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BOT's Top 100 Movies of All Time - Hindsight is 2020 Edition

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"You gentlemen aren't REALLY trying to kill my son, are you?"

 

About the Movie

 

Synopsis

 

"Madison Avenue advertising man Roger Thornhill finds himself thrust into the world of spies when he is mistaken for a man by the name of George Kaplan. Foreign spy Philip Vandamm and his henchman Leonard try to eliminate him but when Thornhill tries to make sense of the case, he is framed for murder. Now on the run from the police, he manages to board the 20th Century Limited bound for Chicago where he meets a beautiful blond, Eve Kendall, who helps him to evade the authorities. His world is turned upside down yet again when he learns that Eve isn't the innocent bystander he thought she was. Not all is as it seems however, leading to a dramatic rescue and escape at the top of Mt. Rushmore. " - IMDb

 

Its Legacy

 

"North by Northwest exists in and out of time. There is an effervescent dreaminess to the movie, despite the high stakes involved; it’s Mad Men but with more swirling dust and desperate running; a twitchy caper glossed by swanky hotels, suburban mansions, romantic, high-tension train rides, and a much-abused gray suit that changed the course of men’s fashion. The title itself is a fluffy piece of nonsense, vaguely alluding to the direction Thornhill travels. Kidnapped by the homicidal goons and taken to the stately home of Lester Townsend, Thornhill comes face-to-face for the first time with Russian spy Phillip Vandamm (a smarmy and menacing James Mason), who believes Thornhill is an American agent on his tail. Nothing Thornhill says can convince him otherwise.  Time and place bends around the action. Thornhill was in midtown Manhattan with car horns and rush-hour pedestrians seemingly minutes ago, and now he’s in a quiet cavernous home surrounded by trees and empty fields with bad guys who are wrapped up in a sinister parlor game of pretend—inhabiting a house they do not own, and people they are not (Vandamm is indeed not Townsend, the United Nations diplomat he claims to be). Vandamm’s goons force a bottle of bourbon down his throat, stuff him in a car, and Thornhills’ evening ends in a literal drunken cliffhanger, as the car he desperately tries to maintain control of teeters over steep bluffs with waves crashing below (on Long Island!)

 

The American government agents involved in the scheme, led by someone we only know as The Professor (and he sure looks like one, too) are comically indifferent to Thornhill’s fate, callous as can be, and remarkably defeatist. Thornhill helps their mission by continuing to thwart the villains, and they only come to his aid once he endangers their work. Here we have the moral question posed by Hitchcock: is one man’s life worth saving over so many more if a nefarious plot against the country can be stopped?  Despite all this, the movie has a pulsing strain of dark humor throughout. Thornhill’s own mother has a hard time vouching for his good character, sniffing and rolling her eyes, at the Glencoe Police Station following his drunk driving arrest, and she pointedly asks Vandamm’s goons, while trapped in an elevator with them back at the Plaza Hotel: “are you really trying to kill my son?” Thornhill has a wry sense of humor, continuously wise-cracking to the wrong people at the wrong time in the face of possible imminent murdering. And he stages an uproarious escape during that Chicago art auction. But he remains a cipher throughout. His only real backstory is that he’s been divorced twice, admitting to Eve Kendall that his wives found him dull.  The charismatic (although slightly blank) Roger Thornhill, as well as the costuming, fast-paced action, romanticism, and general cinematic flair would become a template for all the James Bond films to come throughout the following decades. The story (the original screenplay, chock full of zingers, is by Ernest Lehman) was supposedly inspired by Operation Mincemeat, the World War II deception mission. British Intelligence successfully distracted the Axis from their planned invasion of Sicily by transforming a corpse into a dead Royal Marines officer, complete with fake documents. Ian Fleming himself, naturally, was involved.

 

There’s another notable element to North by Northwest. There were Hollywood production codes back then, and homosexuality could not be openly depicted onscreen. Martin Landau, playing Leonard, Vandamm’s primary henchman, is one of the first (if not the first) true gay characters depicted in a major motion picture, and naturally, it’s as someone psychopathic. It’s subtle; his “jealousy” in regard to Vandamm’s wavering affections (Vandamm is also romantically involved with Eve in a deliciously nasty triangle) could easily be mistaken for a deep-seated loyalty to his boss, or hardcore commitment to their cause, whatever that is. But it’s a fascinating quirk to the movie. Landau, an Actors Studio alum, claimed he had a subversive ball playing with this idea for his character."

