16 August 2012

sight & sound & fury part 2.

In rebuttal to the Sight and Sounds poll, I am pleased to present to you my list of the best films of all time. You'll find it (refreshingly) scoured clean of all traces of Ozu, Tarkovsky, Antonioni, and Truffaut. It's also one of the few best film lists brave enough to ignore to existence of Bicycle Thieves altogether. 

There are some films on my list that wouldn't even be considered good by prevailing critical opinion, let alone great. (The Brown Bunny and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me come to mind. Remember when Roger Ebert famously declared that The Brown Bunny was the worst film ever screened at Cannes? This from a man who gave four stars to Prometheus—so that's sayin' something. If my memory serves me correctly, didn't Vincent Gallo then wish—out loud—that Ebert would die? If you've seen Ebert lately, you know that he's still—technically speaking—alive, but I'd still think twice before giving Gallo a bad review in the future.)

Keep in mind that this list is accurate only as of this very moment. Now that I am typing this next sentence, it is no longer accurate. But I can reassure those of you who may doubt the resolve of these opinions that my top ten has remained relatively stable since Mulholland Dr. was released in 2001. I can't really say enough about Mulholland Dr. It has everything I'm looking for in a movie—surrealism, mystery, suspense, profound truth, midgets, boobies... And the love story between Betty/Diane (Naomi Watts) and Rita/Camilla (Laura Elena Harring) is certainly the most moving (and horrifying) that I'm aware of. I think people tend to lose sight of this amid all the Lynchian trappings—the creepy bum behind the dumpster, the Cowboy, Ann Miller, the tiny elderly couple scurrying out of a brown paper bag, etc. 

I was surprised to discover that I actually have ten films in common with the Sight and Sound list. I was equally surprised that Luis Bunuel, John Cassavetes, and Powell & Pressburger were completely ignored by that list. And what about Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast and D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation? I thought every film critic on earth had a big throbbing hard-on for those films. (Incidentally, neither one appears on my list either.) 

1. Mulholland Dr. (2001), David Lynch.
2. Cries and Whispers (1972), Ingmar Bergman.
3. Vivre Sa Vie (1962), Jean-Luc Godard.
4. Persona (1966), Ingmar Bergman.
5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Stanley Kubrick.
6. The Brown Bunny (2003), Vincent Gallo.
7. Opening Night (1976), John Cassavetes.
8. Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Federico Fellini.
9. You, the Living (2007), Roy Andersson.
10. All About Eve (1950), Joseph Mankiewicz.
11. Pierrot le fou (1965), Jean-Luc Godard.
12. Barton Fink (1991), Joel & Ethan Coen.
13. A Woman Under the Influence (1974), John Cassavetes.
14. Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) Woody Allen.
15. Citizen Kane (1941), Orson Welles.
16. Psycho (1960), Alfred Hitchcock.
17. Pulp Fiction (1994), Quentin Tarantino.
18. Black Narcissus (1947), Powell & Pressburger.
19. The Conversation (1974), Francis Ford Coppola.
20. Dressed to Kill (1980), Brian De Palma. 
21. Duck Soup (1933), Leo McCarey.
22. Pink Flamingos (1972), John Waters.
23. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), David Lynch.
24. Dr. Strangelove (1964), Stanley Kubrick.
25. Harakiri (1962), Masaki Kobayashi.
25. The Night of the Hunter (1955), Charles Laughton.
26. The Silence (1963), Ingmar Bergman.
27. (1963), Federico Fellini.
28. Safe (1995), Todd Haynes.
29. Ran (1985), Akira Kurosawa.
30. Manhattan (1979), Woody Allen.
31. Taxi Driver (1976), Martin Scorsese.
32. The Double Life of Veronique (1991), Krzysztof Kieslowski.
33. For All Mankind (1989), Al Reinert.
34. The Lost Weekend (1945), Billy Wilder.
35. The Godfather (1972), Francis Ford Coppola.
36. The Searchers (1956), John Ford.
37. Touch of Evil (1958), Orson Welles.
38. The Straight Story (1999), David Lynch.
39. Taste of Cherry (1997), Abbas Kiarostami.
40. Hud (1963), Martin Ritt.
41. Inglourious Basterds (2009), Quentin Tarantino.
42. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), Luis Bunuel.
43. The Seventh Continent (1989), Michael Haneke.
44. Johnny Guitar (1954), Nicholas Ray.
45. Fargo (1996), Joel & Ethan Coen.
46. Blow Out (1981), Brian De Palma.
47. Rear Window (1954), Alfred Hitchcock.
48. The Godfather Part II (1974), Francis Ford Coppola.
49. Ikiru (1952), Akira Kurosawa.
50. In a Lonely Place (1950), Nicholas Ray.

