Sunday, June 01, 2008

The best of the best...this is it folks

This is it. We've finally reached the end. These are the twenty greatest films, EVER. This has been a massive undertaking on my part and I can only hope that each of my faithful readers has thoroughly enjoyed this epic list. I first talked about doing this about a month ago but in reality it's something that's been on my mind for quite some time now. I'm amazed I actually completed it! At last I've completed the list to end all lists and can take a break from this compulsive behavior for at least a while. Hopefully this has been enjoyable and rewarding for all of you who have been keeping track. At the very least I hope that it might inspire you to check out some quality pics that you perhaps haven't seen and really should take the time to check out.

Anyways, I might take a few days off after this but rest assured I'll be back and more depressing than ever. My life really sucks right now, you have no idea. But in the mean time do enjoy the final entry of the Top 100 Films of All-Time. Thanks for reading!

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Films # 20-1

20. JFK (1991) dir. Oliver Stone- Never mind a grain, you have to take this movie with a whole block of salt. Oliver Stone’s examination of the Kennedy assassination was a cultural phenomenon and rightfully so. It’s bizarre, ponderous, intellectual, paranoid, ludicrous, logical and so many other adjectives that don’t immediately spring to mind. While spurious at best as a historical document, it is fantastic entertainment. Three hours plus of talking and it’s not boring for a second. Wow, two Kevin Costner films on the list. Crazy!

19. Blazing Saddles (1974) dir. Mel Brooks- Good comedy is very hard to achieve, especially in trying to amuse a miserable sot like me. And epic comedy? Well, that’s damned near impossible. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World tried (but didn’t quite succeed) and The Blues Brothers also takes a decent stab at it, but as far as I’m concerned this is the only film in history that really gets the job done. It is insanely funny and could never be made today. The scene where Cleavon Little holds himself hostage? Riotous. Laugh for laugh, the funniest movie ever made.

18. Sunset Blvd. (1950) dir. Billy Wilder- Hugely entertaining, this is Hollywood about Hollywood at its perfection. Gloria Swanson is tragically riotous as the faded and deluded former starlet opposite William Holden who is equally great as the down-and-out young screenwriter. If any movie captures the horrible bitch-goddess that is Hollywood, this is it. Incredibly stylistic, this is also one of those movies that makes you wonder why they don’t shoot in black & white anymore. A revolutionary film on so many levels, it fun or relevant than it was almost sixty years ago. Just so much fun.

17. Chinatown (1974) dir. Roman Polanski- A triumphant return to the great film-noir traditions of classic Hollywood, Jack is spot on in this densely layered mystery based on the remarkable real-life development of California of the 1930s. Cerebral, downbeat and ultimately tragic, this is a true thinking man’s movie. Just brilliant movie making, even if Roman Polanski is a child molester. But I can forget that, seeing as this is a mystery that you never get tired of, even after you know all the many twists and turns.

16. The Seventh Seal (1957) dir. Ingmar Bergman- Of course you know the classic image of Max von Sydow as the knight returning from the Crusades playing chess with Death for his very life. But the actual movie? Breathtaking. Bergman’s breakthrough film has lost none of its impact after fifty years. We may never come close to answering any questions about life and death and God and man, and all that shit but this is as good as an examination as will ever exist on celluloid.

15. The Searchers (1956) dir. John Ford- Absolutely the peak of the John Wayne – John Ford collaboration, Both of these amazing talents were at the height of their powers with this often downbeat but always mesmerizing Western, gorgeously shot in Monument Valley. Wayne is remarkable as a man driven by his insane hatred of Indians and you question his motives throughout. Does he want to save his niece…or does he now want to kill her? The scene after he “finds” Lucy is riveting, as is the iconic final shot.

14. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) dir. Michael Curtiz & William Keighley- Forget Kevin Costner or any other feeble attempts at swashbuckling for that matter (this means you Johnny Depp). Errol Flynn is the ultimate action star, totally radiating charm in glorious Technicolor. The final sword fight with the devious Sir Guy of Gisbourne (played by Basil Rathbone) is a stunner, in fact so is the whole movie! They advertise 'adventure' in the title and this one delivers like no other!

