Lost in the Movies: What are 100 (of Your) Favorite Movies?

What are 100 (of Your) Favorite Movies?

An Open Question for Bloggers, Lurkers, and Stumblers

Call it a meme if you like, though I think the term's gone out of fashion. Anyway, I'm not setting any rules or regulations, and I'm not tagging anyone - just asking a question that I'd love to see answered. The "(of Your)" part of the title is essential; these lists need not be definitive in any way. They should just represent movies you want to highlight at this particular moment to express your taste or amuse yourself and others. If a hundred titles are too many, or too few, pick another number. Feel free to include pictures and brief explanations (that was the most fun part for me) - or not. You can respond in the comments below or on your own blog; you can tag others or follow my lead and just ask everyone. And of course you could snicker at the question and say, huffily (as a fellow in a Joy Division shirt recently sneered at me when I asked his favorite of their albums), "I hate those stupid questions!" But where's the fun in that?

Here's my own list, from last December (already there's a bunch of stuff I would change around): 100 of My Favorite Movies

Enjoy yourselves. I'm really interested to see who picks what.


Matthias said...

Madame de... by Max Ophuls is my favorite picture.

Joel Bocko said...

Good choice, Matthias (this time around, no Ophuls made my list but if any had it would be Letter from an Unknown Woman). Any more where that came from?

Matthias said...

Ah! Letter from an Unknown Woman has possibly the best performance that Max got in his movies, but I wasn't as affected by it as I was the structure and narrative devices (and what devices they are!) in Madame De....

Unfortunately, my blogging days aren't with us. Honestly, I had thought that your comment section was going to be flooded with people on this topic.


Joel Bocko said...

Yeah, me too! I'd like to think people are preparing their blog posts, but we'll see. Lurkers, de-lurk...

Joel Bocko said...

Via e-mail, Jaime Grijalba has shared with me his top 100. Here it is for DI readers. The numbers didn't copy over, so I added them in 10-spot intervals to keep better track. I understand he also did a series on his favorites a few years back. I'll see if I can dig up the link for that.

For now, enjoy:

1) Donnie Darko (2001)
Magnolia (1999)
The Shining (1980)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Monty Python and The Holy Grail (1975)
Brazil (1985)
Kill Bill (2003/2004)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
10) Vertigo (1958)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Toki o kakeru shôjo (2006)
Evil Dead II (1987)
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)
Psycho (1960)
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (2001)
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
20) The Fountain (2006)
Bowling for Columbine (2002)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The Lord of the Rings (2001/2002/2003)
Hanyo (1960)
Akahige (1965)
Wandâfuru raifu (1998)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
Back to the Future (1985)
North by Northwest (1959)
30) The Truman Show (1998)
Harvey (1950)
Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Ed Wood (1994)
Adaptation (2002)
El Ángel Exterminador (1968)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Ai no mukidashi (2008)
Yi yi (2000)
40) Citizen Kane (1941)
À Bout de souffle (1960)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
Dung che sai duk (1994)
Southland Tales (2006)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
The Devils (1971)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Angst essen Seele auf (1974)
American Graffiti (1973)
50) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Shichinin no samurai (1954)
Fa yeung nin wa (2000)
Fight Club (1999)
Rashomon (1950)
Eraserhead (1977)
Carrie (1976)
Kaze no kani no Naushika (1984)
Blue Velvet (1986)
60) Apocalypse Now (1979)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Hauru no ugoku shiro (2004)
Everything Will Be Ok (2006)
M (1931)
Boogie Nights (1997)
WALL·E (2008)
Domino (2005)
Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
70) Suspiria (1977)
Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA (2000)
Pierrot le fou (1965)
L`Age D'Or (1930)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Chinjeolhan geumjassi (2005)
Viridiana (1961)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Un chien Andalou (1929)
80) The Invisible Man (1933)
Salinui chueok (2003)
Lost Highway (1997)
Ikiru (1952)
Halloween (1978)
The Prestige (2006)
Señales de ruta (2000)
Mullholland Dr. (2001)
12 Angry Men (1957)
7:35 de la mañana (2003)
90) Master and Commander: The far side of the World (2003)
Big Fish (2003)
Okuribito (2008)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Batoru rowaiaru (2000)
V for Vendetta (2005)
The Thing (1982)
Modern Times (1936)
Frankenstein (1931)
The Wicker Man (1973)
100) The Fly (1986)

Joel Bocko said...

I wish I'd remembered to slot Everything Will Be OK somewhere on my list...

Jeff Pike said...

Lately I am always fiddling with this, but here's a hundred as of today...

