November 22, 2000 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Problem. Proposed solution : nominate a few films, Gladiator, Erin Brokovich and so on. And let Stanley Kubrick's disowned Sparticus take the top 5-6 Oscars. Just shows that god's worst film is still better than tripe created today.
posted by tiaka (37 comments total)
Ohh, and by GOD, I do mean Stanley Kubrick.
posted by tiaka at 7:10 AM on November 22, 2000

After thinking this through, and I know this over-exposure isn't good. Here are the alternatives :

Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's 2nd best film, and one of the greater films made this century could easily take everything.

If you really want something quality, the best film ever made, Barry Lyndon, should just be announced 'THE BEST FILM EVER' Hmm.. Ofcourse, I could go through and through all these other films, but, my top 7 :

1.Barry Lyndon
2.Eyes Wide Shut
4:Andrei Rublev
5:Clockwork Orange
6:The Shining

Yours? I'm expecting to see Godfather included, 5 point penalty if you don't.
posted by tiaka at 7:21 AM on November 22, 2000

My personal 7 fav "Best ever" films:

1.) The Godfather (of course)
2.) The Shawshank Redemption
3.) Citizen Kane
4.) Full Metal Jacket
5.) The Last Emperor
6.) Blade Runner
7.) American Beauty

The Usual Suspects would have been on that list too somewhere, along with Seven. That's just my opinion and weird taste in film.
posted by Cavatica at 7:54 AM on November 22, 2000

How someone can think that Eyes Wide Shut was Kubrick's second-best movie is beyond me. I'd rank at least three movies (Barry Lyndon, Dr. Strangelove, The Killing), and possibly up to six, ahead of it.

Oh, now I have to jump in. List subject to change without notice -- there are about twenty-five movies that float in and out of my top ten list.

1. The Third Man
2. Ran
3. Nights of Cabiria
4. The Godfather, Part II (heresy!)
5. The Passion of Joan of Arc
6. Chinatown
7. Stalag 17

Mmm. That list feels woefully incomplete (lacking Aguirre: The Wrath of God and some others).
posted by snarkout at 8:02 AM on November 22, 2000

Are we talkin best films ever, or Favorite films? I think there's a pretty big difference there.
posted by Doug at 8:47 AM on November 22, 2000

I assumed it was "Best Films Ever", or there would have been a significantly higher Bruce Campbell presence on my list.
posted by snarkout at 9:23 AM on November 22, 2000

I don't care about the Best Films Ever, but I love my favorites!:

1) Badlands
2) Death of a Chinese Bookie (ok, anything Cassavettes)
3) Kikujiro no natsu (takeshi Kitano)
4) La Planète Sauvage
5) All That Jazz

posted by schlomo at 9:28 AM on November 22, 2000

Cassavettes...He was cool in Face/Off. :)

Oh, wait. That was Nick.
posted by Cavatica at 9:50 AM on November 22, 2000

1. 2001
2. close encounters of the third kind
3. dog day afternoon

three most worthwhile movies ever, imo.

favorite films would be much more, uh, animated. ;)
posted by rabi at 10:09 AM on November 22, 2000

1) Brigadoon
2) Krakatoa, East of Java
3) Seven Wives for Seven Brothers
4) Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
5) Chisum
6) Tora Tora Tora
7) Anaconda
8) Pillow Talk (or The Green Barets)
9) Gladiator
10) The Robe
posted by leo at 10:12 AM on November 22, 2000

Cavatica's list -

1.) The Godfather (of course)
2.) The Shawshank Redemption
3.) Citizen Kane
4.) Full Metal Jacket
5.) The Last Emperor
6.) Blade Runner
7.) American Beauty

Over all a good list, but what's with American Beauty? You might as well thrown Fight Club in. It's hardly perfect, and, again, inferior to a movie of the same year, Eyes Wide Shut.

