Haven't seen any of theseHey hey hey HEYYYY👋👋👋 Put cha lighter’s up🔦🔦🔦! Ganja’s in the house 🏠 owwwwww😷!
105. Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (dir. Paris Barclay, 1996)
A frenetic, raucous, manic stream of 90s black satire. I love when the usual arthouse flair gets turned on its head in such a referential way, I love how it grounds those elements and somehow discovers new layers in the coda. The "message!" joke after the ripping tongue-in-cheek melodramatic beats by the impeccable Wayans brother is And who could forget grandma rolling sideways down the street blasting "Winter Warz" by Ghostface Killah? My name is Dashiki. That's Swahili for "doggy-style."
104. Mikey and Nicky (dir. Elaine May, 1976)
Perhaps the most tender and nuanced yet searing of all the gritty American realism of the 70s, I'd say? Cassavettes and Falk are so in tune with each other, persistently bouncing off and complimenting and building with a palpable sense of companionship. However, what I find most thrilling is the screenplay. A beautiful and forward-thinking exploration into masculinity and how the shuttering off of their emotional parts have stunted these men in ways they never thought possible. The shame, the regression, the regret, the fear it's all mixed in a delirious swirl of the weakness of man. Ugh, I BOW.
103. Roma (dir. Alfonso Cuaron, 2018)
An absolutely tremendous love letter to family, to culture, and to motherhood . Every frame of this masterpiece is to the brim with love,to me, in Cuaron's distance he allows the space to breathe, he allows the people to just be and what I saw was a stunning woman full of life in Cleo. The dedication the crafts are gobsmacking but none of it ever intrudes into the heart of the narrative, it's all there for support and further fleshing out this marvelous slice of life.
102. An Unmarried Woman (dir. Paul Mazursky, 1978)
Jill Clayburgh didn't have to give such a lived-in portrayal of the anguish of women that would come to influence the Moores, Adams, and Williams of today but she did and I thank her for that multifaceted and wholly original performance. She's a radical force tearing through the biting lines with a knife, never missing a beat and it's a deeply soulful energy from start to finish.
101. The Magnificent Ambersons (dir. Orson Welles, 1942)
Too soon? Technically, a total masterpiece and perhaps Welles' strongest contribution to cinema as... well? I adore the heartfelt romanticism for nostalgia and the scope beyond it is quite massive. It digs to the DNA of the American Dream extracting it for its joy, love, torment, pain crafting an almost surrealist self-aware melodrama that still holds up amazingly today.
Haven't seen any of these either100-96
100. Paranorman (dir. Sam Fell, Chris Butler, 2012)
Why is this film so rarely talked about in the coming-of-age canon? Deftly written and a sweet little gem of animation. Fully realized characters with wonderful arcs (Casey Affleck's pitch-perfect Mitch Downe ) and a deeply introspective and emphatic take on kindness, grief and the mental maturity and relief that comes with forgiveness.
99. Silent Light (dir. Carlos Reygadas, 2007)
A masterful blend of Tarkovsky and Dreyer (how he plays with the themes of Ordet omg ) that is beyond bleeding in its blistering take on humanity. Through Reygadas we are a nondescript but still invasive bug in the window, unable to look away from the hardship of the soul. The communicable guilt and passion flows in lockstep parallel then blends into a treatise on the sacred that's so visceral and wonderful. Sympathy and compassion form the pinnings of love here, the characters are able to understand and grow with each other rather than going into brazen histrionics and dramatic monologues. The film simply introduces us to the journey and through the environment is where we're allowed to form our own contemplations on the subject matter. Also, probably the lushest and giving meditation on the pastoral cinematography world?
98. Chico and Rita (dir. Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, Tono Errando, 2010)
A marvel of animation, this movie is seriously such a visual treat and the music is breathtaking. It's evocative and stirring and so happily referential to bolero and jazz without ever veering into the saccharine. In fact, I'd say the music is operated as a ruse, constantly enticing the audience into the lives of Chico and Rita guiding us along the way of their joys, eroticism, failures and soaring moments of togetherness.
97. 12 Angry Men (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1957)
I remember this being one of the first "serious" movies that I sat down to watch and I remembered truly loving it. I found it highly progressive and uplifting and always shifting in directions that I never saw coming. Flash forward to today, as I feel this movie has lost some esteem over time in critics circles, but no, I still find it to be a fascinating dive into the psyche of the white man and questioning the privilege that they hold above everyone else. Through the sheer genius in framing, writing, and direction we are taken on a relentless journey through the minds of 12 men each with their own biases and neuroses complementing and contradicting each other each step of the way. Juror #10's "These people..." rant remains to be one of the most prescient scenes in American film canon and especially holds relevance in today's current sociopolitical climate.
