Wednesday, June 12, 2013

20 Years of Cinema-Watching FINAL PART: My 100 Favorite Movies (So Far In My Life)

So, it's very hard to make a favorite movies list because so many are extremely close to me, in a sense I have at least 1000 favorite movies. It is akin to picking a favorite child - You can't do that at all (unless you know I guess one is a scumbag... I wouldn't know...).
But when pressed to make a list of the 100 movies where I drop my shit and watch because they will always be welcome to me, it comes down to these recommendations to myself whenever I am down or thoughtful or so on...
I'd have to thank just as much the people I hang with, my family, my origins for catering my taste to movies - it was never just a whim of mine (though a lot of these hang on how much I love the movie in question rather just whether or not they're the best - very few of these movies are 'the best'). I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't influenced by these elements in my life...
As a result, it may be hard for many to understand my selection and it may be easy for many to do so as well. And it may even be ever-shifting, since I'm always watching movies and I'm always re-watching movies and I am essentially always moving through life's changes, making this not set in stone - only recorded on this blog for my first 20 years (close to 21 now) until the next 20 years of my life when I'll look back at how my taste as changed.

Regardless this was the hardest to make in my life and it is now here...

A life of loving movies.... in 100 movies downward...

100. Band of Outsiders (1964/dir. Jean-Luc Godard/France) – You can love American cinema, but so can the French. And Jean-Luc Godard can parade his love for American cinema better than maybe Quentin Tarantino. This movie is all that love concentrated into a movie with the juvenile factor of ‘Bugsy Malone’ but still plays off with the off-tune romance the French are so highly regarded for. And it just fucking smacks of cool, it is the essence of cool.

99. The Incredibles (2004/dir. Brad Bird/USA) – At the beginning, Brad Bird makes a better adaptation of Watchmen than Zack Snyder dreamed off: He makes our heroes so disenchanting and vulnerable to a point that we feel as trapped as the large Bob Parr in his little cubicle. After that, we get one of the greatest superhero tales ever assembled: With a balanced mix of humor, espionage, domestic drama and even a hint of Japanese kaiju to it.

98. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948/dir. Charles Barton/USA) – Oh come on, as if this movie isn’t hilarious. It might be based on a fad, but it really does pull the concept off without feeling forced, alongside great monster performances of Lon Chaney Jr., Bela Lugosi and Glenn Strange. Boris Karloff refused to play the monster, but I don’t see why he chose to shun this movie: The best part of the comedy is that it pays huge respect to the monsters and doesn’t use them as the butt of the joke, only Bud Abbott and Lou Costello’s handling of their situation.

97. Batman Begins (2005/dir. Christopher Nolan/USA) – I know a lot of fanboys are going to give me extreme hate for only having one Christopher Nolan movie on my list – even more for it being the one Christopher Nolan movie that probably goes over their heads… But Batman Begins is my favorite. It had a very surprisingly progressive plotline, more rich in thematic material than the other Batman movies. It never forgot its roots neither, but didn’t go out of its way to give homage to the source material. It’s the only Batman movie where Christian Bale acted, I love The Dark Knight (and somewhat dislike The Dark Knight Rises) but he sucked in those. The set design of Gotham was outstanding, they built a city literally and it’s beautiful. And Inception and Memento can sit down and shut it because Nolan’s got cool movies, but not great. And I love Batman Begins more.

96. Suspiria (1977/dir. Dario Argento/Italy) – A most comic of classic horror films, however easy to cut the plot thread is… The brilliant color, the ride that the movie itself is, the supernatural witchcraft element, the awesome synthesizer score by Argento. It’s all dated, but also kind of exciting to experience to me. Like I say, it’s like reading a vivid horror comic.

95. Citizen Kane (1941/dir. Orson Welles/USA) – The Great American Movie for all the right reasons: It’s usage of all the stops in cinematic techniques is innovative and layered even by today’s standards. The narrative and cinematography perfectly blend together for what feels like the most interesting lifetime we ever live. Nevermind the brilliantly nuanced performances of everyone in the cast, not at all downplaying Welles as Charles Foster Kane one bit.

94. Dazed and Confused (1993/dir. Richard Linklater/USA) – Probably unfocused as a narrative, but essentially just a joyful look back to a better time (well, before my own time…) where it was all about partying,  rock-n-roll and doing what you want to do. An American Graffiti for the 70s, yet less preachy about being yourself and more a cruise through Austin in ‘76.

93. Fargo (1996/dir. Joel & Ethan Coen/USA) – After several minutes of this facetious account of a horrible crime-gone-wrong (passed off for a ‘true story’), it may be surprising to find that this film has a heart (one based largely on simplicity in life), but it actually does. If any movie stands as an example for an argument against the Coen Brothers’ supposed nihilism towards characters, this is the one. Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson is just an impossible character to hate in the presence of all the greed and desperation in the movie.

92. Phantasm (1979/dir. Don Coscarelli/USA) – Okay, it’s not a great movie. Many may argue convincingly that it is also a very bad movie. I think its concept is greatly imaginative (The Tall Man, the world of the little monsters, floating killer balls) and while the presentation itself is very flawed (the lead child actor borderlines between being a good actor and a bad actor), it’s set design and ambiance precedes Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining by one year, making the mausoleum my preference rather than the Overlook Hotel. And the brothers’ story and relationship together really speaks to me, though people might overlook that more for the horror.

91.  The Producers (1968/dir. Mel Brooks/USA) – Mel Brooks proves through this film that he doesn’t need to rely on previous genre conventions and stereotypes to be at his best. Only diabolical insanity fuels his top-notch humor in this movie, with a plotline that almost the most flawless piece of work in any comedy, where usually the plot is sacrificed for humor, but here both are well balanced.

