Idol Chatter

The American Film Institute is conducting another one of its “ballots,” this time searching for the Top 100 Inspirational Films of All Time. It’s called “100 Years… 100 Cheers,” and serves as an addition to prior efforts listing the best all-time films, biggest stars, most passionate films, etc.

The ballot includes 300 films, most of which you’d expect, such as “Hoosiers,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Gladiator,” “A League of Their Own,” and “The Magnificent Seven.” I was also glad that two of my favorites, which often go overlooked–“The Natural” and “The Mission”–were also included.

The winners will be announced as part of a televised show on CBS later this month. I’ll opine more on the Top 100 and Top 10 when the show’s airing gets closer, but today I’m going to whine about those that didn’t even make the nomination list. There are types of films that just aren’t generally included on these lists, even though they should be. For example:

Why aren’t there more “guy” movies? Why can’t the significant and interracial friendship of the “Lethal Weapon” series be included, or the selfless heroics of John McLean in the “Die Hard” trilogy, or the justice hunters like “Dirty Harry,” “Rambo,” and anything with Steven Seagal in it?

Why aren’t there more “chick flicks”? I know there are some, but I sure haven’t seen ’em!

Why aren’t there more “money” movies? Money is something that occupies much of our thoughts and time, and it’s inspiring to see the good guys get even (“Trading Places’), or to see somebody stand up for something (“Wall Street”), or to have our eyes opened to realities we were previously unaware of (“Rollover,” “Sneakers”).

Why aren’t there more series or sequels? How many young people have dreamed bigger dreams and aspired to loftier goals after seeing the heroics of James Bond, Laura Croft, Jack Ryan, or Captains Kirk and Piccard?

Why are some under-marketed little pictures ignored? “Victory” may have been a tad corny, but it is the most beautiful soccer film ever made–while managing to be a sports film, war film, and inspirational movie all at the same time. “Brian’s Song” may have been made for TV, but most people watch feature films on DVDs today anyways, and James Caan brought honor to the role of a prideful man dying of cancer, while Billy Dee Williams’ Gale Sayers vulnerably emerged as the reluctant hero we all have the capacity to discover within ourselves.

Finally, why aren’t there more “action” movies? “Crimson Tide” isn’t the kind of touchy-feely movie that usually is called “inspiring,” but by making heroes of both the CEO and the CXO, the commander and the junior officer, the white man and the African-American, both Hackman and Denzel made a case for the kind of leadership and courage that stands up against even friends and peers, which is the toughest of all, while showing that we all need both a “pat on the back” and a “kick in the butt.” Harrison Ford’s threesome of “The Fugitive,” “Blade Runner,” and “Air Force One” all had the common thread of seeking justice no matter what the cost. The “Terminator” films inspired many young men to fight for what’s right, regardless of the cost.

Lastly, I think Warren Beatty’s “Heaven Can Wait” shouldn’t have been ignored. Everyone has a destiny, said the story, delving bravely into the question of God’s interaction with our human decisions, resulting in something called “probability and outcome”–which didn’t exactly solve everything for me but sure evoked some worthwhile spiritual questions.

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