Douglas Reese


I'm an 18 year old guy, graduating high school and going to college, hoping to major in Journalism. I am an addicted film buff, been into movies since I can remember. My grandma is also a film buff, so her love for film has rubbed off onto me. However, while I loved movies at a young age, I didn't get into film (such as indie and foreign works) until I was twelve. I really love film, and when asked to do a top 50, it was almost impossible. It is impossible for me to remove even one of the films I mention below. They are all deserving to me. In chronological order, they are:

  • Nosferatu (1922) .. F.W. Murnau
    Scary, haunting, and very powerful, "Nosferatu" is one of the best horror films pre-1970, with some of the most terrifying and unforgettable of horror sequences. For its great horror quality and its iconic examination of dread, this film was well ahead of its time, and to this day, manages to be just as horrifying as its original release.

  • The General (1927) .. Clyde Bruckman & Buster Keaton
    The film is a great romantic action comedy with some stuntwork that is unbelievably dangerous - but Buster Keaton was a master of his time and this is his finest and funniest hour.

  • Metropolis (1927) .. Fritz Lang
    A staple in science fiction and visual effects, some things that happen in this film will make you question the year it was released. A fantastic experience!

  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) .. Carl Theodor Dreyer
    Touching visual cues that are very impressive and shocking for a silent film, Carl Theodor Dreyer's "The Passion of Joan of Arc" is an unflinching look at faith, and the bold, strong belief of a woman doomed to die. Powerful even by today's standards, "Passion" will now and always be a monumental achievement in cinema.

  • Un Chien Andalou (1929) .. Luis Buñuel
    The sixteen-minute film captures the logic and feeling of a nightmare better than any other film to date.

  • Man with a Movie Camera (1929) .. Dziga Vertov
    This may not appeal to many, but for someone interested in filmmaking and the surreal aspects of it, then its basically a cinematic orgy. From its first frame, to its striking and disturbing last - the film is a testament to the art of film, and essential to see.

  • Pandora's Box (1929) .. G.W. Pabst
    Brave director G.W. Pabst never shies away from sexuality here, neither does he the violence. The picture is an amazing, taboo-breaking triumph, with one of the sexiest female lead performance on celluloid, and one of the most suspenseful final sequences in memory.

  • City Lights (1931) .. Charles Chaplin
    The tear-inducing closing scene, in which she discovers that he is not a wealthy duke but only The Little Tramp, is one of the highest moments in film and one of the biggest reasons I began to journey into cinema. Without me watching this film, I may not have dived so deep into cinema like I have. Could very well be my favorite film of all time.

  • The Awful Truth (1937) .. Leo McCarey
    Funny in the most unpredictable of ways, and also - surprisingly intelligent in its handling of comedy cliches of the time period - and the conventions that exist in the genre today.

  • Pinocchio (1940) .. Hamilton Luske & Ben Sharpsteen
    One of the most magical, charming, lovable, and fantastic films ever made - this film manages to be sort of scary and disturbing and also funny - very funny - and almost heartbreaking. It's just a kid's flick, I know, but it's an extraordinary one; truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, and one of the few film's I have emotionally been attached to.

  • Casablanca (1942) .. Michael Curtiz
    Charming, romantic, and unforgettable. Essential to see, as it is often hailed as the greatest Hollywood film ever made. And it just might be. "We'll always have Paris," is a corny line; but the sheer impact in Humphrey Bogart's delivery is heartbreaking, and unforgettable.

  • Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) .. Vincente Minnelli
    Judy Garland is in this film, and she is an absolute stunner - a beauty! She is the central drive to this wonderful film which features great musical numbers ("Have Yourself a Merry Christmas" is the best) and some gorgeous, eye-popping color schemes; along with a passionate story of family. It's a true winner!

  • La Belle et la Bête (1946) .. Jean Cocteau
    While 1991's Disney cartoon is enjoyable and a great film in its own right, this French masterpiece mixes the classic fairy tale with the surreal feeling of a deep painting. Even in black-and-white, the film feels dazzling and vibrant - and the whole experience is simply magical!

  • The Big Sleep (1946) .. Howard Hawks
    What begins as another dark and seductive film noir murder mystery quickly takes form as a genre of its own - "The Big Sleep" is a film like no other. One that manages to have holes, yet no flaws, and no gripes even through it has a supreme lack of logic. It must be seen to be believed

  • It's a Wonderful Life (1946) .. Frank Capra
    Possibly the only film I watch on an annual basis - this holiday classic is simply the best Christmas film ever made, and also, one of the most touching. The fact that this film was something my late grandfather and I enjoyed much together adds onto how much appreciation I have for it. Memories.

  • The Red Shoes (1948) .. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
    Mixing film narrative with the sweeping sways and dances of ballet - this colorful, iconic mesmerizer is stunning in its portrayal of art mediums working together to tell a tragic and powerful story of a girl who has to face some of the most difficult of life choices.

