Dan’s All Time Top 100 Movies – #70 to #61

Fourty Down. Thanks again for the support comments and feed back.

 

#70    “The Little Mermaid”

Mermaid

Director: Ron Clements and John Musker

Stars: Jodi Benson, Samuel Wright

Original Release Date: 17 Nov 1989

Oscars: 2 (Best Original Song, Best Music Score), one other nomination

The Little Mermaid is the highest-ranking hand drawn animated movie (the only one) on my list. I love animation and this film is near and dear to my heart. It was the first movie I ever took my daughter Eliana to see on re-release and for me, “Under the Sea” represents Disney’s finest moment. The animated genre was all but dead in 1989 when this movie was released. From here, a string of hits, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King just kept coming. What I love most about this movie is the music. “Kiss the Girl” and “Part of Your World” are pure Menken/Ashman genius and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” is the best of all Disney villain songs. The biggest star in this movie was Buddy Hackett. Now, voice over work is highly paid work for A-list stars. Yes, I know they “Disney-fied” the ending, badly, but if I want a depressing Hans Christen Anderson story, I will read the book. The Little Mermaid is 83 minutes of pure joy.

 

 #69    “2001: A Space Odyssey”

2001

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Stars: Kier Dullea

Original Release Date: 03 Apr 1968

Oscars: 1 (Visual Effects), 3 other nominations

Stanley Kubrick has never made the same movie twice. Not even close. There are three Kubrick films on my list and they could not be any more different, yet they are all decidedly his films. 2001 is a landmark film. Unlike almost every other space sci-fi movie to follow, 2001 is meant to inspire awe, not to thrill. It’s about making you think about man’s place in the universe, its not about character development or story. Its greatest achievement is its use of classical music. If you have seen the film, consider the docking scene set to The Blue Danube. I cannot imagine it any other way. At the time of its release, this film was met with mixed reviews and a great deal of befuddlement. Within a decade it was considered a classic. Its long, its pace is slow. But if you want a movie that will make you think, this is it.

#68    “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”

roger rabbit

Director: Robert Zemekis

Stars: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, and Kathleen Turner (voice)

Original Release Date: 22 June 1988

Oscars: 3 (Editing, Sound Effects, Visual Effects), 3 other nominations

I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit four times in theatrical release. Once in awe, twice to watch the special effects and once just because its so incredibly funny. Robert Zemekis has a resume that rivals Spielberg and with this film, he raised the bar in every possible way. Roger Rabbit is a tribute to film noir and old detective movies and at the same time and farcical leading edge animated movie. In 1986, when we saw the animated characters on stage, interactive with live action, splashing water and wielding real weapons, we were in awe. What has made this stand the test of time nearly 30 years later is its great story and humour. Every character in this movie, as far as they are concerned, is in the midst of an intense crime drama. The audience is watching one of the funniest and most dazzling films ever made.

 

#67    “Gravity”

Gravity_Poster

Director: Alfonso Cauron

Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney

Original Release Date: 04 Oct 2013

Oscars: 7 (Director, Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Sound effect, visual effect, Score), 3 other nominations

Alfonso Cauron’s near perfect “Gravity” is (quite obviously) the newest film on my list. I saw it three times in theatres and it has stayed with me ever since. Gravity takes place in close to real time and although it takes many scientific liberties, the possibility of a chain reaction of meteor wreckage orbiting the earth is very real. It’s a thrilling, engaging 90-minute film. The key to its success is the way it isolates the audience along with the star. There are no flashbacks, cuts away to Houston, nothing. We are given the same stranded feeling as Ryan Stone, portrayed by Sandra Bullock in the performance of her career. It had to be seen in 3D, preferably in Imax. I loved that this film dared to tell just one single story, in real time and then end on the note that it did. It will lose something on even the best of television screens. Here’s to hoping it gets a re-release on Imax.

Trivia: Sandra Bullock was the ninth actress considered for or offered this role. Angelina Jolie dropped out of the film and Natalie Portman turned it down. Robert Downey Jr was also in the original cast and dropped out, as this film was plagued with production problems and almost never made it to the screen.

#66    “The Shawshank Redemption”

shaw

Director: Frank Darabont

Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman

Original Release Date: 14 Oct 1994

Oscars: None, seven nominations

Here is another film with a life of its own. On its initial release, Shawshank was a box office flop. Its seven Oscar nominations gave it a mild boost but overall it was not a success. It went on to be the most rented film of 1995, a TV favourite and its ranked #1 of all time by users in IMDb. When you think about it, it does have almost no commercial appeal. No major stars. No women in the cast. Dark, grey washed out feel. Depressing, hard to watch story. Over time, audiences grew to love the bonds formed, the friendship, the story and of course, the redemption. It’s impossible not to love and admire Andy Dufrense’s iron will and never-ending hope.

 

Trivia: Morgan Freeman’s character Red in the Stephen King book is a middle aged, red haired Irishman. Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Harrison Ford were all considered for the role, but Frank Darabont wanted Morgan Freeman. Both Tom Hanks and Kevin Costner turned down the role of Andy Dufrense. Hanks for Forrest Gump, Costner for Waterworld.