96. Her (dir. Spike Jonze, 2013)
In my opinionata, Joaquin Phoenix's finest performance yet and I love how he delicately dives into the psyche of this lonely and depressing man, imbuing him with depth and a rootable sympathy rather than diving into the misanthropy of certain sections in the screenplay. A screenplay I do cherish and think is packed with massive energy and genuine pathos but does a disservice to one character in particular (poor Gloomy Mara ). Johansson is also a star here with just her voice, if I were to ever do an all-time 105 favorite film performances (my god that sounds fun) she's, at worst, top 30. She digs into every word that she has, her lush voice to the brim with exuberance, heart, familiarity, hurt, regret, sorrow, everything!
Halloween being above Annihilation is it should betime to get jiggy
95. Annihilation (dir. Alex Garland, 2018)
That mutated, face-melted bear that screams with the voice of a human woman is perhaps the most succinct and harrowing element of this wonderfully twisted, disturbing, and pensive film. It’s a slow build towards… man’s self-destruction? The inverse of our understanding of the universe and how we’re so split off and disconnected from our surroundings that we fail to realize how potent the wrath of nature can be? A parable on the relationship between Americans and guns (why are they so proudly wielded as the women enter the Shimmer [a wholly unknown object]?) but what resonates most is the view on grief. How we process life without our partner, or child, or whatever it was that finally somehow delivers that last piece of the puzzle.
94. Halloween (dir. John Carpenter, 1978)
I think, above all, what really elevates Halloween to the top of the horror film canon is its fear-inducing, spindly little score. It perfectly conveys the dread, anxiety, and terror that fill each frame. The horror isn’t in your face and grotesque, it’s rather haunting in a good way. The shot of Michael gazing upwards at Bob after stabbing him into the wall and the shot of Michael materializing out of the darkness in the hall behind Laurie are two of my favorite moments in cinema. The coldness to his motion as he gazes upon his work and the viewer can’t suspect if he’s proud or terrified thrills me. In a way, it’s America’s response to the Giallo movement.
93. Atonement (dir. Joe Wright, 2007)
Oh man, I still remember how devastated I was by this movie. Completely drained me, watching two extremely charismatic and exceptional people be so completely right for each other but torn apart never by their own hands. Redgrave’s delivery as she pulls the rug is soul-shattering work and a shining moment of such an illustrious career. Knightley and Ronan are both fantastic as well but it’s McAvoy who does career-best work here. He is eerily evocative of a young Montgomery Clift in how he plays this character from a spiritual, physical, deeply affectionate state and says so much with the lightest little flick of those beaming eyes. The cinematography! The score!
92. Betty Blue (dir. Jean-Jacques Beineix, 1986)
A wild and blistering tale of eroticism, blinding passion, stunning imagery, and the heart-stopping thought: “gone too soon.” Beatrice Dalle delivers an all-time performance as the unhinged, intense, and sadly volatile Betty but still is able to find sympathy in the character, forming a fully realized persona. The film walks a tightrope as Betty spirals deeper and deeper into her neuroses as the film progresses but the chemistry between the two leads is so palpable and deeply felt and full of genuine laughter and companionship that the tragedy, that we all know is coming, still carries legitimate pathos. It’s haunting to watch the devotion continuously strengthen between them and the knowledge that their dreams were never intended to be a shared experience, they came together to benefit one another.
91. La Jetée (dir. Chris Marker, 1962)
Composed of still images, it’s one of the most damning examinations of the evil of man through the lens of post-nuclear fallout. The “blink” is, of course, a transfixing and endlessly layered moment. Everything before it is stilted and jittery, fragmented memories of a man lost in time and devoid of any reference point and all he knows is destruction and hopelessness. Then the birds crescendo as the images mold into each other and we’re greeted with the only live action in the film, immediately I wonder is it a signal to femininity? A tribute to motherhood? Or, perhaps, to Mother Nature, or Gaia? Which then leads into exploring Greek mythology and how it’s fallen to an ever-increasing secular world. One of the most transcendent films ever crafted and so magnificently open to interpretation.
90. The Young and the Damned (dir. Luis Buñuel, 1950)
An uncompromising and relentless viewing of the Mexican slums, with characters so wretched and hateful yet balanced in their tragedy and the desperate need for love they open up and reveal the cause of their contemptuous behavior. His surrealist touches never invade on the sheer realism of the rest of the film, they only serve to enhance. There’s a particular sequence where Pedro tosses an egg at the camera and suddenly the POV has changed and now it’s flipped back on the viewer and the perverted voyeurism that can sometimes plague the neorealism movement and even speaks to the treatment of third world countries, poverty, and the bottom rung, the forgotten people. This one is another titan in scope and my little paragraph doesn’t even scratch the tip of how much is contained within. A masterpiece.