90.  The General (1926/dir. Buster Keaton & Clyde J. Bruckman/USA) – Buster Keaton’s suffering for his early craft should be fully embraced when viewing one of his best works. Indeed, the fact that he has the cojones to even attempt these deadly activities with a locomotive as more than a prop, but an actual character in the film, is stunning. But even beyond that, it’s the stoicism and the characteristics of Keaton’s acting styles that cement his reputation as “The Great Stone Face.”

89.  Persona (1966/dir. Ingmar Bergman/Sweden) – Stream of consciousness work at its most potent. The style never diverges from the fact that there is a story, instead the style strengthens the story and the more personal artistic choices give the film a more subconscious aura. Even if you can’t admire the movie as a whole, you must admit to its power as a series of episodic experimental sequences – such as the provocative opening and the mimicry between Andersson and Ullman in the third act that deconstructs the idea of identity completely.

88.  The Battles of Algiers (1965/dir. Gillo Pontecorvo/Italy & Algeria) – Okay, nevermind the fact that this is a movie about the history of my home country, let’s ignore that fact – Because no movie ever will become a classic by being an Algerian movie… It becomes a classic by the realistic manner in which you cannot tell if this movie is documentary or not. And it’s very hard to watch for this fact: The historical moments it reenacts are among the most violent in all of world history. In a world where we have “found-footage” horror movies that try too hard to sell you on their honesty, The Battle of Algiers never had to try…

87.  Young Mr. Lincoln (1939/dir. John Ford/USA) – Whether or not a realistic portrait of who Abe Lincoln was as an “ordinary” man, it is a superhuman triumph in letting us forget that this is the man who made history during America’s most trying years and instead showcases the character as a simple man who wants to make sure the innocent are protected and the guilty are exposed. Once again, this is “Abraham Lincoln” we’re talking about… And instead, this movie manipulates us into only seeing “Abe Lincoln”, like a local familiar.

86.  The Searchers (1956/dir. John Ford/USA) – No matter how you choose to watch it, the movie has to speak with you in some way. It could be poetry, what with some of its surprises and the treatment of the contrasts in Ethan Edwards. It could be a deconstruction of the very genre and pedestal that John Ford and John Wayne had spent a career hoisted up upon. Or it could just be seen as a damn movie: Another quest for both something tangible and something internal. But The Searchers’ inherent excitement and its beautiful cinematography will leave even the most resilient viewer touched by something.

85.  Une Voyage dans la Lune (1902/Georges Melies/France) – It’s important to remember where we come from as either filmmakers or as film enthusiasts. But even despite that, Melies was a magician and the fact is that, even now (perhaps especially now, since we have been accustomed to the frequent unemotional or uncreative addition of CGI), Une Voyage dans la Lune comes across as pure magic. The effects still most come across as seamless, thanks to its editing and the set design is such a brilliant respite from some of the modern-day “on-location” shoots that don’t know how to use the setting as an element to the film, rather than just the place they shot.

84.  My Neighbour Totoro (1988/dir. Hayao Miyazaki/Japan) – The humor and comfort of this picture does not seem artificial at all alongside its beautiful artwork. How can one find themselves at all threatened by this cute picture, man? I want me a catbus. Japan, give me a catbus or I will straight up fucking invade you myself.

83.  Sunset Boulevard (1950/dir. Billy Wilder/USA) – I love biting films. I love movies with nothing to give but sarcasm. I’m assuming its obvious by now. The beauty with Sunset Boulevard’s cynicism is that it comes out through the in door and allows Billy Wilder to provoke his Hollywood peers in a manner that may have gotten him blacklisted if he wasn’t already a success. And the central cast of characters each give a performance that plays off on horror movie roles – von Stroheim is the butler who observes, Swanson is the maniac and Holden is the victim.

82.  Barry Lyndon (1975/dir. Stanley Kubrick/USA) – Anybody who accuses Stanley Kubrick’s style of being too cold of unemotional should really reconsider while watching this work of art. Each shot is breathtaking and unconstricted, a literal (and visual) breath of fresh air in his outdoor shots. But it’s also a fictional biopic and we both pity and shame the central character of Redmond Barry. Regardless of how we feel towards him and his wife, the fact is that we do feel and Kubrick’s got a lot more emotion up his sleeve than that. Just look closer in the candlelight.

81.  Red Hot Riding Hood (1943/dir. Tex Avery/USA) – This movie says a lot more about the time period in which it was made than people give it credit for. It is a milestone in animation history for its daring storytelling of a much beloved fairytale in a period appropriate oversexualization.

80.  Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004/dir. Brad Silberling/USA) – In a time of my youth where every kid’s movie seemed to be obnoxiously happy and peppy, this adaptation of a childhood book series actually aimed to keep it’s very very dark tone and yet remain accessible to me as a child. It succeeded. What it lacked in loyalty to the books, it made up for with humanity. There was a humane element absent in the books because it really wouldn’t have worked, but here they added it in pockets of moments that actually added a bit of hope to the orphans’ predicament and it led to one of my favorite scenes of all time: The Letter That Never Came. In addition to the brilliant shit-aesthetic that is given a Tim Burton twist on the set design and fantastic costuming, it also carries my favorite performance by Jim Carrey, who never betrays the fact that Count Olaf is two things: A very terrible actor/murderer and a very diabolical shit. He is silly yet still frightening because he means what he says and he will harm anyone at any chance. They never stop making him a threat, but they never stop making him laughable neither.

