Lost in the Movies (formerly The Dancing Image): 90 Years of Features: my "alternate Oscars", 1923 - 2012

Monday, October 21, 2013

90 Years of Features: my "alternate Oscars", 1923 - 2012


My picks for best feature year-by-year, based on my choices in the Wonders in the Dark weekly poll

Read the introduction for background & further explanation

This category is at once the most subjective and the least erratic - I would probably stand by most (though not all!) of these choices today, which is more than I can say for some of my other selections. Going with my gut, I treated the category more as a "favorite" than a "best" - that is to say, I gave enthusiasm the edge over admiration. The results reveal an eclectic taste, I guess - everything from animation to documentary to experimental, across four continents - but also a consistent sensibility. I like visceral cinema, movies that grab ahold of you via bold and inventive choices in camera, theme, character, and construction. As Sam Fuller says in Pierrot le fou (not featured below, though the quote will appear again elsewhere): "Film is like a battleground. Love. Hate. Action. Violence. Death. In one word: emotion." That's true whether you're a psychologically tormented cross-dressing saint, a hardbitten yet sweetly naive streetwalker, a wittily wry and deeply pained playwright...or a brave little toaster.

Every title is accompanied by a single producing country (I chose one in the case of co-productions), the director (unless another participant has greater claim as auteur), and a genre assignation, debatable at best but included just for fun. And then there's the image, usually a screen-cap - for this category I chose pictures to represent the wide range of cinematic expression: from close-up to wide shot, distilling the luminosity of a face or the sweep of an evocative landscape.

Do you know these films? If so, share your own thoughts below. If not, check out the links below, which lead to any relevant posts (be they essays, visual tributes, or video clips) featured on this very blog. Get ready to explore, but with fair warning: there be dragons...


Feature
1923
La Roue
(France, dir. Abel Gance) 
drama
1924
Die Nibelungen
(Germany, dir. Fritz Lang)
•adventure
1925
The Gold Rush
(USA, dir. Charles Chaplin)
comedy
1926
Faust
(Germany, dir. F.W. Murnau)
•horror
1927
Sunrise
(USA, dir. F.W. Murnau)
drama
1928
The Passion of Joan of Arc
(France, dir. Carl Th. Dreyer)
drama
1929
The Man with the Movie Camera
(USSR, dir. Dziga Vertov)
avant-garde
1930
The Blood of a Poet
(France, dir. Jean Cocteau)
avant-garde
1931
The Public Enemy
(USA, dir. William Wellman)
gangster
1932
Scarface
(USA, dir. Howard Hawks)
gangster
1933
42nd Street
(USA, dir. Lloyd Bacon/chor. Busby Berkeley)
musical
1934
It's a Gift
(USA, dir. Norman McLeod)
comedy
1935
The Bride of Frankenstein
(USA, dir. James Whale)
horror
1936
Dodsworth
(USA, dir. William Wyler)
•drama
1937
Make Way for Tomorrow
(USA, dir. Leo McCarey)
drama
1938
The Adventures of Robin Hood
(USA, dir. Michael Curtiz/William Keighley)
•adventure
1939
Young Mr. Lincoln
(USA, dir. John Ford)
•drama
1940
Pinocchio
(USA, prod. Walt Disney)
animation
1941
Citizen Kane
(USA, dir. Orson Welles)
•drama
1942
Casablanca
(USA, dir. Michael Curtiz)
•adventure
1943
Day of Wrath
(Denmark, dir. Carl Th. Dreyer)
•drama
1944
Murder, My Sweet
(USA, dir. Edward Dmytryk)
noir
1945   
Brief Encounter
(UK, dir. David Lean)
•drama
1946 
It's a Wonderful Life
(USA, dir. Frank Capra)
•drama
1947 
Kiss of Death
(USA, dir. Henry Hathaway)
noir
1948
Bicycle Thieves
(Italy, dir. Vittorio De Sica)
•drama
1949
The Third Man
(UK, dir. Carol Reed)
•noir
1950
In a Lonely Place
(USA, dir. Nicholas Ray)
•noir
1951
The River
(UK, dir. Jean Renoir)
•drama
1952
Singin' in the Rain
(USA, dir. Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly)
•musical
1953
Ugetsu
(Japan, dir. Kenji Mizoguchi)
•drama
1954
On the Waterfront
(USA, dir. Elia Kazan)
•drama
1955
Pather Panchali
(India, dir. Satyajit Ray)
•drama
1956
The Searchers
(USA, dir. John Ford)
•western
1957
The Nights of Cabiria
(Italy, dir. Federico Fellini)
•drama
1958
Vertigo
(USA, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
•thriller
1959
The World of Apu
(India, dir. Satyajit Ray)
•drama
1960
The Virgin Spring
(Sweden, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
•drama
1961
Through a Glass Darkly
(Sweden, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
•drama
1962
Lawrence of Arabia
(UK, dir. David Lean)
•adventure
1963   
This Sporting Life
(UK, dir. Lindsay Anderson)
•drama
1964 
Band of Outsiders
(France, dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
•comedy
1965 
Fists in the Pocket
(France, dir. Marco Bellocchio)
•drama
1966 
Masculin Feminin
(France, dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
•drama
1967 
Miraculous Virgin
(Czechoslovakia, dir. Stefan Uher)
•drama
1968 
Rosemary's Baby
(USA, dir. Roman Polanski)
•horror
1969 
Civilisation
(UK, hos. Kenneth Clark)
•documentary
1970 
Gimme Shelter
(USA, dir. Albert & David Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin)
•documentary
1971 
Out 1
(France, dir. Jacques Rivette)
•thriller
1972 
The Godfather
(USA, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
•gangster
1973 
The Mother and the Whore
(France, dir. Jean Eustache)
•drama
1974 
The Godfather Part II
(USA, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
•gangster
1975 
Barry Lyndon
(UK, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
•drama
1976 
Taxi Driver
(USA, dir. Martin Scorsese)
•thriller
1977 
Star Wars
(USA, dir. George Lucas)
•sci-fi
1978
A Walk Through H 
(UK, dir. Peter Greenaway)
•avant-garde
1979
Stalker
(USSR, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky)
•sci-fi