89. Spotlight (dir. Tom McCarthy, 2015)
What I adore the most about this movie is it’s strict adherence to the law of restraint (well, except Mark Ruffalo). It tackles the institution of the Catholic church in a methodical sense, sparing the viewer from the hysteria and drama of it all yet somehow encapsulating those heightened emotions in a simmering melange of terror and hope. Terror in knowing just how widespread the abuse has been, terror in seeing how that abuse has been so normalized that the perpetrators aren’t even aware or considering that what they do is wrong. It’s how they were raised, it’s what they saw, it’s what they experience and then there’s the far-reaching dread in wondering to what extent the church has had on other walks of life. The hope we find is knowing there are people out there seeking to break into these traditions and opening up a dialogue, which we hope leads to structural change. It’s a quiet, subtle film but it never gets lost in its scope.
88. Song of the Exile (dir. Ann Hui, 1990)
So, for those unaware, Ann Hui is basically the pioneer of the Hong Kong New Wave era (imo), and here she provides us with a sort of mea culpa lensed through political strife, strained family relationships, and (one of my favorite yet so rarely seen tropes) the existentialism that hangs over the head of the child. Will I ever impress my parents? Will I ever be enough for them? And in a quest for modernity will I still be able to love them? It’s gut-wrenching and knowing that the film is autobiographical adds even more nuance in its visual narrative.
87. Meek's Cutoff (dir. Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
A film that genuinely moves at a glacial pace. It’s a slow movie, it’s easy to lose yourself in the western surroundings but that’s what I find so enthralling about it, and Reichardt in general. She builds worlds so true to their time, she transports her viewers to be a fly on the wall for an Americana once lived and deconstructing the masculinity underneath at the same time. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, the characters are thin but in that line of thinking how much do we truly know about the represented time period? History can only carry so much and instead of using words to flesh out this world it’s the actions of the characters in tandem with the harsh and, subversively, claustrophobic environment. It explores the quiet confidence of feminine energy as Emily grows, eventually being the one that man submits to and it’s through her eyes (how brilliant was the idea to frame this western through the eyes of a woman?) that we see the Indian, the blank canvas, and our left to our own devices to come to a conclusion.
86. Pixote: The Law of the Weakest (dir. Héctor Babenco, 1980)
As you might have ascertained by this point, I’m a total sucker for bleak, poetic realism and this one is no slouch. First, knowing that Pixote himself, played by Fernando Ramos da Silva, met a violent end at the tender age of 21 especially highlights the unflinching truth to the performances at the core of this film. They carry the streets with them, it’s in their glances and awkward physical movements. There’s a certain grit to it that’s almost overwhelming, it’s visceral work that frames the lost voice and bears the bruises of Brazilian slum life with relentless authenticity.
Screams opening scene is my favorite opening to a movie I think, drew did THAT. Friday is great, chris tucker did THAT.
85. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (dir. Hayao Miyazaki, 1984)
Ah, is this most people’s first foray into Miyazaki? It was certainly mine and what a cannonball of a splash it made on me. (BTW, NYC Bling Ring this will be playing at the IFC Center during Christmas weekend!) Nausicaa, herself, is one of the greatest characters of cinema and what a thrill it was to watch such a complex, multilayered individual - not defined by stereotypical western gender norms and possessing such massive compassion, strength, and determination. Shadings of nihilism and man’s immediate jump to violence when threatened rather than seeking a mutual understanding but in the midst of that destruction, we find Nausicaa, a champion of the equilibrium of nature. In hindsight, I’m less impressed with the animation and some shots but Nausicaa alone is enough to carry this film through the end of time, for me.
84. The Conversation (dir. Francis Ford Copoola, 1974)
Coppola’s actual crowning achievement. So supremely rich in subtext on Watergate and general surveillance and Catholicism, drawing parallels to the omnipotent but twisting it just so we, the viewer, are aware that the scope of what the omnipotent can see is just barely scratching the surface. Caul is a lonely, deeply tormented man who’s built a guard so tall that he’s only a few steps from being off the grid. He finds pity in a woman who sleeps with him in exchange for rent money but when cased with tapes that suggest another woman is in peril he goes to such extremes for her, extremes for protecting her purity, and being the “the man” to rescue her. It’s not for the money that he goes to such massive ordeals for her protection, it’s a showing of his faith - one of the final things he’s managed to keep close to him.
