Saturday, May 7, 2011

THE 50 GREATEST FILMS -- A Personal Canon

Here's something new for Mindful Pleasures, the first of three "great movies" lists. This one is devoted to my selections for the 50 greatest films of all time. The list begins with my three candidates for the greatest movie ever made, but after that it's in no particular order.
  1. Persona (Ingmar Bergman)
  2. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
  3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)
  4. The Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes (Stan Brakhage)
  5. Napoleon (Abel Gance)
  6. Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir)
  7. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Sergei Parajanov)
  8. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Luis Bunuel)
  9. The Decalogue (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
  10. Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky)
  11. City Lights (Charles Chaplin)
  12. The Battleship Potemkin (Sergei Eisenstein)
  13. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio)
  14. The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman)
  15. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa)
  16. 8 1/2 (Federico Fellini)
  17. Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman)
  18. Murmur of the Heart (Louis Malle)
  19. Ivan the Terrible, Parts I & II (Sergei Eisenstein)
  20. My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle)
  21. The Phantom of Liberty (Luis Bunuel)
  22. Treasure of Sierra Madre (John Huston)
  23. Belle de Jour (Luis Bunuel)
  24. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (Robert Altman)
  25. Man With A Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov)
  26. The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo)
  27. Umberto D (Vittorio de Sica)
  28. Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut)
  29. Annie Hall (Woody Allen)
  30. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder)
  31. Three Colors : Blue, White, Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
  32. An Angel At My Table (Jane Campion)
  33. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufman)
  34. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola)
  35. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick)
  36. Ran (Akira Kurosawa)
  37. The Godfather trilogy (Francis Ford Coppola)
  38. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder)
  39. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz)
  40. The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl-Theodor Dreyer)
  41. Doctor Zhivago (David Lean)
  42. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino)
  43. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols)
  44. Short Cuts (Robert Altman)
  45. The Searchers (John Ford)
  46. Greed (Erich von Stroheim)
  47. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese)
  48. Chinatown (Roman Polanski)
  49. Pickpocket (Robert Bresson)
  50. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)
A few notes: Persona, Kane and Vertigo tie for the top spot. Brakhage's short film (available in the essential Criterion Collection release By Brakhage: An Anthology, Volume One) is probably the most harrowing, shocking, unforgettable documentary I have ever seen. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is one of the great masterpieces of 20th-century cinema and deserves to be much better known. All of Bunuel's films are worth seeing, especially the post-1960 work. De Sica's Umberto D is the saddest movie I have ever seen. An Angel at My Table is Jane Campion's masterpiece, an indelible account of a journey through madness. It's still fashionable to deride the third Godfather film, but upon recently re-watching it I found it an excellent complement to the first two (and Sophia Coppola isn't really that bad, either). Many consider Lawrence of Arabia David Lean's greatest film, but I prefer Zhivago, despite the fact that all the Russians are played by a bunch of Brits, an American and an Egyptian. If I hadn't arbitrarily limited myself to fifty titles, many other films might have made the list: Claire's Knee, Unforgiven, Last Year at Marienbad, Synecdoche New York, Blue Velvet, There Will Be Blood, La Dolce Vita, Cleo From 5 to 7, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Pat Garrett and Billy The Kid, etc., etc....


david said...

Looking at your list, I think you might like Bela Tarr, the filmmaker who adapted Laszlo Krasznahorkai's novels, Satantango and The Melancholy of Resistance (Werckmeister Harmonies). Maybe you've already seen these. Either way, I like your list.

BRIAN OARD said...


Tarr's an interesting filmmaker. I didn't much like Werckmeister Harmonies, but I thought Damnation was quite good. I've heard many positive things about the epic-length Satantango, but I haven't gotten around to seeing it yet. I'll probably watch it this summer