Friday, May 17, 2013

My Definitive Film Canon

Did you miss me?  I missed you so allow me to give you a bit of a fun whopper of a return blog.  I make a lot of lists.  I post about a lot of "greatest" this and "best" that and well I always seem to imply that each of these rankings are merely the tip of the iceberg.  For every Top 100 films list I put together it always seems like there are hundreds of films lying on the cutting room floor.  Well in case you were wondering here is all of it.  All of my favorite/best/greatest films.  All the movies that I've handed out a five-star rating to from the dawn of cinema to the present day.  This has been a continuously updated list that I tweak as necessary so I will most likely come back to this very blog post to update it.  So if you're going to bookmark my blog (and I seriously hope you all have by now) this is a pretty good post to do so on.

Hey Dave, What the hell is a Film Canon?
Allow me to quote directly from the almighty Wikipedia: "Film canon is the limited group of movies that serve as the measuring stick for the highest quality in the film genre, based on criteria that look past personal and popular taste, to encompass only those that "artistically defined film history."  Now that last bit of writing was from Paul Schraeder, who wrote Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and directed some pretty nifty films in his own right when he put together his own list in 2006.  I didn't bother to break mine down into Gold-Silver-Bronze status like him and although he made his list the top tier super-best films ever variety, mine is more of a "all my favorites in one convenient list" form.

So there is no limit, nor quota for this list.  Simply put if I gave it a five star review, it's here.  I have not included the various Merry Melodies/Tom and Jerry/Droopy/Tex Avery cartoons that some would consider short films because if I did this list would be overwhelmed by them.  I know Jonathan Rosenbaum included these films amongst his top 1000 canon, but I am not him, my rules so to hell with it.  So anyways next time you're wondering what movies to watch consult this as your master list.

Oh you know how I always say "don't get mad if you're personal favorite film/director/movement/country isn't represented"?  Well get mad, this is all of the films I love.  There are many films I "like" that aren't on here, but these are what I consider the top dogs.  So if I left something off, go ahead and cry heresy.  Just to point out in advance, I intentionally didn't include Vertigo, not to be a dick or to seem "different" I just really don't get what the fuss is all about.

So less talking more movie ranking.

*Is a movie included in my recent top 100 list



1902
A Trip to the Moon (France - Georges Méliès)

1905
The White Caps (US - Edwin S. Porter)

1906
Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (US - Edwin S. Porter)

1911
The Automatic Moving Company (France - Romeo Bosetti)
The Trust:  Or the Battles for Money (France - Louis Feuillade)

1915
The Birth of a Nation (US - D. W. Griffith)
The Cheat (US - Cecil B. DeMille)
Les Vampires (France - Louis Feuillade)

1916
*Intolerance (US - D. W. Griffith)
Judex (France - Louis Feuillade)

1919
The Doll (Germany - Ernst Lubitsch)
Rowdy Ann (US - Al Christie)

1920
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Germany - Robert Wiene)

1921
The Playhouse (US - Buster Keaton and Edward F. Cline)

1922
Haxaan (Sweden - Benjamin Christensen)
Nanook of the North (US - Robert Flaherty)

1923
Au Secours! (France - Able Gance)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (US - William Worsley Sr.)
*Our Hospitality (US - Buster Keaton and John G. Blystone)
Raskolnikov/Crime and Punishment (Germany - Robert Wiene)

1924
Die Nibelungen (Germany - Fritz Lang)
The Navigator (US - Buster Keaton/Donald Crisp)
Paris Qui Dort (France - Rene Clair)
Sherlock Jr. (US - Buster Keaton)
The Thief of Bagdad (US - Raoul Walsh)

1925
Battleship Potemkin (USSR - Sergei Eisenstein)
The Big Parade (US - King Vidor)
The Freshman (US - Fred Newmeyer, Sam Taylor)
The Gold Rush (US - Charlie Chaplin)
The Phantom of the Opera (US - Rupert Julian)
Variety (Germany - E. A. Dupont)

1926
Faust (Germany - F. W. Murnau)
For Heaven's Sake (US - Sam Taylor)
A Page of Madness (Japan - Teinosuke Kinugasa)
So This is Paris? (US - Ernst Lubitsch)

1927
The General (US - Buster Keaton/Clyde Bruckman)
The Kid Brother (US - Lewis Milestone, J.A. Howe, Ted Wilde)
Metropolis (Germany - Fritz Lang)
*Napoleon (France - Abel Gance)
*Sunrise (US - F. W. Murnau)
Underworld (US - Josef Von Sternberg)
The Unknown (US - Tod Browning)

1928
The Circus (US - Charlie Chaplin)
The Fall of the House of Usher (US - James Sibley Watson and Melville Webber)
*The Passion of Joan of Arc (France - Carl Theodor Dryer)
Show People (US - King Vidor)
Steamboat Bill Jr. (US - Buster Keaton/Charles Reisner)
Un Chien Andalou (France - Luis Bunuel/Salvador Dali)
The Wedding March (US - Erich Von Stroheim)
Zvenigora (USSR/Ukraine - Alexander Dovzhenko)

1929
Applause (US - Rouben Mamoulian)
The Coconuts (US - Robert Florey, Joseph Santley)
Fragment of an Empire (USSR - Fridrikh Ermler)
The General Line/Old and New (USSR - Sergei Eisenstein)
The Love Parade (US - Ernst Lubitsch)
*The Man With a Movie Camera (USSR - Dziga Vertov)

1930
L'Age D'Or (France - Luis Bunuel)
*All Quiet on the Western Front (US - Lewis Milestone)
The Blue Angel (US/Germany - Josef Von Sternberg)
Dogway Melody (US - Zion Myers)
Westfront 1918 (Germany - G. W. Pabst)

1931
Blonde Crazy (US - Roy Del Ruth)
La Chienne (France - Jean Renoir)
City Lights (US - Charlie Chaplin)
Dracula (US - Tod Browning)
Five Star Final (US - Mervyn LeRoy)
Frankenstein (US - James Whale)
*M (Germany - Fritz Lang)
Marius (France - Alexander Korda)
The Public Enemy (US - William Wellman)
Waterloo Bridge (US - James Whale)

1932
Boudu Saved From Drowning (France - Jean Renoir)
Fanny (France - Marc Allégret, Marcel Pagnol)
The Grand Hotel (US - Edmund Goulding)
*I am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (US - Mervyn LeRoy)
Love Me Tonight (US - Rouben Mamoulian)
Me and My Gal (US - Raoul Walsh)
One Hour With You (US - Ernst Lubitsch/George Cukor)
Scarface:  The Shame of a Nation (US - Howard Hawks)
Sign of the Cross (US - Cecil B. DeMille)
Trouble in Paradise (US - Ernst Lubitsch)
Vampyr (France/Germany - Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Where are the Dreams of Youth? (Japan - Yasujiro Ozu)