1980
Raging Bull 
(USA, dir. Martin Scorsese)
•drama
1981
My Dinner With Andre
(USA, dir. Louis Malle)
•drama
1982
The Verdict
(USA, dir. Sidney Lumet)
•thriller
1983
Scarface
(USA, dir. Brian De Palma)
•gangster
1984
Heimat
(West Germany, dir. Edgar Reitz)
•drama
1985
Shoah
(France, dir. Claude Lanzmann)
•documentary
1986
God's Country
(USA, dir. Louis Malle)
•documentary
1987
The Brave Little Toaster
(USA, dir. Jerry Rees)
•animation
1988
Dekalog
(Poland, dir. Krzysztof Kieslowski)
•drama
1989
For All Mankind
(USA, dir. Al Reinart)
•documentary
1990
Goodfellas
(USA, dir. Martin Scorsese)
•gangster
1991
JFK
(USA, dir. Oliver Stone)
•thriller
1992
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
(USA, dir. David Lynch)
•horror
1993
Schindler's List
(USA, dir. Steven Spielberg)
•drama
1994
Satantango
(Hungary, dir. Bela Tarr)
•drama
1995
La Haine
(France, dir. Mathieu Kassovitz)
•thriller
1996
Secrets & Lies
(UK, dir. Mike Leigh)
•comedy
1997
End of Evangelion
(Japan, dir. Hideaki Anno)
•animation
1998
The Big Lebowski
(USA, dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)
•comedy
1999
The Virgin Suicides
(USA, dir. Sofia Coppola)
•drama
2000
Platform
(China, dir. Zhangke Jia)
•drama
2001
Mulholland Dr.
(USA, dir. David Lynch)
•thriller
2002
Bus 174
(Brazil, dir. Jose Padhila)
•documentary
2003
Los Angeles Plays Itself
(USA, dir. Thom Andersen)
•documentary
2004
2046
(Hong Kong, dir. Kar Wai Wong)
•sci-fi
2005
Grizzly Man
(USA, dir. Werner Herzog)
•documentary
2006
Syndromes and a Century
(Thailand, dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
•drama
2007
No Country for Old Men
(USA, dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)
•thriller
2008
Historias Extraordinarias
(Argentina, dir. Mariano Llinas)
•adventure
2009
Antichrist
(Denmark, dir. Lars Von Trier)
•horror
2010
And Everything is Going Fine
(USA, dir. Steven Soderbergh)
•documentary
2011
The Story of Film
(UK, dir. Mark Cousins)
•documentary
2012
It's Such a Beautiful Day
(USA, dir. Don Hertzfeldt)
•animation





Explore these films on Lost in the Movies:

Additionally, 57 of my Best Features are featured alongside brief capsules in:

5 comments:

Mike said...

I haven't seen nearly enough to confidently place a ballot for a particular year, but I loved reading along with the polls, and got a lot of films to put on my watchlist because of it. Your choices are very electric- cool to see Scarface (De Palma) and GoodFellas up there with the more obscure foreign picks.

