Monday, April 21, 2014

10 favorite films

no. 10  
The Road Warrior (1981)

The Lawrence of Arabia (1962) of apocalyptic action movies. It's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) meets Yojimbo (1961) by way of Death Race 2000 (1975). One of the few sequels in film history that truly manages to be a standalone specimen. 

no. 9 
The Wrong Box (1966)

The late, great Bryan Forbes crafted one of the most sublime and unsung comedies of all-time with a legendary cast including: Michael Caine, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Peter Sellers, John Mills, Wilfrid Lawson, Nanette Newman and Ralph Richardson. It's Robert Louis Stevenson brought to you by The Marx Brothers.

no. 8
Paris, Texas (1984)

Harry Dean Stanton delivers one of THE great screen performances as Travis Henderson, a man that redefines the word introspective. A towering achievement on every level from Ry Cooder's mythical score to director Wim Wender's palpable sense of desolation.  

no. 7
Being There (1979)

Peter Sellers may have lost the Oscar to Dustin Hoffman (for Kramer vs. Kramer) but his penultimate performance was one for the ages. Hal Ashby constructs a sense of magical realism that few filmmakers have been able to spawn. It's deftly funny too.

no. 6
Gloria (1980)

John Cassavetes may have just been the preeminent American auteur, rivaling even Orson Welles. This was his wife Gena Rowlands' finest hour (along with Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence, 1974). Bypass the Sharon Stone remake. 

no. 5
Monte Walsh (1970)

A film about the end of one era that signaled the death of another. By the dawn of the '70s, the movie business was on the cusp of changing in a big way. This elegiac Western starring Lee Marvin and Jack Palance is a sad but poetic reminder that all things must pass. See my full review here.

no. 4
Nights of Cabiria (1957)

Giulietta Masina.
Giulietta Masina.
Giulietta Masina.

no. 3
A Man for All Seasons (1966)

Fred Zinnemann had already made one of the best social commentaries masquerading as a genre film with High Noon (1952). His adaptation of the Robert Bolt play about the fate of Sir Thomas More had nothing to hide. It's the ultimate film about conscience as well as one of the greatest historical dramas ever conceived.

no. 2
Mona Lisa (1986)

Every once in a while a film that seems perfectly commonplace attaches itself to me. The plot of Mona Lisa isn't anything new (it's a standard neo-noir) but it is a one of a kind film. Bob Hoskins (in a tour de force) nails the common, ordinary hero sleeping inside us all. 

no. 1
La Règle du jeu (1939)

I desperately wanted to include a selection from Kurosawa and Satyajit Ray on this list (in addition to Ken Russell, Chaplin and Miyazaki) as I admire so many of their works. In the end, there is only Jean Renior's The Rules of the Game. All films about the human condition are beholden to it. 

honorable mention:

The Railway Children (1970) 

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