Saturday, April 19, 2014

Alright, already! My 100 GREATEST FILMS of ALL-TIME picks. By popular demand.

Per multiple requests, I have finally conceded to public demand and peer pressure and made a Top 100 Films list. This was not a process I enjoyed or was looking forward too, and frankly, normally I wouldn't do it. Frankly, I don't like doing it. While I personally am list-obsessed, maybe moreso than others, it seems so vain to me. I associate the process of compiling a collection of best or favorites, particularly those who do it without any real provocation, with the worst aspects of egoism. That seems weird from me, but I've also been compiling lists of films for a very long time. I recently watched my 4,000th film recently, I know, 'cause I posted my list of Every Movie I've Ever Seen recently:

And you know what I found out about having seen 4,000 films? It's a lot of movies, especially when you are put in a place where you have to narrow them down to a penultimate minimum. 100, seems like a lot, but out of 4,000, that's, narrowing it down to less than 2.5%, and if I do this, in the future, it's gonna be narrower and narrower. Frankly, I would've rather made a Top 500, if I could've. Seriously, I could've made three or four other lists of films, and made completely legitimate Top 100s without a repeat, so sorting through all that....

In case you're wondering why I don't have a list at the ready for a challenge like this, especially since I'm a list-obsessed Aquarius like I am. Well, I did originally, when I started doing this, but that didn't last too long. How can it? How can you continuously order and rank among every film ever made? Figuring out if the latest Judd Apatow-produced comedy is the 1,849th or the 1850th best film you've ever seen, is just,- insipid. No, it's insanity! You can't do it, frankly. So, eventually that list, became lists, first separated by decade, and then, once those lists, became too long, by years now. It just makes it simpler. Not necessary better or preferable, and simpler.

And even then, lists change. New movies keep getting made, and you keep being introduced to older ones, and your ideas change, and your perceptions change. Your tastes change. Back in 2012, I compiled my own hypothetical Top Ten for Sight & Sound's poll, and I had "Pulp Fiction" on that list, and as I was thinking through every film on my list, I seriously wondered if I was even gonna include "Pulp Fiction" on this Top 100. That's just two years. It's a movie I loved, but how do you compare it to other films? Is influence or innovation the big factor, or are there others? Do I just pick films I like or love? I can't do that, people wouldn't take me seriously. Or can I? Or what if I pick just old movies or just new movies, or make sure I have at least one for every director, I mean, there are hundreds of way to go about this, and none of them are foolproof and none of them are preferable to another. And what's worst, when I finished the list, oh, when I finish the list. Now I have it documented. No supposed room for error or change, or mistakes, these are MY Top 100. No matter how much I try to take out any preference on taste, or how much I praise about the differences between something I like vs. something's that good, that list is there. Remaining there, and my name's signed on it as a declaration. What a torturous thing to have done. It really is. It can make me rethink my whole being just compiling them, and sorting through those analytically and personal thoughts. It's an experience to realize your self and determining these things, and to have them be so permanent, it's daunting.

So, this isn't a permanent or definite Top 100. That's my first warning. This is the Top 100, as I feel on this date, April 18, 2014, and only on this date. I compiled the list, but unlike all my other lists, this one, will not be saved or constantly re-edited. In fact, I will be deleting all my personal notes from this list-making process, and the list itself. This will be my only document of it. If and when I have to compile such a list, in the future, in the far future hopefully, for any reason, I don't want the things I did here, or the way I felt today, to have any influence over me. No, if it's going to be a true list of the greatest films of all-time, you have to start fresh each time, and then, see if you think and feel the same way or differently than before.

I had two rules for myself on this list. One was to include only features, 'cause I don't think it's fair to compare shorts and features, and besides no shorts would've made my list anyway. The other, was to only include films from 2012 and earlier, because I'm still going through 2013's films and I didn't want to make such a judgment on the newest films anyway. That rule, was broken. I had to break it. 'Cause if I didn't it would've been betraying my own personal self not to include, so that rule went out the window.

