Back again. My top 100 movies. Once more, with feeling.
Four years ago, I had a grand vision for a YouTube video series breaking down my top 100 films. A series that explored the ins and outs of each film and why I thought they were so great. But, there was an issue. Making a video with the quality needed for it to be successful, took time. A long time. So, I thought once I created this blog, well, hey, I can now break it down here. But, writing the damn post took a lot of time as well. To sum up: I just didn’t feel the time necessary to do the breakdowns justice was worth the effort. I want to write fiction, not blog post breaking down my favorite films… like I am doing right now.
Why bother at all? Because I really want to let the world know what I think are the greatest films of all time. I am kidding. Sort of. It’s just fun. I like actually breaking down things and discovering what it is I truly enjoy about them.
There will be a countdown once a week until we are finished. Ten movies at a time. Don’t take the order too seriously. I move them around constantly. And if you read any of my previous blog post about my top 100 films the placement may be slightly different. If you were patiently waiting for me to continue the list, I apologize and hope you stick with me, as this will be completed.
On to the list…
#100 – M (1931)
M, is a gripping and, surprisingly relevant film, about a city on edge trying to catch a child killer. While it is not a ‘who-done-it’ film; as the murderer’s identity is known to us almost at once. It is still chilling and suspenseful.
Since Lang came from the silent era, his ability to tell a story thru images is creatively used and tells us all we to know.
It, also, offers a view of history thru Lang’s film, at a depressed Germany, in 1931. Two years before the Nazi regime. You can see elements of a society that would welcome a firm hand and less freedom. For a safer world, a world that would cast blame on others, and announce itself as the master race. In the film, you see a broken down, tired, angry people. A society ripe for a dictator with delusions of grandeur.
#99 – Winter’s Bone (2010)
Winter’s Bone is the tale of, young Ree, played by Jennifer Lawrence, looking for her missing father, who used the family home as collateral for his bail. This leads Ree to break the local code of conduct by confronting her kin about their conspiracy of silence. Should she fail to track her father down, Ree, her younger siblings, and their disabled mother will soon be homeless.
What I really like about this film, is, like some of the great Coen Brother films, is it takes the viewer and drops us in an entirely, realized, unique view of a particular American society. This community, in the rural Ozark Mountains, which is full of secretive, criminal, meth-addicted members. Where the unwritten rules, rule.
Winter’s Bone is a modern tale of a young woman doing whatever she can to protect her family. I cannot give high enough praise for Jennifer Lawrence and her portrayal of a naive, yet determined young girl.
#98 – It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
I do love this film. I think it has gotten a bad rap because of its oversaturation, and it’s unfortunate placement as a Christmas movie. But, this is a movie that almost every person can relate to. It is a wonderful film.
#97 – Clerks (1994)
Clerks is a film about the day in the life of two Quick Stop Clerks: Dante and Randall. Dante works at the Quick Stop and has to deal with dumb questions like this. “What do you mean you don’t have any ice? You mean I have to drink this coffee hot?” Randall works at the connected video store and has to deal with dumb questions like this. “Do you have any new movies?”
This movie does not contain a typical plot. It is, mostly, a bunch of connected skits. It’s a funny film that has a heart and a theme that can resonate with anyone in their drifting years after High School.
#96 – Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly. Kelly also stars along with, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. Yes, it is a musical, and I love every minute of it. Well, almost every minute of it. This is a feel enjoyable, fun and highly entertaining movie. From the very beginning, you laugh and just enjoy the technicolor. I am a sucker for a good musical. While most of the songs are pretty good. What really impresses me, is some of the dance numbers in this film. The “Make ’em Laugh” number, with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, is a classic. Another favorite is with the three of them in “Good Morning.” Look at what Debbie Reynolds is doing… she is in heels! Apparently, she had to be carried to her dressing room afterward.
