Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Douglas Sirk

Douglas Sirk
4 titles, 82nd in points with 10,048

Douglas Sirk made some well crafted films of what many would call soap opera, but if included in that class, then he made some of the best ones ever made during this era of the 50’s, dominated by Madison Avenue and a desire to conform.

These are all the films of American director Douglas Sirk that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Written on the Wind (1956) #256
2. All That Heaven Allows (1955) #325
3. Imitation of Life (1959) #520
4. There's Always Tomorrow (1956) #929

Out of the top 1000
5. Tarnished Angels, The (1958) #1049
6. Time to Love and a Time to Die, A (1958) #2035

I’ve only seen the top two films here, Written on the Wind and All That Heaven Allows. Both were well done, and I should see more, but I'm not that interested in romance films from that era very often; Sirk’s are definitely a level above the normal films of that genre.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner: actor, director, dad
Rob Reiner
3 titles, 93rd in points with 9,078

Rob Reiner is best known as (a) the son of Carl Reiner, who played the producer on the Dick Van Dyke show (b) the Meathead on All in the Family on tv (c) a quality comedy director. Pick any letter, I first knew him as Meathead; at any rate, he’s far funnier than his dad.

These are all the films of American director Rob Reiner that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of theTop Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. This is Spinal Tap (1984) #208 Great parody of heavy metal, only you have to listen to the terrible music, which should put it in the lower 500 at best; fast forward! head bangers are so stupid they thought this was a real band and music stores were swamped with dummies looking for real Spinal Tab cds – proof that the music makes your synapses go on permanent vacation
2. Princess Bride, The (1987) #321 Fun silliness with the fantasy genre
3. Stand by Me (1986) #571 An ok, nostalgic comedy about kids being kids; seemed to lack passion and punch to me, I’ve never wanted to rewatch it

Out of the top 1000
4. When Harry Met Sally (1989) #1695 A crime that this isn’t ranked, one of the best romantic comedies of our era, though Billy Crystal is a first-class jerk of a guy

Reiner the Meathead with Sally Struthers
in All in the Family

When Harry Met Sally is becoming one of the most rewatched New Year’s films, and romantic films. I know couples that have parties to watch this on New Year’s Eve, which is the day the film ends with, and it feels appropriate when it does.

Other good films of Reiner’s that didn’t make polls are A Few Good Men, An American President, Misery, The Story of Us, and Ghosts of Mississippi – he could arguably have 6-7 ranked titles.

Reiner has won 12 awards out of 34 nominations. His A Few Good Men was nominated for a best picture Oscar. Some are a little bogus, like “lifetime acheivement” at a California film festival, and two are Emmys for supporting actor in All in the Family. (I never count the 'star on the Hollywood walk of fame' as an award, though IMDB does, making Rin Tin Tin and Winnie the Pooh award winning actors)

Penny Marshall and Rob Reiner

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Friday, December 23, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Nicolas Roeg

Nicolas Roeg
4 titles, 90th in points with 9,472

Roeg is a cinematographer turned director with some imaginative, stunning results, especially from a visual sense. A veteran of British cinema for 23 years before directing, he once worked on the second unit for David Lean on Lawrence of Arabia, one of my favorite films. Performance (1970) woke me up when I first saw it, with gangster James Fox taking refuge in the mansion of a jaded rock star, Mick Jagger, to escape being killed by unnamed enemies; Roeg shared directing credit on this one, as well as being the cinematographer.

His first solo effort soon followed, and for me, Walkabout was one of the most unexpected and beautiful films I’d ever seen at that point, and remains so today. For me, it sums up my idea of Australia perfectly, a garden of eden tainted by what we like to call the progress of civilization. Two white kids are stranded in the outback when their father drives them there then kills himself, and they are lost when rescued by an aborigine teen on his walkabout, his rite of manhood. Without his survival skills, the two would have soon perished, and the three make an odd nuclear unit taking on the outback without any adult supervision. This was an entralling, inspired story, at the level of great literature; Joseph Conrad readily comes to mind, it’s that good.

These are all the films of director British Nicolas Roeg that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Performance (1970) / w.Donald Cammell #326
2. Don't Look Now (1973) #342
3. Walkabout (1971) #608
4. Man Who Fell to Earth, The (1976) #694

Just out of the top 1000
5. Bad Timing (1980) #1261 Underrated, I found this murder mystery both unique and compelling, and one that demands a re-watch

I didn’t find Don’t Look Now as successful as the other two in the top 3 here (but obviously most others did), a little too derivative of Hitchcock perhaps, but it did at least have some pace. The Man Who Fell to Earth fell apart in that regard, being so slow that it failed to involve me much at all, and I usually love good science fiction. I grew up on sf novels and have read about 500 at this point, certainly every famous and award-winning one. This is not good science fiction, it’s main claim to fame being that it was David Bowie’s first attempt at acting, appropriately playing an alien humanoid who lands on earth, and blends in well enough except he has about triple the IQ of normal people. It just didn’t go anywhere, and became a mundane story almost as boring as reality itself.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Vincente Minnelli

Vincente and Liza Minnelli

Vincente Minnelli
5 titles, 91st in points with 9,392

Minnelli is perhaps best known as the husband of Judy Garland that father Liza Minnelli, giving rise to one of the greatest Oscar® trivia facts ever: who is the only Oscar®-winner whose parents also won Oscars®? He is an underrated director, considered two of his films won best picture, and his most popular films have withstood the test of time, these are all over 50 years old now.

These are all the films of American director Vincente Minnelli that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of theTop Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls. In fact, these are all of the films of Darren Aronofsky, so each of his titles is held in high esteem.

1. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) #412
2. Band Wagon, The (1953) #441
3. An American in Paris (1951) #581 [AA]
4. Some Came Running (1958) #800 Overrated, boring
5. Bad and the Beautiful, The (1952) #944 Underrated, a very good film about filmmaking

Out of the top 1000
6. Gigi (1958) #1443 [AA] I always thought it’s 10 Oscars was a bit of a joke, that it spoke more of the competition than its own merit; now it’s not even in the top 1000 films

I guess I’d put either Meet Me in St. Louis or An American in Paris at the top. Meet Me in St. Louis is the better story, and a tighter film overall, but American in Paris is a more artistic musical film with some stunning choreography by Gene Kelly, plus I grew up on George Gershwin’s music. The film won a best picture Oscar. Actually, I can always watch St. Louis, my favorite of Judy Garland’s, if for no other reason than the best Halloween in films, and the songs “The Trolley Song”, and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. Watch during The Trolley Song as someone yells out "Hiya, Judy!", and she looks over but doesn't miss a beat in the song.

The Band Wagon is more average Hollywood big budget musical, I can hardly remember it. Some Came Running is overrated at 800, while The Bad and the Beautiful is perhaps underrated, and is one of the better films about the filmmaking industry itself. I think my complaint with it is Kirk Douglas trying to carry the film on his shoulders; I would rather have seen a stronger actor in that role, perhaps Burt Lancaster or Fredric March. A supporting actress Oscar went to Gloria Grahame in one of her more forgettable roles.

Missing: Cabin in the Sky - Minnelli's first film as a director was an all-black musical, starring Lena Horne. I'd have loved to have been in the meeting when he told them his plan.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Monday, December 19, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle
3 titles, 85th in points with 9,917

Danny Boyle is constantly surprising people. After a string of well-made films that still didn’t make him a household name, like Shallow Grave (reminiscent of Hitchcock), Millions, and the better-known Trainspotting, which I think has achieved cult status, Boyle made Slumdog Millionaire. This surpising film seemingly combined inspiration from Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy and Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay (1988) with a popular tv game show in which someone could win a million dollars if they kept risking their current winnings to continue further in the game.

The film covered the lives of two orphaned brothers in Mumbai and a girl they grew up with, showing their lives as children, as teens, and as adults. All the actors were engaging at each level, and the film made overnight international stars of the two young adult leads, the ravishing Freida Pinto, and Dev Patel, who was the quiz show contestant. The highly successful film won 8 Oscars®, including best picture and best director of 2008.

Freida Pinto was 19 when cast in Slumdog Millionaire

A small bit of trivia: the film opens with a chase through the ghetto of Mumbai, and shows a rooster at one point; some orphan kids are being chased by police. Fernando Meirelles' classic from Brazil, City of God (2002), opens with a rooster being chased through the slums of Rio during the film's credits. To me, Boyle's opening seems like a direct visual homage to another classic slum film.

Boyle followed that up with the surprising film 127 Hours, a docudrama recreating the story of a wilderness guide and trekker who gets trapped in a canyon in Utah when he slips into a crevice, dislodging a small boulder that traps him by pinning his right arm between the boulder and a rock wall. If you don’t know the story, I won’t spoil it. If you watch the film, Boyle does a good job of not giving away too much, and maintaining both tension and interest throughout in what could have been a boring man-in-a-trap film.

These are all the films of British director Danny Boyle that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of theTop Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Trainspotting (1995) #170 This film is not for the squeamish, it deals directly with heroin addicts, needles, and toilets
2. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) #220
3. 127 Hours (2010) #786

Just out of the top 1000
4. 28 Days Later (2002) #1175

For my money, there are two more important Boyle films missing. They are more on the entertainment level than the ranked films, but as such, they succeed.

Shallow Grave (1994) - This Hitchcockian crime thriller follows three amateur robbers who make a big heist then hide the money in their attic, then try to remain friends. This is humorous as well as deadly serious crime and resulting paranoia, which is why I’m reminded of Hitch – in fact, this is as good as most of the humorous films of the master.

Millions (2004)  - Some poor kids are playing beside a railroad track in a cardboard playhouse, wishing for money, when a bag of stolen money tossed from the train literally lands on them. The story here is how the money changes a family in good and bad ways, and the tension is maintained by those who lost the money seeking the finders.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray
5 titles, 84th in points with 9,953

Satyajit Ray is India’s most famous filmmaker, and might appropriately be called the Father of Indian Cinema. Just before his death, he received an honorary Oscar for his life’s work. After his death, hundreds of thousands of Indians gathered around his house in respect. Many other filmmakers outside of India are said to have been either influenced by his work or praised it, among them Akira Kurosawa, Francois Truffaut, Martin Scorsese, James Ivory, Elia Kazan, Abbas Kiarostami, Carlos Suara, and Danny Boyle.

These are all the films of classic Indian director Satyajit Ray that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of theTop Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Pather Panchali / Apu Trilogy I (1955) #62 Most polls list the films separately, as they should be, but one poll had the trilogy ranked as one film. I couldn’t figure out how to divide the points, so I added them to the first film, but the position isn’t as important as getting the films listed. I guess I could have split the trilogy pts among all three films, so each of the three would have been helped a little.
2. World of Apu, The (1959) #297 The 3rd Apu film, that complete the trilogy
3. Aparajito (1956) #442 The 2nd Apu film, the title means “The Unvanquished”
4. Music Room, The (1958) #582
5. Charulata (1964) #698

Out of the top 1000
6. Days and Nights in the Forest (1970) #1564

I’ve yet to be able to rent the Apu Trilogy in the U.S. For some odd reason, Netflix chooses not to carry the most famous films in Indian history, and I’m not in a position to simply buy them new sight unseen. Maybe one day Netflix will get their head out of their pocket and their hand out of ours and become truly cultural. Until then, they are about as valuable as television to the history of cinema.