...moving on...

snarkouts -

1. The Third Man
2. Ran
3. Nights of Cabiria
4. The Godfather, Part II (heresy!)
5. The Passion of Joan of Arc
6. Chinatown
7. Stalag 17

Ok, I see, being a bit more classical in our tastes, and by Godfather I meant either or the two (don't want to start a fight.). But asks a question, is Ran Kurasawa's best picture? It's the most epical, I'm still undecided, seven samurai is awfully good on that 'wow this is great' factor. Chinatown, hmm, ok.

Quick summery - Eyes Wide Shut is a very complex film, it's on the level of being hypnotic. It is light-years ahead of anything done today. It does change the form, if only partially. While other films may brag to you to look closer, you will only see a tired point with no 'beef' inside, Eyes Wide Shut demands you to, not only look closer, but, further. I suggest you read Craigs essay - for more info.

...moving on...


1) Badlands
2) Death of a Chinese Bookie (ok, anything Cassavettes)
3) Kikujiro no natsu (takeshi Kitano)
4) La Planète Sauvage
5) All That Jazz

Obviously favorites. : )

...moving on...


1. 2001
2. close encounters of the third kind
3. dog day afternoon

Hmm, Spielberg? Then Lumet? Ok, but why?

...moving on...


1) Brigadoon
2) Krakatoa, East of Java
3) Seven Wives for Seven Brothers
4) Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
5) Chisum
6) Tora Tora Tora
7) Anaconda
8) Pillow Talk (or The Green Barets)
9) Gladiator
10) The Robe

Hmm, a musical? Why not singing in the rain? Better singing. Weird choises, but that's good.

posted by tiaka at 10:38 AM on November 22, 2000

With Brigadoon and Seven Wives in the Top Ten, I thought that musicals were fairly well represented. I spose I could take out Gladiator in favor of Singing in the Rain. But then I'd only have The Robe to represent classical Greece and Rome.
posted by leo at 10:49 AM on November 22, 2000

And, looking at my post, why Gladiator? not Sparticus?
posted by tiaka at 10:53 AM on November 22, 2000

Top 10, in no particular order:

1) The Rules of the Game
2) The Godfather
3) The Third Man
4) Annie Hall
5) 8-1/2
6) Day for Night
7) The Firemen's Ball
8) Citizen Kane
9) Casablanca
10) City Lights
posted by bilco at 10:59 AM on November 22, 2000

Tiaka: These are merely the nominees. Not the winners. I'm perfectly happy to see a (surprise) film not at all on the list of nominees make it to the top. You would say Sparticus. I'm leaning more towards Flesh Gordon.
posted by leo at 11:03 AM on November 22, 2000

I can't really think of a list of best movies. It depends on what emotion I'm seeking.

What I felt after watch The Seven Samurai is very different from something like Drunken Master 2. I can still like both movies. They highlight different aspects of what going to movies is about. The Oscars have always looked at movies a certain way and denied much of the spirit of variety in film.

Full Metal Jacket is one of my favorite war movies next to Grand Illusion. They highlight different aspects of war and I could not really put one above another. Does The Seventh Seal say more about life then Life of Brian?
posted by john at 11:14 AM on November 22, 2000

1) Citizen Kane
2) Ran
3) Apocalypse Now
4) 2001
5) The Godfather
6) Chinatown
7) Schindler's List

posted by Mick at 11:18 AM on November 22, 2000

What, no one said "Taxi Driver"?

Well then, that's mine. I have a poster of Travis in my kitchen. I mean, c'mon! It's beautifully done, hugely influential and Harvey Keitel wears platform shoes.
posted by thc at 11:23 AM on November 22, 2000

It's the most epical, I'm still undecided, seven samurai is awfully good on that 'wow this is great' factor.

Obviously, they're great movies, but Ran is much more visually appealing to me. The colors on the print I saw were very vivid. Seven Samurai has that incredible battle-in-the-rain sequence (wherein Kurosawa plays interesting tricks with fading the sound up and down), but I don't think anything in it compares on a sheer visual-spectacle level with the high points of Ran. YMMV. (My number one choice, The Third Man, which I've pretty much settled on as the best movie of all time, has similar visual impact -- you can trace a line from The Third Man's depiction of Vienna straight through to Blade Runner.)

