Saturday, May 06, 2006


The Also-Rans

The films that just didn't quite make the top 20 and their point totals, with some positive quotes for their inclusion among the best when available.

21. Rebecca (101 points)
No, it's not Hitchcock's best film — not by the longest shot. But no one ever did a better job creating tension and atmosphere than the Master of Suspense, and Rebecca is no exception. In design and execution, Hitch's talent is on full display, and the film has a look and feel unlike just about anything else he ever undertook — a sort of gothic grandeur. What makes the film subversive, in addition to its thinly veiled lesbian subtext, is the manner in which the filmmaker locates undercurrents of incipient hysteria lurking beneath the lush romanticism of the story's surface — just about everyone in the film is a masochist when it comes to love. It also serves as further proof of Hitchcock's incredible track record with actresses — Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson were never used better or more effectively than they were here.
Josh R

22. All Quiet on the Western Front (100 points)
If everyone in the world had to watch this movie as a child I wonder if it would change anything?
Joe Cox

23. Patton (87 points)
One of the greatest performances on film, and an even-handed script that gives well-rounded characters on all sides. Schaffner's direction is top-notch, too, particularly in the battle scenes — no close-ups or quick cuts, just beautiful shots of long-range destruction. No better biopic exists that I've seen.
Barnaby Haszard Morris

24. American Beauty (69 points)
It's funny, it's timely, and it's probably just about the quirkiest BP winner ever. That wins points from me.

25. From Here to Eternity (58 points)(tied)
When I was a child Burt Lancaster reminded me of my father, who died when I was seven. Like Burt Lancaster in this movie, my father was stationed in the Pacific during World War II. Through the eyes of a child, this movie was a glimpse into the life of my father, a man I never got to know.
Galen Sparlin

25. The Sting (58 points)(tied)
Perhaps I like this because it is one of the few movies I remember seeing in the theater as a child, when I had a huge crush on Robert Redford ... . But it has held up for me in repeat viewings as an adult, still love the music, the pacing, the con, the bit about their friend, Luther, that showed that some white people did have black friends and defend them. Not to mention the senseless violence that those with power inflict on those without. And the little guys win — not a real ending, maybe, but satisfying, and before that, lots of reality and human condition. And good music.
Julie Winklepleck

27. How Green Was My Valley (55 points)
Deep-focus dazzling (courtesy dp Arthur Miller), How Green Was My Valley makes memory palpable — as tactile as the coal dust staining the characters' skin. ... This is the genesis of the outsider perspective that characterizes Ford's skeptical/hopeful treatment of American striving in his America-set films and, returning to Ireland, in The Quiet Man (1952).
John Demetry

28. The French Connection (54 points)
Gene Hackman is fantastic in this great cops-and-robbers thriller, which includes the best car chase ever filmed. (Actually it was a car chasing a train, but still...)
Louis P.

29. Ordinary People (52 points) (tied)
Can't explain it ... saw it as young man ... moved me profoundly. Donald Sutherland telling a random party-goer on the steps of a friends house that he thinks that his son is doing great is GREAT movie acting ... he's lying to the friend and to himself, but he needs to — to get through. It's maybe my favorite acting moment ever in a film.

29. The Sound of Music (52 points) (tied)
Unfairly maligned as "square," it's both incredibly joyful and surprisingly dark. The first movie I ever saw in a theater.
Al Weisel

31. The Deer Hunter (50 points)
This movie is like a raw nerve. I've only seen it once. Once is enough. And yet I remember some of the scenes almost moment to moment to moment. The acting is beyond compare.
Sheila O'Malley

32. Gandhi (46 points)
This is a wonderful biopic, done so well and so honestly. These days you'd never do a movie about a guy from India without re-casting the part of Gandhi into a white guy who led the Indians to nationhood. I think this might have been the last movie that I can recall that actually didn't play up the white people. Great movie.
Barbara Schwartz Brus

33. The Last Emperor (41 points)
Sumptuous and intriguing Bertolucci and of supreme interest if only because so much of it was filmed inside The Forbidden City.
Richard Christenson

34. Chariots of Fire (36 points)
I loved this film first as a runner and only second as a cinephile, so I’ve never been positive how prejudiced I am in its favor. Chariots of Fire has the mood of the libraries in which parts of it are set — the warmth of a fire, the stillness and dignity of leather-bound books. It’s comfortable like an old chair or a rainy day.
A. Horbal

35. An American in Paris (35 points) (tied)
I don't know how much love American in Paris will get, but it's the best musical to win best picture — even though there are 5-10 musicals I would rather watch.
Bill Watson-Canning

35. The Lost Weekend (35 points)(tied)
This probably won't get many votes, but I'm putting it in because I've gotta have Wilder and haven't seen The Apartment. Ray Milland is stellar; it's just a fine novel-to-film adaptation, daring for the times.
Barnaby Haszard Morris

37. Rocky (33 points)
Yes, it spawned a formula that persists (mostly badly) to this day, but the original works because Rocky doesn't win. And you don't care.
Adam Bonin

