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A Huge Survey of Critics Picked the 100 Greatest Comedies of All Time

The Big Lebowski best comedies
Universal

People love lists. We just do! Maybe it’s that they give us something to argue about while we wait for the cold embrace of death, maybe it’s that they posit taste as a clearly identifiable expression of identity, maybe it’s that the notion of art being standardized and compared make it simpler and easier to understand. But every year, some august institution’s putting out a new standard-bearing ranking of the All-Time Greatest Whatever of Whenever. And in 2017, that esteemed organization is the BBC, and they’re ruling on the greatest comedies in cinema history.

Polling 253 film critics (you can peruse their individual ballots here) from around the globe for their top 10, the BBC compiled a list of the 100 comedies that received the most votes and presents their findings to us today. The wide sample size made for a highly varied list, between films old and new (the timeline stretches from 1923’s Safety Last! to last year’s Toni Erdmann), domestic and foreign, lowbrow and highbrow. Indeed, it’s faintly inspiring to see The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie sharing column space with Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. ScreenCrush is very proud to have our very own Editor-in-Chief Matt Singer included in this survey, out there pulling equally for Jacques Tati’s subtly complex comedy of visual space Playtime and the movie where Will Ferrell sings “Time to Say Goodbye.”

You have to go over to BBC.com for the full list, but here’s the top ten:

  1. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
  2. Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
  3. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
  4. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
  5. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
  6. Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
  7. Airplane! (ZAZ, 1980)
  8. Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
  9. This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)
  10. The General (Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 1926)

Of course, the real utility of lists like these it that they compel us to make our own and seriously interrogate our tastes and preferences. Take this as an opportunity to give some consideration to what your picks would be, and what they say about you as a moviegoer. For instance, my top 10 list consists entirely of Tom Green’s 2001 transgressive experimental comedy Freddy Got FingeredDoes this make me a maniac or a secret genius? Trick question! It’s both.

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