1. Mulholland Drive.

2. Cries and Whispers.

3. Vivre Sa Vie.

4. Persona.

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey.

6. The Brown Bunny.

7. Opening Night.

8. Juliet of the Spirits.

9. You, the Living.

10. All About Eve.


  1. Finally! At least one other person who appreciates what a tour de force Brian DePalma's 1980 "Blow Out" ("Blowout"? I thought it was one word) was. This, too, would be on my top 50.

    I'm disappointed to not see Rashomon here, but the inclusion of Ikiru (which might be my #1, I haven't decided yet) almost makes up for it.

    Have you seen Kaneto Shindo's 1964 "Onibaba"? That is another contender for my #1.

    1. I have seen Onibaba. I think it's one of the creepiest and most disturbing movies around. (Ditto for Kwaidan. Have you seen that?) Onibaba almost unsettles me so much that I can't completely give in and 'enjoy' it... You know what I mean?

      I like Rashomon, but I think its greatness lies more in its concept than its narrative. I remember I had to watch it in a college philosophy class—so maybe that affected my feelings about it. I'd rather watch Throne of Blood, Yojimbo, or even Red Beard.

      Yes, I absolutely love Blow Out.

    2. I know what you mean about the creepiness, but that's part of it for me.. that a movie can inspire such deep-rooted unease. It's a great film. I don't hold the darkness of the story against it.

    3. I don't hold it against it! You're making me sound like a bigot! I do like it—it's just not on my top 50 list.

      Speaking of which—where's your list, Velocitor?

    4. Oh, I didn't think I was making you sound like a bigot. Sorry 'bout that.

      I'll make a list, but I don't know if I can really defend my choices that well. It's hard for me to seperate just liking the story being told, vs. appreciating the artistry of the filmmaking. Give me a few hours...

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    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. Okay, those deleted comments were revisions.
      Here's my list now:

      3.All Quiet on the Western Front
      4.A Clockwork Orange
      7.The Deer Hunter
      8.The Godfather Part I
      9.Alexander Nevsky (Eisenstein)
      10.The Shining
      11.Cinema Paradiso
      12.Throne of Blood
      14.Saturday Night Fever (yeah, that's right)
      15.The Inner Circle
      16.The Maltese Falcon
      17.Christiane F. (an 80's German film about a heroine addict)
      18.The Thin Blue Line (documentary)
      19.Endgame (a documentary about the Builderberg Group)
      20.Sword of Doom
      22.Stand And Deliver
      23.Red Beard (Kurosawa)
      24.Ivan the Terrible (Eisenstein)
      25.Citizen Kane
      27.Romeo + Juliet (yeah, the 1990's DiCaprio one)
      28.Saving Private Ryan
      29.The Conversation
      30....And God Created Woman
      31.The Exorcist
      32.Being John Malkovich
      33.House of Bamboo
      34.Seeing Red (a documentary about American communists)
      35.Breakfast at Tiffany's
      36.Beneath the Planet of the Apes (I realize this may seem an odd choice)
      37.Three Outlaw Samauri
      38.A Patch of Blue
      39.Solaris (Stanislaw Lem)
      40.Star Wars (Episode IV)
      41.[my favorite porn movie- name witheld]
      42.Annie Hall
      43.Pulp Fiction
      44.Das Boot
      45.The Matrix
      46.Splendor in the Grass
      48.Akira (Japanese animation)

    8. Interesting list, Velocitor! There are definitely some surprises.

      I have questions:

      1. You wrote Stanislaw Lem after Solaris—but he's the author of the novel, right? Did you mean the Soderbergh or Tarkovsky film version?

