Best Movies of All Time

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Tags: 
  1. Citizen Kane (1941, Orson Welles)
  2. The Seventh Seal (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
  3. Mulholland Drive (2001, David Lynch)
  4. The Last Laugh (1924, F.W. Murnau)
  5. A Clockwork Orange (1971, Stanley Kubrick)
  6. Rear Window (1954, Alfred Hitchcock)
  7. Ugetsu (1953, Kenji Mizoguchi)
  8. Chinatown (1974, Roman Polanski)
  9. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeouise (1972, Luis Buñuel)
  10. Persona (1966, Ingmar Bergman)
  11. My Life to Live (1962, Jean-Luc Godard)
  12. Last Year at Marienbad (1961, Alain Resnais)
  13. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)
  14. The Godfather Part II (1974, Francis Ford Coppola)
  15. Requiem for a Dream (2000, Darren Aronofsky)
  16. Un Chien Andalou (1929, Luis Buñuel)
  17. Pixote (1981, Hector Babenco)
  18. Napoleon (1927, Abel Gance)
  19. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004, Michel Gondry)
  20. Wings of Desire (1987, Wim Wenders)
  21. The Shining (1980, Stanley Kubrick)
  22. Unforgiven (1992, Clint Eastwood)
  23. The Godfather (1972, Francis Ford Coppola)
Author Comments: 

No longer updated

This only includes the films I've seen since I updated the way I view and critique films (February 2005). Expect it to grow quickly as I rewatch old favorites.

As the list grows, you'll probably notice that I think film today isn't in bad shape at all - except that really great films used to be popular, and now the best films almost never gross more than $20 million, if they make it to theaters at all.

Cloned From: 

Since you seem to be enthralled with interpreting Mulholland Drive, I figure I'll ask you about the parts that still confuse me (granted, I've only seen it once). I think I get the general idea of the film, but two things still perplex me: (minor spoilers) 1. What's up with Winkies / the creepy guy behind it? 2. What does that blue box do? Any thoughts?

I could watch this film 10 times and not have every piece figured out, or every nuance and hidden genius extracted. Here are my thoughts on your questions:

The way I see it, the first two hours of the movie are Diane's dream. As Rita is Diane's projection of Camilla into her dream, the blue box is Diane's projection of Camilla's death (which in real life, Diane herself orchestrated by hiring the hitman, who delivered a blue key upon completion of his task). When Rita opens the blue box, her death (the blue box) consumes her, and she is gone forevermore.

Winkies is more complicated. We first see Winkies in Diane's dream through the character of Dan, whom Diane uses as a projection of her own fears. Dan speaks to his friend in Winkies about his scary dream about the homeless man behind Winkies. His friend forces him to confront his fear, and it (the homeless man) literally scares Dan to death.

To Diane, the homeless man (like the other characters, she saw him in real life and used him in her dream) represents that deep, dark, dangerous part of her psyche. The heart of her mental sickness.

So, Dan's death upon confronting his (Diane's) fear foreshadows Diane's own death when she 'confronts' her own seriously fucked up psyche (when she blows her brains out). Near the end of the film, the homeless man (this scene is an allegory for what's happening in Diane's mind, even though surrounding scenes are in reality, like the party scene and the breakup scenes) unleashes the old couple (parents? grandparents? of Diane) on Diane. She is literally haunted by her pre-California past. She can't take it anymore, and she kills herself.

I hope that was clear enough. Thank you for asking those questions! Answering them improved my own understanding of the film. So, if you have other questions, even if they're half-answered, ask away! If anything, you'll inspire me to watch it yet again and dig some more. I won't mind - it's definitely one of my all-time favorite films now.

If you haven't already, read this explanation, which really helped clarify and elaborate upon my own, originally very weak understanding of the film. It might not be the only interpretation, but it's the one that I most agree with.

But the blue box does other things, doesn't it? I could understand how if the blue box represents Camilla's death, that could lead to Diane's disappearance as well, since the death screwed up her life too. But IIRC, when the homeless man unleashes the old couple, don't they come out of the blue box? What do Diane's parents have to do with the blue box / Camilla's death?