1933
Design for Living (US - Ernst Lubitsch)
*Duck Soup (US - Leo McCarey)
42nd Street (US -Lloyd Bacon)
The Invisible Man (US - James Whale)
King Kong (US - Merian C. Cooper/Ernest B. Schoedsack)
Man’s Castle (US - Frank Borzage)
The Mystery of the Wax Museum (US - Michael Curtiz)
State Fair (US - Henry King)
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Germany - Fritz Lang)

1934
L’Atalante (France - Jean Vigo)
It Happened One Night (US - Frank Capra)
Man of Aran (UK - Robert Flaherty)
Our Daily Bread (US - King Vidor)

1935
*Bride of Frankenstein (US - James Whale)
Crime and Punishment (France - Pierre Chenal)
The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (US - Henry Hathaway)
A Night at the Opera (US - Sam Wood)
The Raven (US - Louis Friedlander)
Ruggles of Red Cap (US - Leo McCarey)
The Thirty-Nine Steps (UK - Alfred Hitchcock)
Top Hat (US - Robert Sandrich)

1936
Cesar (France - Marcel Pagnol)
Fury (US - Fritz Lang)
Libeled Lady (US - Jack Conway)
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (US - Frank Capra)
*Modern Times (US - Charles Chaplin)
My Man Godfrey (US - Gregory La Cava)
Osaka Elegy (Japan - Kenji Mizoguchi)
San Francisco (US - W. S. Van Dyke)
The Story of a Cheat (France - Sacha Guitry)

1937
*The Grand Illusion (France - Jean Renoir)
J'Accuse (France - Abel Gance)
Make Way For Tomorrow (US - Leo McCarey)
A Star is Born (US - William Wellman)

1938
Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (US - Ernst Lubitsch)
Bringing Up Baby (US - Howard Hawks)
Holiday (US - George Cukor)
Olympia (Germany - Leni Riefenstahl)
Test Pilot (US - Victor Fleming)
You Can’t Take it With You (US - Frank Capra)

1939
*Gone With the Wind (US - Victor Fleming/Sam Wood/George Cukor)
Midnight (US - Mitchell Liesen)
*Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (US - Frank Capra)
Of Mice and Men (US - Lewis Milestone)
Rules of the Game (France - Jean Renoir)
The Wizard of Oz (US - Victor Fleming/King Vidor)

1940
Fantasia (US - James Algar/Samuel Armstrong/Ford I. Beebe/Walt Disney/Graham Heid/Wilfred Jackson/Hamilton Luske/Bill Roberts/Paul Satterfield/Ben Sharpsteen/Norman Wright/Sylvia Moberly-Holland/Albert Heath/Bianca Majolie/Jim Handley/T. Hee)
*The Grapes of Wrath (US - John Ford)
The Great Dictator (US - Charles Chaplin)
The Philadelphia Story (US - George Cukor)
Rebecca (US - Alfred Hitchcock)
Sans Lendemain/There’s No Tomorrow (France - Max Ophuls)

1941
*Citizen Kane (US - Orson Welles)
Dumbo (US - Samuel Armstrong/Norman Ferguson/Wilfred Jackson/Jack Kinney/Bill Roberts/Ben Sharpsteen)
Hellzapoppin (US - H. C. Potter)
Hold Back the Dawn (US - Mitchell Liesen)
The Lady Eve (US - Preston Sturges)
The Little Foxes (US - William Wyler)
*The Maltese Falcon (US - John Huston)
Meet John Doe (US - Frank Capra)

1942
The Magnificent Ambersons (US - Orson Welles)
The Palm Beach Story (US - Preston Sturges)
Sullivan’s Travels (US - Preston Sturges)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (US - Michael Curtiz)

1943
*Casablanca (US - Michael Curtiz)
Heaven Can Wait (US - Ernst Lubitsch)
Meshes in the Afternoon (US - Maya Daren)

1944
Double Indemnity (US - Billy Wilder)
Laura (US - Otto Preminger)
Lifeboat (US - Alfred Hitchcock)
Meet Me In St. Louis (US - Vincente Minnelli)
To Have and Have Not (US - Howard Hawks)

1945
Brief Encounter (UK - David Lean)
*Children of Paradise (France - Marcel Carne)
Fallen Angel (US - Otto Preminger)
Mildred Pierce (US - Michael Curtiz)
Open City (Italy - Roberto Rossellini)
Scarlet Street (US - Fritz Lang)
Way to the Stars (UK - Anthony Asquith)

1946
Beauty and the Beast (France - Jean Cocteau)
*The Best Years of Our Lives (US - William Wyler)
Great Expectations (UK - David Lean)
A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven (UK - Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger)
My Darling Clementine (US - John Ford)
Somewhere in the Night (US - Joseph Mankiewicz)

1947
A Gentleman’s Agreement (US - Elia Kazan)
Miracle on 34th Street (US - George Seaton)
Out of the Past (US - Jacques Tourneur)

1948
Force of Evil (US - Abraham Polansky)
Hamlet (UK - Laurence Olivier)
The Louisiana Story (US - Robert Flaherty)
Oliver Twist (UK - David Lean)
The Three Godfathers (US - John Ford)
Treasure of the Sierra Madre (US - John Huston)
Unfaithfully Yours (US - Preston Sturges)

1949
*The Bicycle Thief (Italy - Vittorio De Seca)
The Devils Wanton (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
Late Spring (Japan - Yasujiro Ozu)
On the Town (US - Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen)
*They Live By Night (US - Nicholas Ray)
*The Third Man (UK - Carol Reed)
Twelve O’Clock High (US - Henry King)
White Heat (US - Raoul Walsh)

1950
Adam's Rib (US - George Cukor)
All About Eve (US - Joseph Mankiewicz)
Diary of a Country Priest (France - Robert Bresson)
Les Enfants Terribles (France - Jean Pierre Melville)
Father of the Bride (US - Vincente Minelli)
The Gunfighter (US - Henry King)
In a Lonely Place (US - Nicholas Ray)
*Los Olvidados (Mexico - Luis Bunuel)
Orpheus (France - Jean Cocteau)
Rashomon (Japan - Akira Kurosawa)
La Ronde (France - Max Ophuls)
*Sunset Boulevard (US - Billy Wilder)

1951
*Ace in the Hole (US - Billy Wilder)
An American in Paris (US - Vincente Minelli)
A Christmas Carol (UK - Brian Desmond Hurst)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (US - Robert Wise)
Detective Story (US - William Wyler)
*Early Summer (Japan - Yasujiro Ozu)
The Forbidden Christ (Italy - Curzio Malaparte)
Miracle in Milan (Italy - Vittorio De Seca)
A Place in the Sun (US - George Stevens)
Strangers on a Train (US - Alfred Hitchcock)
A Streetcar Named Desire (US - Elia Kazan)