      2. Can you elaborate on why Beneath the Planet of the Apes is one of your favorites. What does this one have that the other Planet of the Apes films don't?

      3. Hoosiers seems like an odd favorite for a guy who doesn't seem to like sports. (This isn't a question. Just an observation.)

      4. You are obviously a big fan of Japanese cinema. Have you seen: Samurai Rebellion? Kwaidan? Devils at the Doorstep (which I actually thing is a Chinese-Japanese co-production)? All About Lily Chou-Chou? (If not, I recommend all of these.)

      5. RE: Romeo + Juliet. You are a total weirdo. I mean that in a good way.

    9. Also, was it Mickey Rooney's performance that won you over in Breakfast at Tiffany's?

      (I just realized that Being John Malkovich should probably be on my list...)

    10. 1. Ugh! I'm so embarrassed, I was trying to indicate the Tarkovsky film. I guess one Russian name was as good as another, just not the Soderbergh film.

      2. Beneath the Planet of the Apes was an amazing movie to me, but maybe just because I saw it at the right age. I liked Planet of the Apes, and the big reveal at the end WAS a sucker punch, but looking at the movie overall... but for the fact that the villains were apes, it was basically just a story of a stranger who stumbles into a hostile land. WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! It gets a lot more interesting in Beneath the Planet of the Apes, where Taylor now knows he's in a post-apocalyptic Earth, and struggles with the implications of what that means about humanity. What does he do? He rides off in search of a fabled community of remaining humans. He still has faith in humanity. What he finds are mutants paying for the sins of their fathers... an often unconsidered moral hazard of the nuclear politics (author) Pierre Boulle was commenting on, which greatly magnifies the ethical implications of war. Building on that, the mutant humans are not only telepathic, but they are sociopaths. It's the old "war causes us to lose our humanity" message, but with a twist added: "...and never get it back." I found it powerfully disheartening to see the human race, after 88 centuries (by the story's timeline) of recorded history... of learning, progress, prosperity, empire, and community... to end up as diseased mutants scraping out an existance, and living in fear of being enslaved by ape masters. It is a much more powerful storyline, and the movie delivers it quite well, despite some of the hokey early 70's sound effects, etc. It is one of those rare instances where the sequel eclipses the original movie. And I have to say, I LOVED the boldness of the ending, where the author doesn't furnish a feel-good Hollywood conclusion, where all the main characters are going to be just fine and they get together for a chuckle and group hug right before the final fade-to-black. No sireee, instead, Boulle does the unthinkable, detonating the bomb which kills off the last humans, including hero Taylor. It is an even more powerful end than the big "gotcha" concluding the first Planet of the Apes film. Of course, I don't expect everybody to share what I know is a slightly-outside-of-the-mainstream view.

      3. I don't care for sports, so in that respect it is definitely an anomoly, but I thought the story was genuine and uplifting... sweet but not in a schmaltzy (okay, maybe just a little schmaltzy, but within my tolerance limits) way.

      4. I haven't seen any of the ones you mention, but I will look into these recommendations. Thanks!

      5. Ha! I knew I might get some guff for R+J, but the juxtaposition between modern sets and costume, and Shakespearian dialogue was so striking and so well done, it was really wonderful. The movie has obviously been the inspiration for a slew of modern set/Shakespearian dialogue imitators (the Patrick Stewart Soviet Macbeth being the best of these IMHO), but R+J was the first (that I know of) to hit on this formula, and is my personal gold standard against which I measure all other Shakespeare movies (a genre I have abundant fondness for).

