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Archive for October, 2010

Top 101 Films Part 12

44. The Prestige (2006)

Films with twist endings seldom age well. Once the initial shock isĀ out-of-the-way on the first viewing, you often come to realize just how badly duped and misled you’ve been by the filmmakers and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. With “The Prestige” there is no such issue. Every time I watch this film I like it more and more. The ending is surprising but simple, and the more times you watch the film and compare the analogies of both Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale’s characters, the more the ending works. With this film Christopher Nolan proved that he was a filmmaker with a real vision, and just as good, if not better, at creating his own projects as he is the summer blockbusters.

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43. Straw Dogs (1971)

It must have been a real shock for audiences in the 70’s to see Dustin Hoffman go from his character in “The Graduate” to his one here in “Straw Dogs”, but that’s what you get when you work with Sam Peckinpah. The unexpected. This is one of the toughest movies you’ll ever have to watch, but you do have to see it. It’s violent and horrific, but it’s an absolute thrill to see unfold. Easily one of the darkest movies ever made.

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42. Mulholland Dr. (2001)

When you sit down to watch “Mulholland Dr.” make sure you have about six hours free time. Not only is the movie nearly three hours long, but as soon as it’s done, you’re gonna wanna watch it all over again. The reason? Because you’re not going to understand a single thing the first time you watch it. (Save for some incredibly awesome and intimate scenes between the two female leads.) But the second time, in typical David Lynch fashion, everything begins to fall into place. If nothing else, what other movie comes with linear notes written by the director, telling you the 6 things you need to pay attention to in order to understand the film? Mr. Lynch, you are a genius.

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41. Se7en (1995)

Probably the best Serial Killer film ever made. Freeman and Pitt are fantastic, and Kevin Spacey turns in one of his best and most underrated performances of all time. I mean come on, how fantastic is it that Spacey even let Fincher take his name off of the posters and credits so that his performance could be all that more surprising. It’s dark, demented, disturbing, and completely impossible to take you eyes off of, no matter how many times you’ve seen it.

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40. Pulp Fiction (1994)

The fact that “Pulp Fiction” never won the Academy Award for best picture (and that “Forrest Gump” did) might still be the most offensive thing the Academy has ever done. (And that’s a long list.) “Pulp Fiction” is about as close to perfect as any film can truly hope to get and it’s certainly the most energetic film ever made. There’s so much happening on-screen in this film that it’s almost impossible to sit still while you watch it. (Thank you Quentin Tarantino for helping further us, the ADD generation.) Brief side note: I first saw this film when I was about 9 years old. If you know me, I think that explains a lot about my personality.

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Top 101 Films Part 11

49. Harvey (1950)

One of the most ingenuous films ever made. It’s so simple that you can’t help but love it and get caught up in all of its saccharine glory. It’s the cinematic equivalent of cotton candy, except for the part where cotton candy tastes like shit. This actually tastes good.

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48. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

If “Harvey” is the cinematic equivalent to cotton candy, then “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” is like drinking a shot of straight scotch. It’s rough, strong, and can leave you with a bitching headache if you think about it too hard, but all the same, it goes down pretty damn smooth. This was Mike Nichols debut movie as a film director and it’s quite clear that all of the massive talents he fine tuned in the theatre, he brought with him to his new career in the movies. The acting is flawless, and to this day, “Virginia Woolf” is still one of the only movies to have its ENTIRE cast nominated for Academy Awards. (True, that’s only 4 people, but still.) If you like “small” movies, and vindictive party games, it doesn’t get any better than this.

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47. Zoolander (2001)

When eulogizing his fellow roommates/male models, Derek Zoolander says: “It’s not their fault that they died in a freak gasoline fight accident.” I don’t think you could sum up the humor of this film any better. It’s absurd, stupid, disgusting, and absolutely hilarious, meaning there’s something here for everybody to laugh at. It’s easily one of the best comedies of the past couple decades. Now bring us that sequel already Ben.