  • The Third Man (1949) .. Carol Reed
    Fueled by a fantastic screenplay which sports snappy dialogue and plot twists and turns that are at the most surprising but still logical, "The Third Man" is film noir in a whole new light - and features one of the best movie character entrances of all time. Gotta love that zappy score as well!

  • Outrage (1950) .. Ida Lupino
    It can be said that the film is nothing but social evangelism, but the film has too much heart to say that. What exists in director Ida Lupino's controversial film is a vast amount of life and realism that pushes the boundaries of persuasion, and opens up to the heartbreaking existence of human trauma.

  • Sunset Boulevard (1950) .. Billy Wilder
    A film way ahead of its time, "Sunset Boulevard" is a witty, clever dark comedy that features one of the most terrifying final shots in the cinema. It also, has one of the most entertaining screenplays with dialogue juicier than you could ever imagine.

  • Forbidden Games (1952) .. Rene Clement
    This masterful film has one of the most heartbreaking final scenes, one that is moving and vastly haunting; truly unforgettable. Along with "Grave of the Fireflies", this is the greatest of war-themed films, I promise that after you see "Forbidden Games", you might never forget it.

  • Ikiru (1952) .. Akira Kurosawa
    A brilliant study on the depressing fact of society's seeming lack of respect and/or notice of the elderly, and the heartbreaking realization that death could be near at any moment, "Ikiru" is a powerful, moving piece of filmmaking and Akira Kurosawa's most poignant and subtle of films.

  • Singin' in the Rain (1952) .. Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
    What's not to love about "Singin' in the Rain"? From its satirical look at Hollywood's transition to sound, to its hysterical performance from Jean Hagen (which is easily my favorite supporting actress performance of all time) - and its great, catchy music. "Singin' in the Rain" is easily the most enjoyable movie musical ever made.

  • Umberto D. (1952) .. Vittorio De Sica
    With a final scene that has greater impact than many other films, I will never lose the love, care, and respect I have for Umberto and his best friend. A beautiful film that touches on a vast amount of life themes, a wonderful, powerful film that will move any dog lover to tears. It sure did me.

  • East of Eden (1955) .. Elia Kazan
    Cal is easy to relate to, which is what helps make "East of Eden" a much more powerful film in its final act. The actionsCal make are not always right, but they are certainly understandable - and I think that has a lot to do a lot with James Dean's riveting performance.

  • Night and Fog (1955) .. Alain Resnais
    One of the most vivid depictions of the horrors of Nazi Concentration Camps, "Night and Fog" may be only 32 minutes long, but its an exhilarating, if not painful, experience - with haunting images no fictional film could ever capture the bruising power of. This film speaks in words louder than any documentary I have yet to see.

  • The Night of the Hunter (1955) .. Charles Laughton
    "The Night of the Hunter" is a timeless genre-bender of a motion picture, brushing alongside the banks (no pun intended) of such genres as horror, fantasy, musical, and religious inspiration. It's a solid film, perfect in so many ways, with beautiful and haunting sequence after beautiful and haunting sequence. When you see "The Night of the Hunter" - I assure you, it will not leave your memory too soon.

  • Rebel Without a Cause (1955) .. Nicholas Ray
    "Rebel without a Cause" marked my first experience of film from the 1950s, and also marked my first experience with the cinema's possibility to impact a viewer emotionally. The film is not without its flaws, but everything still works with them - and when looked at in a lighter way, "Rebel" has the ability to be connected to, with many of the film's moments composed with sheer brilliance. How can anybody ever forget that red jacket?

  • The Searchers (1956) .. John Ford
    Vibrant with color as much as it is with its vivid plot, "The Searchers" is a staple in the western genre, just as much as it is a testament to the genre's possibilities to steer from being a simple shoot em' up riot and instead become a bruising character study and thoughtful drama. Epic in scope, simple at heart; the highest peak of an incredible director's filmography.

  • Nights of Cabiria (1957) .. Federico Fellini
    While the film is slightly episodic, it is never dull; and every moment is authentic and with reason, adding onto Cabiria's funny and tragic journey to self-discovery rather than just driving her to the climactic moment. There is, of course, that moment at the end of the film, and it is one of the most poignant and touching realizations in film, not to mention one of the best acted. Giulietta Masina never once slips out of character throughout the film, and with the final sequence she has - there is nothing stopping me from considering it the greatest performance given my any performer in any medium. Ever.

  • Vertigo (1958) .. Alfred Hitchcock
    One of the most astounding, if not psychologically disturbing, films on Alfred Hitchcock's resume. Covering the theme of obsession with a flair of suspense, romance, and horror - nothing will prepare you for the places "Vertigo" goes, and the intelligent decisions Hitchcock makes on the way through.

  • The Four Hundred Blows (1959) .. Francois Truffaut
    "The 400 Blows" covers the devastating line that every child faces: that fearful change into adulthood. At times director Francois Truffaut uses a basic narrative structure to his study, by mixing both autobiographical and relatable situations into the film's young character. But it also works in some aspects as allegory, especially in its final shot. A freeze frame that hits the viewer in the gut, and gives the film's theme of "growing up" its final, blunt answer.