    11. Micky Rooney should have been hauled before an international tribunal to answer for his crimes against humanity after that performance, but with age and wisdom, I come to recognize that by giving me occasion to forgive him, the universe has extended to me a rare opportunity to display magnanimity and forbearance of staggering proportion. This is my "in" to Nirvana. (the metaphysical state of being; not the 90's band)

    12. Shit. I forgot about Dead Poets' Society.

    13. I like R+J for the same reasons, V.

  2. Wow, I've seen like 4.3 of those movies. I know we talked about Mulholland Drive and I hope I didn't leave you with the impression that I don't like it. I love it, I just didn't entirely grasp it right away. It was quintessential Lynch, though, and I loved it for that, as well. I still maintain Fire Walk with Me was a huge letdown for me, though.

    Also, being a fan of surrealism, I'm surprised you do not like Kiss of the Spider Woman, which you appeared to make fun of me for on an earlier thread for loving.

    Finally, I will mention John Waters by saying that Divine is FINE in Pink Flamingos, but he/she/it takes the cake in Female Trouble.

    1. I don't remember Kiss of the Spider Woman very well, to be honest. It didn't make much of an impression on me. (And of course! I make fun of you every chance I get!)

      It's always a toss-up between Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble for my favorite John Waters movie, but I think dog-shitting-eating nudges Pink Flamingos ahead.

  3. God, I have such difficulty with English verb tenses. Such a bizarre weakness. Who the hell has verb tense issues?

  4. Also, can I please post comments to this thread without having to prove I am not a robot each time? If I was not a robot 4 minutes ago, it is unlikely I would be one now.

    1. I don't know how it works. Obviously I don't have to do a captcha thing because it's my blog, but I also don't have to do one on RA's blog. You're entering your comments through a Google account, right? I would think it wouldn't require you to verify then...

    2. I think I'm logged in through Google. It certain appears that I am, anyway. But still, I have to disprove suspicions of roboticism every single time I try to post. Plus I don't get notifications for these threads so it is not an ideal way to have a conversation.

      I hope you take these complaints as further proof that your stupid blog is worth the effort to jump through these silly hoops.


    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. I am a robot, and I resent having to prove I'm not.

  5. Lynch's Blue Velvet would have made my list as well as Mullholland Drive and Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

  6. I fucking LOVE Blue Velvet.

    1. I used to own a copy, and I watched it over and over. I never got tired of it.

  7. The Seventh Continent? It was good, but I thought both Caché and The Piano Teacher were better.

    (Yes, I am working on my own list.)

    1. It was a tough call. The Piano Teacher, The Seventh Continent, and Benny's Video are all neck-in-neck.

      Cache isn't one of my favorites though...

  8. Black Narcissus!! My mother just berated me a few days ago for not having seen that film!

    The Third Man is my #1, forever and always. I've never seen The Double Life of Veronique, but Blind Chance would be on my list somewhere.

    What offends me most about the Sight and Sound list is their ranking of Metropolis at #35, tied with Satantango. (Even though I haven't seen Satantango, and never will.)

    1. I've never been a fan of The Third Man.

      I do like The Thin Man though. Does that make up for it?

    2. No, it does not! This is a most appalling revelation, David.

  9. I love, love, love The Third Man. That would be on my list.

  10. As of this moment, here is my list of the best films of all time (with a few of my personal favorites thrown in - these would probably not make anyone's best films list, but I'm including them anyway).

    Disclaimer: There are three movies on this list that blew my little mind when I saw them in the theater -- The City of Lost Children, Angela, and Exotica. As I have not seen them in years, I have no idea how they withstand the test of time, nor do I want to know. I preserve them in my memory as three of the best.

    Disclaimer II: I could not rank the films in order of preference, so I listed them in alphabetical order. If I were to rank them, Cries and Whispers would be my number one. Other than that, I find it difficult to rank films as both the order and the films themselves change from time to time.

    Disclaimer III: Fuck. All my italics from my Word doc are gone. Oh, well.

