Lists by clevecheng
I am an American, born and raised only a few miles from Hollywood, and the only language I am conversant in is English. So it should not come as a surprise that the vast majority of my favorite movies are in English.
Only about one in seven movies I've seen are primarily in a language other than English - including silents. Still, I've seen over three thousand feature films, so there are plenty of good ones among those 500+ foreign-tongued ones. And my favorite movie of all is in French. (Can you guess which one?)
Here I've grouped the top 100 by language, country, and director. Animated films excluded just for simplicity. I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of non-English-language cinema, so this will be a work in progress as I discover new movies and rewatch old ones.
And before someone objects, yes, many of these feature a significant amount of English dialogue - as does everyday conversation in so much of the world these days. In those cases, my criterion for inclusion (and one or two of these movies might not pass this criterion - I'll have to rewatch them) is that the film was made primarily for consumption by audiences for whom English is at best a second language.
The Academy has been nominating between five and ten (the rules have varied over the years) feature-length (forty-plus-minute) movies a year for Best Picture for 86 years now. I'll do them 14 better by nominating up to ten of my own for each of the last 100 years.
Why 100? Of the feature-length movies I've seen (and I only include movies I've seen here), the first was released 100 years ago.
The 100 best feature films I've seen that have been released since the year 2000, inclusive. This will be updated as I watch/rewatch more movies.
For each movie a director has made, he (interestingly, not one female - at least not one that was raised a female - has made the cut so far) gets one point for every star above 6 I have awarded that movie on IMDb. No points for movies I've rated 6 or below, and none for movies I haven't seen - life ain't fair; suck it up.
I only list directors with at least five points, and only movies that add points - so, yes, I have seen many more than the ones listed here.
I know: the director is not the only creative force behind a motion picture. Just trying to keep it simple for now and see what turns up.
Here I use the term "trilogy" loosely to mean any series of feature movies with at least three entries. I also reserve the right to divorce reboots from the crud that came before.
Not musicals, not sung by the characters, just part of the soundtrack.
Pairs of related movies from my Top 250 and Bottom 250 lists. Odd numbers are Top 250 picks; subsequent even numbers are related Bottom 250 picks. The relationship varies from pair to pair: for instance, Das Boot and The NeverEnding Story were directed by the same person (I know, I find it hard to believe myself).
Compare. Contrast. Discuss.
I like movies that are both sentimental and intelligent. Not experimental (unless it was a successful experiment), but not stale. Not sappy, but with heart. Enough to engage both the mind and heart. But above all I love the classic Hollywood style: transparent, entertaining, and with an emphasis on story above all else.
Curiously, not a single director in this list came up in the Hollywood studio system (Lubitsch was at the center of Hollywood, but only after he'd developed his style in Berlin), and yet all achieve a balance between style and story that make me revisit their masterpieces over and over.
Not necessarily what I consider best; just what I find myself watching over and over again.
This list is inspired by David Thomson's book "Have You Seen...?", which is subtitled "A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films - Including masterpieces, oddities, guilty pleasures, and classics (with just a few disasters)".
The thing is, I *have* seen most of them, and yet many masterpieces, oddities, guilty pleasures, classics, and disasters I'm interested in are missing, especially those from recent years. And while I respect Thomson's choices, and agree with many, being a generation younger than Thomson I don't share his appreciation for many of his arthouse picks of the 60s and 70s.
Rather than present my own list of a thousand (duplicating maybe half of Thomson's list), I thought it'd be more interesting to use his list as a starting point and add a thousand more of my own. That is, I've excluded from my list everything from "Have You Seen...?" - among those several hundred of my favorite movies. I find it stimulating to consider films beyond my favorites and the accepted classics.
Not all the movies in this list will stand the test of time - some already haven't, while others weren't good to begin with. But I hope you will find something interesting and unique about each one.
Having said that, it is a monumental effort to come up with a (second) thousand interesting movies - let alone comment on them - so I'm breaking it up into chunks of a hundred each.
To keep things simple, I'll restrict myself to feature films for the first hundred. As I scrape the barrel in later lists, I imagine, like Thomson, I will widen the field to include shorts, documentaries, and TV movies, series, and mini-series.
Will I make it to a thousand? Are there even two thousand movies in the world of interest to the general public? Stay tuned...
A selection of my favorite quotes not included in AFI's 400 nominees for 100 Greatest Quotes. Unlike the AFI list, this includes TV and covers movies/shows after 2004.