  • Imitation of Life (1959) .. Douglas Sirk
    Easily the best of Douglas Sirk's colorful soap opera trash, "Imitation of Life" is a society-questioning, character-involving, over-the-top glimpse into as many themes as there are fingers on a hand. While it works as the soapy Sirk crud it is, it also works on the director's intelligent turn-around of his own style; changing his breed of filmmaking to tie-in with his film's impacting theme of denial. Not a film for everybody, but when familiar with Sirk's style: the brilliance comes to surface.

  • À Bout de Souffle (1960) .. Jean-Luc Godard
    Jean-Luc Godard's crime drama is more than just a crime drama. The film's two lead characters are full of depth and refuse to find easy ways out of things. This is the big link to "Breathless"' genius: and it shows at its strongest when Patricia has a drastic decision to make. Genuine and full of truth, "Breathless" is for the moviegoer who appreciates romance at its most brutally honest.

  • Victim (1961) .. Basil Dearden
    While "Victim" sounds like an inspiring film, it actually isn't. The film is ruthless in its study of blackmail and every moment of the film plays like an unapologetically subtle thriller. "Victim" is thrilling: yes. It covers themes usually avoided in the time period: yes. But it never degrades its subject into being conventional influence. It would rather piece together the way a human being reacts (realistically) when faced the unmerciful fact that another is willing to expose and harm them.

  • Knife in the Water (1962) .. Roman Polanski
    Thrilling in a psychosexual way, "Knife in the Water" is a quiet, macabre examination on man's thirst for dominance that screams loud with an unforgettable, haunting dread. Roman Polanski proved, with this early work, that he was on his way to becoming one of the best directors in the business.

  • A Time to Live and a Time to Die (1963) .. Louis Malle
    Louis Malle, arguably one of the best directors of his time period, gave his most personal and dynamic of films with "The Fire Within" - an intensely bleak look at depression. Not an entertaining film, or exciting one. But a valid justification on how it feels to think nobody in this world cares.

  • Fists in the Pocket (1965) .. Marco Bellocchio
    When it comes to explaining "Fists in the Pocket" and its assorted themes and story arcs, it is almost impossible to explain what makes the film so compelling. Is it the murderous impulses the film's main character inhabits? Or the breakdown of a family under the spell of religious control? Or the questions it arises on life and its reasons? Take your pick, but "Fists" is a stunning film that covers many grounds; some in which films had and still have not covered as successfully, even forty years after its controversial release.

  • Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) .. Robert Bresson
    "Au Hasard Balthazar" is a painfully somber, but ultimately spiritual masterpiece that gains its beautiful momentum from the fact that its title character is, simply, a donkey. Balthazar's adventures are hard to watch much of the time, and his torment caused by the many that come his way is brought with an emotional poignancy from the roots of an animal that a human couldn't possibly relate to, but only feel a guilty pity for. Does many consider the feelings in the heart of a beast? Is it not as good as the heart of man? These thoughts, plus subtle parallels to Christianity, make "Au Hasard Balthazar" a film of its own paramount breed.

  • Blow Up (1966) .. Michelangelo Antonioni
    What builds itself up as some kind of murder thriller ultimately becomes a flamboyant journey of a man facing a dislocation from his own art, and a fear that he may be losing his grip on sanity. Striking cinematography is a major highlight for this triumphant film!

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) .. Sergio Leone
    Out of all the spaghetti westerns out there, especially of Sergio Leone's film credits, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" seems to be the most well-known and iconic. And for a reason. It may be the sheer entertainment value of it, from its sharp humor to its dynamite characterization, or it may be just the sheer impact and unforgettablity of the film's epic final minutes. No matter, the film is a staple in cinema and one of the most entertaining. What's not to love just from that?

  • Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) .. Mike Nichols
    Combining the banal, the vulgar and the poetic for a masterwork screen adaptation of a fantastic play - clashing together the theatrical with the cinematic to bring on a style all of its own. Nothing can prepare you for the impact that comes in a nice sadistic package called "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?".

  • Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) .. John Huston
    One of the most original (even though based on a novel) films from the 1960s. The characters are some of the most unlikable, cartoonish, yet believable. And as the film's final scene arrives, it plays just as cartoonish as its characters, if not more, yet everything seems pulled together at the right place - and it feels as if everything that has happened up to that point has happened in real time. This is a film that can be easily noted as a pointless and lazy exercise in desire, but the genius of it all is - that is exactly what director John Huston wants you to think of it.

  • Hour of the Wolf (1968) .. Ingmar Bergman
    A masterpiece in horror, "Hour of the Wolf" touches on the themes of psychological horror in a way films never have before. A haunting experience rather than a haunting movie, the film gets most of its horror from the human condition rather than just cheap scares, jumps, etc. Almost all scenes consist of some terrifying images that make the viewer question just as much as the characters on whether or not they truly exist, or are all apart of this one man's insanity. Not only is it a chilling tale of hallucinations and the realism deep within them, it is also a devastating exploration into the pain of an artist's scattered mind.