For those who would like a detailed expose of his life’s work, check out the elaborate and complete listing at Wikipedia

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky
3 titles, 86th in points with 9,885

For my money, Aronofsky is the best young director currently working - well, ok, it's a toss up between him and Christopher Nolan, who’s also very good, but I think Aronofsky is more creative and has a more diverse body of work so far – he seems to go more out on a limb, such as The Fountain, than most modern directors. Aronofsky's films delve deeper into complex and real characters, while Nolan directs more action oriented, less personal films that nonetheless display superb technical skills, such as Inception, Memento, and The Prestige.

These are all the films of current American director Darren Aronofsky that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of theTop Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls. In fact, these are all of the films of Darren Aronofsky, so each of his titles is held in high esteem.

1. Black Swan (2010) #289
2. The Wrestler (2008) #294
3. Requiem for a Dream (2000) #323

Just out of the top 1000
4. Pi (1998) bw #1242
5. The Fountain (2006) #1253

I’ve reviewed all of his films so far, because I like them all and think each one should be in the top 1000. My order of preference places Requiem for a Dream at the top, hands down, a head above all his other films. I gave it a perfect 10 rating, one of just 39 of those I’ve given out after 820 reviews. The film is difficult to watch for a reason, and actually left me physically shaking. I had to go outside (in the dark) and walk around for about half an hour after watching it, so I think he achieved his goal.

After that one I have a hard time ranking them. I suppose Black Swan was the most intruiging after that, and had the best acting for an entire ensemble. Natalie Portman got a long overdue Oscar for her performance, which may have been a little over the top compared to her Oscar-nominated role in Closer.

The Fountain [photo above] was a complex, ambitious fantasy that delved into science fiction in its future sequences, mythology in its ‘past’ (which was a novel by Rachel Weisz’ character), and romance and medicine in it’s present day story, where Hugh Jackman played a research scientist trying to find a cure for his wife’s terminal illness.

The Wrestler showed us that Mickey Rourke can really act, as he gave his career best performance as an aging professiounal wrestler coming to grips with his own mortality and breaching the gulf with his estranged daughter. This film wasn’t like any other Aronofsky film so far, and was a complete surprise for me on several levels. Marisa Tomei’s performance was also Oscar worthy.

His first film Pi, was based on a student film in which a man seeking answers runs across a group of occult mathmaticians trying to find a numeric code hidden in the bible that could be a holy grail of science. This is Aronofsky’s least artistic film based on craftmanship, which is to be expected with what is basically a student film.

Aronofsky is certainly one to watch, steadily building a career that I’d have to say is ahead of either Scorsese’s or Spielberg’s after just five films. Go look up their first five sometime and compare them all.

See the full list of top ranked 300 directors here: Top Ranked Directors, 2011 Edition

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Henri-Georges Clouzot

Henri-Georges Clouzot and Romy Schneider

Henri-Georges Clouzot
3 titles, 83rd in total points with 10,033

A formalist, Clouzot’s films adhere to plot and pacing much like Hitchcock, to whom he’s been compared. It’s a pity that there weren’t very many full-length titles in his life’s work, around fifteen total.

These are all the films of classic French director Clouzot that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. The Wages of Fear (1953) #168 This film would be a masterpiece except for the silly ending ("I'm a good driver" - Rain Man)
2. Diabolique (1955) #214 (aka Les Diaboliques) We have the same title confusion as The Bicycle Thief (is it plural or singular? Depends on whose list you’re reading)
3. Quai des Orfèvres (1947) #790

Conspicuously missing is Le Corbeau (1943, aka The Raven), a brave film about a poison pen letter writer in a small town, and a film banned by both the Nazis and the victorious French. This film is a classic study of paranoia and individual guilt.

Clouzot’s stunningly beautiful Brazilian wife Vera Clouzot [photo above] stars in both Wages of Fear and Diabolique. She has a refreshing, natural beauty that remains fresh looking half a century later. In Wages, she plays a local beauty in a small South American town, who cleans floors (to admiring male eyes) in the local bar, and other assorted pleasures, who is popular with local Europeans there looking for work in the oil industry. In Diabolique, she plots to kill her husband with his mistress, then bizarre events start to happen.

Clouzot’s films won 12 awards, four for Wages of Fear, two for Diabolique.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Jean-Pierre Melville

Jean-Pierre Melville
4 titles, 79th in points with 10,778

These are all the films of classic French director Melville that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Army of Shadows (1969) #277 a small masterpiece
2. Le Samourai (1967) #299 Not as compelling for me as this ranking, a bit too slow
3. Le Cercle Rouge (1970) #378
4. Bob le flambeur (1956) #909

Out of the to 1000
5. Les Enfants terribles (1950) #1485
6. Second Breath (1966) #1846

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Top Ranked Films of Wim Wenders

Wim Wenders
4 titles, 77th in points with 11,082

These are all the films of German director (who made most of these in the U.S.) Wenders that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Wings of Desire (1987) #165 A bit of modern magic has some angels mingling with the living
2. Paris, Texas (1984) #316 Interesting film, especially for the performance of Harry Dean Stanton, but ultimately flows like asphalt in Texas summer
3. Kings of the Road (1976) #642
4. Alice in the Cities (1974) #705

Out of the top 1000
5. American Friend, The (1977) #1494

I've only seen the top two ranked films here. Wings was more amiable than Paris, Texas, but both are worth seeing, so it makes me think that so are the other three, and probably more. He's not exactly Werner Herzog, but then not many other German filmmakers are.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top Ranked Films of David Cronenberg

David Cronenberg
6 titles, 75th in points with 11,293

Cronenberg is a mixed bag. On the one hand he’s noted for over the top horror fantasy films like The Fly and Videodrome. On the other, he can make some serious dramas, albeit a bit disturbing, such as Dead Ringers, A History of Violence, and Eastern Promises, which lean toward the realistic. Dead Ringers is, in fact, based on a true story and stars Jeremy Irons in a earth-shattering performance as twin gynocologists, one with a disturbing s/m streak. Not only it is hard to believe he didn’t win an Oscar®, he wasn’t even nominated, but he got his ‘apology’ Oscar® for his next (and much more average) performance in Reversal of Fortune. In his acceptance speech he said, “there are many of you out there who know I owe this to David Cronenberg”.