83. Scream (dir. Wes Craven, 1996)
What’s left to say about the send-off to the slasher genre? Something so in tune with the entire history of horror and constantly referencing and twisting and molding and delivering it all with a twinge of camp that makes the entire proceedings an all-out romper of subtle comedy.
82. Friday (dir. Gary Gray, 1995)
Let’s just be clear: Chris Tucker’s Smokey is a pantheon comedic performance. His comic timing is off the charts and he’s an absolute joy to watch. But this film breezes along just fine when he isn’t present thanks to fantastic guest work (John Witherspoon! Paula Jai Parker! LaWanda Page!) from a cast full of people who completely understand the complexities and melodrama of the 90s black-American urban life and expertly satirizing that entire worldview. My brother and I can quote almost the entire movie to each other because of how insanely funny and timely it was, and it still holds up fantastically today!
81. The Hourglass Sanatorium (dir. Wojciech Has, 1983)
A wild, wild tale to this day I still can’t fully process. On one level it operates as a journey through memories and childhood and the bond between father and son. On another level it operates as an allegorical Holocaust tale, the train representing the trucks that carried Jewish people to camps, the camps represented as a sort of limbo where one doesn’t know if they’ll live or die. They just are. It’s chilling, properly moving material and terribly overwhelming. It plunges the viewer into a surrealist, cacophonous dream where we explore the wonders of youth as it crumbles to the reality of global politics. Constantly fluctuating through comedy, intrigue, disillusionment, and heartache and sometimes all at once.
80. 3 Women (dir. Robert Altman, 1977)
One of the few films I’ve seen where I’ve legitimately felt total unease during viewing. Altman leans exponentially harder into the surrealism of identity until the final product is a formless mist of lyricism. There’s a savage corruption that drips behind the natural features of women and as they blend into the other at the end in an unholy ordeal… wiggggggggggggg. Honestly, this isn’t a film that I can say I know how to write about. It’s something to be experienced, it’s ridiculously malleable and has such titanic visual storytelling that every new viewing proposes new meaning, new layers, thoughts, and references. One thing for sure, though: Sissy Spacek’s 70s run is probably the greatest era of any living actor.
79. Blood Tea and Red String (dir. Christina Cegavske, 2006)
A film in which three albino mice in Elizabethan costumes pour blood tea over a lifeless doll. The (stop-motion animation!) entire thing is quite hallucinatory and captivating, it’s delirious and nonsensical yet the messianism that the mice prop on this doll is touching, sad, and just inflammatory enough to be seen as the wink of a finely crafted screenplay. It forgoes overall narrative streamlines to be evocative without the bearings of heavy-handedness and produces another strong mark for feminine expression.
78. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (dir. Michel Gondry, 2004)
Ugh. Of course it would be Charlie Kaufman to perfectly extrapolate Nietzsche’s Amor Fati into what’s probably the defining romance of the aughts. Sometimes, I think, we as people (especially us in the post-grad world) may feel an incessant need to repress and trivialize our traumas as well as pretending to, in spite of the madness around us, power on. Some people can, they can get up in the morning shaking off the turmoil of the past and I find that tie in with wanting to erase the bad memories to be extremely thrilling. In time, those bad memories start to fade, you look at them with rose-colored glasses and all your left with is the idea of what that person once meant. In a healthy sense, one should look back and admire the past but recognize it was a time in place and history and not the present for a reason. To constantly want to go back and experience it all over again, then rediscovering what annoyed you about them, what made you want to scream, what made you hate that person. I could write about this movie all day but ain’t nobody got time for that.gif
77. Meshes of the Afternoon (dir. Maya Deren, 1943)
A 14-minute experimental short yet jam-packed with more surrealist visual motifs than imaginable. I’d even go as far as saying this is the foundation from which Twin Peaks was born (watch for yourself, Lynch’s infatuation with Deren has been apparent throughout his entire career). We follow along a way seemingly flung out of space and time, as she bounces against walls the camera jitters with her, she appears then vanishes than triples as if it were her sanity in the defendant's chair, her husband is the plaintiff, and death itself the judge. However, all of these people are the same and it’s within these interiors that plague her psyche in a post-WW society and the role of women that we dive deeper into the madness. Then in an instant, it shatters, but this is only the first of the double climax but as the mirror breaks and falls into various pieces washed away in the ocean there’s a rebirth, new life - is it the only thing that’s real in this circulatory and questionable narrative?