Taxi Driver is one of the movies I felt uncomfortable cutting, THC, along with Aguirre and Salesman.
posted by snarkout at 11:31 AM on November 22, 2000

I'm not much of a movie fan, but I'm a little surprised that there's not a single film above this point by Hitchcock. Where's Rear Window or Vertigo or North by Northwest? Come on, folks, we're talking about the greatest director who ever lived; not one of his movies rate?

There's one scene in North by Northwest which literally made me scream, due to impeccable timing. If you've seen it, it's when Martin Landau picks up and looks at the matchbook. 1 frame difference either way in how long he looked at it would have ruined it. I can't think of a scene in any movie which was directed better.

In any case, I've never understood the nuances which differentiate a "good" movie from a "great" movie, and I've never understood why the Academy chooses what it does. So I don't pay a great deal of attention to the Academy awards. I don't go to movies much anyway. I do see them on TV sometimes, which leads to this:

I don't know whether it's a "great" movie, but I defy anyone to find a movie more tense than "Day of the Jackal". (Note: tension is different than fear.) This one keeps your heart-rate elevated during the entire film, right up until the last couple of minutes. There's no relief in the tension, none at all.

If you haven't seen it, rent it. Don't watch it on free TV, because the ad-breaks will ruin it.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:45 AM on November 22, 2000

I've seen Ran and several other Kurosawa films, and no, it is not his best film, though it is indeed very good. But it really concentrates more on guts and gore than I really expect from a Kurosawa film, which usually concentrate far more on character. Ran is a spectacle. There's nothing wrong with spectacles. But his best work has been more subtle.

Seven Samurai is far better, ultimately, but you really have to see films like Sanjuro or Yojimbo to really appreciate his genius (or to appreciate what a truly fine actor Toshirô Mifune was).

Hollywood has been blatantly ripping off Kurosawa for English language remakes for years (often but by no means always for Westerns), and there's a good reason why: his stuff was generally outstanding. The only director I have more respect for is Hitchcock, and that's very elevated company indeed to be keeping. It's too bad his films haven't had the exposure in the US that they deserve.

I haven't had a chance to see Hidden Fortress but I want to someday, because Lucas has acknowledged it as a major influence for Star Wars.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:08 PM on November 22, 2000

What about Goodfellas, people?

"For as long as I could remember, I always wanted to be a gangster."
posted by MattD at 12:09 PM on November 22, 2000

Now that I think of it, I'm actually surprised that people don't consider The Limey as an Oscar contender. I don't think I've seen a movie this year that is filled with so much History Of Cinema. Pretty much everything-- from shot composition to editing to the casting of characters-- smacks of cinematic historicism. Everything in that movie can be referenced to the past, yet created with a probing, forward-thinking bent.

Or maybe that's just me.
posted by schlomo at 12:38 PM on November 22, 2000

My top whatever, in no particular order. Ten minutes from now, I'd draw up a different list (somewhat).

1. American Beauty
2. Courage Under Fire
3. Hands on a Hard Body
4. The Empire Strikes Back
5. The Matrix
6. Buckaroo Banzai
7. Alien
8. Jean De Florette & Manon Des Sources (parts 1 & 2 of the same story)
9. The Breakfast Club
10. The Blues Brothers
11. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
12. Rosencrantz and Gildenstern Are Dead
13. Blade Runner
14. Once Were Warriors
15. Forrest Gump
16. Amadeus

...and I don't expect anyone to agree with these, either. I don't have a distinguished palate when it comes to movies, I just like what I like, that's all.
posted by beth at 2:17 PM on November 22, 2000

Oh, *Crap*. How could I possibly forget these two:

17. The Princess Bride
18. Raising Arizona

This illustrates one of the perils of creating a list... it tends to keep growing...
posted by beth at 2:18 PM on November 22, 2000

I can do 16 too!

