My New Top 20

Been a while since I revisited my top 20 films.  I've noticed things have changed, as I've gotten older, 31 today in fact... for one, films that deal with childhood have dropped.  The 400 Blows, once my favorite film, doesn't hold the same water for me.  Still an amazing film, one that pulls on me... especially those last moments.  However, it doesn't mean as much to me.  I don't feel for that child anymore.  That part of me that hated the world I was in.  I'm less angry.  Less cynical.

I also have tended to bigger, broader films that... work.  Jurassic Park, # 2, on my list is surprising but upon a recent viewing, realized how God damn brilliant it is.  These set pieces inform everything you'd ever need to know about staging action and suspense.  There's a lot more modern films here too.  Moonrise Kingdom is as high as 23.  Mission Impossible is 22, quite possible my favorite action film.

Without further ado... my top 20:

  1. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.  This film still informs my religious beliefs, my take on perfect cinema, in all it's boredom and wonder.  Seeing it on the big screen reaffirmed that this is hands down the greatest film ever made.
  2. JURASSIC PARK.  In keeping with hyperbole, this is hands down the greatest blockbuster ever made.  It's perfectly designed, the action set pieces choreographed superbly, it's suspenseful, the FX are still amazing today... maybe convinced they just got a real T-REX.  It also is a master class in action orientation.  Creating suspense from well blocked action, camera placement and movement that escalates the tension and easily, simply lays out the stakes.  In an age of quick cuts and lazy explosions, this film is the purest example of true blockbuster potential.
  3. VERTIGO. A film I forgot for most of my 20s, seeing it very early during a Hitchcock phase and then forgotten through film school and beyond.  After re-watching this film, I remembered that it was one of the most beautiful films ever shot.  It's lyrical rhythm almost hypnotic.  There's nothing quite like it.  A masterpiece, if I do say so myself.
  4. ANNIE HALL.  The only film to stay in my top 5.  Still a film that perfectly showcases my personal filmmaking sensibilities.  Taking the form of cinema and using it as a means to tell the story.  Keeping things experimental without alienating.  It's just wonderful.
  5. JFK.  Tension.  Believe what you want about the conspiracy but this film pulls at all my loves for courtroom drama, politics and cinema.  The editing in this film is nothing short of awesome.  The cinematography is almost schizophrenic.  Normal conversation is elevated, things never seem like they could be true... something's always about to happen.  It's a film that seems to recreate the chaos, uneasy, unbelievable experience of such a national tragedy.  
These top 5 films all have something in common... and that's a use of CINEMA to share its story.  Where a film like Monster is a great performance from Charlize Theron, it's a terrible movie.  With sub-par camera work, completely invisible bland editing... and yet, it doesn't feel real, it just feels... frankly, forgettable.  

Each film takes into account it's purpose and sets upon itself a level of integrity, quality and thoughtfulness that elevates from a story about dinosaurs, or lost love, or obsession and makes it something more, something greater than itself.  A feat I hope to execute upon given my own opportunity to direct.

The next fifteen are similar:
  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. Jurassic Park
  3. Vertigo
  4. Annie Hall
  5. JFK
  6. Zodiac
  7. The Godfather
  8. The French Connection
  9. The Shining
  10. Blade Runner
  11. Lost in Translation
  12. Jaws
  13. Se7en
  14. The 400 Blows
  15. The Royal Tenenbaums
  16. The Graduate
  17. Magnolia
  18. Tree of Life
  19. All the President's Men
  20. The Sixth Sense