These are all the films of Canadian director David Cronenberg that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Dead Ringers (1988) #308
2. Videodrome (1983) #482
3. History of Violence, A (2005) #612
4. Eastern Promises (2007) #700
5. Crash (1996) #863
6. Fly, The (1986) #943
7. Spider (2002) #1122

Both A History of Violence and Eastern Promises star Viggo Mortenson, the latter being his best performance as a seasoned Russian criminal with a history of prisons in his tattoos. He helps Naomi Watts in her search for the baby of a murdered Russian woman. Mortenson's performance in Promises netting him his only Oscar® nomination to date.

Cronenberg’s Crash is the much more interesting one; this one pre-dated the terrible best picture one that resembled a tv show, and was based on SF author J.G. Ballard’s novel (he also wrote Empire of the Sun based on his childhood). In this bizarre story, a group of car wreck survivors are turned on by auto crashes. I’d say this film is more notable for James Spader getting to make love onscreen to Holly Hunter, Rosanna Arquette, and Debra Kara Unger in the same film.

One thing is for certain, Cronenberg is definitely not for the squeamish. Crash and A History of Violence will be the easiest to take for newcomers to this bold, agressive director.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Nicholas Ray

Nicholas Ray
4 titles, 80th in points with 10,267

Nicholas Ray was a maverick and innovative American director who had great influence on other younger directors, especially in Europe. Before directing, Ray was close friends through radical theater in New York with Elia Kazan, and when Kazan got his first directing job for A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, he hired Ray as first assistant director, which was Ray’s introduction to filmmaking. His films usually featured alienated characters, existing in their own solitude.

These are all the films of classic American director Nicholas Ray that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Rebel Without a Cause (1955) #265
2. Johnny Guitar (1954) #387
3. In a Lonely Place (1950) bw #392 My favorite Bogart performance, a great underrated film
4. Bigger Than Life (1956) #793

Just Out of the Top 1000
5. They Live by Night (1948) #1089
6. Lusty Men, The (1952) #1404

He’s really underrated here as all six of these films could be in the top 1000, and In a Lonely place could be ranked much higher, certainly in the top 150.

My favorite of Ray’s (and a candidate for my all-time top 100) is the underappreciated In a Lonely Place, which features Humphrey Bogart’s most complex, vulnerable performance, as well as Gloria Grahame’s most memorable and subtle; she won a supporting Oscar® for something far much less than this in The Bad and the Beautiful, with a tiny part as a southerner’s shallow wife. It’s about a screenwriter (Bogart), who hires a girl to pre-read a novel for him to get her ideas before he turns it into a screenplay, and the girl shows up dead the next day; he’s the last person to see her alive, so he’s the prime suspect. Gloria Grahame is a neighbor who lives in the same small quadraplex of apartments, and who can see who comes and goes into Bogart’s apartment below hers. Grahame was also Ray’s second wife, but it ended disastrously after Ray caught her in bed with his son from his first wife. (She later married his son, Anthony Ray; of Grahame, he said “I was infatuated with her, but I didn’t like her very much”)

I thought Rebel Without a Cause a little too laden with melodramatic histrionics, but still it’s a classic of teen angst, just a bit melodramatic in parts - what’s with all the weeping? Normal people have these same feelings without responding this way, though I guess you could argue that James Dean externalized through acting what most people keep bottled up inside due to social decorum. Ray let Dean both inprovise and direct some scenes, even though he was a stage actor in his first film, and he certainly created a memorable debut. Both Natalie Wood and Sal Mineo were 15-yr olds, and both were nominated for supporting acting Oscars®. I liked it, but would flip Lonely Place and Rebel in my rankings. The public prefers Rebel, obviously.

Johnny Guitar is a very offbeat western, a film Ray himself hated making. It features Sterling Hayden as a singing gunslinger and boyfriend of Joan Crawford, who runs a bar in the middle of nowhere - but he’s hardly in the Gene Autrey-Roy Rogers mold, after all, this man was Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove (1964), and he’s always a little offbeat. This western also has perhaps the only all-female gunfight in cinema, certainly at that point in history.

They Live By Night is Ray’s first film, and is another about alienation of youth, like the later Rebel. This should probably be in the top 1000, it’s close at #1089. The Lusty Men is another good film for Robert Mitchum, and is a modern western worth seeing; it’s a better than average rodeo story, but not quite Hud (1964) either.

Ray’s career ended far too abrubtly, after making the big budget films King of Kings (1961), and 55 Days in Peking (1963) - he had a major heart attack during the filming of Peking and retire from filmmaking.

Here’s an excellent biography on him at IMDB, from fan Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, it’s the longer one here labels mini-biography, but’s it’s pretty thorough -

The Nicholas Ray Foundation, which has this quote from Ray, “Film recognizes neither time nor space, only the limits of man’s imagination”

Ray Quotes:
As a human being, Joan Crawford is a great actress.
If it were all in the script, why make the film?
The imagination is a pretty precious source of protection.
The closer I get to my ending, the closer I am getting to rewriting my beginning.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Jonathan Demme

Jonathan Demme
4 titles, 78th in points with 10,819

Some may say that Demme is more popular than talented but I think he can direct a variety of films well, as I like his concert documentaries as much as his feature films. The best picture winning Silence of the Lambs is a classic homicide mystery, mixing elements of film noir with horror to create two of the creepiest portraits of psycho killers in cinema, played by Oscar®-winning Anthony Hopkins and Ted Levine, not to mention Oscar®-winning actress Jodie Foster’s most compelling performance as a young FBI trainee on her first homicide case, brought in for her psychological input. This is a modern classic, and a must-see film.