Since you offered, I have another question. The explanation you linked to says that when "Betty" and "Rita" discover the neighbor, she is in the position that Diane is sleeping in. But the truth is that the neighbor is dead, and she looks exactly like Diane does when she kills herself - at the chronological end of the story. Since I'm assuming that Diane was alive when she had the dream, how could this be? How could she be picturing her own corpse when she isn't dead yet? Is her dream supposed to be prophetic, or is it just an incredible coincidence?

BTW, I agree, it is a truly breathtaking film.

Sorry, you're right - it makes more sense for the blue box to represent death in general (since the blue box kills Rita and unleashes the cause of Diane's death). Or perhaps I'll come up with a better explanation after more viewings.

I'm not so sure the corpse looks like Diane when she dies - either in body position or in (rotting) appearance. Do the corpse and Diane really look that similar to you?

All I see is that the corpse is positioned like Diane is when she wakes up (which could've been the way she was positioned when she fell asleep). So, from THAT it could've been a prophetic dream about Diane forseeing her own death, or it could've been more psychological, like she's 'dead inside' because she killed the one she loved (as I recall, that happened in reality before she fell asleep and dreamed).

Hmm... maybe you're right. I remember thinking that when Diane kills herself, she looks exactly like the dead neighbor (the neighbor was obviously more rotted, but I would allow for some passage of time), and that was instrumental in my initial interpretation of the film (which had many holes and which I liked less than the dream interpretation). But maybe my original theory is skewing my memory, and I didn't notice what Diane looked like when she woke up. I suppose I will have to watch the film again...

The first shot we see of the corpse (before we move 'round the side of the bed and see the face and everything) and the shot we see of Diane waking up are exactly the same, except for the color of Diane's dress. You could superimpose them on top of each other and not notice any superimposition, almost. The shot of Diane killing herself is from a different angle and she's lying on her back, not her side (and then she disappears in a puff of exaggerated smoke).

It's so worth another viewing.

I rewatched a couple parts of the film, and I do think you're right. Even Diane's dress looks pretty similar - I think it might only look like a different color because of the lighting. You can see why I thought it could've been Diane's corpse though - though she's wearing a robe when she actually dies, and though it's shot from a different angle, she's lying in pretty much the same position.

BTW, if you grasped so much of it in one viewing, you're much smarter than I am! I didn't even figure out most of it was a dream until the second viewing. Of course, many people even disagree with that, saying it's about multiple dimensions or time travel and stuff, which I don't buy. Not that I would put those past Lynch.

Actually, I did my research after the first viewing and found an interpretation similar to the one you linked to. Smarter? Nah, I'm just more impatient than you.

great list, suprised you didn't put American Beauty considering oyur love for it, but great list. Right move with Eternal sunshine. i would argue that The Godfather is better than Godfather part II but hey, they are both pretty dang amazing!

American Beauty and SO many others aren't here yet because I haven't seen them since I changed my ratings scale. So, look forward to tons of Fellini and Hitchcock and Bergman and everything else to be added once I see them again.

I have recently watched The Godfather (actually twice this year) and the sequel and The Battle of Algiers and I can just agree: Excellent works (even though I still think that The Godfather, Part II is NOT better than the first film).

All in all, I have seen 8 of these 11 movies. My favourite is Requiem for a Dream.

Favorite is different than 'best', for me, though they're usually simpatico. My 4 favorites on this list so far would be Rear Window, Requiem for a Dream, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Mulholland Drive, in that order.

Thank you for depositing two cents. You may now continue about your business.

The Last Laugh: I have to wonder if Murnau, with the ending, was saying to the studio: "Fine, you want a happy ending? I'll give you a happy ending!" and proceded to film the worst, most idiotically happy ending he could come up with (all the while still employing his camera virtuosity through Karl Freund). Anyway, the studio ending doesn't 'count'. Nor the does studio ending for The Bad Seed. Chop off the last ten minutes or so from this film and it is an absolute masterpiece. I was surprised to like it much more this time than my last viewing, about 8 months ago.

