O Brother, Where Art Thou? (d. Joel and Ethan Coen) – How is it
possible that on top of everything else, this film manages to also be moving?
One of the Coens most surprising feats of alchemy.
Odd Man Out (d. Carol Reed) – Wrote about it here.
Of Mice and Men (d. Gary Sinise) – Not actually much different
in its approach or particulars from Lewis Milestone’s 1939 adaptation, but
there’s just something a bit more beautiful about what Sinise does here.
Of Time and the City (d. Terence Davies) – There’s a little boy
being helped into the loop of a rope that’s been tied into a very wide noose.
He sits in the loop, because it’s their swing. They don’t know that they live
in a place that can’t afford a swing.
Oleanna (d. David Mamet) – Not a much beloved film these days,
I wouldn’t imagine, but I think it still hits home in a number of different
ways. Also I love Mamet’s language and rhythms so much that I watch this movie
On the Waterfront (d. Elia Kazan) – Wrote about it here.
Once Upon a Time in the West (d. Sergio Leone) – My favorite
Leone, his richest and strangest epic.
One False Move (d. Carl Franklin) – If more 90s crime films had
been this deceptively modest and powerful, the world would be a better place
One From the Heart (d. Francis Ford Coppola) – It may not be as
good, but One From the Heart is a truer representation of the Coppola
aesthetic than The Godfather ever was.
One-Eyed Jacks (d. Marlon Brando) – Wrote about it here.
Only Angels Have Wings (d. Howard Hawks) – Wrote about it here.
Out of the Past (d. Jacques Tourneur) – “I don’t want to die.”
“Neither do I, baby, but if I have to, I’m gonna die last.” I mean, come on.
Panic in the Streets (d. Elia Kazan) – Wrote about it here.
Paterson (d. Jim Jarmusch) – Possibly Jarmusch’s masterpiece, a
sincere celebration of the joys of “ordinary” life, and the satisfaction of
quiet, private creativity. Inspiring in a way that “inspiring” films usually
(d. Olivier Assayas) - May be the best ghost story of the 21st century.
Phase IV (d. Saul Bass) – A marvel of a film. Mysterious,
frightening, and makes the audience wonder how it was made.
Phenomena (d. Dario Argento) – Argento at his most gloriously
unhinged, this fairy tale of murder and insects and girls’ schools and psychic
powers could have gone on and on and on. Also satisfies the requirements of
Picnic at Hanging Rock (d. Peter Weir) – This is the kind of
horror that I wish contemporary genre filmmakers felt nostalgic about, and
wanted to bring back.
Planet of the Apes (d. Franklin J. Schaffner) – Wrote about it
Pleasure Party (d. Claude Chabrol) – One of the great films
about murder, and about how real murderers look and act. Chilling.
Pollock (d. Ed Harris) – Another of the great traditional biopics,
of which there are vanishingly few. Somewhat big when it was released, it’s now
almost forgotten. It shouldn’t be.
Possession (d. Andrzej Zulawski) – One of the few movies that,
when a certain thing occurs, managed to make me stop what I was doing, cold in
my tracks (I was eating cereal at the time, if you must know).
A Prairie Home Companion (d. Robert Altman) – Beautiful, almost
perfect. I could watch it every day.
The Prestige (d. Christopher Nolan) – Probably still Nolan’s
best movie, and seemingly made specifically for me. Which is a nice thing to
do, and I appreciate it.
Prince of Darkness (d. John Carpenter) – Wrote about it here.
Prometheus (d. Ridley Scott) – Wrote about it here.
The Prowler (d. Joseph Losey) – One of the great, truly existential
noirs. A nasty film. Arguably a career best performance from Van Heflin, which
is saying something.
Psycho (d. Alfred Hitchcock) – A not insignificant film in my
Pulse (d. Kiyoshi Kurosawa) - Wrote about it here.
Punch-Drunk Love (d. Paul Thomas Anderson) – The bridge between
the great 90s Anderson films and the incredible timeless Anderson films we’re
getting now. Adam Sandler’s performance could not be better.
