Cover image for The A list : the National Society of Film Critics' 100 essential films
The A list : the National Society of Film Critics' 100 essential films
Carr, Jay.
First Da Capo Press edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvi, 351 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Added Corporate Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995 .A33 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PN1995 .A33 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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People love movies. People love lists. So The A-List is a natural. While there are plenty of encyclopedic lists of films, this compulsively readable book of 100 essays--most written expressly for this volume-flags the best of the best as chosen by a consensus of the National Society of Film Critics. The Society is a world-renowned, marquee--name organization embracing some of America's most distinguished critics: more than forty writers who have national followings as well as devoted local constituencies in such major cities as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. But make no mistake about it: This isn't a collection of esoteric "critic's choice" movies. The Society has made its selections based on a film's intrinsic merits, its role in the development of the motion-picture art, and its impact on culture and society. Some of the choices are controversial. So are some of the omissions. It will be a jumping-off point for discussions for years to come. And since the volume spans all international films from the very beginning, it will act as a balance to recent guides dominated by films of the last two decades (hardly film's golden age). Here is a book that is definitely ready for its close-up.

Author Notes

Jay Carr has been the film critic of the Boston Globe since 1983

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Perhaps it's the relative youth of the medium, but there's something about film that inspires the endless creation of lists. In the latest attempt at canon making, the National Society of Film Critics has compiled 100 of the most essential not necessarily best films of all time. Each choice is defended in a brief essay by a prominent critic like Peter Travers, Morris Dickstein or J. Hoberman. The films range from predictable giants Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bonnie and Clyde, Star Wars, The Godfather to more idiosyncratic selections like The Exorcist and Schindler's List. The critics convincingly argue that there is something artistically important about each of these pictures. The essays are often personal (with a refreshing absence of grandiloquent commentary), making the choices hard to dispute, even though heated debates are precisely what the book means to inspire. Dave Kehr's piece on Birth of a Nation and Eleanor Ringel's on Gone with the Wind show why these films, as racist as they are, deserve inclusion. Among the personal anecdotes is Roger Ebert's recollection of seeing The Battleship Potemkin, the classic Soviet revolutionary film, outdoors on a summer night in Michigan. While not every film lover will devour it cover to cover, these individual takes on old favorites make this good reading and a handy resource. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

These two volumes by Ebert, possibly America's most famous film critic, and by the American Association of Film Critics, a group that includes Ebert essentially define the canon of American film studies. Both volumes provide short essays on 100 different films. Although one list has been chosen by a group of film writers and critics after much discussion and dissent and the other is a highly personal compendium of "landmarks of the first century of cinema," the lists are stunningly similar. Together, they provide a survey of the American and foreign films that have provoked the most interest in American film critics. It would be fair to note that American films dominate, with American productions accounting for 50-60 percent of the titles in both volumes and the rest of the world being represented by an assortment of European works and a handful of Asian films. Ebert's essays are culled from his weekly feature in the Chicago Sun Times (check out the paper's web site to read the essays); The A List entries are written by a number of well-known film writers, including Carr, Andrew Sarris, Robert Sklar, and Armond White. The essays in both books are well written, accessible, and, in many cases, thought-provoking. Whether both books are necessary purchases is another matter. It is unlikely that any moderately comprehensive collection will need another couple of essays about Citizen Kane; 2001, A Space Odyssey; or Battleship Potemkin. However, the collections do discuss many lesser-known films, such as Dance, Girl Dance; Happy Together; and the British "Up" documentaries, and so could be a wonderful introduction to 20th-century cinema for the general reader. Both books are recommended for academic and public libraries, though the fact that Ebert's essays have already been published and in circulation for some years recommends The A List over The Great Movies if a choice has to be made. Andrea Slonosky, Long Island Univ., Brooklyn, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

