Director – Roman Coppola
An introspective mind melt with wonderful homage to a variety of filmmakers. A wildly avant-garde filmmaking hopeful manages to get in on a campy, space spy adventure. Shifting gears from homelife to movie fantasy, our main character spins out of control as film itself takes him over.
A truly fun trip through the various lenses of filmmaking, that looks (much like the main character’s odd home-movie opus) with dizzying scrutiny at the minutiae of life, and boldly has nothing to say about it.
Director – Lars von Trier
Simply, and perhaps understandably, unwatchable for many, this ravaging story about a mother who suffers from a condition that will eventually leave her blind is so filled with moviemaking joy and brilliance that it is actually hard to talk about at all (without writing a book). Selma (Bjork) is an immigrant struggling to save enough money for the operation that will spare her son from going blind as well, and as crazy and difficult as her life is, she finds hope and happiness in song. Musicals mostly. A stunning look at a life that is in some sense perpetually tragic, with the most unfortunate circumstances staring you in the face every day.
63. The Dark Knight
Director – Christopher Nolan
The culmination of decades of comic-book mythos, this is theoretically the furthest reaches of the genre, and includes brilliant performances. However, it’s undisciplinedly overreaching and what ultimately becomes an effort to do everything for too long left me looking back at this one with less adoration than the first film. In the end, I’d rather watch Batman Begins.
Director – Stephen Frears
Though this one received some initial attention, it never managed anything like what it deserves. A fascinating show of the human condition through unlikely sources, the character study is intense and oddly fun despite the horrible circumstances. Yes, Tautou is on my list a lot.
61. Donnie Darko
Director – Richard Kelly
The craziest fun you’ve ever had, with a story so hard to put together that I’m convinced Kelly doesn’t actually understand what’s going on himself. It’s a Wonderful Death, according to my analysis (which Kelly claimed not to have in mind, so run with that), the film’s best quality is its ability to dissect the mundane by way of the unimaginable, bizarre, and more or less nonsensical.
60. Down with Love
Director – Peyton Reed
Hated by many, this homage to the Hudson and Day sex farces is probably only brilliant if that homage means anything to you. Mixing update while including directly “inspired” scenes makes for one of the most richly engrossing and fun films to ever honor other films.
Director – Michael Apted
Stoppard’s screenplay is brilliant, but it’s easy to understand large portions of the movie-going public who aren’t of the same opinion, and I don’t mean that as badly as I’m sure it sounds. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead either works for you, or it doesn’t, and it’s hard to have too much against those who can’t sit through it. Here, the combination of Stoppard and Apted is so far beyond so much of what hits the big screen that you have to watch it again to overcome the daze.
58. The Fall
Director – Tarsem Singh
It’s the 1920s, and young Alexandria is in the hospital recovering from a broken arm. Neighboring patient Roy Walker begins telling her stories to pass the time. What follows is an amazing show of splendor, as the tales Roy weaves are brought to life in perhaps the single best showcase of the power of film. The lines between story and reality blur, and the fascinating adventure is easily an achievement for the ages.
57. Far From Heaven
Director – Todd Haynes
Another homage film, this time to Sirk and to a lesser extent other films of the 50s (and the 50s themselves perhaps), Far From Heaven is solid upspin on the look behind the scenes of American life, and Haynes puts all the pieces just so. You’re somewhat forced to expect the film to “do something” with its homageness, but it doesn’t, and that fact alone is either brilliant or pointless.
56. Finding Nemo
Director – Andrew Stanton co-director – Lee Unkrich
This cute and fun adventure gets much of its multi-viewing classic status by way of its somewhat daring mix of comedic approaches. Brooks is not the funny voice of the day, and that’s the sort of angle you get from Pixar.