The Purple Rose of Cairo (d. Woody Allen) – Possibly the first
of Allen’s great mixes of comedy and melancholy. Pairs beautifully with Radio
Q – The Winged Serpent (d. Larry Cohen) – For the scene where
Michael Moriarty tries to get a job as the pianist in a run-down piano bar alone! For even putting a scene like
that in a monster movie in the first
Quick Change (d. Bill Murray and Howard Franklin) – “Sometimes,
their noses are horns.”
A Quiet Passion (d. Terence Davies) - Rarely has a film based on fact felt so personally and inextricably tied to the filmmaker.
Quiz Show (d. Robert Redford) – I can attest that this holds up
beautifully. Everything fell together on this one, from the subject matter to
the ridiculously stacked cast. One of the great studio films of the modern era.
Radio Days (d. Woody Allen). See The Purple Rose of Cairo.
Like that film, but in a very different way, this represents Allen at his most
inventive. Wonderful, one of his finest achievements.
Rambo (d. Sylvester Stallone) – Speaking of wonderful
The Rapture (d. Michael Tolkin) – A brilliant, tricky, complex,
and unsettling take on cults, religion, and the afterlife. Unlike anything else
Real Life (d. Albert Brooks) – “I’m an entertainer, but quite
frankly if I’d studied harder, or been graded more fairly, I would have been a
doctor or a scientist.”
Rear Window (d. Alfred Hitchcock) - A not insignificant film in
Repulsion (d. Roman Polanski) – As elegantly frightening, and
ultimately kind of repulsive actually, as it’s possible to be.
The Right Stuff (d. Philip Kaufman) – The Great American Epic
of the 1980s. Nothing else comes close.
Rio Bravo (d. Howard Hawks) – It’s startling how casually
brought off greatness can sometimes seem.
Rituals (d. Peter Carter) – Sort of like Deliverance, minus some
things and plus some others, and starring Hal Holbrook as one of the
desperate-to-survive heroes. A bunch of middle-aged doctors in the wilderness
trying not to die. It works like gangbusters.
The Road Warrior (d. George Miller) – Probably actually the
best one, if you think about it, guys.
Rob Roy (d. Michael Caton-Jones) – It out-Bravehearts Braveheart!
Role Models (d. David Wain) – Very quietly one of the funniest
comedies of the past decade.
Rosemary’s Baby (d. Roman Polanski) – Wrote about it, briefly,
here (scroll to the bottom).
The Royal Tenenbaums (d. Wes Anderson) – I don’t understand how
anyone could fail to be swept up by this beautiful, colorful, hilarious, and
deeply sad film.
La Rupture (d. Claude Chabrol) – The most bugshit Chabrol film
(d. Wes Anderson) - To be honest, this still might be his best.
Salesman (d. Albert Maysles, David Maysles, and Charlotte
Zwerin) – Among many other things, this is the closest any of us will ever get
to time travel.
Sansho the Bailiff (d. Kenji Mizoguchi) – If one wanted to make
the argument that Mizoguchi was the best there has ever been, one could base
that argument on this film alone.
Scrooged (d. Richard Donner) – It’s true that Murray was
directed to shout his lines maybe a little
too often. That aside, this should be an acknowledged and beloved Christmas
Séance on a Wet Afternoon (d. Bryan Forbes) – Kim Stanley and
Richard Attenborough give two of the all-time greatest screen performances in
this film, yet Forbes’s masterpiece is pretty much forgotten. That seems fair.
Seconds (d. John Frankenheimer) – Wrote about it, kind of,
The Second Skin (d. Francois Truffaut) – Wrote about it here.
A Serious Man (d. Joel and Ethan Coen) – Wrote about it here,
but in that brief review I do not stress enough that this is one of the great
American films, full stop.
The Serpent’s Egg (d. Ingmar Bergman) – Wrote about it here.
Seven Samurai (d. Akira Kurosawa) – I like it! Sue me!
