top 20 films (20-11)

September 1, 2008

20. children of men (alfonso curaón, 2006)

for my money, the best science fiction film of the last 30 years or so.  the way the film was able to depecit the state of the world felt a hundred percent authentic, which i think makes it resonate so much more than say blade runner or star wars.  i can’t see myself in the world of luke skywalker, but i can see myself in this dying world that alfonso curaon has created.  add to that some of the most spectacular truly cinematic moments (in the history of cinema!) and it makes for one of my favorite films of all time.

19. elevator to the gallows (louis malles, 1958)

louis malle’s directorial debut is wrought with suspense and has one of the best scores of any film.  i love that the film doesn’t spell anything out for the viewer.  you are piecing together the relationships of the characters, their motives, and just basic plot points from the begining.  the way the murder is plotted out and filmed is perfect.  malle takes care in setting up exactly how someone would go about undertaking this murder, and the way things go wrong feels totally authentic as well.  some  really beautiful shots and interesting parallel story lines make the film great.

18. annie hall (woody allen, 1977)

i love woody.  what many consider his greatest film is one of my favorites as well (though possibly not my favorite from him).  it’s histarical, it’s structurally one of the most original films ever, it’s about new york, it’s got woody at the age when it was fun to see him act.  it’s great.

17. in the mood for love (wong kar wai, 2001)

wong kar wai has one of the most lucious visual styles of any working director, and this film might be his most visually arresting.  wong kar takes an very unconventional approach to the romantic film, where we have a romantic film between two characters who’s respective spouses are having an affair with each other, and the two characters of the film end up striking up a relationship of sorts.  but they’re never able to commit to each other for different reasons every time.  as i was reading up on some of the reviews for this film i found this comment by roger ebert….

“instead of asking us to identify with this couple, as an american film would, wong asks us to empathize with them; that is a higher and more complex assignment, with greater rewards”

i think that perfectly sums up the film (which is why he makes money writing reviews and i don’t).

16. his girl friday (howard hawks, 1940)

i love this film.  to see how much, just read this.

15. city of god (fernando meirelles, 2003)

it’s been a while since i saw the film, but i remember being completely taken aback after i saw the film.  i was speechless.  it is one of the saddest, yet enthralling films i have ever seen.  you quickly get drawn into the films setting, and the lives of the characters.  so when characters make difficult decisions, or ones that lead them down the wrong path, it takes a great toll on you as a viewer.  the film has a lot of style and creative film techniques, but is reall grounded by a story that even though takes place thousands of miles away, resonates with the viewer.

14. reservoir dogs (quentin tarantino, 1992)

this film holds a very special place in my heart.  it is the movie that made me want to make movies.  this film literally changed my life.  after i watched quentin tarantino’s directorial debut, i decided that that was what i wanted to do with my life.  i’m not sure i’ll ever be able to make the stylized language and storytelling style come to the big screen, but i can try.  it made me enroll in film school, and really did open my eyes to a whole world of film that i had never seen or heard of before.

not to mention that it is just a brilliant film.

13. psycho (alfred hitchcock, 1960)

the scariest movie i’ve ever seen.  mostly because there’s only really three moments in the film that are horrifying, and they are done to the most horrifying soundtrack ever.  we don’t need knife going into body sound effects when we’ve got the shreeking of the violins.  hitchcock is truly the master of suspense, and he conveys that into a true horror film, where he uses all of his mastery tricks to play the audience right were he wants them.  his slow reveal of information and use of selective shots make the suspense all the more unbearable, and when we see norman bates run into the basement in full outfit…….the scariest moment i think i’ve ever seen ever.

12. a clockwork orange (stanley kubrick, 1971)

a terrifying look at what evils lurk under the surface of our society.  some of the most disturbing scenes of violence ever committed to celluloid, and one of the most intriguing performances ever turned in by malcolm mcdowell.  it’s stanley kubrick so you know that you are going to get very interesting visuals, and some really memorable shots and sequences.  a clockwork orange is one of my favorite books, and i think the film does a good job of conveyng the books idea of violence and the punishment of that violence with more violence.  not to mention those eye lashes…….creepy.

11. 12 angry men (sidney lumet, 1957)

the greatest courtroom film of all time, only spends a few minutes in the real courtroom.  the film is full of amazing performances from seasoned verterans and some crafty character actors.  lumet is able to create the setting of the film perfectly, making the viewer feel like they are living in this city in the 1950s.  i love the way the film moves from juror to juror and we learn something about each of the jurors by what stirs their emotions, and what ultimatly changes their mind.  i love that the film never gets preachy, and i love that it’s able to still get across a politcal statement about prejudices.  for more of the same, go here.

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10 Responses to “top 20 films (20-11)”

  1. Magnus Says:

    good list so far, except for “Children of Men” they could have all been on my list as well. BTW, if you like “Clockwork Orange” so much, you should check out “The Funeral Parade of Roses”, you’re in for a surprise…

    I am predicting “M” to be that still missing movie we both have on our lists.

  2. johnheberle Says:

    i’m not sure how much you’ll agree with the 10-1, but you may be right about “m”.


  3. Nice selection of films.

  4. magnus Says:

    oh, your 1-10, well they just plain suck, dont they… i mean come on “Once” ok but not that great is it and “Magnolia” don’t even get me started…

  5. johnheberle Says:

    ha, one of those might be there.

  6. morgan. Says:

    you’re right about elevator to the gallows – the viewer has no insider information; made everything all the more intriguing. i’m excited to see in the mood for love sometime. and malcolm’s eye lashes… divine.

  7. johnheberle Says:

    you should watch days of being wild before it, and 2046 afterward. they’re sort of like a trilogy that isn’t really trilogy.


  8. […] September 10, 2008 see the list of 20-11 here […]

  9. Pardis Says:

    This is my first time visiting your site (I was looking for a photo for Annie Hall). I enjoyed reading your list. You’ve reminded me of a few films I’ve been meaning to watch (12 Angry Men) and some I didn’t know I should have been meaning to watch (Manhattan). Check out Menace II Society. It’s a great film. And The 25th Hour (Spike Lee) – definitely my favourite Spike Lee joint. I’m curious to hear what you think of them.

  10. johnheberle Says:

    thanks for reading pardis!

    i’ve actually seen the first 20-25 minutes of 25th hour, but fell asleep or just stopped watching (i can’t remember, it was a while ago)

    menace II society is one that i’ve heard of, but have never really checked it out. thanks for the recommendations, i’m definitely more interested in menace, and really want to revisit (finish) 25th hour now.


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