Unfortunately, you can tell the script was written after the songs, and so the writers had to generate a plot into which the songs would fit. This is one of my primary criticisms of the film, the songs don’t always fit into the plot of the movie. But, this is a great comedy, musical film, that stands the test of time and passes the re-watch-ability test with flying technicolor.
#95 – The Usual Suspects (1995)
One of the main reasons, The Usual Suspects, is on my list, is because of the theatricality of the director, Brian Singer. It is highly stylized, modern, noir film, that plays well within the story. The cinematography and editing are well done, for the ‘lower’ budget of the film.
For a suspense, noir film, it plays subtle and character-driven, which is what makes it stand apart from others in its genre. While it is a character-driven story, especially Keaton and Verbal, we have to remember everything we saw could be a lie. Verbal is the one weaving the story.
This is a highly stylized, entertaining, and suspenseful film. The fact that this movie was made for a “mere” six million dollars says alot about Bryan Singer and his ability as a director to tell an entertaining, yet well made, stylized film at that price point. It is tough to review this movie without spoiling it so I will stop now.
#94 – Carrie (1976)
Directed by Brian DePalma and based on the novel by Stephen King, this film stars Sissy Spacek, proving that yes; high school is hell.
Carrie is a genuinely disturbing look at the hell kids put each other through in High School. While it is considered a horror film, and it is, it is also a very poignant, human portrait. What makes this film stand out to me, is that for the first hour of this movie, it is just a film about a quiet, isolated, girl, just trying to get by. She isn’t mad about not being popular, or not having a date to the prom. She just wants to be left alone.
Carrie won’t scare you out of your seats, and for a modern audience, it may be a little slow. But, that is what I like about it. It has a slowly developing, character-driven plot, excellent acting, and, of course, John Travolta.
#93 – Road to Perdition (2002)
This film stars, Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. It’s a movie that reminds us that family is more important than “the family.”
When I first saw this film, in the theater in 2002, I was skeptical of its premise. Tom Hanks as a hitman for an organized crime family? But, I was already a fan of Sam Mendes work after seeing American Beauty, a few years prior. So I gave it a shot. This film did not disappoint. It felt like an older film. The pace. The camera work. Everything about it made me think of the great films of the past. This movie felt old. And I mean that in the most complimentary way.
This is a stunning, well-made film. Sam Mendes took a story that, in its raw form, could’ve been made into an action/adventure pulp film, and turned it into a work of art.
#92 – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 2001 is a movie about… hmm… well, there is an A.I. and…umm. Hell if I know.
2001: A Space Odyssey, is one of those films that requires you to check your brain at the door. Not in a dumb, action movie way. But, in a way that can stop your brain, from saying “What is going on?” every ten minutes. You need to experience this film. Then experience it again. And again.
In truth, I still don’t understand completely what this film is “about.” It’s an allegory upon an allegory. The visuals create a stunning, visceral experience, far ahead of its time. Stanley Kubrick is a visionary director, an artist of the highest caliber. One of the few in the 100-year history of cinema. His movies, all of them, are works of art. I may not ‘like’ all of them, but I always respect the artist intent. This is a film that everyone should see at least once. Then spend some time thinking about it, over drinks, alone in your room or on a message board. This film requires discussion, and for that alone; it should be on everyone’s top Films list.
#91 – Once (2006)
Once stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová as two struggling musicians in Dublin, Ireland. It’s a low-budget film about two people who love music and develop a loving relationship.
I don’t remember what compelled me to find and watch Once. I saw it before online streaming. Before thousands of movies were at my fingertips, so I must’ve gone out of my way to watch it. I am glad I did. It instantly hooked me with it’s low-budget and grounded characters.
Once is a perfect low-budget film. Excellent characters, good music, and a beautiful story. One thing to mention is in the credits and something I didn’t notice while watching the first few times: We never know the names of the characters. Glen Hansard … Guy. Markéta Irglová … Girl.
Thanks for reading. Think I wouldn’t know what a good movie was if it hit me in the face? Leave a comment below. #90-81 next week.