1952
Bienvenido Mister Marshall (Spain - Luis Garcia Berlanga)
High Noon (US - Fred Zinnemann)
Ikiru (Japan - Akira Kurosawa)
*Life of Oharu (Japan - Kenji Mizoguchi)
The Narrow Margin (US - Richard Fliescher)
Othello (France/Italy/Morocco - Orson Welles)
*Singin' in the Rain (US - Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly)

1953
Anatahan (Japan - Josef Von Sternberg)
The Bandwagon (US - Vincente Minnelli)
The Big Heat (US - Fritz Lang)
From Here to Eternity (US - Fred Zinnemann)
*Glen or Glenda? (US - Edward D. Wood Jr.)
99 River Street (US - Phil Karlson)
Tokyo Story (Japan - Yasujiro Ozu)
Ugetsu (Japan - Kenji Mizoguchi)
Voyage in Italy (Italy - Roberto Rosellini)

1954
The Crucified Lovers (Japan - Kenji Mizoguchi)
A Generation (Poland - Andrzej Wajda)
*On the Waterfront (US - Elia Kazan)
Rear Window (US - Alfred Hitchcock)
Sansho the Bailiff (Japan - Kenji Mizoguchi)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (US - Stanley Donen)
*Seven Samurai (Japan - Akira Kurosawa)
La Strada (Italy - Federico Fellini)

1955
Diabolique (France - Henri Georges Clouzot)
East of Eden (US - Elia Kazan)
The Far Country (US - Anthony Mann)
Floating Clouds (Japan - Mikio Naruse)
Kiss Me Deadly (US - Robert Aldrich)
Lola Montes (France - Max Ophuls)
The Man From Laramie (US - Anthony Mann)
Marty (US - Delbert Mann)
Night and Fog (France - Alain Resnais)
Night of the Hunter (US - Charles Laughton)
*Ordet (Denmark - Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Pather Panchali (India - Satyajit Ray)
Rebel Without a Cause (US - Nicholas Ray)

1956
Aparajito (India - Satyajit Ray)
Bigger than Life (US - Nicholas Ray)
*Corns-a-Poppin' (US - Robert Woodburn)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (US - Don Spiegel)
The Killing (US - Stanley Kubrick)
A Man Escaped (France - Robert Bresson)
*The Searchers (US - John Ford)
Street of Shame (US - Kenji Mizoguchi)
The Ten Commandments (US - Cecile B. DeMille)
Written on the Wind (US - Douglas Sirk)

1957
Bridge on the River Kwai (US/UK - David Lean)
The Cranes are Flying (USSR - Mikhail Kalatozov)
Funny Face (US - Stanley Donen)
The Incredible Shrinking Man (US - Jack Arnold)
Kanal (Poland - Andrzej Wajda)
A King in New York (UK - Charlie Chaplin)
Letter From Siberia (France - Chris Marker)
Nights of Cabiria (Italy - Federico Fellini)
Paths of Glory (US - Stanley Kubrick)
*The Seventh Seal (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
Throne of Blood (Japan - Akira Kurosawa)
Tokyo Twilight (Japan - Yasujiro Ozu)
12 Angry Men (US - Sydney Lumet)
Wild Strawberries (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
Witness for the Prosecution (US - Billy Wilder)

1958-1961
The Human Condition (Japan - Masaki Kobayashi)

1958
*Ashes and Diamonds (Poland - Andrzej Wajda)
Lights of Night (Japan - Shohei Imamura)
The Magician (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
Man of the West (US - Anthony Mann)
A Movie (US - Bruce Conner)
Some Came Running (US - Vincente Minelli)
*Touch of Evil (US - Orson Welles)

1959
*Ben-Hur (US - William Wyler)
The 400 Blows (France - Francois Truffaut)
General Della Rovere (France/Italy - Roberto Rossellini)
Good Morning (Japan - Yasujiro Ozu)
North by Northwest (US - Alfred Hitchcock)
Pickpocket (France - Robert Bresson)
Pillow Talk (US - Michael Gordon)
Rio Bravo (US - Howard Hawks)
Some Like it Hot (US - Billy Wilder)
The World of Apu (India - Satyajit Ray)

1960
L'Avventura (Italy - Michelangelo Antonioni)
The Bellboy (US - Jerry Lewis)
Breathless (France - Jean Luc Godard)
*La Dolce Vita (Italy - Federico Fellini)
Inherit the Wind (US - Stanley Kramer)
Home From the Hill (US - Vincente Minnelli)
*Psycho (US - Alfred Hitchcock)
*Rocco and His Brothers (Italy - Luchino Visconti)

1961
The Hustler (US - Robert Rossen)
Judgment at Nuremberg (US - Stanley Kramer)
Splendor in the Grass (US - Elia Kazan)
Yojimbo (Japan - Akira Kurosawa)

1962
Antoine and Colette (France - Francois Truffaut)
Cosmic Ray (US - Bruce Conner)
Days of Wine and Roses (US - Blake Edwards)
The Exterminating Angel (Mexico - Luis Bunuel)
Hara-kiri (Japan - Masaki Kobayashi)
Jules and Jim (France - Francois Truffaut)
*Lawrence of Arabia (US/UK - David Lean)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (US - John Ford)
*The Manchurian Candidate (US - John Frankenheimmer)

1963
America, America (US - Elia Kazan)
The Cardinal (US - Otto Preminger)
*8 1/2 (Italy - Federico Fellini)
The Servant (UK - Joseph Losey)
The Trial (France/West Germany/Italy - Orson Welles)

1964
Battle of Culloden (UK - Peter Watkins)
Black God White Devil (Brazil - Glauber Rocha)
Diamonds of the Night (Czechoslovakia - Jan Nemec)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (UK/US - Stanley Kubrick)
A Fistful of Dollars (Italy - Sergio Leone)
Gate of Flesh (Japan - Seijun Suzuki)
A Hard Days Night (UK - Richard Lester)
The Killers (US - Don Siegel)
Masque of the Red Death (UK/US - Roger Corman)
The Pawnbroker (US - The Pawnbroker)
Point of Order (US - Emile de Antonio)

1965
Alphaville (France/Italy - Jean Luc Godard)
Dr. Zhivago (UK/US - David Lean)
For a Few Dollars More (Italy - Sergio Leone)
Help! (UK - Richard Lester)
The Hill (UK/US - Sydney Lumet)
Juliet of the Spirits (Italy - Federico Fellini)
Not Reconciled (Germany - Jean-Marie Straub/Danielle Hulliet)
*Pierrot le Fou (France - Jean Luc Godard)
The Round Up (Hungary - Miklós Jancsó)
Sandra of a Thousand Delights (Italy - Luchino Visconti)
Subarnarekha (India - Ritwik Ghatak)
Sword of the Beast (Japan - Hideo Gosha)
The War Game (UK - Peter Watkins)