76. Kaddu Beykat (dir. Safi Faye, 1976)
Released in 1976 this was the first commercially distributed feature film by a black woman… a little factoid that makes me sad but progress has to start somewhere. She marvelously shoots the Senegalese landscape with admiration but routinely flips that beauty on its head by the way of showcasing the economic anxiety in tandem with themes of black assimilation. Radical for its framing of government-village relations and how the uneducated are taken advantage of, the film was banned in the very country of its portrayal further driving home the narrative of an oppressive government and how the diaspora reacts to the rocking of the traditional norms.
2001 a space odyssey is AWFULLet's continue
75. Sunset Boulevard (dir. Billy Wilder, 1950)
As the music bubbles and Gloria Swanson does her famed danse macabre down that grand staircase I feel absolutely washed over. Her descent is maddening, infuriating, jaw-dropping, stupefying, fully-committed work that could be analyzed to the end of time. It’s a biting look at Hollywood and its dark, unspoken malfeasance. What happens when the glory days are over and how one is no longer of any use despite still having so much more to give. It’s sharp, sly, and witty without tripping over its own feet but still provides a dramatic edge as the hook. It spins the mythology of the entire entertainment industry in circles, casually devouring it from the inside out until the credits roll leaving one breathless from the sheer audacity of it all.
74. The Blue Kite (dir. Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1993)
"The stories in the film are real, and they are related with total sincerity. What worries me is that it is precisely a fear of reality and sincerity that has led to the ban on such stories being told." - Tian Zhuangzhuang. It’s sobering and immediately transparent how this film takes such a mighty swing on, not only China under the thumb of Mao Zedong but how even the simplest, most sincere of personal relationships can falter under that massive strife. I’m no history buff, there are certainly aspects of this that went over my head but at the end of the day, it’s still an authentic, silently shattering unforgiving film.
73. Casque d'Or (dir. Jacques Becker, 1952)
Dare I say… The Irishman in the vein of Jane Campion? The gangsters here aren’t the hyper-violent and angry men as they’re portrayed over on the American side of things. There’s a brooding, a sensuality, a sort of mechanical element to it. It’s something that just is because that’s just how things are during the time. A languid fatalism hangs over the atmosphere of the film dually referencing the mysticism of the Belle Epoque with astounding grandeur. Bathed in beaming lights this film masterfully evokes the Impressionist period without ever veering into too deep of an obsession with the aesthetic, instead using it as a twist on the themes that are broached by the screenplay.
72. 2001: A Space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
Dear God, what a mammoth. There have been extensive analysis and essays about this film and I really don’t feel a need to pile on even more. There’s an almost endless stream of thoughts on this, both positive and negative! I will say, at least, is that it’s my favorite of Kubrick’s oeuvre and a relentlessly rewarding watch.
71. Call Me by Your Name (dir. Luca Guadignino, 2017)
I know there’s been a persistent criticism over the age difference on display here but well… I don’t care! I find it to be a rather minuscule issue, really. Anyway, this film was pretty much a life-altering moment for me. A delicate, sensual ode to love, to first love. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time anchored by Timothee Chalamet who’s a complete revelation. He lives and breathes the character of Elio and does some tremendously soul-baring work here. The score performs as a lullaby, quietly ushering you and wrapping around the body like fine Italian silk. Ugh, it’s a true beauty.
70. 13th (dir. Ava DuVernay, 2016)
An incisive, searing, supremely efficient condemnation of the despicable practices of the U.S. government in regards to its treatment of the black community. DuVernay takes no prisoners here, there is no tiptoeing around certain subjects and both sides are called to the altar for their sins. Perpetually firing on all cylinders and coding itself as a call to arms really, signaling for us to realize how setup the world is against our favor and exploring the possible angles to advance forward. That sequence of Trump’s speech over the footage of mid-century harassment of black people is harrowing and hasn’t left my mind since I first saw it.
69. Death of a Bureaucrat (dir. Tomas Guitierrez Alea, 1966)
Ha! An uproarious midway point between Chaplin and Monty Python. It’s imaginative, poignant and a real highlight of the supremely undervalued Cuban cinematic history. Tightly blending so many genres (Documentary! Comedy! Tragedy! Satire!) with the utmost ease. Without giving too much away it’s pretty simple: we’re watching a family trying to bury Paco but there’s always one piece that they forget (or is illegal) and how they deal with jumping through the hoops of government processes for even the simplest of tasks. It’s packed with clever visual motifs and symbolism and eerily evocative knowing it was only released because it was smuggled out of Cuba by the director!