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) .. Stanley Kubrick
    "2001: A Space Odyssey" is a science fiction marvel. A film that plays out like a visually stimulating silent film, a quietly suspenseful horror film, a testament on society's obsession with technology, and an epic plunge into human existentialism. Way ahead of its time, and a masterful director's top reigning masterpiece. "2001" is one of the most intelligent and memorable films in cinema history.

  • Midnight Cowboy (1969) .. John Schlesinger
    The performances of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman are absolutely exceptional, and the story in which is created on screen is one of the most tender, upsetting, and hopeless films I've seen. A simple story fills the picture up in its whole, but every scene holds purpose in the development of Joe Buck, the life-changing effect Ratso Rizzo has on him, and the hope they build together. One of the most painful final moments ever filmed!

  • Mon Oncle Antoine (1971) .. Claude Jutra
    This immensely entertaining drama has many moments that covers many assorted facts of life. The film almost plays out like an old photo album, or a godly book filled with the most important memories. The film touches on a family's thoughts of love, sex, life, and death - and plays it all out in a stunner, almost too good to be true 103 minutes. An epic ode to the Christmas spirit and of family bonding, this little slice of life is an easily revered treasure.

  • The Panic in Needle Park (1971) .. Jerry Schatzberg
    An influential and persuasive analysis on the strong power of love, "The Panic in Needle Park" is a gritty, dark, and compelling look at two people whose love overcomes everything, including their ill-fated drug addition. Every moment of "Panic" grips the viewer, groping them into the bleak surrounding of the habitat this couple lives in and facing a blunt look at love at its most damaged, yet true.

  • W.R. - Mysteries of the Organism (1971) .. Dusan Makavejev
    If you ever come across a film like "W.R. - Mysteries of the Organism" please let me know. Zany, messy, and explicit - the film is great in so many different ways, so many that naming one would be unfair to its many others. But the main highlight of the film's greatness is its awareness of how messily coherent it is. That, and its blunt depiction of film chaos...

  • Cabaret (1972) .. Bob Fosse
    This drama-laden musical is one of the most saddening of its genre, touching on many disturbing moments in the Nazi times, as well as giving some of the most disturbing musical numbers and sequences from its performance by Joel Grey to its final shot that is as chilling as it is downright distressing.

  • Deliverance (1972) .. John Boorman
    Based on the novel by James Dicky, "Deliverance" is a strong thriller; a story of survival; a hellish nightmare. From its breathtaking scenes verging on action and suspense, to its almost allegorical study on man's own inner cloaking of fear; "Deliverance" offers much more than a blockbuster film requires, including its bloodcurdling final shot in which man's fears rise to the surface. I'll never forget that final shot.

  • Last Tango in Paris (1972) .. Bernardo Bertolucci
    When it comes to studying the thin line between sex and violence, Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci does best at delivering the themes along with stunning and fascinating characters. "Last Tango in Paris" doesn't use the action of the plot to give its cinematic power, but instead uses its human action to do so. Every action made, while sometimes wrong or unjustified, is still believable, and builds it all up to the film's punch-in-the-gut ending.

  • Solaris (1972) .. Andrei Tarkovsky
    Coming close to touching the same heights as Stanley Kurbick's "2001", "Solyaris" manages to use an undercurrent of human strife to move on its sci-fi setting. While many scenes will have you scratching your head, wondering what it can all possibly lead up to, the ending arrives with a full bang; bringing together one of the most thoughtful and emotionally captivating films of the 1970s.

  • Badlands (1973) .. Terrence Malick
    With "Badlands", the wonderfully poetic director Terrence Malick made his feature film debut. One of the, if not the, best film about a serial killer couple, "Badlands" is a masterpiece filled with an immense beauty in the lens and in the eyes and actions of its characters. I watched in awe as this couple went on killing innocent after innocent until it came to the film's final moments, where the true colors began to show. This is not a film about murder. It's not even a film about love. It's a film about confusion, mental acquisitiveness, and the naivety of teen romance. Like any other Malick film, "Badlands" plays like a short, sweet poem that is almost impossible to forget.

  • Don't Look Now (1973) .. Nicolas Roeg
    "Don't Look Now" is not the conventional horror film because it gains its horror from absolute dread and despair rather than scares. There is a chilling finale, yes, but it is completely terrifying because the viewer has connected to the film through the way it builds up like a drama. At once horrifying, at once painfully sad, and altogether (alongside "Halloween") the best horror films the decade offered (and, oh, the 1970s had some fantastic ones.)

  • Fantastic Planet (1973) .. René Laloux
    "Fantastic Planet" parallels with many social issues from yesteryear and some existing now. It's got some of the most stimulating and bizarre animation a film has offered, and even manages to have you connect to this world and characters, no matter how crazy and surreal it all may be.