These are all the films of American director Jonathan Demme that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) #47
2. Stop Making Sense (1984) #724
3. Rachel Getting Married (2008) #910 This story kind of got on my nerves, not sure why
4. Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2006) #963 Very good film, Neil Young is a songwriting genius, one of the best of all-time

Out of the top 1000
5. Neil Young Trunk Show (2009) #1105
6. Agronomist, The (2003) #1209

Stop Making Sense, a film put together from three nights of Talking Heads shows in Hollywood, may well be the best single-act concert film ever made.

Talking Heads in Stop Making Sense

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Friday, December 9, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Max Ophüls

Max Ophüls
4 titles, 73rd in points with 11,419

Born in Germany in 1902, became a French citizen in 1938. How many filmmakers did the Nazis run out of Europe - has anyone kept the total? He actually returned to Germany after the war and died in Hamburg in 1957.

Classic films with an almost Baroque look, as Max Ophüls tried to show the aristocratic French lifestyle, usually with ornately decorated film sets, women in beautiful evening gowns, and of course the implication of much champagne drinking and many amorous rendezvous, but of course, all in good taste, and artistically filmed.

These are all the films of classic French director Max Ophüls that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. The Earrings of Madame De.. (1953) #136 [photo top - Ophuls directs elegant beauty Danielle Darrieux, who often starred in his films]
2. Lola Montès (1955) #431
3. Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) #432
4. Le Plaisir (1952) France, bw#747 Should be ranked much higher, based on three stories of Guy de Maupassant

Out of the top 1000
5. La Ronde (1950) #1164 This also deserves to be ranked
6. Liebelei (1933) #1233
7. Reckless Moment, The (1949) #1391

I think they got his best right, but I would also place Le Plaisir near the top 300, and La Ronde definitely in the top 1000 somehwhere. These are all classics of b&w cinematic arts. Lola Montès was his first film in color, and at times beautiful, I don’t think it’s as interesting as the b&w ones, though it is based on a true story, that of a famous courtesan who is welcomed by royalty.

Technically, his films Ophüls' works were marked by elaborate tracking and craning movements of the cameras, ornate (almost Baroque) interior décor, the glitter of glass and mirrors (with human subjects often secondary), objects intervening in the foreground of the image between characters and camera. Once seen, the viewer will never forget the effect of his camerawork. There's a sequence from Le Plaisir shot from outside a house that moves the viewer from room to room of a bordello much like a peeping tom, offering us a capsule view of all the various activities at the house.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Ernst Lubitsch

Ernst Lubitsch
5 titles, 72nd in points with 11,597

Born in Berlin, Germany in 1892, Lubitsch came to Hollywood in 1922 (contracted as director by Mary Pickford), then made his mark with a too short career of classic comedies, dying there in 1947 at age 55 after his sixth heart attack. What’s called The Lubitsch Touch is a sophisticated comedy of manners, a term applied after a few successful American comedies. Critic Michael Wilmington said 'made by a man amused by sex, not afraid of it'.

These are all the films of classic American director Ernst Lubitsch that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Trouble in Paradise (1932) bw#322
2. To Be or Not to Be (1942) #331
3. Ninotchka (1939) #471
4. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)#561
5. Angel (1937) #980

Out of the top 1000
6. Design for Living (1933) #1104
7. Heaven Can Wait (1943) #1887

These are all very memorable films. My favorite is also Trouble in Paradise, #1 of his films, which is a pre-code film that is rather risque by comparison to most; it involves two con-artists who use romance to fleece their suspects, while the two remain just platonic friends, more like real co-workers. For me, it was easily the best film of 32 (Grand Hotel won, which was ok but not as involving as one would think, and best pic was its only Oscar). In Trouble, you get the idea that a lot more is going on in the dark, because the film is full of innuendos and other signs that there’s a lot of unseen action.

The Shop Around the Corner was a very good romantic comedy, and one that has proven so classic that’s it’s been remade twice more, as In The Good Ole Summertime, and You’ve Got Mail. The basic premise is that two co-workers who are not very friendly to each other are secret admirers as pen pals, and plan to get together to meet face-to-face sometime. Since they work together, it’s hard for them to both be off at the same time, which adds to the delay of them finding out their admirer’s true identities (which of course, are each other). Classic situation comedy, and each film has been popular, but Lubitsch’s was the first, and is still the best. It was his own personal favorite of all of his films.

I never did get To Be or Not To Be, however (though many other obviously do); for me, it wasn’t very funny (I never find the Nazis comic material), and it wasn’t a very good drama either (Benny and Lombard in a spy film?), so I’m not sure what it is besides boring. Jack Benny, though at his best here, is no actor, and is only barely a comedian; his schtick worked better on tv when it was over quickly. It’s the slow delivery followed by the slow double-take, and that’s about all he ever does. Ninotchka is just ok, it moves pretty slowly, and Garbo had laughed quite heartily in The Painted Veil (1934), so not a lot new here. It was a pre-cold war comedy about the soviets, it just didn’t have much spark so the humor was lukewarm, especially for a Billy Wilder penned script.

Leaving his funeral, Billy Wilder said ‘no more Lubitsch’. William Wyler replied ‘worse than that – no more Lubistch pictures’.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Top Ranked Films of Leo McCarey

Leo McCarey
4 titles, 70th in points with 11,916

McCarey had a great touch with comedy, directing the best Marx Brothers film, and his own top rated film, Duck Soup. He won a directing Oscar® for 37’s The Awful Truth, a sparkling comedy with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, then a 2nd for directing, and 1st for writing, for Going My Way (1944), which also netted Oscars® for best picture, and for actors Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald. However, it made no polls this time, it wasn’t even mentioned.