68. The Scent of Green Papaya (dir. Tran Anh Hung, 1993)
A beautiful exploration of a pre-war torn Vietnam and an excellent look into the Buddhist milieu. It’s a wonderfully fleshed out world with exquisite mise-en-scène persistently remodeling and reshaping and referencing what’s come before it to form a brilliant pastiche in the last 3rd. Scant on dialogue (how I prefer my movies tbh) but the narrative is clear in its intent: we’re watching a woman come into her own, how she perseveres through her own agency, determination and sense of wonder.
67. Tangerine (dir. Sean Baker, 2015)
A larger than life outlook on some unfortunately marginalized people but rather than dwelling in incessant misery porn it affords them the opportunity to fully flesh out their characterizations and provide earnest nuance and gravitas to their actions. It’s a hilarious, hot-headed romper of a film that doesn’t seek to moralize or sensationalize its main figures but show them as the rounded individuals they are, while also experiencing financial hardships (which leads to unpleasant events) and difficulty navigating modern friendships just like everyone else. Underneath the glossy, tough surface is vulnerability, love, and companionship.
66. Amazing Grace (dir. Sydney Pollack, 2018)
Don’t get me wrong, this film is a tad messy. It’s put together out of sync at times, there isn’t much care or tending to it from a narrative standpoint but none of that matters because, to me, this is a richly spiritual experience. It’s pure joy to watch one of the most talented musical artists to every walk this planet so wholly in her element, so completely in tune with her element and feeling each word, riff, and run from the innermost sections of her being. She takes you to an otherworldly dimension by virtue of her voice and emotional connection. As someone that grew up in the church, I find this film quite comforting and reminiscent of much happier times. I’m now agnostic but gospel music will always have a place in my heart and so will Aretha. This is one of the few films on this entire list that I’d recommend to anyone on this site, Aretha is a universal force. Her rendition of “Amazing Grace” remains the most awe-inspiring performance any singer has ever delivered and that’s a hill I’m more than willing to die on.
Coming to america was one of my dads fave films which always made me giggle cuz it was so random
65. Coming to America (dir. Gary Gray, 1995)
Nothing particularly groundbreaking or innovative but that’s not what I persistently look for in my cinema experience. Sometimes a simple tried and true formula can provide some fantastic results provided it has the parts that can hold up on its own. That’s precisely what this black classic does for me. Eddie Murphy is in top form and is wonderfully aided by a shining supporting cast (Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, and Shari Headley provided some of my favorite moments of the film). In fact, I’d go so far as to say this one of the most watchable films I can think of, certainly top 20 at worst. There are nonstop background gags and action and the entire cast is electric, gleefully bouncing off each other and elevating their own characters through hilarious physical comedy as well. Sexual Chocolate is really all one needs to see to get the full grasp of this comedic perfection!
64. Double Indemnity (dir. Billy Wilder, 1944)
I mean... duh?
63. Le Roi et l'Oiseau (dir. Paul Grimault, 1980)
This one is gorgeous, truly one of the most stunning films one could watch. A revolutionary gem of color, shading, landscape, and fantasy all blending into a surrealist fever dream decadent in naive imagination and lucid hopefulness, it’s weird and ridiculous but works so well. A whimsical treatise on class structures, injustice, retribution (and an oddly forward-thinking battle between highbrow and mainstream) all hidden within the guise of child-like merriment.
62. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (dir. Mike Nichols, 1966)
Absolutely one of the most immediate films I’ve ever seen. It operates at a stratospheric level of intensity but in the hands of Nichols it doesn’t falter into pretentious melodrama and empty platitudes. The stakes are real, the turmoil bubbles over with ridiculous energy, and the ending is a chilling blurb on the state of the American Dream by that point in the 60s. In some ways it’s certainly laying the groundwork for American independent dogma, ushering in modern, less-stilted acting but it also veers into procedural lanes with razor-sharp dialogue that still holds up half a century later. Elizabeth Taylor, though, is the highlight of this masterful film. She’s crude, she’s loud, she’s in worlds of pain and has hollowed herself out so much all she can do is try to inflict that same emptiness of being on to everyone around her. However, in spite of all the aforementioned attributes, she still manages to show glimmers of hope and yearning for George (a fantastic turn by Richard Burton, he’s just as much of a powerhouse as Taylor but in obviously different ways) as well as display her insecurities and the feelings of failure, forming a spectacularly complex individual.
61. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse (dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, 2018)
A total visual treat that goes far, far beyond the scope of the cinematic comic book realm. It’s brash, vibrant, totally alive and a never-ending feast from start to finish. However, it doesn’t sacrifice any of its narratives for the sake of aesthetics, the character and world-building are lush, the voicework is magnificent and I adore the screenplay here. The way it walks the tightrope between taut thriller and bright-eyed amazement is some real off the wall work. The only comic book movie of the century that’s able to stand on its own and achieve greatness through sheer cinematic work rather than real-world narrative or mining the nostalgia mines!