The Seventh Continent (d. Michael Haneke) – Haneke’s debut film
is, for me, still his most unsettling. A terrible, clear-eyed march towards
Sexy Beast (d. Jonathan Glazer) – “I am going to have to turn
this opportunity down.” “No, you are going to have to turn this opportunity yes!” I’d kill to have written that.
Shattered Glass (d. Billy Ray) – Pretty goddamned gripping, and
satisfying. Peter Sarsgaard’s outrage by the end is cathartic.
Shaun of the Dead (d. Edgar Wright) – One Friday night, years
ago, I rented this, not expecting much, bought some beer, and watched it by
myself. I had the best time.
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (d. John Ford) – Truly exquisite. John
Wayne’s final scenes are what he, and Ford, were all about.
The Shining (d. Stanley Kubrick) - I'm pretty sure Stephen King thinks this isn't as good as The Dark Tower.
Shoah (d. Claude Lanzmann) – The greatest documentary ever
The Shooting (d. Monte Hellman) – Wrote about it here.
The Shop Around the Corner (d. Ernst Lubitsch) – Graceful,
funny, sad, actually original. Not a single misstep.
Short Cuts (d. Robert Altman) – If this film truly is
misanthropic, as its critics say, and I think that’s arguable, but if it’s
true, my question is “So what?”
Shutter Island (d. Martin Scorsese) – Wrote about it here.
Sideways (d. Alexander Payne) – This didn’t strike a nerve with
me at all.
Silence (d. Martin Scorsese) – Wrote about it here. But also,
one day we’ll realize how extraordinary this film is.
Slither (d. James Gunn) – I often hear people – critics,
filmmakers – insist that horror movies should be fun, or have lost their sense
of fun. I obviously think horror should aspire to more than that. However, if
more horror films were this fun, I
would be less upset all the time.
The Sniper (d. Edward Dmytryk) – The violence in this film is
shockingly blunt. One of the darkest noirs.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (d. David Hand, William
Cottrell, Wilfred Jackson, Larry Morey, Perce Pearce, Ben Sharpsteen) – The
first movie I ever saw. It’s still good.
Snowpiercer (d. Bong Joon-ho) – The best remake of Willy
Wonka and the Chocolate Factory I’ve ever seen!
Some Came Running (d. Vincente Minelli) – Goddamn, what an
Sorcerer (d. William Friedkin) – What they call these days
The Sorcerers (d. Michael Reeves) – Wrote about it here.
Spartan (d. David Mamet) – “You need to set your motherfucker to
receive.” I keep telling you guys
Spider (d. David Cronenberg) – Wrote about it here.
The Squid and the Whale (d. Noah Baumbach) – “Street Hassle”
was a good choice.
Stand By Me (d. Rob Reiner) – Maybe the most nostalgic pick on
this list, but I watched it again not too long ago. It’s really good.
Star 80 (d. Bob Fosse) – What I said about Pleasure Party, but
A Star is Born (d. William Wellman) – That one of the best and
most incisive movies about movies was made in 1937 is probably indicative of
something or other.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (d. Nicholas Meyer) – Okay,
maybe this is the most nostalgic pick
on the list, but come on…I’m not a monster. The only thing wrong with Star
Trek II is that they made Star Trek III.
The Steel Helmet (d. Samuel Fuller) – A really powerful
eye-opener when I first saw it. I didn’t know they made war movies like this.
Step Brothers (d. Adam McKay) – Since this film was released,
Adam McKay has gone on to be one of the worst things in the world. Step
Brothers, thankfully, remains unchanged.
The Story of Adele H. (d. Francois Truffaut) – Truffaut took a
footnote in literary history and turned it into a story whose power is
immediate and heartbreaking. Isabelle Adjani is stunning.
Straw Dogs (d. Sam Peckinpah) – Peckinpah’s best. Wrote about
Super (d. James Gunn) – The best superhero movie ever.
Suspiria (d. Dario Argento) – Not quite as gleefully
nonsensical as Phenomena, but close. Pure, glorious style.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (d. Tim Burton)
– Arguably Tim Burton’s best. By which I mean, I’m arguing that.
