Wednesday, July 15, 2009

MASTER LIST #16: The 101 Best Films of the 1950s


Of course, a staggering array of masterworks hail from the 1950s--so much so that putting them in order of preference was like splitting an already split hair. One can really see that this was another monumental era for cinema, with Kurosawa, Bergman, Donen, Hitchcock, Huston, Ford, Kubrick, Welles, Fellini, Nicholas Ray, Anthony Mann, Max Ophuls, and Billy Wilder, among others, delivering many of their greatest works (it was a brilliant time for short films, too, with the Warner Brothers-based works of Chuck Jones garnering four spots among the eight short films mentioned). You can see the building blocks for the upcoming tumult of the '60s and '70s here, too (despite what some may think, it was not entirely a Leave It To Beaver decade; there are some seriously cynical movies on this list). It's also a decade of supreme sophistication and, at the same time, entertainment; here, The Seventh Seal and Sweet Smell of Success sits right beside 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Court Jester. And there's even room for George Pal and Ed Wood! So here, evaluated by (1) overall quality, (2) historical importance, (3) influence, and (4) personal affection, are my choices:

1) Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 58)
2) The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 59 (France))
3) Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 57)
4) Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 54)
5) Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 59)
6) The Searchers (John Ford, 56)
7) Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 52 (Japan))
8) The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 55)
9) Singin' In The Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 52)
10) Umberto D (Vittorio De Sica, 52 (Italy))
11) Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 58 (Sweden))
12) Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 50)
13) Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 58)
14) La Ronde (Max Ophuls, 50 (France))
15) Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 57 (Italy))
16) Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann, 50)
17) Giant (George Stevens, 56)
18) Kiss Me, Deadly (Robert Aldrich, 55)
19) High Noon (Fred Zinnemann, 52)
20) The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 57 (Russia))
21) What's Opera, Doc? (Chuck Jones, 57)
22) The Seven Samarai (Akira Kurosawa, 54 (Japan))
23) Twelve Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 57)
24) The Naked Spur (Anthony Mann, 53)
25) North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 59)
26) Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa, 57 (Japan))
27) Mr. Hulot's Holiday (Jacques Tati, 53 (France))
28) Pork Chop Hill (Lewis Milestone, 59)
29) The Big Combo (Joseph H. Lewis, 55)
30) The Quiet Man (John Ford, 52 (USA/Ireland))
31) Neighbours (Norman McLaren, 52 (Canada))
32) In A Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 50)
33) Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 58 (Poland))
34) The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 57 (Sweden))
35) Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 53 (Japan))
36) Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 59)
37) The Wrong Man (Alfred Hitchcock, 56)
38) Mon Oncle (Jacques Tati, 58 (France))
39) The Killing (Stanley Kubrick, 56)
40) A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 51)
41) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Don Siegel, 56)
42) Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 51)
43) Les Diabolique (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 55 (France))
44) The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (Roy Rowland, 53)
45) Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray, 56)
46) Shane (George Stevens, 53)
47) Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 50 (Japan))
48) A Face in the Crowd (Elia Kazan, 57)
49) East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 55)
50) Anatomy of a Murder (Otto Preminger, 59)
51) Curse of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 57 (Britain))
52) Duck Amuck (Chuck Jones, 53)
53) The Day The Earth Stood Still (Robert Wise, 51)
54) There's Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 56)
55) Lady and The Tramp (Geronimi/Jackso/Luske, 55)
56) Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 51)
57) Lola Montes (Max Ophuls, 55 (France))
58) The African Queen (John Huston, 51)
59) A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 51)
60) Limelight (Charles Chaplin, 52 (Britain))
61) Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 57)
62) All About Eve (Joseph L. Manckiewicz, 50)
63) Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 54)
64) The Bad and the Beautiful (Vincente Minnelli, 53)
65) The Man From Laramie (Anthony Mann, 55)
66) Othello (Orson Welles, 55 (USA/Finland/France)
67) Summertime (David Lean, 59 (Britain/Italy))
68) The Tell-Tale Heart (Ted Parmelee, 53)
69) Fixed Bayonets! (Samuel Fuller, 51)
70) Wagon Master (John Ford, 50)
71) The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse, 56 (France))
72) On The Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 54)
73) A Star is Born (George Cukor, 54)
74) Rebel Without A Cause (Nicholas Ray, 55)
75) Executive Suite (Robert Wise, 54)
76) The Girl Can't Help It (Frank Tashlin, 56)
77) The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton, 51 (Britain))
78) The Tall T (Budd Boetticher, 57)
79) Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Stanley Donen, 54)
80) One Froggy Evening (Chuck Jones, 55)
81) Kanal (Andrzej Wajda, 57)
82) Sleeping Beauty (Clyde Geronimi, 59)
83) The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 50)
84) Funny Face (Stanley Donen, 57)
85) Day of the Outlaw (Andre De Toth, 59)
86) Mister Roberts (John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy, 55)
87) 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (Richard Fleicher, 54)
88) Beat the Devil (John Huston, 53)
89) The Diary of Anne Frank (George Stevens, 59)
90) Plan 9 From Outer Space (Edward D. Wood, Jr., 59)
91) Feed The Kitty (Chuck Jones, 52)
92) Bend of the River (Anthony Mann, 52)
93) The Caine Mutiny (Edward Dmytryk, 54)
94) Moonbird (John and Faith Hubley, 59)
95) Quo Vadis (Mervyn LeRoy, 51)
96) The Court Jester (Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, 55)
97) Summer with Monika (Ingmar Bergman, 53 (Sweden))
98) Bad Day at Black Rock (John Sturges, 55)
99) Guys and Dolls (Joseph L. Manckiewicz, 55)
100) Bus Stop (Joshua Logan, 56)
101) The War of the Worlds (George Pal, 53)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