60. Grave of the Fireflies (dir. Isao Takahata, 1988)
Yeah, I’m certainly one of the people who watched this once, cried about it and now break out into sweats when I think about it. It’s terribly unflinching in its critique of Japanese cultures and norms on a macro level and even more torturing as we watch Seita’s gradual descent in spite of his brutish and poorly thought-out perseverance.
59. Menace II Society (dir. Allen Hughes, Albert Hughes, 1993)
I think one could just watch the intro to come to terms with the major explorations of this film. How it so perfectly frames the microaggressions faced by the black community and shifts perspectives from sympathy to horror with stunning ease. It’s a very daunting look at 90s black urbana, sometimes highlighted for its beauty from the discount bin or championed for being rather forward-thinking in comparison to white sitcoms of the time, but in a frame of stark realism to show off the challenging day to day of the less privileged. Rather reminiscent of Bunuel, actually. I find the portrayal of violence here to be enhancive to the story as well, this is the life these people, violence isn’t something they can turn away from in shock but become complacent to it transpiring. Violence has always been everywhere so, while we an audience of a more privileged perspective, might feel overwhelmed the character feels content with it, which is an entirely new thread on its own. Caine, the central character, could be anyone - he’s bright, he knows there could be better and he wants better but unfortunately for him, he is a product of his environment and firmly set structural procedures that all form a dark nebula in tandem with his own outlooks. It’s bleak, it doesn’t let up, and a lot of the diaspora could benefit from a watch.
58. Losing Ground (dir. Kathleen Collins, 1982)
A supremely underseen gem meditating on black womanhood, the yearning for art and creative expression, and the pitfalls that accompany the marital milieu. Very much in the vein of peak Allen but crafted by a black woman in the early 80s, so far ahead of its time. Simple in its premise: the marital stress between an intellectual, clinical woman and her sensual, lively husband. Sara, played by the ethereal Seret Scott, is simply transcendent here. Gradually unfolding herself more and more through the duration, further examining her own story and exploring the role of “the other woman” as she takes part in a film within a film (her student casts her in his retelling of Frankie and Johnny). At first, Sara’s desperate need for approval is accompanied by people in her orbit and it appears as if that would be her salvation but she’s given her own agency, her own empathetic ability. Harking back in its existentialism to Irvin Yalom and Rollo May as characters are taken to task by their counterparts, the moments are rare and all too brief but is that not how we look at life?
57. Beau Travail (dir. Claire Denis, 1999)
Poetically waxing on masculinity, painfully composed shots of men so deftly in tune with each other crafting a ballet between them. Their harsh, physical attitudes, it’s bold and in your face yet we see them, often, domesticated, cleaning & arguing over a crease. Denis expertly flips the tropes of masculinity and inspects them, she twists them and regurgitates it back on to the screen in its most sensual form. The homoerotic subtext of the coda is also quite potent and adds another layer of complexities to the sparse narrative, the performances are tender, nuanced and a joy to watch.
56. Night of the Hunter (dir. Charles Laughton, 1955)
Just look at that shot above, it’s stupendous! The pièce de résistance of cinematography that still casts a massive shadow above the world of cinema that followed it. Pulling from Paul Leni and Robert Weine, most notably, to form something so singular and so wholly completed that it makes one wonder how it took so long for such imagery to exist? The score and visuals combine into a twisted, grotesque amalgamation somehow etching out an unmistakable beauty, or wonder. Dread drips in the background at all times but so does a certain cosmic undertone, saying none of this should exist. That disturbing contradiction of it all is what makes this film so genius. There’s massive lore behind this film if one wants to check it out (I fully recommend. It is, imo, one of the 5 most important and influential films on a global scale) and get a much better learning of the scope & impact of this one!
Whew, I genuinely love each and every one of these movies quite a lot. At this point, I'm just splitting hairs. Including this batch, going forward are all landmarks for me.
i love that gaga lyric!
55. Sous le sable (dir. Francois Ozon, 2000)
Charlotte GODDAMN Rampling! She’s mesmerizing in this pensive film about a woman who is lost and who has lost. Her husband simply disappears into the ocean without a trace and we watch her in every shot battling what that loss truly means. She continues on as if he’s still there, nothing has changed but there’s always a slight hesitation, a fear that lingers in her words or her physicality suggesting there’s more beyond the surface. Even in the first twenty minutes where we see them interact there’s a certain power imbalance within the couple that casts a shadowy eye over what follows. A canon addition to the pantheon of women slowly crumbling on the big screen.
