Saturday, May 23, 2015

Master List #30: The 101 Greatest Films About Childhood

In determining this list for the upcoming overview of The Cinema of Childhood on the estimable website Wonders in the Dark, I had to juggle a few things. First of all, how did the idea of childhood (and often the transition from such a stage into adulthood) most figure into the story. Sometimes, childhood (or, more often, the teen years) ventured too closely into maturity, and so I had to negate such titles (which made it difficult for films like West Side Story, The Last Picture Show, Dazed and Confused, and American Graffiti to make the cut, and made it impossible for the inclusion of films like Breaking Away or Ghost World, which are really films about newly minted adulthood). Sometimes I had to figure out whether a film was about a specific child performance (as in, say, Tatum O'Neal's turn in Paper Moon, which made the list, versus Justin Henry's turn in Kramer Vs. Kramer, which didn't) versus whether it had something to impart about childhood in general. I had to balance how some of these films had as much or more to say about adulthood as they did about being a kid (so, for instance, Anna Paquin's performance in The Piano didn't help Campion's film onto the list). As always on this sort of list, I was forced into determining what films reminded me of my own childhood (which is why, for instance, I had to include one TV series, Freaks and Geeks, into the mix). I really wanted to balance out the number of female-oriented films with the male ones, and the films that dealt with radically different childhoods than I had experienced (and in considering that, I had to think about those films that were more about the experience the child in question was feeling, rather than childhood itself--thus, something like Come and See is negated, because it's more about wartime). And, of course, I had to consider simply what were the best films of them, with all this in mind, here are my choices:

1) The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 59, US)
2) To Kill A Mockingbird (Robert Mulligan, 62, US) 
3) Seven Up and Seven Plus Seven (Paul Almond / Michael Apted, 64-71, UK) 
4) ET The Extraterrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 82, US)  
5) A Little Romance (George Roy Hill, 79, US/France)
6) Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 83, Sweden)
7) The Last Picture Show (Peter Bogdanovich, 71, US) 
8) The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 48, UK) 
9) Zero for Conduct (Jean Vigo, 33, France) 
10) Ponette (Jacques Doillon, 96, France)
11) The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011, US)
12) The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 55, US)
13) Small Change (Francois Truffaut, 76, France)
14) The Black Stallion (Carroll Ballard, 79, US)
15) Hope and Glory (John Boorman, 87, UK)
16) The Red Balloon (Albert Lamorisse, 56, France) 
17) Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2014, US) 
18) Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001, US)
19) American Graffiti (George Lucas, 73, US)
20) The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 73, Spain) 
21) Freaks and Geeks (Paul Feig, 99-00, US) 
22) The Bad News Bears (Michael Richie, 76, US)
23) Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 55, US)
24) Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 55, India) 
25) Over The Edge (Jonathan Kaplan, 79, US)
26) Los Olvidados (Luis Bunuel, 50, Mexico)
27) A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (James Ivory, 98, US/France) 
28) The Tin Drum (Volker Schlondorff, 79, Germany)
29) Kes (Ken Loach, 69, UK)
30) Moonbird (John and Faith Hubley, 59, US)
31) The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (Roy Rowland, 53, US)
32) Paper Moon (Peter Bogdanovich, 74, US)
33) Forbidden Games (Rene Clement, 52, France)
34) Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011, US)
35) Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003, US)
36) Mouchette (Robert Bresson, 67, France) 
37) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Mel Stuart, 71, US)
38) The Long Day Closes (Terrence Davies, 92, UK) 
39) The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 61, UK)  
40) Gregory's Girl (Bill Forsyth, 81, Scotland)
41) Pollyanna (David Swift, 60, US)
42) George Washington (David Gordon Green, 2001, US)
43) West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 61, US)
44) Germany Year Zero (Roberto Rossellini, 48, Italy) 
45) Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 75, Australia)
46) Pixote (Hector Babenco, 81, Brazil)
47) Splendor in the Grass (Elia Kazan, 61, US) 
48) Children of Heaven (Majid Majidi, 97, Iran)
49) Sundays and Cybele (Serge Bourguignon, 62, France)
50) Au Revoir Les Enfants (Louis Malle, 87, France)
51) Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008, Sweden) 
52) Careful He Might Hear You (Carl Schultz, 83, Australia)
53) Little Women (Gillian Armstrong, 94, US) 
54) We Are the Best! (Lukas Moodysson, 2013, Sweden)
55) Streetwise (Martin Bell and Mary Ellen Mark, 82, US)
56) Bugsy Malone (Alan Parker, 76, UK)
57) Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 44, US)
58) To Be and To Have (Nicolas Philibert, 2002, France)
59) Oliver! (Carol Reed, 68, UK) 
60) The Diary of Anne Frank (George Stevens, 59, US)
61) A.I. Artificial Intelligence (Steven Spielberg, 2001, US) 
62) Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 48, Italy)  
63) Nobody Knows (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2005, Japan) 
64) King of the Hill (Steven Soderburgh, 93, US) 
65) Walkabout (Nicolas Roeg, 71, Australia) 
66) My Life as a Dog (Lasse Hallstrom, 85, Sweden) 
67) Europa Europa (Agnieszka Holland, 90, France/Poland) 
68) The Window (Ted Tetzlaff, 49, US) 
69) Invaders from Mars (William Cameron Menzies, 53, US) 
70) The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard, 2013, UK) 
71) Shoeshine (Vittorio De Sice, 46, Italy) 
72) This is England (Shane Meadows, 2006, UK) 
73) The World of Henry Orient (George Roy Hill, 64, US) 
74) Ordinary People (Robert Redford, 80, US) 
75) Election (Alexander Payne, 99, US) 
76) The Fall (Tarsem Singh, 2008, US/France) 
77) Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano, 99, Japan)
78) The Man in the Moon (Robert Mulligan, 91, US)
79) Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 93, US)
80) C'est La Vie (Diane Kurys, 90, France) 
81) Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 95, US) 
82) Marvin and Tige (Eric Weston, 83, US)
83) Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 99, US)
84) In America (Jim Sheridan, 2002, US/Ireland)
85) The Other (Robert Mulligan, 72, US)
86) Lord of the Flies (Peter Brook, 63, UK)
87) Eve's Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 97, US) 
88) Empire of the Sun (Steven Spielberg, 87, US) 
89) Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling, 82, US)
90) Whistle Down the Wind (Bryan Forbes, 61, UK)  
91) The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2011, Belgium) 
92) The Yearling (Clarence Brown, 46, US) 
93) What Maisie Knew (Scott McGehee and David Siegel, 2012, US) 
94) The Reflecting Skin (Philip Ridley, 90, Canada) 
95) Fish Tank (Andrea Arnold, 2009, UK) 
96) Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 79, US) 
97) Out of the Blue (Dennis Hopper, 80, US) 
98) Fresh (Boaz Yakin, 94, US) 
99) The Cowboys (Mark Rydell, 72, US) 
100) My Bodyguard (Tony Bill, 80, US) 
101) The Member of the Wedding (Fred Zinnemann, 52, US)

