Monday, May 14, 2012

The Ten Greatest Films Of All Time

Every ten years Sight & Sound Magazine releases their list of the Greatest Films Of All Time.  Since 1962, Citizen Kane has won this distinction.  In 2002 it only won narrowly, by 4 votes over Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

This list is the most prestigious of these such lists, in part because the magazine is so respected, in part because it is only every 10 years, and in part because distinguished directors and critics vote, not someone who just likes praising ever film ever made, like Larry King.

Of course all lists are kind of ridiculous.  But as far as lists go, Sight & Sounds Greatest Films Of All Time List would be #1 on my list of All Time Greatest Lists. 

I recently read a Roger Ebert article on this poll.  He has voted every time since 1972, and his 10 films have changed a bit over the years.  Notorious is no longer on his list, but he says it is still one of the 10 best films of all time.  There are probably at least 50, 10 best films of all time.  How do you truly choose?  The Tree of Life is on his ballot this year and yet it was not even his #1 film of 2011.  So opinions can change, and quickly.  So, as I pretend I'm a film critic here would be my ballot.  Quick, before it changes.

There is at least one choice people might find ridiculous, but hey it's my list.  Send me your own and your own reasons.

The Third Man   (Reed)  So far superior to anything else in Reed’s canon, some people still strongly believe it was really directed by Welles.  Welles would dispute this, but maybe having the famed director act in his film inspired Reed to do his best.  Welles also wrote the “Cuckoo Clock” speech.  Hey, I think that Welles guy had some talent!

Pulp Fiction   (Tarantino)  I actually think Tarantino is an underrated director, as strange as that might sound.  People seem to resent how he incorporates his favorite films into his own, as if people are never allowed to admit their influences.  But he is not borrowing anymore than say Scorsese (and probably less).  And his revenge western, his martial arts pic, his world war II buddy shoot em’ up, are always better than anyone else’s you have seen.  This is still his best work, though now barely.  A film that influenced countless others; some good, many weak; but that's not his fault.

The Thin Red Line  (Malick)  Still my favorite Malick film, and I believe his best.  Though The Tree of Life is up there as well.  And Days of Heaven is also a masterpiece worthy of this list.

No Country For Old Men  (Coens)  Its close between this and Fargo, but I have to give the nod to NCFOM.  It has so many layers to it.  And a perfect ending.

Citizen Kane  (Welles)  Is this the one I would choose to rewatch above the rest?  No.  I’ve seen it enough.  But my film history study won’t let me not acknowledge what Welles accomplished.  It influenced many films and filmmakers after, and so it deserves the reputation it has.  Actors didnt speak over each other before this film.  You never saw the entire room, floor to ceiling in a set before this film.  You never saw deep focus before this film.  You never had multiple narrators before.  Hard for a film to reinvent the wheel, but Welles and his crew did.

Tokyo Story  (Ozu)

Rashomon  (Kurosawa)  Often considered the greatest film ever to have a poor ending.  I prefer to think of how the director wanted the ending to be made.  With a dark rainy background.  But the weather would not accomodate and he did not have time or money to keep shooting.  Imagine it IS raining again as they walk off.  The rest of the film is great and groundbreaking. 

Sunrise  (Murnau)  Why does this make my list?  Because I have not seen it in 12 years and I still only have this great impression in my mind.  Maybe if I saw it again that would be ruined.

Harold and Maude  (Ashby)  Two of the most memorable characters on film.  And as strong a Ruth Gordan is, Bud Cort's performance is equal.  Dark humor and seriousness and love never blended so well.  Below is Harold filling out a questionaire for a dating service.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  (Hughes)  It had humor and heart.  Encompasses all that was best about those John Hughes era films.

Next time you watch it, look at it from Cameron's mentally ill mind.  Imagine that Ferris is just all in his head.  The opposite of who he is, Ferris is the personality he wants to have.

Honorable Mention:   Cache, The Silence of the Lambs, Night of The Hunter, The Wild Bunch, Blazing Saddles, Psycho, Strangers On A Train, Nosferatu (Herzog), Amadeus,  Dr. Strangelove,
Say Anything, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Double Indemnity, Aguirre, The Wrath of God.
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