#65    “City Lights”

city lights

Director: Charlie Chaplin

Stars: Charlie Chaplin

Original Release Date: 07 March 1931

Oscars: None

City Lights is a film you likely have seen clips from but have never seen start to finish. If you see it with Charlie Chaplin’s loveable, iconic Tramp, you will recognize scenes that have been intimated and parodied a thousand times over. But to see the movie start to finish is one of the great movie experiences of a lifetime. City Lights is a perfect story, Chaplin’s last silent film told with a minimum of title cards. It’s about facial expressions, the interaction of characters, slapstick physical comedy that only Chaplin could do and Chaplin’s own timeless score. The Tramp is one of the most recognized images in film history. He is innocent and mischievous, good-hearted and exists wherever he needs to. The final scene of City Light is one of such heart-wrenching tenderness that it has justly become one of film’s defining moments. It’s often seen on its own. See it in the context of this entire movie. You will never forget it.

#64    “ET: The Extra-terrestrial”

E_t_the_extra_terrestrial_ver3

Director: Stephen Spielberg

Stars: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore

Original Release Date: 11 June 1982

Oscars: 4 (Sound, Sound Effects, Visual Effects, Score), 5 other nominations

E.T. stood for many years as the highest grossing film of all time. It unseated Star Wars and stood atop the all-time list until Jurassic Park. The reason for its success is simple. Its one of the best stories ever told on film. Young Elliot happens across a friendly, curious, exceptionally ugly-yet-lovable little alien. And we find through the course of the film that the alien has the simplest of motives – he is lost and wants to go home. The adventures, the humour, the magical scenes that follow, all serve that one point of plot. When I saw it again in re-release some years ago with my daughter and some of her friends, it still invokes giggles, belly laughs, shrieks and many, many tears.

#63    “Die Hard”

die hard

Director: John McTiernan

Stars: Bruce Willis, Snape

Original Release Date: 22 Jul 1988

Oscars: None, 4 nominations

Great action movies have great villains and the theretofore-unknown Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber is one of the greats. Die Hard redefined the pure action film for all of time. Hans Gruber is an intelligent, well-dressed, well-spoken and polite man, with a penchant for robbery and murder. Willis is the gritty, sarcastic, ever-so-ingenious NYC cop who is “the fly in the ointment” for Gruber’s attempted robbery guised as a terrorist incident. Die Hard is non-stop, uncompromising, breath-taking action but it’s the amazing cat and mouse game between McClane and Gruber that lift it into greatness. They have equal admiration and disdain for each other, each is confident in the others eventual failure. As chaos and comedy ensues around them, they stay focused on their single goals. For the record, this is one film where my idol Roger Ebert and I differ immensely. Die Hard got a thumbs down from Rog.

#62    “Glengarry Glen Ross”

gggr

Director: James Foley, screenplay by David Mamet

Stars: Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin

Original Release Date: 02 Oct 1992

Oscars: None, one nomination

“If you want to make it more interesting, add some swears. That’s what David Mamet does.” Homer Simpson.

Glengarry Glen Ross is a great ensemble drama with a strong cast a razor sharp script. It tells the story of a real estate office that survives on ‘leads’ and cold calls and the agents inside, trying to scratch out a living. Ricky Roma (Pacino), the current top dog and man of the hour, confident, full of bravado and able to turn a phrase in whatever way is needed to put pen to paper. At the other end of the spectrum, Shelley “The Machine” Levine (Lemmon), the washed up former great who can’t make a sale to save his life, makes fake phone calls and when he is lucky enough to get in front of a client, cannot take no for an answer. Its Jack Lemmon’s finest work here. Perhaps I love this film because I sell for a living and I can relate to the frustration, the problems, the love of closing, the hierarchies that develop and the pressure of the eat what you kill world. But for anyone, to watch this film is to see a pedigree of some of the greatest dialogue actors of our time doing their best ever work.

Trivia: Director James Foley cast Kevin Spacey in this film after seeing him live on stage in New York performing in Lost in Yonkers. It was not Spacey’s first film role but one of his first major ones. Foley now directs Spacey again in the Netflix series “House of Cards”

 

#61    “The Departed”

departed

Director: Martin Scorsese

Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen

Original Release Date: 06 Oct 2006

Oscars: 4 (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing), one other nomination

I have seen a lot of movies. I am not completely immune to shock value in film but very few movies make me jump out of my chair. This one did. The Departed is the first of many Best Picture winners on my list and first of many for my favourite director, Martin Scorsese. It tells the story of Billy Costigan (Leo), a police mole working inside a criminal organization and Colin Sullivan (Damon), a mobster from the same crime family mole working for the cops. The crime lord is Frank Costello, “the rock star” as he is called in the movie, played with evil glee by Jack Nicholson. The Departed is a gripping, twisted, violent tale that dwells on the theme in most of the Catholic-raised Scorsese’s films, guilt. Billy and Colin are both leading double lives in stark contrast to their exterior. Both must betray the men they ‘really’ work for in order to remain loyal to the mean they ‘appear’ to work for. It’s the director’s best work since Goodfellas, it features an all A-list cast, was easily the best pic of 2006 and one of the Top 10 of the Decade.