1. City Lights (1931)
2. Scenes From a Marriage (1973)
3. The Up Series (1964-present)
4. Nashville (1975)
5. Taxi Driver (1975)
6. Seven Samurai (1954)
7. Annie Hall (1977)
8. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
9. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
10. Au hasard Balthazar (1966)
11. Tokyo Story (1953)
12. The Mother and the Whore (1973)
13. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
14. Blue Velvet (1986)
15. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
16. Apocalypse Now (1979)
17. Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)
18. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
19. Fanny and Alexander (1983)
20. No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)
21. Modern Times (1936)
22. Mulholland Dr. (2001)
23. Double Indemnity (1944)
24. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
25. The Godfather (1972)
26. Nights of Cabiria (1957)
27. North by Northwest (1959)
28. Casablanca (1942)
29. Cabaret (1972)
30. Persona (1966)
31. Fearless (1993)
32. Scarlet Street (1945)
33. Velvet Goldmine (1998)
34. Videodrome (1983)
35. Gates of Heaven (1978)
36. Dogfight (1991)
37. Before Sunset (2004)
38. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
39. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
40. Strangers on a Train (1951)
41. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
42. Run Lola Run (1998)
43. Don't Look Back (1967)
44. The 400 Blows (1959)
45. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
46. Freaks (1932)
47. Short Cuts (1993)
48. Do the Right Thing (1989)
49. The Graduate (1967)
50. The Lady Eve (1941)
51. The Lord of the Rings (2001)
52. You Can Count on Me (2000)
53. Lost in Translation (2003)
54. Ghost World (2001)
55. The Girl Can't Help It (1956)
56. The Man with the Movie Camera (1929)
57. Jackie Brown (1997)
58. King Kong (1933)
59. The Tenant (1976)
60. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
61. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
62. Rear Window (1954)
63. Mean Streets (1973)
64. Gimme Shelter (1970)
65. GoodFellas (1990)
66. Manhattan (1979)
67. Safe (1995)
68. Alien (1979)
69. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
70. High Art (1998)
71. The Player (1992)
72. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
73. Unforgiven (1992)
74. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
75. The Blue Angel (1930)
76. Dead Ringers (1988)
77. Eraserhead (1976)
78. Breaking the Waves (1996)
79. On the Waterfront (1954)
80. Day for Night (1973)
81. Trainspotting (1996)
82. Boogie Nights (1997)
83. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
84. Local Hero (1983)
85. Grace of My Heart (1996)
86. The Exorcist (1973)
87. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)
88. Zodiac (2007)
89. Oldboy (2003)
90. Stevie (2002)
91. Gosford Park (2001)
92. Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976)
93. MASH (1970)
94. Psycho (1960)
95. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
96. Rashomon (1950)
97. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
98. Notorious (1946)
99. The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
100. To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Emak Bakia said...

I actually put myself through this process fairly recently (for whatever bizarre reason) and this is what I ended up with. I've cheated a couple of times here (pairing Frankenstein with Bride of Frankenstein and the first two Godfathers) as otherwise both would have easily made the list on their own and I was hungry for space to devote to other films. If it matters at all, I would place Frankenstein over Bride and Part II over Part I if forced to choose.

1. Spirit of the Beehive (1973)
2. Masculine, Feminine (1966)
3. Orphee (1950)
4. Citizen Kane (1941)
5. Killer of Sheep (1977)
6. Duck Soup (1933)
7. Sunrise (1927)
8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
9. Broken Blossoms (1919)
10. The Crowd (1928)
11. La Roue (1923)
12. Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein (1931/35)
13. The Man With the Movie Camera (1929)
14. A Serious Man (2009)
15. All That Heaven Allows (1955)
16. Breathless (1960)
17. Taxi Driver (1976)
18. Dead Man (1995)
19. Othello (1952)
20. Man of the West (1958)
21. Way Down East (1920)
22. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
23. Once Upon A Time In The West (1969)
24. The Godfather, Parts I and II (1972/74)
25. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
26. How Green Was My Valley (1941)
27. Attack! (1956)
28. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
29. Ikiru (1952)
30. Cairo Station (1962)
31. Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
32. Ace In The Hole (1951)
33. Targets (1968)
34. Wild Strawberries (1957)
35. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966)
36. Beauty and the Beast (1947)
37. Written on the Wind (1956)
38. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
39. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
40. The House is Black (1963)
41. Psycho (1960)
42. Seven Samurai (1956)
43. F for Fake (1973)
44. Welfare (1975)
45. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
46. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
47. The Shining (1980)
48. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
49. Touch of Evil (1958)
50. Eraserhead (1977)
51. The Man From Laramie (1955)
52. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)
53. Nosferatu (1922)
54. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
55. Blow-Up (1966)
56. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972)
57. No Country for Old Men (2007)
58. Do The Right Thing (1989)
59. A Night at the Opera (1935)
60. 8 ½ (1963)
61. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
62. The Third Man (1949)
63. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
64. The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972)
65. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
66. Spirited Away (2001)
67. The Docks of New York (1928)
68. Duck Amuck (1953)
69. Dog Star Man (1961)
70. Children of Paradise (1945)
71. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
72. Vertigo (1958)
73. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
74. Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
75. Russian Ark (2002)
76. Gilda (1946)
77. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921)
78. The Last Picture Show (1971)
79. Mildred Pierce (1945)
80. Brazil (1985)
81. Sherlock Jr. (1924)
82. My Life to Live (1962)
83. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
84. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
85. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (1989)
86. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
87. The King of Comedy (1983)
88. The Leopard (1963)
89. Valhalla Rising (2010)
90. The Fly (1986)
91. The Immortal Story (1968)
92. Once Upon A Time In China (1991)
93. The Bigamist (1953)
94. Miller’s Crossing (1990)
95. Annie Hall (1977)
96. Don’t Look Back (1967)
97. His Girl Friday (1940)
98. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)
99. Pi (1998)
100. Hour of the Wolf (1968)