The English Patient (1996)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Field (1990)
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Il Postino (The Postman) (1994)
Hamlet (1996)
A Summer Story (1988)
Rear Window (1954)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Jean de Florette (1986)/Manon des sources (Manon of the Spring) (1986)
Braveheart (1995)
Ju Dou (1990)
Les Parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) (1964)
Dark City (1998)
Pelle erobreren (Pelle the Conqueror) (1987)

I seem to be quite different from all you Godfather types.
posted by rushmc at 5:39 PM on November 22, 2000

I thought that Full Metal Jacket was a crock, but then again so was the entire crop of hollywood vietnam war movies, just self-serving trash.

One exception: Apocalypse Now! Although that was more of a fantasy and not really part of that genre.
posted by lagado at 7:15 PM on November 22, 2000

1. Les Enfants du Paradise
2. Fight Club (I disgaree with you quite vigorously on this one, tiaka)
3. Immortal Beloved
4. Ponette
5. Life is Beautiful
6. Shakespeare in Love
7. Yojimbo

I can't actually really defend Immortal Beloved as a "great" film, though Gary Oldman's acting is inarguably amazing in it. The use of Beethoven's music is also masterful. But mainly, I just love the movie. But the other six I think truly belong on a list of greatest movies of all time (though the list might have to be a hundred long). I cannot stand old American films (with the notable exception of most anything featuring Peter Lorre), and I can't understand why they are considered so great. "Les Enfants du Paradise", on the other hand, made in the thirties, is like a wonderful piece of literarure. What American film, especially one of those old so-called "classics", would ever contain such a great line as "La lune est mon pays" (The moon is my country)? I dunno, maybe it's just because I'm a European at heart.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 10:02 PM on November 22, 2000

It just goes to show that that these movies are conveying an emotion. If you are not inclined to that, you will not like it. Music is very similar. That is why they mix well. Aural and visual textures entwined.

Rattling off a bunch of favorite movies feels like a group disgorging of personal taste. Each movie is it's own conversation.


Hitchcock has always been one of my favorites as well. His movies were ares ignored by the Academy. One of my favorites that you didn't mention is Notorious.


You may want to check out Titus. The same director did Shakespheare is love. Titus was actually his most popular play and most violent, go figure. Also, I liked that quote. A favorite one of mine from The Third Man, which Orson wrote himself:
In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed - but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock. So long, Holly.
Harry Lime
posted by john at 10:35 PM on November 22, 2000


Hitchcock is a great director, not the greatest, but, is up there in the top 10-15 lists.

I think the reason that his films very rarely appear on top 10 lists is, they were entertaining, let me re-phrase that, they were made to entertain, while the overall significance of the film was maybe not there.

He can be compared to Spielberg, everyone LOVES his films, Jaws, ET, EOFTTK, Indiana Jones, 3 of them, Saving Private Ryan, but they aren't monumental or classicly great.

Commonly you hear people say "Ohh I was afraid to take a shower for the rest of my life" after seeing Psycho.

I now, have tried to the best of my abilities, say why I love Hitchcock, but, am not sure how to say I don't think he's great, while at the same time saying he's great. Well, I hope you understand what I meant. Understand?

Kurosawa, I really don't think Ran is a spectacle, King Lear shouldn't be classified under here.

Seven Samurai is his greatest. By greatest, I think it's important to look at how much of a challenge it was to create, how much of ingenuity came into place at the particular point on the timeline, both the director's and the world's.

That was really nicely put, "you really have to see films like Sanjuro or Yojimbo to really appreciate his genius (or to appreciate what a truly fine actor Toshirô Mifune was)" Another one of my favorites is High And Low, where Kurasaway broke away from samurai period and made an exciting modern thriller.


Scorcese ? Hmm, he's a mixed bag, best work - Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.


Wasn't The Limey 99? I' swear I recall it winning something at last years IFC awards. It is a good film.


1. American Beauty


3. Hands on a Hard Body

Why not then include Erroll Morris stuff? Thin Blue Line, Brief History Of Time and so on? On the same note, what happened to First Person?