These are all the films of classic American director McCarey’s that made the top 1000 in our 2011 update of the Top Ranked 1000 Films on the Net, all polls.

1. Duck Soup (1933) #53
2. The Awful Truth (1937)  #515
3. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) #633
4. Affair to Remember, An (1957) #791 This is the inferior remake of his own Love Affair (1939)

Out of the top 1000
5. Bells of St. Mary's, The (1945) #1988

To this list I would definitely add Love Affair (1939), a poignant love drama remade as a glossy 50’s color magazine looking shoot as An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in the roles originally played by Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne. I didn’t find this version as moving, and consider Love Affair McCarey’s best drama.

See the full list of top ranked 100 directors here: Top Ranked 100 Directors, 2011 Edition

Top Ranked Films by Director Posts

Our Posts on Top Ranked Films by the Top 300 Directors
[Ranked by the director's overall points, shows # of film titles in the top 1000 and overall points for those films]

Hitchcock and Truffaut

[Updated 10.31.11]  Expanded to 300

Follow the links for each post.. we're adding them as we post each director

Rank-Director-#Films [Points]
1. Hitchcock, Alfred #14 [64881] Overrated [I'd have Kubrick or Kurosawa #1]
2. Kubrick, Stanley #11 [57302]
3. Scorsese, Martin #13 [54060]
4. Kurosawa, Akira #11 [47529]  *Underrated
5. Godard, Jean-Luc #12 [41002]  Overrated
6. Bergman, Ingmar #12 [40929]  Overrated
7. Spielberg, Steven #7 [38147]
8. Chaplin, Charles #8 [37417]  Overrated
9. Fellini, Federico #9 [35022]
10. Coppola, Francis Ford #4 [32229]
11. Ford, John #10 [32107]
12. Wilder, Billy #7 [31120]  *Underrated
13. Buñuel, Luis #10 [31040]
14. Welles, Orson #6 [27256]
15. Coen, Joel and Ethan #10 [26803]
16. Bresson, Robert #8 [25877]
17. Polanski, Roman #5 [25530] Overrated
18. Hawks, Howard #8 [25343]
19. Keaton, Buster #7 [22817]
20. Allen, Woody #6 [22541]
21. Tarantino, Quentin #5 [22495]  Overrated
22. Tarkovsky, Andrei #7 [21663]  Overrated
23. Renoir, Jean #8 [21372]  *Underrated
24. Leone, Sergio #4 [21210]  Overrated
25. Lang, Fritz #4 [21131] 
26. Antonioni, Michelangelo #6 [21045] 
27. Scott, Ridley #4 [20824] 
28. Lean, David #5 [20784]  *Underrated
29. Truffaut, François #5 [20408]
30. Lynch, David #6 [20400]  Overrated
31. Dreyer, Carl Theodor #5 [19997]
32. Cameron, James #5 [19369]
33. Altman, Robert #7 [19243]
34. Powell, Michael #8 [19155] *Underrated
35. Eastwood, Clint #5 [18885] 
36. Capra, Frank #4 [18411]
37. Eisenstein, Sergei #7 [18094]  *Underrated
38. Murnau, F.W. #5 [18076] 
39. Miyazaki, Hayao #6 [18021]  Overrated
40. Visconti, Luchino #8 [17919]
41. Huston, John #5 [17680] 
42. Lumet, Sidney #5 [17393] 
43. Jackson, Peter #3 [17076]
44. Nolan, Christopher #5 [16073] Will rise more over time
45. De Sica, Vittorio #3 [15777]  *Underrated
46. Mizoguchi, Kenji #5 [15534] 
47. Bertolucci, Bernardo #5 [15127]  *Underrated
48. Fleming, Victor #2 [15032]  Overrated [only 2 titles made the polls]
49. Forman, Milos #3 [14737]
50. Rossellini, Roberto #6 [14671]

Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini
"Scratch my back, and.. "

.. ok, here's the rest of the list of directors.. up to 301 anyway.
George Cukor, 108th? good grief..

51. Kieslowski, Krszystof #6 [14576]
52. Gilliam, Terry #4 [14392]  Overrated
53. Anderson, Paul Thomas #4 [13990]
54. Kazan, Elia #3 [13688]  *Underrated
55. Malick, Terrence #4 [13683] 
56. Herzog, Werner #5 [13638] 
57. Almodóvar, Pedro #5 [13429] 
58. Griffith, D.W. #3 [13198] Overrated
59. Resnais, Alain #5 [13162]
60. Sturges, Preston #4 [13154] 
61. Wyler, William #4 [13008]  *Underrated
62. Fassbinder, Rainer Werner #6 [12837]
63. Lasseter, John #3 [12806]  
64. Fincher, David #4 [12755] 
65. Ozu, Yasujiro #4 [12725] 
66. Cassavetes, John #5 [12669]  Overrated
67. Kiarostami, Abbas #7 [12625]  Overrated
68. Wong Kar-Wai #5 [12544]  *Underrated
69. Curtiz, Michael #3 [12398] *Underrated
70. McCarey, Leo #4 [11916]
71. Reed, Carol #3 [11909]  *Underrated
72. Lubitsch, Ernst #5 [11597]
73. Lucas, George #2 [11435] Overrated
74. Ophüls, Max #4 [11419]  *Underrated
75. Cronenberg, David #6 [11293] Overrated
76. Pasolini, Pier Paolo #4 [11149]
77. Wenders, Wim #4 [11082]
78. Demme, Jonathan #4 [10819]
79. Melville, Jean-Pierre #4 [10778]
80. Ray, Nicholas #4 [10267]  *Underrated
81. Tati, Jacques #3 [10100] Overrated
82. Sirk, Douglas #4 [10048]
83. Clouzot, Henri-Georges #3 [10033]  *Underrated
84. Ray, Satyajit #5 [9953]  *Underrated
85. Boyle, Danny #3 [9917]
86. Aronofsky, Darren #3 [9885]  *Underrated
87. Peckinpah, Sam #4 [9876]
88. Zemeckis, Robert #3 [9822]
89. Friedkin, William #2 [9575]
90. Roeg, Nicolas #4 [9472] *Underrated
91. Minnelli, Vincente #5 [9392]
92. Bird, Brad #3 [9188]
93. Reiner, Rob #3 [9078]
94. Donen, Stanley/Gene Kelly #2 [8908]
95. Laughton, Charles #1 [8796] The highest ranked director with just one film, the lukewarm reception to his film The Night of the Hunter caused Laughton to vow to never again direct, and he kept his promise
96. Stanton, Andrew #2 [8535]
97. Anderson, Wes #4 [8524]
98. Nichols, Mike #2 [8476] *Underrated
99. Lee, Ang #3 [8153]  *Underrated
100. Lee, Spike #3 [8099]