79.  Paths of Glory (1957/dir. Stanley Kubrick/USA) – Again, a display of emotion and a human story (a tragic one at that) by the supposed robot Stanley Kubrick and what is best that, while The Killing was really cool too, it is in this movie that we begin to watch his technique grow. And it never distracts from the main story, one that demands performance, not visual flourish, so people like Kirk Douglas and Timothy Carey just pick up the slack and give performances that actors today could not do in forever. I love Tales from the Crypt, but that Kirk Douglas episode ‘Yellow’ just tries too hard to be this movie and it can’t be. Paths of Glory has its own Glory to be had… even in the content of disillusion with the war.

78.  Pulp Fiction (1994/dir. Quentin Tarantino/USA) – In 1994, the movie buffs finally got THEIR movie. In 1994, the world recognized what made the movies cool and honored it by celebrating the culmination of all of these old school and new school cool elements’ collision in Tarantino’s magnum opus Pulp Fiction. And my oh my, how we celebrated… the moment we first watched this movie.

77.  Raging Bull (1980/dir. Martin Scorsese/USA) – Robert De Niro’s psychotic transformation is both pathetic to watch and sad to experience. With Martin Scorsese’s shifts of style, even to the point of making home videos of the characters, there is a camaraderie we gain alongside Jake La Motta before witnessing him as a hunking brutal monster and then a half-balanced blob on a stage with a comic’s mic. We are never satisfied with ourselves, though. The way La Motta lost satisfaction with his life.

76.  The Big Sleep (1946/dir. Howard Hawks/USA) – It’s not Marlowe; it’s Hawks all the way. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Making an extremely complex and convoluted plot more enjoyable for the film audience depended largely on making it less of a loner story and more of a hardboiled people’s person story – and man does Humphrey provide the required charm in spades. Perhaps that’s how he was able to score Bacall in real life.

75.  The Killing (1956/dir. Stanley Kubrick/USA) – With a first dibs on the nonlinear style of narrative, The Killing also first displays the complex eye Kubrick puts in his storytelling on what could have been just another run of the mill 50s heist film. Still, thanks to Sterling Hayden’s toughs-n-smarts performance (“what’s the difference?”), we never lose that grounding point of a film noir that instantly made the movie a classic for the ages and graciously get the best of both worlds – a film for the auteur and a movie for the audience.

74.  Die Hard (1988/dir. John McTiernan/USA) – Every action movie you love or despise post 1980s is a shameless attempt to recreate the charm of the original Die Hard. Your action hero with pluck and quick wit and reflex is a deformed copy of Bruce Willis’ charisma. Your cynical and seemingly intelligent villain with multiple angles to his crimes is a lackey with delusions of grandeur to Alan Rickman’s heights. Your tense stand-off and chase through the city is nowhere near as terrifying and charged as the 40-story death chase that is the Nakatomi Plaza robbery. Your climactic twist tries too hard to make the story larger and more important than it is, while Die Hard’s reveal of Rickman’s motivations only disposes of such an important status to make room for the nonstop energy each action scene punctuates for the film. Life expectancy for John McClane is FUCKING IMMORTAL!!!

73.  The Wages of Fear (1953/Henri-Georges Clouzot/France & Italy) – Hold your breath while watching this movie. This is not the nouvelle vague, coming of age kind of Italian movie with layers and layers to its story. No, this is what it is, a balancing beam sprinkled with dynamite. Watch your step and looks out for yourself. The paranoia and recklessness runs drags you through this trip and even the viewer won’t think he’ll make it alive.

72.  A Clockwork Orange (1971/dir. Stanley Kubrick/UK) – Despite what many would say about the moral reprehensiveness the movie displays, its actual strength relies on forcing you to distinguish the greater of two evils and to make a point of your horror and to what cost we try to make a solution to all of these problematic factors in society. We’ve sympathized with a monster and what for. Malcolm McDowell demands recognition for never downplaying the evil in Alex and yet still getting what he wants out of the audience – sympathy.

71.  Unforgiven (1992/dir. Clint Eastwood/USA) – William Munny is the saddest character I have seen in any movie yet. His story is so emotionally vulnerable and that vulnerability can’t help but spill over the entire movie like the alcohol he once relied on to calm his ghosts. It’s hard not to be hit by it. Which only makes it more shocking when we see what he can really do. And, at the end of the movie, we only got one chapter of his story. And that chapter was enough for us.

70.  Dogville (2003/dir. Lars von Trier/Denmark, Sweden, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Finland & Italy) – So maybe it’s Anti-American, so what? It still remains a story that sledgehammers its message to all of humanity, not just Americans. Shockingly stark, possibly pretentious, but definitively driven by a wake-up call of a theme.

69.  Brazil (1985/dir. Terry Gilliam/UK) – Despite it’s over exaggeration and caricaturization of the corporate and bureaucratic in life, the movie’s actual reference point and target of its satire is not that far-fetched from its portrayal here and possibly a lot more relevant to me as a viewer now that I have been forced to grow up in the world. That still doesn’t downplay its humor (dark or otherwise) and Gilliam’s brushstrokes of a visual style.

68.  Seven Samurai (1954/dir. Akira Kurosawa/Japan) – This is a movie pushing three hours and a half that doesn’t feel at all slow. There is no point in the movie that makes one really feel the story has suddenly stopped short. It is that exciting, it is that entertaining. There is no doubt Akira Kurosawa gets his balls busted for being Westernized, but does it really count when Kurosawa adds more to the Western stylization than most of those West directors he pays tribute to himself, especially with a punctuation of a distinctively Japanese yet internationally relatable heart (enough to allow the West itself to remake it – but more on that later).

67.  The Night of the Hunter (1955/dir. Charles Laughton/USA) – It’s a children’s tale that remains mature enough for adult audiences to be engaged in the emotional pull and the destitute and despicable factor to Robert Mitchum’s Reverend Powell and have the kids find the movie tame yet exciting enough to follow the lead children’s cat-and-mouse chase from Powell. A yet many a haunting and lulling sequence of a waking dream – some of which terrifyingly showcasing the extent of Powell’s evil.

