Some woefully incomplete favorite films lists…

I made these lists about two or three years ago for my other blog. I will probably revise them in the near future, as there are several films I MUST add to the lists below.

Truth is, I do not like top ten lists at all, not one bit, but I do love them because they’re candy. I have avoided jumping into the ever present top-ten-film-list milieu because, I say, I just don’t see the point. Fact is, I really want to, but can’t make up my mind. And the more I look at the list below, the more I realize I’ve missed some that should, should, should be there.

I also cannot rank films – I mean, it’s like choosing between steak and lobster, how can I pick a favorite? So what I have is a top 25 “pool” of films that seem to constantly swirl around my consciousness, that I find myself returning to over and over, and that send me into the closest thing to a religiously ecstatic experience I can find. This pool is also fed by underground springs and winding tributaries, and it empties into larger and larger pools until it connects with a vast ocean where all the films swim. Huh?

My top 25 favorite films (in alphabetical order):
Andrei Rublev (1966)

Andrei Rublev: The Casting of the Bell

Andrei Rublev: The Casting of the Bell

Apocalypse Now (1979)
Au hasard Balthazar (1966) See my post on this film.
BDR Trilogy (The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1979; Lola, 1981; Veronika Voss, 1982)
Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932)
Breathless (1960)
Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
La Dolce Vita (1960)
L’avventura (1960)
Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday (1953)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rashomon (1950)
Rules of the Game (1939)

Singing in the Rain (1952)
Stalker (1979)
The American Friend (1977)
Bicycle Thieves (1948)
The Blue Angel (1930)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather II (1974)
The Last Laugh (1924)
The Searchers (1956)
The World of Apu (1959)
Vertigo (1958)
Wings of Desire (1987)

25 films is really not a lot. If I had the inclination I could come up with a lot more, but to what end? At some point all cinephiles end up mentioning most of the same films over an over, and then throw in a few odd ones as if to say “I’m also a unique cine-hipster.” The truth is, great films are objectively great on some level. To recognize those films is to be human and, in some instances, thoughtful and observant too. So the above list isn’t really all that insightful. Consider it a kind of common ground.

But I can’t just stop there, for movies are like potato chips, and I gots the cravings…

My 25 favorite “makes-me-want-to-be-a-filmmaker” films that are not in my top 25 (in alphabetical order):
A Man Escaped (1956)
Alice in the Cities (1974)
Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
Catch-22 (1970)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Diamonds in the Night (1964)
Dog Star Man (1960s)
Goodfellas (1990)
Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)
Jaws (1975)
La Strada (1954)
La Terra trema (1948)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Life of Oharu (1962)
Mirror (1975)

Orpheus (1950)
sex, lies, and videotape (1989)
Street of Crocodiles (1986)

Sunrise (1927)
The 400 Blows (1959)
The Civil War (1990)
The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)
The Seventh Seal (1957)
Vagabond (1985)
Week End (1967)

“Why stop there,” said the voice in my head, “you know you don’t want to.”

My 25 favorite films “no one” ever lists on their all-time favorite films lists (in alphabetical order):
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
A Room with a View (1986)
Airplane! (1980)

Barcelona (1994)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Halloween (1978)
La Belle Noiseuse (1991)
Jean de Florette (1986) & Manon of the Spring (1986)
Meshes in the Afternoon (1943)
Mindwalk (1991)
Monsoon Wedding (2001)
My Dinner with Andre (1981)
My Life as a Dog (1985)
Rear Window (1954)
Scenes from a Marriage (1973)
Stealing Beauty (1996)
Strozyek (1977)
The Boxer and Death (1963)
The Decameron (1971)
The Golden Coach (1953)
The Road Warrior (1981)
Vampyr (1932)
Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
Window Water Baby Moving (1958)

I have come to the conclusion that top whatever film lists are like tee-shirts and bumper stickers – they have everything to do with telling others about oneself, of staking out some psychic and moral turf and saying “this is who I am… for now.” It’s also like a banker wearing a suit or a professor wearing a sweater with elbow patches; it’s a way for other like minds to say, “ah, you’re one of us!” You can take it or leave it, but when I look at the lists above I see an awful lot of myself up there.

…wait a minute, where are Dr. Strangelove? Umberto D.? The Earrings of Madam d…? Star Wars? Last Tango in Paris? Manhattan? Mulholland Drive? How could I have left them out? And where are Man with the Movie Camera? The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp? The Man Who Skied Down Everest? El Capitan? I just realized I haven’t listed a single film by the Coen brothers! And there’s not one film by Terrence Malick — and I could add ALL of his films and put them near the top of the list. Oh Lord, what have I done?!

I just don’t know where to stop. Or maybe I really don’t know where to begin. I vow in the future I will craft a true top ten list and stand by it… for a while. (or not)

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