Welcome back! And thank you for following along thus far as I reveal my Top 125 Films of All Time (though it may be more apt to call it my Favorite 125 Films). I hope you continue reading as I reveal the remainder of my list, as I love sharing these wonderful films with you! Let’s continue:
#90 – Whiplash (Damien Chazelle, 2014)
As I wrote in my original review, nothing felt as immediate as this film did when I saw it last year. Chazelle’s mastery is in his ability to install energy at a percussive pace throughout the entire length of this film, which is aided by incredible performances from the leads, Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons.
#89 – The Matrix (The Wachowski Brothers, 1999)
The Matrix is a special movie. What the Wachowski Brothers (now simply “siblings”) did with the release of this film is create something entirely new and different. The blending of action movie and science fiction had been done before, but with The Matrix, they created a unique world and crafted an unforgettable film with the use of great technology.
#88 – Hoop Dreams (Steve James, 1994)
Another Steve James documentary makes the list, and for good reason. Hoop Dreams manages to look deeply into the hard reality of poverty in Chicago by examining the NBA aspirations of a small handful of truly talented high school players. What makes Hoop Dreams special is its ability to show the other, much harsher, side of the story of chasing dreams.
#87 – Sweet Smell of Success (Alexander Mackendrick, 1957)
For me, Burt Lancaster was always “Moonlight” Graham from Field of Dreams, a great small role. But what Sweet Smell of Success proved to me was he was a star, a major, screen commanding star whose presence elevated the material. In this case, it was material that was already great. Win-win.
#86 – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, 1920)
I made a concerted effort to include some of the more influential films, not only in cinema but to myself personally, in this list. Enter The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Those sets! That makeup! For a film made in 1920, this shows the imagination and direction of cinema in the most promising ways. Understand visual expression with this film.
#85 – In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)
Speaking of visual expression, oh my goodness is this film visual expression. Some have called it style over story, and they may be right. This film is full of style from the music to the costumes to the cinematography and set design. But the story is compelling too, which compliments the lush style and beauty of this very visual film. Plus Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung are marvelous.
#84 – Anna Karenina (Joe Wright, 2012)
The style continues with a film in which I literally squirmed in my seat at the brilliance of the film. When I saw it in theaters, I seriously wondered whether the patrons around me thought I hated the movie since I squirmed so much. I just couldn’t take the amazing cast, incredible visuals, and the idea that Joe Wright might take this movie and literally “stage” it. The nerve!
#83 – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Frank Capra, 1939)
James Stewart is quite possibly my favorite actor of all time (Tom Hanks would be close in competition), and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is one of his best films and best performances. The character of Jefferson Smith is the perfect representation of why I love Capra and Stewart, especially together. It’s a wholesome and saccharine experience, which I treasure.
#82 – Dances with Wolves (Kevin Costner, 1990)
Epics are usually hard to sit through because the run time is so long, and its true, even for the best of them you need to be in the mood to sit though them. For me, Dances with Wolves is one epic I can say I am usually in the mood for because Costner just delivers a brilliant movie. He has had some clunkers, sure, but Costner is one of my favorite “under-rated” actors.
#81 – Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008)
When The Walk, a dramatic interpretation of the events documented in Man on Wire, was released this year, I urged everyone I could to watch this documentary too because it is without a doubt the most entertaining and enthralling documentary I’ve ever seen. It plays out as a suspenseful heist movie, with the incomparable Philippe Petit in the starring role.