MASTER LIST #15: The 101 Best Films of the 1960s


Whoa! Easily the most challenging decade for films since the silent era, in my opinion. So many of the following 1960s films cited are not for everyone (popular filmmaking, spearheaded by the Americans, on the other hand, was at its lowest ebb, with dunderheaded musicals, epics, and comedies taking the forefront at the box office). Very nearly half of the entries on the list hail from the finest filmic artists of World Cinema--Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni, Lester, Germi, Leone, and so on--working outside the states, and then there are so many more filmmakers who transplanted themselves in less-familiar parts of the world to mount their creations (Kubrick did his great works in Britain, while, for instance, Britain's Alfred Hitchcock and John Schlesinger did their decade-defining works in America). There was a lot more give-and-take between commonwealths in this era; that, plus the massive social and political transformations occurring all over the globe during the decade (not to mention the great strides in literature, music, and movies themselves) contributed to the one-time-only richness of 1960s cinema. So, based on (1) overall quality, (2) influence, (3) historical importance, and (4) personal affection, here are my choices:

1) 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 68)
2) The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 69)
3) Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 60)
4) Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 62 (Britain/USA))
5) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Sergio Leone, 66 (Italy))
6) Blow Up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 66 (Britain/Italy))
7) Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 64 (Britain/USA))
8) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 62)
9) Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 66 (Sweden))
10) The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 61 (Britain))
11) Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, 69)
12) The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 64 (France))
13) Salesman (Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte Zwerlin, 69)
14) Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols, 66)
15) Targets (Peter Bogdanovich, 68)
16) Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 65 (Britain))
17) Once Upon A Time In The West (Sergio Leone, 69 (Italy))
18) The Exterminating Angel (Luis Bunuel, 62 (Spain))
19) Playtime (Jacques Tati, 67 (France))
20) The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 67)
21) Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 67)
22) I Am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 64 (Russia/Cuba))
23) Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 65 (France))
24) The Music Man (Morton Da Costa, 62)
25) Ride The High Country (Sam Peckinpah, 62)
26) Masculin-Feminin (Jean-Luc Godard, 66 (France))
27) West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 61)
28) Point of Order! (Emile De Antonio, 64)
29) War and Peace (Sergei Bondarchuk, 68 (Russia))
30) A Hard Day's Night (Richard Lester, 64 (Britain))
31) David and Lisa (Frank Perry, 62)
32) Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, 68)
33) Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 60 (Britain))
34) Mothlight (Stan Brakhage, 63)
35) 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 63 (Italy))
36) The Gospel According to St. Matthew (Pier Paulo Pasolini, 66 (Italy))
37) Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 61 (Japan))
38) if... (Lindsay Anderson, 69 (Britain))
39) Weekend (Jean-Luc Godard, 67 (France))
40) 7 Up (Michael Apted, 64 (Britain))
41) The Color of Pomegranates (Sergei Parajanov, 68 (Russia))
42) Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 69)
43) Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 65 (Britain/USA))
44) La Jetee (Chris Marker, 62 (France))
45) Monterey Pop (D.A. Pennebaker, 69)