I find it striking how rarely silent films are seen these days.
As of Feb. 28, 2014, 3,018 feature films have over 25,000 votes on IMDb, meaning they are eligible for the IMDb Top 250. Of these only 8 are from the Silent Era, and 5 of these are in the IMDb Top 250. I estimate each of the IMDb Top 10 Most Voted Features (none of them silents) has more votes than all silent-era films combined.
In this list I only include feature movies where there is no or practically no synchronized speech. This excludes Modern Times, L'Age d'Or, Mon Oncle, The Illusionist - any line that would include Modern Times as a silent film yet exclude The Jazz Singer would be arbitrary indeed. I have included City Lights and The Artist, however, as these have minimal or no synchronized speech and are commonly thought of as silent films.
I don't necessarily imply these are bad as they are, nor that these should literally be cut to 90 minutes - just that they would all be better with significant portions left out and/or cut down.
WWII through the eyes of children
List only includes features I've seen. To see:
Come and See
Hope and Glory
A selection of feature fiction movies I like that have less than 1,000 votes on IMDb - at the time they are added to the list. By comparison, currently 25,000 votes are needed to qualify for the IMDb Top 250, and The Shawshank Redemption has over a million votes.
The difference between a great movie and a favorite is that, while there are numerous great movies I have little desire to rewatch, I keep going back to my favorites time and again.
Thus, my favorites tend to be upbeat or at least emotionally satisfying films, with a leaning towards romantic comedies and related genres.
Notice the almost forty-year gap between the Golden Age of Hollywood (1932-1950s) and the Golden Age of Miramax (1992-2000s).
Directors who, despite having some talent for directing actors, nevertheless drown any redeeming qualities of their movies in a Biblical flood of interminable spectacle.
Covering famous arthouse movies between WWII and the French New Wave. I've tried to stick to movies an American could see in an arthouse theater soon after release - this leaves out later "discoveries" like Yasujiro Ozu. Although since I don't have detailed listings of U.S. screenings, I'm listing these by domestic release date - so Children of Paradise comes before Rome, Open City, even though the first U.S. audiences would've seen the latter first.
roughly contemporary movies about life in the aftermath of World War II
Ready for 4k video? Here's a list of famous feature films shot on 65mm film (Grandeur, Todd-AO, Super Panavision 70, etc.) that theoretically stand to gain more than typical 35mm films from the upgrade to 4k from 1080p.
the most famous, influential, and original documentaries of all time
famous directors acting in famous movies they didn't direct
Watching Floating Weeds just now, it occurred to me just how many of the greatest movies of all time are centered around stage (or at least non-movie/TV) performers. Shakespeare's influence or just an obvious association with movies?
The showdown between Roland Bay and Michael Emmerich - or was that the other way around? Here are my current rankings.
Hate on them all you want; only a handful of directors can match the consistency of this dynamic duo. When you buy Baymerich, you get what you paid for.
one of my favorite genres: movies about movies - either making them or watching them
I'm mostly not into camp. Most low-budget sci-fi or horror films bore me, and I don't much enjoy watching painfully bad movies. But here are a few which manage to be sufficiently interesting while offering some amusingly bad moments to make a good night's entertainment.
movie star couples who eclipse the British royal family
The James Bond series started a wave of interest in spy movies that continues to this day, but there were plenty of famous spy movies before Dr. No.
The best performance in each year - this will be updated as I watch more movies.
In about five billion years the sun will begin to die. No worries, though: as long as we've preserved our classic films, the people in this list have enough star power to jumpstart a fusion reaction.
I'm not talking acting ability, or even looks necessarily - just an overpowering on-screen charisma.
The 70s seem to get held up these days as a Golden Age of Cinema, but one need not even scratch the surface to find that the seeds of the 80s were sown throughout the preceding decade.
While Universal and Paramount (and other studios) are releasing a number of the classic films from their vaults on Blu-ray this year, it's barely a drop in the ocean of classics that have yet to be released on Blu-ray. According to Blu-ray.com, as of Jan. 24, 2012 - over 5-1/2 years since the first Blu-ray releases - around 160 feature films released before 1960 are available on Blu-ray in North America. By comparison, a quick IMDb search shows 76,126 feature films were released between 1914 and 1959.
