Monday, August 20, 2012
The Art of Reductionism: My Top 10 of All Time
1. Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson)
2. Grand Illusion (Jean Renoir)
3. Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman)
4. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick)
5. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick)
6. Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné)
7. The Phantom of Liberty (Luis Bunuel)
8. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey)
9. Blow-Up (Michelangelo Antonioni)
10. The Big Sleep (Howard Hawks)
(I've adhered to Sight & Sound rules and left off THE DECALOGUE, which would have been in my top five. I also stuck to one film by a director instead of just loading the thing with Kubrick).
DIARY OF A COUNTRY PRIEST has had a meteoric rise to the top of my list. I would have never imaged as much a year ago even. I couldn't possible describe why I love it so much. All I know is that when it's playing, my eyes are glued to the screen and my heart swells with wonder and emotion. GRAND ILLUSION has a similar effect on me and could easily be my number one. I actually think that it is the greatest film ever made, but DOACP gets the personal edge at this point in time. I actually love WILD STRAWBERRIES as equally as THE SEVENTH SEAL. But I have been using WS as my default favorite film for years, so I just gave it the edge to be consistent. BARRY LYNDON could easily be any other Kubrick film instead. DAYS OF HEAVEN could be any other Malick film. CHILDREN OF PARADISE could be PORT OF SHADOWS. THE PHANTOM OF LIBERTY is my favorite comedy of all time. DUCK SOUP is a close second. I retain my love for BLOW-UP, even if it is unpopular with the rest of our collective. It is, along with 8 1/2, almost entirely responsible for changing how I viewed the art of cinema. THE BIG SLEEP also had a huge impact on me that continues today.
Other All Time Greats:
11. Early Summer/Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu) [not a tie–just 100% interchangeable]
12. The Gold Rush (Charles Chaplin)
13. Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock)
14. The Earrings of Madame de... (Max Ophüls)
15. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton)
16. Meet Me in St. Louis (Vincente Minnelli)
17. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles)
THE GOLD RUSH could easily be CITY LIGHTS instead; SHADOW OF A DOUBT could easily be REAR WINDOW or VERTIGO or ROPE instead; THE EARRINGS OF MADAME DE could be LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN or LE PLAISIR; KANE could be AMBERSONS, etc.
Some Modern Greats:
18. The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski)
19. There Will Be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson)
20. Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)
21. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch)
22. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr)
I would have put THE THREE COLORS TRILOGY instead of TDLOV for Kieslowski, but the new rules prevented this. THERE WILL BE BLOOD, SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK, and MULHOLLAND DR. are my top three favorites from the Aughts. THE TURIN HORSE is a very recent favorite and included just for kicks.
And now that this list is done, I have to agree with John and Peter Bogdanovich that these types of ridiculously broad lists are beyond silly. Almost like a cinematic frame itself, what's most important isn't what is there, but what is not there. Where are Ford, Lubitsch, Tarkovsky, Truffaut, Sturges, Kurosawa, Huston, De Sica, Walsh, Fellini, Mizoguchi, and Wilder? My list sucks. No EMPIRE STRIKES BACK either. This list is getting worse and worse all the time.