Sunday, June 5, 2011

100 Most Original and Creative Films

[Updated: 06.01.11]
In Chronological order
Total count: 111 + 11 documentaries

For me, these films have to also be watchable, which leaves off some of the more experimental films that were certainly original, but not much else.. I guess you also have to take the film's era under consideration, or films like King Kong would look like comedies (never mind the jaws of death on the T.Rex that Kong fights, he keeps using the Graeco-Roman wrestling one-legged takedown move daring Rex to bite his neck)

20's (6)
Nosferatu (1922) Germany, bw-silent the original vampire
The Battleship Potemkin (1925) USSR, bw-silent
Metropolis (1927) Germany, bw-silent [photo above]
Napoleon (1927) bw-silent - Abel Gance's epic 4-hour film, to be shown on three screens, creating ultra-widescreen effects; still amazing today
Man With the Movie Camera (1928) USSR, bw/silent
Sunrise (1928), bw-silent Won the only Oscar® ever given for "Most Artistic Film", which was almost a 2nd best picture award; Sunrise won 3 Oscars® for 1928, the most that year.

30's (8)
M. (1931) Germany, bw
Duck Soup (1933) bw
The Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) bw - the musical numbers directed by Busby Berkeley are trippy for any era
King Kong (1933) bw - a dumb story but some pretty good special effects for 1933. Growing up, I liked Mighty Joe Young just as much. Love it when Kong fights the T.Rex and keeps using the one-legged wrestling takedown from Graeco-Roman wrestling, which shows that Kong has some culture and fights like a gentleman; this is funny stuff today
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Alexander Nevsky (1938) Russia, bw [photo above]
The Wizard of Oz (1939) 
The Women (1939) bw

40's (10)
Fantasia (1940) animation
His Girl Friday (1940) bw
Citizen Kane (1941) bw
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) bw
Double Indemnity (1944) bw
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)  [photo above]
It's a Wonderful Life (1946) bw
Black Narcissus (1947)
Out of the Past (1947) bw
The Bicycle Thief (1949), Italy, bw - Vittorio de Sica used all amateur actors and a street realism style with stunning results, it's a prime example of Italian postwar neo-realism

50's (9)
An American in Paris (1951)
The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T (1952) - a fantasy by Dr. Seuss about children held captive by an evil piano teacher who has a giant piano and a composition requiring 500 children (5000 fingers..) photo above
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
The Night of the Hunter (1955) bw
Rififi (1955) France, bw
Crazed Fruit (1956) Japan, bw
12 Angry Men (1957) bw
The Seven Samurai (1957) Japan, bw
Vertigo (1958)

60's (13)
L'avventura (1960) Italy, bw
West Side Story (1961)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)  [photo above]
Frederico Fellini's 8 ½ (1963) Italy, bw
Dr. Strangelove (1964) bw
The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) Italy, bw
Battle of Algiers (1965) France, bw
Morgan! (1966) bw
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) bw
In Cold Blood (1967) bw
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)  [photo below]
War and Peace (1968) Russia took 5 yrs to film, costing $100 million, using 250,000 extras
Yellow Submarine (1968) - with Beatles music and childlike animation, in the style of super-hippie graphic artist Peter Max; for kids and fans only, as the Beatles venture into Pepperland to save it from the Blue Meaniesanimation

70's (8)
The Conformist (1970) Italy
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Godfather Part II (1974)
The Night Porter (1974) Italy
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Network (1976)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Apocalypse Now! (1979)

80's (17)
Raging Bull (1980) bw
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
The Road Warrior (1981) Australia
Time Bandits (1981)
Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (1982) a filming of the 8-hr stage production, in two-hr parts [on the stage it was performed over 4 nights during the week, then all day on Saturday - 50 actors play over 250 parts]
Carmen (1983) Spain
Star Wars Trilogy (1978-83)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Brazil (1985)
Aliens (1986)
Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
Raising Arizona (1987)
Beetle Juice (1988)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Japan animation
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Heathers (1989)

