As we inch ever closer to the top 50 of the list, I’d like to think these just keep getting better and better. In order to hedge my bet and make sure this installment is better than the last, I’ll kick things off today with my lone “cheat” of the list!
#60 Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight (Richard Linklater, 1995/2004/2013)
To “throw” these films together in one slot may feel lazy, but this trilogy really is the exploration of how people and relationships grow and change over time. It’s one story and a truly remarkable one worth checking out if you’ve never had the privilege to spend time with Jesse and Celine, who I can’t imagine being played by anyone other than Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I can’t pick a favorite of the trilogy.
#59 – Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
It seems a little odd that this is the first mention of Alfred Hitchcock on this list, and maybe I should re-evaluate to include more of his films, but Vertigo is an awesome visual and cinematic experience. There is a sense of impending doom throughout, and despite some flaws, it is a monument for superior filmmaking. My heart aches for Midge.
#58 – When Harry Met Sally… (Rob Reiner, 1989)
The Romantic Comedy genre holds a special place in my heart, and there are many good candidates for the best, but When Harry Met Sally… is certainly one of them. This selection is not simply about the relationship on screen between Harry and Sally, which is wonderful, but also the screen presence of Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. Meg Ryan was the 90s Rom-Com queen.
#57 – The Godfather: Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
Some may have noticed, and perhaps called me crazy, when they saw The Godfather on my list of Honorable Mentions, missing the cut for the final list. And this would have been another easy “cheat”, to combine these films, but in my mind, Part II is the superior film, and worthy of lofty inclusion at this point in the list. It brings everything from the “saga” together into one film so masterfully.
#56 – Fiddler on the Roof (Norman Jewison, 1971)
Musicals are few and far between on this list and in the current landscape of cinema, but they are some of my favorite films, just like Fiddler on the Roof, whose lead Topol gives an incredible performance. He is good enough to elevate what is an already great and enjoyable musical.
#55 – Elephant (Gus Van Sant, 2003)
Gus Van Sant is one of the more interesting directors working today for his ability to shift between mainstream cinema and the arthouse, experimental style of perhaps his masterpiece, Elephant. Released in a climate of school shootings, Elephant is an incredible experience from start to finish, as we spend a life in the day of these teenagers.
#54 – The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
What a marvelous film! It combines the heartbreak and heartache of relationships with the humor of Jack Lemmon, who, along with Shirley MacLaine, gives an unforgettable performance. It’s just the type of story that is timeless, classic and forever enduring. Great moments throughout and endlessly memorable.
#53 – L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997)
When I first saw L.A. Confidential I knew it would forever be a favorite of mine. Such style to go alone with a first rate story with crime, intrigue, corruption, etc. A great cast led by the likes of Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe leads the charge for this taut and powerful modern noir.
#52 – Let the Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
“Mood” is a term which has not come up very much thus far in the list, thought it has been a factor in many of the selections, but “Mood” is exactly what makes Let the Right One In a great film. In combination with eerie setting, the visual flair of this film between the cinematography, makeup and set design made it an instant classic. Unforgettable film.
#51 – Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
The way this film examines perspective, changed my perspective of not just how to view this film, or cinema in general, but it brings into question worldview in general, which is a remarkable achievement for a film to have such an impact. That is the sign of a great film, and one which certainly deserves its high placement on this list.