There were, of course, several other choices I could just as easily have made - including my adopted alias that I was delighted to see on your list.

Joel Bocko said...

Ah, good to see people taking it up! I'll come back next week with some more extensive comments on you guys' choices, but great lists! Love to see The House is Black on there too, EB.

Joel Bocko said...

Shame more people didn't bite (it's still an open invitation, folks) but for a bit more detailed response...

JPK, nice list with a lot of overlap between us I think. Particularly cool to see Mother & the Whore and the Up series so high.

Fascinating to see Dogfight up there too. I quite liked that movie - it's one of those quiet, little humanist films that kind of fly below the radar but stick with you once you've seen them. I actually recently acquired an old VHS copy. Cool to see Harlan County, USA on there too. Have you seen the later film by the same director - I think it's called American Dream? I saw some clips from it once and it looked absolutely fascinating - maybe even more so than its more famous predecessor. I still haven't seen the whole thing though.

Emak Bakia,

Nice to see Masculin Feminin so high. I'm planning a series where I discuss each of my 100 favorites in a bit more detail, like a couple paragraphs, and obviously that one will climax the series.

What makes it top Godard for you? For me, above all, it's the style - it's just the perfect combination of kinetic propulsion and long, unblinking photographic fascination.

Other highlights: glad to see love for Make Way for Tomorrow. I know it's probably not kosher to say, but I personally prefer it to Tokyo Story. Hey, so did Ozu, probably!

And Targets - that's one of those films, like Parallax View, that I stumbled across one day on TV without ever having heard of before, tuning in halfway through and wondering what exactly what was going on - why this quiet sniper kid & Karloff were in the same movie, how they'd connect. I love finding movies like that, like entering a mysterious universe. Good picks.

Mike said...

I've been obsessing over my top 50 list on IMDb so much that I decided to make it private until I can add comments to all of them. Some of the comments I want to tweak anyways (what does the movie mean to ME is an angle I want to try and tackle the project from). In the meantime, here's my top 50 (again.. haha) typed up this time-

1. Raging Bull
2. Le mépris
3. Sunrise
4. The Godfather
5. Late Spring
6. Mulholland Drive
7. City Lights
8. Days of Being Wild
9. Pickpocket
10. The Thin Red Line
11. The Passion of Joan of Arc
12. GoodFellas
13. The Rules of the Game
14. Casino
15. The Gold Rush
16. Rear Window
17. Heat
18. Sansho the Bailiff
19. Claire's Knee
20. The Mirror
21. The Godfather Part II
22. Vivre sa Vie
23. Days of Heaven
24. The Best Years of Our Lives
25. Seven Samurai
26. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
27. Collateral
28. Tokyo Story
29. Le cercle rouge
30. Man with a Movie Camera
31. Do the Right Thing
32. Zodiac
33. A Woman Under the Influence
34. Scarface (1932)
35. The Last of the Mohicans
36. Modern Times
37. The Wild Bunch
38. Life, and Nothing More
39. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
40. Jurassic Park
41. The Apartment
42. No Country for Old Men
43. I Was Born, But...
44. Jaws
45. Lost in Translation
46. Only Angels Have Wings
47. A History of Violence
48. All the President's Men
49. Playtime
50. Sherlock Jr.

