I was going over the “10 best” categories on AFI and thinking it would be more interesting to list “10 best” categories in a more narrow sense.
For instance, they list Back to the Future as one of the ten best sci-fi movies, but to paraphrase Woody Allen, how do you compare that movie with Star Wars?
“Time-travel comedy” would be a better category. Star Wars would be “space opera”. Annie Hall–the movie that Allen was talking about when rejecting the Oscars in ‘77–isn’t easily comparable to Philadelphia Story. Allen’s films are more “New York Fetish” or “neurotic comedy”, almost a sub-genre unto themselves.
Of course, movies can be in multiple categories. Beauty and the Beast is under “best animation” on the AFI list but, really, the animation is kind of rough in spots. As “romantic musical” it works much better.
You also need to distinguish between “good” and “historically important”, as well. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is historically important, perhaps one of the most important films in history, as it showed that an animated feature was both possible and potentially profitable. But is it good?
I think it holds up pretty well, but I think very little in the original Disney canon–and I’ve seen them all many, many times–holds up as well as Pixar’s output. Actually, even from the new Disney canon, I’d probably only put The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and half of Aladdin (the half written before Howard Ashman died) in there. I find The Lion King pretty bland.
In the upcoming days, I’ll try to compose some “ten best” lists (maybe not ten, actually, depending on the genre), that I think might be more fun.