66. Rear Window (1954/dir. Alfred Hitchcock/USA) – The most possibly well-humored of Hitchcock’s films never lost its fear or sense of dread because it happened to be very fun to watch. In fact, it got the element of fun and thrills from the exact same place: Jimmy Stewart’s voyeurism. And the film handles this voyeurism aspect in every possible manner it could’ve taken such an element, hilariously, horrifically, uncomfortably… The set design’s scale is not small-feat neither or the meticulous detail it took to construct each tenant’s story.

65.  Ran (1985/dir. Akira Kurosawa/Japan) – An uncontrollable epic of fiery core, burning like the climactic castle attack halfway through the film. Juxtapose this wreckage of war with the vast beauty of the film, like David Lean with a paintbrush as the primary colors stand out in the green fields during the opening sequence. The vicious internal conflict of brothers at each other’s throats betraying their dying father in selfish greed and juxtapose this with the inner beauty of the youngest son’s kindness and the fool proving to hold the most heart, never leaving the king’s side. This tragic and complex film holds up to its claim as Kurosawa’s magnum opus and would’ve made a great final film to his work if he had passed like the king. Luckily, we still had room for two more movies…

64. Apocalypse Now (1979/dir. Francis Ford Coppola/USA) – This movie is a failure. It should not exist. It is too reckless, too wild. Everything about it means for it to have been dreamlike funeral pyre to a once grand style of filmmaking. And yet, this bare presentation of Francis Ford Coppola’s own heart of darkness itself is what fascinates me most about the film. It is the GREATEST failure. Nothing will compare.

63. The Magnificent Seven (1960/dir. John Sturges/USA) – So I got asked why I love 'The Magnificent Seven', what made it better than 'Seven Samurai' to me... Gee whillickers, that actually stumped me. I thought Seven Samurai was the better movie, but it was more than the western aspect that made Magnificent Seven appeal to me. I finally figured it out. Seven Samurai had the motives of the Samurai questioned, it's a flaw that made us enjoy several characters together fighting. Magnificent Seven never had that problem. The moral I got, that I probably got as a child and then tried as best I could, however faltered in my path, to convey, was that people are good. There are people who will fight the good fight. People who don't act self-righteous but only do what's right. There is virtue. And not everybody is evil, Wallach's villain was somewhat sympathetic from his crimes, but there is always a more natural good in the being of everybody. Some people (*cough*Brynner*cough*) carry it with certainty, some carry it with swag (*cough*McQueen*cough*), some carry it with care, some with a weight...

62. Ugetsu (1953/dir. Kenji Mizoguchi/Japan) – The detail in this film is absolutely immaculate in representing its period, down to the very visible thoughts of the down-on-their-luck characters. I was recommended this movie as a fan of horror and, though I find it to be a very obvious ghost story, I didn’t find it to be a horror film. It’s mood is heavy and solemn and dreadful, but the progression of events leading to Ugetsu’s ending is at first tragic and terrifying in a very real sense of loss… The gender roles are shifted and then violently put back in its place, a fortune is earned and lost, people are hurt that never deserved to be just for being in the way and the very state Genjuro is in leaves one feeling eerily trapped watching the movie – but then the ending itself is touching, even in its tragedy and everything is put right back into place with a newfound patience. A very poetic and exploratory film.

61. Touch of Evil (1958/dir. Orson Welles/USA) – Orson Welles felt like he was backed against a wall when he made this movie, on a B-movie budget, accidentally slated to star in it and with all the unwanted edits and cuts to his vision. That desperation sinks into his very world-weary and ultimately villainous right hand of the law character, a guy who does what he has to to get the conviction even when it’s immoral and despicable. Vic Mackey should’ve watched this film before trying his law enforcement methods.

60. Ghostbusters (1984/dir. Ivan Reitman/USA) – It’s surprising and very unique how Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman were able to take such a ridiculous idea such as a Ghostbuster and then ground it to normalcy by making it as blue-collar as possible, with the help of Ernie Hudson’s character – a newcomer who the audience can relate to for the new experience in the paranormal world. In addition, the designs for all the ghosts are able to be juggled between gruesome (cab driver), creepy (Zuul), hilarious (Slimer) and the just plain genius toss-up of a threatening advertisement with a smile on its face in the form of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Also, to not mention Bill Murray’s natural charisma in this movie would be an absolute travesty.

59.  Love Exposure (2008/dir. Shion Soto/Japan) – A modern epic that makes a story out of things that usually aren’t the things people can make great stories out of, I am incredibly surprised this movie did not get cult recognition it very much deserves. Maybe it’s the confusions between ultrasexualized and desexualized tones or the 4-hour runtime or the fact that it seems like it was written by an Otaku on a severe ADHD run. But it’s a fun movie and one that still packs its punch whenever you watch it.

58.  The Seventh Seal (1957/dir. Ingmar Bergman/Sweden) – It’s one of the most of the most theatric and most certainly the most accessible of Bergman’s works, but that probably is because the subject it pertains to is already heavy-handed by its mention: Death and its inevitability. The question of heaven which hangs above the characters in the Black Plague’s reign invites a discussion throughout the movie that is actually surprisingly indepth and well-balanced, but still the movie never stops being one that allows the audience to follow along on the debate.

57.  The Celebration (1998/dir. Thomas Vinterberg/Denmark) – Props to be given to a movie to start the Dogme movement (even though, it quickly became tiring and kind of pretentious). But the rawness of the movie’s realism homage and production also forces the focus to be entirely of the storytelling and the family drama, an action-packed one at that without ever being an action movie.

