Saturday, January 29, 2011

Seeing 250 Movies

A little more than a year ago I set out to view a complete a list of movies because I felt a lack of experience when it came to classic cinema. I could have chosen more esteemed lists like ones offered from Sight and Sound or AFI, but instead I picked the public's collective choice through IMDB's list of the best 250 movies of all time. This list is the most basic one out there, containing just about every major classic you need to see. When I scanned the list, I found that there were a good 150 or so titles I had yet to view, and I quickly decided that had to change. I began watching movies on the list at the beginning of 2010 and continued to see them sporadically throughout the year. By December I was desperately seeking out copies of the remaining titles so that I could finish the list by year's end (it had been one of my goals for 2010). But as the final days of the year approached, I couldn't realistically imagine completing it (I didn't have either the time or the mental capacity to absorb so many movies in so short a time), so I ended up stretching the remaining films into January. A week ago I watched Schinder's List, which I had known from the beginning would be the last movie I saw, and the IMDB 250 was completely checked off.

My thoughts on the list? I personally think it's excellent, and a sign that the overall public has a pretty good idea of what a great movie is. However, it's a popular list, so it's filled with big films that vast majorities of people have seen and loved. Nearly all the contemporary titles are either mainstream or smaller titles that found award season success. No small indies to be found here. Still, I love the fact that the public has placed
The Prestige so high on the list, and that the great German film Downfall has maintained (and likely always will) a spot in the top 100. Other movies I feel do not belong, while some great titles have been left off the list all together. But again, this is not a matter of an official gathering to adjudicate the greatest movies of all time. It's merely a voting process (and a very clever one at that) that takes the ratings of any IMDB user to contribute to the list.

What were the best things I saw of the 250? Well, not counting the 100 or so titles I'd seen (including major classics like
The Godfather, The Third Man, 2001, and Vertigo), my favorites were Heat, Wages of Fear, Brief Encounter, Planet of the Apes, Downfall, The Bicycle Thief, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Rashomon, Manhattan, Barry Lyndon, Das Boot, and Seven.

Every movie on this list is considered a classic or has the potential to become one. But that doesn't mean I liked everything I saw. Here are the ones that either I didn't like:
The Holy Grail, The Exorcist, American Beauty, Oldboy, Trainspotting, Witness for the Prosecution, V for Vendetta, Snatch, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.

Movies that were supposed to be good and were just okay:
Gandhi, Casino, Glory, Fargo, The Big Sleep, and 8 1/2.

I encourage seeing everything on this list (and many of them multiple times) if you find that you've avoided them to this point. I forced myself to see a lot of things I wasn't interested in (
Ran was a tough one to sit down to, but it turned out to be great) and ended up seeing nearly all of the most notable classics. I've posted below the complete list. Note: The list is from the end of 2009, so it may vary from the current list as new movies try to find their way onto it:

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather: Part II (1974)
Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good the Bad and the Ugly) (1966)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Schindler's List (1993)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
12 Angry Men (1957)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Star Wars (1977)
Casablanca (1942)
Goodfellas (1990)
Shichinin no samurai (The Seven Samurai) (1954)
Cidade de Deus (City of God) (2002)
Fight Club (1999)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Rear Window (1954)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Psycho (1960)
C'era una volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West) (1968)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
The Matrix (1999)
Avatar (2009)
Memento (2000)
Se7en (1995)
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
North by Northwest (1959)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Léon (1994)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
American Beauty (1999)
American History X (1998)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Vertigo (1958)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
WALL·E (2008)
Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Amelie) (2001)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Alien (1979)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Shining (1980)
Paths of Glory (1957)
The Departed (2006)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
The Pianist (2002)
Aliens (1986)
Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Spirited Away) (2001)
Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) (2006)
M (1931)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Chinatown (1974)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
The Third Man (1949)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
Das Boot (1981)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
El laberinto del fauno (Pan's Labyrinth) (2006)
Up (2009)
City Lights (1931)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Raging Bull (1980)
The Prestige (2006)
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) (1997)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
Back to the Future (1985)
Der Untergang (Downfall) (2004)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Modern Times (1936)
Gran Torino (2008)
Amadeus (1984)
Rashômon (1950)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Nuovo cinema Paradiso (1988)
All About Eve (1950)
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
Braveheart (1995)
The Elephant Man (1980)
Sin City (2005)
Metropolis (1927)
Rebecca (1940)
The Green Mile (1999)
The Great Dictator (1940)
The Apartment (1960)
The Sting (1973)
District 9 (2009)
The Great Escape (1963)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Batman Begins (2005)
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)
Gladiator (2000)
Jaws (1975)
Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) (1948)
Unforgiven (1992)
Blade Runner (1982)
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
No Country for Old Men (2007)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
On the Waterfront (1954)
Die Hard (1988)
Touch of Evil (1958)
Oldboy (2003)
Det sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal) (1957)
Fargo (1996)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Mononoke-hime (Princess Mononoke) (1997)
Strangers on a Train (1951)
Per qualche dollaro in più (For a Few Dollars More) (1965)
Heat (1995)
Donnie Darko (2001)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
The Wrestler (2008)
High Noon (1952)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Notorious (1946)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Annie Hall (1977)
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Platoon (1986)
The Big Sleep (1946)
The General (1926)
Snatch. (2000)
Ben-Hur (1959)
Into the Wild (2007)
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
Yojimbo (1961)
Star Trek (2009)
Ran (1985)
It Happened One Night (1934)
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Life of Brian (1979)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Lion King (1994)
Finding Nemo (2003)
Smultronstället (Wild Strawberries) (1957)
Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
The Graduate (1967)
Trainspotting (1996)
Stand by Me (1986)
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Toy Story (1995)
The Terminator (1984)
Ratatouille (2007)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Scarface (1983)
Amores perros (2000)
The Thing (1982)
8½ (1963)
Gandhi (1982)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
V for Vendetta (2005)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
The Gold Rush (1925)
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Les diaboliques (1955)
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Incredibles (2004)
Le salaire de la peur (Wages of Fear) (1953)
Casino (1995)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)
Children of Men (2006)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Killing (1956)
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Hotaru no haka (Grave of the Fireflies) (1988)
In Bruges (2008)
The Exorcist (1973)
Le notti di Cabiria (Nights of Cabiria) (1957)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
The Hustler (1961)
Harvey (1950)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Ed Wood (1994)
The Kid (1921)
King Kong (1933)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Big Fish (2003)
Dial M for Murder (1954)
Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In) (2008)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Brief Encounter (1945)
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
Stalag 17 (1953)
Crash (2004/I)
Sleuth (1972)
Duck Soup (1933)
The African Queen (1951)
Magnolia (1999)
Rocky (1976)
Mystic River (2003)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Le scaphandre et le papillon (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) (2007)
Manhattan (1979)
Rope (1948)
Network (1976)
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Wo hu cang long (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) (2000)
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
La strada (1954)
Patton (1970)
Changeling (2008)
The Conversation (1974)
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Glory (1989)
Spartacus (1960)
The Lady Vanishes (1938)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
La battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers) (1966)
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
Casino Royale (2006)
Brazil (1985)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro) (1988)
Blood Diamond (2006)
Mou gaan dou (Infernal Affairs) (2002)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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