Films recommended in The Visual Story, 2nd ed.

by Vera | created - 21 May 2012 | updated - 06 Jul 2012 | Public

This is the list included in "The Visual Story, Second Edition: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media" by Bruce A. Block. (my reading tips for the book: http://learnfilmdirecting.com/book-notes/the-visual-story-second-edition-by-bruce-a-block)

The films are sorted by the original order (but first 4 positions are for the movies recommended several times, i.e. for multiple chapters). See comments for what the film is recommended for. Also: 5 films are included in The Criterion Collection and that's why you see this comment about them.

Only 13 of these movies are non-USA: * UK: 6 (but one of them is Roman Polanski' movie, another one is USA-UK, The English Patient) * Sweden: 2 (Ingmar Bergman) * Japan: 1 (Akira Kurosawa) * Germany: 2 (Tom Tykwer and Wolfgang Peterson) * Italy: 1 (Bernardo Bertolucci) * Russia: 1 (Alexander Sokurov)

IMDB added my name after each comment automatically, can't fix that.

 Refine See titles to watch instantly, titles you haven't rated, etc
  • Instant Watch Options
  • Genres
  • Movies or TV
  • IMDb Rating
  • In Theaters
  • On TV
  • Release Year
  • Keywords



IMDb user rating (average) to
Number of votes to »




Reset



Reset
Release year or range to »




































































































1. Touch of Evil (1958)

PG-13 | 95 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town.

Director: Orson Welles | Stars: Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia

Votes: 80,732 | Gross: $2.24M

3: space, movement, rhythm

(S: Deep space; M: Continuum of Movement; R: The Continuous and Fragment Event)

2. Manhattan (1979)

R | 96 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
83 Metascore

The life of a divorced television writer dating a teenage girl is further complicated when he falls in love with his best friend's mistress.

Director: Woody Allen | Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Mariel Hemingway, Michael Murphy

Votes: 114,223 | Gross: $45.70M

2: space, tone

(S: Flat Space and Surface Division; T: Tonal Control Due to Reflectance or Incidence)

3. The Conformist (1970)

R | 113 min | Drama

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
100 Metascore

A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now a political dissident.

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci | Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli, Gastone Moschin, Enzo Tarascio

Votes: 20,405

2: line and shape, tone

(L&S: Shapes of spaces; T: Tonal Control Due to Reflectance or Incidence)

4. Goodfellas (1990)

R | 146 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

8.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
89 Metascore

The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his Mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco

Votes: 812,877 | Gross: $46.84M

2: movement, rhythm

(M: Continuum of Movement; R: The Continuous and Fragment Event)

5. Klute (1971)

R | 114 min | Crime, Mystery, Thriller

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A small-town detective searching for a missing man has only one lead: a connection with a New York prostitute.

Director: Alan J. Pakula | Stars: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, Roy Scheider

Votes: 17,386

space: Flat Space and Surface Division

6. Witness (1985)

R | 112 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
76 Metascore

A young Amish boy is sole witness to a murder; policeman John Book goes into hiding in Amish country to protect him until the trial.

Director: Peter Weir | Stars: Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas, Josef Sommer

Votes: 72,241 | Gross: $68.71M

space: Flat Space and Surface Division

7. American Beauty (1999)

R | 122 min | Drama

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
86 Metascore

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley

Votes: 910,589 | Gross: $130.10M

space: Flat Space and Surface Division

8. Fanny and Alexander (1982)

R | 188 min | Drama

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
100 Metascore

Two young Swedish children experience the many comedies and tragedies of their family, the Ekdahls.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Bertil Guve, Pernilla Allwin, Kristina Adolphson, Börje Ahlstedt

Votes: 46,939 | Gross: $4.97M

space: Limited Space

The Criterion Collection

9. Don't Look Now (1973)

R | 110 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.

Director: Nicolas Roeg | Stars: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Mason, Clelia Matania

Votes: 38,331

space: Limited Space

10. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

PG | 99 min | Drama

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
81 Metascore

An old Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur in the American South have a relationship that grows and improves over the years.

Director: Bruce Beresford | Stars: Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd, Patti LuPone

Votes: 80,522 | Gross: $106.59M

line and shape: Linear Motif

11. Natural Born Killers (1994)

R | 118 min | Crime, Drama

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
74 Metascore

Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Rodney Dangerfield

Votes: 187,474 | Gross: $50.28M

line and shape: Diagonal linear motif

12. The Shining (1980)

R | 146 min | Drama, Horror

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
63 Metascore

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where an evil spiritual presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from the past and of the future.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers

Votes: 691,236 | Gross: $44.02M

line and shape: Shapes of Spaces

13. Sexy Beast (2000)

R | 89 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
79 Metascore

Brutal gangster Don Logan recruits "retired" safecracker Gal for one last job, but it goes badly for both of them.