13. North by Northwest (1959) dir. Alfred Hitchcock- The title is cribbed from Hamlet, but the film is all Hitchcock. Cary Grant is the victim of the worst mistaken identity ever and then the fun starts. A James Bond film before they even had them, it keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing throughout. The crop duster scene is a killer (no wonder From Russia With Love ripped it off) and Grant is as smooth as silk. The Master at his best.

12. The Godfather Part II (1974) dir. Francis Ford Coppola- IMDB and the AFI get it wrong already at number one and two (respectively). How can you place The Godfather ahead of its obviously superior sequel? Of course it’s a fine film and a worthy entrant on my list, but it pales in comparison to Part II. The Juxtaposition between Michael and the young Vito, the Senate subcommittee hearings, the interweaving of the historical fall of the Batista government, Pacino’s chilling performance…it’s all here. The Godfather is a great film, but it’s all just setting us up for this amazing epic.

11. Singin' in the Rain (1952) dir. Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen- Y’know, it may surprise some people that there is MUCH more to this flick than Gene Kelly’s beloved song and dance during a downpour. It’s a brilliant parable about the transition from silents to talkies, with great musical numbers that never seem forced one bit. Every single music number works perfectly, the story is great and the performances spot on. It’s funny, sweet and altogether a total upper of a motion picture, so why not watch it on a rainy day?

10. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) dir. Stanley Kubrick- Yes, the threat of nuclear war can be funny, with Peter Sellers brilliant in three roles and Sterling Hayden and George C. Scott also great in support. The whole thing is fucking insane, probably rather apropos in regards to the subject matter. The Doomsday Device, the alien hand, the sapping of "precious bodily fluids" and the hilarious final line…what is there not to love?

9. Modern Times (1936) dir. Charles Chaplin- While there are some scenes with sound, this was in essence the last real silent film. The Tramp faces a world in which he may no longer belong, but at the end of things he walks off into the future with a smile on his face and hope in his heart. As an amazing sign of how great this film is, I remember watching it a few years ago in my first year English class. It was a big class and throughout, all these kids (younger than I) were killing themselves laughing at a movie that was seventy years old. At the end everyone actually applauded, they loved it so much. If that isn’t a sign of a film’s greatness, I don’t know what is. But guess what? It's not even my favorite Chaplin film.

8. The Bicycle Thieves (1948) dir. Vittorio De Sica- De Sica is the undisputed master of Italian neo-realism and this is his pinnacle. Beautiful and touching, but ultimately depressing, this is the kind of movie that could never be made today and certainly not in Hollywood. In fact it’s totally un-Hollywood, a movie that could only be made in post World War II Europe, it’s a flawless example of hope, despair and morality. If you want life through rose coloured glasses look elsewhere, but if you want great filmmaking, look here.

7. Yellow Submarine (1968) dir. George Dunning- I love this movie and have ever since I was a kid. If you’re ever really down in the dumps (like I am frequently) just go put on Yellow Submarine and you’ll forget your troubles for at least an hour and a half. The (animated) Fab Four have to rescue the undersea paradise of Pepperland from the music hating, Blue Meanies, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s great fun and even greater music. My ultimate feel good movie.

6. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) dir. David Lean- “What is your name?” “My name is for my friends…none of my friends is a murderer…Sherif Ali, so long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people…greedy, barbarous, and cruel, as you are”. That’s all’s I have to say about that. If you don’t know the scene, you don’t know nothing. In fact I feel sorry for you if you've never seen it.

5. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) dir. John Huston- I’ve randomly written about it here before, just to say how great it is. Bogart gives his best performance and that’s saying a lot. Tim Holt is fine as well and Walter Huston wins the all-time award for Best Supporting Actor. Everything works, from the music to director John Huston’s droll cameo to those lovably menacing banditos. The final scene is perhaps the best in movie history, where they just keep laughing and laughing at their terrible misfortune. Another movie I’ve seen at least twenty times and still it doesn’t seem enough.