 

 

Recap so far

61.  The Departed (Scorsese – 2006)

62.  Glengarry Glen Ross (Foley – 1992)

63.  Die Hard (McTierrnan – 1988)

64.  E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Spielberg – 1983)

65.  City Lights (Chaplin – 1931)

66.  The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont – 1993)

67.  Gravity (2013 – Cauron)

68.  Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Zemekis – 1985)

69.  2001 A Space Odyssey (Kubrick – 1969)

70.  The Little Mermaid (Clements/Musker – 1991)

71.    Psycho (Hitchcock – 1960)

72.    The Producers (Brooks – 1968)

73.    Hannah and Her Sisters (Allen – 1986)

74.    Hoop Dreams (James – 1994

75.  Army of Darkness (Raimi – 1992)

76.    The Big Lebowski (Coen 1998)

77.    The Nightmare Before Christmas (Burton /Sellick – 1993)

78 .   Bride of Frankenstein (Whale – 1935)

79.    Letters from Iwo Jima (2006 – Eastwood)

80.    The Wizard of Oz (Fleming – 1939)

81.  The Fog of War (Morris – 2003)

82.    Moulin Rouge (Luhrmann – 2001

83.  Terminator 2 – Judgment Day (Cameron – 1991)

84     .Millers Crossing (Coen – 1990)

85 .   12 Angry Men (Lumet – 1957)

86.    21 Grams (Gonzales Irraitu – 2003)

87.    The Princess Bride (1989 – Reiner)

88.    The Philadelphia Story (1940 – Cuckor)

89.    Ghostbusters (1983 – Reitman)

90.    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry – 2004)

91.    Juno (Reitman – 2007)

92.    Star Trek : First Contact (Frakes – 1996)

93.    Avatar (Cameron 2009)

94.    Wall Street (Stone – 1986)

95.    When Harry Met Sally … (Reiner – 1988)

96.    Belle Epoque (Treuba – 1992)

97.    Say Anything (Crowe – 1989)

98.    Planet of the Apes (Schaffner – 1968)

99.    The Breakfast Club (1983 – Hughes)

100.        The Blues Brothers (1980 – Reitman)

 

Dan’s All Time Top 100 Movies – #80 to #71

The next 10 entries.

Again thanks of the support and enthusiasm around this blog. If you have comments to make, I would love to hear about the entires your really agree with, the ones where you think I am way off and the movies that you might now see.

#80    “The Wizard of Oz”

oz

Director: Victor Fleming

Stars: Judy Garland

Original Release Date: 21 Aug 1939

Oscars: 2 (Best Original Song, Best Music Score), four other nominations

The Wizard of Oz is a film that I admire more than I enjoy and recognize its importance to the medium. Don’t get me wrong, I do like it and have seen it many times. But is placement on my list is fueled more by the movie’s overall impact on society and pop culture. There are so many identifiable iconic moments. From “there’s no place like home” to “I’ll get you my pretty…” to … well the list goes on and on. When I was at the Smithsonian a few years ago, I found myself in complete awe of the ruby slippers on display. The show “Wicked” deepened my admiration for Wizard. How great and timeless is a story that is can spawn a back-story equally great and timeless.

 Trivia: In 1939, legendary Director Victor Fleming made two movies; Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. Not a bad year at all. In both films, he was not the original director. He was hired after production started when both films were not going according to plan.

#79    “Letters from Iwo Jima”

Letters_from_Iwo_Jima

Director: Clint Eastwood

Stars: Ken Wantanabe

Original Release Date: 22 Feb 2007

Oscars: 1 (Sound Editing), 3 other nominations

In the past two decades, Clint Eastwood has gone from action movie anti-hero to auteur director, making some of the best and most important films of the last several years. Letters from Iwo Jima is a lesser-known entry but still stands as Eastwood’s best film. Nominated for Best Director and Best Picture, it tells the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the point of view of the losers. It’s a rare depiction of a sympathetic, loyal fierce Japanese army with the American’s as the ‘enemy’. It’s a daring and effective approach. It is a sad and visceral film that left me with a similar emotional impact as Schindler’s List. Letters from Iwo Jima is almost entirely in Japanese with English sub-titles but this increases its impact rather than diminishes it. Clint’s movies are lean, to the point and have no extraneous scenes. This movie is not to everyone’s tastes; it is dark and melancholy. If you have a penchant for heavier material, check this one out.

#78    “The Bride of Frankenstein”

Bride-of-Frankenstein-movie-poster

Director: James Whale

Stars: Boris Karlokff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson

Original Release Date: 22 Apr 1935

Oscars: One nomination

“To a New World of Gods and Monsters”. So says the foul Dr. Pretorious to Dr. Frankenstein in James Whale’s classic Bride of Frankenstein. That quote spawned the title for the James Whale biopic in 1998. It also lays the groundwork for one of the greatest of all horror films. Boris Karloff pays the monster (whose name is NOT Frankenstein) with subtlety and sympathy, so good it is largely overlooked a in a swamp of bad remakes and parodies. The opening scene involving the parents of the young girl drowned in the first movie sets up the shock value that will carry on through the entire movie. Bride of Frankenstein is a visionary film. When viewed today, you wonder how some of the material made it past the incredibly strict censorship of the time.  This is required viewing for any lover of film.

#77    “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

The_nightmare_before_christmas_poster

Director: Tim Burton & Michael Sellick

Stars: Chris Sarandon, Danny Elfman, Catherine O’Hara

Original Release Date: 29 Oct 1993

Oscars: None, One Nomination

Here is a movie that I believe is ready for a stage adaptation. Tim Burton’s delightful, creepy, visionary and totally unique Nightmare Before Christmas is for me, highlighted by its ready-for-stage show tunes. Danny Elfman’s score and vocal work as the singing voice of Jack Skellington give this film, well, life. The film takes place in Halloweentown and another October 31 has past with its celebrations. The Pumpkin King, Skellington, is a little bored of the routine and walks into the forest where he happens upon gateways to other holidays. He finds Christmastown and is immediately taken by the snow the joy and the merriment. (What’s this? What’s this??) Nightmare is a film on two levels. Children will love and can follow the simple plot. Adults will love the sly humour and sheer wonder of the world Burton and Sellick have created. On my Top 100 list, I have this film as horror, animation, comedy and musical and it works as all four. That’s a rare achievement.