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46. High Fidelity (2000)


“High Fidelity” is probably the best movie about music and relationships ever made. I understand that that is highly specific, but even individually in both categories, “High Fidelity” ranks highly up there. (No pun, seriously.) John Cusack plays the role he does best, the everyman, but this is easily his best interpretation of the role. The music is simply fantastic, the jokes are funny, and any movie that mentions “The Evil Dead II” is a winner in my book.

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45. The Untouchables (1988)

Forget “The Godfather”, “The Untouchables” is the best gangster movie of all time. It might not have the literary depth of Coppola’s classics, but what it lacks in that department it more than makes up for in thrills and entertainment value. The entire film is one awesome scene after another, punctuated with awesome action scenes directed by Brian De Palma and snappy dialogue written by David Mamet. It’s a gangster film fused with western sensibilities andĀ envisioned as pop art.

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Top 101 Films Part 10

54. The Wild Bunch (1969)

There’s never really been another director quite like Sam Peckinpah. He was the precursor to men like John Woo and Michael Bay, but what those two lack in subtlety (especially in Bay’s case) Peckinpah more than made up for in spades. He could direct a thriller, action, or western film like nobody else, but in-between those intense set pieces, during the down time, is where he would work his magic. Despite suffering horribly from alcoholism (or perhaps, because of) Peckinpah was able to find those moments for his characters where their true humanity shone through and brought this to the audience’s attention. He knew what it was like to be an insufferable man who just wants to do good. And by the time he died, he left behind him a catalogue of films that proves he did just that.

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53. High Noon (1952)

“The Wild Bunch” and “High Noon” are polar opposites. One is cerebral, drawn out and extremely violent. The other is tight, thrilling, and incredibly well acted. It’s hard to say just which one is the better picture, but both are two of the greatest westerns ever made. “High Noon” is one of the most thrilling experiences that you will ever have watching movie, which is saying a lot for a film that is basically about a Sheriff going around his town and trying to see if people will stand with him when the baddies roll in. It’s an excellent study of humanity. Who has it, and who doesn’t.

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52. Psycho (1960)

I might not be including a lot of famous movies by a lot of famous directors on this list, but it’d be pretty hard for me to warrant the exclusion of a film by Alfred Hitchcock. Equally as hard for me was to pick just one picture of his to put on this list as a representative of the whole, because that’s what I’m doing here. So many of Hitchcock’s great films are equally as good one another that to pick just one as the best is virtually impossible. I’ve chosen to go with “Psycho” because I think it represents everything that Hitchcock did so well; horror, comedy, and pulling one over on the audience. But you could just as easily swipe this film out for others like “Rear Window”, “North by Northwest”, “Vertigo”, or “Shadow of a Doubt”. In other words, if you’ve never seen a Hitchcock movie, see one now.

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51. Ed Wood (1994)

It’s pretty hard to find somebody who lived a more ironic life than Ed Wood. He wanted more than anything to be known for his skill in filmmaking, and instead he is remembered (and loved) for his absolute lack of skill in that department. Tim Burton is a fantastic director, and nobody works better with him than Johnny Depp. Working together the two have made many memorable films (“Sleepy Hollow” almost made this list) but none so much as “Ed Wood”. It’s laugh out loud funny and also extremely heart breaking. Plus, it’s filmed beautifully in black and white.

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50. The Princess Bride (1987)

The best children’s film ever made. Also one of the funniest films ever made. It’s the only fairy tale I can think of that is 100% cinematic, and it has more quotable dialogue than even ‘The Godfather”.

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Top 101 Films Part 9

59. Alien (1979)

Most film franchises peak with their first entry, and the “Alien” franchise is no different. Despite having other extremely talented individuals like James Cameron and David Fincher working on sequels to this first film, Ridley Scott still managed to create the ultimate alien film on his first go around. It’s scary, thrilling, and has any number of fantastic scenes. It’s pretty funny to think that one of the best horror films of all time is actually a science fiction film.

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58. Die Hard (1988)

Speaking of genre films, action doesn’t get much better (or in fact, better at all) than “Die Hard”. It’s the ultimate action thriller, with the intensity getting cranked up to 11 and beyond with each new scene. Plus it has the star making performance of Bruce Willis. No other actor could have played the role of John McClain with such skill. We come to the film for the action, but we stay for the humor and intensity that Willis brings to the project. All you want to do after watching this movie is throw out a “Yippe-ki-Yay- Mother Fucker” and start it all over again. Also, it’s a great Christmas movie.

