Another weekend break leads us into the final stretch for the reveal of my Top 125 Films of All Time. The final stretch begins with numbers 30 through 21, as we inch ever so close to the final Top 10!
#30 – Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)
Billy Widler is a phenomenal film director, and Sunset Blvd. is likely his best, most engaging film. A noir, the mood that emanates from the picture is largely thanks to the powerhouse performance from Gloria Swanson as fallen silent film star Norma Desmond. A great watch, every time.
#29 – The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin, 1940)
Despite being Chaplin’s first sound film, much of it has the feel of a silent picture, with classic physical comedy pieces throughout. But what sets The Great Dictator apart from, well, any other films is its political commentary, and when it happened. Clearly a cautionary tale about Hitler and Nazi Germany, the final speech may take you out of the film, but it does exactly as it was intended.
#28 – The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
Likely Gene Hackman’s finest performance, The Conversation is an atmospheric film if there ever was one, slowly building and building, leading to a devastating final scene. 1974 was a pretty phenomenal year for Coppola. Heck, the 70s was an incredible decade of filmmaking for him.
#27 – His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
The first time I saw His Girl Friday, I had a great time, but struggled to see its greatness. That was only because I couldn’t keep up! Perhaps the fastest paced film of all time, and yet it’s about journalism. Hawks keeps the lines hitting a million miles an hour, and Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are both game for such a marathon.
#26 – The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, 1938)
There is no better duo on this countdown than Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland as Robin Hood and Maid Marion. There is no greater burst of laughter than from Flynn in this film. No greater adventure than that of Robin Hood. Wait, why isn’t this higher on my list, it’s so much fun!?
#25 – Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
I traditionally don’t enjoy Spike Lee as a director, but Do the Right Thing is the exception. There is no film more powerful in his filomography, and he sets the scene so well that you can feel the heat of the summer day on the streets, you can feel the tension between characters building.
#24 – The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
I first saw The Seventh Seal very early into my exploration of world cinema and I had never seen anything like it. I perhaps still haven’t a powerful tale with a great central performance from Max von Sydow, the film’s treatment on life and death is universal, if not delivered a little differently than you’ve seen before.
#23 – M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
M is a truly unsettling movie, for whatever time, yet it was released early in the development of cinema, 1931, making it that much more impactful. I cannot imagine the impact of such a film, seeing it for the first time in theaters in 1931 Germany. Peter Lorre gives a truly incredible performance here as well, with the final speech, one of the best bits of cinematic dialogue ever put to film.
#22 – Short Term 12 (Destin Daniel Cretton, 2013)
Seeing Short Term 12 was a life changing experience, and I truly mean that. I won’t get into all the details, but it was a film with perfect timing, about something which, in retrospect, had more to say about my own life than I could have known. Brie Larson is a national treasure, and this film is why, along with Room. It is just a powerful, personal experience. Short Term 12 has to be included.
#21 – The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)
This is a film about much more than simply Facebook. The Social Network is a surprisingly human film about human relationships, with great performances and incredibly cinematic aspects. The score, the cinematography, all create a picture with such a mood and time period as to capture the true essence of Mark Zuckerberg and this generation.