56.  The Host (2006/dir. Bong Joon-ho/South Korea) – In addition to being a sly and intelligent insult to the bureaucracy of modern government and the foreign policy of the United States, it’s also a really intense thriller, a really funny dysfunctional family comedy (this side of the Bluths) and a very well-directed monster movie. What is not to love about this movie? It’s better at being Shaun of the Dead than Shaun of the Dead was at being Shaun of the Dead.

55.  Akira (1988/dir. Katsuhiro Otomo/Japan) - A hyperfusion of youth rebellion, dystopia, apocalyptic future, psychological horror and so many other things the cult fan in me loves. Memorable animation to the very end, with many nightmarish scenes forever fixed into your mind.

54.  The Star Wars saga (1977-2005/dir. George Lucas, Irvin Kershner & Richard Marquand/USA) – It is an absolute impossibility to hate the Star Wars original trilogy and anyone who says they do is a goddamned liar. However, without the prequels, despite their gaping flaws, the story seems somewhat empty – the downfall into Darth Vader and redemption of Anakin Skywalker makes the saga all the more gripping to me. Granted, without the sequels, the movies (especially the original 1977 classic) really can give such an amazing journey.

53.  Faust (1926/dir. F.W. Murnau/Germany) – The melodrama is absolutely appropriate in this silent film, not only because the film is silent and the emotions need to be louder and more visible, but because the movie’s set pieces and effects are all larger than life and the story and acting has to match up, which it thankfully does. I am somewhat disappointed by the deviation of the original tale, though, as it is close to my heart.

52.  The Shawshank Redemption (1994/dir. Frank Darabont/USA) – It’s overrated, but yet I can’t help but feel very warmed by the story every time I watch it. Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins really sell the emotional struggle behind the institutions walls and the despicability of the Warden only adds on to it. Overall, it’s not a great film, but it’s a very solid and enjoyable one.

51.  Hyper-Ballad (1996/dir. Michel Gondry/mus. Bjork/France) – This, I feel is cheating, but there are very few music videos to truly impress me enough to consider them works of immense cinematic merit (They're largely restricted to the works of Michael Jackson, Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, Mark Romanek and Gondry) and this is one of them. The video game emulation plays a harder emotional impact than 100 Scott Pilgrim tales and the song in itself is fucking beautiful.

50.  Chinatown (1974/dir. Roman Polanski/USA) - One of the most depressingly realistic endings for detectives, however, my experiences aside, it's also a near flawless script, with a mystery that always kept me at the edge of my seat without always reverting to overinflated twists like Nolan, Abrams or Shyamalan today.

49.  Metropolis (1927/dir. Fritz Lang/Germany) – Better than reading Ayn Rand - rather than bore you with pedantic words, Metropolis absolutely dazzles you with unforgettable visuals that one must be insane to have attempted (and yet succeeded) at the very beginnings of cinema. The futurism that seeps from this film helps to communicate that its themes are timeless and insist on harmony with the mind and the heart, the one thing that disconnects from the robots like Maria’s doppelganger.

48.  Project A/Project A Part II (1983-1987/dir. Jackie Chan/Hong Kong) – Say what you will about Bruce Lee’s martial arts skills… He is without a doubt the best screen fighter around. But Chan suffers for his craft more than any other person in show business today and he does it in such a narrative-related vein that harkens back to the greats: Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton – Now Chan!

47.  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974/dir. Tobe Hooper/USA) – The starkness brings out the true horror of this movie. This is entirely narrative in content, but the presentation is akin to a documentary – Not a dramatic reproduction, but instead a candid look at an atrocity that is a complete fiction, but treated like an atrocity that could happen where you are. In addition, holy shit if that Sawyer family doesn’t seem frightening largely because the actors themselves seem confused in every form. The night scenes are the worst when we rely largely on the breathing of Marilyn Burns’ performance of nightmares to get our footing on her distance from Leatherface.

46.  Kill Bill (2003-2004/dir. Quentin Tarantino/USA & Japan) – Quite possibly the most inspired of Tarantino’s work. It goes without saying that it is extremely self-indulgent, but it also makes it the most honest possible work Tarantino could’ve made – he uses the things he inspired to make a very surprisingly intense and poetic story of loss and vengeance. It just also happens to have a lot of blood in it.

45.  Titus (1999/dir. Julie Taymor/Italy, USA & UK) – I look at this movie just once and immediately tell myself “Wow, they do not make movies with this kind of scale and respect to technological advancement while giving storytelling the number one priority anymore!” I watched this movie multiple  times to only confirm, rather than debunk, my initial reaction (The closest modern movie I can claim to show up Titus for this respect to filmmaking is Cloud Atlas, but the story is at some points flawed in CA as opposed to Titus.)

44.  Snow White (1933/dir. Dave Fleischer/ani. Roland Crandall/USA) – The best performance of Cab Calloway’s “St. James Infirmary Blues”, given out for what was really an incredibly efficient (and sometimes disturbing) re-telling of one of our earliest childhood stories. And the transformations and transitions are incredible, it’s hardly to believe this whole short was the effort of one man.

43.  The Virgin Spring (1960/dir. Ingmar Bergman/Sweden) – Probably the most straight-forward of all Bergman’s films, but that’s necessary with such a stark and brutal story. No sacrifice of imagery here whatsoever, Bergman is only as generous as he needs to be. And there's an interesting movement in making Max von Sydow look the more sinister of the violent assailants and yet the most pious. A poetry in the futility of forgiveness.

42.  Throne of Blood (1957/dir. Akira Kurosawa/Japan) – Kurosawa is probably the best thing to happen to Shakespeare, cinema-wise, and Throne of Blood is the ultimate result of this. Instead of using a visual medium to be flashy or obnoxious towards the source material, Kurosawa wisely constructs a haunting Noh translation of MacBeth’s bloody rise to the top and it dazzles, even in its normalcy. Hypnotism is inevitable when the ghosts arrive.

