Seeing as how Tuesday's AFI Top 100 film-a-ganza, while largely well-stocked, had some glaring omissions and did contain one or two too many Forrest Gumps, if you know what I mean.
The Top Ten American Films of All Time, According To...
10: His Girl Friday (1940). Sometimes you just want to have fun, and what's more fun than this?
9: Blade Runner (1982). One of the most influential films of the last 30 years, and not only on other movies but on architecture and pop culture as well. It set the design standard for what the future would look like.
8: The Wild Bunch (1969) Violence never looked so good.
7: Miller's Crossing(1990). Look into your heart. Sure, this is in many ways a homage to the great gangster movies -- so what? Everything works, and works brilliantly.
6: The Godfather, Part 2 (1974). C'mon -- the fishing boat scene? The abortion speech? Admit it -- this is a better film than Part 1, even without Sonny.
5: Gone With the Wind (1939). How can you not like a film that features the burning of Atlanta?
4: The Wizard of Oz (1939). To understand how great this movie is, remember this: Generations of us faithfully watched it on TV once a year, and loved it every time.
3: Badlands (1973). Highly underappreciated -- it's shocking this didn't even make the AFI's list.
2: Citizen Kane (1941). Saying this is a great movie is a little like pointing out that the sky is blue. Still, this is a really great movie.
1: Lawrence of Arabia (1962). No movie has ever taken such advantage of the big screen.
Tony Karon (In No Particular Order)...
Badlands (1973). Terence Malick's teenagers-in-love-turn-killers-on-the-road movie, which inspired a thousand imitators. The unheralded gem of American cinema.
Raging Bull (1980). The finest sports movie ever made, with grit courtesy of Marty.
Citizen Kane (1941). Orson Welles' masterwork remains the ur-text of film schools worldwide because it blew wide open the envelope of cinematic possiblity.
Mean Streets (1973). The gritty realism of Scorsese's breakthrough movie began the stylish exploration of the low-rent wiseguy that he completed in "Goodfellas."
The Manchurian Candidate (1962). The finest American political film ever goes deep and noir into the fear and loathing at the heart of Washington, D.C.
The Getaway (1972). Noir cinema reaches its apotheosis with Peckinpah's rendering of Jim Thompson. Throw in the coolest white man ever (Steve McQueen) and you've got a scorcher.
Rear Window (1954). Well, actually, the whole Hitchcock canon, actually, but my pick is Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly.
Down By Law (1986). Jim Jarmusch's extended character study (incorporating a few digs at Hollywood convention) is probably the funniest American movie ever made.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955). The cinematic codification of the obsession with youth that dominated postwar American pop culture.
Platoon (1986). Oliver Stone takes us to the heart of the battle for the soul of the American male.
1. Citizen Kane
2. Casablanca (1943)
3. Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb (1964)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
5. Network (1976)
6. Schindler's List (1993)
7. Brazil (1985)
8. Amadeus (1984)
9. The Elephant Man (1981)
10. Fantasia (1940)
...And yours truly, the Couch Potato Man.
1. Lawrence of Arabia (1962). See David Lean's masterpiece on the big screen and you'll be walking out on pretenders like "Braveheart" for the rest of your life.
2. The Wild Bunch (1984). Dirt, grime, blood and Mexicans; a true mod western with all the soul of Melville.
3. Casablanca (1942). Claude Raines adds just enough salt to a movie that is perfect in every way.
4. Bridge On the River Kwai (1957). Too much Lean? Never.
5. The Third Man (1949). Orson Welles gets best entrance -- but you knew that. What puts this film over the top is the final, parting shot of Joseph Cotten on the road. Sooo good, you retch a little.
6. Foreign Correspondent (1940). Vintage controlled Hitchcock: clean lines, great plot and arresting images like the oft-copied black umbrella scene.
7. Laura (1944). Queen of the noirs. Don't get me started on Gene Tierney.
8. Cool Hand Luke (1967). It is impossible to see this movie too many times. And if you are the right kind of person, it will make you want to go to jail.
9. Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1981). Bogey and Walter Huston get out in the sun for a real psychological gripper.
10. Citizen Kane (1940). I know, I know, it's number one -- just trying to mix things up a little around here.
Folks: You can rent any movie on any of these lists and not possibly go wrong; these are all great films. The main point of this little summit was mainly so that you would be able to read the lists and form elaborate and intense preconceptions about each one of us. So dig in. Just one favor: Go easy on the hate mail, OK?