I think you have to include the studio ending in thinking about the film, but as a subversive absurdity rather than as a legitimate part of the story. Though actually, I think its existence raises some interesting questions as well. Remember, Murnau's intertitle poses the ending as sympathy by the filmmaker, not by the studio. I sometimes wonder if a writer gets attached to the characters he/she has created. If you've created a great character, perhaps one even reflective of yourself, would you find yourself unwilling to kill off the character?

Obviously this added dilemma has nothing to do with the rest of the film, and may not have been intended by Murnau - it could have just been his way of sticking it to the studio. But I still think it's interesting to think about.

This writer doesn't share his sources but claims that the ending was studio-enforced.

There's no way I can read Murnau's mind about whether or not he wanted to kill his character, but I for one love to kill my carefuly built and grown characters. Way too much.

Oh, I don't deny that the ending was studio-enforced. I've heard that too, and I believe it. I just think that the way Murnau does it makes it a little more interesting than just a tacked-on studio ending. If the film naturally led into the ending scene, then I would say that one should disregard it and merely consider the first 70 minutes of film, which is a masterpiece. But as it is, one could take it as an absurd joke that Murnau played as a reaction against studio forces; or a writer unwilling to kill off his poor sympathetic character (assuming Murnau isn't as sadistic as you are :-) ); or as an optimistic fantasy that the main character has. Most of the time, I hate tacked-on happy endings, but I think this one doesn't feel like that; it feels like an entity separate from the real story, an extra absurdity that has been added for good measure.

Yeah, I think it was probably a good joke played on the studio. Don't know how he got away with it! I agree that the epilogue is a seperate entity, and that's why I didn't include it when valuating that film. (Pop quiz: how much do you hate my use of 'valuating'?)

Well, I meant a separate entity from the story, not a separate entity from the film. It's a scene that feels disjoint from the story, but I think one can enjoy it - not as a legitimate part of the story, but for what it is: (probably) a good joke on the studio. Anyway, I'll stop talking now.

I think we agree on everything but we're using different words to say what we mean.

Got rid of my half-assed comments/reviews. If I'm going to write these films up eventually, I'm going to do it properly.

Heh, the only IMDB entry with a perfect score of 10.0 is an adult video (of course, it only has 5 votes).

Yeah, but this one pulls off a very respectable 9.9 with 124 votes.

Now it's already 131. I can understand 5 absurdly enthusiastic people, but 130? It must be a big joke to everyone voting now.

Heh. Apparently we already have a new 10.0 champion, with faded glory at 6.9. Get me a life.

Critical consensus is a crock. Rottentomatoes Best Films of All Time:

1. Toy Story 2
2. Bus 174
3. The Taste of Others
4. A Hard Day's Night
5. The Sweet Hereafter
6. The Godfather
7. Alien
8. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
9. The Wizard of Oz
10. Dr. Strangelove

All good films, I'm sure, but it's pretty funny what happens when you filter through RT's system.

Well, keep in mind that this is skewed because Rotten Tomatoes has only been functioning for a few years, and it's kinda hard to find first-run reviews of, say, Citizen Kane nowadays. Since the number of reviews matters here, and most older films are reviewed only in "the classics" series (such as Ebert's Great Movies column), it's easy for a popular, recent film like Toy Story 2 to be on top. Also, Rotten Tomatoes only counts reviews as "recommended" or "not recommended", so although most critics wouldn't think Toy Story 2 is better than Citizen Kane, how can you not recommend Toy Story 2? It's hard to not find it enjoyable.

But yes, that is pretty amusing. I wonder why we haven't seen Bus 174 top any of those Sight and Sound polls? It's all about politics, I'm sure.

Leaping to my own unnecessary defense, I'll point out that everything you've so helpfully elaborated above is what I meant by "what happens when you filter through RT's system."

I Need to see Chinatown some day

It is mainstream perfection.