38. Shakespeare in Love (30 points)
A delightful blend of literary speculation, romance, and comedy — with a little nudity. Those who don’t get why the Oscar voters went for it don’t see that it may be the most sublime representation ever of the magic of show business.
Michael Adams

39. Million Dollar Baby (29 points)(tied)
Once again, Eastwood's stock company makes something from nothing.
Exiled in New Jersey

39. Platoon (29 points) (tied)
My dad was in Vietnam and he said that this movie best captures the feel of being in the shit. If that weren't enough, Oliver Stone paints a great parable of the tensions at home.
Joe Cox

41. Ben-Hur (28 points)
I haven't seen it in awhile, but still one of my favorites, though it wouldn't be anything without the chariot race.
Christopher Price

42. Terms of Endearment (26 points)
Still one of a kind in its mix of humor and sadness.
Adam Bonin

43. Titanic (25 points)
Call me a gadfly, but this is the only big-assed-big-titted Hollywood epic BP winner that I'd ever want to watch once instead of frame, enlarge and mount on a wall like so many pinned butterflies. James Cameron seems to know just how ridiculous his gastronomic bloatiness is, but... nah. He's drunk on his own self-importance and the shots he stole from A Night to Remember. Still, Titanic is a great movie movie. Just as some today justify Gone With the Wind by admiring how nimbly it moves along for being a plus-size movie, similarly Titanic takes two movies that are either crappy or ripped-off and mashes them up into one-half a great film.
Eric Henderson

44. Braveheart (24 points)(tied)
44. Gentleman's Agreement (24 points) (tied)
Every sequence of Gentleman's Agreement vivifies the experience of humility. In the climax, one character makes an awesome sacrifice. She gives up her dream home. In Hollywood history, only Steven Spielberg's Munich (2005) compares to the achievement of Gentleman's Agreement — applying Jewish tradition to American anguish.
John Demetry

44. In the Heat of the Night (24 points)(tied)
The only time the Academy saw fit to bestow Best Picture on a movie with a Black main character who was intelligent, not subservient, and on the right side of the law. Go back and check. I'll wait...

47. Gigi (23 points) (tied)
You either like this sort of thing or you don't. If you like it, this one's perfect. It's funnier (and more self-effacing) than ninety percent of Hollywood's good comedies. the songs are charming, the blurring of the line between reality and dreamland (the key to any great musical) is perfectly sustained and Caron's better than even Audrey Hepburn would have been, which is as high a compliment as I can pay to a fellow homo sapien.
John Ross

47. A Man for All Seasons (23 points) (tied)
I love the depiction of the battle of wills here, but it would all ring false if not for the remarkable dignity of Thomas More as played by Paul Scofield. (I wonder if that's just how Scofield really is; I've only ever noticed him here and in Quiz Show, and that character telegraphed the same dignity and moral outrage).
Tuwa Baab

47. You Can't Take It With You (23 points) (tied)
You Can't Take it With You makes me happy. Jimmy Stewart crowing will do that to a person. It's as simple as that.
Josh Flower

50. Tom Jones (18 points)
Tony Richardson took the techniques of the French New Wave, just as Richard Lester would do with A Hard Day’s Night, and applied them to what could have been just a stodgy literary adaptation. You would have had to have been there in 1963-1964 to understand how energetic and sexy the film was in its time.
Michael Adams

51. Driving Miss Daisy (17 points) (tied)
Granted...a sentimental (perhaps overly) film, but it got me and it gets me every time i flick by it on TV. Maybe its the old Jewish lady thing(i was raised by them) or simply Jessica Tandy's acting, but it kills me every time.

51. Forrest Gump (17 points) (tied)
I buy into all of it, ok? So spare me.

51. Mrs. Miniver (17 points) (tied)

54. Dances With Wolves (16 points)
When I first saw this film on its initial release I was struck with the notion that this was a very personal film for Kevin Costner. Powerful but personal. On subsequent viewings, this film has taken on a more powerful emotion, one that radiates from every beautifully framed shot. It is a film that envelops you and yet seems very small in its narrative.
Salvador Gomez

55. Chicago (14 points)
Well, favorite, for me, not the best...but still. :-)

56. Mutiny on the Bounty (12 points) (tied)
More than directed by Frank Lloyd, the film was tailored by movie mogul/boy wonder Irving Thalberg, and it still stands over any ulterior "Bounty" movie. Solid cinematography with fine performances, topped by the sovereign acting of Laughton's Bligh.
Gloria Porta

56. My Fair Lady (12 points) (tied)
I love Audrey Hepburn, I like Rex Harrison, I like the songs, I’m partial to musicals.
A. Horbal

58. All the King's Men (11 points) (tied)
The movie and the book is roughly based on Louisiana Governor Huey P Long.There’s a scene where Broderick Crawford transforms from stiff speech reader into sheer charisma. I think every filmmaker shooting a transformation scene/sequence should watch this movie just for those two minutes. It's a great movie.
Rob Ferrara

58. Crash (11 points) (tied)
This also turned up on the worst list. I think that's backlash. I really liked this when I saw it, loved the weaving together of the storylines, the complexity of characters. People are complex and ambiguous. I'm also a Paul Haggis fan from way back when his TV show "EZ Streets" met an untimely fate.
Julie Winklepleck

58. Rain Man (11 points) (tied)
I almost left this one off because of the caricature that Tom Cruise has become, but I still think this is his best performance and that he and not Dustin Hoffman should have won the Oscar.
Sharon Johnson

61. A Beautiful Mind (10 points)
The film took liberties in giving us an uncommonly considerate take
on mental sickness. Stripped down to its core, it's simply a story
about courage and the inner struggle to find it.

