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I finally did it.

Last night I watched my last unseen film on the AFI’s original Top 100 list.

If you don’t know, in 1998 the American Film Institute (AFI) polled “more than 1500 leaders of the American movie community” to establish a list of America’s 100 Greatest Movies (they’ve since “revised” the list, which I don’t understand and refuse to acknowledge for a host of reasons which I’ll not discuss now).

I was 24 and living in near-poverty in glorious Jackson, Wyoming in 1998. With few friends and little money, it was fortuitous that the local video store had dedicated an entire wall to the AFI’s shiny, new list. As I recall, 96 of the 100 films were on their shelf (some of these are hard to find) and I set out to watch them all.

At the time, I had seen 48, so I was starting from a good spot. Another 30 or so I had always wanted to see or thought I should, based on historical significance or legendary status. This left about 20 films that I would likely have to force myself to watch.

I dove in and tore off a big chunk of the “always-wanted-to-sees,” watching fifteen of them over the course of that long winter, which, stuffed in between my three low-paying jobs, was actually pretty impressive.

By the summer of ‘99 I had made more friends; I planned and traveled on a remarkable journey; I met my future partner and, I’m pleased to say, my movie-watching was displaced by good times. Eventually, I left Jackson and have yet to find another video store that houses the AFI’s Top 100 within their walls. My noble goal remained unachieved.

In late 2011, many years after discovering Netflix, callings of the list began to haunt me. I dusted off my printed copy from ’98 and set out to finish the goal I’d set so many years before. Two years and four months later (life does tend to get in the way), I’m proud to say I’ve done it. Read the rest of this entry »


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