List by-Jarrett Leahy
As we approach the eve of Oscar night, it is time yet again to announce the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame class of 2017. This year’s cinematic inductees include two first-ballot films (movies from 2007 became eligible for selection this year), two Best Picture Oscar winners, a foreign classic, a war film, two modern westerns, two comedies, perhaps the greatest holiday film of all time, and a Robert De Niro film for the fourth straight year (that guy is really good) all wrapped up into six extremely worthy candidates. If for some reason, you have not seen any of these amazing films, please take the time to go seek them out, and feel free to share your thoughts…
AMATEURCINEPHILE.COM 2017 HALL OF FAME CLASS
No Country For Old Men (2007): No Country for Old Men is one of two films from 2007 being selected in its first year of eligibility. The Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Director(s), and Best Adapted Screenplay, the film will most likely be remembered for Javier Bardem’s terrifying depiction of sociopathic hitman Anton Chigurh, a performance that garnered him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and will undoubtedly remain one of Hollywood’s most iconic portrayals. Legendary filmmakers the Coen brothers have made their fair share of accomplished cinema, but for my taste, No Country is their finest cinematic achievement to date.
There Will Be Blood (2007): Nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two for Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Cinematography, There Will Be Blood is the second 2007 film to be selected for AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame status. Blessed with one of the finest performances in cinema history (Day-Lewis’s portrayal of oil tycoon Daniel Plainview was recently ranked #1 Best Actor winning performance of the 21st Century by RollingStone.com), There Will Be Blood is the magnum opus of gifted filmmaker, Paul Thomas Anderson, and is Anderson’s second film to be elected into our Hall of Fame, joining his 1997 masterpiece, Boogie Nights.
Belle de Jour (1967): A passionless young housewife looking for excitement, explores the idea of spending her afternoons as a high class prostitute while her husband is at work. Provocateur filmmaker Luis Bunuel traded in subversive, incendiary cinema, but none is more playfully sardonic or arousingly titillating than Belle de Jour. Winner of the 1967 Golden Lion, the highest prize given at the Venice Film Festival, Belle de Jour offers an absolute tour-de-force performance from its sultry, French star, Catherine Deneuve. Belle de Jour becomes the second foreign language Hall of Fame film, joining 2016 inductee, The Leopard (1963).
A Christmas Story (1983): I can hear some out there (like my mother for instance) questioning the selection of A Christmas Story as a Hall of Fame movie, so let me lay out it’s candidacy. For a decently sized portion of our movie-loving society, A Christmas Story is arguably the greatest holiday movie of all time. I obviously fall into this very astute and enlightened group. But even if it isn’t number one, there’s no disputing that A Christmas Story would be included alongside the likes of It’s A Wonderful Life and the original Miracle on 34th Street on the Mount Rushmore of Christmas movies. What puts A Christmas Story over the top for me is it is simply one of the finest comedies of the 1980’s, regardless of its holiday film status. Year after year, I find myself chuckling at the slew of classic jokes and sight gags. These jokes, no matter how many times I watch the movie during its annual 24-hour marathon showings, never seem to get old or lose their comedic punch. And if that doesn’t convince you of its worthiness, A Christmas Story was a National Film Registry selection back in 2012 for “important cultural, artistic and historic achievements in filmmaking.” If it’s good enough for the Library of Congress, it’s good enough for the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame!
The Deer Hunter (1978): Winner of the 1978 Best Picture, The Deer Hunter is seen by many as the one crowning jewel of a rather disappointing filmmaking career for its director Michael Cimino (although I’m a staunch defender of his much maligned Heaven’s Gate). Starring 1970’s acting icons Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken, who was awarded the Best Supporting Actor for his formidable portrayal in the film, The Deer Hunter wound up being the final film of the short yet illustrious career of character actor extraordinaire, John Cazale, who tragically died of cancer shortly after filming was completed. The Deer Hunter is the fifth Best Picture inducted into the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame (Casablanca, Godfather, Godfather Part 2, No Country For Old Men), and the fourth movie from the 1970’s, joining inaugural Class of 2014 inductees, The Godfather and The Godfather Part 2, and Class of 2015 selection, Chinatown.
Rushmore (1998): This year’s 1990’s representative comes from the marvelously singular filmmaker Wes Anderson, a director I can never get enough of. Starring Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, whose distinguished portrayal earned him the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe, Rushmore was one of twenty-five selections the Library of Congress chose for inclusion into the National Film Registry in 2016. Quirky and intelligently droll, Rushmore will forever be Anderson’s first comedic masterpiece. Rushmore becomes the seventh film from the 1990’s elected into the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame, joining Before Sunrise, Pulp Fiction, Boogie Nights, Casino, Dazed & Confused, and Goodfellas.
So there you have it, the AmateurCinephile.com Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Make sure you come back next Oscar’s eve when six more films are chosen for inclusion.-JL