- Derek Milman, Crime Reads

 

From the Filmmaker

 

 

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Why It's the Greatest

 

Critic Opinion

 

"“North By Northwest,” Alfred Hitchcock’s new study of the vagaries of the nervous system under pressure, is the brilliant realization of a feat he has unintentionally been moving toward for more than a decade—a perfect parody of his own work. (He is not alone on this peculiar self-maligning eminence, which is already crowded with such diverse and distinguished people as Picasso, Louis Armstrong, Hemingway, and Orson Welles.) Indeed, Hitchcock demonstrates himself to be a master parodist, for the picture, which he produced and directed and which was written by Ernest Lehman, first flawlessly reproduces all of his celebrated mannerisms, and then methodically puffs them all out of shape with a swaggering look-at-me exaggeration. (This exaggeration is helped immeasurably by two things: The picture lasts for a bloated two and a quarter hours, and it has been shot in cheerful color for a wide screen, devices that make the sinister figures on hand look like red-cheeked baby giants.) Thus, the story, which involves a successful Madison Avenue advertising man who is mistaken by enemy spies for a dangerous United States agent, is a hopelessly attenuated round of mistaken identity, cloak-and-dagger doings, sympathetic but helpless friendly agents, a double-dealing woman, and so forth. Cary Grant, who plays the ad man and is an old member of the Hitchcock stable, delivers his Hitchcock Grant—tight-lipped, tight-eyed, flippant, amorous—as he never has before; so much of the film has been photographed in familiar places—the streets of New York and Chicago, the lobby of the Plaza Hotel, inside Grand Central Station, at Mount Rushmore National Memorial—that one tends, because of the effect of innumerable shocks of recognition, to forget the story for its background; the endless chase sequences seem to chase each other; and, finally, Hitchcock’s love of planting the grotesque in a commonplace setting, as if he were dropping water bombs out of a hotel window on a crowded sidewalk, is relied upon with such frequency—an official is stabbed in the back at the United Nations, Grant is hustled out of the Plaza lobby by two gunmen—that by the time the climax of the film is reached, atop Mount Rushmore, one is actually gratified when someone hurtles off George Washington’s nose to his death."

- Whitney Balliet, New Yorker

 

User Opinion

 

"Totally awesome; it's really hard to get that mix of comedy and tension." - @Plain Old Tele

 

The Panda's Haiku

 

Rushmore is Cancelled

 

But North by Northwest is Not

 

Climb on up, Thornhill

 

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Factoids

 

Placement on Prior Lists

 

2012 - Unranked, 2013 - 87, 2014 - 70, 2016 - 87, 2018 - Unranked

 

Director Count

 

The Russo Brothers - 3, Alfonso Cuaron - 2, Richard Linklater - 2, John McTiernan - 2, Lee Unkrich - 2, Mel Brooks - 1, James Cameron - 1, Damien Chazelle - 1, Ron Clements - 1, Clint Eastwood - 1, David Fincher - 1, Michel Gondry - 1, Alfred Hitchock - 1, Rian Johnson - 1, David Lean - 1, Akira Kurosawa - 1, Hayao Miyazaki - 1, Adrian Molina - 1, John Musker - 1, Bob Persichetti - 1, Peter Ramsey - 1, Rodney Rotham - 1,   Martin Scorsese - 1, Billy Wilder - 1, Kar-Wai Wong - 1

 

Franchise Count

 

Before Trilogy - 1, Cameron - 1, Die Hard - 1, Marvel Cinematic Universe - 3, Pixar - 2, Predator - 1, Scorsese -1, Spider-Man - 1, Star Wars - 1, Studio Ghibli - 1, Terminator - 1, Toy Story - 1, WDAS - 1

 

Decade Count

 

1950s - 2, 1960s - 1, 1970s - 1, 1980s - 5, 1990s - 2, 2000s - 4, 2010s - 11

 

 

 

Edited by The Panda
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38 minutes ago, The Panda said:

 

It appears I was being a bit of a Joker.  The clown did not in fact bring down our BOT society, this funnybook movie did.  (Yes, the last entry was the troll entry that is a requirement for any list)

 

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That's a shame, Joker is a much better film.

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"Go get him tiger."

 

About the Movie

 

Synopsis

 

"Peter Parker is an unhappy man: after two years of fighting crime as Spider-Man, his life has begun to fall apart. The girl he loves is engaged to someone else, his grades are slipping, he cannot keep any of his jobs, and on top of it, the newspaper Daily Bugle is attacking him viciously, claiming that Spider-Man is a criminal. He reaches the breaking point and gives up the crime fighter's life, once and for all. But after a failed fusion experiment, eccentric and obsessive scientist Dr. Otto Octavius is transformed into super villain Doctor Octopus, Doc Ock for short, having four long tentacles as extra hands. Peter guesses it might just be time for Spider-Man to return, but would he act upon it? "

 

Its Legacy

 