The Sweet Hereafter (d. Atom Egoyan) – Ian Fucking Holm.
Sweet Smell of Success (d. AlexIander Mackendrick) – I like the
way Tony Curtis lights a match for Burt Lancaster as Lancaster is insulting
Synecdoche, New York (d. Charlie Kaufman) – Wrote about it
Tabu: A Tale of the South Seas (d. F.W. Murnau) – Wrote about
The Tall T (d. Budd Boetticher) – The kind of Western that
people might refer to as “crackerjack.” Henry Silva and Richard Boone are
Targets (d. Peter Bogdanovich) – I consider myself a
Bogdanovich fan, but I don’t think he’s ever topped this. If I narrowed this
list way, way down, pared it to the bare essentials, Targets would still be on
Taxi Driver (d. Martin Scorsese) – I don’t like reading
analyses of this movie. Taxi Driver is too good for that
Team America: World Police (d. Trey Parker) – An American
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (d. Fritz Lang) – Such glorious
suspense and dark entertainment.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (d. Tobe Hooper) – In the pantheon of
Greatest Final Shots.
That Cold Day in the Park (d. Robert Altman) – Sandy Dennis was
not fucking around here.
There Will Be Blood (d. Paul Thomas Anderson) – It still seems
enormously unlikely to me that a film like this could ever be financed, and so
I’m therefore not sure it exists.
They Came Together (d. David Wain) – “Wow, a cheeseburger,
They Live by Night (d. Nicholas Ray) – It must be nice for a
director to begin his career with a masterpiece.
Thief (d. Michael Mann) – Wrote about it here.
The Thin Red Line (d. Terence Malick) – A film I was dubious
about in 1999, which has grown in my mind with every passing year.
The Thing (d. John Carpenter) – I doubt there’s anything I can
say about this film that hasn’t already been said, certainly not in the space I’ve
allotted myself here. That every time I watch it, I’m grateful it exists, will
have to suffice.
The Third Man (d. Carol Reed) – Again, what can I say? See The
Thing, which is probably the only time these two films have been linked
in any way. Has my favorite last shot of any film.
This is Spinal Tap (d. Rob Reiner) – The greatest comedy ever
Three Amigos (d. John Landis) – Would make the list just for
the scene where Martin Shorts tells a group of Mexican children his
self-aggrandizing Dorothy Gish story.
Throne of Blood (d. Akira Kurosawa) – Macbeth, as thunderous as
it should be.
Time Bandits (d. Terry Gilliam) – The weirdest kids’ film ever
released in America by a major studio. For me was once, and still is, a Pretty
To Have and Have Not (d. Howard Hawks) – Ripped off Casablanca,
did it better.
Topsy Turvy (d. Mike Leigh) – A really amazing thing. I don’t
know how they did it. Jim Broadbent instantly became one of my favorite actors.
“It doesn’t amuse me, Grossmith, nor does it scan.”
Touch of Evil (d. Orson Welles) – Pretty good effort.
The Tree of Life (d. Terence Malick) – I’ve still only seen
this once, but I seem to think about it constantly.
Trees Lounge (d. Steve Buscemi) – A wonderful debut from
Buscemi as writer/director. I hope we get more of this from his some day.
Trouble Every Day (d. Claire Denis) – Made me say, out loud, by
myself, to a character on screen, “Stop doing that…”
True Grit (d. Joel and Ethan Coen) – Wrote about it here.
The Turin Horse (d. Bela Tarr) – Like Paterson, but for misery.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (d. David Lynch) – The saddest
horror film ever made.
Two-Lane Blacktop (d. Monte Hellman) – Dreamlike and realistic,
a film about cars and the night.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (d. Jacques Demy) – Wrote about it
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (d. Philip Kaufman) - I can't seem to shut up about last shots today. Well here's another all-timer. It sort of washes back over the film that precedes it.
Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees (d. Masahiro Shinoda) – A
classic of Japanese arthouse horror, that apparently nobody has seen.
Under the Skin (d. Jonathan Glazer) – What science fiction
cinema should be. Also what horror cinema should be.