4. The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars. Right. Not that there's anything wrong with having a Lucas vehicle in the list. Nope. I don't want to be killed by plastic lightsaber.

5. The Matrix

Little to early? I mean, the technology today was there, and all that happened was a transfer from anime the last 10 years of anime. Well, almost, you have to dumb-down the plots a bit, so you can have the girl at the end and all that. If you want to go with an action film, Woo's The Killer is an ok choice.

8. Jean De Florette & Manon Des Sources (parts 1 & 2 of the same story)

Good films, but why not include Howard's End and Remains of the day and similar in you list? Good films, I'm not sure why I cited two Hopkins, but it's fun.

15. Forrest Gump

Not Shawshank or Pulp Fiction? Or better yet, 'Being There'? I'm so going to be beat up at AMK (alt.movies.kubrick) if anyone finds out I liked it.

17. The Princess Bride

Ok, there is nothing yet that really achieves the level of quality that Princess Bride has, as far as classic adventure goes. We have Lord of the Rings and Dungeons and Dragons (with the every-so-sexy Jeremy Irons) coming soon, maybe they'll be good.


strange list. : )


And why is FMJ a 'crock'?
'I was trying to suggest something about duality of men, sir' - Think about it. HARD.


2. Fight Club (I disgaree with you quite vigorously on this one, tiaka)

Why's that? On what points?

My head isn't hurting yet, maybe it will after I go through the entire AFI 100 list. heh.

posted by tiaka at 3:00 PM on November 23, 2000

To those of you who listed Chinatown in your top 7, I have to ask this.


I realize that taste is subjective, blah blah blah, but prior to seeing it, I was told by those who had seen it that it was the "best movie ever made".

So I rented it.

Other than the "shock" ending, and maybe Jack Nicholson spending most of the movie with his nose gauzed up, I fail to recognize the alleged genius of the film.

Ditto for Eyes Wide Shut. I couldn't finish the damn thing because the dialogue was excessively stiff. And laughably bad.

Sadly, I don't dwell on movies enough to fashion out a "top 7". There are movies I enjoy, others I can't stand, others not worth a second thought.
posted by ethmar at 5:46 PM on November 23, 2000

And why is FMJ a 'crock'?
'I was trying to suggest something about duality of men, sir' - Think about it. HARD.

Maybe I missed something, I was looking for something. Anything.

posted by lagado at 6:49 PM on November 23, 2000


awesome pick on Courage Under Fire. I loved that movie -- it is probably #2 or #3 on my list of 1990's personal favorites, but I tend to forget about it because that's such an iconoclastic pick.

strangely enough, my 80's pick in the "Movies I Fell in Love with but Others Overlooked" is also a Meg Ryan featurer -- Joe vs. the Volcano

tiaka: I think that Scorcese's eclecticism will ultimately be his salvatation when the film history of our era is written: that the same guy could find such utterly different, yet utterly sublime, visions in The Last Temptation of Christ and Goodfellas, in the space of 3 years, is a feat for which almost no amount of regard is adequate.

posted by MattD at 7:49 PM on November 23, 2000

Talk about eclectic: Spielberg went straight from Jurassic Park to Schindler's List in 1993.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:28 PM on November 23, 2000

tiaka: (re: Fight Club) Why's that? On what points?

Well, you seemed rather dismissive of it, and frankly, I thought it the best movie to come out that year - and the best American film to come out in maybe ten or more. No movie is "perfect", but this one was a wicked visceral jolt, and a needed one at that. Its faults are insignificant, and its greatness lies in taking an important cultural moment and slapping you in the face with it. I could go on about why I think it's great, but I'm not sure what your specific reasons were for thinking it inferior.


Thanks for the recommendation. Nice quote. Mildly depressing, but nice. It's true that you have no great art without great strife - at least of the internal kind.

