Top 100 Films: The _1’s

Here we are. The end of the list. Tomorrow I will be posting the entire list in order for your personal files along with some fun statistics. But today check out the final entry in the list proper. Horror, action, western, comedy, drama, canonical, crazy. This list has it all. More than any other segment I think this group is categorized by the ambition of the films. Each is going for something more than your typical movie, and they all get there.

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91. Scream (1996)

Directed by Wes Craven. Starring Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox

Now Sid, don’t you blame the movies. Movies don’t create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!

The slasher movie about slasher movies has a billion layers going on. The amazing thing is that they all work. It’s a great slasher, a great meta-movie, and a great meta-slasher-movie. The script by Kevin Williamson is the real star of this movie, with great laughs and screams all over the place.

81. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)

Directed by Banksy. Starring Banksy and Thierry Guetta

I think the joke is on… I don’t know who the joke’s on – really. I don’t even know if there is a joke.

This maybe-documentary is not clear about its verisimilitude. What is clear is that it’s a fun movie to watch. Whether Thierry is a real guy or a Bansky creation almost doesn’t matter, because he’s such a compelling weirdo that you can’t look away. As a movie about art it can be a tiny bit preachy, but that’s subverted by the silliness that’s going on throughout.

71. The Proposition (2005)

Directed by John Hillcoat. Starring Ray Winstone and Guy Pearce

I was, in days gone by, a believer. But alas, I came to this beleaguered land, and the God in me just… evaporated. Let us change our toast, sir. To the God who has forgotten us.

Unlike the previous two films, The Proposition is a deadly serious film. One of those new westerns that shows just how horrible the west, or in this case, Australia, would be to live in. Written and scored by Nick Cave, it’s bleak and unpleasant, but masterfully so. And, as you can see by the screenshot, it is a beautiful film to look at.

61. Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Directed by Charlie Kaufman. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Samantha Morton

I will be dying and so will you, and so will everyone here. That’s what I want to explore. We’re all hurtling towards death, yet here we are for the moment, alive. Each of us knowing we’re going to die, each of us secretly believing we won’t.

Some say that Kaufman’s first directorial project suffers from a lack of focus. There’s nobody to tell him no, and the film spirals out of control as it gets bigger and bigger. I don’t disagree. I think that’s what makes it such a great movie. Synecdoche, New York is a messterpiece of the highest order.

51. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Starring Keir Dullea and Gary Lockwood

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

I did not like this movie when I first watched it. It was too slow and the ending made no sense. When I got a Blu-ray player it was one of the first movies I got for it because I heard that it really benefits from being presented in the best possible format. And while I haven’t seen it projected yet, the Blu-ray really made me appreciate everything that was going on. It deserves a place in the canon of sci-fi movies and movies in general.

41. Chinatown (1974)

Directed by Roman Polanski. Starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway

But, Mrs. Mulwray, I goddamn near lost my nose. And I like it. I like breathing through it. And I still think you’re hiding something.

Polanski is the king of paranoia. Nicholson is always a step behind everybody else and we as an audience feel the same growing paranoia that he does as he tries to uncover the truth. The stakes get bigger and bigger and we get more and more uncomfortable. It’s great.

31. Princess Mononoke (1997)

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Starring Yôji Matsuda and Yuriko Ishida

Look, everyone! This is what hatred looks like! This is what it does when it catches hold of you! It’s eating me alive, and very soon now it will kill me! Fear and anger only make it grow faster!

Based on Japanese folklore and the idea of industrialization and the way it destroys nature, Princess Mononoke is a profound and beautiful film. There’s a lot of melodrama but everything feels earned and true.

21. The Lady Eve (1941)

Directed by Preston Sturges. Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda

You see Hopsi, you don’t know very much about girls. The best ones aren’t as good as you think they are and the bad ones aren’t as bad. Not nearly as bad.

Henry Fonda plays against type here as a hapless snake scientist who falls for a con-woman on a boat back to America. He never has the upper hand in the first half of the movie. The second half turns the tables a bit, and it works most because of the acting because the script asks a lot of the audience. Also, it is hilarious.

11. City of God (2002)

Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund. Starring Alexandre Rodrigues and Matheus Nachtergaele

A kid? I smoke, I snort. I’ve killed and robbed. I’m a man.

City of God is a movie about how much it sucks to grow up in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It’s a gangster movie of sorts, but the exotic locale and the juxtaposition of people just trying to survive against the people wringing all the power they can out of a crappy situation is an interesting enough dynamic for me to overlook my problems with the genre. It also helps that it is kinetically shot and the main character is a photographer. Hey, I’m easy.

1. Magnolia (1999)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Tom Cruise and Julianne Moore

I’ll tell you everything, and you tell me everything, and maybe we can get through all the piss and shit and lies that kill other people.

While the overwhelming feeling that one associates with Magnolia is probably sadness, I think the ending does a lot to prove that there is room for happiness in a world that is mostly screwed up. Anderson handles ensembles with grace and care, giving each person their due attention. Check this out for more on Magnolia.

The rest of the list:

The _0’s section

The _9’s section

The _8’s section

The _7’s section

The _6’s section

The _5’s section

The _4’s section

The _3’s section

The _2’s section

The _1’s section

28 thoughts on “Top 100 Films: The _1’s

  1. This was a lovely final to your 100 list. I remember I liked Magnolia a lot but to be honest I don’t remember anything more about that movie. But your love for it sure is a good incentive to revisit it. I was also happy to see Exit through the gift shop on your 100 list. I fell in love with it when I watched it recently.

  2. Scream! Magnolia! Chinatown!

    I’m a bit meh (City of God, The Lady Eve) on some of these choices, perhaps more than any of yours so far, but you’ve got a fantastic #1, so it’s still pretty good stuff.

  3. But it is on my queue and at my local library. It will be watched in due time but dammit, some of you guys are setting my expectations too high.

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