#76    “The Big Lebowski”

lebowski

Director: Joel Coen

Stars: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, John Tuturro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Original Release Date: 06 Mar 1998

Oscars: None

The Big Lebowski falls into the category of films that have a life of their own. The follow up to The Coen Brother’s classic Fargo, it was greeted by tepid box office results and modest reviews. Over time, its legend grew. Not because of plot or compelling story but because of the characters that only the Cohen brothers can bring to life. Mostly, The Dude, the laziest man in Los Angeles County, played by Jeff Bridges. It’s an exceptionally funny film with virtually no plot to describe. Count me among those who did not embrace the film immediately. But over time, it has grown on me and become a personal favourite. The Big Lebowksi has spot-on perfect casting, with Bridges as the vapid, perma-stoned dude and John Goodman as the profanity spewing PTSD-inflicted Polish Catholic Jew Walter. And really, if the latter doesn’t entice you to watch, then move on to the next one. The dude abides. 

#75    “Army of Darkness”

Army_of_Darkness_poster

Director: Sam Raimi

Stars: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davitz

Original Release Date: 19 Feb 1993

Oscars: None

Guilty pleasure #1. This movie is just pure audacious fun. James Berardinelli accurately described this movie as a mixture of horror, sword and sorcery and The Three Stooges. It’s a mix of a ludicrous plot, intentionally over-the-top campy humour and blood-spurting violence that blend to make a film that is raw, shut-off-your-brain entertainment. In this entry of the series, Ash is transported back in time to the 1300s with his shotgun, stump arm and chainsaw. The locals eventually take him for a chosen one who …. Etc etc. The plot is secondary. It fumbles along from action scene to action scene with gleeful abandon. Army of Darkness is by Sam Raimi, who went on to make the exceptional “A Simple Plan” and the three Tobey McGuire Spiderman films. Its production qualities are excellent. It works as a campy parody of the genre made with skill and self-awareness.

#74    “Hoop Dreams”

hoop-dreams

Director: Stephen James

Stars: William Gates, Arthur McGee

Original Release Date: 14 Oct 1994

Oscars: None, one nomination, for editing, not Best Documentary!!

I love the Oscars but sometimes they are so far off base it’s laughable. One such example was in 1994 when the critically acclaimed Hoop Dreams failed to even get nominated for Best Documentary Feature. This film was championed by the late Gene Siskel, a basketball fanatic and Chicago native and was named #1 movie of the 90s by Roger Ebert. Hoop Dreams tells the story of Arthur Agee and Williams Gates, two 8th grade inner city black youth in Chicago who are recruited off the playground into a private high school in Chicago, the same one attended by basketball legend Isaiah Thomas. It was originally intended to be a 30-minute short, but ended up covering 5 years with over 250 hours of material filmed. It was distilled down to three of the most compelling hours of human drama ever filmed. Hoop Dreams starts out to be a documentary about basketball becomes a film about life in America. If you don’t like or don’t have exposure to documentaries, start here.

#73    “Hannah and Her Sisters”

392px-Hannah_and_her_sisters

Director: Woody Allen

Stars: Michael Caine, Diane Wiest, Woody Allen, Mia Farrow

Original Release Date: 07 Feb 1986

Oscars: 3 (Support Actor Michael Caine, Supporting Actress Diane Wiest, Original Screenplay), 4 other nominations

Can we for a minute set aside the fact that Woody Allen is a creepy weirdo and accept that he is a great filmmaker? He does not always hit his mark and he has gone through some lows, but over the years, directing nearly 50 films and amassing 24 Oscar nominations and four wins, he has made some gems. Hannah and Her Sisters is his best film. It tells the story of three Manhattan sisters, Hannah (Mia Farrow), Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Diane Wiest). They meet and discuss their lives and it’s the tiny details they leave out that lay the groundwork for this film. Hannah is married to Elliot (Michael Caine) who is in love with Lee and Holly dates the neurotic Mickey (Allen) who is Hannah’s ex. The film takes place over two years, starts and ends with Thanksgiving Dinner and has another in the middle, which is a turning point in the movie.  Simple black and white title cards that carry their own humour as well separate the movie’s scenes. This is Allen at his peak, his most self-assured filmmaking. In recent years, he has had somewhat of a renaissance with Match Point, Midnight in Paris and Blue Jasmine, but Hannah remains and likely always will be his finest work.

#72    “The Producers”

the producers

Director: Mel Brooks

Stars: Gene Wilder, Zero Mostel

Original Release Date: 10 Nov 1968

Oscars: 1 (Best Original Screenplay), 1 other nomination

“Not too many people know this, but the Fuhrer was an excellent dancer.” If you find that line offensive, skip The Producers. It tells the story of down-and-out producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) and sheepish accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder). In their attempt to pull the biggest scam of their lives, they venture to produce the biggest flop in Broadway History, Springtime for Hitler. It’s funny, farcical and irreverent and deserves a spot on anyone’s short list of the great comedies ever made. The late Kenneth Mars turns in one of my favourite performances of all time as Franz Liebkind, the writer of Springtime for Hitler.

Trivia: To the best of my knowledge, this film has the first ever use of the phrase “Achtung, Baby”.

#71    “Psycho”

Psycho_(1960)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Stars: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh

Original Release Date: 08 Sep 1960

Oscars: None, four nominations

Spoiler Alert! If you have not seen Psycho, read no further and please don’t speak to me until you have seen it!!