"And this above all, to thy own self be true." At least for today, this is my truth. "Tomorrow is another day," and my truth tomorrow may be very different. But for today, by popular demand, my picks, for the 100 GREATEST FILMS OF ALL-TIME!  

100. Videodrome (1983) David Cronenberg

99. Juno (2007) Jason Reitman

98. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1990) John McNaughton

97. All the President's Men (1976) Alan J. Pakula

96. City Lights (1931) Charles Chaplin

95. Man with a Movie Camera (1929) Dziga Vertov

94. The Sting (1973) George Roy Hill

93. The Killing (1956) Stanley Kubrick

92. Souls for Sale (1923) Rupert Hughes

91. Princess Mononoke (1997) Hayao Miyazaki

90. In the Heat of the Night (1967) Norman Jewison

89. The Conversation (1974) Francis Ford Coppola

88. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones

87. Wall-E (2008) Andrew Stanton

86. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) Steven Spielberg

85. Harlan County U.S.A. (1976) Barbara Kopple

84. Rocky (1976) John G. Avildsen

83. The Apartment (1960) Billy Wilder

82. American Beauty (1999) Sam Mendes

81. La Dolce Vita (1960) Federico Fellini

80. Before Midnight (2013) Richard Linklater

79. The Hustler (1961) Robert Rossen

78. On the Waterfront (1954) Elia Kazan

77. 3 Women (1977) Robert Altman

76. Boyz n the Hood (1991) John Singleton

75. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) Woody Allen

74. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call--New Orleans (2009) Werner Herzog