  • The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) .. Victor Erice
    A terrific coming-of-age story, and one of the few to capture the pure and simple imagination of a child. Whatever little Ana sees with her little eyes, we see, and we understand. And with that perfect power comes "The Spirit of the Beehive"'s most wonderful disposition - the sheer power of the child's heart and its ability to block out the most real of horrors

  • F For Fake (1974) .. Orson Welles
    "F for Fake" is one of the most intelligent documentaries out there, and it is all because of the brilliant mind behind it all. Orson Welles. Every moment of this mindblowing essay will either amuse, stun, or capture you - and the way Welles pieces together his studies is in a way that makes it border on the pure entertainment value of a solid fiction film. A one-of-a-kind, clever, and witty work of art.

  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) .. Tobe Hooper
    "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is an ugly, sadistic horror masterpiece that gains a lot of its steam from its nasty look, and its bizarre and sickening villains. One of the few films that can scar a mind and give one nightmares for the rest of their life - "Chainsaw" is a distinguished fabrication of pure, vile evil.

  • Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) .. Pier Paolo Pasolini
    One of the most maddening, disturbing, revolting, unbelievably sickening, and horridly nightmarish films ever made - no other film has ever fed the indisputably gruesome and provocative emotions that this raw, worthless film has given me. It's not a personal favorite of mine, in fact, I personally despise the film and what happens in it. But I cannot deny the emotions it has scarred me with, and it is hard not to respect Pier Paolo Pasolini's major bravery to direct the film. It even cost him his life.

  • Carrie (1976) .. Brian De Palma
    Based on the short and simple debut novel of Stephen King, "Carrie" is an achievement in many ways - from its perfect capturing of Hitchcockian style, to its surprisingly somber and devastating story. It is a great film, easily rewatchable, yet intelligent and scary; and unquestionably realistic, even for its subject matter.

  • Annie Hall (1977) .. Woody Allen
    A brilliant and beautiful concoction of some of the most striking dialogue and expressive wit seen in a film, "Annie Hall" is arguably the most original and memorable of the ill-fated romantic comedy genre. Original in every sense of the word, and true to the tender realities of love - "Annie Hall" is some kind of miracle.

  • Suspiria (1977) .. Dario Argento
    Using bright and textured colors and a music score of such intense monstrosity, "Suspiria" is rightfully the most well-known of Dario Argento's work. Not only is it a master class in filmmaking and in slasher-esque shock, it is also one of the most eerie allegories post-"Un Chien andalou". "Suspriria" is beautiful, no matter how unnerving it really is.

  • 3 Women (1977) .. Robert Altman
    One of the most dreamy and enticing masterpieces of the cinema, "3 Women" stirs the mind like barely any other film - and it's arguably the most unconventional of Robert Altman's films. Shelley Duvall, giving one of the greatest performances film has offered, is a revelation and Sissy Spacek meets just right with her. It's almost impossible to review a film like "3 Women" because it's not really a film as much as an experience. And every film buff knows only a select amount of films have captured that coveted aura.

  • Halloween (1978) .. John Carpenter
    Set in a colorful, yet eerie palette that is one of the hundred aspects of "Halloween" that makes it a monumental piece of craftsmanship. A simple plot, the genius direction of John Carpenter, and a down-to-earth, realistic performance by Jamie Lee Curtis makes "Halloween" required annual viewing for its holiday, and every other day of the year. It has much more to offer than any other horror film before and after its released, and nothing has achieved the sheer terror (except The Bum in "Mulholland Drive") Michael Myers has put into me.

  • White Dog (1982) .. Samuel Fuller
    "White Dog" sounds like a no-good racist film. But in the hands of Samuel Fuller, the film is so much more, and offers great insight and thought into the manipulation of man on beast. In this case, the devastating horrors of racism. When one watches a film like "White Dog" from beginning to end, they understand its compelling message - and why controversy and censorship has aroused against this film is absolutely outrageous. "White Dog" is unafraid to be blunt, and sometimes exploitive, in its delivery; but its topic, still relevant today, comes through as loud and clear as a dog's growl.

  • To Our Loves (1983) .. Maurice Pialat
    Everyone knows that sexuality is one of the major things every teen must face in their life. It's interesting to wonder how hard it must be if you are violently pushed into believing that sex is wrong, and in Suzanne's case in "A nos amours", she sees sex as self-rebellion rather than as an expression of love or of pleasure. Hard to take, especially in the film's portrayal of physical abuse, "A nos amours" is a captivating character study of a strong-willed, but emotionally-tortured young woman.

  • Stranger Than Paradise (1984) .. Jim Jarmusch
    The definite road trip flick, "Stranger Than Paradise" isn't really about anything philosophical as much as it about something secluded. Scene after scene of the film seems to be driving at nothing, and when the ending arrives: the feeling the viewer gets is almost unexplainable. No matter how far you run from your troubles, you always come back...

