Friday, September 14, 2007

My Top 101 (2007 Edition)

I've never gotten the point of making a distinction between a "best" and "favorite" movies list. My favorite movies are the best ones I've ever seen, that's why I love them so. Of course, the pleasure of making and sharing such a list is to find out what it (perhaps unwittingly) reveals about oneself. For instance, if Miller's Crossing ranks above Barton Fink this year, it's not because it's suddenly the superior movie - the movies don't change, but we do (this same process of rediscovery is one of the best things about film writing on the internet). So the changes this year are made up of films I'd never seen, films that landed closer to the heart than they had before (Tokyo Story is very different when you're a parent), and films I just plain overlooked last year (how the hell did I forget Touch of Evil?).

The goal every time I revise my list is to create a sort of representative collage of what cinema is to me at this moment. Glancing at the list, I know that I dig monsters, cowboys, ambiguity, sex, aliens and Freedonia. And I sure have a hard-on for the 1970's. Making the list is more and more like Sophie's Choice every year - I've seen at least 150-200 movies I'd consider perfect, and an alternate list of the next 101 would possibly make an interesting side project. But I'll remain disciplined for now; here are my 101 favorite best movies.


1. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
2. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
3. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
5. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
6. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
7. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
8. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
9. Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976)
10. Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)


11. Kill Bill vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)
12. Kill Bill vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)
13. My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991)
14. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
15. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
16. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1975)
17. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
18. The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980)
19. The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)
20. El Topo (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1970)

21. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
22. Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Werner Herzog, 1979)
23. Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
24. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)
25. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
26. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
27. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
28. Inferno (Dario Argento, 1980)
29. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
30. Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut, 1962)

31. Fargo (Joel Coen, 1996)
32. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
33. Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
34. The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)
35. The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)
36. Aguirre the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)
37. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
38. Dead Man (Joel Coen, 1996)
39. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
40. Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)


41. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
42. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)
43. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
44. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
45. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
46. Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
47. Sid and Nancy (Alex Cox, 1986)
48. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
49. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
50. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)


51. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
52. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
53. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman, 1975)
54. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
55. Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)
56. Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
57. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
58. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
59. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
60. The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)


61. Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
62. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
63. City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931)
64. American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999)
65. The American Friend (Wim Wenders, 1977)
66. Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)
67. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
68. Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
69. Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972)
70. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)


71. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
72. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
73. Orphee (Jean Cocteau, 1949)
74. Betty Blue (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1986)
75. Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)
76. Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
77. Black Moon (Louis Malle, 1975)
78. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)
79. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
80. Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson, 1994)


81. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)
82. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
83. Miller's Crossing (Joel Coen, 1990)
84. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978)
85. Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)
86. Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma, 1974)
87. Stroszek (Werner Herzog, 1977)
88. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
89. The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006)
90. Y tu mama tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2001)


91. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
92. Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994)
93. M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
94. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
95. Macbeth (Roman Polanski, 1971)
96. The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998)
97. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)
98. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
99. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah, 1973)
100. Popeye (Robert Altman, 1980)
101. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)

13 comments:

Jenny said...

Man, I had to turn Blue velvet off after Dennis Hopper uttered the lyrics to In Dreams to Kyle Mclaclyn. It was horrifying! Would you say that the movie's misogynist in the way it protrays Rosalinni's character though?

And I need to rent some Bergman and E.T. too!

Bemis said...

No I don't, and I think that oft-repeated criticism stems from Blue Velvet adapting a male perspective. All of Lynch's films have an extremely subjective POV, and his more recent work, which more frequently takes a female perspective, renders this charge irrelevant in my mind. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, for instance, is a favorite of women who have been sexually abused. Anyway, I find Blue Velvet, for all its weirdness, to be a very moral film, and Lynch a director who has too much empathy to objectify his characters, male or female.

Frankly, though, I'm not sure if misogyny in and of itself would prevent me from appreciating a film. Peckinpah was pretty contemptuous of women, but a film like Straw Dogs is an exploration of his anger. I don't need a director to be a well-adjusted person, I just expect a director to be honest.

Justine said...

Another point about Blue Velvet, is that as an exploration of conventional cinema women as sex objects is a time honoured tradition. Lynch brings us with immediacy face to what Hollywood has been feeding viewers since it's existence, and rightfully makes it horrifying.

As much as I love these lists, I rarely know what to do with them. So here is a breakdown of some "thoughts" (more like lists). I'm happy to elaborate on anything if asked
Films I'd give a perfect score:
3. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
8. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
16. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1975)
30. Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut, 1962)
32. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962)
36. Aguirre the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)
37. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963)
39. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
54. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
63. City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931)
71. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
76. Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
85. Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)
101. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)

Films I'd rate as "rotten":
5. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
12. Kill Bill vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)
29. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
90. Y tu mama tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2001)

I haven't seen:
2. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
9. Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976)
10. Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)
11. Kill Bill vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)
13. My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991)
17. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
18. The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980)
19. The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)
20. El Topo (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1970)
15. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
26. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
28. Inferno (Dario Argento, 1980)
35. The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)
38. Dead Man (Joel Coen, 1996)
40. Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)
43. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
44. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
45. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
47. Sid and Nancy (Alex Cox, 1986)
49. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
51. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
55. Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)
56. Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
59. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)
65. The American Friend (Wim Wenders, 1977)
66. Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)
68. Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
69. Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972)
73. Orphee (Jean Cocteau, 1949)
74. Betty Blue (Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1986)
77. Black Moon (Louis Malle, 1975)
78. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)
82. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
84. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978)
86. Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma, 1974)
87. Stroszek (Werner Herzog, 1977)
88. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
91. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)
96. The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998)
97. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)
99. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah, 1973)
100. Popeye (Robert Altman, 1980)

Jenny said...

Justine: what don't you like about A Clockwork Orange?

Dr. Insermini said...

Cool list!

landru said...

I'm always amazed that people can put together lists like this and I was glad to read your intro about it being what you were thinking at the time. Everytime someone asks me what my favorite movie is I often say "Citizen Kane" and then something wierd like "The Thing" because, of hand, those tend to hold up for me no matter what. But, if hard pressed I'd watch a Marx Bros. film over Kane most days of the week.

Bemis said...

I get what your saying. Citizen Kane is as perfect in the classical sense as any film has ever been, but Touch of Evil affects me more deeply.

Jess said...

I really enjoy your acceptance of the fluidity of taste. I know so many "movie geeks" who say "This is what I like and it will never change. So, you are always wrong.". I think, and I think you do too, that taste is extremely subjective and it had a lot of room for growth and change. Who we are changes so much from year to year, why shouldn't our favorite media change with them? People tend to use movies, books, and music to help them understand what is going on in their lives and that is never static. This was a long winded way to say that I am glad we're friends.

Bemis said...

Me too.

Milena said...

Nice list. I should make my own...

I haven't seen: The Searchers, Punch-Drunk Love and Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Bemis said...

I'd like to see your list. And I suspect that you might like Punch-Drunk Love in particular.

Milena said...

I'll try to find it :)

viagra online said...

Blue Velvet is one of my favorite movies! I can't believe that you put it on first place!