I can understand the logic that older films are less likely to have well-preserved source elements, will take less advantage of Blu-ray's high-resolution video and audio, and, further, that most people interested in these films are old enough to either not have the latest technology or have too-poor vision and hearing to perceive the higher resolution of Blu-ray, but the mastering of many of these films' DVDs (or VHS in some cases where there isn't even a DVD yet) is so poor that any restoration (assuming there are decent extant sources) should make a big difference in the quality.
And then there are also a large number of relatively recent feature films that have yet to be released on Blu-ray - after all, from the perspective of Blu-ray, everything released before mid-2006 is a catalog title.
Anyway, these are just the ones I would buy (for the right price) if they came out on Blu-ray.
(Updated 9/2/2013 to remove Blu-rays that have been released - thanks!)
My picks for the best film I've seen to come out of each nation.
Modernizations of the classics.
While I would love to include such classic turns as Keanu Reeves in Much Ado About Nothing or the "We Will Rock You" version of A Knight's Tale, I'll stick to movies with ostensibly contemporary settings (i.e., modern for the year of release).
Mistaken identities, masked men, Mata Haris, putting on airs, lying low on the lam - I guess it was only natural that so many 1930s movies featured characters pretending to be something they're not.
The 1970s are my least favorite decade for movies. Despite being born in 1975, I have watched fewer movies from the 70s than from any other decade of the sound era, including the current one - which is not yet even a third of the way through.
But there are great films in every decade, and the 70s is no exception. Quite the contrary: some of the very best movies of all time are from the 70s. Here are my favorites.
Great Movie Quotes lists tend to exclude silent movies since they have no dialogue per se. But silent movies do have written material: the title cards (or "intertitles"). And some of them, especially in the comedies, are quite cleverly written. Here are my favorites. This is a work in progress.
With their large urban populations and world-leading entertainment industries, it is only natural lots of actors and directors come from California or New York. It struck me recently, though, just how many famous movie actors and directors come from Kentucky, home to less than 4.4 million people. Here are some of the most famous.
There's a depressing tendency among recent movies where the more famous the director and the more targeted towards a Best Picture Oscar a movie is, the longer it gets. Nine out of Ten Best Picture nominees this year are two hours or longer; four of those are 2-1/2 hours or longer. Nine additional Oscar nominees are also over two hours, with The Hobbit (only the first of three parts) approaching three hours. All three of these long movies I've seen would have been better with at least half an hour cut out.
Just to show that a good movie doesn't have to be long, here are some of my highest-rated movies - each under 100 minutes long. And we don't have to go back far to find a short Best Picture winner either: last year's The Artist was only 100 minutes long.
When a mega-budget Hollywood production runs into serious problems - or even if it doesn't, but is simply one of those "biggest yet" productions - pundits will predict it to fail. Some of the movies in this list did just that: whatever success they had, it was not nearly enough to make back production costs. All the more interesting then, those that achieved record-breaking box office success, and what those results say about the future of Hollywood.
There are avant garde experimental films - Bunuel and the like - and then there are mainstream films - meaning ones that take a classical storytelling stance - that experiment in one or more interesting ways. For a number of reasons, 1966 was an unusually fertile year for non-conformist, but still mainstream filmmaking.
For the purposes of this list, I define the Golden Era of Hollywood as between the advent of synchronized sound (technically in 1927, but most studios were just getting around to making talkies in 1929-30) and the attack on Pearl Harbor.
In the name of diversity, I've tried to minimize similar movies (i.e., movies by Garbo, Shirley Temple, Fred+Ginger, etc. tend to run together). I've also included several non-Hollywood movies for the influence they had on Hollywood.
Not all of these make for enjoyable viewing these days, but if you have not already seen these hundred movies, by the time you've finished you should have acquired a fairly comprehensive "literacy" in Hollywood filmmaking. If you ever wondered where a Hollywood technique, trope, or quotation originated, there's a good chance it either came from or was elaborated in one of these movies.
Many years ago I watched Algiers (1938), and didn't like it. Recently, I finally tracked down the original French film Algiers was a remake of, Pepe le Moko. The original is much better in multiple ways - although still creaky and rather haphazardly directed.
Thinking about remakes and creaky conventions and disjointed direction, though, I had an epiphany: Tom Hooper must've been deliberately quoting Pepe le Moko in his recent remake of Les Miserables. The quick shots of isolated heads against walls at the bottom of the frame are the most obvious element mirrored in Hooper's Les Mis.
