Movie of the Century: 20th Century, That Is
The 20th century was full of many fantastic films. Even if you didn't watch movies before the 1990s, you still probably saw quite a few classics like Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction. Nonetheless, those movies still fail in comparison to other great films made even before color.
I'm of the belief that films which don't age are some of the best films. When you watch Jaws (a fantastic film, by the way) one of the obvious things you notice is how dated the graphics are. Hell, even if you watch movies from the early 00s, you'll find some which are dated. They simply don't hold up with the test of time. Even non-graphics heavy films can be dated: see Scary Movie and Date Movie.
Horrors often look dated through new blood technology, new societal thrills (some things just aren't as scary today as they were 30 years ago), and of course, they often have horrible scripts or bad acting to begin with. Exceptions generally include Hitchcock films.
Comedies generally become dated because they reference current events when the film occurred, the situational comedy which involves social norms at the time aren't so normal anymore, and of course, like horrors the script generally isn't that well to begin with and comedic acting hardly ever works out. Exceptions include Some Like It Hot and Grounghog Day.
Dramas are a whole other beast. It generally depends on what the drama is about. If it about a historical event, it depends on how deep the film goes and what new evidence has come up. Of course, then the script is at fault if something goes wrong or doesn't sit right with those of us who enjoy historical dramas. You have love stories which have problems with social values changing, and you have action packed films with changing graphics as well as values. Exceptions include Schindler's List and Pulp Fiction.
Of course, some quality films are dated. As I mentioned earlier, Jaws is a prime example of this. However, when talking about the best, and I mean purely the top 10 movies of all-time, a film should hold through the test of time, have a quality script, and excellent acting. Frankly, not many films can do this. Actually, not even many films throughout cinema history have accomplished two of those three.
Alright, you are probably wondering what the "movie of the century" is.
It's a Wonderful Life
It's a Wonderful Life has stood through the test of time, has an excellent script, and quality acting.
Yes, it's technically a Christmas movie and a great one at that, but there is much more to the film than simply being a holiday flick.
It's a Wonderful Life is Timeless
Much of the film revolves around issues and circumstances which are still true today. Even George Bailey's job as a lender is definitely true today. The town's people's issues? True today. The war? True today. People wondering about the "what ifs" in life? Everyone can relate to that.
Everyone can also relate to the family issues. They relate to the romance.
The graphics are basically non-existent (except when they show the sky, but that's not much of an issue). So there's really nothing to be out-dated in that sense.
Of course, the timelessness of the film may very well be helped by the fact it is about the past when it was made, so it had to try to be timeless in that sense.
It's a Wonderful Life is well scripted
There are many, many quality lines in the film. The most famous is the one about the moon.
What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I'll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey. That's a pretty good idea. I'll give you the moon, Mary.
Of course, that's not all. Every time George Bailey gives a rant towards Mr. Potter it sends tingles down my spine. Amazing, amazing writing.
It's a Wonderful Life has fantastic acting
Of course, the most famous actor in the film is James Stewart. However, did you know that Lionel Barrymore is actually Mr. Potter? And Donna Reed as Mary Hatch is pretty darned good too. All three are known for their wonderful acting, and they all hold true to form in this movie.
In short, there's nothing to dislike about the movie. There are no inaccuracies, no cringe-worthy lines, not even any time related issues. It's sweet. It's dramatic. There's even a moral for those who like that sort of thing.
It's perfect. It is truly the movie of the century.