101. Zinnemann, Fred #3 [7846]
102. De Palma, Brian #3 [7725]  Overrated
103. Cocteau, Jean #3 [7611]
104. Linklater, Richard #4 [7581]
105. von Stroheim, Erich #3 [7565]
106. Sharpsteen, Ben #3 [7377]
107. Weir, Peter #3 [7237]  *Underrated
108. Cukor, George #3 [7191]  *Underrated
109. Hill, George Roy #2 [7152]
110. Mankiewicz, Joseph L. #1 [7138]  *Underrated
111. von Sternberg, Josef #3 [7094]  *Underrated
112. Leigh, Mike #4 [7063] 
113. Wise, Robert #3 [6944]
114. von Trier, Lars #4 [6732]
115. Jarmusch, Jim #3 [6706]
116. Cuarón, Alfonso #2 [6643] 
117. Van Sant, Gus #4 [6641]  *Underrated
118. Whale, James #2 [6615]
119. Pontecorvo, Gillo #1 [6595]  *Underrated
120. Hanson, Curtis #1 [6589] L.A. Confidential is the film
121. Mann, Michael #2 [6467] 
122. Tourneur, Jacques #3 [6365]  *Underrated
123. Demy, Jacques #3 [7719]
124. Cooper, Merian C./Ernest B. Schoedsack #1 [6222] King Kong is it for these two
125. Stevens, George #3 [6214]  *Underrated
126. Darabont, Frank #2 [6117]
127. Carpenter, John #2 [6068]
128. Jonze, Spike #2 [6020]
129. Romero, George A. #2 [5996]  Overrated
130. Yimou, Zhang #3 [5992]  *Underrated
131. Frankenheimer, John #1 [5960]  *Underrated
132. Burton, Tim #3 [5890] 
133. Carné, Marcel #2 [5792]
134. Greengrass, Paul #3 [5779]  *Underrated
135. Vigo, Jean #1 [5761]
136. Kershner, Irvin #1 [5736]
137. Vertov, Dziga #1 [5704] 
138. Mendes, Sam #1 [5643]
139. Lanzmann, Claude #1 [5638]
140. Fosse, Bob #2 [5562]
141. Campion, Jane #1 [5506]  *Underrated
142. Schnabel, Julian #2 [5496]
143. Cimino, Michael #1 [5416]
144. Tornatore, Giuseppe #1 [5344]  *Underrated
145. Rivette, Jacques #2 [5312]
146. Meirelles, Fernando #1 [5269]  *Underrated
147. Preminger, Otto #2 [5254] 
148. del Toro, Guillermo #1 [5164]
149. Soderbergh, Steven #3 [5107]  *Underrated
150. Mulligan, Robert #1 [5072]
151. von Donnersmarck, Florian Henckel #1 [5033] 
152. Penn, Arthur #1 [5002] 
153. Erice, Victor #1 [4931]
154. Yang, Edward #2 [4927]
155. Singer, Bryan #1 [4893]
156. Boorman, John #2 [4833] 
157. Hand, David #2 [4760]
158. Mackendrick, Alexander #1 [4732]
159. Gondry, Michael #1 [4634]
160. Ramis, Harold #1 [4538]
161. Kelly, Richard #1 [4481]
162. Clair, René #2 [4466]  *Underrated
163. Hou, Hsiao-Hsien #3 [4448]  *Underrated
164. Lester, Richard #1 [4436]
165. Angelopoulos, Theo #2 [4332]
166. Ashby, Hal #2 [4332]
167. Frears, Stephen #3 [4319]  *Underrated
168. Wachowski, Andy & Larry Wachowski #1 [4314]
169. Zwigoff, Terry #2 [4275]
170. Wajda, Andrzej #1 [4182]
171. Rocha, Glauber #3 [4166]
172. Akerman, Chantal #1 [4157] Overrated
173. Tarr, Béla #2 [4155]
174. Sokurov, Aleksandr #3 [4141]
175. Haneke, Michael #2 [4100] 
176. Hamer, Robert #1 [4100]
177. Hopper, Dennis #1 [4070]
178. Rossen, Robert #1 [4062] 
179. Denis, Claire #2 [3951]
180. McTiernan, John #1 [3930]  Overrated
181. Payne, Alexander #2 [3924]  *Underrated
182. Takahata, Isao #1 [3864]
183. Franju, Georges #1 [3857]
184. Iñárritu, Alejandro González #1 [3852]  *Underrated
185. Snow, Michael #2 [3842] 
186. Peterson, Wolfgang #1 [3800]
187. Ivory, James #3 [3771]  *Underrated
188. Burnett, Charles #1 [3765]
189. Jeunet, Jean-Pierre #1 [3746]  *Underrated
190. Hooper, Tobe #1 [3716]
191. Parajanov, Sergei #2 [3639]
192. Coppola, Sofia #1 [3610]
193. Park Chan-Wook #1 [3582] 
194. Edwards, Blake #2 [3559] 
195. Milestone, Lewis #1 [3534]
196. Hooper, Tom #1 [3518]
197. Brooks, Mel #1 [3498]  Overrated
198. Avildsen, John G. #1 [3491]
199. Raimi, Sam #2 [3446]
200. Pollack, Sydney #1 [3439]  *Underrated
201. Wiene, Robert #1 [3392]
202. Flaherty, Robert #2 [3362]
203. Riefenstahl, Leni #2 [3310]  *Underrated
204. Kore-eda, Hirokazu #2 [3308]