Tyler Robbins

62. Gladiator (9 points)
Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott at their best.
Salvador Gomez

63. The English Patient (8 points) (tied)
I am not embarrassed to admit to liking this movie.
Galen Sparlin

63. Marty (8 points) (tied)
Whenever I see a love story, it always involves two beautiful movie stars saying words like poetry to each other. What makes Marty superior to these films is because how true it is to itself. A big guy from Brooklyn falls in love with a quiet school teacher. Sounds more believable than any Kate & Leo-esque film.
Stanley Kubrick

65. Grand Hotel (6 points) (tied)
I'm in love with Greta Garbo, and this is the film that did it for me. If it weren't for her, this movie would probably suck.
Kelley Baskerville

65. Kramer Vs. Kramer (6 points) (tied)
I might catch some hell for this one but it was the first movie that made me cry. Dustin Hoffman's interaction with Justin Henry is brutally heart-wrenching.

67. Hamlet (tied)
67. Out of Africa (tied) (5 points each)

Okay, I'm in a very lonely place with this one, I'm sure. The English Patient is a better film. But the love song here is an instrumental version of the 1919 song "Let the Rest of the World Go By" — and that's a lovely detail.
Ellen O'Neill on Out of Africa

69. Oliver! (3 points)
I am well aware that I am nearly alone in my admiration for Carol Reed's musical treatment of the Dickens classic, but I stand behind it without apology and unbowed by criticism. For me, this is probably the truest evocation of the classic novel, and the closest in spirit to what the author intended for his masterpiece. Neither as polite and refined as the David Lean version, nor as bloated and prettified as Roman Polanski's, Oliver! captures the raucous, unruly life force that gives the story its punch, and makes for a hearty, celebratory feat of showmanship without stinting on the harsh realities that inform Dickens' world view. And I love, love, LOVE that score.
Josh R

70. Wings (2 points)
I saw a tinted version of this and the aerial sequences left me floored. Silent cinema must be represented in the Top 10. But why oh why isn't it The Circus or Flesh and the Devil or The Crowd?
That Little Round-Headed Boy

71. The Broadway Melody (tied)
71. Going My Way (tied) (1 point each)

Now I've gone from lonely to leper. In my defense it won 7 Academy Awards — best picture, best lead actor, best supporting actor, best director, best music, best screenplay, and best original story. Remember, there was a war on . . . I stick by it just to honor Frank McHugh and William Frawley.
Ellen O'Neill on Going My Way

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Geez, I hope that you will excuse my subjectivity, but... "Titanic", "Braveheart" and "Dances with wolves with -if only a few- more votes than "Mutiny on the Bounty"? Not also the grand film-making of yesterday is lost: also the taste for it!

Yet I wonder if the recent films I have mentioned would still hold a chance to be remembered if they had been made seventy years before? I much doubt it.
I am tempted to do my next 10, for a top 20. I hated leaving off From Here to Eternity, West Side Story, Gigi AND Mutiny on the Bounty (for what it's worth, Gloria!).

I'm surprised that Silence of the Lambs made the top 20. I think that the sequels, rather than cheapening the franchise, pointed up what was wrong with the first movie. It quite consciously glamorizes a serial killer. Which is a legitimate artistic choice, I suppose, but not one that makes me wanna heap accolades on the film. Jody Foster does give the film its moral center--her tenderness with the body of the young woman from the river turns a rotting corpse into a human being. But the fact that Hannibal became a fashionable cultural icon is no coincidence. The movie encourages you to view him as some sort of flesh-eating George Sanders. It is too much for me. I will stick with "M", thank you.

(Aside; I read an interview with an author of an influential book on serial-killer psychology, who HATED the film and walked out. Serial killers are not sophisticated geniuses, he said; they are "pathetic, dull, defective individuals" who elude capture usually because they select random, often outcast victims.)
The vote here was fair enough and the voters are much like the academy in that the movies freshest in people's minds (Mostly newer films) got more consideration. Still, the results here will best be remembered, by me anyway, by the shear volume of films that we couldn't vote on. Two of the most ballyhooed films of all time, Citizen Kane and The Third Man, come to mind.
At least I wasn't the only one that voted for Kramer vs Kramer. haha
Apparantly not enough people have seen All Quiet on the Western Front yet. At least it beat the terrible Patton, though.
Adding - what a wonderful analysis of Rebecca by Josh R. If he has a blog I wish someone would point me to it.
Afraid Josh R doesn't. I've tried to convince him to be a contributor here, but he just likes to comment. You aren't the first person to admire his writing either. Maybe if he sees your comment, he'll change his mind.
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