73. Life of Pi (2012) Ang Lee

72. Hoop Dreams (1994) Steve James

71. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) George Roy Hill

70. Imitation of Life (1959) Douglas Sirk

69. The Philadelphia Story (1940) George Cukor

68. Amadeus (1984) Milos Forman

67. Once (2007) John Carney

66. Being John Malkovich (1999) Spike Jonze

65. This is Spinal Tap (1984) Rob Reiner

64. M*A*S*H (1970) Robert Altman

63. Broken Blossom or The Yellow Man and the Girl (1919) D.W. Griffith

62. The Seventh Seal (1957) Ingmar Bergman

61. Some Like it Hot (1959) Billy Wilder

60. The Producers (1968) Mel Brooks

59. Airplane! (1980) Jim Abrahams, David Zucker & Jerry Zucker

58. Mulholland Dr. (2001) David Lynch

57. A Clockwork Orange (1971) Stanley Kubrick

56. Rear Window (1954) Alfred Hitchcock

55. The Third Man (1950) Carol Reed

54. The Social Network (2010) David Fincher

53. All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz

52. Sideways (2004) Alexander Payne

51. Double Indemnity (1944) Billy Wilder

50. Jaws (1975) Steven Spielberg

49. Minority Report (2002) Steven Spielberg

48. Mean Streets (1973) Martin Scorsese

47. City of God (2003) Fernando Meirelles

46. Duck Soup (1933) Leo McCarey

45. Pierrot Le Fou (1965) Jean-Luc Godard

44. Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen

43. Sullivan's Travels (1941) Preston Sturges

42. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) David Lean

41. Good Will Hunting (1997) Gus Van Sant

40. Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Stanley Kubrick

39. Do the Right Thing (1989) Spike Lee

38. Schindler's List (1993) Steven Spielberg

37. The General (1926) Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton

36. Pulp Fiction (1994) Quentin Tarantino

35. The Godfather Part II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola

34. Almost Famous (2000) Cameron Crowe

33. Chinatown (1974) Roman Polanski

32. Adaptation. (2002) Spike Jonze

31. The Rules of the Game (1939) Jean Renoir

30. Stroszek (1977) Werner Herzog

29. Three Colors: Red (1994) Krzysztof Kieslowski

28. Goodfellas (1990) Martin Scorsese

27. 12 Angry Men (1957) Sidney Lumet

26. My Dinner with Andre (1981) Louis Malle

25. Magnolia (1999) Paul Thomas Anderson

24. The Tree of Life (2011) Terrence Malick

23. Modern Times (1936) Charles Chaplin

22. Ikiru (1952) Akira Kurosawa

21. Persona (1966) Ingmar Bergman

20. Day for Night (1973) Francois Truffaut

19. El Topo (1970) Alejandro Jodorowsky

18. 8 1/2 (1963) Federico Fellini

17. The Graduate (1967) Mike Nichols

16. Raging Bull (1980) Martin Scorsese

15. Lost in Translation (2003) Sofia Coppola

14. Nashville (1975) Robert Altman

13. Psycho (1960) Alfred Hitchcock

12. Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Arthur Penn

11. Rashomon (1950) Akira Kurosawa

10. The Maltese Falcon (1941) John Huston

9. Wings of Desire (1987) Wim Wenders

8. Metropolis (1927) Fritz Lang

7. Sunset Blvd (1950) Billy Wilder

6. Apocalypse Now (1976) Francis Ford Coppola

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick

4. The Godfather (1972) Francis Ford Coppola

3. The Decalogue (1989) Krzysztof Kieslowski

2. Citizen Kane (1941) Orson Welles

1. Casablanca (1942) Michael Curtiz

I assume most of you will probably want to debate and/or discuss this with me, or others, and feel free to do so. I was planning to actually post a photo and have a little two-sentence explanation underneath each choice, similar to the feel of an AFI special, but that became too much work, and just wasn't feasible.   Besides, I really want to rid myself of this, ASAP, but if you're interested in my decision making process, I'm more than happy to answer any question. I wish I had more westerns and musicals, but I also wish I had more than 100 films to pick but.... As to my number one, while I don't know how I will rank any/all of these films in the future, I will admit, that I can't imagine any real scenario where "Casablanca" doesn't own the top spot, and that is the one and only film I ever call a "favorite". (At least in public) Well, there. I've caved into pressure and presented my Top 100. Now, to delete my trash folder.


Murtaza Ali Khan said...

David, I greatly admire your passion and love for cinema. I agree it's no cake walk to hand pick one's all time favorite films out of the thousands that a cineaste is expected to have watched. But, no doubt, the above list is quite a solid one... you have done a commendable job. And, I do appreciate your candor. While there are some surprises (like Juno and Life of Pi), overall, I am quite satisfied. Good work!!! :-)

David Baruffi said...

Thank you. I appreciate it. There were a lot of people interested in me making such a list, I hope this satisfies them, 'cause it was exhausting. As to "Juno", I think that will surprise some, but that was such an observant and brilliant script, first of all. I mean, part of it was that sound of a new voice, and a point of view that you can instantly recognize, and turn your head and go, "That's different," but it wasn't just the quirkiness or the dialogue, it was amazing how observant the film was. That movie, could've so easily gone wrong ten ways to Sunday, and in the worst ways, but it was just a little bit smarter than most movies. The characters were smarter, and the film was. I find that movie's success a lot more impressive than others might. As to "Life of Pi", the drawbacks of taking that story to film, not just in the literal, but in the ways that a film about perception, essentially. It's hard to do that in film, 'cause when diving into the mind, it's an abstraction, and that doesn't work well on film normally, 'cause a literal art form. As far as we're concerned, that's a literal tiger on a boat with him. It takes a great film from a great filmmaker, and that was an amazing film. When I saw it, especially in 3-D-; it's the greatest 3-D I've ever seen. My mouth didn't close for like, 20 minutes, after the shipwreck scene; I was in shock. As a cinematic experience and as a filmmaking challenge, I'll put it up there with anything. I mean, how'd they do that, and how'd they do it so well, and with this story? Amazing, unbelievable.