I finally made it! I've now seen 500 of the 1,000 films on the TheyShootPictures.com Greatest Movies compilation list. I hit the milestone with Roman Polanski's The Tenant. Here's what I've seen so far: https://themetropolistimes.com/1000-films-2/
It's been a ridiculous amount of fun learning about film through the list so far. I've seen so many movies I never would have thought to see otherwise. I'm excited to see at least 500 more!
To celebrate, here is my personal Top 50 Greatest Films List. I broke it up into foreign and domestic, and allowed for only one film per director - just to make it interesting.
1) Lawrence of Arabia
David Lean's World War I has long been a personal favorite of mine. Legends tell of Lean's obsession with the smallest details in this grand epic. It can be watched with the sound off as a pure visual treat, but its embrace of the mystery and affected romance of Lawrence's character gives it a depth few other films have equaled. Often mistaken as a paean to colonialism, I believe it has become more relevant as we move further away from the events it describes and become entrenched in postmodern questions of identity and civilization.
2) 8 1/2
Fellini's masterpiece about a director creating his own film is also a man creating his own life and a circus director ranging the clowns. Fellini is the Italian Liz Lemon.
Fritz Lang's Weimar Republic silent sci-fi was the first great dystopia on film. Its scenes have been used as fodder for everything from Frankenstein to Westworld.
4) La passion de Jeanne d'Arc
Renée Falconetti turns one of the greatest performances in history in Carl Th. Dreyer's religious drama. His dramatic, makeupless closeups creates are legendary.
The 1985 documentary on the Holocaust doesn't use a frame of archival footage. Whereas other films of the subject tend to focus on Hitler and present him as a manipulative genius, Shoah examines the people directly involved, making human choices in an environment long stepped in Antisemitism.
Many films have explored the way in which we all perceive the world differently, but only Kurosawa is bold enough not to attempt to reconcile the contradictory perspectives of the characters in his film.
7) The Seventh Seal
I gave Ingmar Bergman's meditation on death and life the slight nod over Persona primarily because of the way some of his scenes have become recognizable icons even for people who have never heard of the movie. This one, with the knight playing chess against death, is my favorite.
Is Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker sci-fi? Fantasy? It may transcend both. Like dark, lost mythology, it bring us to the haunting otherworld and gives us a near sense of the mystery of the reality that we can never describe.
Abel Gance's exciting 5 1/2 hour biopic both tells a compelling fable of Napoleon's early life and introduces the widescreen triptych this film is most remembered for.
10) The Exterminating Angel
Luis Buñuel's surrealism took on many forms through his career; here, the upper class gathers for a party but find themselves unable to leave the room. A different sort of storyteller would have given viewers a clue or two to speculate about, but Buñuel doesn't allow his characters to even really investigate their predicament.
1) Citizen Kane
I've been saying for a long time that Citizen Kane ought to be required viewing for high schoolers. Apart from its landmark as a piece of art, it also stands with The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick as iconic explorations of the American character.
Writing in October 2016, I don't think I have to work too hard to make a case for Kane's relevancy. Politico published 'How Trump's Favorite Movie Explains Him' this June. And below is Mr. Trump's review of Citizen Kane, filmed by Errol Morris.
2) 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick's magnum opus transformed what generations of mass audiences expected from film. His transcendental journey is set in the context of a hard science film, combining the spiritual and the material and seeking a way out of our modern rut. Watching 2001 provokes the type of ethereal awe one only feels from entering a cathedral for the first time, or listening to an 18th Century choral mass.
3) City Lights
Chaplin's best film, it achieves the perfect balance between comedy and sentimentality he always sought.
4) Taxi Driver
"You talkin' to me?" Travis Bickle is Scorsese's greatest Angry White Male. Doses in enough realism to bring the line as close as a dark comedy could possibly get.
5) Some Like It Hot
In the running for the funniest movie ever made. Extraordinarily hilarious, it takes the best elements of the end of the screwball era and mixes them up. Also one of Marilyn Monroe's best performances.
6) The Birds
I'm in the small minority in naming The Birds Hitchcock's best. It doesn't easily give itself over to frame-by-frame formal analysis that some of his other works do. But it has a bizarre quality to it that makes it Hitchcock's bravest work yet. Very little about the film is conventional. It has no resolution, and no explanation; it's Hitchcock by way of Buñuel. The mindless, causeless terror leads me to imagine Hitchcock spent decades trying to discover the source of his fears and eventually gave up.
7) Duck Soup
You won't find any better examples of The Marx Brothers' fast-paced blend of physical and verbal comedy. Only Dr. Strangelove satirized war as well as Duck Soup.
8) The Sound of Music
My pick for the greatest musical ever made. It's impossible to watch and not be overwhelmed with joy. Julie Andrews elevated the entire art of cinema by fearlessly embracing the best of our emotions - and having it juxtaposed against our worst historical backdrop.
Casablanca has seeped into our collective consciousness to such a degree that it hardly seems like a movie anymore. Rather, it exists as a series of iconic scenes, words, and glances that we all seem to remember whether we've actually seen the film or not.
10) Star Wars
Speaking of our collective consciousness... Star Wars and the films around it gave the West its first great mythology of the post-Christian era. Less than 40 years after its release, it has become as difficult to imagine America without Star Wars as it is Greece without Homer.