1966
*Andrei Rublev (USSR - Andrei Tarkovsky)
*Au Hasard Balthazar (France - Robert Bresson)
*The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria - Gillo Pontecorvo)
Blow-Up (Italy/UK/US - Michelangelo Antonioni)
Death of a Bureaucrat (Cuba/Spain - Toms Gutirrez Alea)
*The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Italy - Sergio Leone)
Marat/Sade (UK - Peter Brook)
*Persona (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
Red Angel (Japan - Yasuzo Masumara)
La Religieuse (France - Jacques Rivette)
Seconds (US - John Frankenheimmer)
Unsere Afrikareise (Austria - Peter Kubelka)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (US - Mike Nichols)

1967
Belle de Jour (France/Italy - Luis Bunuel)
Bonnie and Clyde (US - Arthur Penn)
La Chinoise (France/Italy - Jean Luc Godard)
Cool Hand Luke (US - Stuart Rosenberg)
The Graduate (US - Mike Nichols)
In Cold Blood (US - Peter Brooks)
Love Affair: or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Yugoslavia - Dusan Makajevek)
Mouchette (France - Robert Bresson)
Point Blank (US - John Boorman)
The Red and the White (Hungary - Miklós Jancsó)
Titicut Follies (US - Frederick Wiseman)
Two for the Road (UK/US - Stanley Donen)
*Weekend (France/Italy - Jean Luc Godard)

1968
*The Cremator (Czechosolvakia - Juraj Hurz)
High School (US - Frederick Wiseman)
The Hour of the Furnaces (Argentina - Fernando E. Solanas)
Night of the Living Dead (US - George Romero)
Once Upon a Time in the West (Italy - Sergio Leone)
Planet of the Apes (US - Franklin J. Schaffner)
*Romeo and Juliet (US/Italy - Franco Zefferelli)
Rosemary's Baby (US - Roman Polanski)
The Shame (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
Teorema (Italy - Pier Paolo Passolini)
*2001: A Space Odyssey (US/UK - Stanley Kubrick)

1969
Bhuvan Shome (India - Mrinal Sen)
The Bride and I (Taiwan - Ching-jui Pai)
Color of Pomegranates (USSR/Ukraine - Sergei Paradjanov)
Easy Rider (US - Dennis Hopper)
Law and Order (US - Frederick Wiseman)
Macunaima (Brazil - Joaquim Pedro de Andrade)
Medium Cool (US - Haskell Wexler)
The Midnight Cowboy (US - John Schlessinger)
Model Shop (US - Jacques Demy)
The Wild Bunch (US - Sam Peckinpah)
Z (France/Algeria - Costa-Gavras)

1970
Catch-22 (US - Mike Nichols)
*The Conformist (France/Italy/West Germany - Bernardo Bertolucci)
Gimme Shelter (US - Albert Maysles/David Maysles/Charlotte Mitchell Zwerin)
Hospital (US - Frederick Wiseman)
*Husbands (US - John Cassavetes)
Joe (US - John G. Avildsen)
The Lion Has Seven Heads (Brazil/France/Italy - Glauber Rocha)
Little Big Man (US - Arthur Penn)
Patton (US - Franklin Schaffner)
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Czechoslovakia - Jaromil Jires)
Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper (US - David Rimmer)
Woodstock (US - Michael Wadleigh)

1971
*A Clockwork Orange (UK - Stanley Kubrick)
Harold and Maude (US - Hal Ashby)
Johnny Got His Gun (US - Dalton Trumbo)
Macbeth (UK - Roman Polanski)
Punishment Park (US - Peter Watkins)
The Sorrow and the Pity (West Germany/France/Switzerland - Marcel Ophuls)
Szerelem aka Love (Hungary - Karoly Makk)
Walkabout (Australia/UK - Nicolas Roeg)

1972
*Aguirre the Wrath of God (West Germany/Peru - Werner Herzog)
Avanti! (US/Italy - Billy Wilder)
The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (West Germany - Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (US - J. Lee Thompson)
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (France - Luis Bunuel)
The Getaway (US - Sam Peckinpah)
*The Godfather (US - Francis Ford Coppola)
Horror Rises From the Tomb (Spain - Paul Naschy)
*Last Tango in Paris (Italy/France - Bernardo Bertolucci)
The Mattei Affair (Italy - Francesco Rosi)
Red Psalm (Hungary - Miklós Jancsó)
Solaris (USSR - Andrei Tarkovsky)
Whats Up Doc? (US - Peter Bogdanovich)
The Winter Soldier (US - Winterfilm Collective)

1973
The Crazies (US - George A. Romero)
Distant Thunder (India - Satyajit Ray)
Enter the Dragon (US - Robert Clouse)
The Exorcist (US - William Friedkin)
Juvenile Court (US - Frederick Wiseman)
The Long Goodbye (US - Robert Altman)
Mean Streets (US - Martin Scorsese)
Messiah of Evil (US - Willard Huyck, Gloria Katz)
*The Mother and the Whore (France - Jean Eustache)
O Lucky Man! (UK - Lindsay Anderson)
Paper Moon (US - Peter Bogdanovich)
Scenes From a Marriage (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
Spirit of the Beehive (Spain - Victor Erice)
Turkish Delight (Netherlands - Paul Verhoeven)

1974
Blazing Saddles (US - Mel Brooks)
Celine and Julie Go Boating (France - Jacques Rivette)
*Chinatown (US - Roman Polanski)
*The Godfather Part II (US - Francis Ford Coppola)
Hearts and Minds (US - Peter Davies)
The Mirror (USSR - Andrei Tarkovsky)
*Monty Python and the Holy Grail (UK - Terry Gilliam/Terry Jones)
The Phantom of Liberty (France/Italy - Luis Bunuel)
Young Frankenstein (US - Mel Brooks)
A Woman Under the Influence (US - John Cassavettes)

1975
Falsche Bewegung aka False Movement (West Germany - Wim Wenders)
The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner (West Germany - Werner Herzog)
I Claudius (UK - Herbert Wise)
The Middleman (India - Satyajit Ray)
Nashville (US - Robert Altman)
Numero Deux (France - Jean-Luc Godard/Anne-Marie Miville)
The Passenger (Italy/Spain - Michelangelo Antonioni)
Shivers (Canada - David Cronenberg)
The Traveling Players (Greece - Theo Angelopoulos)
Xala (Senegal - Ousmane Sembene)

1976
All the Presidents Men (US - Alan J. Pakula)
Family Plot (US - Alfred Hitchcock)
Harlan County USA (US - Barbara Kopple)
In the Realm of the Senses (France/Japan - Nagisa Oshima)
Kings of the Road (West Germany - Wim Wenders)
The Last Supper (Cuba - Toms Gutirrez Alea)
The Man Who Fell to Earth (UK - Nicholas Roeg)
Meat (US - Frederick Wiseman)
Network (US - Sydney Lumet)
*Rocky (US - John G. Avilsden)
*Taxi Driver (US - Martin Scorsese)
The Tenant (France/US - Roman Polanski)

