People love movies. People love lists. So The A-List is a natural. While there are plenty of encyclopedic lists of films, this compulsively readable book of 100 essays -- most written expressly for this volume-flags the best of the best as chosen by a consensus of the National Society of Film Critics. The Society is a world-renowned, marquee -- name organization embracing some of America's most distinguished critics: more than forty writers who have national followings as well as devoted local constituencies in such major cities as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Minneapolis. But make no mistake about it: This isn't a collection of esoteric critic's choice movies. The Society has made its selections based on a film's intrinsic merits, its role in the development of the motion-picture art, and its impact on culture and society. Some of the choices are controversial. So are some of the omissions. It will be a jumping-off point for discussions for years to come. And since the volume spans all international films from the very beginning, it will act as a balance to recent guides dominated by films of the last two decades (hardly film's golden age). Here is a book that is definitely ready for its close-up.