90's (15)
Beauty and the Beast (1991) animation
El Mariachi (1992) Mexico
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) partial computer animation
Groundhog Day (1993)
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Schindler's List (1993) bw
Chungking Express (1994) Hong Kong
Babe (1995)  partial animation
Fallen Angels (1995) Hong Kong  [photo above]
Toy Story (1995) computer animation
Hamlet (1996) the first film made of the entire unabridged play
Run Lola Run (1998) Germany
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Being John Malkovich (1999)
The Matrix (1999) partial computer animation

2000's (24)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) China [photo above]
Memento (2000)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Traffic (2000)
Chaos (2001) France
City of God (2002) Brazil
Hero (2002) China
Minority Report (2002)
American Splendor (2003)
Big Fish (2003)
Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2003) New Zealand partial computer animation
Oldboy (2003) Korea
The Triplets of Belleville (2003) France-Belgium-Can.-UK animation
A Very Long Engagement (2004) France
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Innocence (2004)
Sin City (2005) bw  partial computer animation
13 Tzameti (2006) France, bw
Babel (2006) Mexico
Departures (2008) Japan
The Fountain (2008)  [photo below]
Wall-E (2008) computer animation
Avatar (2009)  partial computer animation
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) computer animation
Micmacs (2009) France

Inception (2010) partial computer animation

Documentaries (11)

Man With the Movie Camera (1928) bw/silent
Triumph of the Will (1935) Germany, bw
Olympia (1938) Germany, bw [photo above]
Woodstock (1970)
Baraka (1992)
Hoop Dreams (1994)
Winged Migration (2001)
Rivers and Tides (2003)
Manufactured Landscapes (2006)
Marwencol (2010)
Restrepo (2010)

Honorable Mentions

The Absent-Minded-Professor (1961) bw
Back to the Future (1985)
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Big (1988)
Blue Velvet (1986) David Lynch took modern noir in a direction that not everyone liked
Breathless (1959) France, bw - Godard is not my cup of tea but his first is refreshing and a good place to begin - Band of Outsiders (1964) is his most enjoyable for me
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Chicago (2002)
Cinema Paradiso (1988) Italy
The Conversation (1974)
The Crying Game (1992)
Dames (1934) - more mind-boggling musical numbers from Busby Berkeley, the neon violins top them all
Dangerous Liaisons (1988)
Diabolique (1955) France, bw
E.T.: The Extraterrestrial (1982)
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) China
The Fall (2007) India-U.S.
Field of Dreams (1989)
Good Bye, Lenin! (2003) Germany
The Graduate (1967)
The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2006) - another from the twisted mind of Terry Gilliam, where people enter the mind of Dr. Parnassus as a traveling sideshow and see their world through his imagination; Heath Ledger died during filming and his role was finished by Johnny Depp and Jude Law (!) - partial computer animation
The Incredibles (2004) animation
The Last Emperor (1987)
Legend of 1900 (1998) Italy
The Maltese Falcon (1941) bw
MASH (1970) a comedy set in an army battlefield hospital in Korea, yeah, that'll make em laugh
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
My Favorite Wife (1938) bw
Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (2003-07) imagine: (a) a pirate series that actually made money (b) reviving a genre dead since the 40's (for good reason) [this spawned the classic Peter line on Family Guy, "Hey, everybody, I dreamed I was on a pirate ship and the only one not gay was Oliver Bloom"]
Platoon (1986)
The Prestige (2006)
Pulp Fiction (1995)
Raise the Red Lantern (1991) China
The Red Shoes (1948)
Reds (1981)
Rocco and his Brothers (1964) Italy, bw
The Ruling Class (1972)
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.. and Spring (2003) Korea
Sunset Boulevard (1950) bw
Taxi Driver (1976)
The Thin Man (1934) bw
The Third Man (1948), bw - classic noir from Carole Reed perfected the dark shadowy look; marred by incessant zither music
Touch of Evil (1958) bw  [photo below]
Trouble in Paradise (1932) bw
Turtles Can Fly (2004) Iran-Iraq
Umberto D (1952) Italy, bw
United 93 (2006)
V for Vendetta (2005)
Whale Rider (2003) New Zealand
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) - a good idea (mixing live action with animation, cartoon characters with real actors) marred by poor pacing. The opening cartoon "Tummy Trouble" is better than anything else in the film. There is one great line, when Daffy Duck asks the crowd (about Donald Duck, his nightclub piano partner), "can anyone else ever understand what this duck is saying?"
Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) Spain Almodovar's entire filmography is original - I also loved Volver, All About My Mother, and Talk To Her [All About My Mother is dedicated to "all women and those who play women", and begins with the film All About Eve on a tv]
You Can't Take It With You (1938) bw

