Tag: movies

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 _6’s

Today’s portion of the list is the _6’s. That means that by the end of this post you’ll know half of my top 100! Hooray! Today brings 3 sci-fi movies, 3 dystopias, 3 tragedies, 2 movies by one director, back to back, and only three from before I was born! New Things! Enjoy.

96. Minority Report (2005)

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Tom Cruise and Samantha Morton

I’m sorry John, but you’re going to have to run again.

Spielberg has three periods of his career. This film is the best example of his latest period. He’s still got the goods when it comes to action and a slick visual style, but for some reason people don’t appreciate these films as much. Minority Report is a great action movie and a bit of a thinker, it can’t be all bad.

86. A Serious Man (2009)

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring Michael Stuhlbarg and Richard Kind

The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can’t ever really know… what’s going on. So it shouldn’t bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term.

The Coens make smart movies about people doing dumb things. In A Serious Man their main character has a lot of bad things happen to him and he can’t figure out why. It’s a semi-modern retelling of the story of Job, except funny. The ending is ambiguous as they like to do, but it fits in with the rest of the story.

76. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)

Directed by David Yates. Starring Daniel Radcliffe and Imelda Staunton

Look at it this way: every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than we are now – students. If they can do it, why not us?

Now that the Harry Potter series is complete, I can safely call this one the best of the bunch. The first in David Yates’ tenure at the helm, this movie has one of the best on screen villains in Imelda Staunton’s Dolores Umbridge. She’s the epitome of mundane evil, a person who doesn’t stomp around and kill people but is still clearly villainous. And then throw in the first big magic battle and you’ve got a great film.

66. Brazil (1984)

Directed by Terry Gilliam. Starring Jonathan Pryce and Kim Greist

I assure you, Mrs. Buttle, the Ministry is very scrupulous about following up and eradicating any error. If you have any complaints which you’d like to make, I’d be more than happy to send you the appropriate forms.

It makes sense that a former member of Monty Python would make such a crazy movie. It also makes sense that a person whose job is making movies would be familiar with bureaucracy. What doesn’t make sense, at least on first sight, is that it would be such a funny and beautiful film. Brazil is satire of the highest order, a dystopian vision of a future run on paperwork. And plastic surgery to the extreme.

56. Children of Men (2006)

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Starring Clive Owen and Clare-Hope Ashitey

A hundred years from now there won’t be one sad fuck to look at any of this. What keeps you going?

What happens when there’s no hope in the world. Children of Men subtly realizes this through overheard news reports and glimpses of graffiti. Everything is messed up. Impeccably directed and full of strong performances, the action scenes are among the best of the decade.

46. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Directed by Julian Schnabel. Starring Mathieu Amalric and Emmanuelle Seigner

Hold fast to the human inside of you and you’ll survive.

Movies are often kinetic, movie from one place to another as quickly as a cut can be. But this one stays mostly confined to one space and, at times, one point of view. Amalric’s character is paralyzed except for one eye, and the movie covers the way he deals with the situation and the beginnings of his book (which eventually turned into the movie). It’s a gorgeous film, heartbreaking and inspiring.

36. Reservoir Dogs (1992)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth

I don’t wanna kill anybody. But if I gotta get out that door, and you’re standing in my way, one way or the other, you’re gettin’ outta my way.

Here’s another angry men locked in a room yelling at each other movie. This one has the benefit of a great script and great performances. But when I rewatched it recently what stood out most to me was the sure-handed direction. It must be one of the best debut films I’ve seen.

26. Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Brad Pitt and Mélanie Laurent

We have all our rotten eggs in one basket. The objective of the operation: blow up the basket.

Some people complain that Tarantino is only able to rip off other movies and that he never does anything with his “homages”. Inglourious Basterds is proof that he’s got a lot more going on than just taking scenes from movies nobody else has seen. A treatise on the power of film to rile up the audience, IB deftly shows us Nazis cheering at the death of American soldiers only to have us cheer at the death of powerful Nazis. With clever dialogue scenes and bang up action scenes, this one has it all.

16. Three Comrades (1938)

Directed by Frank Borzage. Starring Margaret Sullavan and Robert Taylor

May I drink to that please? To nice weather for drifters!

A love story of the highest order. The only screenwriting credit for F. Scott Fitzgerald. Margaret Sullavan. Frank Borzage. A beautiful story beautifully told. Check this review.

6. The Shining (1980)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick. Starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall

No sir, you are the caretaker. You’ve always been the caretaker. I ought to know: I’ve always been here.

The scariest movie of all time. The story of a family deteriorating with ghosts and elevators full of blood. It’s the little touches that make this movie tick, like the shot of the man in the dog/bear suit as Jack is chasing Wendy. It’s different from the book, but different in a good way.

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 _7’s

Today’s portion of the list leans heavily on the romantic side, with 6 of them containing heavily romantic elements. There’s also only two movie from before I was born. And it leans towards the generic side, with 2 period epics, a rom-com, a courtroom drama, a con film, a 2 crime dramas, and 2 films about artists and their works. And dinosaurs.

97. Gangs of New York (2002)

Directed by Martin Scorsese. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis

That’s what preserves the order of things. Fear.

Another mini-epic, this film survives thanks to strong performances by DiCaprio and Day-Lewis and remarkable directorial work by Scorsese. He’s not a favorite of mine but here everything works. It is forgotten all too easily.

87. The Scarlet Empress (1934)

Directed by Josef von Sternberg. Starring Marlene Dietrich and John Lodge

I want to play with my toys!

This telling of the story of Catherine II is probably the best looking film on this list, at least in terms of set design. The opulence on display is overwhelming, and Dietrich’s performance matches it. Then there’s the hilarious Sam Jaffe’s over-the-top Grand Duke Peter, amping everything up to 11.

77. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Adam Sandler and Emily Watson

I didn’t ask for a shrink – that must’ve been somebody else. Also, that pudding isn’t mine. Also, I’m wearing this suit today because I had a very important meeting this morning and I don’t have a crying problem.

The best Adam Sandler film takes the typical Adam Sandler shtick and puts it in the real world. Mostly. It’s funny and romantic and thrilling and sad. All the things you want a movie to be.

67. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

Directed by John Ford. Starring Henry Fonda and Marjorie Weaver

By jing, that’s all there is to it: right and wrong.

More great Henry Fonda, more great John Ford. And there is another on the way. This one shows a small part of the beginnings of Abe Lincoln’s career. It’s mostly a courtroom drama, and a great one at that.

57. The Brothers Bloom (2008)

Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Rachel Weisz and Adrian Brody

The perfect con is the one where everyone involved gets just what they want.

I’ve not seen a great deal of con movies, though I have seen some of the big ones. This one has a lot more heart to it than any of the others. It’s also hilarious and all of the con stuff works. The ending is super great. So’s the middle and the beginning.

47. Out of Sight (1998)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh. Starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez

It’s like seeing someone for the first time, and you look at each other for a few seconds, and there’s this kind of recognition like you both know something. Next moment the person’s gone, and it’s too late to do anything about it.

Cool and hot, this movie has it all. Clooney’s on top of his game and Jennifer Lopez has never been this good since. A tale of impossible love and criminals, there’s a lot of humor and violence. That’s how you know it’s a good romance.

37. Black Swan (2010)

Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis

Perfect? I’m not perfect. I’m nothing.

A movie about art, the pursuit of perfection, and going crazy. There’s much melodrama in this film, everything is black or white. It’s not subtle, but I love it. The final performance is one of the best things I’ve seen recently.

27. Fargo (1996)

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring William H. Macy and Frances McDormand

There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well. I just don’t understand.

Sometimes you just gotta laugh at some of the silly things that people do. The Coens know this, which is why their seminal Fargo is at once real and hilariously un-real. The accents just enhance everything to another awesome level.

17. The Fall (2006)

Directed by Tarsem Singh. Starring Lee Pace and Catinca Untaru

You should ask someone else. There’s no happy ending with me.

A movie about storytelling and why we do it. With two amazing performances at the center, filmed all over the world in what must be the most beautiful places, this film is something to get wrapped up in. The story within the story doesn’t always make sense, but it shouldn’t, really. The ending is, again, amazing.

7. Jurassic Park (1993)

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Sam Neil and Laura Dern

But with this place I wanted to show them something that wasn’t an illusion, something that was real, something they could see and touch. An aim not devoid of merit.

Dinosaurs always fascinated me. Things that did exist but don’t any more. But Jurassic Park gives us a glimpse at what might happen if we weren’t the top of the food chain anymore. It’s thrilling and thrilling and thrilling. Also, Jeff Goldblum is amazing.

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