Tootsie is the greatest movie ever made, according to a Time Out New York poll currently blowing the Internet’s collective wig. Hell, who knows with these things — maybe the six dozen actors polled really do know what they’re talking about on this one.
Ranking art is a reductive waste of time, useful only for stirring up an argument. (Watch: Besson > Spielberg. See?) By that measure it’s an inspired choice to tell the 2015 Internet that Sydney Pollack’s cross-dressing ‘80s comedy that had you half-admiring Dustin Hoffman’s curves is the best movie ever made. MRA types will explode, which in turn will lead to think pieces about gender politics. You can practically hear Serious cineastes: “Her? Really? I mean she’s nice and all, but her?” Our critical darlings tend to be bloody tragedies or at least character studies about the wreckage of weak men. The Godfathers, Fargo, Citizen Kane, Vertigo. It’s punk rock subversive to exalt a romantic comedy where the characters learn to empathize with each other, the lead becomes a better man, and we don’t seen a single corpse by the time the credits roll.
Tootsie is a legit movie. Hard to remember more than 30 years on, but on its release it made a ton of money. Second only to E.T. at the 1982 box office, the film was nominated for all the major Oscars. It is also consistently on real critics’ lists like the AFI Top 100, albeit much further down. I’d also argue it gets re-watched a hell of a lot more than many of the films on the Sight & Sound list, considered the granddaddy of all film rankings. Tell me with a straight face the last time anyone you knew turned off their cell phone and fired up their Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans Blu-ray?
If you want some insight into why these actors love Dustin Hoffman so much, I’ll leave you with this clip of him talking about how this movie made him revaluate his assumptions around gender when he realized that even a team of A-list makeup artists couldn’t get him close to the beauty standards he’d set for women. Roger Ebert famously called movies a machine “that generated empathy,” giving us insight into how we all live. Tootsie is exactly that.