"In a world where a superhero films are dominating the box office, it’s easy to forget the seemingly quaint place the onslaught of spandex cinema came from. When Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002) demolished the box office and became the first film to gross over $100 million on its first weekend, a sequel was obviously on its way. In 2004, that sequel arrived in the form of Spider-Man 2.
Though a critical and commercial success, Spider-Man 2 has the lowest box office numbers of Raimi’s trilogy. However, it received a higher critical acclaim than any other live-action Spider-Man film on Rotten Tomatoes, boasting a 93% approval rate. A small part of its lower box office is because my father, after taking me to see the first one, broke his promise to take me to the second one (I’m not bitter or anything).  The fact of the matter is, Spider-Man 2 was once the gold standard of superhero films, the example of how excellent they could be with the right people behind them. Now, it’s been sidelined in the current clutter of the genre. It’s largely cast out of public and online conversation, as if we’ve gotten a better live action* film featuring the wall-crawler since.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: filmmakers that start in horror make the best superhero movies. The horror genre is always small-budget, but effects-driven. This situation makes creativity a necessity. Therefore, when horror filmmakers are given bigger budgets and more resources to work with, they know how to fully utilize them. Sam Raimi is one of those filmmakers.  Making a name for himself with the Evil Dead films, Raimi cut his teeth on excessively gory horror — with a healthy dose of comedy. These sensibilities are on full display here. Raimi films certain scenes as if he’s directing a horror film, such as the delightfully disturbing scene in which a group of surgeons are dispatched by Doctor Otto Octavius’ (Alfred Molina) four robotic arms. The scene is scary as hell, setting Doc Ock up as a villain not to be trifled with. It’s one of the best supervillain origin scenes in any film, and it’s all due to how Raimi presents it.  Furthermore, Raimi masters the tone of the film. It’s humor is perfectly balanced with the more serious aspects of the film. The director understands that, at its core, the idea of a spider/human hybrid fighting crime in tights is ridiculous, and he leans into that. Is some of the humor cheesy? Yes. But superheroes are a cheesy concept. Without Raimi’s understanding and love for the genre, Spider-Man 2 wouldn’t work at all.

 

Will practical, in-camera effects ever be beat? I know that most films are primarily CGI-driven now, but there’s a danger with CGI. Bad CGI looks awful and unnatural. With in-camera effects, regardless of how “bad” they are, there is something tangible on the screen, giving them a realism no amount of CGI can create.  It’s hard to say where the practical effects end and the CGI begins in Spider-Man 2. What little CGI there is works well, and it’s clear that most of the special effects were done practically and merely enhanced by CGI. For most of the scenes involving Doc Ock, there are real limbs attached to Alfred Molina. The sets all feel lived-in; they are real, tangible places. While Marvel Studios has mastered creating worlds and characters through CGI, none of that compares to the realism onscreen in Spider-Man 2.

 

Fifteen years later, I’ve yet to find a film that has captured the wonder and excitement of watching Maguire’s Spider-Man swing through the streets of New York City. There are certainly other superhero films that deserve the title of “gold standard” alongside Spider-Man 2, but none of them are able to bump this gem off that list. Between Raimi’s direction, the screenplay, the effects, and the cast, this is a movie that showed that superhero films could not only be good, but great. Happy fifteenth birthday, Spider-Man 2. You’ve aged well."

- Sam Lenz, Medium

 

From the Filmmaker

 

 

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Why It's the Greatest

 

Critic Opinion

 

"Didn’t think I’d ever see the day when Spider-Man would suffer a Tony Soprano panic attack. But there’s Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, born for the role), all sweaty and insecure, chucking his Spidey costume when his powers fail him — he can’t shoot a web or climb a wall. With no shrink to tell him it’s an identity issue, Peter thinks maybe his belief — “With great power comes great responsibility” — is a crock. Maybe he’d just like to get it on with Mary Jane Watson (delicious Kirsten Dunst) instead of mooning after her while she falls for an astronaut (Daniel Gillies). Maybe New Yorkers can just take care of themselves.p>hat’s the setup for Spider-Man 2, a sequel of twisted thrills and sly surprises (Spidey gets unmasked!) that stays true to the Marvel Comics spirit created by Stan Lee in 1962 while letting director Sam Raimi cut deeper than the 2002 original. Don’t get me wrong. Spider-Man 2 is all you can ask for in summer fun, right from the opener, when Peter, who works part-time delivering pizzas, resorts to Spidey speed to guarantee delivery in twenty-nine minutes. And his big action moments — stopping a bank robbery, halting a runaway train and rescuing Mary Jane by holding up a falling building (“It’s heavy,” he jokes) — will pop your eyes, fry your nerves and keep you laughing. But the film’s distinction is its heart. Here’s escapist fluff that makes time for its characters (listen up, Van Helsing and The Day After Tomorrow) and refuses to mock the love story that Maguire and Dunst, a terrific team, play with ravishing, romantic gravity. My fear was that the follow-up movie would just repeat itself — a built-in pressure for a hit that grossed $403 million to become the fifth-biggest box-office hit of all time. Instead, the sequel brings out the mischief in Raimi that we know from Darkman and the Evil Dead trilogy. The result is that rare comic-book sequel (along with X2 and Superman II) that one-ups the original. The computer effects are better, and the widescreen camerawork of Bill Pope (The Matrix) creates a bracing expansiveness. And let’s hear it for the villain. Alfred Molina’s tentacled Doc Ock has it all over Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, rightly flambXed by critics for wearing that plastic Halloween mask.p>olina brings wit and sympathy to the role of a scientist gone mad when the mechanical tentacles he wears for a fusion experiment take over his brain. John Dykstra’s FX team outdoes itself with these “smart arms” — they’re equipped with artificial intelligence and move like sinuous belly dancers eager to seduce the doc to the dark side. James Franco adds dimension to Harry, Peter’s rich, tormented pal who uncovers secrets about the death of his goblin father. So what if it’s a lure for a sequel? I’m in.p>ogues are notorious scene stealers — none funnier than J.K. Simmons as the gruff editor of the Daily Bugle — which makes it hard on the goody-goodies, such as Peter’s Aunt May, artfully played by Rosemary Harris even when screenwriter Alvin Sargent saddles her with speeches about the world’s need for a hero. Hell, we already know that. Spider-Man is the ultimate fantasy hero because he’s a screwed-up crybaby who still chooses to follow his heart. Go get ’em, tiger."

- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

 

User Opinion

 

"best superhero film ever made" - @Ethan Hunt

 

The Panda's Haiku

 

Spider-Man, Spider

 

Man, doing whatever Spider

 

Man does.  Spider-Man

 

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Factoids

 

Placement on Prior Lists

 

2012 - Unranked, 2013 - 55, 2014 - 61, 2016 - 86, 2018 - Unranked

 

Director Count

 

The Russo Brothers - 3, Alfonso Cuaron - 2, Richard Linklater - 2, John McTiernan - 2, Lee Unkrich - 2, Mel Brooks - 1, James Cameron - 1, Damien Chazelle - 1, Ron Clements - 1, Clint Eastwood - 1, David Fincher - 1, Michel Gondry - 1, Alfred Hitchock - 1, Rian Johnson - 1, David Lean - 1, Akira Kurosawa - 1, Hayao Miyazaki - 1, Adrian Molina - 1, John Musker - 1, Bob Persichetti - 1, Sam Raimi - 1, Peter Ramsey - 1, Rodney Rotham - 1,   Martin Scorsese - 1, Billy Wilder - 1, Kar-Wai Wong - 1

 

Franchise Count

 

Marvel Cinematic Universe - 3, Pixar - 2, Spider-Man - 2,  Before Trilogy - 1, Cameron - 1, Die Hard - 1, Predator - 1, Scorsese -1, Star Wars - 1, Studio Ghibli - 1, Terminator - 1, Toy Story - 1, WDAS - 1

 

Decade Count

 

1950s - 2, 1960s - 1, 1970s - 1, 1980s - 5, 1990s - 2, 2000s - 5, 2010s - 11

 

 

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"I like to feel his eyes on me when I look away."

 

 

About the Movie

 

Synopsis

 

"American tourist Jesse and French student Celine meet by chance on the train from Budapest to Vienna. Sensing that they are developing a connection, Jesse asks Celine to spend the day with him in Vienna, and she agrees. So they pass the time before his scheduled flight the next morning together. How do two perfect strangers connect so intimately over the course of a single day? What is that special thing that bonds two people so strongly? As their bond turns to love, what will happen to them the next morning when Jesse flies away?"

 

Its Legacy

 

"Romantic love is poignant because it is an infinite feeling that exists in a finite frame. And Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy is the most romantic and profound of love stories because it imbues love with the weight of time. In these three films, the temporal limits constantly imposed on love make every moment urgent, from the courtship of dating to the maturity of a long and meaningful relationship. Before Sunrise, the most yearning and hopeful of the films, flies in the face of other youthful love stories for the thematic prominence it gives to the passage of time. Most twentysomethings think they’ll live forever, but the one-night stroll through Vienna of young Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is marked by both the filmmaker’s and the characters’ constant awareness that their time, both here and on earth, is limited.  It’s remarkable that even back in 1995 Linklater was making a film about the effects of time, since this was before he ever conceived of returning to these characters twice over the next eighteen years to witness the changes wrought on their faces and souls. There is a recurring sense of anticipatory mourning about Before Sunrise. One can feel it in Celine and Jesse’s first conversation after meeting on a train rocketing from Budapest to Vienna: he talks about his childhood vision of his dead great-grandmother through a sun-sparkled spray of water from a garden hose; she mentions her crippling fear of flying (“I think I’m afraid of death twenty-four hours a day”). One can feel it in the cemetery scene, when Celine shows Jesse the thirteen-year-old girl’s gravestone she recalled from a childhood visit to Vienna. One can feel it during their dinner, when Jesse tells the story of his friend watching his child being born and being unable to shake the fact that this baby would one day die.