The movies I'm sad I had to leave off: 

Toy Story, National Velvet, Shane, Yi Yi, The Grand Highway, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Valarie and Her Week of Wonders, Somers Town, Heaven Help Us, Beautiful Thing, Ratcatcher, Little Fugitive, Old Enough, After Lucia, The Miracle Worker (62), Mon Oncle, The White Balloon, Rosetta, The Piano, Ghost World, Breaking Away, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, The Kid (21), Jeremy, Foxes, City of God, Fame, Heavenly Creatures, Come and See, Leave It to Beaver (US TV series), Pelle the Conqueror, Cooley High, Goodbye First Love, Conrack, Puberty Blues, Play, Bambi, The Parent Trap (62), Pinocchio, Kipperbang, The Iron Giant, Sixteen Candles, A Nos Amour, Peppermint Soda, Big, Rumblefish, Vagabond, Never Let Me Go, Monsters Inc., The Ice Storm, A Little Princess, These Three, Radio Days, Shadow of a Doubt, Spellbound (2002), Mad Hot Ballroom, Dogs is Dogs, Easy A, Our Mother's House, The Grand Highway, Peter Pan (Disney), Mary Poppins, How Green Was My Valley, Lassie Come Home, The City of Lost Children, The Squid and the Whale, Alice in the Cities, Leon, La Petit Amour, The Little Colonel, Tex, The Outsiders, Village of the Damned, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street (46), Paperhouse, The Chalk Garden, A Boy Named Charlie Brown, Tigey Bay, The Search, The Night of the Shooting Stars, David Copperfield (35), Oliver Twist (48), Parade, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Thirteen, Smooth Talk, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Killer of Sheep


Will G said...

Impressively well thought out list as usual Dean. I couldn't
even think of any possible omissions. Cheers!

Will G said...

Days Of Heaven??? Maybe not typically thought of as a film about childhood, but I think it certainly is.

Dean Treadway said...

Thanks, Will! Yeah, I thought about both DAYS OF HEAVEN and BADLANDS, and certainly wouldn't object if they are included in other lists. But, for me, the Linda Manz character is really just commenting about the drama she sees swirling around her. As a character in the film, she remains undeniably a precocious child, but a rather enigmatic one who, despite her narration, gets precious little screen time. BADLANDS, though, is a different story, and much more dominated by Sissy Spacek's character, though she decidedly passive up against Martin Sheen's laconic madness.