  • This Is Spinal Tap (1984) .. Rob Reiner
    No other mockumentary, and I mean 'no other' mockumentary has ever achieved the insane brilliance of "This is Spinal Tap". The film is so funny, in such a realistic way, that my mom confused the film for being an actual documentary! From its amusing dialogue ("These go to eleven."; "As long as there's, you know, sex and drugs, I can do without the rock and roll.") One of the very funniest films, one of the few to make me laugh practically all the way through.

  • Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) .. John McNaughton
    Through its authentic simplicity, "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" feeds the viewer its demented horror and its overall integrated power. Henry's actions aren't really that clear, and we are never really shown what is going on in his mind, or what has caused him to become this sick man. But the truth is, it doesn't matter. It wouldn't matter if you came face to face with him, or any other murderer in this world, because all you would know is he is going to kill you.

  • Grave of the Fireflies (1988) .. Isao Takahata
    "Grave of the Fireflies" is a film that hurts. It hurts to watch it. It hurts to think about it. It hurts to even say its title. It ranks, along with Rene Clement's "Forbidden Games", as the best war film because it doesn't rely on combat and on limbs being blown off - but by the organic look at the emotional stress and pain caused by it. One of the most depressing films ever made, that just so happens to be animated.

  • Running on Empty (1988) .. Sidney Lumet
    Few films connect to me in a way in which I feel like I'm practically watching my own problems and ticks on the screen. No; of course my parents didn't blow up a napalm lab, and of course no; we aren't on the run from the FBI. But the emotions that young Danny Pope faces in his heartbreaking situation at the end of the film is absolutely real and akin to life's own difficulties, especially when its time to grow up. A powerful, understated drama that deserves much more attention.

  • Do the Right Thing (1989) .. Spike Lee
    An important, rightfully celebrated and surprisingly entertaining message movie, "Do the Right Thing" has so many memorable moments, and great spots of urban humor and subtle drama to push it over the line of greatness and into the category as one of the highlight films of the 1980s.

  • Say Anything... (1989) .. Cameron Crowe
    "Say Anything..." is the greatest and most essential of teen comedies because it manages to have the same annoying genre cliches, yet play completely real to life. The film takes incredible care of being honest about the wonderful, although sometimes frustrating, aspect of being a teenager in love. And although countlessly spoofed and iconic, the film's famous boombox over the head sequence still manages to bring a smile and tear to the face. It's absolutely beautiful.

  • Edward Scissorhands (1990) .. Tim Burton
    As a symbolic study of misunderstanding: "Edward Scissorhands" works. As a nice, quirky satire: it works. It also works as a bittersweet love story, a modern fairy tale, and an upsetting tragedy. It has one of the most beautiful music scores, an insanely fun and dark setting, and a great final line that ties in with a magnificent ice dance sequence late in the film. "Edward Scissorhands" works on many levels for both an adult and a kid - and that I watched this film much as a kid, and that it has gained much more efficient impact on me throughout the years, makes it one of the most precious and beloved films of mine.

  • Clean, Shaven (1993) .. Lodge Kerrigan
    Although baring the same subject as "Henry", "Clean, Shaven" approaches it in a whole other light; more quiet, subtle, and understated - and showing the killer as sympathetic and, unlike Henry, capable of loving. What Peter Winter does to find his daughter is still wrong, but his journey serves some kind of painful purpose, and when the final scenes come up - it is almost impossible to not feel for the character. A moving examination on personal chaos.

  • Leaving Las Vegas (1995) .. Mike Figgis
    "Leaving Las Vegas" is a passionate and provocative love story that just so happens to be a self-induced tragedy. Pain is all that exists in Ben's life - and even when he has someone who loves him, the pain is still there for him and it must end. It's sad to understand his pain, yet understand Sera's as well, and for that - the film is an incredible, moving display of human misery. An emotion that is there, even when things seem much better.

  • Safe (1995) .. Todd Haynes
    A dark, depressing thriller symbolizing many things at once, "Safe" covers many angles of society such as male dominance, denial of danger, and induced paranoia. "Safe" breaks grounds in many themes, and brings them on in a mix of both loud and soft measures. In the end (an ending much criticized), the viewer feels a total lack of hope, and feels more hesitant on possibilities of a new epidemic. Or is that just being paranoid? Many questions, barely any answers, only what the characters know and nothing more.

  • Showgirls (1995) .. Paul Verhoeven
    The best melodramatic trash post-Douglas Sirk, "Showgirls" is a manically funny, sometimes disturbingly stressful, and highly original work of genius, fueled with satire-satirizing-satire that boosts an energy unlike any other film I've seen. It works as a bad movie, when the brain isn't functioning. It works as brilliant craft, when the brain is up and moving. "Showgirls" is a colorful and intelligent (maybe a bit too intelligent) examination of American hypocrisy.

  • Chasing Amy (1997) .. Kevin Smith
    It's a romantic comedy, in the sense that it is structured like one. But really, there is no other film in its decade that covered the topic of sexuality with such funny and dramatic energy. Kevin Smith's screenplay is the highlight - taking on convention and making the characters more realistic rather than one dimensional genre cut-outs. The film's ending may aggravate many looking for a feel-good time; but it comes forward about as honest as a story about deluded love can.

