Saturday, October 18, 2008

Top 101 (2008 Edition)

Things that have changed in the past year: I've shot a feature and my second child is weeks (maybe days) from arriving. Things that have not changed: my near-fetishistic love of '70s cinema and my preference for movies that aren't afraid to go big, whether in scale, ambition or emotion. This list is a reflection of what I value most in the movies in 2008; that said every year making the list becomes less pleasurable and more difficult. While anything beyond 101 feels like cheating, I must note that any list that doesn't include Pulp Fiction, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, A.I. and Birth (to name a few) can't properly be called a list of my favorites (I always joke to people who comment on our large DVD collection that they're my 800 favorite movies). This is the VIP list, the movies that have become such a part of me that I wonder how I ever went without having seen them.

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. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
7. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
8. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007)
9. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
10. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

11. Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976)
12. Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)
13. Kill Bill vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)
14. Kill Bill vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)
15. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
16. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
17. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
18. The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)
19. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)
20. The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980)

21. Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Werner Herzog, 1979)
22. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
23. My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991)
24. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
25. Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
26. Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
27. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
28. Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)
29. Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962
30. El Topo (Alexandro Jodorowsky, 1970)

31. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
32. Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut, 1962)
33. Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978)
34. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
35. Don't Look Now (Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
36. The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)
37. Aguirre the Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)
38. Fargo (Joel Coen, 1996)
39. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
40. The Last Temptation of Christ (Martin Scorsese, 1988)

41. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
42. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
43. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1996)
44. 8 ½ (Federico Fellini, 1963)
45. The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)
46. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
47. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)
48. Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
49. Schindler's List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
50. GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)

51. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
52. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)
53. Inferno (Dario Argento, 1980)
54. All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979)
55. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
56. Sid and Nancy (Alex Cox, 1986)
57. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman, 1975)
58. The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
59. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
60. Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman, 1972)

61. Blow Out (Brian De Palma, 1981)
62. Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)
63. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
64. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb(Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
65. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
66. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
67. Once Upon a Time in America (Sergio Leone, 1984)
68. City Lights (Charles Chaplin, 1931)
69. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
70. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

71. Last Tango in Paris (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972)
72. The American Friend (Wim Wenders, 1977)
73. Betty Blue (Jean-Jacques Beneiex, 1986)
74. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
75. Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971)
76. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
77. Miller's Crossing (Joel Coen, 1990)
78. Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999)
79. Rushmore (Wes Anderson, 1998)
80. Orphee (Jean Cocteau, 1949)

81. Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)
82. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik, 2007)
83. Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)
84. Y tu mama tambien (Alfonso Cuaron, 2001)
85. Heavenly Creatures (Peter Jackson, 1994)
86. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2007)
87. Black Moon (Louis Malle, 1975)
88. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)
89. Stroszek (Werner Herzog, 1977)
90. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)

91. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978)
92. Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah, 1973)
93. Belle de Jour (Luis Bunuel, 1967)
94. Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994)
95. Macbeth (Roman Polanski, 1971)
96. Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma, 1974)
97. The Fountain (Darren Aronofsky, 2006)
98. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)
99. The Big Lebowski (Joel Coen, 1998)
100. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
101. Popeye (Robert Altman, 1980)


Dr. Insermini said...

Great list and pics!

Adam Ross said...

Great post, these lists are so hard to write (at least for me). I counted around 30 that would be on my list, and most of them were where I would place them on the spectrum.

Anonymous said...

Great list and picks. I wish you the very best with your film project. I'm also a filmmaker ( so I can understand what you're going through right now. Congratulations on being a father!

PIPER said...

Great list Bemis. And great captures of the movies.

So how are you seeing your list evolve over the years? Are any movies dropping off? Are any moving up or down?

I found it interesting that Kill Bill Vol. 2 was in one position above Kill Bill Vol.1.

Hope your feature went well.

Andrew Bemis said...

Matthew, I'd love to see one of your movies - where can I find them?

List is much the same as last year, Evil Clown. Biggest change is the addition of four of the new classics from last year (there's one 2008 release so far that deserves inclusion, but I like to wait a year). Blade Runner jumped past Alien after seeing it on the big screen, though if I saw Alien in a cinema it could change again. Other than that, a few nostalgic favorites I've been holding onto, like American Beauty, cast aside in favor of ones, like Belle de Jour, that I find myself appreciating more as I get older. While my list is hardly a comprehensive survey of cinema history, it's starting to feel like an adult's list.

The feature went very well - crazy at points, but we did it. The birth of our son delayed updates here and at the Black Light Journals, but those should resume soon.

Anonymous said...


Email me your address at and I can send you a copy.

Thanks for the interest! I would love to see yours too when its finished! Really enjoy reading your site by the way! Always interesting posts and fascinating film picks.


Anonymous said...


Love your top three picks on this list.

Blue Velvet is easily the best film of the 80's. Hands down.


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