This month's issue of Empire includes the magazine's recent audience poll that resulted in the top 100 films of all time, and while there are certainly a few films that were placed precisely where they belong, the majority of the list is a reflection of short-term praise and recent box office success being an indicator of what is considered "greatest" by current audience members.
The highlights include The Godfather at the top of the list, The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, and Jaws also making the top 10, and having three Alfred Hitchcock films included (although I could make arguments that they are missing a few more).
However, there are three major issues I have with allowing "the people" to make this list. My first matter of contention is with Citizen Kane being at 46. I understand that today's movie-going audience doesn't really take the classics into consideration when coming up with the best movies of all time, which will be detailed a little further in my second point of frustration, but to regulate Orson Welles' masterpiece to the back of the top 50 is a crime. It's become a cliché to say that Citizen Kane is the greatest movie of all time, and yet it truly is a seminal historical marker in the timeline of American cinema. I get it not being a favorite, must-see movie for everyone, but its influence on modern moviemaking should still regulate it to the top 10.
My second argument against Empire's fan-favorite list is that it doesn't include a single silent film. Again, this falls under today's generation of moviegoers not wanting to watch a medium that requires reading dialogue when they could simply watch a more modern film that has the dialogue spoken audibly, but there are plenty of silent films that deserve a spot on the top 100 list of greatest films. Even rattling off the great ones, such as Metropolis, City Lights, The General, Birth of a Nation, Battleship Potemkin, and The Passion of Joan of Arc, would be a disservice to all the others that deserve consideration. #silentfilmsmatter
And lastly, the comic book elephant in the room. I understand that this is the era of the comic book movie and shared universes that combine superheroes to each other's films, but to claim that The Dark Knight is the third best movie ever made and three Marvel movies deserving spots ranging from as high as 34 to as low as 79 is just asinine. The only comic book movie that deserves to be on a top 100 list of all time is The Dark Knight, I will give you that, but to say it is third overall is ludicrous. There are still a lot of problems with the second of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy that should set it back several spots on this list. The reign of the geek is at an all-time high and has resulted in allowing four comic book movies to make its way onto this list, but by doing so it has done a great disservice to films of much greater quality and higher importance.
Luckily next month Empire is releasing another top 100 films list that will be put together by industry employees, so hopefully it will be a little more in line with what a top 100 greatest movies list should look like. Obviously these lists are arbitrary and cannot be validated by a single person, but a list should have more weight behind it when it is made up by those who know what it takes to make a great film and the details lacking in a good, but not great one.