    400 Blows, The (Francois Truffaut)
    8 ½ (Federico Fellini)
    A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick)
    All About Eve (Joseph Mankiewicz)
    Angela (Rebecca Miller)
    Annie Hall (Woody Allen)
    Arsenic and Old Lace (Frank Capra)
    Barton Fink (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
    Before Sunrise (Richard Linklater)
    Blowup (Michelangelo Antonioni – yeah, that’s right.)
    Blue Velvet (David Lynch)
    Breathless (À bout de souffle) (Jean-Luc Godard)
    Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene)
    Caché (Michael Haneke)
    Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
    City of Lost Children, The (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro)
    Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman)
    Dressed to Kill (Brian De Palma)
    Duck Soup (Leo McCarey)
    Empire Strikes Back, The (Irvin Kershner)
    Exotica (Atom Egoyan)
    Fall (Eric Schaeffer)
    Fargo (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen)
    For All Mankind (Al Reinert)
    Graduate, The (Mike Nichols)
    Happiness (Todd Solondz)
    Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino)
    Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
    Manhattan(Woody Allen)
    Manhattan Murder Mystery(Woody Allen)
    Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
    Metropolis (Fritz Lang)
    Mulholland Drive (David Lynch)
    Navigator, The (Donald Crisp, Buster Keaton)
    Nosferatu (Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau)
    Opening Night (John Cassavetes)
    Persona (Ingmar Bergman)
    Piano Teacher, The (Michael Haneke)
    Pierrot Le Fou (Jean-Luc Godard)
    Pillow Book, The (Peter Greenaway)
    Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock)
    Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
    Rear Window(Alfred Hitchcock)
    Silence, The (Ingmar Bergman)
    Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann – I don’t want to hear it.)
    Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese)
    Third Man, The (Carol Reed)
    Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (David Lynch)
    Vivre Sa Vie (Jean-Luc Godard)
    Wizard of Oz, The (Victor Fleming)

    1. Great list. (We have 23 in common. And both Happiness and The Piano Teacher could just as well have been on mine.) I didn't know you were a Blowup fan.

      When other people have submitted theirs (C'MON, OTHER PEOPLE!!!) I will compile them all in a blog post.

    2. Are you soliciting for a list of subjective, personal favorites, or a list of what one believes objectively is "the best"?

    3. Either one! Take your pick!

  11. Thanks. I have not seen The Brown Bunny, Juliet of the Spirits, Safe (which is now out of print, I believe), and a few others on your list (I haven't seen any Nicholas Ray films). I'm not a big Kurosawa fan so none of his made my list. I'm not a big fan of the Godfather films either, even though everyone loves them.

  12. My list is rather short (in no particular order):

    Weekend at Bernie's (Ted Kotcheff)
    Winged Migration (Jacques Perrin)
    Harry and the Hendersons (William Dear)
    Cabin Fever (Eli Roth)
    Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Steve Carr)
    Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead (Stephen Herek)
    I Am Not A Robot! (Jason Morais)