I'd love to here your thoughts, like what's there that shouldn't be, what's not there that should be, recommendations, and any other musings. Of course this list is subject to change since I'm seeing classic films for the first time everyday (Pickpocket is still the only Bresson I've seen, I've only seen Vertigo once in a film class & major gaps from Kubrick, Welles, Hitch, many others). Anyways sorry to shove this down your throat but I love getting feedback on my lists and your opinion I value more than most, so thanks in advance.

Joel Bocko said...

No opinion on what should/shouldn't be there as I tend to love the idiosyncrasy of different peoples' lists so even when I don't like a film they do I'm glad it's on there to spice things up.

That said, later this week I'll return and write up my thoughts on each of these films in turn which should be fun, as many aren't own my own list and/or reviewed yet on this site so haven't been discussed yet. Looking forward to it...

Mike said...

Awesome! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on some of these. Again, sorry for forcing this on you, being on summer vacation I have all the time in the world to watch/write about/read about movies, and I tend to forget that people in the real word have jobs and other shit to do, lol.

Joel Bocko said...

Ok, here are my brief thoughts on each one:

1. Raging Bull
I knew this was your favorite; it's probably the Scorsese I admire most though there are others I viscerally like more.

2. Le mépris
I love this for Bardot, Coutard (the color!), and Delerue (maybe greatest tragic-romantic score in film history). But as Godard movies go, there are many more I feel better showcase his particular talents. I sometimes think the bigger budget & technical demands hamstrung him a bit. But I'm in the minority on that; someone (I think it was Colin McCabe) even called this "the greatest work of art in postwar Europe" or something like that.

3. Sunrise
Great Murnau, and great example of what I like to call "the wandering narrative"; I love that we begin as an expressionistic melodrama set on a farm and halfway through, there's a drunken pig racing through a nightclub. Love it when storytelling has that kind of freedom.

4. The Godfather
Have you read Richard Brody's recent pieces on this film and the "negative" narrative influence it had? Interesting read. But I find the film is not just a "throwback", as he puts it, but also a step forward. It's a brilliant mixture of New and Old Hollywood.

5. Late Spring
My favorite Ozu as well, and the first one I saw. I didn't quite get it at the time (the Noh play, now one of my favorite parts, seemed a snoozer to me then) but something about it stuck with me, mainly the heartbreakingly subtle ending.

6. Mulholland Drive
Yeah, I love this one. Interestingly, its initial appeal was its aura of impenetrable mystery (although I think I had the twist spoiled for me ahead of time) but with further viewings I find the narrative/character explanations actually strengthen rather than weaken its appeal (others disagree).

7. City Lights
The film I'd most likely point to as Chaplin's masterpiece, or his most perfect film though The Gold Rush is my personal favorite and Modern Times & Great Dictator seem to me the most fascinating.

8. Days of Being Wild
Haven't seen this yet! The only Wong Kar-Wai films I've seen are 2046, In the Mood for Love, and Chungking Express. I know I'll love exploring his oeuvre in greater depth - he's such an evocative weaver of mood.

9. Pickpocket
Great movie, and my first Bresson. I don't think I've seen it since, oddly enough.

10. The Thin Red Line
Last saw this in theaters. My first Malick. Need to watch again, definitely. But I liked it a lot at the time, especially for the way death seemed real in it - not just something that happened but something you felt the significance of.

Joel Bocko said...


11. The Passion of Joan of Arc
Yeah, agree with everything you said on this previously. Pure filmmaking - it seems fully "realized" rather than "studied" even though a great deal of thought went into it. Seems like pure feeling.

12. GoodFellas
If I stumble across this on TV, I'm hooked and will watch it all the way till the ending. In the sense of rewatchability, there is probably no film I like more.

13. The Rules of the Game
Many viewings, I'm still sorta iffy on this one. At best, I admire and mildly enjoy it, at worst I'm frustrated and distanced by its lofty reputation. The hunting sequence (while disturbing for the way its production defies its professed sentiments) and the chase through the chateau are both brilliantly staged.

14. Casino
I don't tend to rank this with Scorsese's top films though increasingly it seems critics, filmmakers, and fans do. I do enjoy it though, and particularly like the fact that these glamorous, world-class casinos are run by a bunch of grouchy old men in bad suits out of the back of a shabby Kansas City grocery store.

15. The Gold Rush
As stated above, my favorite Chaplin. It makes me laugh the hardest, but it also moves me most.

16. Rear Window
Disappointing to me at first because it didn't contain the creepy mystery element of Vertigo and Spellbound (2 of my first Hitchcocks). It's in a more jocular tone, with less to figure out. Of course it's brilliant, particularly formally, as I eventually realized.

17. Heat
My second-favorite Mann, after Last of the Mohicans. I really need to watch it again now that I live & work in L.A.