James VerniereEmanuel LevyPeter BrunettePeter TraversJay CarrPeter KeoughTerrence RaffertyHenry SheehanRoger EbertDave KehrAndrew SarrisRichard SchickelDavid SterrittMorris DicksteinJay CarrJoe MorgensternJay CarrJames VerniereGodfrey CheshireMatthew SeitzRichard SchickelJonathan RosenbaumCarrie RickeyMichael WilmingtonHenry SheehanPeter RainerDavid SterrittRoger EbertMatthew SeitzWilliam WolfWilliam WolfMichael SragowCharles TaylorTerrence RaffertyAndrew SarrisPeter TraversRichard T. JamesonRoger EbertMichael SragowEleanor RingelRob NelsonJami BernardTodd McCarthyArmond WhiteEmanuel LevyRobert SklarCarrie RickeyAndy KleinArmond WhitePeter RainerMichael WilmingtonMichael WilmingtonMorris DicksteinRichard T. JamesonJ. HobermanKevin ThomasArmond WhiteDavid DenbyRobert SklarDavid SterrittPeter RainerKevin ThomasAndy KleinRob NelsonRobert SklarPeter BrunetteDavid AnsenCharles TaylorRoger EbertGary ArnoldJudy GerstelCharles TaylorJohn AndersonJami BernardJami BernardAndy KleinJay CarrJay CarrJay CarrPeter TraversJohn AndersonPeter KeoughJudy GerstelMatthew SeitzGary ArnoldJonathan RosenbaumMorris DicksteinJoe MorgensternKevin ThomasCarrie RickeyMichael SragowRichard SchickelGerald PearyKenneth TuranJonathan RosenbaumKenneth TuranMichael WilmingtonGerald PearyPeter KeoughJ. Hoberman
Introductionp. xv
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)p. 1
42ND Street (1933)p. 4
The 400 Blows (1959)p. 8
All About Eve (1950)p. 11
Annie Hall (1977)p. 14
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)p. 17
L'Atalante (1934)p. 20
The Bank Dick (1940)p. 24
The Battleship Potemkin (1925)p. 27
The Birth of A Nation (1915)p. 30
Blow-Up (1966)p. 34
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)p. 38
Breathless (1960)p. 43
Bringing Up Baby (1938)p. 48
Casablanca (1942)p. 51
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978)p. 55
Children of Paradise (1945)p. 58
Chinatown (1974)p. 61
Citizen Kane (1941)p. 65
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)p. 69
Closely Watched Trains (1967)p. 72
Close-Up (1990)p. 76
Dance, Girl, Dance (1940)p. 79
The Decalogue (1988)p. 81
Diary of A Country Priest (1951)p. 84
Diner (1982)p. 88
Do the Right Thing (1989)p. 91
La Dolce Vita (1959)p. 94
Double Indemnity (1944)p. 97
Duck Soup (1933)p. 100
Easy Rider (1969)p. 104
Enter the Dragon (1973)p. 107
The Entertainer (1960)p. 110
The Exorcist (1973)p. 113
Faces (1968)p. 116
Fargo (1996)p. 118
Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein (1931, 1935)p. 121
The General (1927)p. 125
The Godfather and the Godfather Part II (1972, 1974)p. 128
Gone With the Wind (1939)p. 132
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964)p. 136
The Graduate (1967)p. 138
Greed (1924)p. 141
Happy Together (1997)p. 144
High Noon (1952)p. 147
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)p. 151
Jailhouse Rock (1957)p. 153
Ju Dou, Raise the Red Lantern, Red Sorghum (1990, 1991, 1987)p. 156
Killer of Sheep (1977)p. 159
L.A. Confidential (1997)p. 163
Landscape in the Mist (1988)p. 167
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)p. 170
M (1931)p. 173
The Maltese Falcon (1941)p. 176
The Man With A Movie Camera (1929)p. 179
The Marriage of Maria Braun (1978)p. 181
Metropolis (1927)p. 182
Modern Times (1936)p. 185
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)p. 188
Nashville (1975)p. 191
The Night of the Hunter (1955)p. 194
Night of the Living Dead (1968)p. 198
Nosferatu (1922)p. 200
Los Olvidados (1950)p. 203
On the Waterfront (1954)p. 206
Open City (1945)p. 208
The Palm Beach Story (1942)p. 212
Pandora's Box (1928)p. 215
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)p. 219
Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of APU (1956, 1958, 1960)p. 222
The Piano (1993)p. 226
Psycho (1960)p. 229
The Public Enemy (1931)p. 232
Pulp Fiction (1994)p. 236
Raging Bull (1980)p. 238
Rashomon (1950)p. 241
Rebel Without A Cause (1955)p. 245
The Rules of the Game (1939)p. 248
Schindler's List (1993)p. 253
The Searchers (1956)p. 256
The Seven Samurai (1954)p. 258
The Seventh Seal (1957)p. 261
Singin' in the Rain (1952)p. 264
Star Wars (1977)p. 267
La Strada and Nights of Cabiria (1955, 1957)p. 270
Sunrise (1927)p. 275
Sunset Boulevard (1950)p. 279
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)p. 284
Tokyo Story (1953)p. 286
Top Hat (1935)p. 288
Touch of Evil (1958)p. 290
Trouble in Paradise (1935)p. 293
Ugetsu Monogatari (1953)p. 298
Unforgiven (1992)p. 304
Les Vampires (1915)p. 307
Vertigo (1958)p. 310
The Wild Bunch (1969)p. 315
Winchester '73 (1953)p. 318
The Wizard of oz (1939)p. 322
Written on the Wind (1956)p. 325
Contributorsp. 329
Indexp. 333
Permissionsp. 347