When it was released into theatres in 1960, every theatre was given a large poster of Alfred Hitchcock pointing at his wristwatch. (see  below). Theatre owners were given strict orders not to let anyone in the theatre after the film had started. Why? Janet Leigh had top billing and was dead in the first 20 minutes. To appreciate Psycho, observe the lukewarm remake from 1998. Skilled director, excellent stars, exact same script and a shot for shot remake. Yet the movie does nothing. I can still watch the original and have my blood run cold. Hitchcock was a director who could conjure apprehension out of thin air and in this film he shows that mood and tone mean more than script and camera angle. Made for a mere $800,000 and shot with a skeleton crew on a back lot sound stage, this was his most successful film. Its tense, scary and shocking even to today. Its influence on modern culture is immense. More than 50 years on it’s lost none of its edge. It can be summed up best by the words of Roger Ebert who described how this film plays on our fears. “Our fears that we might impulsively commit a crime, our fears of the police, our fears of becoming the victim of a madman, and of course our fears of disappointing our mothers.”

psycho-policy

This was posted in the lobby of every theatre showing Psycho.

Recap so far…

71.    Psycho (Hitchcock – 1960)

72.    The Producers (Brooks – 1968)

73.    Hannah and Her Sisters (Allen – 1986)

74.    Hoop Dreams (James – 1994)

75.    Army of Darkness (Raimi – 1992)

76.    The Big Lebowski (Coen 1998)

77.    The Nightmare Before Christmas (Burton /Sellick – 1993)

78 .   Bride of Frankenstein (Whale – 1935)

79.    Letters from Iwo Jima (2006 – Eastwood)

80.    The Wizard of Oz (Fleming – 1939)

81.    The Fog of War (Morris – 2003)

82.    Moulin Rouge (Luhrmann – 2001)

83.    Terminator 2 – Judgment Day (Cameron – 1991)

84     .Millers Crossing (Coen – 1990)

85 .   12 Angry Men (Lumet – 1957)

86.    21 Grams (Gonzales Irraitu – 2003)

87.    The Princess Bride (1989 – Reiner)

88.    The Philadelphia Story (1940 – Cuckor)

89.    Ghostbusters (1983 – Reitman)

90.    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry – 2004)

91.    Juno (Reitman – 2007)

92.    Star Trek : First Contact (Frakes – 1996)

93.    Avatar (Cameron 2009)

94.    Wall Street (Stone – 1986)

95.    When Harry Met Sally … (Reiner – 1988)

96.    Belle Epoque (Treuba – 1992)

97.    Say Anything (Crowe – 1989)

98.    Planet of the Apes (Schaffner – 1968)

99.    The Breakfast Club (1983 – Hughes)

100.        The Blues Brothers (1980 – Reitman)

Dan’s Top 100 Films of All Time – #90 to #81

For the next few posts I will post 10 movies at a time. There will be a couple of commentaries thrown in for good measure but I will maintain this format until the Top 20 is reached, then go for a little more dramatic effect! I appreciate everyone’s support, comments and feed back, here on Facebook and via text and email. Please keep it coming.

#90    “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Sunshine

Director: Michel Gondry

Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet

Original Release Date: 14 Mar 2004

Oscars: 1 (Best Original Screenplay), one other nomination

The word “haunting” is often used to describe this film. I think it’s anything but. Eternal Sunshine is both an off-beat rom-com and a study in nuero-science. Jim Carrey is Joel, a sheepish, nervous man who meets Clementine, an offbeat and quirky girl who oozes sexuality and nerdiness at the same time. This is Kate Winslet’s best performance. But  Joel and Clementine have met before and don’t know it. That’s all I will tell you because to try and describe the plot, so to speak, will never do it justice. This film follows no chronology and jumps timelines and locations but it all takes place inside Joel’s mind. It’s a movie that examines the difference between who we are and who we think we are. It demands repeat viewings and gets better each time.

#89    “Ghostbusters”

Ghost

Director: Ivan Reitman

Stars: Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis

Original Release Date: 07 June 1984

Oscars: none, 2 nominations

In his original review of this film, Roger Ebert said that that “rarely will a movie this expensive provide so many quotable lines”. How true. Ghostbusters was one of the first examples of special effects serving comedy and allowing the comedy to come first. Every character is funny in this film. What makes it great and part of this list is a certain timelessness that is has yet doesn’t seem to warrant. It’s still funny today, still quotable today. Ignore the horrid sequel and celebrate everything silly and every in-joke and sly wink to the audience. One of my favourite movie lines from the late Harold Ramis in response to an inquiry about his hobbies, “I collect spores, molds and fungus”. And we know with certainty his character does.

#88    “The Philadelphia Story”

T P S

Director: George Cukor

Stars: Carey Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn

Original Release Date: 26 Dec 1940

Oscars: 2 (Best Actor (Jimmy Stewart), Best Screenplay), 4 other nominations

The American Film Institute ranked this movie as #5 in its list of all-time Romantic Comedies. But to put it in the same category as The Holiday seems unseemly. The first title on my list from the Golden Age of Hollywood, this is an early example of a Dream Team of acting with a brilliant funny love triangle script. Jimmy Stewart won his one and only Oscar here (he should have won the year before for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington). Hepburn plays Tracy Lord, a socialite about to re-marry her first husband when her ex, Dexter (Grant) shows up a day before the wedding. He brings with him a tabloid reporter Mike (Stewart) and Dexter is intent on causing some ruckus and of course, he does. A cineaste friend introduced this movie to me in 1990. It was one of my first experiences with classic cinema and has been a favourite ever since. In the days before constant explosions and profanity, it’s a shining example of the simple truth that great films have great scripts.