18. Sansho the Bailiff
Excellent movie, but I feel I need to see it again to completely fall under its spell. I think I've only seen it once, at a NY screening years ago.

19. Claire's Knee
Exhibit A for the defense of conversation as "cinematic".

20. The Mirror
Cinema as dream, memoir, exploration...there should be more movies like this.

Joel Bocko said...


21. The Godfather Part II
A more controlled, contemplative film than its predecessor but still, I think, best appreciated alongside it.

22. Vivre sa Vie
Fascinating to me, but also somewhat cold. I own it and revisit from time to time without usually fully crawling within its skin.

23. Days of Heaven
Beautiful movie. Not sure why I don't own it yet, though I've come close to buying it a few times.

24. The Best Years of Our Lives
Just love this movie, the way its both more textured than the usual Hollywood product yet more distilled than contemporary reality itself. Perfect example of how the American entertainment cinema can reflect social reality while still romanticizing & mythologizing it.

25. Seven Samurai
Great filmmaking of course, yet the only time I really felt its magic all the way through was seeing it on a big screen. Not sure why. Kurosawa in general has not enchanted me as much as he enchants others, though I'm enamored of his color work.

26. 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her
Only watched once, and was underwhelmed (for one thing the coolness of the heroine disappointed me in comparison to the more yearning, youthful Karina, Wiazemski, Seberg, and Goya). A friend suggested watching it once with the soundtrack off just to soak in the visuals and then return to it with Godard's voice whispering in the background. I'll try that sometime.

27. Collateral
Liked this in theater, and own it actually, but surprised to see it so high. I should watch it again. I do remember being disappointed (as with Training Day) by how the good guy triumphed in seemingly logic-defying fashion.

28. Tokyo Story
Though most consider this Ozu's masterpiece to me it feels a bit too sour - I like the mixture of mild melancholy and quiet joy in his other works, and even prefer the outright sadness of Tokyo Twilight to the depressing bitterness of this film. It's not that I DON'T like it, and I certainly admire it, but there are other Ozus I warm to more.

29. Le cercle rouge
I watched this very late one night and was spellbound but I was so tired I had to go to bed. I swore to get up early and finish it the next morning. That was 3 years ago and I never did pick up where I left off. God knows why - I'll be hooked when I start it up again, I'm sure.

30. Man with a Movie Camera
I love David Thomson's comment that this is the most modern film on the latest Sight & Sound top 10 (despite being the oldest). It definitely suits our mash-up, ADD, freewheeling media epoch.

Joel Bocko said...

31. Do the Right Thing
Wanna watch again especially since I've been discussing Spike Lee lately. I liked it when I saw it, but I think I'll like it even more now.

32. Zodiac
Just such a beautifully controlled and composed movie. Surprisingly, I've only seen it once. But it's a masterpiece of late 00s formalism along with the likes of No Country for Old Men.

33. A Woman Under the Influence
Also due for a re-viewing. Cassavetes seems a kindred spirit in some ways, and I love a lot of the filmmakers he influenced but I feel I haven't totally "gotten" him yet. This was the first I ever saw, but it was over 10 years ago.

34. Scarface (1932)
Yeah, love this and 100% with you on your comment on Muni's reveal in the barber's chair. I consider that a key to the film, and to Hawks, as well.

35. The Last of the Mohicans
Gorgeously executed in terms of editing, which manages to both make one conscious of the style without seeming to outwardly call attention to itself. That final sequence is just such a brilliant utilization of music, movement (camera and actor), and montage.

36. Modern Times
Has grown on me. I don't find it as funny or moving as City Lights or Gold Rush, but after making my video essay I feel I got closer to the heart of it. And I've always had a big crush on the spunky Paulette Goddard, who's irresistable here.

37. The Wild Bunch
When I saw this as a teenager, I enjoyed it (I loved slo-mo violence) but was a bit mystified by how seriously it was taken. Later, I appreciated it more for the throwback elements - the male camaraderie, the sense of doomed duty - than the sixties novelty.

38. Life, and Nothing More
Couldn't even remember what this was before googling it. Know it only from the Cousins doc, but from that alone I'd love to see it along with the many other Kiarostami/Iranian films that investigate documentary, creation, and the fuzzy ground between them.

39. Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Maybe my favorite Fassbinder, both hip and humanist. Own it, but not sure I've ever watched my copy.

40. Jurassic Park
Ha, don't know if I could put this in my top 50 but in some sense I should. This was THE movie of my childhood, at least theatrically-released. I was the perfect age for it when it came out and, as a recent post showed, it certainly inspired my own "work".

Joel Bocko said...