1977
*Annie Hall (US - Woody Allen)
Ceddo (Nigeria/Senegal - Ousmane Sembene)
Eraserhead (US - David Lynch)
Hitler, a Film From Germany (West Germany/France/UK - Hans-Jrgen Syberberg)
Killer of Sheep (US - Charles Burnett)
Roots (US - Marvin J. Chomsky, David Greene, Gilbert Moses, John Erman)
Saturday Night Fever (US - John Badham)
*Star Wars (US - George Lucas)

1978
Autumn Sonata (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (Australia - Fred Schepisi)
Dawn of the Dead (US - George A. Romero)
The Deer Hunter (US - Michael Cimeno)
Halloween (US - John Carpenter)
Interiors (US - Woody Allen)
Pennies From Heaven (UK - Piers Haggard)
Perceval (France - Eric Rohmer)

1979
Alien (US - Ridley Scott) 
*All That Jazz (US - Bob Fosse)
*Apocalypse Now (US - Francis Ford Coppola)
Manhattan (US - Woody Allen)
The Marriage of Maria Braun (West Germany - Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
Monty Pythons Life of Brian (UK - Terry Jones)
Quadrophenia (UK - Franc Roddam)
Real Life (US - Albert Brooks)
*Rocky II (US - Sylvester Stallone)

1980
Airplane (US - Jim Abraham/David Zucker/Jerry Zucker)
*Berlin Alexanderplatz (West Germany/Italy - Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
The Blues Brothers (US - John Landis)
Caddyshack (US - Harold Ramis)
*The Empire Strikes Back (US - Irvin Kirshner)
*Ordinary People (US - Robert Redford)
*Raging Bull (US - Martin Scorsese)
*The Shining (US/UK - Stanley Kubrick)

1981
Das Boot (West Germany - Wolfgang Petersen)
Escape From New York (US - John Carpenter)
Gallipoli (Australia - Peter Weir)
Possession (France/West Germany - Andrzej Żuławski)
Reds (US - Warren Beatty)
Thief (US - Michael Mann)

1982
Blade Runner (US - Ridley Scott)
Diner (US - Barry Levinson)
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (US - Steven Spielberg)
The Executioner's Song (US - Lawrence Schiller)
Fanny and Alexander (Sweden - Ingmar Bergman)
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (US - Amy Heckerling)
Koyaanisqatsi (US - Godfrey Reggio)
One From the Heart (US - Francis Ford Coppola)
Pink Floyd The Wall (US/UK - Alan Parker)
*Rocky III (US - Sylvester Stallone)
Sophie's Choice (US - Alan J. Pakula)
The Thing (US - John Carpenter)
White Dog (US - Samuel Fuller)

1983
A Christmas Story (Canada - Bob Clark)
Cracking Up (US - Jerry Lewis)
Delirious (US - Bruce Gowers)
My Brother's Wedding (US - Charles Burnett)
À Nos Amours (France - Maurice Pialat)
Paris, Texas (France/UK/US/West Germany - Wim Wenders)
*Return of the Jedi (US - Richard Marquand)
The Right Stuff (US - Phillip Kauffman)
Sans Soleil (France - Chris Marker)
Three Crowns of the Sailor (France - Raúl Ruiz)
Trading Places (US - John Landis)
Videodrome (Canada - David Cronenberg)

1984
Blood Simple (US - Joel and Ethan Coen)
Ghostbusters (US - Ivan Reitman)
Manoel on the Island of Marvels (France/Portugal - Raúl Ruiz)
Once Upon a Time in America (US/Italy - Sergio Leone)
Stop Making Sense (US - Jonathan Demme)
The Terminator (US - James Cameron)
This is Spinal Tap (US - Rob Reiner)
The Times of Harvey Milk (US - Robert Epstein)

1985
Boycott (Iran - Mohsehn Makhmalbaf)
Brazil (US - Terry Gilliam)
The Breakfast Club (US - John Hughes)
Clue (US - Jonathan Lynn)
Come and See (USSR - Elem Klimov)
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (US - Tim Burton)
The Purple Rose of Cairo (US - Woody Allen)
Ran (Japan/France - Akira Kurosawa)
Return of the Living Dead (US - Dan O’Bannon)
*Rocky IV (US - Sylvester Stallone)
Shoah (France/Switzerland - Claude Lanzmann)

1986
Big Trouble in Little China (US - John Carpenter)
*Blue Velvet (US - David Lynch)
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (US - John Hughes)
The Fly (US/Canada - David Cronenberg)
Platoon (US - Oliver Stone)
A Room With a View (UK - James Ivory)
Salvador (US - Oliver Stone)
The Singing Detective (UK - Jon Amiel)

1987
Akira (Japan - Katsuhiro Otomo)
Camp de Thiaroye (Senegal/Tunisia/Algeria - Ousmane Sembene/Thiermo Faty Sow)
Cobra Verde (West Germany - Werner Herzog)
The Cyclist (Iran - Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
Full Metal Jacket (US/UK - Stanley Kubrick)
Hollywood Shuffle (US - Robert Townsend)
The Last Emperor (US/China/Italy - Bernardo Bertolucci)
*Predator (US - John McTiernan)
Princess Bride (US - Rob Reiner)
Raising Arizona (US - Joel and Ethan Coen)
Raw (US - Robert Townsend)
Robocop (US - Paul Verhoeven)
Spaceballs (US - Mel Brooks)
Superstar:  The Karen Carpenter Story (US - Todd Haynes)
Under the Sun of Satan (France - Maurice Pialat)
Wings of Desire (West Germany/France - Wim Wenders)

1988
Bull Durham (US - Ron Shelton)
Coming to America (US - John Landis)
Dead Ringers (Canada - David Cronenberg)
The Decalogue (Poland - Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Die Hard (US - John McTiernan)
Drowning by Numbers (Netherlands - Peter Greenaway)
A Fish Called Wanda (UK - Charles Crichton)
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (US - Keenan Ivory Wayans)
Landscape in the Mist (Greece/West Germany - Theo Angeloupoulos)
The Last Temptation of Christ (US - Martin Scorsese)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (US - Robert Zemeckis)

1989
Always (US - Steven Spielberg)
Born on the Fourth of July (US - Oliver Stone)
Do the Right Thing (US - Spike Lee)
Drugstore Cowboy (US - Gus Van Sant)
Heathers (US - Michael Lehmann)
Isle of Flowers (Brazil - Jorge Furtado)
The Little Mermaid (US - Ron Clements)
*Major League (US - David S. Ward)
*Marriage of the Blessed (Iran - Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
*Tango and Cash (US - Andrei Konchalovsky)
When Harry Met Sally (US - Rob Reiner)