  • Lawn Dogs (1997) .. John Duigan
    Wrongly distributed as a teen sex comedy, "Lawn Dogs" is a beautiful coming-of-age film where things happen beautifully, subtly, and passionately and are wrapped up in a shameless, although important, over-the-top spark of violence. A very moving, emotional final sequence that puts everything set forth by the film's themes of suburban control, denial of flaws, social norms, sexual discovery, and unconventional love adds onto "Lawn Dogs"' genuine understanding of life.

  • The Sweet Hereafter (1997) .. Atom Egoyan
    Told in an abstract order and at a steady pace, "The Sweet Hereafter" may be a simple story, but it rubs off as strong. Very strong. Marked with so much emotion, and fueled by its power theme of a parent's love for a child - the film is an overlooked, powerful little film with more on its mind than you would think.

  • Buffalo '66 (1998) .. Vincent Gallo
    Finding comedy in the most unfunny of things, and the unfunny in the usually comical - Vincent Gallo's quirky, eyebrow-raising "Buffalo '66" can be seen as a self-satire on Gallo's part and as a self-aware exercise in smugness. No matter what, it is genius scene after genius scene that builds the film up to the point of where the audience (and possibly even Gallo) has no idea what the point is, and that's what makes it so enjoyably brilliant.

  • Out of Sight (1998) .. Steven Soderbergh
    With a sharp screenplay, a pulsing score, gorgeous cinematography, and clever editing - "Out of Sight" bursts with an insanely seductive badass vibe. Playing out of chronological order and being quick on the wit, the film never loses breath of its realistic love aspect. While bullets fly, banks are robbed, and innocent people are butchered, the compelling lust that builds up between Jack and Karen makes the film balance out as one sexy, sexy film with brains, banter, and complete moviegoing satisfaction.

  • Magnolia (1999) .. Paul Thomas Anderson
    "Magnolia" is basically about coincidence, chance, and acceptance. Every character in the three-hour epic drama must face life in high peaks of their lives. They have decisions to make, and they make them, and in some cases - must face the consequences. But there are also bizarre things going on around them. These quirky, seemingly random things may seem pretentious had it not been for its strong parallels to the lives studied. They must face and accept how things will turn out to be, even in the most outrageous and unexpected of times. "Magnolia", however, works just as much as a full-blown drama and dark comedy at the same time as bringing along its honest morals. Many different people see the film in a different way, and that just proves how dynamic the craft really is. An effective one-of-a-kind experience.

  • The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) .. Anthony Minghella
    The most provocative and stylish of the Tom Ripley films, it is also one of the most complex of them. Every sly move, or manipulative step Ripley takes we follow him, and oddly root for him; even though his steps are that of a weird, slightly annoying creep. Directed by the late Anthony Minghella, "The Talented Mr. Ripley" is arguably his masterpiece, and a chilling look into an intelligent maniac.

  • The Virgin Suicides (1999) .. Sofia Coppola
    It's tragic, to realize, that the colorful setting for this story is not the same as the truly tragic underbelly of it. "The Virgin Suicides"' tearjerking truth at heart is a depressing one; and all five sisters are truly unhappy. And every moment of this beautiful film builds up to the striking question. Why? Why did they do it? And we, the viewer, just as the boys in their geeky puppy love did - refuse to understand it; even though the answers are subtly given to us.

  • Requiem for a Dream (2000) .. Darren Aronofsky
    "Requiem for a Dream" is a blunt and powerful example of filmmaking - using editing, music, and cinematography to further give the viewer the feeling of pain that comes in the lives of its four tragic characters. While some could claim it as "drugs are bad" ploy being constantly used over and over to help their be a film; how can one deny that these people's problems are not done because of their addictions as much as their naive choices? It's really a very powerful, depressing film.

  • Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) .. Bela Tarr
    "Werckmeister Harmonies" sets a powerful mood for its array of shots and the film's captivating story is an eerie, unforgettable journey. Some films are hypnotic in a way that they place it as an experience rather than a film. There are quite a few already on this list, but "Werckmeister" is the definition of that. At least, it was for me.

  • AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001) .. Steven Spielberg
    "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" is an easy film to misunderstand because it is built on something that we cannot connect to: the programmed emotions of a robot. David is unable to do anything but love, and he loves this one person and will do anything at any cost to be with her once more. When the film's beautiful ending arrives, one quickly assumes it as a happy ending. But in actuality, it's a tragic one - as we witness little David living by emotions that aren't even real, and in an environment that is just as phony.

  • Mulholland Dr. (2001) .. David Lynch
    At once darkly funny, then terrifyingly scary, and then discouragingly tragic; "Mulholland Drive" is an amazing love story, buried deep beneath the logic of a psychological mystery film. It's not a happy love story, and the emotions may not even be love at all, but the emotion that the film has under the surface is painfully authentic, and the film never manages to bring me to tears before its closing credits. Meticulously crafted, and cinematically orgasmic - "Mulholland Drive" has the best use of dream logic since "Un Chien andalou"; and offers an emotionally captivating story of a woman who is losing her sanity.