205. Docter, Peter #1 [3246]
206. Blomkamp, Neill #1 [3231]
207. Bogdanovich, Peter #1 [3226]
208. Besson, Luc #1 [3220]  *Underrated
209. Shaffner, Frank #1 [3218]
210. Stone, Oliver #2 [3196]  *Underrated
211. Pabst, G.W. #1 [3178]  *Underrated
212. Rohmer, Eric #2 [3169]
213. Hirschbiegel, Oliver #1 [3119]
214. Solondz, Todd #2 [3118]
215. Cantet, Laurent #2 [3105] 
216. Dardenne, Jean-Pierre & Luc #2 [3103]
217. Argento, Dario #1 [3100]
218. Reitman, Jason #2 [3085]
219. Varda, Agnès #2 [3051] 
220. Schlesinger, John #1 [3042]  *Underrated
221. Kaye, Tony #1 [3018]
222. Bong, Joon-ho #2 [2973] 
223. Donner, Richard #2 [2943]
224. Malle, Louis #2 [2940]  *Underrated
225. Kusturica, Emir #2 [2923]
226. Ki-duk Kim #1 [2897]
227. Sturges, John #1 [2895]
228. Gance, Abel #1 [2888]
229. Egoyan, Atom #1 [2885]  *Underrated
230. Rafelson, Bob #1 [2868] 
231. Loach, Ken #2 [2854]
232. Mungiu, Cristian #1 [2851]
233. Ritchie, Guy #2 [2812] 
234. Abrams, J.J. #1 [2778]
235. Dovzhenko, Alexander #1 [2774]
236. Rosenberg, Stuart #1 [2756]
237. Ferguson, Charles #2 [2755]
238. Chomet, Sylvain #2 [2748]  *Underrated
239. Attenborough, Richard #1 [2742]
240. Levinson, Barry #1 [2742]  *Underrated
241. Clément, René #1 [2723]
242. Duvivier, Julien #1 [2723]
243. Assayas, Olivier #2 [2721] 
244. Crowe, Cameron #2 [2713]  *Underrated
245. Becker, Jacques #2 [2692]
246. Park, Nick #2 [2677]  *Underrated
247. Feuillade, Louis #1 [2666]
248. Wright, Edgar #2 [2665]
249. Browning, Tod #1 [2656]
250. Marquand, Richard #1 [2638]
251. Campanella, Juan José #1 [2625]
252. Sandrich, Mark #1 [2622]
253. Allers, Roger & Minkoff, Robert #1 [2604]
254. Aldrich, Robert #1 [2580]
255. Rodriguez, Robert #1 [2568]
256. Deren, Maya #1 [2506]
257. Ghobadi, Bahman #2 [2501]  *Underrated
258. Jones, Terry #1 [2500]
259. Bigelow, Kathryn #1 [2479]
260. Paronnaud, Vincent & Satrapi, Marjane #1 [2464]
261. Selick, Henry #2 [2444]
262. Marker, Chris #1 [2424]
263. Begnini, Roberto #1 [2420]
264. Audiard, Jacques #1 [2412]
265. Meyer, Russ #1 [2392]  Overrated, should not be on the list
266. Pakula, Alan J. #1 [2367]
267. Panahi, Jafar #2 [2362]
268. Dassin, Jules #1 [2297]  *Underrated
269. Ichikawa, Kon #1 [2278]
270. Folman, Ari #1 [2275]
271. Minghella, Anthony #1 [2247]
272. Marsh, James #1 [2225]
273. Klimov, Elem #1 [2212]
274. Eustache, Jean #1 [2183]
275. Vidor, King #1 [2176]
276. Jordan, Neil #1 [2174]  *Underrated
277. McTeigue, James #1 [2136]
278. Menzel, Jirí #1 [2106]  *Underrated
279. Bacon, Lloyd #1 [2098]
280. Anderson, Lindsay #1 [2066]
281. Shyamalan, M. Knight #1 [2055]
282. Hughes, John #1 [2018]
283. Trousdale, Gary #1 [1980]
284. Carney, John #1 [1969]
285. Olmi, Ermanno #1 [1956]  *Underrated
286. Siegel, Don #1 [1944]
287. Banksy #1 [1922]
288. Beatty, Warren #1 [1848]  *Underrated
289. Oshima, Nagisa #1 [1817]
290. McDonagh, Martin #1 [1816]  *Underrated
291. Weerasethakul, Apichatpong #1 [1804]  *Underrated
292. Niblo, Fred #1 [1794]
293. Madden, John #1 [1791]
294. Hicks, Scott #1 [1790]
295. Meadows, Shane #1 [1786]
296. Granik, Debra #1 [1782]
297. Maysles, Albert/David Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin #1 [1773]  *Underrated
298. Rapper, Irving #1 [1764]
299. Berman, Shari, and Pulcini, Robert #1 [1762]
300. Chen Kaige #1 [1760]  *Underrated
301. Dayton, Jonathan & Faris, Valerie #1 [1721]

Women directors really got the shaft. All these should be on this list: Lina Wertmuller (Italy), Mira Nair (India), Deepa Mehta (Indian-Canada), Susanne Bier (Denmark), Lone Scherfig (Denmark).

India's Mira Nair should be ranked

..and so should Susanne Bier of
Denmark, Oscar® winner this year
for In a Better World