54. Once Upon a Time in America (dir. Sergio Leone, 1984)
I don’t even know where to begin to dissect this. It’s a massive, ridiculous exploration of mobster life. Get into it.
53. Rear Window (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
Hitchcock the god. He has an unmistakable knack for delving into the human condition and putting to screen the darkness that we shy away from but with a glossy and heightened finish. Full of suspense, cleverness and enough details packed into the picture to last a lifetime. A fascinating indictment of the voyeuristic nature of humans that never grows old because that part of us still continues on to this day.
52. A City of Sadness (dir. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1989(
The 2/28 massacre. A harrowing event in which thousands of Taiwanese civilians were killed during protests under the Kuomintang thumb and was the spark of White Terror, a period of marital law where Taiwan, essentially, was imprisoned by China. Hou captures the tension and mythos of this period with an unphased masterstroke. Rather than speaking to the entire system at large, he zooms into one family and extrapolates how the fallout has affected them. It’s not so much concerned with the very start or the very end but seeks to ruminate on the middle, on the banalities, on how life and history itself loom over everyone constantly influencing actions. It’s a sobering watch that doesn’t take thrill or enjoyment in exploring that history, it just does it and allows the viewer to feel however they feel. Quiet, meditative work but still devastating nonetheless.
51. Beauty and the Beast (dir. Gary Trousdale, 1991)
I’m not going into a whole thing about this movie because who the fuck doesn’t know this?
50. Raise the Red Lantern (dir. Zhang Yimou, 1991)
OMG!Red. Gong Li, a constant presence when it comes to discussing the cream of the crop in terms of international actresses, conjures up pure magic in this diehard feminist manifesto. Whether it’s the score or the screenplay or the direction or the cinematography or the acting, everything about this movie is firing on all cylinders. It’s a Shakespearean parable on early-20th century Chinese concubines but played to the rafters. The imagery is jaw-dropping in its beauty yet soul-crushing in its narrative, these women are fighting within and against and for a misogynistic system all at once. All at odds, all with their own thoughts and emotions laid out in tremendous fashion.
49. My Life as a Courgette (dir. Claude Barras, 2016)
Such a beautiful, tender little gem of animation! The way it speaks on friendship, grief, jealousy, and trauma without diving into melodramatics or becoming something so saccharine is a real highlight of the screenplay. The children are smart and complex but not in an overt way, it all just feels so natural and lived-in. Nobody here is defined within a stereotypical box and there are so many shining moments for the entire cast, god I love this movie. (PS: it's on Netflix [in the states at least] and it's only a hair over an hour long)
48. A Woman Under the Influence (dir. John Cassavetes, 1974)
A relentless, breakneck triumph of realism, a treatise on the lower-middle milieu where everyone and everything is suffocating, they’re all trapped. Cassavetes makes a smart move in dropping us in what feels like the third act of this haywire picture, tempers are already flaring, there are whispers and yells and commotion and it’s so delirious in its proceedings. However, thanks to a wonderful script, the actors are able to capture and explore the grays of their characters just as well as they can explore the black and white. The chemistry between Falk and Rowlands is astounding, they wonderfully bounce off each other and take on an almost documentary approach, aided by the subdued camera work. Rowlands, in particular, is a mystifying revelation here. Burrowing deep into her own experiences and etching out a performance with massive volatility and genuine fragility that almost feels disturbing, it’s painful and unflinching.
47. Psycho (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
God! Is there anything about this movie that isn’t just so well done?! The direction, editing, cinematography, the acting, the SCORE! That score is in my all-time top 10 and to this day I still listen to it on a regular basis. It’s damn near another character, a narrator perhaps? It flows in and magically manages to fit and perfectly encapsulates the scene, either further developing a character or enhancing an action whether that action was performed by an actor or is the action of Hitchock’s brilliant mise-en-scene. One of the most endlessly rewatchable films there are that feels almost removed from time, so wholly complete and applicable in any setting or demographic.
46. Spring in a Small Town (dir. Fei Mu, 1948)
This one is a simple, restrained, quiet slice of life. Forgoing the scope presented by the backdrop of the Sino-Japanese war to observe a family coming to terms with their own wants and repressions. The characters don’t want to hurt each other but they don’t know how to operate anymore, the marriage between Yuwen and Liyan is loveless, unenjoyable and only continues on because, in these times, what’s done is done. Yuwen’s melancholy is so brilliantly played by Wei Wei who shines, even more, when a former lover comes to visit the family. Our characters have nothing to do but speak, exploring what it means to live, the ideas of love and the wonderment that accompanies a spouse finally experiencing happiness.