The Best American Film Of All Time Is

I know, I know. It’s silly to pick just one movie as the best of anything - how can one movie possible encapsulate all that is terrific about a style, a genre, a story, an artform, a time or a place? It can’t. So let’s take that as a given - that no one movie could possibly be considered the best movie of all-time - and pick one anyway.

My choice? Two-Lane Blacktop. Reasons:

  1. It’s a road movie. Along with comic books and jazz music, there’s no more quintessentially American movie idiom than the road movie*. Two-Lane Blacktop takes the expanse of the road and strains it through a strangely Beckettian sensibility - the road as existentialism, if you will. Monte Hellman (the director) also manages to make the endless vistas of the road seem claustrophobic. By doing so, he taps into the weird paradox at the heart of car culture: cars are a symbol of freedom, but you can only drive them on predetermined paths. That’s a pretty heady mental place for what is essentially a B-movie.

  2. Warren Oates is in it. Not the best Warren Oates role - that would go to the Monte Hellman movie he made after this one: Cockfighter - but Oates is mesmerising just the same. A consummate bullshit artist for whom talking is the only way he seems to be able to reassure himself that he’s alive, Oates gives us a portrayal of a huckster as purely American as The Music Man.

  3. It’s about nothing. Well, sort of. The movie sets itself up as a conflict between James Taylor (it’s worth the entire movie just to hear Taylor’s bizarre delivery of the word motherfucker) and Warren Oates, who are ostensibly supposed to be cross-country racing each other for the pink slips on their cars. But at some undefined point, the characters sort of forget all about it; the conflict isn’t so much unresolved as it is ignored. Slowly, the movie transforms itself from a movie about a subculture (in this case, car racers) to one about obsessions; as such, it moves from the specific to the universal. And that, my friends, is the mark of great art.

4) A great ending. Which, if you haven’t seen it, I won’t give away. But the final scene is pure iconographic film-making at it’s best.

Kevin “Greased Lightning” Cogliano

*The Canadian exception: Bruce Macdonald, who made Roadkill, Highway 61, and Hard Core Logo.


Nah, it’s got to be “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. I can’t think of a film like this being done anywhere but America.

I’m going with Pulp Fiction, for a laundry list of unrelated and obscure reasons, which I’ll happily explain in my ongoing attempts to be an unapologetic pretentious motherfucker.

  1. It was made in America, by an American, from his original screenplay. Relax, the Tarentino fawning ends right there (mostly).

  2. It’s a homage to pulp fiction, a very American writing/publication style (although someone is going to tell me it’s based on Noh theater or some fucking thing. GET A LIFE INTERNET NERD).

  3. It’s a series of main plotlines that dribble over into each other, like our collective heritage.

  4. Many argue the first effort was better, albeit less accessible and grim (like Britain!).

  5. It’s NOT pointlessly vulgar or violent, otherwise it would be more like Japan. The vulgarity and violence is plentiful, though.

  6. Also unlike Japan, the perverts are the bad guys, but some of the criminals are be the good guys.

  7. It is, however, pointlessly racist, even though it’s brimming with all sorts of people.

  8. As it film, it’s pretty recent, like our nation.

  9. It’s far edgier to say you hate it than admit it’s done pretty well and has influenced modern film signicantly (perhaps far more than it ought to).

  10. The bold (Sameul Jackson’s character) and the underdog (Bruce Willis’ character) triumph the greatest.

  11. It tries mightily to make up what it lacks in substance with style.

  12. It’s littered with retreads and remakes (the diner, the soundtrack, John Travolta).

  13. Lastly, and no offense, but everyone’s heard of it.

Citizen Kane, you youngsters!


The Stupids, without a doubt…

“Fools thought I was a bush…”

Hmm, or maybe it’s just stupid to try and pin down a single best film?

-AM Urbanek

The Godfather (and the sequel - I kind of consider them the same film in 2 parts)

Two-Lane Blacktop is amazing. It’s basically the American Bicycle Thief.

The Godfather 1 and 2


the original Star Wars trilogy.

Can’t get more American than Star Wars.


I could never pick just one, so I won’t. Here’s a list by category.

Drama: Casablanca. Can’t believe no one’s mentioned it yet.

SciFi: got to agree with Star Wars. Other films are far more meaningful and “important” (like Bladerunner), but none are as fun.

Comedy: tough. Really tough. I can’t pick between Being There, Strangelove, The Jerk, The Gold Rush, and Stripes.

Action: Raiders

War: Tora! Tora! Tora! barely beats Platoon and Saving Private Ryan

Romance/Romantic Comedy: The Philadelphia Story

Costume Drama: The Lion in Winter

Movie starring Muppets - The Muppet Movie

Documentary starring Andrew Bub: Death of a Cheesehead :P

What, no porn entry?

C’mon, it has to be The Big Lebowski.

Barton Fink

What are you talking about Dave? There’s no such documentary I… what? What are all these cameras doing here? Who are you people? Is that a giant cheese grater? Hey! ow! Ow!!!

Mwahahahahah. MWAHAHAHAHA!

The greatest movie ever made in the US or any other country is “Rat Pfink a Boo Boo,” directed by the great Ray Dennis Steckler and starring Vin Saxon (a.k.a. rockabilly also-ran Ron Haydock) and Titus Moede (who later became a big-time porn director).

I’d also give the nod to Pulp Fiction, and have some other supporting reasons.

It has a '50s restaurant.

“It’s not a bike, it’s a chopper.”

Many of the characters have that enterprising “make a quick buck” attitude.

Mandatory Vietnam reference.

Much ado about Christian religion.

Some good films mentioned here.

I’d throw The Graduate into the ring.