#87    “The Princess Bride”

The Princess Bride (1987) 3

Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Peter Falk

Original Release Date: 09 Oct 1987

Oscars: None, One Nomination

The Princess Bride is, to me anyways, a miracle of filmmaking. It has no business being as good as it is, considering how downright silly it is. In the hands of a lesser cast or director, it could well be unwatchable. For the three of you who have not seen and loved this film, it’s about a gruff but kind grandfather (Peter Falk) reading his reluctant grandson a story when he is ill. Stars pop in and out with cameo appearances as we watch the undying love of Wesley and Buttercup and the never-ending quest of the great Inigo Montoya. I won’t even begin to quote this film; it is truly inconceivable to even try. The Princess Bride is completely loyal to the genre of sword and sorcery epics while simultaneously lampooning it with razor sharp, perfectly timed wit and parody.

#86    “21 Grams”

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Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu

Stars: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro

Original Release Date: 19 Nov  2003

Oscars: None, 2 nominations

21 Grams is a film I love mainly because of the ringing endorsement it received from James Bernardinelli. It’s the lesser-known work of Director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (his most famous being Babel) but the emotional and visceral impact of this film is greater. In a non-linear manner, it tells the story of three strangers, whose lives crash together. Jack (del Toro) is an ex-con born again Christian rules his family with an iron fisted fundamentalist faith. Christina (Watts) is the mother of the perfect suburban family until events drive her back into a life of drugs and addiction. Paul (Penn) is the dying math professor awaiting a heart transplant; nagged by his wife to make a sperm donation so she can still have his child.  There are times in this film where we know things the characters don’t and vice versa. For me, this increased the punch in the guy impact it has. This is the opposite of a feel good film. It is heavy and sad material, handled with immense skill. You will need to see this more than once and you will not forget it.

#85    “12 Angry Men”

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Director: Sydney Lumet

Stars: Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam, Lee Cobb

Original Release Date: 13 Apr 1957

Oscars: None, 3 nominations

12 jurors are faced with delivering a verdict in the capital murder trial of a young Hispanic boy accused of killing his father. A guilty verdict means the death penalty. At first, it seems open and shut; the boy’s guilt is more than obvious. There are 11 guilty votes and one not guilty. Juror #8, played by Henry Fonda in one of the best performances in history, is the holdout.  As the jurors begin to discuss the case, their individual agendas, prejudices, problems and opinions come to the surface. 12 Angry Men is required viewing for any lover of the movies. If you have not seen it, stop reading my list and watch it right now!

 #84    “Miller’s Crossing”

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Director: Joel Coen

Stars: Albert Finney, Gabriel Byrne

Original Release Date: 05 Oct 1990

Oscars: None

Long before Fargo, The Big Lebowski or No Country for Old Men, The Coen Brothers made some amazing lesser known films. Amongst them are Blood Simple, Raising Arizona and this one, Miller’s Crossing. All are unique, quirky and filled with outstanding characters and dialogue but its with Miller’s Crossing the brothers hit their stride and show the promise that brought us some of their classics.  Miller’s Crossing takes place in 1929 Boston and is the story of an Irish Crime Boss (Albert Finney), his main henchman (Bryne) and the disgruntled Italian underboss, played by Jon Polito in an exceptional performance. It’s a tribute to old gangster films and film noir of the 1940s. Roger Ebert gave this film a tepid thumbs-up but thought it was too scripted and choreographed. I love the seedy characters, lavish sets and the dialogue. It also has one of the greatest ever scenes filmed with “Danny Boy” playing in the background.

#83    “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”

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Director: James Cameron

Stars: Ahhnold, Linda Hamilton

Original Release Date: 03 Jul 1991

Oscars: 4 (Sound, Sound effects, Visual effects, Make up), 2 other nominations

T2 is a shining of example of a movie where lots of stuff gets blowed up and it is still an exceptional film. The wanton destruction of property and kneecaps does not diminish the film one bit. In this version, villain turns hero and The Terminator returns from the future not to destroy but to protect. He is followed by the relentless and more advanced “T1000” protype, made from liquid metal. The movie makes the most of that possibility. As is the case with all of James Cameron’s movies, the effects serve the plot and are not the focus of the film. It is the compelling story and twisted timelines that keep me coming back to the film. The explosions are just the icing on the cake.

 Trivia : Mel Gibson and Tom Sellick both turned down the role of The Terminator in the original film. Can you even imagine that?

#82    “Moulin Rouge”

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Director: Baz Luhrrman

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor

Original Release Date: 01 Jun 2001

Oscars: 2 (Costume Design, Art Direction), 5 other nominations

There is an interesting world inside Baz Lurhman’s brain. Its full of colour, remixes, constant parties, relentless motion and beautiful people. It’s one that his wife, Catherine Martin, has gathered four Oscars bringing to life. In Moulin Rouge, we get an unbridled celebration of the classic movie musical, with re-mixed pop classics from the 80s and told like a fairy tale on heroin.  It’s not a historically accurate representation of the real club in France in 1900, but rather a fantasy. Moulin Rouge is revered and reviled with equal passion and I am one who loves it. Watching this film is not about character and script. Its about soaking in the experience and the excess.  I can’t recommend it enough.

