Tag: David Cronenberg

Top 100 Films: The _5’s

I guess it makes sense that as we go along the movies will get better and better overall. I think this might be my favorite of the bunch so far. We have 6 horror films (well, at least semi-horror for two of them), 5 movies from before I was born, 3 movies that reference a location in their titles, 2 movies in black and white, 2 shots of girls with blood on them, and 1 movie where it was hard to find a shot that wasn’t full of naked people.

95. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Directed by Tobe Hooper. Starring Marilyn Burns and Edwin Neal

My family’s always been in meat.

As a kid I saw a few shots from this movie and they scared me so much that I vowed never to see it. Then I grew up and realized that I liked horror films. When I watched it a few Halloweens ago I was terrified. It’s one of the most visceral and immediate films I’ve ever seen. And the scene at the dinner table is truly horrifying.

85. The Fly (1986)

Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis

How does Brundlefly eat? Well, he found out the hard and painful way that he eats very much the way a fly eats. His teeth are now useless, because although he can chew up solid food, he can’t digest them. Solid food hurts. So like a fly, Brundlefly breaks down solids with a corrosive enzyme, playfully called “vomit drop”. He regurgitates on his food, it liquefies, and then he sucks it back up. Ready for a demonstration, kids? Here goes…

The Brundlefly is one of the more tragic characters in movie history. A simple accident melds his DNA with a fly’s and then he begins to lose his humanness as bits of his body turn into a fly. It’s body horror of the truest and grossest sense. Goldblum manages to keep the humanity of the situation in the forefront for as long as he can, which is why the movie is on this list.

75. Manhattan (1979)

Directed by Woody Allen. Starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton

I had a mad impulse to throw you down on the lunar surface and commit interstellar perversion.

I only started to watch Woody Allen movies this year, starting with Midnight in Paris and ending, so far, with Manhattan, with nothing else in the middle. Manhattan is funny and smart and all that jazz, but nobody warned me how good it looked. Allen has a way with the frame, and working with Gordon Willis certainly helps.

65. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman

I have seen one or two things in my life but never, never anything like this.

A dream of a movie. A surreal comedy about Tom Cruise’s inability to get laid. It’s unfortunate that this movie got caught up in the real life story between the two main actors and Kubrick’s death because it’s a really great film in its own right. Give it a chance.

55. Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Starring Ron Pearlman and Doug Jones

Now, see, I love this song. And I can’t smile, or cry. I think I have no tear ducts.

A mix of del Toro’s two modes, Hellboy II is an artsy superhero film and an action filled art film. Clever and thoughtful, tragic and swashbuckling, this movie has everything going for it. And it’s better than that other superhero sequel from the same year.

45. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

Directed by John Ford. Starring Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell

Well, maybe it’s like Casy says. A fellow ain’t got a soul of his own, just a little piece of a big soul, the one big soul that belongs to everybody.

I’m not a huge fan of the book this film is based on, but the humanity brought by Fonda and Darwell in particular make this such a great film. As usual, John Ford directs an excellent film, but it’s these two performances that raise it above the rest.

35. Zodiac (2007)

Directed by David Fincher. Starring Jake Jyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr.

I… I need to know who he is. I… I need to stand there, I need to look him in the eye and I need to know that it’s him.

The first in the second stage of Fincher’s career, Zodiac is much more understated than Fight Club or Panic Room. It follows the obsession of three men as they try to find the real identity of the Zodiac killer, though their quest is ultimately unsuccessful. It says a lot about Fincher that he can make such an unsatisfying conclusion seem like the only way the story could end.

25. Halloween (1978)

Directed by John Carpenter. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence

It’s Halloween, everyone’s entitled to one good scare.

By today’s standards this is barely a horror movie. There’s only a tiny bit of blood at the beginning of the film and the rest is mostly tension building. But it does that mood so well you can’t help but be scared. When you have an audience jumping in their seats because your bad guy steps out from behind the bushes for a moment you’ve got a truly great film on your hands.

15. Miller’s Crossing (1990)

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring Gabriel Byrne and Albert Finney

All in all not a bad guy – if looks, brains, and personality don’t count.

One of the few mob-based films that doesn’t annoy the crap outta me, Miller’s Crossing is a genius movie. Gabriel Byrne’s central performance is so strong and he’s surrounded by such a great supporting cast and a great story told wonderfully. Truly the best gangster movie of all time.