Under the Sun of Satan (d. Maurice Pialat) – The kind of grand
religious, moral nightmare that could only come from a troubled, possibly quite
unlikable, French genius.
Underworld USA (d. Samuel Fuller) – A brilliant Cliff Robertson
performance, in possibly Fuller’s greatest crime film.
United 93 (d. Paul Greengrass) – I get the sense people are
still sort of angry that this film was made. Well, I’ve never been as
emotionally affected – it was almost physical – by any other film.
The Verdict (d. Sidney Lumet) – Paul Newman, at his smallest
and most pathetic, towers over everyone else.
Vertigo (d. Alfred Hitchcock) – Sight & Sound might be on to something here.
Videodrome (d. David Cronenberg) – Wrote about it here.
Violent Saturday (d. Richard Fleischer) – Hollywood small town
melodrama, capped off by some truly brutal violence. “Technicolor noir” is
something I could’ve gotten behind.
War of the Worlds (d. Steven Spielberg) – Contains some of
Spielberg’s most indelible, and frightening, images.
Watership Down (d. Martin Rosen) – Wrote about it here.
We Won’t Grow Old Together (d. Maurice Pialat) – Wrote about it
Went the Day Well? (d. Alberto Cavalcanti) – About English
civilians fighting Nazi forces trying to take over their town. Extremely
violent for its day. No quarter asked nor given. On my shortlist of favorite
Wet Hot American Summer (d. David Wain) – I literally did like
this before it was cool, guys.
Where is My Friend’s House? (d. Abbas Kiorstami) – A beautiful,
weirdly suspenseful story about a little boy trying to help his friend.
Wonderful last shot.
Whirlpool (d. Otto Preminger) – Wrote about it here, almost
certainly not well, though. Jose Ferrer’s best performance.
White Dog (d. Samuel Fuller) – Contains one of my favorite
camera moves, when Paul Winfield is introduced.
White Heat (d. Raoul Walsh) – I still can’t believe Kubrick had
to convince Spielberg, and Welles had to convince Bogdanovich, that Cagney was
a great actor. Come on, you couple of idiots!
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (d. Robert Zemeckis) – Or maybe this is the most nostalgic pick on the
list. But movies don’t get much more fun than this.
Why Did Herr R. Run Amok? (d. Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Michael
Fengler) – See Pleasure Party and Star 80. Possibly triple that.
The Witch (d. Robert Eggers) – Wrote about it here.
Witchfinder General (d. Michael Reeves) – Vincent Price at his
best, all camp removed, all that’s left is a great horror icon being
terrifying. A brilliant movie.
The Wolf Man (d. George Waggner) – This movie is endlessly sad
to me because Lawrence Talbot is just some guy who probably likes baseball and
beer and dating girls, and then this
happens to him, and he’s scared and confused, and he doesn’t know what to do,
and then he dies.
The Wolf of Wall Street (d. Martin Scorsese) – Wrote about it
The Woman Next Door (d. Francois Truffaut) – My favorite
Truffaut film. A real punch in the head, this one.
The World’s End (d. Edgar Wright) – The best thing Wright has
done. I’ll not listen to opposing viewpoints.
X – The Man with X-Ray Eyes (d. Roger Corman) – Manages to make
the trip from kind of goofy to apocalyptic pretty smoothly.
The Yakuza (d. Sydney Pollack) – Outside of Sydney Pollack the
Actor, 70s Genre Director Sydney Pollack is my favorite Sydney Pollack.
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (d. Xan Cassavetes) – A truly
idiosyncratic documentary about movies and tragedy. I have seen this, er, many
Zodiac (d. David Fincher) – “He claims he killed thirteen
people, but which ones can we actually confirm? There’s three in Vallejo, one
in Berryessa, the cabbie. That’s it...Bobby, you almost look disappointed.”
Zulu (d. Cy Endfield) – A brilliant combat film. This is not the
kind of film some ignorant folks believe it is. Zulu is all about taking
roll call, and the pause when someone doesn’t answer. So Tom and Matt, now you