#81    “The Fog of War”

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Director: Errol Morris

Stars: Robert S. McNamara

Original Release Date: 14 Jan 2004

Oscars: Best Feature Length Documentary

The Fog of War is one of three documentaries on my list. It’s a true documentary. Michael Moore has watered down that great word by producing self-aggrandizing claptrap that twists the truth to further his personal agenda. Errol Morris, on the other hand, looks to delve in the truth and introduce information and point of view we may not know or have considered. The subtitle of the film is “Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. MacNamara”. Mr. MacNamara was the Chief of Defense for Kennendy and Johnson, the architect of the Vietnam War and the fire-bombing of Japan. Here, he is a lucid, thoughtful 85-year-old man with great wisdom, regrets, lessons and things to say. The camera is unflinching and the stories are chilling. When you watch this, remember this was filmed prior to Gulf War II. This was a movie I had overlooked this film and my friend Tom Hall introduced it to me. I have seen it at least a dozen times since.

Great films can make you think, re-evaluate and stay with you for weeks and months. This is one of those films.

Recap so far

81.    The Fog of War (Morris – 2003)

82.    Moulin Rouge (Luhrmann – 2001)

83.    Terminator 2 – Judgment Day (Cameron – 1991)

84     .Millers Crossing (Coen – 1990)

85 .   12 Angry Men (Lumet – 1957)

86.    21 Grams (Gonzales Irraitu – 2003)

87.    The Princess Bride (1989 – Reiner)

88.    The Philadelphia Story (1940 – Cuckor)

89.    Ghostbusters (1983 – Reitman)

90.    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Gondry – 2004)

91.    Juno (Reitman – 2007)

92.    Star Trek : First Contact (Frakes – 1996)

93.    Avatar (Cameron 2009)

94.    Wall Street (Stone – 1986)

95.    When Harry Met Sally … (Reiner – 1988)

96.    Belle Epoque (Treuba – 1992)

97.    Say Anything (Crowe – 1989)

98.    Planet of the Apes (Schaffner – 1968)

99.    The Breakfast Club (1983 – Hughes)

100.        The Blues Brothers (1980 – Reitman)

Dan’s Top 100 Films of All Time – #95 to #91

Here are the next five entries. I am comfortable now with this format and I will publish 10 at a time every other day or so  from this point until I reach the top 20. Thanks for the comments so far. Looking over the entire list today, there is a mix of films I love, classics that make every list and some interesting entries you won’t see on other lists.

#95    “When Harry Met Sally…”

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Director: Rob Reiner

Stars: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan

Original Release Date: 21 Jul 1989

Oscars: one nomination

OK, this is a chick flick. A guy friendly one but a chick flick nonetheless. And Meg Ryan at her Meg-Ryan-est would have never gone for Billy Crystal at his annoying whining-est. But those things aside, this movie is spot on perfect, with a wonderful script, ingenious cutaways and one of the most quoted an imitated scenes in history. (That’s Rob Reiner’s mother with the famous line). The theme of platonic friendship with sexual tension is nothing new, but here it is handled with wit and realism. We care what happens to these people. It’s a love letter to NYC. To give you an idea of the influence of this film, I once saw a biker, 6’9, likely 350+ pounds with a tatt on his forearm that said “Don’t Fuck with Mr. Zero.”  Where else would he have seen that?!?!?

#94    “Wall Street”

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Director: Oliver Stone

Stars: Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen

Original Release Date: 11 Dec 1987

Oscars: Best Actor (Michael Douglas)

“Money never sleeps, kid”. Gekko was right, greed is good. Its nearly 30 years hence and he was right and nothing has changed. Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, based on the junk bond scandals of the 80s is equally relevant today. Michael Douglas plays the soulless, corporate raider perfectly. A man whose only focused is the deal and cares nothing for what gets destroyed in the process, simply because he cannot. Money is his focus. People are nothing more than a commodity in the trade. But really, Gordon Gekko is more interested in the win than the money. Wall Street was ahead of its time and although Daryl Hannah is woefully miscast, this is a great actors film. I’d love to see a stage adaptation. This film is a cross of great source material, script, director and acting.

#93    “Avatar”

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Director: James Cameron

Stars: A bunch of  people doing blue screen cgi stuff

Original Release Date: 18 Dec 2009

Oscars: 3 (Cinematography, Visual Effects, Art Direction), 6 other nominations

Haters gonna hate Avatar because it’s James Cameron and because of its success and rather puerile story line. However, Mr. Cameron did what no-one ever thought was possible – make a film with more financial success than Titanic. He did this by reinventing and revitalizing 3D and making a movie that simply had to be seen in theatres. For that alone, it deserves a spot on this list. But it is so much more. The end battle scene is brilliant, the special effects and motion capture works perfectly. It is a rare film where the effects serve the story and not the other way around. I would love to see a version of this written by David Mamet or Oliver Stone or anyone other than Cameron, but I love it and watch it over and over.

#92    “Star Trek : First Contact”

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Director: Jonathan Frakes

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn

Original Release Date: 22 Nov 1996

Oscars: None, One Nomination

The only Star Trek on this list. And the best Trek. Say what you will about Wrath of Khan, this is the ultimate Trek movie. First of all, Picard over Kirk, 1000 times over. Second, the dual plot lines covering different time lines and bringing Earth into the federation while fighting the Borg… its easily the best story of the Treks. Take away Steppenwolf and you have close to a perfect film.  A great film needs a great bad guy and has there ever been a better foe than the Borg? The Chris Pine reboot might make my list one day but for now, this is the best Trek film.