41. The Apartment
My favorite Wilder probably. Shirley MacLaine is adorable, and the concept is clever and well-developed throughout.

42. No Country for Old Men
This was the film that made me say to myself, "The Coens could adapt the phone directory and make it riveting." Just every shot, every cut was so perfect.

43. I Was Born, But...
A film which I forget was silent in retrospect, so lively is its performances and mise en scene.

44. Jaws
Increasingly, my favorite Spielberg. It's a monster movie but also a great ensemble character piece.

45. Lost in Translation
Such a perfect mood piece. Love how it makes room for quiet moments that don't seem to advance any "plot" yet add so much to the texture and sense of place and sensibility.

46. Only Angels Have Wings
The quintessential Hawks film. An adventure movie in which the adventure takes place mostly offscreen, and what's important is the mindset of the men as they approach and return from risky endeavors, and especially how that mindset plays out in the brief moments of adventure themselves.

47. A History of Violence
Did not like this one at all. The only scenes that worked for me were the rather ridiculous rape scene and that tense family dinner at the end. I felt they belonged in a stronger, less cartoonish movie.

48. All the President's Men
This will be my next entry in the Favorites series. Debating whether I should rewatch it first (I don't want to do that for every entry). Great atmosphere, and riveting real-life story. So hooky in both screenplay and direction.

49. Playtime
I would love to see this on the big screen. As it is, I like and admire it but feel like I need to get truly lost in it by experiencing it in that vein.

50. Sherlock Jr.
I love the movie-screen montage when he's cut from film to film but I think I was expecting more of a meta-movie when I saw it and was somewhat disappointed. Some wonderful gags and sequences, but ultimately I prefer Keaton's pratfalls in the outdoorsy locales of The General and Our Hospitality.

Again, great list and I enjoyed the opportunity to bounce off of it here.

Mike said...

NOOOOOOO! I had a huge comment typed up and then the power went out. Damn you rain! It could have been worse, I suppose, since I was only down to Late Spring... oh well, I'll return later when I feel mentally ready to retype what I already had and go from there.

Mike said...

OK let's try this again...

Raging Bull- It's my favorite for very personal reasons. I think it's the film that, at any given moment, I would want to watch over any other film.

Le mepris- I had a longer comment typed up for this but I'll just say this- it's the most multi layered film I've ever seen. When I first saw it, I was enamored by the surface elements you mention in your capsule (I think I even left a comment on this blog after my first viewing) but re-watching it I was struck by how much is going on under the surface. It's intellectually challenging without sacrificing emotional impact.

Sunrise- It's becoming clearer to me that there is nothing in cinema quite like this film. Ditto what you said about the wandering narrative. I love when plots boil down like that.

I read Richard Brody's pieces on The Godfather.. interesting reads, but I have to ask is that really a negative influence that the films had? I mean, The Sopranos is one of the most acclaimed TV series of all time, and some even think, when done right, TV can be better, more expansive than cinema. Also, the same thing could be said about
John Cassavetes and his "negative" influence on indie films, since he has many imitators who don't exactly make the most original movies ever. Just my two cents.

Mulholland Drive- The plot still mystifies me, in a good way. It was the first Lynch film I saw and nothing that I've subsequently seen of his has come close to the power of this film. I'll be watching it again soon on a 'movie marathon' I'm going on in a few days.

City Lights- Chaplin was a genius. The Gold Rush may be funnier, but this one is more emotionally involving. The boxing scene was brilliant.

Days of Being Wild- Surprised you haven't seen this one. I actually haven't seen In The Mood For Love or 2046 yet, in fact this one, Chungking Express and As Tears Go By are the only Wong I've seen. This film is gorgeous and full of restless energy. I love the characters, cinematography, music.. just a wonderful film.

Pickpocket- As I mentioned this is the only Bresson I've seen so far. It's a harrowing character study in which the aesthetics (mundane, drab lighting, no fancy camera movements) paint a perfect picture of the main character's psychology, who essentially lives an empty life, devoid of faith, reason, family...

The Thin Red Line- The Criterion Blu-ray is beautiful. Out of all the films on my list though, this is the one I would want to see on the big screen the most. Completely agree with what you say about death seeming real. Here is a fascinating (and very dense) essay that tackles the film from a philosophical point of view-


Mike said...

GoodFellas- Yep, one of the most re-watchable movies ever. It came on TV one time when I was on the treadmill and my run just blew past. Awesome soundtrack too.

The Rules of the Game- Well, the first time I saw this film I might have agreed with you that it's a decent film with some great moments. But re-watching it I became immersed in the film's world. I've seen it twice in the past two weeks and each viewing offered new, crucial insights about the film and characters. So many memorable moments.. this film is a strong contender for cracking my top ten.