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57. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Watching the first entry of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is one of the first (and only) times I remember actually being blown away by a film. “Fellowship of the Ring” is one of the grandest adventure films of all time, and the scope of the film has never really been seen before or since. Jackson actually succeeded in taking the novel and putting in directly on the screen without losing anything. If the subsequent films weren’t as powerful as this first one, it’s only because the source material suffered from that same inferiority to this, first, best entry.

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56. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

James Cameron’s masterpiece. There’s nothing much else to say. But for a Sci-fi action movie, it moves you beyond belief. One of the most fun and entertaining cinematic rides of all time.

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55. Children of Men (2006)

“Children of Men” is one of those films that I love simply because of its filmmaking bravado. Seriously, watch this film and count how many cuts there are in it (or, lack thereof). The action scenes and choreography of the camera movement are simply breathtaking. Couple that with an intriguing story and a fantastic performance from one of the better actors working today, Clive Owen, and you’ve got a film that works on levels that most other films don’t even know exist. This film was robbed at the Oscars.

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Top 101 Films Part 8

64. There Will Be Blood (2007)

Forget just having one of the coolest titles in the history of cinema, “There Will Be Blood” also has one of the best performances. Daniel Day-Lewis is absolutely electrifying in this movie, and despite how hard this movie tries to be anything but, it has a rhythm all its own. Add on top of all that, a score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood that is devastatingly haunting. Watching this movie is akin to holding a stripped and still live wire in your hands. You can feel it pulsing through you.

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63. American Beauty (1999)

“American Beauty” is alternatingly one of the funniest and most heartbreaking films ever made. It holds up a mirror to those of us in modern-day suburbia and shows us not only our sometimes hard to see failures but our successes as well. Not all hope is lost, we just need to look closer.

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62. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

One of the best romantic comedies ever made, and certainly the best science fiction romantic comedies ever made. Few relationships have ever come alive on film like Joel and Clementine’s. Despite the entire plot of the film involving the erasing of memories created by a relationship, the point of the film is the exact opposite. Change happens. We are what we are shaped into. And to degrade or delete any of that would be to deny the entire point of life. Living. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are fantastic, and Michael Gondry is one of the most innovative filmmakers working today. Together, they ensure that you participate in this film just as much as they do.

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61. Up (2009)

Quite possibly the best animated film ever made. It’s touching, charming, and funny. It has old people, talking dogs, and true love. It’s also extremely beautiful to watch. It’s the rare kid’s movie that is just as good for adults, if not better. There’s no reason not to watch this film over and over again.

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60. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

“A Fistful of Dollars” is the film that introduced the western world to the marvelous talent that was Serigo Leone and helped coin the phrase “Spaghetti Western”. At a time when the western in Hollywood was beginning to die out, it took an Italian to not only bring it back, but re-invent it. And with Clint Eastwood as his leading man, “A Fistful of Dollars” is one of those rare films that feels as if it was destined to be made. (And it wouldn’t even be Eastwood and Leone’s best collaboration.) Often imitated but never duplicated, “A Fistful of Dollars” is filmmaking at its best.

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Top 101 Films Part 7

69. Heat (1995)

Let’s all just agree that we’ll forget “The Righteous Kill” from a few years ago ever happened. That leaves “Heat” as the only movie that both DeNiro and Pacino ever starred in together in the same scene. Sure, they don’t really interact all that often, but Michael Mann created a 3 + hour magnum opus with this film. Both DeNiro and Pacino could have retired from acting after completing this film and their careers would have probably been the better for it. Ah well. As it stands now, “Heat” is the film that stars both men at the zenith of their careers, creating one of the best heist films ever imagined. Plus it also has a very young Natalie Portman in it. This is always a plus.