5. There Will Be Blood (2007)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Dano

I see the worst in people. I don’t need to look past seeing them to get all I need. I’ve built my hatreds up over the years, little by little, Henry… to have you here gives me a second breath. I can’t keep doing this on my own with these… people.

What I like to call a character epic, TWBB is half a grandiose tale of oil and religion and half a character study. With an all-time-great performance by Daniel Day-Lewis and a better-than-he-gets-credit-for performance by Paul Dano, this movie needed only to be shot reasonably well to be great. But Paul Thomas Anderson brought all of his tricks with him and we got an amazing movie out of the deal. I have no hesitations calling this a masterpiece.

The other parts 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

Top 100 Films: The _9’s

If you don’t understand the title here please check out this post and look there for the first part of the list, the _0’s. And now, the ten movies in the spots that end in the number 9.

99. Thirst (2009)

Directed by Park Chan-wook. Starring Song Kang-ho  and Kim Ok-bin

I don’t kill anyone, you know.

I like to call movies like this “messterpieces,” movies that are kind of crazy and out of control but still fascinating. The final scene is at once hilarious and sad. And beautiful. Like the rest of the movie.

89. Brick (2005)

Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lukas Haas

No more of these informal chats! If you have a diciplinary issue with me, write me up or suspend me and I’ll see you at the Parent-Teacher conference.

The opposite of a messterpiece, Brick is supremely well constructed and thought through to the tiniest detail. The combination of noir and high school shouldn’t work but it does. An amazing debut.

79. Once (2006)

Directed by John Carney. Starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

What’s the Czech for “Do you love him”?

A small little musical that has more heart than most films. The romance is so believable and the moment they first sing together gives me goosebumps. It feels more like a documentary than a typical musical.

69. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

You’re not seriously gonna believe this man, are you? Are you? HE ISN’T EVEN FROM ‘ROUND HERE!

Minutely constructed, this movie takes at least two viewings to get all the jokes because the punchline often comes before the setup. It also works really well as a buddy cop movie, thanks to those three guys up there. The chemistry and direction are spot on.

59. The Truman Show (1998)

Directed by Peter Weir. Starring Jim Carrey and Laura Linney

Somebody help me, I’m being spontaneous!

Either before its time or a harbinger of doom that we didn’t heed, The Truman Show is a wonderful film. I love the pathos and the clever little touches like the commercials and the man in the moon controlling Truman’s life like the moon controls the tides.

49. A History of Violence (2005)

Directed by David Cronenberg. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello

You’re supposed to call me Dad. That’s what I am, your Dad.

Here I’ll declare that I don’t like gangster movies except for the ones that do something other than the rise-and-fall that you find in, say, Goodfellas. A History of Violence is one of those movies. Here’s a man escaped who gets dragged back into his old life, kicking and screaming. There’s even some of the good old-fashioned body horror that Cronenberg is known for in the action scenes and Viggo’s uncomfortable-ness in his own house and family.

39. My Darling Clementine (1946)

Directed by John Ford. Starring Henry Fonda and Victor Mature

Sure is a hard town for a fella to have a quiet game o’ poker in.

John Ford made a lot of westerns. This is the best of the straightforward examples. Henry Fonda is awesome as usual and Victor Mature is way cooler than Val Kilmer’s take on Doc Holliday. And there’s a fun bad guy role for Walter Brennan, who seems to be in every movie that John Ford ever made.

29. Hoop Dreams (1994)

Directed by Steve James. Featuring William Gates and Arthur Agee

That’s why when somebody say, “When you get to the NBA, don’t forget about me,” and that stuff. Well, I should’ve said to them, “If I don’t make it, don’t you forget about me.”

One of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen. You see these two boys go from thinking they’ll be the next NBA stars to an uncertain future. Whether it be medical or motivational, these problems are both universal and unfortunately specific.

19. His Girl Friday (1940)

Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell

Walter, you’re wonderful, in a loathsome sort of way.

The fastest dialogue I’ve ever heard keeps the energy going from start to end. Cary Grant is king of the screwball comedy and Rosalind Russell is up to the challenge of keeping up and even getting ahead of him. Consistently rewatchable.

9. Alien (1979)

Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt

I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.

The ultimate haunted house movie… that’s also set in space. Sigourney Weaver faces off against a man in a big rubber suit, and it’s one of the scariest movies of all time. Ridley Scott understands the Jaws lesson of showing less monster to get more scares. With one great sequel (3), one horrible sequel (Aliens) and one crazy sequel (Resurrection), I can’t wait to see what Scott does in the prequel. The original is an astounding film.

The other parts 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