Casino- Yes there does seem to be some revisionism in critical opinion on this film. To me, it's as essential to GoodFellas and Mean Streets as The Godfather Part II is to the first Godfather, as a natural continuation of Scorsese's subject matter and craft. It's the most disturbingly violent, decadent, morally absent and wickedly funny of all of Scorsese's films.

Rear Window- Hitchcock remains a huge gap in my viewing. Vertigo will surely crack my list once I see it again (the first time I saw it was in a film class, broken up in 45 minute segments... not the best way to view the so called greatest film of all time). For now this is my favorite Hitch, for being a clever little thriller that's also quite self reflexive.

Heat- Watched this again recently, and the L.A. locations stood out even more. Seems like every frame there is something interesting to look at in the background. I'm glad it wasn't shot it digital though since it works as a classical crime drama (I love the way the diner conversation is shot, Mann could have succumbed to the hip Tarantino way of shooting conversations in wide angle shots [as if we were watching the conversation instead of partaking it in- Tarantino stole this from Godard in Vivre sa Vie] but instead he sticks with the classical over the shoulder. And who gives a shit if they're never both in the frame together!) as opposed to Miami Vice which I think is a great looking mess of post modern digital cinema. More on this when I get to Collateral.

Sansho the Bailiff- Personally I don't think I'll be watching this again any time soon because of how emotionally wrenching it was. I was under it's spell from the first frame though.

Claire's Knee- I need to see more Rohmer. I didn't think I would like this but before I knew it I was sucked into it's world. Complex characters, nice 'breezy' cinematography, a strong moral message that doesn't hit you over the head. Love it.

Mike said...

Vivre sa Vie- This is one of Godard's most humane films (of what I saw). It's a great character study first and foremost, but also a film brimming with references and symbolism. You can see how this was influenced by Pickpocket.

Days of Heaven- Saw this when I was new to 'serious' cinema, and it blew me away. I also need to pick up the Criterion Blu-ray, if anyone's films were made for that format it's Malick's. Out of curiosity, since none of his films made your top 100, what's your favorite of his? I've seen all of his films (minus To the Wonder) and I like them all a good deal, but Line and Days are on another level.

The Best Years of Our Lives- Your comment sums up why I love this film. I am really liking the Hollywood melodrama films I've seen (Letter From an Unknown Woman would be the most recent addition to this list, I only saw it last week but wow, a top 30 contender right there. And Madame de... was recently released on Criterion so a blind buy might be in my future. The first commenter on here cites it as his favorite film, maybe that's a sign!)

Collateral- Your complaint about the ending is a common one. I've defended it on IMDb several times because it makes sense within the context of the characters- as the lights go out on the subway, Jamie Foxx closes his eyes and 'improvises' while shooting, taking Tom Cruise's advice to 'go with the flow', while Cruise instinctively aims for the chest but doesn't hit Foxx because he is behind a door. And anyways, the ending of Rear Window was hard to believe in the same vein as this... in fact Collateral follows a typical Hollywood thriller model built off of a gimmick yet is still modern thanks to the digital shooting. The characters are also clearly defined as opposed to Miami Vice, in which the two main characters are essentially stiffs. Someone said Miami Vice is like a Hollywood crime film as shot by Michelangelo Antonioni, in which the characters are boiled down to the purest essence of what they are (in this case, cops) and their relationship to their surroundings. Well I just got off topic but I prefer Collateral, clearly. The ending of Training Day is harder to defend, I think.

Le cerlce rouge- If you haven't seen the heist centerpiece, well, that's the backbone of the film (like the apartment scene in Le mepris) and will definitely help your appreciation of it. I own the Criterion Blu-ray of this, which is out of print! (I also own Vivre sa Vie which was also OOP but I think it's back now). Was thinking about selling it but it's such a great film, I don't think I'll ever tire of re-watching it.

More later..

Mike said...

Do the Right Thing- I LOVE the opening montage of the women shadowboxing with Public Enemy's Fight The Power playing in the background. Certainly one of the most visceral opening scenes in any film (right up there with De Niro shadowboxing in Raging Bull). The rest of the film is brilliant as well, and in my opinion no other film has used a song (be it hip hop or any genre) as great as Lee has here.

Zodiac- I'll be honest, I'm no fan of serial killer flicks, but this one is the exception because it's a 'revisionist' serial killer movie. Fincher shows us how time passes, people by and large lose interest in the mythic one man murderer minus a few deluded souls who want that closure so badly. Infinitely more fascinating to me than Se7en, which basically played into the serial killer myth while carrying the dubious quality of being 'dark' in the classic revisionist sense.

