The Greatest Films Ever Made: The Top Thirty (#1-10)

Welcome once again to my can’t-miss list of the greatest films ever made. To review, the criteria is as rudimentary as I can make it: a) The immediate impact of the film and b) The compulsive need to see the film again and again. Yes, these are films I will think of on my death bed. The top ten films ever made..:

1. Aguirre, Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, Germany, 1972)

Indelible line: “I am the wrath of God. Who else is with me?” (Aguirre)

Lasting impression: The futility of man’s desires

2. No Country for Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen, US, 2007)

Indelible line: “What’s the most you’ve ever lost on a coin toss?” (Chigurh)

Lasting impression: Silent, relentless, unforgiving pursuit

3. Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, 2001)

Indelible line: “If you want to eat me, eat this first.” (Chihiro)

Lasting impression: Train ride with spirits across the flooded plain

4. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnes Varda, France, 1962)

Indelible line: “I always think everyone is looking at me, but I’m only looking at myself.” (Cleo)

Lasting impression: Adrift in the city

5. The Deerhunter (Michael Cimino, US, 1980)

Indelible line: “This is this. It ain’t something else. This is this.” (Michael)

Lasting impression: Not knowing what to do, knowing exactly what to do

6. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, US, 1939)

Indelible line: “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too.” (Wicked Witch of the West)

Lasting impression: Flying monkeys filling the sky

7. Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia, 2017)

Indelible line: “Twelve and a complete savage. Cries for no reason.” (Zhenya)

Lasting impression: Caution tape blowing over the frozen landscape

8. The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, USSR, 1957)

Indelible line: “What the hell kind of mother are you?” (Passing motorist)

Lasting impression: Running from her self, finding an orphan son

9. The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, US, 1998)

Indelible line: “In this world, a man, himself is nothing.” (Sergeant Welsh)

Lasting impression: The natural world in contrast to the warfare of man

10. Taxi (Jafar Pahani, Iran, 2015)

Indelible line: “They make your living a hell. Just let it go.” (Nasrin Sotoudeh)

Lasting impression: Who knew that defiance could have such a friendly face?

And, thinking you might want just a little bit more, here are the ten films that just missed the cut (in chronological order):

Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, US, 1926)

Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, USSR, 1927)

Tokyo Story (Yasujirō Ozu, Japan, 1953)

Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, US, 1980)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (John Hughes, US, 1987)

Superbad (Greg Mottola, US, 2007)

Gommorah (Matteo Garonne, Italy 2008)

The Florida Project (Sean Baker, US, 2017)

Shoplifters (Hirokai Kore-eda, Japan, 2018)

Capernaum (Nadine Labaki, Lebanon, 2018)

Eternal Recurrence “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Inside Llewyn Davis starts where it ends, in desperation and isolation. inside-llewyn-davis-movie-wallpaper-7Moments recur, varied but not; characters change and don’t. Llewyn Davis sees himself in his incontinent father, his wide-eyed nephew, his various hosts and the cat. llewyn-davis-cat-gifUlysses is an interesting creature, always escaping, down the fire escape, on the road, on a movie poster, there and not there, almost like Schrodinger says, but more like an animal of eternal recurrence, life in a loop. escher staircaseThe Coen brothers’ latest film is remarkable simply because it pretends to be simple, reiterating the basic truth that everything has already been done.

The Academy’s Most Popular Award

Hollywood’s Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is occasionally on the mark with their annual Best Picture – Casablanca (Curtiz, 1943), Midnight Cowboy (Schlesinger, 1969), Annie Hall (Allen, 1977) & No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007). no-country-for-old-menHowever these awards have more to do with Hollywood politics and marketing campaigns – such as Harvey Weinstein bullying on behalf of the dreadfully mediocre Shakespeare in Love (1998) – and much less to do with the art of film-making. shakeAs a consequence, the Best Pictures ends up consistently falling short. This isn’t just an issue with which film wins, but which are nominated and has been a problem right from the start of the Awards in 1927. The most apparent has been in the exclusion of most of the great foreign films in ages past, failing to nominate Passion of Joan of Arc (Dryer, 1928), M (Fritz Lang, 1931), La Regle de Jeu (Renoir, 1939), regle-du-jeu-05-gSeven Samurai (Kurosawa, 1954), Wild Strawberries (Bergman, 1957), Breathless (Godard, 1960), Aguirre, Wrath of God (Herzog, 1973) and The Sacrifice (Tarkovsky, 1986) and City of God (Meirelles, 2003)…to mention only a fraction. cityofgodThe Academy is flawed at its core, responding to the topicality of the film – social movements above all – and less to the work itself. “Best Pictures” are often predicable and dull, lacking in both vision and inspiration…and this year is no different. Here’s my list of the Academy’s most glaring mistakes.

Not even nominated                  Winner (Soon to be Forgotten)

1933      Duck Soup (McCarey)              Calvalcade (Lloyd)GROUCHO MARX

1946      Gilda (Vidor)                                Best Years of Their Lives (Wyler)

1952      Singin’ in the Rain (Kelly)            Greatest Show on Earth (DeMille)

1958      Vertigo (Hitchcock)                      Gigi (Minnelli)

1968      2001: Space Odyssey (Kubrick)  Oliver! (Reed)2001_-a-space-odyssey-large-picture

1979      Manhattan (Allen)                        Kramer vs. Kramer (Benton)

1982      Blade Runner (Scott)                   Gandhi (Attenborough)

1989      Do the Right Thing (Lee)              Driving Miss Daisy (Beresford)Do the right thing

2003      Elephant (Van Sant)                     The Lord of the Rings (Jackson)

2013      The Master  (Anderson)               Argo (Affleck)themaster

That’s Show Biz.