46) In Cold Blood (Richard Brooks, 67)
47) Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 66 (Russia))
48) Cul-de-Sac (Roman Polanski, 66 (Britain))
49) Primary (Robert Drew, 60)
50) Hud (Martin Ritt, 63)
51) The Manchurian Candidate (John Frankenheimer, 62)
52) Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller, 63)
53) Faces (John Cassevetes, 68)
54) To Kill A Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 62)
55) The Misfits (John Huston, 61)
56) Petulia (Richard Lester, 68 (Britain))
57) The Hustler (Robert Rossen, 61)
58) The War Game (Peter Watkins, 65 (Britain))
59) The Knack, And How to Get It (Richard Lester, 65 (Britain))
60) Stolen Kisses (Francois Truffaut, 68 (France))
61) Closely Watched Trains (Jiri Menzel, 66 (Czechoslovakia)
62) It Happened Here (Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo, 66 (Britain))
63) The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 60 (Sweden))
64) Woman in the Dunes (Hiroshi Teshigahara, 64 (Japan))
65) Fail-Safe (Sidney Lumet, 64)
66) Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut, 62 (France))
67) Culloden (Peter Watkin, 64 (Britain))
68) Don't Look Back (D.A. Pennebaker, 67)
69) Jigoku (Nobuo Nakagawa, 60 (Japan))
70) Point Blank (John Boorman, 67)
71) The Rain People (Francis Ford Coppola, 69)
72) Divorce, Italian Style (Pietro Germi, 61 (Italy))
73) Through a Glass Darkly (Ingmar Bergman, 61 (Sweden))
74) The Dot and the Line (Chuck Jones, 65)
75) The Naked Kiss (Samuel Fuller, 64)
76) Oliver! (Carol Reed, 68 (Britain))
77) Belle De Jour (Luis Bunuel, 68 (Spain/France))
78) Nothing But A Man (Michael Roemer, 64)
79) Bullitt (Peter Yates, 68)
80) Mickey One (Arthur Penn, 65)
81) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (George Roy Hill, 69)
82) One, Two, Three (Billy Wilder, 61)
83) Head (Bob Rafelson, 68)
84) Bedazzled (Stanley Donen, 67 (Britain))
85) 101 Dalmatians (Clyde Geronimi, Hamilton Luske & Wolfgang Reitherman, 61)
86) The Hill (Sidney Lumet, 65)
87) A Man For All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 66 (Britain))
88) They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (Sydney Pollack, 69)
89) The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 63)
90) Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 60 (Britain))
91) The Bellboy (Jerry Lewis, 60)
92) Cool Hand Luke (Stuart Rosenberg, 67)
93) Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, 68 (Britain))
94) Seven Days in May (John Frankenheimer, 64)
95) Zulu (Cy Endfield, 64 (Britain))
96) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Peter Hunt, 69) (Britain))
97) Judgment at Nuremberg (Stanley Kramer, 61)
98) A Shot in the Dark (Blake Edwards, 64 (Britain))
99) Carnival of Souls (Herk Harvey, 62)
100) Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan, 61)
101) Two For The Road (Stanley Donen, 67 (Britain))

Thursday, July 2, 2009

MASTER LIST #14: The 101 Best Films of the 1980s


Having followed the stellar 1970s, and heavily steeped with former movie star Ronald Reagan's culture-changing presidential agenda (at least in its latter half), the 1980s may seem at first glance as a nadir for cinema (especially since the decade itself was, in my opinion, the beginning of the end for serious movies). But I find absolutely nothing worthy of burial in this list. All titles cited that were released before 1983 are suitable for inclusion in the golden age of the previous decade, and those that came afterwards are only VERY slightly weaker. Among those doing some of their best work in this decade: Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Philip Kaufman, Terry Gilliam, Stanley Kubrick, John Huston, Sidney Lumet, Jonathan Demme, Albert Brooks, and Steven Spielberg. Plus we have the emergence of Alex Cox, Jim Jaramusch, Bill Forsyth, Steven Soderburgh, Joel and Ethan Coen, Ross McElwee, and Sam Raimi. Not a bad batch of filmmakers there. Anyway, according to (1) influence, (2) overall quality, and (3) personal affection, here's my lineup for the decade, with short commentary:

