try and compile the facts and come up with their own conclusion. You can argue against it and offer facts, but no one should be condemned for trying. Of course they will make mistakes, the wrong movies will be nominated while others will be ignored, and everyone will have a say on the subject matter, good and bad.
Movies are a great form of self-expression, allowing us to look at them and come up with our thoughts and opinions. The day we are mocked for expressing said thoughts then we have truly forgotten why we go to the movies in the first place…