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68. Unforgiven (1992)

“Unforgiven” is the film that made everyone really stand up and take notice of Clint Eastwood, not just as one of the best Hollywood tough guys of all time, but as a true director and artist. It’s the definitive “final western” of all time, and sums up the genre better than any other film made before or since. It might not be the absolute best western ever made, but it’s certainly the most poetic. Clint delivers his best performance of all time and Hackman damn well does the same thing. A truly classic film and one of the few that was rightfully awarded with “Best Picture of the Year.”

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67. Seven Samurai (1954)

The most epic film ever made. At nearly four hours, very few films have ever surpassed (or even attempted to surpass) this film in sheer breadth of scope. The extreme running time is merited by the character investment, ensuring that by the time the final battle comes and everything is on the line, you feel every loss. Many films have attempted to tell this same story and all have (in my opinion) failed miserably. Akira Kurosawa was one of the most talented filmmakers of all time, and if you only ever see one foreign language film, it should probably be “Seven Samurai”.

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66. Jules and Jim (1962)

Anybody who knows me, knows of my immense love for French New Wave films. If I could pick one era of cinematic time to go back and live in, it would probably Paris, France in the late 1950’s and 1960’s. Movies the likes of which have never been seen before or since were being made in that city at that time, and while I’ll always be more of a fan of Jean Luc-Godard and his fantastic films, Francois Truffaut’s “Jules and Jim” is about as perfect a New Wave film as you could hope for. It moves at a pace and with a sense of urgency that was completely unheard of at the time it was created, and all along it tells the story of not only one, but two tragic love affairs.

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65. Almost Famous (2000)

I really think that this poster sums up everything I want to say about this movie. Music and beautiful women, two of the only things worth living for. Cameron Crowe did the impossible and actually made his own autobiographical film something worth investing an audience’s own interest in. Plus, it has Kate Hudson in one of my favourite female roles of all time. Oh Penny Lane…

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Top 101 Films Part 6

74. The Lady Eve (1941)

It’s a romantic comedy from the 1940’s that’s still entirely funny and the one reason for that is Preston Sturges, a comedy filmmaker far ahead of his time. Very few people mix together slapstick with dialogue driven comedy as well as Sturges, and absolutely nobody performed it more fantastically than Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda do here. Even though we know these two people will literally tear each other apart if they lived their entire lives with one another, we want it to happen because it’s just so damn enjoyable.

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73. Bad Santa (2003)

Can you say “best Christmas movie of all time”? No? Well, I’ll say it for you. “Bad Santa” is the best Christmas movie of all time. ALL. TIME. There isn’t a single one that’s funnier than this film while also still delivering a very upbeat and positive message by the end. And the reason why the message works is because the film has the balls to show just how terrible of a man Billy Bob Thorton’s “Santa” is throughout most of his life. How does a man go from a drunken loser who pisses himself constantly to a caring father figure? Watch the movie, laugh your ass off, and find out for yourself.

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72. Memento (2000)

It’s impossible to just watch “Memento”. Each time you turn the film on you discover it all over again. The reverse narrative of the film ensures that your brain never turns off for a moment and engages you at every act break. The performances are all stellar and the directing is air tight. If all you know of Chris Nolan is his Batman films, check “Memento” out now. It’s a work of true artistry.

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71. The Brother’s Solomon (2007)

I know that like “MacGruber” putting this film on the list is about as close to sacrilege as I can possibly get, especially when I’m leaving off films like “The Godfather” or “Citizen Kane”. But understand something, I don’t care. Is “The Brother’s Solomon” more well made than Citizen Kane? Hell, no. But I sure do feel a lot happier watching this film than I do when I watch “Kane”. On a leve of sheer enjoyment, few films make me laugh as hard and often as this film. Will Arnett and Will Forte are absolutely perfect as the titular brothers and play the dumb card better than even Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels in “Dumb and Dumber”. Indeed, “The Brother’s Solomon” is the sequel that “Dumb and Dumber” never got, but should have.

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70. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

The best World War Two movie ever made. Period. Hell it might even be the best war movie ever made. No other film is as gut-wrenchingly real and tragic. And no matter how many times I watch the opening D-Day invasion scene, I always feel queasy.

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