    1. Oh, I saw one of those. It was really good.

    2. Wilson, you should have a diploma in smart-assery.

  13. These are my favorites. They're not ranked beyond the top 5.

    1. The Third Man - Carol Reed
    2. Lost Highway - David Lynch
    3. Singin' in the Rain - Stanely Donen & Gene Kelly
    4. Double Indemnity - Billy Wilder
    5. Manhattan Murder Mystery - Woody Allen
    6. The Apartment - Billy Wilder
    7. Some Like it Hot - Billy Wilder
    8. The Game - David Fincher
    9. Se7en - David Fincher
    10. The House of Games - David Mamet
    11. Out of the Past - Jacques Tourneur
    12. Annie Hall - Woody Allen
    13. Pulp Fiction - Quentin Tarantino
    14. Kill Bill Vol 1& 2 - Quentin Tarantino
    15. Vertigo, Alfred Hitchcock
    16. Shadow of a Doubt - Alfred Hitchcock
    17. Rope - Alfred Hitchcock
    18. Gypsy - Mervyn LeRoy
    19. Down by Law - Jim Jarmusch
    20. Casablanca - Michael Curtiz
    21. The Last Seduction - John Dahl
    22. Dark Habits - Pedro Almódovar
    23. Breathless - Jean-Luc Godard
    24. Metropolis - Fritz Lang
    25. Auntie Mame - Morton DaCosta
    26. The Doom Generation - Gregg Araki
    27. Cabaret - Bob Fosse
    28. Touch of Evil - Orson Welles
    29. Buffalo 66 - Vincent Gallo
    30. All About Eve - Joseph Mankiewicz
    31. Taxi Driver - Martin Scorsese
    32. Hannah and Her Sisters - Woody Allen
    33. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me - David Lynch
    34. The Exterminating Angel - Luis Buñuel
    34. Blue Velvet - David Lynch
    35. Memento - Christopher Nolan
    36. Key Largo - John Huston
    37. Blind Chance - Krzystof Kieslowski
    38. New York, New York - Martin Scorsese
    39. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? - Robert Aldrich
    40. Gloria - John Cassavettes
    41. The Lady Eve - Preston Sturges
    42. The Big Heat - Fritz Lang
    43. In a Lonely Place - Nicholas Ray
    44. Jawbreaker - Darren Stein
    45. Wild Strawberries - Ingmar Bergman
    46. The Way We Were - Sydney Pollack
    47. Forbidden Games - René Clément
    48. Weekend - Jean-Luc Godard
    49. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown - Pedro Almódovar
    50. Meet Me in St. Louis - Vincente Minelli

    1. Thanks for doing this, Janice! Your list is kind of fascinating to me. My comments/observations:

      1. Gloria is the ONLY Cassavetes movie I dislike! (And I really, really dislike it.) Well, I also dislike Big Trouble, but I don't consider that a REAL Cassavetes film.

      2. I see that you have Doom Generation and Jawbreaker on your list, so I'm just gonna say what I've been thinking since I first saw your picture: You resemble Rose McGowan! (I mean, before she had all that plastic surgery.) I was reluctant to tell you because I didn't know how you felt about her.

      3. Wow. You're a big Billy Wilder fan. I love both The Apartment and Double Indemnity, but I despise Some Like It Hot.

      4. Singin' in the Rain and Weekend were both strong contenders for my list.

      5. Forbidden Games is such a great movie! I'm glad to see it on your list.

    2. Cool list, Gloria. I thought about including The Way We Were too

    3. Ha! Her name's Janice. Gloria is the film she likes.

    4. I am, once again, humiliated.

  14. God, Bettie Davis is hot in that picture.

  15. These lists make me feel like a total philistine. I have a lot of catching up to do. Someone needs to explain The Searchers to me - I thought it was incredibly boring (granted I saw it in college - maybe I should give it another try). Now I definitely need to see The Brown Bunny - I remember the reviews being pretty divided.

    Have you ever seen The Sweet Hereafter? It is one of my all time favorites. Why I love a movie about children dying in a school bus crash is beyond me, but I find everything in that movie to be perfect.

    1. Oh. I don't know if you should see The Brown Bunny based on my recommendation. You know that it has an actual scene of Chloe Sevigny performing real oral sex on Vincent Gallo, right? And you also know that most of the rest of the film (before said blowjob) is very minimalist, right? It's almost like a lyrical poem. (Also, it's very depressing.) If after hearing all of that, you still want to see it, then by all means. (But you can not sue me for punitive damages.)

      No, I've never seen The Sweet Hereafter. I've heard good things about it though. I'll have to check it out.

      Also: DON'T feel like a philistine. Do your list, T.C.G.! I wanna see it!

    2. Ooops. Typo. Should be T.C.E.

      But there is no edit function here. Alas.

  16. I thought the Brown Bunny was great. But I wouldn't want to see the extended version.

    Trish, maybe you could start your list with your top 50 reality shows.:)

    David, Stars of the Lid are huge David Lynch fans, apparently...they have a few David Lynch-themed songs, I believe, including this one:


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