Director: Jonathan Glazer | Stars: Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane, Amanda Redman

Votes: 46,706 | Gross: $6.95M

line and shape: Shapes of Spaces

14. T-Men (1947)

Approved | 92 min | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller

7.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Two US Treasury agents hunt a successful counterfeiting ring.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: Dennis O'Keefe, Wallace Ford, Alfred Ryder, Mary Meade

Votes: 2,277

tone: Contrast of Tone

15. Raw Deal (1948)

Approved | 79 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him.

Director: Anthony Mann | Stars: Dennis O'Keefe, Claire Trevor, Marsha Hunt, John Ireland

Votes: 3,114

tone: Contrast of Tone

16. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

R | 111 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
69 Metascore

The Bride wakens from a four-year coma. The child she carried in her womb is gone. Now she must wreak vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her - a team she was once part of.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen

Votes: 817,801 | Gross: $70.10M

tone: Contrast and Affinity of Tone

17. Repulsion (1965)

Not Rated | 105 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
91 Metascore

A sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister's boyfriend sinks into depression and has horrific visions of rape and violence.

Director: Roman Polanski | Stars: Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry, John Fraser, Yvonne Furneaux

Votes: 39,521

tone: Tonal Control Due to Reflectance or Incidence

The Criterion Collection

18. Cries & Whispers (1972)

R | 91 min | Drama

8.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

When a woman dying of cancer in early twentieth-century Sweden is visited by her two sisters, long-repressed feelings between the siblings rise to the surface.

Director: Ingmar Bergman | Stars: Harriet Andersson, Liv Ullmann, Kari Sylwan, Ingrid Thulin

Votes: 22,392

color: Saturated Hue

The Criterion Collection

19. The English Patient (1996)

R | 162 min | Drama, Romance, War

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
87 Metascore

At the close of WWII, a young nurse tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim. His past is shown in flashbacks, revealing an involvement in a fateful love affair.

Director: Anthony Minghella | Stars: Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Kristin Scott Thomas

Votes: 154,166 | Gross: $78.65M

color: Contrast of Hues

20. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

R | 95 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
78 Metascore

A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Adam Sandler, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jason Andrews

Votes: 120,383 | Gross: $17.84M

color: Contrast of Hues

21. The Sixth Sense (1999)

PG-13 | 107 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
64 Metascore

A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan | Stars: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams

Votes: 775,394 | Gross: $293.51M

color: Affinity of Hue

22. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Crime, Drama

9.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 1,886,498 | Gross: $28.34M

color: Affinity of Hue

23. Sin City (2005)

R | 124 min | Crime, Thriller

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
74 Metascore

A film that explores the dark and miserable town, Basin City, and tells the story of three different people, all caught up in violent corruption.

Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba

Votes: 692,932 | Gross: $74.10M

color: Limited Color Palette

24. Ninotchka (1939)

Passed | 110 min | Comedy, Romance

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch | Stars: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Bela Lugosi

Votes: 15,727 | Gross: $1.19M

movement: Continuum of Movement

25. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

PG | 216 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

8.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
100 Metascore

The story of T.E. Lawrence, the English officer who successfully united and led the diverse, often warring, Arab tribes during World War I in order to fight the Turks.

Director: David Lean | Stars: Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins

Votes: 215,457 | Gross: $44.82M

movement: Continuum of Movement

26. Das Boot (1981)

R | 149 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller

8.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
86 Metascore

The claustrophobic world of a WWII German U-boat; boredom, filth, and sheer terror.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen | Stars: Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, Klaus Wennemann, Hubertus Bengsch

Votes: 186,979 | Gross: $11.49M

movement: Camera Movement

27. The Verdict (1982)

R | 129 min | Drama

7.8
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A lawyer sees the chance to salvage his career and self-respect by taking a medical malpractice case to trial rather than settling.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Paul Newman, Charlotte Rampling, Jack Warden, James Mason

Votes: 29,281 | Gross: $54.00M

movement: Camera Movement

28. Collateral (2004)

R | 115 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
71 Metascore

A cab driver finds himself the hostage of an engaging contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in Los Angeles.

Director: Michael Mann | Stars: Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo

Votes: 314,787 | Gross: $101.01M

movement: Camera Movement

29. Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)

Approved | 95 min | Comedy, Musical

7.5
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Romantic antics abound among the guests at a luxury hotel, including a stage director, an eccentric millionaire, and the daughter of a financial backer.

Director: Busby Berkeley | Stars: Dick Powell, Adolphe Menjou, Gloria Stuart, Alice Brady

Votes: 2,068

movement: Object Movement

30. The Fast and the Furious (2001)

PG-13 | 106 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
58 Metascore

Los Angeles police officer Brian O'Connor must decide where his loyalty really lies when he becomes enamored with the street racing world he has been sent undercover to destroy.

