Film Study - Cinematic Storytelling

The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know
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1.
Metropolis (1927)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences. (153 mins.)
Director: Fritz Lang
“ Space:2D & 3D Screen Direction:
XY-Axis (Diagonals),

Frame-Composition:
Size ” - wavymavy
 
2.
Strangers on a Train (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A psychotic socialite confronts a pro tennis star with a theory on how two complete strangers can get away with murder - a theory that he plans to implement. (101 mins.)
“ Space:2D & 3D Screen Direction:
X-Axis (Horizontal), Y-Axis (Vertical) ” - wavymavy
 
3.
The Piano (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A mute woman is sent to 1850s New Zealand along with her young daughter and prized piano for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, but is soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation. (121 mins.)
Director: Jane Campion
“ Space:2D & 3D Screen Direction:
XY-Axis (Diagonals),

Time:
Visual Foreshadowing

Camera Lenses:
Wide-Angle (Vistas and Establishing Shots)

Camera Position:
Close-up (CU), Two-Shot, Over-the-Shouler Shot (OTS)

Camera Motion:
Aerial ” - wavymavy
 
4.
Citizen Kane (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance. (119 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
“ Space:2D & 3D Screen Direction:
Z-Axis (Depth of Field),

Frame-Composition:
Directing the Eye

Editing - Pudovkin's Five Editing Techniques:
Montage, Dissolves

Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Audio Bridge (Dialog), Visual Match-Cut (Pattern and Colour)

Camera Lenses:
Wide-Angle, Prop Lenses within the Scene (Fisheye)

Camera Position:
High-Angle ” - wavymavy
 
5.
Dolores Claiborne (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A big-city reporter travels to the small town where her mother has been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman that she works for as a maid. (132 mins.)
Director: Taylor Hackford
“ Space:2D & 3D Screen Direction:
Z-Axis (Planes of Action),

Natural Environment:
Physical Phenommena ” - wavymavy
 
6.
The Graduate (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A disillusioned college graduate finds himself torn between his older lover and her daughter. (106 mins.)
Director: Mike Nichols
“ Space:2D & 3D Screen Direction:
Z-Axis (Rack Focus),

Camera Lenses:
Telephoto ” - wavymavy
 
7.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
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. (111 mins.)
“ Editing - Pudovkin's Five Editing Techniques:
Split Screen

Camera Position:
Extreme Close-up (ECU) ” - wavymavy
 
8.
Dances with Wolves (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Lt. John Dunbar, exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military. (181 mins.)
Director: Kevin Costner
“ Camera Lenses:
Objects

Camera Motion:
Pan ” - wavymavy
 
9.
Disco Pigs (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A twisted rite of passage. (93 mins.)
“ Frame-Composition:
Imbalance, Balance ” - wavymavy
 
10.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. (153 mins.)
Director: Francis Coppola
“ Frame-Composition:
Orientation

Music:
Lyrics as Narrator

Camera Motion:
Rotation

Lighting:
Rembrandt Lighting (Light vs Dark) ” - wavymavy
 
11.
Barton Fink (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood. (116 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
“ Frame-Composition:
Orientation

Editing - Pudovkin's Five Editing Techniques:
Dissolves

Time:
Expanding Time through Pacing

Sound Effects:
Expressive Sound (Diegetic) (Outer World), Surreal Sound (Meta-Diegetic) (Inner World)

Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Audio Bridge (Sound Effects)

Props:
Props (Externalising Character) ” - wavymavy
 
12.
The Conversation (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A paranoid, secretive surveillance expert has a crisis of conscience when he suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered. (113 mins.)
“ Shape within the Frame:
Circular ” - wavymavy
 
13.
Fargo (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson. (98 mins.)
Director: Joel Coen
“ Shape within the Frame:
Linear

Camera Motion:
Tilt-Down

Camera Motion:
Push In -- Push Out ” - wavymavy
 
14.
Witness (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
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. (112 mins.)
Director: Peter Weir
“ Shape within the Frame:
Triangular, Organic vs Geometric ” - wavymavy
 