Knowing that I have much to expand upon in every year, here would be my choices (with a * next to our overlaps and ... next to choices I really don't care for but won out of lack of competition)

1923: N/A
1924: The Thief of Bagdad
1925: The Gold Rush *
1926: The General (going off IMDb date)
1927: Sunrise *
1928: The Passion of Joan of Arc *
1929: The Man with a Movie Camera *
1930: N/A
1931: City Lights
1932: Scarface *
1933: Woman of Tokyo
1934: A Story of Floating Weeds
1935: The 39 Steps
1936: Modern Times
1937: Make Way for Tomorrow *
1938: Bringing Up Baby…
1939: The Rules of the Game
1940: The Grapes of Wrath
1941: Citizen Kane *
1942: Casablanca *
1943: N/A
1944: Double Indemnity
1945: N/A
1946: The Best Years of Our Lives
1947: N/A
1948: Letter from an Unknown Woman
1949: Late Spring
1950: The Flowers of St. Francis
1951: A Streetcar Named Desire
1952: High Noon
1953: Tokyo Story
1954: On the Waterfront * (with special mentions to Rear Window and Sansho the Bailiff)
1955: Kiss Me Deadly
1956: The Killing
1957: 12 Angry Men
1958: Vertigo *
1959: Pickpocket (special mentions to Hiroshima Mon Amour)
1960: The Apartment
1961: West Side Story…
1962: Vivre Sa Vie
1963: Le mepris
1964: Dr. Strangelove…
1965: Pierrot le Fou
1966: Masculin Feminin
1967: Playtime (special mentions to Le Samurai)
1968: Once Upon a Time in the West
1969: The Wild Bunch
1970: Claire’s Knee
1971: The French Connection
1972: The Godfather *
1973: Mean Streets
1974: A Woman Under the Influence
1975: Mirror
1976: Taxi Driver *
1977: Star Wars… *
1978: Days of Heaven (special mentions to The Driver)
1979: Killer of Sheep
1980: Raging Bull *
1981: Thief (which is coming to Criterion!)
1982: E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial *
1983: Scarface *
1984: The Terminator
1985: After Hours
1986: Blue Velvet
1987: Where is the Friend’s Home?
1988: Colors…
1989: A City of Sadness
1990: Days of Being Wild (special mention to Goodfellas)
1991: Barton Fink
1992: Bad Lieutenant (special mentions to Life… And Nothing More The Last of the Mohicans)
1993: Jurassic Park (special mentions to Naked)
1994: Chungking Express
1995: Heat (special mentions to Casino and La haine)
1996: A Moment of Innocence
1997: Titanic
1998: The Thin Red Line
1999: The Insider
2000: Werckmeister Harmonies
2001: Mulholland Drive *
2002: Far From Heaven
2003: Lost in Translation
2004: Collateral
2005: A History of Violence
2006: Syndromes and a Century *
2007: Zodiac (special mentions to No Country for Old Men)
2008: Hunger
2009: My Son My Son What Have Ye Done…
2010: Restrepo
2011: Oslo, August 31 (special mentions to The Tree of Life and Rampart)
2012: Holy Motors

Overall I'm pretty happy about most of these. But many are subject to change once I've seen more.

Joel Bocko said...

Love the early part of your list - many of these would actually be my runners-up (on Saturday I'm posting, along with a simpler list of the remaining categories, my various honorable mentions, runners-up, and close calls). In later years, there's actually a ton I haven't seen - as I said in my intro, from the 80s on I'm not nearly as comfortable with my veiwing reach as in earlier years but, well, I voted anyway because that's the fun of it right? ;)

to wit, these are the ones I haven't seen: Woman of Tokyo, Thief, Where is the Friend's Home, City of Sadness, Barton Fink, Bad Lieutenant, A Moment of Innocence, Werckmeister Harmonies, and all of the films from 2008 on (except for Restrepo).

Of your picks, the ones that probably came closest to getting awarded (and indeed, some of these did win in the directing category) are probably The Thief of Bagdad, The Best Years of Our Lives, Letter from an Unknown Woman, Late Spring, Claire's Knee, Mirror, Lost in Translation. Interesting to see you place Titanic so highly; it gets knocked about a lot now but I haven't seen it since it's theatrical release (I liked it then).

sting606 said...

I'd feel a lot safer starting with my earliest memory of being in the theater... which happens to be 1995 at age 3, than I do starting with 1923 where I honestly was not around with the opportunity to see every movie at the time and as such would be very biased...

1995: Heat
1996: Sling Blade
1997: Boogie Nights
1998: The Big Lebowski
1999: Fight Club
2000: In the Mood for Love (with acknowledgement towards Requiem for a Dream)
2001: Mulholland Drive (with acknowledgement towards The Royal Tenenbaums)
2002: City of God
2003: Dogville
2004: Collateral
2005: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
2006: The Host
2007: No Country for Old Men
2008: Love Exposure
2009: A Serious Man
2010: The Social Network
2011: The Tree of Life
2012: The Master

Joel Bocko said...

Interestingly, this list aligns more closely with my directors list (which appears Friday) than with my Feature list. Still haven't seen Sling Blade or Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Do you prefer the latter film to Oldboy, out of curiosity?

moviemotorbreath said...

It's honestly a bit hard to figure out which of the three I prefer, but when I have a gun put to my head... my vote will more likely than not go to Lady Vengeance indeed. It happens to be the most avant-garde of the two and as such there is more emotional weight elicited through its cinematic techniques.

I do find Oldboy to have the better script, though.