1) Fanny and Alexander (TV or film version) (Ingmar Bergman, 83 (Sweden))
2) Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 80)
3) Local Hero (Bill Forsyth, 82 (Scotland))
4) Sherman's March (Ross McEllwee, 86)
5) Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 86)
6) Reds (Warren Beatty, 81)
7) Full Metal Jacket (Stanley Kubrick, 87)
8) Do The Right Thing (Spike Lee, 89)
9) The Killing Fields (Roland Joffe, 84)
10) Jean De Florette / Manon of the Spring (Claude Berri, 87/88 (France))
11) Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 85 (Britain))
12) Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 89)
13) Das Boot (TV or film version) (Wolfgang Petersen, 83 (Germany))
14) Chilly Scenes of Winter (Joan Micklin Silver, 81)
15) The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 83)
16) Blade Runner (Director's Cut) (Ridley Scott, 82/92)
17) Drugstore Cowboy (Gus Van Sant, 89)
18) 'Round Midnight (Bertrand Tavernier, 86 (France/USA))
19) Stop Making Sense (Jonathan Demme and Talking Heads, 84)
20) Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 85 (Japan))
21) The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufman, 88)
22) Entre Nous (Diane Kurys, 83 (France))
23) The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, 86)
24) Matewan (John Sayles, 87)
25) E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 82)
26) The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky, 86 (Russia))
27) This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 84)
28) Burden of Dreams (Les Blank, 82)
29) Le Rayon Vert / Summer (Eric Rohmer, 86 (France))
30) Cutter's Way (Ivan Passer, 81)
31) Prince of the City (Sidney Lumet, 81)
32) The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 83)
33) Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch, 85)
34) Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 82)
35) The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 88)
36) Tess (Roman Polanski, 80 (France/Britain))
37) The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 80)
38) Pennies From Heaven (Herbert Ross, 81)
39) Star 80 (Bob Fosse, 83)
40) Gallipoli (Peter Weir, 81 (Australia))
41) Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Speilberg, 82)
42) High Hopes (Mike Leigh, 88 (Britain))
43) Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 80)
44) Shoot The Moon (Alan Parker, 82)
45) Mystery Train (Jim Jarmusch, 89)
46) Wings of Desire (Wim Winders, 87 (Germany))
47) Last Night at the Alamo (Eagle Pennell, 83)
48) Gregory's Girl (Bill Forsyth, 81 (Scotland))
49) ...sex, lies and videotape (Steven Soderburgh, 89)
50) Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 81)
51) Broadway Danny Rose (Woody Allen, 84)
52) Sophie's Choice (Alan J. Pakula, 82)
53) Once Upon A Time in America (long version) (Sergio Leone, 84)
54) Used Cars (Robert Zemeckis, 80)
55) The Verdict (Sidney Lumet, 82)
56) Modern Romance (Albert Brooks, 80)
57) After Hours (Martin Scorsese, 86)
58) The Long Riders (Walter Hill, 81)
59) Missing (Costa-Gavras, 82)
60) Diner (Barry Levinson, 82)
61) Thief (Michael Mann, 81)
62) Drowning by Numbers (Peter Greenaway, 88 (Britain))
63) Smash Palace (Roger Donaldson, 81 (Australia))
64) Blood Simple (Joel and Ethan Coen, 85)
65) Pixote (Hector Babenco, 81 (Brazil))
66) Empire of the Sun (Steven Spielberg, 87)
67) The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 80)
68) The Purple Rose of Cairo (Woody Allen, 85)
69) The Fourth Man (Paul Verhoeven, 83 (Germany))
70) Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, 83 (Britain))
71) Aliens (James Cameron, 88)
72) The Vanishing (George Sluzier, 88 (Denmark))
73) Out of the Blue (Dennis Hopper, 80)
74) Threads (Mick Jackson, 84 (Britain))
75) Tucker: The Man and His Dream (Francis Ford Coppola, 88)
76) The Dead (John Huston, 87 (Ireland/USA))
77) My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle, 81)
78) A Passage to India (David Lean, 85 (Britain))
79) The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 80 (Britain/USA))
80) Lost in America (Albert Brooks, 85)
81) Broadcast News (James L. Brooks, 87)
82) The Color of Money (Martin Scorsese, 86)
83) Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 81)
84) Prizzi's Honor (John Huston, 85)
85) The Road Warrior (George Miller, 81)
86) Hope and Glory (John Boorman, 87 (Britain))
87) Zelig (Woody Allen, 83)
88) Sid and Nancy (Alex Cox, 86 (Britain))
89) Die Hard (John McTiernan, 88)
90) Coal Miner's Daughter (Michael Apted, 80)
91) Altered States (Ken Russell, 80)
92) Dead Ringers (David Cronenberg, 88 (Canada))
93) Airplane! (Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker, 80)
94) Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, 86)
95) Raising Arizona (Joel and Ethan Coen, 86)
96) One-Trick Pony (Robert M. Young, 80)
97) Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (Tim Burton, 86)
98) The Stunt Man (Richard Rush, 80)
99) They Live (John Carpenter, 88)
100) Old Enough (Marisa Silver, 84)
101) Marvin and Tige (Eric Weston, 83)