41.  Stille Nacht (1988-1994/dir. Stephen & Timothy Quay/UK) – Looks like the sort of dreams Kafka would have had as a child, with two of these shorts having a lovely yet disturbing backdrop of eerie, draining post-lullaby works. Nevertheless, the true beauty is in the animation itself. That rabbit is a boss.

40.  Lost in Translation (2003/dir. Sofia Coppola/USA) – Bill Murray just has a gift of emulating loneliness and disconnection, even despite being worshipped on the internet as the epitome of cool. His Bob Harris and Scarlett Johansson’s Charlotte were the best nobodies to keep company in this living Kodak photo of a fascinating yet distant culture to me.

39.  Inglourious Basterds (2009/dir. Quentin Tarantino/USA & Germany) – A brilliant testament to cinema’s power in all aspects – while still making a good movie in its own name. And if you can’t appreciate it yet, “just keep your fucking mouth shut. Matter of fact, why don’t you start practicing?”

38.  Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead (1968-1978/dir. George A. Romero/USA and Italy) – THE zombie films, accept no others (Maybe Day of the Dead, 28 Days Later… and Re-Animator). They all are shams the way shark films are shams of Jaws. At one point, a societal critique, on the other, a psychological dissection of how frightened we are of other people. Of each other. Never boring in neither film, the progression is perfect as each plot point is introduced and there is a new angle in this horrifying situation the leads find themselves in.

37.  Do the Right Thing (1989/dir. Spike Lee/USA) – No sugarcoating it, the movie is blunt and powerful in its message, not stuttering like the opening introduction of X and King by the mentally-deficient character, but loud and retaliatory like the climactic riot. And yet, despite the clarity, it leaves room for thought and deliberation on the results of this fateful and searing day.

36.  Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005/dir. Park Chan-wook/South Korea) – The psychosis of vengeance (as the rest of Park’s trilogy establishes) this time fully visualized in lovely stylization yet brooding terror. Geum-ja’s one track mind drags us through this unappealing inner quest to attain some peace with herself and the payoff only further makes us as an audience uptight…

35.  La Haine (1995/dir. Mathieu Kassovitz/France) – Absolutely dangerous, some might say. But it’s also absorbing and tragic to see the banlieue like the North African ones I grew up in tear itself instead of what it claims to have its hate directed at… The performances of the three (especially Kounde and Cassel) only strengthen this tragic yet urban and humane aura.

34.  The Evil Dead/Evil Dead II (1981-1987/dir. Sam Raimi/USA) – The anarchy involved with the second film and the controlled terror of the first make this movie a veritable tour de force in horror movies. And yet, they also serve as testament to the creativity and inspiration of the independent filmmaker and I think this influence to me is what really got the movie that high (though that wouldn’t be the case if the movie wasn’t amazing). It also could be seen as a showcase of how far you can go in horror - once you've finished frightening the audience out of their wits, the only way to go without being corny is to make them laugh their fucking heads off.

33.  Alien/Aliens (1979-1986/dir. Ridley Scott & James Cameron/USA) - The first act is the ultimate experience in grueling terror (Sorry, Raimi! Sue me later!), but the second is a video game come to life. I like Aliens significantly less than Alien, but seeing as how Alien is, in my eyes, a perfect horror picture, I can't give Aliens too much slack for going the only direction we had from hiding and dreading the Xenomorphs... Fighting it. I will never stop being fascinated Giger's design in Alien and Weaver's performance in Aliens.

32.  Mulholland Dr. (2001/dir. David Lynch/USA) – Hollywood’s darkest starring role – David Lynch mixes Judy Garland-esque stardom with the some poison romance (both between the girls and within the idolatry of the City of Angels) to make us transfixed enough to go through the effort of connecting whatever dots we catch in the movie.

31.  Scarface (1983/dir. Brian De Palma/USA) – An acquired taste for me, it took some time for me to accept this movie into my personal canon, but I guess we can blame frequent exposure and infrequent discovery of this film’s many layers as what finally made me realize that this is a true gem in Brian De Palma’s then already power-packed resume.

30.  Stop Making Sense (1984/dir. Jonathan Demme/USA) – Concert films are usually just static and dreary, an exercise in advertising yourself instead of just making it a work of art in itself. David Byrne had the right idea with the creation of this movie – the deconstruction of the stage only adds to the drama portrayed rather than strip the performance of it. There is something immensely magical about this movie.

29.  Annie Hall (1977/dir. Woody Allen/USA) – Alvy Singer’s persona should be enough to really make people laugh themselves out (I still giggle childishly at the coke scene), but the avant-garde look into his perspective of the failed relationship gave the movie such a new dimension that there was never any turning back point for romantic comedies anymore… at the risk of just having most subsequent and modern romantic comedies seem like failures or knock-offs of this movie.

28.  The Godfather/The Godfather, Part II (1972-1974/dir. Francis Ford Coppola/wri. Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola/USA) – While one can exist without the other, it is very hard to imagine. Together these movies emulate a tragedy of family history – a darker form of The Magnificent Ambersons and with the pulpish element to keep us entertained without going to the area of soap opera. Many call it the best film of all time. I wouldn’t go so far, but I do think it earned that amount of praise.

27.  Barton Fink (1991/dir. Joel & Ethan Coen/USA) – This is, without a doubt, the Coen Brothers’ most obnoxiously artistic film. And yet, it kind of can be seen why their frequently self-indulgent formula almost always works. You can see the ticks more clearly now. Everything leads to a literary reference or a truth or the major theme of the movie and it makes watching this deeply unsettling.