1990
Bullet in the Head (Hong Kong - John Woo)
Dances With Wolves (US - Kevin Costner)
Ghost (US - Jerry Zucker)
*Goodfellas (US - Martin Scorsese)
Ju Dou (China/Japan - Zhang Yimou)
Mo' Better Blues (US - Spike Lee)
Twin Peaks: Pilot Episode (US - David Lynch)
The Unbelievable Truth (US - Hal Hartley)

1991
Barton Fink (US - Joel and Ethan Coen)
A Brighter Summer Day (Taiwan - Edward Yang)
Defending Your Life (US - Albert Brooks)
Europa Europa (France/Germany/Poland - Agnieszka Holland)
The Fisher King (US - Terry Gilliam)
JFK (US - Oliver Stone)
Poison (US - Todd Haynes)
Raise the Red Lantern (China/Hong Kong/Taiwan - Zhang Yimou)
Silence of the Lambs (US - Jonathan Demme)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (US - James Cameron)
Van Gogh (France - Maurice Pialat)

1992
Bad Lieutenant (US - Abel Ferara)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (US - Francis Ford Copola)
Dead Alive (New Zealand - Peter Jackson)
Deep Cover (US - Bill Duke)
Hard Boiled (Hong Kong - John Woo)
Malcolm X (US - Spike Lee)
Man Bites Dog (Belgium/France - Remy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde)
Orlando (UK - Sally Potter)
Rebels of the Neon God (Taiwan - Tsai Ming Liang)
Reservoir Dogs (US - Quintin Tarantino)
Unforgiven (US - Clint Eastwood)
Wayne's World (US - Penelope Spheeris)

1993
The Blue Kite (China/Hong Kong - Tian Zhuangzhuang)
Carlito's Way (US - Brian De Palma)
Dazed and Confused (US - Richard Linklater)
Groundhog Day (US - Harold Ramis)
Matinee (US - Joe Dante)
*Schindler's List (US - Steven Spielberg)
Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (Canada - Francois Girard)
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (US/Japan - Stuart Samuels, Arnold Glassman, Todd McCarthy, Andrew Glassman)

1994
Baseball (US - Ken Burns)
Burnt by the Sun (France/Russia - Nikita Mikhaltov)
Chungking Express (Hong Kong - Wong Kar Wai)
Forrest Gump (US - Robert Zemeckis)
Heavenly Creatures (New Zealand - Peter Jackson)
*Natural Born Killers (US - Oliver Stone)
*Pulp Fiction (US - Quintin Tarantino)
Quiz Show (US - Robert Redford)
Satantango (Germany/Hungary/Austria - Béla Tarr)
*71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (Austria/Germany - Michael Haneke)
Through the Olive Trees (Iran - Abbas Kiarostami)
To Live (China - Zhang Yimou)
Wild Reeds (France - Andre Techine)

1995
The Beatles Anthology (UK - Bob Smeaton)
*Before Sunrise (US - Richard Linklater)
Casino (US - Martin Scorsese)
Clockers (US - Spike Lee)
Fallen Angels (Hong Kong - Wong Kar Wai)
Kids (US - Larry Clark)
Toy Story (US - John Lasseter)
*Ulysses Gaze (Greece/France/Italy - Theo Angelopoulos)
Underground (France/Germany/Hungary - Emir Kustirica) 
Up, Down, Fragile (France - Jacques Rivette)

1996
The Celluloid Closet (US - Robert Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman)
Fargo (US - Joel and Ethan Coen)
Forgotten Silver (New Zealand - Peter Jackson, Costa Botes)
Gabbeh (Iran - Mohsen Makhmalbaf)
Irma Vep (France - Olivier Assayas)
Lone Star (US - John Sayles)
The Pillow Book (UK/France/Netherlands - Peter Greenaway)
Les Voleurs/Thieves (France - Andre Techine)
When We Were Kings (US - Leon Gast)

1997
Boogie Nights (US - Paul Thomas Anderson)
Deconstructing Harry (US - Woody Allen)
Funny Games (Austria - Micheal Haneke)
Happy Together (Hong Kong - Wong Kar Wai)
Jackie Brown (US - Quentin Tarantino)
*LA Confidential (US - Curtis Hansen)
Lost Highway (US/France - David Lynch)
Open Your Eyes (Spain/Italy/France - Alejandro Amenabar)
Princess Mononoke (Japan - Hayao Miyazaki)
Public Housing (US - Frederick Wiseman)
Titanic (US - James Cameron)
The Wonderful Years That Sucked (Czech Republic - Petr Nikolaev)

1998
After Life (Japan - Hirokazu Kore-eda)
*The Big Lebowski (US - Joel and Ethan Coen)
Flowers of Shanghai (Japan/Taiwan - Hou Hsaio-Hsien)
Histoire(s) du Cinema (France/Switzerland - Jean Luc Godard)
John Leguizamo's Freak (US - Spike Lee)
The Mirror (Iran - Jafar Panahi)
Run Lola Run (Germany - Tom Tykwer)
Rushmore (US - Wes Anderson)
Saving Private Ryan (US - Steven Spielberg)
Thin Red Line (US - Terence Malick)

1999
All About My Mother (France/Spain - Pedro Almodovar)
American Beauty (US - Sam Mendes)
Bringing Out the Dead (US - Martin Scorsese)
Election (US - Alexander Payne)
The Emperor and the Assassin (China/Japan/France - Chen Kaige)
eXistenZ (Canada/UK - David Cronenberg)
*Fight Club (US - David Fincher)
The Hurricane (US - Norman Jewison)
The Iron Giant (US - Brad Bird)
*Magnolia (US - Paul Thomas Anderson)
The Matrix (US - Andy and Larry Wachowski)
South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (US - Trey Parker)
Three Kings (US - David O'Russell)
Toy Story 2 (US - John Lasseter, Lee Unkrich, Ash Brannon)

2000
Almost Famous (US - Cameron Crowe)
The American Nightmare (US - Adam Simon)
Bamboozled (US - Spike Lee)
La Commune, Paris 1871 (France - Peter Watkins)
Dancer in the Dark (Denmark/France/Sweden - Lars Von Trier)
Eureka (Japan - Shinji Aoyama)
Hamlet (US - Michael Almereyda)
The Heart of the World (Canada - Guy Maddin)
Love's Labours Lost (US/UK - Kenneth Branagh)
Memento (US - Christopher Nolan)
O Brother Where Art Thou? (US - Joel and Ethan Coen)
Requiem for a Dream (US - Darren Aronosky)
The State I Am In (Germany - Christian Petzold)
Timecode (US - Michael Figgis)
Traffic (US - Steven Soderbergh) 
Werckmeister Harmonies (Hungary - Béla Tarr)
Yi-Yi (Taiwan - Edward Yang)