A Woman Under the Influence- The only Cassavetes I've seen (I know I'm sounding like a broken record right now) but wow did it floor me. Intense in the subtlest of ways.

The Last of the Mohicans- You nailed it in your capsule; the ending is jaw dropping. I saw this at a pretty young age and actually didn't care for it, but the ending stood out. Viewing it now I obviously appreciate it a lot more. Being interested in this period of American history also helps (since there doesn't seem to be a lot of other great films taking place in this time period).

Modern Times- Your video essay prompted me to re-visit this, and now I find it one of Chaplin's masterpieces. Has maybe the greatest closing image in any film.

Life, and Nothing More- Not sure if this is the 'official' title (I've seen it listed as And Life Goes On) but I found this highly fascinating (if you love meta self reflexive movies then you'll love this, although I recommend watching Where is the Friend's Home first. I saw both on YouTube, not sure if they're still up). Can't wait to see more Kiarostami.

Jurassic Park- Hehe, this movie was huge in my childhood too. When I was just getting into 'serious' cinema I re-watched this and was surprised at how well it held up. I would probably be a little more harsh on it today but for now it's still one of my favorites.

Mike said...

No Country for Old Men- This was THE movie that got me interested in cinema. Yes, at one point it was my favorite film of all time but I think I wore out its power by watching it so many times.

Jaws- It starts off as a routine thriller but the second half is really where it gets great. The monster is used as a springboard into the main character's psychology, how each character responds to it differently. The scientist who wants to study it, the sheriff who wants no part with it, and the grizzled veteran whose fascination with it borders on fatalism. Brilliant.

A History of Violence- Your criticisms are valid but I found it to be a raw, powerful film even when it went over the top. I found this to be much more intense and cinematic than Persona, which tackled similar themes of identity.

Sherlock Jr- A toss up spot that could have gone to the longer, more uneven The Thief of Bagdad. Ultimately I think Sherlock is the better film, the movie screen sequence is brilliant, and it's short and sweet to boot. But I wish I could squeeze a Fairbanks film into the mix, in terms of athleticism (dude was ripped) Chaplin and Keaton had nothing on him.

Well, that was fun revisiting some of these films. I enjoyed your capsules a lot and appreciate your generous response. Like I said, this list will change often and you'll be able to track it's changes when I re-open it on IMDb.

Joel Bocko said...

I think the crux of Brody's issues with Godfather are that he DOES perceive the narrative-first impulse of much TV series to be generally harmful to aesthetics and philosophically closed-off. Not to put words in his mouth, but that's the sense I've been getting from his pieces lately. I don't really agree, though I have some overlap with his opinion, but I find his stand thought-provoking.

Heat - yeah, on a repeat viewing the fact that they don't appear together did bother me and seem almost distracting in a weird way (like the focus was on each individual performance in turn, instead of the two playing off each other) but I might revert back to not really caring about it when I see it again.

The Tarantino comparison/description is very interesting. I hadn't really thought much about how the way he shoots conversations could be distancing as well as inclusive, and to what extent it echoes Godard. I tend to lean toward to the assumption that the default way to shoot conversations should be a two-shot, allowing breathing room between the two characters and giving the discussion a naturalistic air, unless there's a particular effect or moment one wants to highlight through judicious close-ups or a point one wants to make by using shot-reverse shot.

I think Days of Heaven would be my favorite, if asked now. I thought Tree of Life was interesting but it didn't blow me away as it did others. I think I need to see New World & Thin Red Line more times. Maybe the latter would actually be my favorite, I did love it when I saw it, but as I said that was 15 years ago now...

History of Violence - Forgot to mention that I also found the opening sequence of this very powerful (part of my disappointment came when the rest of the film didn't follow in that cold yet intense, seemingly very realistic vein).

Speaking of Fairbanks, have you seen The Private Life of Don Juan? I just watched it the other day (it'll be in my next #WatchlistScreenCaps round-up) and found it a gently humorous riff/parody of Fairbanks image (echoed ironically by the fact that the movie itself was a flop and Fairbanks was criticized for it - it basically ended his already-fading career).

Joel Bocko said...

Oh, and if you do create a blog perhaps you should make a favorites series one of your first endeavors. I'd love to read more in-depth about your take on these various films (though I need to start reading other blogs more in general; I've been distracted a lot for a long time).

Mike said...

I'm actually seriously starting to consider making a blog. I have some essays I wrote for fun sitting on my computer that could make for decent blog posts if polished up a bit. I also have some ideas for some future series I could do. But overall I think it would be more low key.

We'll see.

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