Assembling rosters of "Best Whatever of All Time" is a losing assignment in almost all circumstances. Like for instance:
The American Film Institute (AFI) tonight revealed the 10 greatest movies in 10 classic American film genres in AFI's 10 TOP 10 ... A jury of 1,500 film artists, critics and historians named the following films as the very best in the following genres:
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (Science Fiction), CITY LIGHTS (Romantic Comedy), THE GODFATHER (Gangster), LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (Epic), RAGING BULL (Sports), THE SEARCHERS (Western), SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (Animation), TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Courtroom Drama), VERTIGO (Mystery) and THE WIZARD OF OZ (Fantasy).
Most everybody can wade through the films above and immediately object to any of the selections. Like, why The Searchers? Why not Stagecoach or Red River or even My Darling Clementine?
Don't get me wrong, The Searchers has become a darling of Hollywood movers and shakers, and it was a profitable, relatively well-reviewed film in its year, and I like it fine. But it's a league or two from being director John Ford's best Western. Personally, I like a number of his other offerings way better, but then I'm not a member of the AFI's selection committee.
But forget Westerns, or Sci Fi, or Gangster movies. Let's focus on the "Animation" winner Snow White. The picture was ground-breaking, the amount of money it made in its year was record-shattering ($8 million in 1938), and it set the mold for every animated feature that followed behind it.
But the best? Really?
Mystery novelist Raymond Chandler once wrote on a related topic:
"There are no "classics" of crime and detection. Not one. Within its frame of reference, which is the only way it should be judged, a classic is a piece of writing which exhausts the possibilities of its form and can hardly be surpassed. No story or novel of mystery has done that yet."
--Raymond Chandler, Intro to The Simple Art of Murder
Okay, so substitute "best" for Chandler's word "classic". Is Snow White an animated feature that "exhausts the possibilities of its form and can hardly be surpassed?"
I don't think so. I think there are a number of animated features that have surpassed it in the "Best" sweepstakes during the seven decades that have come between Snow White's release and June 18, 2008. (Although sure, Snow is a "masterpiece" as we generally define masterpieces. But that's a different issue).
My vote is for ignoring "Best Of" lists. My vote is for going about our daily business in a happy, healthful way, and when somebody comes up to us with a legal- sized parchment inscribed with "The Ten Greatest Films of All Time" we read it with reverence and respect, then shove that person over the nearest cliff.