5 titles, 42nd with 17,343 points
Lumet is a very talented director, I just wish he had made more films. A top 20 director for me, so I think he's very underrated on the polls overall. Network is his masterpiece.
These are all the films of Lumet’s that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.
1. 12 Angry Men (1957)) #116
2. Network (1976) #138
3. Dog Day Afternoon (1975) #179
4. Serpico (1973) #837
5. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007) #853
Those just out of the top 1000
6. Verdict, The (1982) #1202
Lumet makes great topical films, they have the feel of documentaries and the look of big, well-crafted productions. He burst into directing with the classic 12 Angry Men, about a jury that begins with just one holding out for innocent in a murder trial, Henry Fonda. We never leave the jury room, just like the jurors, and we watch the final verdict ironed out over two hours of deliberations and votes. The story tells us more about the jurors than the accused, which is why the film is still highly valued today.
Network, for me, was his masterpiece, and it correctly predicted reality tv, where anything was ripe fodder for the masses as long as people watched it – in fact, that’s all that matters in his film. Network executives esort to funding terrorism and murder in order to maintain hit shows. The cast was brilliant, with lead acting Oscars® going to both Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway, and a supporting actress one for Beatrice Straight, who was amazing in a small part. William Holden turned in arguably his best performance as well, and could have also won had not Finch been so unforgettable as Howard Beale [photo above], the man who urged us all to go to the windows and shout, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
I didn’t think the Pacino films were quite as good, though Serpico remains an understated crime film in which Pacino was held in rein by comparison to other roles. The Verdict was also good enough for the top 1000 and should be ranked, as Paul Newman gives his most mature and versatile performance as an alcoholic lawyer.
See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition