The Definitive List (Just Kidding)Jan 5, 2004 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line The bottom line? Greatness in film artistry is as immutable as it is in painting and music, because it is right there to be seen and heard.
These are not in any particular order, because to try and order them would be an exercise in insanity not to mention hubris. Here are the ten films I believe collectively represent the pinnacle of cinematic achievement:
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey - Kubrick's masterpiece and arguably the greatest film ever made. It offered two things not seen before in film: A genuinely mind-bending experience and a scientific metaphor for God.
2. Lawrence of Arabia - David Lean's best film, and along with Spartacus that rarest of things: An unembarrassing epic. Also, the moment when Lawrence blows out the match and it becomes the sun above the sands of Arabia is one of the greatest scene transitions ever put to film. Last but not least, Peter O'Toole's magnificent performance...and Omar Sharif's....and Anthony Quinn's....
3. Dr. Strangelove Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb - Forget Kubrick, forget Sellers, forget the detail in Ken Adams amazing production design. Here's an example of the triple-canopy brilliance of this film's script, the thing that distinguishes this film: General Ripper describing how he withholds his "precious bodily fluids" from women to an RAF Officer named "Mandrake." Why is this brilliant? Because the legend of the mandrake root is that it only grew beneath men who'd been hung, and men who are hung ej*aculate one last time, said seed dripping down into the ground from which would spring the mandrake root. Now THAT is deep satire! And Terry Southern and Kubrick had the brilliance to put that in the script as a throw-away!
4. Vertigo - Hitch's best, in my opinion, and one of the best films ever made about romantic obsession. Then there is Jimmy Stewart's unusual (and unusually intense) performance, and the tragedy at the heart of the plot.
5. Intolerance - D.W. Griffith did things in this film that have to be seen to be believed, especially if you want to believe they were achieved in 1916. His innovations with the camera were bravura, as was his sense of scale. This film could not be exactly re-produced today without costing in excess of a billion dollars.
6. Annie Hall - Yes, that's right: Annie Hall. Why? Because it is Woody Allen at the peak of his powers, because it manages to encompass every type of comedy in a virtuoso melding of script, performance and direction, and because it is arguably the funniest American movie ever made. Kentucky Fried Movie, Young Frankenstein and Duck Soup come close, but miss by a cigar.
7. Seven Samurai - Mifune directed by Kurosawa when both were at their best, in a film the plot of which has been mimicked over and over. Its influence alone makes it worthy of inclusion.
8. Citizen Kane - Well it had to be here, didn't it? No list of this sort is complete without a genuflection at the Altar of the Boy Genius, even though this reviewer believes that even at his best Welles wasn't half the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick was on the rare occasion he was mediocre. Nevertheless, there was enough new in this film, and enough of it is still fresh, to warrant continued inclusion on anyone's list of the Ten Greatest.
9. The Wild Bunch - Sam Peckinpah's triumph, this tremendous achievement is in my opinion the greatest Western ever made. Forget Hawkes, Ford and the rest; Peckinpah learned from them, took the best from them and discarded the hackwork, and created a bombastic gem that does the impossible: Make you believe that a bunch of cut-throat outlaws would sacrifice their lives for someone else. And it's epic in scale besides, something all those other "auteurs" lauded by the wannabes at Cahiers du Cinema never attempted much less accomplished.
10. The Godfather & The Exorcist - I know I'm cheating, but I really do believe both of these films belong in the Top Ten list, because they are the greatest of their respective genres and two of the great American films ever made.
|Read all comments (4)|Write your own comment|
Ads by Google
Unlimited Movie Rentals 99¢ Each For Your 1st 30 Days When You Try The All-New M-GO. Sign Up!
Top Ten Best Ever Films Search for Top Ten Best Ever Films With 100's of Results at WebCrawler