4. Rashomon (1950) dir. Akira Kurosawa- Kurosawa’s masterpiece, an outstanding examination of perspective and the eternal search for truth. The camerawork is incredible, the story has been (understandably) copied a million times and Toshiro Mifune proves why he is one of the greatest actors of all. It’s under an hour and a half, so forget that it’s all in subtitles and go rent it NOW! It’ll restore your faith in mankind, I guarantee it.

3. Casablanca (1942) dir. Michael Curtiz- Well, duh. I can pretty much quote the entire movie from memory as I’m watching, waiting for all my favorite lines to come up again. The cast is perfect and so is the script, even though they apparently made it up as they went along! Pretty much every scene is iconic, but if the "La Marseilles" scene doesn’t stir you, you’re probably a Nazi. I really don't need to explain this one any further.

2. Citizen Kane (1941) dir. Orson Welles- Roger Ebert once said that it’s amazing that in a world where no one can seem to agree on any two things, most people generally agree that Citizen Kane is the best film of all-time and those who don’t can’t seem to come to any other consensus. Anyways, it’s my runner-up, but to argue against it is damned hard. Orson Welles was the greatest talent to ever come out of Hollywood and they had to ruin him, because he was so far ahead of everyone else. Yet still he endures and he would have made my favorite film of all-time if not for...

1. City Lights (1931) dir. Charles Chaplin- My all-time favorite. Every single other spot on the list was up for grabs in one-way or another. I knew that some would be top-ten etc, but this was the only one whose position was always certain, seeing as it’s my favorite movie. I’ve known that for a long time now and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Absolutely the sweetest and most heartfelt film ever made, perhaps this means that I really am a romantic at heart in placing it where I do. If there were ever a case for unconditional love, this is it. I’ve seen it over fifty times and every time I still lose it at the final scene, which has to be the most touching ever committed to celluloid. This is a beautiful motion picture, proof of film as art.

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So I guess that's it. I can now return to the utterly depressing saga that is my life. Hopefully this has been a nice diversion. This was fun, but for the next while do expect a return to the good old days when I hated life and wished I was dead. Stay tuned for that now!

8 Comments:

Blogger Daphne said...

Absolutely fabulous, Kid Icarus. Bravo. I really enjoyed the list.

Have you ever thought about trying to sell your writing to a magazine or website of some sort? You really are talented, and you could likely make a decent living doing what you do now for free.

Anyway, thanks for the excellent list!

June 02, 2008 9:28 AM  
Blogger Natmac said...

Well done sir, well done. While I do disagree with a few inclusions and some of the placing in the top 20 (i.e. Casablanca not the top spot) I think for the most part you nailed it. Good job!

June 02, 2008 11:17 AM  
Blogger Beer said...

Yes sir, congradulations. A great list, a big achievement. Although the top spot should belong to 'Zapped', but whatever.

June 02, 2008 3:19 PM  
Blogger Kid Icarus said...

Thanks guys, even though no one is ever going to agree on every little thing, I at least hope it was fun and draws attention to some great movies that perhaps you haven't seen in a while or ever!

And no, Daphne, I can't say that I have. You're very kind to say that I'm talented and I'm sure that I am a good writer but so are countless other people. Besides, I'd have no idea how I'd even get started with selling my writing, let alone doing it for a living. And perhaps more importantly I have no connections or anything of the sort, seeing as I'm terrible with 'networking' (whatever that means).

June 02, 2008 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are such a tool.

June 05, 2008 2:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no wonder you're depressed

June 05, 2008 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

these movies are stupid, get real.

June 05, 2008 2:24 PM  
Blogger Kid Icarus said...

Oh man, I've been totally zinged by some anonymous person! Thank goodness they're out there, what would the Internet be without them?

Sorry you didn't like my list of movies, the fact that many of them are in black & white or are silent or (gasp!) in another language probably puts them beyond your comprehension.

June 05, 2008 9:11 PM  

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