26.  The Exorcist (1973/dir. William Friedkin/USA) – Alright, alright, it’s not the best horror film ever made and the story is at some points confusing if you haven’t read the novel, but the atmosphere of the movie is 99 percent of the movie’s terror – I don’t give a shit how much praise Linda Blair and Mercedes McCambridge get. I don’t get chills from the split pea soup vomit, I get it from the breathing sounds, from the fog flowing through the room, the icy blue color of the upper level of the house, even the fatigue we see in the eyes of Father Merrin. Add to that the internal battle of Father Karras, how am I not going to love this movie with this type of experience?

25.  Oldboy (2003/dir. Park Chan-wook/South Korea) – Be honest. In spite of how fucked up this movie seems (and if you think it’s THAT fucked up, you haven’t seen many movies – may I introduce you to Mondo Cane?), you couldn’t help but fall for this movie’s poetry and the especially flawed anti-hero of Dae-Su Oh, a man who is so terrifying in his despicability, but we still sympathize with him because, like him, we just want to know who caused all this brutality that we have to see.

24.  Magnolia (1999/dir. Paul Thomas Anderson/USA) – I’m usually not a huge fan of over-sentimentality, but this movie brought the ruckus up and at it with some of the most intense acting we see from the 90’s greatest actors. And then there’s just the fact that Paul Thomas Anderson’s camerawork is more reminiscent of a Kubrickian photography display than anything else. And the sentimentality seems less forced when put together with these elements. It seems only natural for the film to go that way.

23.  Singin’ in the Rain (1952/dir. Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly/USA) - If somebody tells me they didn't enjoy the film, I just find them impossible to help. This movie seems every bit created to make the audience leave happy with its many fantastic gags, set designs, dances, villainous flubs by Lina Lamont. That doesn't stop it from portraying an important struggle in filmmaking and, in its essential balancing of history and entertainment, it inadvertantly made itself a milestone in both aspects - to be remembered forever.

22.  The Third Man (1949/dir. Carol Reed/writ. Graham Greene/UK) – I mean, come on, the movie’s fun narrative really brings out the best of the movie, even despite the extreme cynicism in tone – the minimalist score, the looks of Vienna, even the politics of the city are far from boring. They fuel the mystery we go through. And Orson Welles’ presence is only the best thing about the movie: When he enters the film, it’s like Apocalypse Now if Marlon Brando wasn’t such a buffoon.

21.  Casablanca (1942/dir. Michael Curtiz/USA) – Pure cinematic romanticism, completely at its most potent – Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman provide enough charge to carry the melodramatic connection of Ilsa and Rick while Paul Henreid rushes to catch up. But the real greatness about this movie is how it spurs Allied sentiments during a war that was rising at the time of this movie – Rick’s political journey actually mirrors America’s involvements in a significant way. That and Claude Raines being the pimp that he is on the screen as Captain Renault.

20.  Meshes of the Afternoon (1943/dir. Maya Deren & Alexander Hammid/USA) – A true work of puzzle cinema, telling so much through so little action conveyed in so little time. Is it solely a nightmare eliciting the fears of eternal confusion and condemnation in the aftermath of death or merely a purgatorial response to the female's seat in society? Whatever we read from it, the resulting action remains the same... a grievous regret by the end of our journey. Well, if you can give me a better example of short-form abstract storytelling without being completely formless and avant-garde, I’ll eat my fucking shoe. This movie predates David Lynch’s work and puts him in his place and communicates it’s progression so clearly despite the lack of dialogue that its visual language is an important blueprint for any filmmaker who wants their film to mean even half of something. And am I the only person who thinks the Japanese score is funky?

19.  Easy Rider (1969/dir. Dennis Hopper/USA) – At once a drug-fueled jubilee celebration of the American Dream and Freedom and a burning funeral wake pyre to what it once was. The movie’s essence is a complete product of itself and no other movie can truly emulate it again. The times have changed and thank Hopper we didn’t blow the one shot.

18.  White Heat (1949/dir. Raoul Walsh/USA) – A nonstop, one-track vicious mind – that’s how we watch the movie, through the eyes of James Cagney’s crazed heister. And we never get a moment’s rest as it’s a never-faltering game of cops and robbers all the way through.

17.  In the Mood for Love (2000/dir. Wong Kar-wai/Hong Kong) – It is the most agonizing thing to witness this very obvious romance build up and nothing comes out of it. Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung play it in a form that rustles the audience’s jimmies so hard that it’s very easy to assume you’ve been cheated out of something watching this – On the contrary, you’ve witnessed one of the most bittersweet realisms in the building of a relationship this way.

16.  The Gold Rush (1925/dir. Charles Chaplin/USA) - Probably the most human, emotive and resonant of Chaplin's many human works, even surpassing The Kid, The Circus or City Lights. No short feat however, given this is also one of the few Chaplin films where the threat is very real and yet still very humorous without making the world uncomfortable as The Great Dictator did.

15.  Duck Amuck (1953/dir. Chuck Jones/USA) – The most creative and avant-garde of any Looney Tunes cartoon ever made – it dissects the identity of a character and plays around with his recognition to the audience in an experimental and self-indulgent manner, but damned if the laughs never stop coming thanks to Daffy’s exasperated attitude to his abuse.

14.  Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999/dir. Jim Jarmusch/USA) – Jim Jarmusch puts his whole soul into every movie he has made and here we have the most urban side of him. It’s not wholly modern (and some of the mafia elements seem somewhat hokey and stereotypical), but the spiritualism behind the lead performance of Forest Whitaker and the hip hop soundtrack by the RZA (Wu-Tang, word is bond!!!) put this in my cool movies club.

13.  Gone with the Wind (1939/dir. Victor Fleming & George Cukor/USA) – It seems as though, almost by accident, Victor Fleming accidentally gave us two quintessential Technicolor masterpieces within one year and this one flourishes its epic element as a more relatable struggle – Despite her initial spoiled attitude, we come to really admire Scarlett O’Hara and see exactly what Rhett Butler saw in her.