 

There’s another scene in the film, only one minute long, that haunts me for how it relates that we are all the more beautiful for being ephemeral creatures. Jesse has just mildly put off Celine with his cynical, unromantic response to the prognostications of a street fortune-teller; by this point, evening has fallen, and more of a hush has come over the city. The two of them are winding down a street when she is stopped by the sight of small posters advertising an exhibition of drawings by postimpressionist master Georges Seurat at the city’s Kunst Haus Wien museum. She is instantly overtaken by the scratchy beauty of Seurat’s La voie ferrée (1881–82), which she says she once saw in a museum and stared at “for what must have been forty-five minutes.” The work, whose title translates to “Railway Tracks,” might remind us of the opening of the film—a close-up of train tracks rushing past—and of how the potential lovers first met. Yet this desolate landscape evokes a neglected past rather than a hopeful future. As Celine continues to scan the other images advertising the show, they become increasingly ghostly, from La nourrice (1882–83), with its faceless, scarfed female form, to Anaïs Faivre Haumonté sur son lit de mort (1887), of a woman on her deathbed, her face and figure less discernible to the eye than the crucifix and candles behind her. “I love the way the people seem to be dissolving into the background,” Celine says, nearly whispering, and fans of the series may recall the emotional moment in Before Sunset when Celine hugs a fragile Jesse to see “if you stay together or if you dissolve into molecules.”

 

Yet Celine’s most crucial response to Seurat here is, “His human figures are always so transitory.” When she first sees the posters, she acknowledges her own transitory nature, noting that they’ll miss the show, which doesn’t start until the following week, long after Vienna is but a memory for them. This exhibition never really took place at this time at the Kunst Haus Wien; it was an invention of Linklater’s, and it accomplishes so much, so effortlessly. It employs the mysterious beauty of Seurat to implicitly explicate the film’s underlying themes; it places the film itself on an artistic continuum; and it allows us to further fall for Celine right along with Jesse. As Celine looks at the posters, Jesse looks at Celine. We’re falling in love with her passion, both seeing her and seeing through her eyes."

- Michael Koresky, Editor of Reverse Shot

 

From the Filmmaker

 

 

 

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Why It's the Greatest

 

Critic Opinion

 

"An American man and a French woman in their early 20s meet on a train heading through Europe. They alight in Vienna, amble around for 14 hours and shoot the breeze. Yes, the plot of Before Sunrise could be written on the back of a Eurail ticket, but it's what Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) say and don't say during their Austrian walkabout that makes the film what it is: a gentle but canny Gen-X fusion of My Dinner With Andre and the Judy Garland shore-leave romance, The Clock.  As the soon-to-be lovers chat, show off, lark around and kiss, with director Linklater's camera a tender and unobtrusive companion, a sense of yearning bubbles up in the movie: we sense time slipping away, and the dawn approaching. When the morning arrives, and the time comes to part, Celine and Jesse promise to meet again in Vienna in six months' time; in that pre-Facebook era, the arrangement had a heartbreaking fragility.

 

For the 2004 sequel, Before Sunset, we find Jesse, now a writer enjoying success with a novel about a one-night stand, bumping into Celine in Paris. The couple steal away on a stroll around the city, but things have changed. No longer hopeful young things with life spread out before them, Jesse and Celine must now confess to disappointments and resentments. Even the span of their conversation is cramped; they only have 80-or-so minutes (played out in the film in real time) before Jesse must return to his wife and child in the US. Out of this melancholy scenario comes an honest but affectionate portrait of an amorphous romance – not to mention one of the most tantalising and ingenious endings
in all cinema."

- Ryan Gilby, The Guardian

 

User Opinion

 

"Look up charming and the dictionary and you'll see a picture of Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy holding hands.  An intelligent, sincere film. It's really hard to pull off natural conversation in film but Linklater does it in spades. Part 1 of one of the greatest romances I've seen." - @Gopher

 

The Panda's Haiku

 

What a fickle thing

 

To catch the train or to stay

 

Kiss me at sunrise

 

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Factoids

 

Placement on Prior Lists

 

2012 - Unranked, 2013 - Unranked, 2014 - Unranked, 2016 - Unranked, 2018 - 84

 

Director Count

 

Richard Linklater - 3, The Russo Brothers - 3, Alfonso Cuaron - 2, John McTiernan - 2, Lee Unkrich - 2, Mel Brooks - 1, James Cameron - 1, Damien Chazelle - 1, Ron Clements - 1, Clint Eastwood - 1, David Fincher - 1, Michel Gondry - 1, Alfred Hitchock - 1, Rian Johnson - 1, David Lean - 1, Akira Kurosawa - 1, Hayao Miyazaki - 1, Adrian Molina - 1, John Musker - 1, Bob Persichetti - 1, Sam Raimi - 1, Peter Ramsey - 1, Rodney Rotham - 1,   Martin Scorsese - 1, Billy Wilder - 1, Kar-Wai Wong - 1