2001
Apocalypse Now Redux (US - Francis Ford Coppola)
Baran (Iran - Majid Majidi)
The Day I Became a Woman (Iran - Marzieh Meshkini)
The Hidden Half (Iran - Mohammad Nikbin/Tahmineh Milani)
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (US/New Zealand - Peter Jackson)
The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (US - Larry Blamire)
Moulin Rouge (US/Australia - Baz Luhrmann)
*Mulholland Drive (US - David Lynch)
The Royal Tenenbaums (US - Wes Anderson)
Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (US - Jan Harlan)
Vanilla Sky (US - Cameron Crowe)
Y Tu Mamá También (Mexico - Alfonso Cuarón)

2002
Adaptation (US - Spike Jonze)
All or Nothing (UK - Michael Leigh)
Ararat (Canada - Atom Egoyan)
Bloody Sunday (UK/Ireland - Paul Greengrass)
Bowling for Columbine (US - Michael Moore)
Catch Me If You Can (US - Steven Spielberg)
*City of God (Brazil - Katia Lund, Fernando Meirelles)
Friday Night (France - Claire Denis)
Gangs of New York (US - Martin Scorsese)
Hero (China/Hong Kong - Zhang Yimou)
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (US/New Zealand - Peter Jackson)
Minority Report (US - Steven Spielberg)
The Pianist (Poland/UK/France/Germany - Roman Polanski)
Spirited Away (Japan - Hayao Miyazaki)
*Talk to Her (Spain - Pedro Almodovar)
25th Hour (US - Spike Lee)

2003
Angels in America (US - Mike Nichols)
Bad Santa (US - Terry Zwigoff)
The Best of Youth (Italy - Marco Tullio Giordana)
Big Fish (US - Tim Burton)
Dogville (Denmark - Lars Von Trier)
Elephant (US - Gus Van Sant)
Finding Nemo (US - Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich)
*Kill Bill Vol. 1 (US - Quintin Tarantino)
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (US/New Zealand - Peter Jackson)
Memories of Murder (South Korea - Bong Joon-Ho)
The Saddest Music in the World (Canada - Guy Maddin)
Tarnation (US - Jonathan Caouette)
21 Grams (US - Alejandro Gonzlez Irritu)

2004
*Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (US - Michel Gondry)
The Garden of Earthly Delights (Italy/UK/Poland - Lech Majewski)
House of Flying Daggers (China/Hong Kong - Zhang Yimou)
I Heart Huckabees (US - David O'Russell)
*The Incredibles (US - Brad Bird)
*Kill Bill Vol. 2 (US - Quintin Tarantino)
Kings and Queen (France - Arnaud Desplechin)
Kung Fu Hustle (China/Hong Kong - Stephen Chow)
Million Dollar Baby (US - Clint Eastwood)
Moolaade (Senegal - Ousmane Sembene)
Sideways (US - Alexander Payne)
Team America: World Police (US - Trey Parker)
Vera Drake (UK - Mike Leigh)
The Weeping Meadow (Greece/France - Theo Angelopoulos)
The World (Japan/France/China - Jia Zhang Ke)

2005
Broken Flowers (US - Jim Jarmusch)
Caché (Austria/France - Michael Haneke)
Crash (US - Paul Haggis)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Romania - Cristi Puiu)
Fever Pitch (US - Peter and Bobby Farrelly)
A History of Violence (Canada/Germany/US - David Cronenberg)
Last Days (US - Gus Van Sant)
Munich (US - Steven Spielberg)
Pride and Prejudice (US/UK - Joe Wright)
Regular Lovers (France - Philippe Garrel)
Serenity (US - Joss Whedon)
Sin City (US - Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez/Quintin Tarantino)
The Squid and the Whale (US - Noah Baumbach)

2006
Black Book (Belgium/UK/Germany/Netherlands - Paul Verhoeven)
Bobby (US - Emilio Estevez)
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (US - Larry Charles)
Children of Men (US/UK - Alfonso Cauron)
Curse of the Golden Flower (China/Hong Kong - Zhang Yimou)
The Departed (US - Martin Scorsese)
Hana (Japan - Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Idiocracy (US - Mike Judge)
Inland Empire (Poland/France/US - David Lynch)
Letters From Iwo Jima (US - Clint Eastwood)
Private Fears in Public Places (France/Italy - Alain Resnais)
The Pursuit of Happyness (US - Gabrielle Muccino)
A Scanner Darkly (US - Richard Linklater)
Syndromes and a Century (Thailand - Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
The Wedding Director (Italy/France - Marco Bellocchio)

2007
Brand Upon the Brain! (Canada/US - Guy Maddin)
Darjeeling Limited (US - Wes Anderson)
The Edge of Heaven (Turkey/Germany - Faith Akin)
4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (Romania - Cristian Mungiu)
No Country for Old Men (US - Joel and Ethan Coen)
Paranormal Activity (US - Oren Peli)
Planet Terror (US - Robert Rodriguez)
There Will Be Blood (US - Paul Thomas Anderson)
Zodiac (US - David Fincher)

2008
Be Kind Rewind (US- Michel Gondry)
The Class (France - Laurent Cantet)
*The Dark Knight (US - Christopher Nolan)
Gran Torino (US - Clint Eastwood)
The Hunger (UK/Ireland - Steve McQueen)
In the Loop (UK - Armando Iannucci)
Rambo (US - Sylvester Stallone)
Standard Operating Procedure (US - Errol Morris)
Synecdoche New York (US - Charlie Kauffman)
Two Lovers (US - James Gray)

2009
Air Doll (Japan - Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Antichrist (Poland/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Denmark - Lars Von Trier)
District 9 (South Africa/US - Neill Blomkamp)
Dogtooth (Greece - Yorgos Lanthimos)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (US/UK - Wes Anderson)
The Girlfriend Experience (US - Steven Soderbergh)
Mother (South Korea - Bong Joon-Ho)
Police, Adjective (Romania - Corneliu Porumboiu)
Up (US - Pete Docter)
White Material (France - Claire Denis)
Wild Grass (France - Alain Resnais)
The Young Victoria (US/UK - Jean-Marc Vallee)

2010
Aurora (Romania - Cristi Puiu)
*Carlos (France/Germany - Olivier Assayas)
The Fighter (US - David O’Russell)
The Ghost Writer (France/Germany/UK - Roman Polanski)
Inception (US - Christopher Nolan)
Please Give (US - Nicole Holofcener)
The Robber (Austria/Germany - Benjamin Heisenberg)
Toy Story 3 (US - Lee Unkrich)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thailand - Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

2011
The Artist (France - Michael Hazanavicius)
A Dangerous Method (Canada/Germany - David Cronenberg)
The Descendants (US - Alexander Payne)
Kill List (UK - Ben Wheatley)
Martha Marcy May Marlene (US - Sean Durkin)
Restless (US - Gus Van Sant)
A Separation (Iran Asghar Farhadi)
*Tree of Life (US - Terrence Malick)
X-Men:  First Class (US - Mathew Vaughn)