Of course, both are popular French stories, and both feature a hounded fugitive, making his way amidst the squalor of the French underclass.
But more interesting to me are the advantages and disadvantages of their similar directorial style. Both movies are remarkable for their eye candy - not just the actors and sets, but the cinematography as well. But both movies are harmed by the discord between their visual style and story.
Pepe is the more minor offender, with the cuts, posed camera angles, and dramatic lighting all undermining the emotion of and chemistry between the actors. Les Mis is worse, the close-ups and sharp cuts similarly interrupting interaction between the players, but also the inconsistently-used shaky cam attempting to convey... what? A documentary feel to a sing-through musical based on a melodramatic 19th-Century novel?
And then it hit me - Hooper's Les Miserables draws on not just Pepe le Moko, but that other famous movie about Algiers: The Battle of Algiers - a documentary-like film about a revolution in (what was formerly) France.
Best of movie lists usually offer some combination of favorite, high art, and important films. While the first two criteria are highly subjective, the last is a matter of history - still subjective, but not nearly as much.
Here I present the six most important movies in history. These are the most influential of all movies - influential not necessarily in terms of the art form (although most were this too), but in terms of the movie industry.
Looking at the average spacing between turning points, we're about due for another one. Have we reached the end of history, or are we on the verge of an epiphany?
It surprises me how few IMDb votes some famous movies get. While it's understandable a Golden Era of Hollywood film will not get watched as much as the latest Blu-ray release, I'm astounded that, as of this writing, something like 260x as many people voted on Shawshank Redemption as National Velvet.
So as an alternative to shelling out $16.50/person to see one-third of The Hobbit this December, here is a list of movies that, as of the time of this writing, I have:
- rated 10 but have less than 20,000 IMDb votes,
- rated 9 but have less than 10,000 IMDb votes, or
- rated 8 but have less than 5,000 IMDb votes.
For comparison, as of this writing, out of a total of 281,049 feature films listed on the Top Votes page, only:
- 13 feature films have gotten more than 500,000 votes,
- 174 more than 200,000, and
- 595 more than 100,000.
With both Universal and Paramount celebrating their centennials in 2012, I thought it time to make my list of Best Pictures for the first century of Hollywood. Like the Academy Awards, only one movie per calendar year makes the list (using the IMDb release year), but unlike the Academy, I don't insist on picking movies in years I haven't seen anything I liked. So although I've seen my share of silent films, the list doesn't really get into the swing of things until the sound era.
Maybe it was in response to Reality TV, maybe it was the new HBO, but early in the 21st Century a string of TV shows came out featuring writing that in my opinion was for the first time worthy of a great feature film. I'd been addicted as a child to horrendous 80s TV, but stopped watching entirely in college, and stayed off the habit for over a decade. Then I discovered Deadwood, and it was all downhill from there.
Here are the standouts that made me fall in love with TV (well, streaming mostly) again.
I define a small movie as one that is not only low-budget (less than $10 million in 2011 USD) but small in scope as well. That means small people in small settings, usually doing small (if not unimportant) things.
This mostly means non-Hollywood (independent or "foreign") films, primarily straight dramas, comedies, and romantic comedies, and basically excludes action-adventures, musicals, war films, science fiction, and the like.
Food for thought: even when adjusted for inflation these one hundred movies combined cost less to make than the Pirates of the Caribbean series - possibly less than the single back-to-back production of Dead Man's Chest/At World's End.
Including feature films set in wartime and prominently featuring war's effects, not just those featuring combat.
Not simply the best movies with romances in them, but the best romantic stories of all time.
Essentially all fiction asks the question, "What If?"
Great Science Fiction asks the question, "What If We Could?"
At last count, there were about as many Australians as Southern Californians. Besides deserts, sandy beaches, and an air of laid-backness, the other thing these two have in common is a plethora of great actors. But while Hollywood attracts actors from all over the English-speaking world - including everyone on this list - Australia is pretty much on its own.
All the more remarkable then the talent that has emerged from this sparsely-populated isle. Whether we're talking about the cowboy swagger of its leading men or the independent spirit of its actresses, to someone raised in SoCal there's something comfortably familiar, yet engagingly quirky, about Australia.
Included in this short list are some of my favorite Australian actors - and a good portion of my favorite actors, period. Outside of the U.S. and U.K., I'm pretty sure I cannot compile a list with this much cinematic talent from any other country.
movies both set and shot in each of the fifty United States