 

Franchise Count

 

Marvel Cinematic Universe - 3, Before Trilogy - 2, Pixar - 2, Spider-Man - 2,  Cameron - 1, Die Hard - 1, Predator - 1, Scorsese -1, Star Wars - 1, Studio Ghibli - 1, Terminator - 1, Toy Story - 1, WDAS - 1

 

Decade Count

 

1950s - 2, 1960s - 1, 1970s - 1, 1980s - 5, 1990s - 3, 2000s - 5, 2010s - 11

 

 

 

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"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

 

About the Movie

 

Synopsis

 

"A young George Bailey, overwhelmed by family obligations and a sense of responsibility toward his community, feels tied down to a company he never had an interest in working for, and a life he never wanted to live. As he ages, he sees his youth, dreams and opportunities pass him by. Unknown to George, all of his friends and family have been praying for him to get through those hard times. Told through the point of view of a group of angels, he is met by his guardian angel Clarence, as he contemplates ending his life." - IMDb

 

Its Legacy

 

"Before James Stewart was sent off to fight in the Second World War, he was one of Hollywood’s biggest movie stars. He’d appeared in 28 films, had been nominated for an Oscar for Mr Smith Goes to Washington, and even won one for Best Actor a year later for The Philadelphia Story. He was riding high.  But after spending three years fighting the Nazis in the US Air Force, the 37-year-old returned home in 1945 to find that everything had changed. His contract with MGM had run out, his agent had left the movie business, and he was suffering from what would later be recognised as post-traumatic stress disorder. “I was just a little bit scared,” he later recollected of his newfound circumstance. Then Frank Capra called.  Capra – who had directed Stewart twice before, including on Mr Smith Goes to Washington – wanted to pitch a film called It’s a Wonderful Life. The idea had come from the author Philip Van Doren Stern, who had become frustrated that he couldn’t get a short story published, and had sent it to friends as a 21-page Christmas card instead. When producer David Hempstead came across it, he bought the movie rights immediately.  “You play a fella in a small town,” Capra explained to Stewart, as the latter would later recall. “You get married, you have all these kids, and your father dies, and you have to take over the building and loans. And finally, you’re going to kill yourself, you’re going to jump off a bridge, and an angel, by the name of Clarence, comes in to help you, but he can’t swim, so you go down and save the …” He trailed off. “This doesn’t sound very good, does it?” Stewart, desperate to work again and trusting in Capra completely, had just one question: “When do we start?”

 

That was a complicated question. The film, which was originally going to be produced by RKO Pictures, had a stuttering beginning. After creating three inadequate scripts – one of which was worked on by Dalton Trumbo – RKO had decided to shelve the project, before Capra came on board and immediately saw its potential. When he did, he recruited husband and wife writing duo Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett to help him polish the failed scripts into something coherent. The three did not get along. “Frank Capra could be so condescending,” said Hackett. “When we were pretty far along in the script but not done, our agent called and said, ‘Capra wants to know how soon you'll be finished.’ Frances said, ‘We're finished right now.’ We put our pens down and never went back to it.” The pair were still given final credit, but it was Capra, with uncredited help from writers such as Jo Swerling, Michael Wilson, and Dorothy Parker, who finally cobbled together the rest of the screenplay.  It wasn’t the scale or innovation of the film that had everyone on set so excited, but the power of the story itself. Stewart plays George Bailey, a young man with dreams of “shaking off the dust of this crummy old town”, becoming an architect, and travelling the world. But, gradually, he feels the walls of Bedford Falls closing in on him. Driven to the brink of suicide after a lifetime of sacrificing his own dreams for others, Bailey is visited by an angel called Clarence, who shows him what the world would have been like without him. “Each man’s life touches so many lives,” says Clarence. “When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

 

When it opened in 1947, It’s a Wonderful Life fell well short of breaking even. As Jeanine Basinger, author of The “It’s a Wonderful Life” Book, pointed out, this was the first full Christmas after the war, and cinema-goers were looking for undemanding optimism. It’s a Wonderful Life, despite its cheery title, didn’t give them that.  The critics were unconvinced, too. The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther wrote that “the weakness of this picture is the sentimentality of it”, describing George Bailey as “a figment of simple Pollyanna platitudes”. The New Republic’s Manny Farber accused Capra of taking “an easy, simple-minded path that doesn’t give much credit to the intelligence of the audience”. The film placed 26th in box office revenues for the year. “By the end of 1947,” said Stewart, “the film was quietly put on the shelf.”  For a few decades, that’s where it stayed. But then, slowly and surely, the film was reassessed. Its resurrection was helped in no small part by the fact that Republic Pictures, who owned the film’s copyright, had such little faith in it that they failed to renew the rights for a second term in 1974. American television channels, grateful for the free content, started showing it on repeat. That alone wouldn’t have been enough, of course, were it not for its wacky wit, its truthful performances, and the enduring poignancy of its central message – that “no man is a failure who has friends”.It's a Wonderful Life has hardly been off TV and film screens since, and has come to be considered one of the greatest films Capra ever made. Better yet, one of the greatest films anybody ever made. “The film has a life of its own now,” said Capra in 1984, “and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I’m proud … but it’s the kid who did the work.” Perhaps the “kid” he was referring to was James Stewart, who is undoubtedly the film’s heart and soul. “The movie simply refused to stay on the shelf,” Stewart said. “Those who loved it, loved it a lot, and they must have told others. They wouldn’t let it die any more than the angel Clarence would let George Bailey die.”"