P.S., I apologise for the typos in my previous post.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 11:38 PM on November 23, 2000


Hmm, important cultural movement and slapping you with it? What movement would that be? I'm certainly not for Starbucks being at every corner and POANG chairs being in every house. And we are not at that point.

That's the problem with Fight Club, it doesn't address these issues, instead we hear Brad Pitt's most handsome face rehearse his script from the 12 monkeys. - 12 Monkeys? Lemon Curry? What in the hell are you talking about, right? Well, the weird thing is that Brad tells the context of a mad man's ramblings from another film. I haven't read the novel, and I'm just wondering if that was a joke that Fincher placed in?

We hear 'consumerism' and 'lifestyle' once or twice, we're hyped. Yes, down with consumerism, I hate the fact that I actually visited IKEA and bought that paper lamp. Should I book that flight to Seatle so I *too* can protest against WTO. But wait, you're getting too far ahead of yourself, the film isn't all about that. It's about some idiot with a self-righteous idea that organizes a cult.

Does this change the idea? I think so. It shows that it's not the consumerism that's the root of all evil, it's us, we'll follow anything. Starbucks? Ohh, yes, if you're going to have one. Blow up stuff? Sure, sign me up.

Well, if you're arguing so much about it, you've proven that it's a great film, I mean, look at all those lines of gibberish you've written. Right? No, the rest of the film just goes nowhere, it's still Hollywood, and We're facing Hard BODS of both Pitt and Norton, slugging it out, having sex, drinking, smoking, whatever. In the end, as Ebert has put it, there is a Keyser Soze syndrome, pull the rug under-in from you, and there you are.

So, we're mostly left with a minute study of a subject that is somewhere between cults and the people that lead them. It's not to bad, if we hadn't stopped and turned on the (my favorite) 'macho-porn'. There are better books about the subject, certainly more interesting, even one by Stevie King. heh.

And, typos happen. Aren't there shirts with that?
posted by tiaka at 9:16 AM on November 24, 2000

I said cultural moment, not movement. I am having a little trouble figuring out some of what you're trying to say, but I'll respond anyway. I have read the book, and the basic content or theme is the same. I think you're missing the point somewhat, though you do (to your credit) pick up on the fact that the proposed solution of the film is not the fascist organisation that Operation Mayhem becomes. What I think you're missing is the pure visceral response the film elicits (though not, obviously, for you), and why it does so. It rips the lid off what is stifling and deadly about our culture, then proceeds to express the immediate response to that (destroy it all), then criticises the failings of that as well - while staging this all within one person.

The cult isn't the point, the destruction isn't the point, the fighting isn't the point - the point is our priorities, and the way they are killing us, and the freedom of suddenly realigning what your life is about with no regard to the consequences. Part of that realignment is the narrator finally ridding himself of his madness - in the form of Tyler Durden and what he's wrought. Tyler and the cult and all of that are not the solution to the problem, but a symptom of it. It's not supposed to be taken literally (as disassociative personality disorder or what have you); art is about metaphors, and Tyler is a metaphor for what this empty, soulless culture does to a person who is in its jaws - it splits him (or her) into two. In the United States most people live their lives the way they do to stifle what would otherwise be an overwhelming depression and emptiness. When I'm depressed I watch t.v. and eat; other people shop, or work, or sleep, or whatever. And that's what American culture is all about. But when people are truly happy they live their lives differently. And when they can't, Fight Club suggests, they break apart - and Tyler Durden is the condensed expression of the narrator's building, senseless rage against all that which drains the life out of American culture. Tyler is not an answer, he is the knee-jerk reaction of someone who's finally lost it - and in the end, the narrator truly reaches freedom when he kills the madness that his old life created. The film is really about finding freedom.

I don't know how much it would mean to me if I weren't American, because it is a very American film, insofar as it reflects everything rotten and decrepit about our culture (I use that pronoun only in the literal sense, for I feel little ownership of it). But then again, American culture (especially the shitty parts) hardly stops at the national borders.
posted by Annabel.Gill at 4:45 PM on November 25, 2000

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