Short Films
Wallace and Gromit: 3 Amazing Adventures (2005) [The dvd title] - Two of these three won Oscars®, The Wrong Trousers and A Close Shave, while the 3rd, A Grand Day Out, lost to one of the others; it’s the first half of an intended full-length feature that creator Nick Park never completed. Instead he made the films Chicken Run and Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Park also won another Oscar for his first short film, Creature Comforts, available on the dvd of that title, which also features the British tv show of that title.

The Short Films of Jordan Belson [rare, hard to find] Stanley Kubrick wanted Belson to create the stargate sequence in 2001 but he refused to work on commercial projects or any films but his own. The result (from Douglas Trumbull) was a very poor imitation of a Belson film, which were hand painted cell-by-cell and would take years to create and would last just 3-7 minutes; all the images were abstract and cosmic. They are simply the best of that type ever created and defy comparison. At film festivals I saw them at in the 60's, they would receive standing ovations from the crowds.

The Great Train Robbery (1902), an 11-minute film about a western holdup, is considered the first American narrative film, the first to let audiences know that the new medium could tell them a story.

People rave about (and list on polls) La Jetee by Chris Marker, which is a series of narrated stills presented as a "film" on some lists, but it's really a short 15m film of still photographs, so it's technically not even a "movie", or motion picture. It's also not that interesting for science fiction, I prefer more story-oriented narratives. It is original, just not "great". His real feature length film, San Soleil, is more interesting, but still isn't a great film either.

Greed (1924, silent), by Eric von Stroheim, was originally shot by the self-absorbed visionary madman at over 9 hours - who did he think would want to sit there that long in one unbroken session? who would want to devote their theater to one showing per day? would patrons get a lunch hour? So, he may have anticipated the mini-series by over half a century, but the film company, on their own, sliced his film down to a more commercial 133 minutes, which was released. Now a partially restored four-hour version exists (TCM will air it), which has sections using just production stills inserted where film is missing. The result is that we have absolutely no idea which film is the real film, which has really been lost on the studio's cutting floor forever. So I should include it in this list, but will instead note it here as perhaps THE major footnote in film history.

Some highly original films that just don't cut it for my viewing experience, they were all hard to sit through:

Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick), Persona (Bergman), The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Sharman), Jeanne Dielman  (Akerman), Tron (Lisberger, I still have retinal damage from this one), Dogville (Von Trier, shot on a stage with the town's houses marked in chalk; a budget for sets below, what, 1k?), Satantango (Bela Tarr likes to follow cows walking down a road for 15 minutes, or people walking from their house to the village in real time, so this six-hour film is about an hour of real activity and is a major exercise in patience; had I been in a theater I would've walked out, instead I went to 2x speed on the dvd)

Michael Powell's beautifully shot
 Black Narcissus (1947)


Anonymous said...

I didn't notice Freaks by Tod Browning on your list A flim that I'll admit is hard to sit through but, I think very creative.

Anonymous said...

Avatar creative? It's Pocahontas!

Jose Sinclair said...

Pocahantas? Seriously, you need to read some history.. It's the story of the Lakota Souix, who were invaded by the U.S. Army after gold was discovered on their sacred ground, the Black Hills of Dakota.. "unobtanium" under the tree of life on Pandora - same story exactly.. Pocahantas was an Indian 'princess' sent to Europe to dazzle the royalty there - I don't know how you got that from Avatar, but yes, it was based on Native Americans..

The creativity of Avatar came in the artwork, much like Snow White, which was a dumb story but had incredible artwork.. also Wizard of Oz, terrible film for story, but terrific stage sets, color, overall visual design

Anonymous said...

Where's Pan's Labyrinth?

David Reynolds said...

Why no Bergman films? I consider movies like The Seventh Seal and Persona to be very original, even experimental, and at the same time masterpieces. (Persona was hard to understand though.)

Anonymous said...

Finding nemo and the lion king are exceptionally creative.

Cant forget who framed roger rabbit either

Anonymous said...

Missing the most creative of all... waking Life