- Alexandra Pollard, The Independent

 

From the Filmmaker

 

 

EB19990101REVIEWS08401010376AR.jpg

 

Why It's the Greatest

 

Critic Opinion

 

"Watching It’s a Wonderful Life in 2016, it’s easy to forget that when it was released, it was at least partially a period film. Capra and his team are looking back on roughly 20 years of history leading up to the moment of the film’s debut. It takes in the highs of most of the ’20s and the lows of the Depression. By the time it gets to World War II — well over halfway through the film — you get the sense that its characters aren’t sure they’ll ever find peace. The war effort is viewed as an obvious good, but its effect on the young men of Bedford Falls (including George, who can’t go into battle) is treated with more ambivalence.  It’s almost a cliché to note that It’s a Wonderful Life is a darker film than its feel-good reputation might suggest. It is, after all, a movie about a man who puts his dreams on hold, again and again, for the betterment of his community.

 

The effect subtly underlines It’s a Wonderful Life’s not-so-subtle theme — that we are only as good as our ability to connect with those around us. The film’s main villain, after all, is a corrupt old banker who would turn Bedford Falls into his own personal playground, and George succeeds in leading the fight against him less because of his business acumen (though he has plenty) and more because his natural tendency to stand up to despots gains him friends and allies across all sorts of boundaries.  Contrast the community-oriented shots in the early sections of the film with the way Capra isolates many characters in the film’s final quarter, after George, with the help of an angel, travels to an alternate reality where he had never been born.  In the early going, even when the shot is focused solely on George, Capra often places some other recognizable faces in the background — the moment might be our hero’s, but there’s always someone else around who’s worth working with or worth fighting for.

 

You could not pick two better works of art to send into the future to express American hopes and anxieties in 1946 than It’s a Wonderful Life and the year’s Best Picture winner, the aforementioned Best Years of Our Lives. Both films expertly contrast the American small-town ideal with its occasional failures to embody its best self. Both films wonder what’s next for the nation after more than 15 years of turmoil. And both films cast a hopeful, wearily optimistic eye toward the future.  But both films also revolve around a very potent idea of what America is and what it can be: a force for goodness. Neither is so naive as to think that by winning World War II, America has finally vanquished all claims against its moral authority. They believe America is at its best when it tries to be its best.  It’s a Wonderful Life, in particular, does not suggest this is easy. George Bailey averts jail time as the film ends, thanks to all of his friends. He will remember their selfless act for the rest of his life, but that feeling will fade and grow patchy with time. It’s a wonderful life, sure, but you have to keep reminding yourself of that fact, because sometimes it’s anything but."

- Emily VanDerWerff, Vox

 

User Opinion

 

"It's a Wonderful Life is incredible. Frank Capra's never been better, and the brilliance of the first two-thirds of the movie just setting up the character of George Bailey is unfathomable. Jimmy Stewart is absolutely incredible in it, playing the everyman we all love while breaking down believably. Donna Reed is subtly great in it too, and the editing is ahead of its time. Maybe next Christmas, I'll go more into depth on why this film is spectacular, but for now, I'll just say It's a Wonderful Life surpassed my high expectations for it, and is an absolute masterpiece, being by far the best Christmas film I have ever seen. Wow." - @Blankments

 

The Panda's Haiku

 

Bank Runs weed him dry

 

The times are devestations

 

But should he lose hope?