15.
The Searchers (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
An American Civil War veteran embarks on a journey to rescue his niece from the Comanches. (119 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ Shape within the Frame:
Rectangular ” - wavymavy
 
16.
Adaptation. (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt 'The Orchid Thief' by Susan Orlean for the screen. (114 mins.)
Director: Spike Jonze
“ Editing - Pudovkin's Five Editing Techniques:
Montage ” - wavymavy
 
17.
Psycho (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother. (109 mins.)
“ Editing - Pudovkin's Five Editing Techniques:
Assembly, Mise-en-Scene

Camera Position:
Hi-Lo Combined ” - wavymavy
 
18.
Cabaret (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A female girlie club entertainer in Weimar Republic era Berlin romances two men while the Nazi Party rises to power around them. (124 mins.)
Director: Bob Fosse
“ Editing - Pudovkin's Five Editing Techniques:
Intercutting ” - wavymavy
 
19.
American Beauty (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend. (122 mins.)
Director: Sam Mendes
“ Editing - Pudovkin's Five Editing Techniques:
Smash Cut

Lighting:
Candlelight ” - wavymavy
 
20.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption. (154 mins.)
“ Time:
Contrast of Time (Pacing and Intercutting), Expanding Time- Overlapping Action ” - wavymavy
 
21.
Raging Bull (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
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. (129 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
“ Time:
Slo-Motion

Props:
Props (Externalising Character) ” - wavymavy
 
22.
Amélie (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Amélie is an innocent and naive girl in Paris with her own sense of justice. She decides to help those around her and, along the way, discovers love. (122 mins.)
“ Time:
Fast-Motion (Time Compression)

Natural Environment:
Seasons and the Passage of Time ” - wavymavy
 
23.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A screenwriter is hired to rework a faded silent film star's script only to find himself developing a dangerous relationship. (110 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ Time:
Flashback ” - wavymavy
 
24.
The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A partially idealized film of the controversial pornography publisher and how he became a defender of free speech for all people. (129 mins.)
Director: Milos Forman
“ Time:
Freeze-Frame ” - wavymavy
 
25.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close. (110 mins.)
Director: George Roy Hill
“ Freeze-Frame ” - wavymavy
 
26.
Thelma & Louise (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An Arkansas waitress and a housewife shoot a rapist and take off in a '66 Thunderbird. (130 mins.)
Director: Ridley Scott
“ Time:
Freeze-Frame ” - wavymavy
 
27.
The 400 Blows (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Moving story of a young boy who, left without attention, delves into a life of petty crime. (99 mins.)
“ Time:
Freeze-Frame ” - wavymavy
 
28.
Klute (1971)
    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. (114 mins.)
Director: Alan J. Pakula
“ Sound Effects:
Realistic Sound (Diegetic) (Character)

Camera Motion:
Static Shot ” - wavymavy
 
29.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world. (115 mins.)
“ Sound Effects:
Realistic Sound (Diegetic) (Emotional Response)

Camera Position:
Low-Angle

Lighting:
Motion ” - wavymavy
 
30.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (142 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
“ Music:
Symbolic Use of Music ” - wavymavy
 
31.
Out of Africa (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
In 20th-century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter. (161 mins.)
Director: Sydney Pollack
“ Music:
Music as a Moveable Prop

Wardrobe:
Repurposing Wardrobe ” - wavymavy
 
32.
Sorry, Wrong Number (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
While on the telephone, an invalid woman overhears what she thinks is a murder plot and attempts to prevent it. (89 mins.)
Director: Anatole Litvak
“ Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Matching Audio Segue ” - wavymavy
 
33.
Fatal Attraction (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A married man's one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family. (119 mins.)
Director: Adrian Lyne
“ Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Matching Audio Segue

Camera Motion:
Tracking Shot

Lighting:
Motivated Lighting ” - wavymavy
 
34.
Single White Female (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A woman advertising for a new roommate finds that something very strange is going on with the tenant who decides to move in. (107 mins.)
“ Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Visual Match-Cut (Graphic Similarity) ” - wavymavy
 