  • The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) .. Wes Anderson
    Anybody who has a dysfunctional family can, in some way or another, relate to what happens in "The Royal Tenenbaums". Using a unique, quirky, and highly stylized brand of comedy - the film is amazing in its depictions of familial problems and issues being truthful albeit hilarious all the same. Nothing quite compares to "The Royal Tenenbaums" as a film because it is just too darn clever. But it is quite simple to compare life to it. As insanely unusual as it is.

  • Gerry (2002) .. Gus Van Sant
    "Gerry" takes its place in the wide, beautiful and endless plains of the desert and the film's two characters walk and walk through this desolate place, both positive that they will not be making it out alive; but refusing to give up hope. Director Gus Van Sant crafts his film with wide angles, time lapses, scorched color palettes, enduring long shots, and barely any dialogue to help capture that feeling of isolation and the ultimate realization that your life is slowly ending. Everything leads up to a devastating climax that questions all that has happened as if to wonder whether it was all reality, or allegory. A superlative masterpiece in every way.

  • Talk to Her (2002) .. Pedro Almodóvar
    "Talk to Her" is about lies. All the characters in the film seem to be lying about one thing or another, to each other and to themselves. A disquieting drama with a flair of subtle satire and alarming originality, it is a small story that traces back in time to beef up what happens in the end. Covering unpredictable grounds until its final (and still unpredictable) final scene that is about as wonderful and beautiful as it could have come.

  • The Return (2003) .. Andrej Zvjagintsev
    Taking on a fascinating atmosphere with an almost dreamlike spirit, "The Return" is a small story with epic sorrow, featuring some of the most distinguished story archs in a film this decade. There are equal doses of drama, adventure, thriller, mystery, and tragedy - and the film never touches the conventions of said genres. Every moment stands as visually captivating with an emotional impact that holds up to the mold of its major themes and narrative simplicities. Unpredictable and vastly vigorous, with a clear touch of cinematic mastery.

  • Birth (2004) .. Jonathan Glazer
    About as close as anybody has ever touched the work of Stanley Kubrick in terms of style and substance, "Birth" is a draining portrait of uncertainty, faith, and personal dominion. Anna's situation is both terrifying and realistic; and when she makes her own personal decisions on aspects that take much belief in the supernatural, you as an audience member do as well. "Birth" is a compelling and spellbinding study of yearning and the tribulation when letting go of someone you love.

  • Brokeback Mountain (2005) .. Ang Lee
    "Brokeback Mountain" is a fantastic film that stuns with its topics of social repugnance, love and lust confusion, and death. The latter theme is the most haunting due to the early passing of Heath Ledger, whose performance echoes and bruises with the persistent acceptance of loneliness and death. In every way a powerful film, if not more today, "Brokeback Mountain" is an understated, moving, and absolutely compelling cinematic masterpiece.

  • The Devil's Rejects (2005) .. Rob Zombie
    Rob Zombie's ruthless, yet somehow touching, account on a family of psychos is told in a style that captures perfectly that of 70s exploitation classics and horror flicks (including "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") and the spaghetti western genre, managing to make you feel its a newly discovered film from that day in age. The film's final sequence set to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" is emotionally powerful in ways you would never expect a film like "The Devil's Rejects" to be. Bravo, Mr. Zombie, bravo!

  • Little Children (2006) .. Todd Field
    Where can these tangled paths lead? Told by a narrator who seems to be telling a children's story, "Little Children" is a fascinating dissection of suburban life with exceptional direction and defined performances. Every person that resides in this suburb and have lives reaching their highest peaks will all come down to face the fact that they are unhappy and will be unhappy. But it is possible to redeem; and that there are still ones that need your love.

  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) .. Andrew Dominik
    The final scenes of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" are the most powerful and heartbreaking. From the moment where Ford does kill Jesse James, to where years later he is branded "coward" and must live with this term, and with guilt, and regret, up until he himself enters the kind of emotional darkness that Jesse James himself had personally endured. The film is an undeniably tragic examination on society's obsession with celebrity and the mythological aspects of it. Neither James nor Ford were heroes, and neither were cowards. Of course they've had moments of cowardice. But they were, to profound knowledge, completely broken human beings, destined to find a better reason.

  • Rachel Getting Married (2008) .. Jonathan Demme
    "Rachel Getting Married" grabs onto family drama convention and turns it into an urgent and real story, where every action that happens is so painfully, urgently true. The emotions in Anne Hathaway's performance are completely true, capturing the emotional pain and hurt in someone who feels guilty for the losing of somebody they really love. As a testament of guilt, to the powerful bond between siblings and family: "Rachel Getting Married" is the most recent example of great and authentic storytelling.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wicked list!