#91    “Juno”

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Director: Jason Reitman

Stars: Ellen Paige

Original Release Date: 25 Dec 2007

Oscars: Best Original Screenplay, three other nominations

Roger Ebert (the greatest of all film critics who I will quote often here) said that Juno, his #1 film of 2007 made him want to hug himself. What a great description. It’s a feel good film that handles tough material on with a balanced approach. The role of the father by JK Simmons (nazi leader Schillinger in HBOs Oz) is a revelation. Ellen Paige is perfect as a pregnant teen who is excited, casual yet scared to death.  It features some exceptional music and is a rare film with no extraneous or mishandled scenes. The more I write, the more I think this should be higher on the list!

Dan’s Top 100 Films of All Time – #96 to #100

Here are the first 5 entries – enjoy and please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions!

#100    “The Blues Brothers”

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Director: Ivan Reitman

Stars: John Belushi, Dan Akroyd

Original Release Date: 20 June 1980

Oscars: None

This movie will never leave my list. Irreverant and stupid yes, but full of amazing music and it brings me back to a great time in my life. I love every second of it, especially the car destroying mayhem at the end. John Lee Hooker, Cab Callaway – the list goes one. This is by no means a great film, but I love it. It’s just pure fun.

#99    “The Breakfast Club”

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Director: John Hughes

Stars: Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Anthony Michael Hall

Original Release Date: 15 Feb 1985

Oscars: None

The best teen movie of all time? Maybe, maybe not but certainly the most quoted. It gave us the great Simple Minds song and so much more. No real careers blossomed out of this 80s Brat Pack dream team, but they made a movie with essentially a single set, set in a single day, where five social archetypes realize that they aren’t so different. Who would not have wanted to go that school? It is John Hughes’ best film and for me the first known use of the word dweebie.

#98    “Planet of the Apes”

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Director: Franklin J. Schaffner

Stars: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowell

Original Release Date: 03 April 1968

Oscars: Honorary Oscar for Make-up, two other Nominations

Ground breaking, horrifying, melodramatic. When you think of it in the context of its release date, POTA is pure cinema. It’s more than Charton Heston in no shirt and Linda Harrison in almost no shirt. It touches on themes of racism, slavery, evolution, the role of religion and science in the education of man and of course nuclear war. The greatness of this original is often lost in many half-assed sequels, water-down remakes and parodies (the best of which by far is done by The Simpsons) . This is one of the few pre-Star Wars sci-fi films where the original is still infinitely watchable.

#97    “Say Anything”

Director: Cameron Crowe

Stars: John Cusak, Ione Skye

Original Release Date: 14 Apr 1999

Oscars: None

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The best teen movie of all time. I’d say yes. What guy did not want to be Lloyd Dobler and what guy did not drool over Ione Skye? Its one of the few teen movies with a fully developed 3-dimenional parent figure (John Mahowney) and has a brilliant script from a young Cameron Crowe. On the surface, a coming of age geek-prom-queen love story. Deep inside, it speaks to almost every emotion you have as a love forlorn teen, no matter the decade and no matter your age. I am almost 50 and this movie is still relevant. It’s not nearly as well known as its contemporaries and is most famous for the timeless ghetto blaster scene, but its worth owning and repeat viewings.

#96    “Belle Epoque”

Director: Fernando Treuba

Stars: Jorge Sanz, Penelope Cruz

Original Release

Date: 04 Dec 1992 (Spain)

Oscars: Best Foreign Language Film

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Belle Epoque is a beautiful Spanish film set in the pre-Franco era. It’s the story of Fernando, an army deserter who befriends and moves in with a simple farmer with 4 daughters. He falls in love with each one in order. It’s a funny, touching and even a little sad but it’s a beautiful celebration of life with interesting, fun and quirky characters that you grow to love. It stars a young Penelope Cruz and Mirabel Verdu. I love this film. Its hard to find and worth the look. My hope is that through this blog you may discover a film or two that you have not heard of or given thought – here is a great place to start.

Dan’s All Time Top 100 Films – Introduction

In 1996, I spent a year off work with a back injury. Eleven months to be exact. During that time, to help maintain my sanity between surgery, physio and painkillers, I discovered imdb.com and a web based critic named James Berardinelli (www.reelviews.net) . James and Roger Ebert stood for a long time as my favourite two critics.

James published an all time Top 100 films which inspired me to do two things…

1 – Create the same Top 100 list

2 – Make a list of every film I have ever seen. I figured I would need to do this to create the top 10

I have been picking away at this for years. There are now over 1600 movies on my list and though I know its not complete, its complete enough for me to make the Top 100.

The top 10 was easy. Number 1 was a no-brainer. What was hard was pairing down and eliminating movies that I love from the list. Wrath of Khan & THe Conversation were the last moviesI left out. But there was nothing on the list I was willing to part with to get them on the list.

As time passes, as I watch more, this list will change. Gravity entered this list this year. Also, older films that I discover or rediscover will get added as well.

I love film, love discussing, debating, re-casting, wondering what if – no medium can act on you quite the way film does. Even if you look at this past year, the worlds we escaped to in Gravity and Her or the people we met in Blue Jasmine and Wolf of Wall Street.

There are certain themes in my Top 100 – I love gut wrenching bio pics, war films, offensive comedy, crime movies and movies with a darker side. I love sci fi and fantasy. There are even three bona fide chick flicks.

So, now I turn to WordPress (thanks James Howe to introducing me to this over Facebook) and over the next coming weeks, I will reveal and talk about my all time Top 100 ten or so films at a time.

Nothing would make me happier than to have you ring in, opine, tell me where I am wrong, what you love, why you love or hate a film and when all is said and done, the movies I left out!