2012
The Act of Killing (Denmark/Norway/UK - Joshua Oppenheimer)
The Dark Knight Rises (US - Christopher Nolan)
Django Unchained (US - Quentin Tarantino)
Silver Linings Playbook (US - David O. Russell)
Tabu (Portugal/Germany/Brazil/France - Miguel Gomes)
Zero Dark Thirty (US - Kathryn Biegelow)

2013
American Hustle (US - David O. Russell)
Before Midnight (US - Richard Linklater)
Blue Jasmine (US - Woody Allen)
The Great Beauty (France/Italy - Paolo Sorrentino)
A Touch of Sin (China - Jia Zhang Ke)
12 Years a Slave (US - Steve McQueen)

2014
Birdman or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (US - Alejandro González Iñárritu) 
The Immigrant (US - James Gray)

2015
The Big Short (US - Adam McKay)
The Revenant (US - Alejandro González Iñárritu)
What We Do in the Shadows (New Zealand/US - Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi)

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Long Gray Line (1955) - John Ford



Ok so I had a vague idea about writing a film review every week, fail.  In fact if I made that goal one a month I probably would have failed because failing is what I do.  Since I want to stay positive, I'll just say I kick ass at failing, totally dominate it. 



Anyways there's something entirely comforting about the work of John Ford.  Maybe you have to be a cinephile, maybe you have to be a bit advanced in your cinematic education, but there's something wholly familiar and un-pretentious about Ford and his work.  It seems each new film of his you see it immediately seems familiar in a comforting rather than a predictable sort of way.  It's what was vaguely referred to in some circles as the makings of an "auteur".  

Now auteur theory seems to mean everything to everyone when it comes to film and it's so vague and all encompassing that it seems pointless to try and clarify things.  This may be because the very people starting the concept seemed to have a loose definition of it themselves.  Now one way of looking at a director in terms of his status as an auteur is whether or not you can classify their work as wholly theirs.  This doesn't mean they are unique to the point of absurdity, but well you can tell when Quentin Tarantino is making a movie vs. a cheap knock off.  You can spot the difference between a Wes Anderson movie and some other quirky indie comedy.  

These are some of the markings, but there is another idea that drew a lot of flack regarding this theory and that was the belief that even the lesser films of these directors (say Death Proof and The Life Aquatic for example) are still worth watching over say some well produced slick film from a faceless director like Kings Speech or The Young Victoria.  Now this isn't necessarily saying that those lesser films are better, just that they are more worthy of your time.  They are more interesting, they will stick with you longer, etc. For example the age old comparison of Samuel Fuller over William Wyler despite the fact that Wyler made better films than damn near anyone in his generation.  

Now I can't necessarily say that the work of some idiosyncratic weirdo automatically trumps a polished effort.  That is an absurd idea to me, but you can understand how some films can warm your heart even without being particularly great.  John Ford's work is arguably the epitome of this.  He's a director with so many signature traits that manage to span virtually every genre.  

Sure there are Ford films that seem out of place and don't necessarily adhere to his trademarks, such as Mary of Scotland, and yes he made the Shirley Temple vehicle Wee Willie Winkie, but throughout his career his films took a modified stance on the "seen one, seen 'em all" mantra.  In some ways you can say he was Hollywood's answer to Yasujiro Ozu who made the same film over and over again, but whose early career has a few wild diversions from his central themes.  Ozu unlike Ford wrote the majority of his films whereas Ford seemed determined to mold each of his films into a representation of himself.  

The Long Gray Line is one of those films that fits decidedly into Ford's later line.  Like some of his other nostalgic films of the period, notably Wings of Eagles this takes into account the life of a lifetime soldier as a bumbling recruit to sentimental old veteran.  The film itself is uneven due to the somewhat abrupt way it seems to go from carefree nostalgic romp to outright tragedy.  However it doesn't seem like Ford is ever too far into grim territory.  He isn't one of those East European directors who refuses to shoot in color whose films are full of drab long takes set to haunting cello scores in a minor key.  Ford's work is of a much more lively variety.

Ma Joad ended The Grapes of Wrath with a corny speech about essentially keeping up the fight and not quitting, life goes on etc.  The words were actually John Steinbeck's (I was paraphrasing greatly) but it seems as though Ford took those lessons to heart.  Nearly all of his films seem to show a degree of that perseverance Ma Joad had.  Your newborn son dies?  Get over it.  Your wife dies?  Get over it.  You get wounded in war?  Get over it.  Life is good even great after tragedy you just have to occasionally take your medicine because in the cinematic world of Ford there is some degree of karmic balance.  Someone will catch a break, they will have some hard times and at the end of the day it always seems worthwhile.  I'll get pretentious and mention the famous Socrates quote "The unexamined life is not worth living."  Well for many of Ford's protagonists they are always doing this. 

Marty Maher (Tyrone Power) is doing just that, examining his life.  He narrates his days as a fresh off the boat Irish immigrant, to failed waiter, enlisted man, and eventually athletic director at West Point.  He is in some ways a reflection of Ford, or more appropriately Ford's father.  Ford was born in Maine with the incredibly Irish name of John Martin O'Feeney (or Sean Aloysius depending on which source you ask), but his father was an immigrant.  Throughout Ford's films you see a genuine nostalgia for Ireland but the inevitable admittance that life is better in America hard or not.  This is a sentiment that Maureen O'Hara's character Mary says to him in the film when he mentions the idea of buying a pub back in Ireland when they save enough money.  

To Marty in this film, he is constantly just marking time at West Point.  He is always planning on getting out and moving on but as the film repeatedly demonstrates there always seems to be something to bring him back in.  In some ways it seems like his destiny is to preserve over the long gray line of continuous recruits in much the same way Mr. Chips saw generations of English boys pass through his school.  There is even a generational touch here in this film which might not be a direct reference to Goodbye Mr. Chips but a friendly reminder of the lifetime Maher spent in his position.

I've read that Ford hated Cinemascope, but you wouldn't know it from this film, or really any of his wide screen pictures.  He has a way of filling the frame without cluttering it.  In Henry Koster's film The Robe, which is credited as the first feature in Cinemascope, the frame is so unbelievably cluttered that it's often hard to find what you're supposed to be focused on.  In the two years after it seems that filmmakers figured it out, or rather Ford didn't want his film to look like some cluttered Roman epic.  The scenes are balanced, spaced well, and the long stream of military marches seem perfectly suited to the wide format.

I can only really recommend this film because Ford films are always worth watching.  It's not his best, nor would it be near the top of that list, but it has a familiarity to it that makes it damn good.  In fact like Ozu this might just be a masterpiece to you.  So many of his films touch on so many similar subjects that it's easy to find one a great film and another very similar picture just average.  Maybe I'm wrong about this, but well what of it?  If you have the time you can do much worse than watching all of Ford's films.  They are all worth your time and fantastic in their own way.  It's like spending time with a sentimental but tough old Irishman who smells of whiskey 24/7 who spins the most fantastic yarns.  

Btw my apologies for spending the majority of this talking film theory again, oh well I digress often.