Directors: Rob Cohen, Mel City | Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster

Votes: 298,593 | Gross: $144.53M

movement: Object Movement

31. The Matrix (1999)

R | 136 min | Action, Sci-Fi

8.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
73 Metascore

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 1,357,043 | Gross: $171.48M

movement: Object Movement

32. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

R | 138 min | Action, Sci-Fi

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
62 Metascore

Neo and the rebel leaders estimate that they have 72 hours until 250,000 probes discover Zion and destroy it and its inhabitants. During this, Neo must decide how he can save Trinity from a dark fate in his dreams.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 450,303 | Gross: $281.49M

movement: Object Movement

33. The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

R | 129 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

6.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
47 Metascore

The human city of Zion defends itself against the massive invasion of the machines as Neo fights to end the war at another front while also opposing the rogue Agent Smith.

Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 390,427 | Gross: $139.31M

movement: Object Movement

34. Casino Royale (2006)

PG-13 | 144 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
80 Metascore

Armed with a license to kill, Secret Agent James Bond sets out on his first mission as 007, and must defeat a private banker to terrorists in a high stakes game of poker at Casino Royale, Montenegro, but things are not what they seem.

Director: Martin Campbell | Stars: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright

Votes: 508,004 | Gross: $167.45M

movement: Object Movement

35. Raging Bull (1980)

R | 129 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

8.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
92 Metascore

An emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci, Frank Vincent

Votes: 259,861 | Gross: $23.38M

rhythm: Rhythmic Control

36. Rumble Fish (1983)

R | 94 min | Drama

7.2
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
63 Metascore

Rusty James, an absent-minded street thug struggles to live up to his legendary older brother's reputation, and longs for the days when gang warfare was going on.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola | Stars: Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Dennis Hopper

Votes: 26,523 | Gross: $2.49M

rhythm: Rhythmic Control

37. Barry Lyndon (1975)

PG | 185 min | Adventure, Drama, History

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband's aristocratic position in 18th-century England.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Krüger

Votes: 114,562

rhythm: Rhythmic Control

38. Rashômon (1950)

Not Rated | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

8.3
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura

Votes: 116,445

rhythm: Rhythmic Control

The Criterion Collection

39. The Last Picture Show (1971)

R | 118 min | Drama

8.1
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

In 1951, a group of high schoolers come of age in a bleak, isolated, atrophied West Texas town that is slowly dying, both culturally and economically.

Director: Peter Bogdanovich | Stars: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson

Votes: 34,530 | Gross: $29.13M

rhythm: Rhythmic Control

The Criterion Collection

40. The Untouchables (1987)

R | 119 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.9
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
79 Metascore

Federal Agent Eliot Ness sets out to stop Al Capone; because of rampant corruption, he assembles a small, hand-picked team.

Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Charles Martin Smith

Votes: 236,587 | Gross: $76.27M

rhythm: The Continuous and Fragment Event

41. Man on Fire (2004)

R | 146 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
47 Metascore

In Mexico City, a former assassin swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect.

Director: Tony Scott | Stars: Denzel Washington, Christopher Walken, Dakota Fanning, Radha Mitchell

Votes: 287,507 | Gross: $77.91M

rhythm: The Continuous and Fragment Event

42. Run Lola Run (1998)

R | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.7
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
77 Metascore

After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.

Director: Tom Tykwer | Stars: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri

Votes: 170,632 | Gross: $7.27M

rhythm: The Continuous and Fragment Event

43. JFK (1991)

R | 189 min | Drama, History, Thriller

8.0
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  
72 Metascore

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there's more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story.

Director: Oliver Stone | Stars: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau

Votes: 122,819 | Gross: $70.41M

rhythm: The Continuous and Fragment Event

44. Russkiy kovcheg (2002)

Not Rated | 99 min | Drama, Fantasy, History

7.4
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
86 Metascore

A 19th century French aristocrat, notorious for his scathing memoirs about life in Russia, travels through the Russian State Hermitage Museum and encounters historical figures from the last 200+ years.

Director: Aleksandr Sokurov | Stars: Sergey Dreyden, Mariya Kuznetsova, Leonid Mozgovoy, Mikhail Piotrovsky

Votes: 15,814 | Gross: $0.04M

rhythm: The Continuous and Fragment Event

45. Traffic (2000)

R | 147 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

7.6
Rate this
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
86 Metascore

A conservative judge is appointed by the President to spearhead America's escalating war against drugs, only to discover that his teenage daughter is a crack addict. Two DEA agents protect an informant. A jailed drug baron's wife attempts to carry on the family business.

Director: Steven Soderbergh | Stars: Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jacob Vargas

Votes: 178,542 | Gross: $124.12M

rhythm: The Continuous and Fragment Event