35.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Humanity finds a mysterious, obviously artificial object buried beneath the Lunar surface and, with the intelligent computer H.A.L. 9000, sets off on a quest. (149 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
“ Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Visual Match-Cut (Action) ” - wavymavy
 
36.
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
The drug-induced utopias of four Coney Island people are shattered when their addictions run deep. (102 mins.)
“ Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Visual Match-Cut (Idea)

Camera Lenses:
Fisheye, ” - wavymavy
 
37.
Harold and Maude (1971)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Young, rich, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral. (91 mins.)
Director: Hal Ashby
“ Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Visual Match-Cut (Idea)

Props:
Contrast ” - wavymavy
 
38.
Titanic (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A seventeen-year-old aristocrat falls in love with a kind but poor artist aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic. (194 mins.)
Director: James Cameron
“ Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Extended Match Dissolve (Time Transition) ” - wavymavy
 
39.
Bound (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Corky, a tough female ex con and her lover Violet concoct a scheme to steal millions of stashed mob money and pin the blame on Violet's crooked boyfriend Caesar. (108 mins.)
“ Scene Transitions (Audio and Visual):
Disrupted Match-Cut

Camera Motion:
Rotation

Props:
Repurposing Props

Wardrobe:
Contrast of Wardrobe ” - wavymavy
 
40.
Chinatown (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A private detective hired to expose an adulterer finds himself caught up in a web of deceit, corruption and murder. (130 mins.)
Director: Roman Polanski
“ Camera Position:
Over-the-Shouler Shot (OTS) ” - wavymavy
 
41.
Halloween (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again. (91 mins.)
Director: John Carpenter
“ Camera Position:
Point-of-View (POV) ” - wavymavy
 
42.
Jaws (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A giant great white shark arrives on the shores of a New England beach resort and wreaks havoc with bloody attacks on swimmers, until a local sheriff teams up with a marine biologist and an old seafarer to hunt the monster down. (124 mins.)
“ Camera Position:
Point-of-View (POV) ” - wavymavy
 
43.
Léon: The Professional (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin's trade. (110 mins.)
Director: Luc Besson
“ Camera Motion:
Tilt-Up (Character)

Lighting:
Unmotivated Light ” - wavymavy
 
44.
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant. (99 mins.)
“ Camera Motion:
Circular ” - wavymavy
 
45.
Touch of Evil (1958)
    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. (95 mins.)
Director: Orson Welles
“ Camera Motion:
Handheld ” - wavymavy
 
46.
Goodfellas (1990)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy. (146 mins.)
Director: Martin Scorsese
“ Steadicam ” - wavymavy
 
47.
Natural Born Killers (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media. (118 mins.)
Director: Oliver Stone
“ Lighting:
TV Lighting ” - wavymavy
 
48.
3 Women (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
Pinky is an awkward adolescent who starts work at a spa in the California desert. She becomes overly attached to fellow spa attendant... (124 mins.)
Director: Robert Altman
“ Colour:
Coding Character ” - wavymavy
 
49.
Ed Wood (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
An ambitious but troubled movie director tries his best to fulfill his dream, despite his lack of support. (127 mins.)
Director: Tim Burton
“ Wardrobe:
Wardrobe ” - wavymavy
 
50.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A transgender punk-rock girl from East Berlin tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs. (95 mins.)
“ Locations:
Defining Character ” - wavymavy
 
51.
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A bus crash in a small town brings a lawyer to the town to defend the families, but he discovers that everything is not what it seems. (112 mins.)
Director: Atom Egoyan
“ Locations:
Location as Unifying Element ” - wavymavy
 
52.
Blue Velvet (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child. (120 mins.)
Director: David Lynch
“ Locations:
Location as Theme ” - wavymavy
 
53.
Dead Man (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
On the run after murdering a man, accountant William Blake encounters a strange North American man named Nobody who prepares him for his journey into the spiritual world. (121 mins.)
Director: Jim Jarmusch
“ Locations:
Moving Locations ” - wavymavy
 
54.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist. (107 mins.)
“ Natural Environment:
Climate ” - wavymavy