 

Picture-41.png

 

Factoids

 

Placement on Prior Lists

 

2012 - 82, 2013 - 56, 2014 - 53, 2016 - 70, 2018 - 82

 

Director Count

 

Richard Linklater - 3, The Russo Brothers - 3, Alfonso Cuaron - 2, John McTiernan - 2, Lee Unkrich - 2, Mel Brooks - 1, Frank Capra - 1, James Cameron - 1, Damien Chazelle - 1, Ron Clements - 1, Clint Eastwood - 1, David Fincher - 1, Michel Gondry - 1, Alfred Hitchock - 1, Rian Johnson - 1, David Lean - 1, Akira Kurosawa - 1, Hayao Miyazaki - 1, Adrian Molina - 1, John Musker - 1, Bob Persichetti - 1, Sam Raimi - 1, Peter Ramsey - 1, Rodney Rotham - 1,   Martin Scorsese - 1, Billy Wilder - 1, Kar-Wai Wong - 1

 

Franchise Count

 

Marvel Cinematic Universe - 3, Before Trilogy - 2, Pixar - 2, Spider-Man - 2,  Cameron - 1, Die Hard - 1, Predator - 1, Scorsese -1, Star Wars - 1, Studio Ghibli - 1, Terminator - 1, Toy Story - 1, WDAS - 1

 

Decade Count

 

1940s - 1, 1950s - 2, 1960s - 1, 1970s - 1, 1980s - 5, 1990s - 3, 2000s - 5, 2010s - 11

 

 

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Joker is very ambitious, but imo, not a great movie.  End Game, imo, is just mind blowing in so many ways.  To put that thing together imo, is on the same level as JAWS.  Not that it's as good as JAWS but to put it all together is on the same level as what it took for Spielberg to get Jaws made.  I'm glad to see it on this list.

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Last big batch of 25 for the non-list makers, and we'll do mini write ups after this.  At the end of the day, I'll try and get links to all of the write ups and the full running list on the front page.  I'll get another five or so write ups done this evening

 

151.    Call Me By Your Name
152.    The Bourne Ultimatum
153.    Come and See
154.    Days of Heaven
155.    The Sound of Music
156.    Batman Begins
157.    Lady Bird
158.    Return of the Jedi
159.    The Avengers (2012)
160.    The Searchers
161.    Reservoir Dogs
162.    The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
163.    Office Space
164.    Akira
165.    The Intouchables
166.    Django Unchained
167.    The Jungle Book (1967)
168.    Good Will Hunting
169.    A Separation
170.    The Iron Giant
171.    The Best Years of Our Lives
172.    Cinema Paradiso
173.    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
174.    Creed
175.    Life of Brian

 

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4 minutes ago, The Panda said:

155.    The Sound of Music

You

4 minutes ago, The Panda said:

160.    The Searchers

All

4 minutes ago, The Panda said:

171.    The Best Years of Our Lives

Are bad at this 

 

black and white goodbye GIF by FilmStruck

 

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On 7/15/2020 at 9:54 AM, DAR said:

Here’s how you can  the films listed in the top 100.   I’ll try to update this post as more entries come in.   Also apologies I only have access to the American services


 

  Reveal hidden contents

 

Just a PSA in case you’re looking for something to watch

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23 minutes ago, baumer said:

Joker is very ambitious, but imo, not a great movie.  End Game, imo, is just mind blowing in so many ways.  To put that thing together imo, is on the same level as JAWS.  Not that it's as good as JAWS but to put it all together is on the same level as what it took for Spielberg to get Jaws made.  I'm glad to see it on this list.

Idk, I feel like Gore Verbinski did Endgame better than Endgame 13 years before Endgame.

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4 minutes ago, lorddemaxus said:

Idk, I feel like Gore Verbinski did Endgame better than Endgame 13 years before Endgame.

.... huh

 

I love Dead Man's Chest/ At World's End but I'm not sure i see the direct comparison to endgame in terms of content (they're obviously both far superior and better made blockbuster tho)

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Didn't know that Richard Linklater is such a champion in independent cinema. His Boyhood is one of my biggest snooze fest in cinema.

 

It was thoroughly pointlessly boring. and testing my patience in every way. 

 

Unlike Tree of Life, which equally bored me in the cinema but I can't deny that how I enjoyed the boredom that Tree of Life gave, it was like a meditation experience in cinema. Since I first saw it in 2012, I remember Tree of Life as a boring yet meaningful journey. And I just appreciate that film more and more each time I revisited.   

 

Luckily Boyhood didn't won that "widely" expected Oscar best picture. Because we all need, a much more better crafted, meaningful, socially relevant coming-of-age story won the ultimate prize, and that just came 2 years later. 

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Panda must have forgotten to add my review of It's A Wonderful Life in the RTM thread, so I'll copy it here myself here:

Quote

 

So I just saw this for the first time, and I really don't get the praise for this.

Most of the film is just boring and takes too long to make its point, and in The conversations between George Bailey and Mister Potter, both act unrealistically dumb with each other.

Then the Angel comes and... Shows us nothing that wasn't already beaten into our heads for the entire film so far. We spend 2 hours seeing George helping other people in ways that obviously greatly improve their lives, just to have Clarence come from heaven and show us that if George didn't exist, the lives of the people George had helped would be worse off. It just felt repetitive and unnecessary.

 

F+

The plus is mostly because Clarence himself, while he didn't really reveal anything, he was at least funny about it.

Edited  by Tower

 

 

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