12.  Lawrence of Arabia (1962/dir. David Lean/UK) – The ultimate epic: We watch conflict rise and fall with the fate of history revolving around it. We watch how the journey shifts the mentality and the character of T.E. Lawrence to being an inhuman tower of emotion, and it’s never boring. This is not Lean’s way, it’s Lawrence’s way.

11.  Vertigo (1958/dir. Alfred Hitchcock/USA) – This movie could be considered obscene by many in its psychological implications. Jimmy Stewart plays against type for a very disturbed antihero, a damaged reflection towards the inner motivations of many a film hero these days. It’s shocking and disgusting to see how obsessed he becomes and how he treats the female lead in this frightening manner that this movie’s second half should make you feel disgusted, despite all the brilliant usage of color and cinema techniques that Hitchcock is so well known for. Without resorting to modern usage of vulgar actions, something I consider laughable, Hitchcock made a movie more dark and disturbing that A Serbian Film or The Human Centipede. Alfred Hitchcock is the master – accept no substitutes.

10.  Frankenstein/The Bride of Frankenstein (1931-1935/dir. James Whale/USA) – Classics in every manner, not just because they initiated the whole monster madness 30s Universal Studios had, but for its surprisingly pointed moral message and discussion the movie encourages even in the fun and playful mood these two movies had, in the fantastic set creation and forever quintessential makeup Jack Pierce designed, in the performances of the many great and unsung actors behind the monsters themselves – Clive, Thesiger, Van Sloan, Clarke, Harris, Heggie, O’Connor… and in the eyes of the monsters themselves – KARLOFF and (the totally hot) Elsa Lanchester.

9.  2001: A Space Odyssey (1968/dir. Stanley Kubrick/UK & USA) – A lovely gaze into what would have once been a future in the eyes of Clarke, though the love behind it may be put under scrutiny. At times, dark, ominous, sinister and frightening, but in the name of progress. Would we become the men like Bowman, using common sense and good will, or the entities behind and consisting of HAL, the mission before all?

8.  Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992/dir. Francis Ford Coppola/USA) - Beautifully gothic and frankly the most accurate of Bram Stoker's adaptation possible, the real star of the picture is the scenic design and the costuming. A champion of modern use of practical effects, it still remains a huge inspiration to me to create life from whatever can be found. To challenge yourself through minimization. The acting is most wonderful too, with the exception of Anthony Hopkins and Keanu Reeves, both of whom I usually enjoy so they can be forgiven for this flub.

7.  Taxi Driver (1976/dir. Martin Scorsese/USA) - A rebellious picture of isolation that undoubtedly polarizes the groups I watch it with. Cathartic in a case where you side with Travis, witnessing all the decay, both moral and physical of the city around him, as well as the true psychological decay within him and watch him explode into a violent rage so you don't have to.

6.  Back to the Future (1985/dir. Robert Zemeckis/USA) – Absolute fun and enjoyment in this thundering adventure through time. All the characters are shining and the little winks and nods that self-referential are just the best things to find while watching. Immensely cool, no doubt about it, and you have to be involved in the climactic prom and clock tower scenes, even against your will.

5.  The Wizard of Oz (1939/dir. Victor Fleming, King Vidor & George Cuckor/USA) – When Dorothy opens that door, it is a feast for the eyes to behold! Oz’s Technicolor landscape only provides the backdrop for one of the quintessential American tales, where every step on the Yellow Brick Road led to something remarkably beautiful. And yet it was just a dream.

4.  Jaws (1975/dir. Steven Spielberg/USA) – The strength of Jaws is not just in the novel and accidental yet completely effective manner in which the movie conveys dread, but also in the characters of Amity Island – it reminds me of Twin Peaks how much we get to learn about everybody in the town in the first half. And then when the adventure really gets rolling in the second half, that’s just pure adrenaline every time the shark shows up. I have yet to lose excitement whenever I watch the final confrontation.

3.  The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966/dir. Sergio Leone/Italy) - Three unshakably cool characters - while all of them somewhat morally ambiguous, despite the title. An incredible adventure race through the rampage of Civil War in search of treasure. Classic moments in film history. The Spaghetti Western defined forever.

2.  The Big Lebowski (1998/dir. Joel & Ethan Coen/USA) – Led by possibly the coolest character ever to exist in all of cinema, this unforgettable cast of characters lends performance to what is essentially a homage to Chandler, Busby, the 60s generation, Los Angeles noir and so many other great cultural landmarks that were briefly as lost under the sand as this movie was before its cult resurgence.

1. Blade Runner (1982/dir. Ridley Scott/USA) – Undistractingly neon, Unforgivably existential, a victim of the rainy mood, Rutger Hauer’s demanding presence in his performance, a synthesizer score that moves between being camouflaged with the rain surrounding these uncertain characters and providing the thunder to the Sword of Damocles that hovers over the lives in this movie… These things began my love here and they attract me more and more. When I watch Blade Runner, there is always something new for me to discover. Maybe it just means I missed a lot on my many viewings, but at least it’s like a conversation with an old friend every time I pop this movie in. But really, even then, the favorite movie is not always the best movie and Blade Runner is not the best movie in the world (the treatment of story proves that)… So the real number one reason is… I just really love looking at. I love the vision, I love the futurism. I love the little noir tropes mixed with the little sci fi tropes and I love the rain. My best dreams are in this world that has been created in Blade Runner.

Now, that that's said and done, I could give honorable mention - But I won't. This task was already to heavy for me and now it's done. Time to actually write about movies again...


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  2. I m excited for the 50 Shades Of Grey Movie. I can't wait for releasing date
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