Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Top 100 Films, a Personal List: 2011 edition

Every year at the end of the summer and with the beginning of autumn, Filmspotting forum members each offer up their 100 favorite films of all time; those personal lists are then tallied and compiled and a joint list is created, a list that we hope reflects our collective tastes in film.  

I always look forward, not only to making my own personal list of films, but to seeing the various and diverse films that other film lovers choose.  There might be a great deal of overlap between two particular lists or none at all, and there is joy in seeing both the overlap - sharing with another person the same deep love for the same film  - and there is joy in seeing the diversity - seeing that a film I would never choose for myself nonetheless speaks meaningfully to someone else.  

It has been in interacting with forum members over the years, discussing, analyzing, and enjoying films together, that my own tastes, I believe, have been stretched and made more complex.  While many of the films on my list are those I discovered on my own or in growing up with my particular family, there are also now films on my list that I would never have found on my own, without the Filmspotting forum.   My list, then, as it has evolved over the last couple of years, is deeply personal to me - I do not pretend to be any kind of authority, saying that these films are, objectively, the best films ever made - but it also reflects, maybe even in ways I am unaware of, something communal; it in some sense reflects the community of film lovers on the Filmspotting forum that I have grown to love.

So thank-you, to all of you, for these years of discussion and invigorating argument and for providing and being a community of friends I never expected to find.

And now, on to my list:

100. How Green Was My Valley (John Ford, 1941)

99. Memories of Murder (Jooh-ho Bong, 2003) 

98. The Wind Will Carry Us (Abbas Kiarostami, 1999)

97. Scenes from a Marriage (Ingmar Bergman, 1973)

96. The Kid (Charles Chaplin, 1921

95. Sense and Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1995)

94. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis, 2008)

93. Secrets and Lies (Mike Leigh, 1996)

92. Say Anything (Cameron Crowe, 1989)

91. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard, 1990)

90. The School of Rock (Richard Linklater, 2003)

89. Best in Show (Christopher Guest, 2000)

88. A Mighty Wind (Christopher Guest, 2003) 

87. Howard’s End (James Ivory, 1992)

86. Airplane! (Jim Abrahams and Jim Zucker, 1980)

85. If . . . .  (Lindsay Anderson, 1968)

84. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

83. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)

82. Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, 1956)

81. Brothers (Susanne Bier, 2004)

80. Cry, the Beloved Country (Darrell Roodt, 1995)

79. The Commitments (Alan Parker, 1991)

78. After the Wedding (Susanne Bier, 2006)

77. Flight of the Red Balloon (Hsiaio-hsien Hou, 2007)

76. A Canterbury Tale (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressbuger, 1944)

75. My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988) 

74. Raining Stones (Ken Loach, 1993)

73. Meek’s Cutoff  (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)

72. Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981)

71. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Werner Herzog, 1997)

70. All or Nothing (Mike Leigh, 2002)

69. A Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 1966)

68. Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks, 1974)

67. United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)

66. Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010)

65. My Fair Lady (George Cukor, 1964)

64. Bright Star (Jane Campion, 2009)

63. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)

62. A Room with a View (James Ivory, 1985)

61. Volver (Pedro Almodovar, 2006)

60. Shuan of the Dead (Edgar Wright, 2004)

59. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

58. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

57. Shadow of a Doubt (Alfred Hitchcock, 1943)

56. A Letter to Three Wives (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1949)

55. Le samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)

54. Angel at my Table (Jane Campion, 1990)

53. Fanny and Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)

52. Il Posto (Ermanno Olmi, 1961)

51. The Beaches of Agnes (Agnes Varda, 2008)

50. Bringing up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)

49. Tampopo (Juzo Itami, 1985)

48. Roman Holiday (William Wyler, 1953)

47. Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975)

46. Persona (Ingmar Bergman, 1966)

45. In the Bedroom (Todd Field, 2001)

44. Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931)

43. Young Mr. Lincoln (John Ford, 1939)

42. Cleo from 5 to 7 (Agnes Varda, 1962)

41. Harlan County, U.S.A. (Barbara Kopple, 1976)

40. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

39. The General (Clyde Bruckman and Buster Keaton, 1926)

38. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985) 

37. The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962) 

36. Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951)

35. Stardust Memories (Woody Allen, 1980)

34. Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960)

33. The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991)

32. The Gleaners and I (Agnes Varda, 2000)

31. Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964)

30. Three Colors: Blue (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993)

29. Wild Strawberries (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)

28. Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman, 1963)

27. Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

26. Grizzly Man (Werner Herzog, 2005)

25. Solyaris (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972)

24. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)

23. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)

22. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)

21. Sunset Blvd. (Billy Wilder, 1950)

20. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-Wai, 2000)

19. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
"'Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder.' 
'Who's scruffy-looking?'"

18. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
"If you want a happy ending, you should go see a Hollywood movie."

17. Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)
"Why would a man leave his apartment three times on a rainy night with a suitcase and come back three times?"

16. Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders 1987)
"Tell me of the men, women, and children who will look for me - me, their storyteller, their bard, their choirmaster - because they need me more than anything in the world."

15. The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940)
"I'm sorry, but I thought I better hit you before he did. He's in better shape than I am."

14. Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999)

13. The Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973)
"If you're his friend, you can talk to him whenever you want. Just close your eyes and call him."

12. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
"You're gonna need a bigger boat."

11. The Princess Bride (Rob Reiner, 1987)

"'Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...'     ''Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.'"

10. The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1959)
"Doinel, if your paper is first today, it's because I've decided to give the results beginning with the worst."

9. Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996)
"People say, 'You must have been the class clown.' And I say, 'No, I wasn't. But I sat next to the class clown, and I studied him.'"

8. All about Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)
"I'll admit I may have seen better days, but I'm still not to be had for the price of a cocktail, like a salted peanut."

7. Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)
"At this moment, I didn't feel shame or fear, but just kind of blah, like when you're sitting there and all the water's run out of the bathtub."

6. Harvey (Henry Koster, 1950)

"Well, I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it."

5. Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985)
"This is your receipt for your husband... and this is my receipt for your receipt."

4. A Night at the Opera (Sam Wood, 1935)
"And now, on with the opera. Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor." 

3. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
"Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Meaow. Here Jonesy."

2. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen, 1952)
"If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'. Bless you all."

1. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
"I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long..."

New this year:
All or Nothing
Another Year
The Beaches of Agnes
A Canterbury Tale
Cleo from 5 to 7
The Gleaners and I
Meek’s Cutoff
Scenes from a Marriage
Spirit of the Beehive
Stardust Memories
Tokyo Story

The Passion of Joan of Arc*
Talk to Her*
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington*
The Third Man+
The Red Shoes+
A Hard Day’s Night*
The Lives of Others+
Harold and Maude*
  *needs a re-watch
  +just not feeling as much an emotional connection to this this year

1920's - 2
1930's - 5
1940's - 7
1950's - 14
1960's - 12
1970's - 10
1980's - 15
1990's - 15
2000's – 18
2010’s – 2 

Directors with 2 or more films:
Bergman - 5
Hitchcock – 5

Guest – 3
Leigh - 3
Varda – 3

Allen – 2
Bier - 2
Campion – 2
Cukor – 2
Ford - 2
Herzog – 2
Ivory - 2
Kieslowski – 2
Mankiewicz - 2
Powell - 2
Spielberg - 2


  1. Melissa, I enjoyed your list last year. As a result, I think we watched a few of your movies on this list. Fun!! Thanks for doing this! And now I know you have a movie blog! M. Efflandt

  2. Thanks, Mem! Would love to hear which films you watched and liked and which you watched and thought I was crazy for liking. ;)

    Re: my blog - I don't write as often as I'd like, but I'd love to be able to post something at least once a month - thanks for reading!

  3. Lovely list, Melissa!

    I have thought about the Top 100 a lot during the last six weeks or so, but I knew I wouldn't be able to put as much effort into it as I would have wanted to, so I decided with a heavy heart that I wasn't going to do a new list this year. Things have simply been too stressful - I have maybe managed to watch two or three films in the whole month of August.

    But back to your list: you know that I love a lot of these films as much as you do! I have to confess, though, that I still haven't seen too many of the films you picked (44, to be exact - shocking, isn't it?). I don't know when I'll find the time to start to catch up, but I have the best intentions!

    Thank you for posting your list here, Melissa! I don't even dare show my face over on the Filmspotting boards any more...

  4. Sonja!

    Thank-you and thank-you for stopping by! I completely understand not doing a list this year - I know you've been so terribly busy. :( My own list is not too much different from last year's, a few new films and a little shifting around. So many films I intended to get to before now as potential additions to my list and just didn't. Ah well.

    You should NEVER feel you can't come back to the boards - lots of others have seasons when they just can't be around, too - it's just the way it is. Ferris has popped back in recently and has been posting again after his absence, and everyone's delighted - it'd be the same with you - we'd just be happy to see you! :) (More soon - I'll PM you.)

  5. We have only nine overlaps between our lists, but I love a lot of the other ones on yours, too. The Commitments, especially. If you haven't read the book I strongly suggest it. It captures music the way few books have been able to do.

  6. Such a wonderful list. I like that you have a lot of films that when I watch them bring a smile to my face. I especially like the inclusion of Harvey in your Top 10. That's one of my favourite films. It will definitely be making my own list.

  7. Sad to see some of those films leave, but I also love seeing many of the new additions. There are definitely a number of movies I need to see now.

    I'm glad to see Totoro on the list, as it may have actually unseated Porco Rosso as my favorite Miyazaki movie.

    I can't wait to finally get a chance to see Meek's Cutoff as well, I've been waiting forever!

  8. @Alex/Junior - I've not read The Commitments, thanks for the reminder! (I'm kicking myself for not thinking of that for my book club this year.)

    @Corey - Thanks! Harvey is definitely one of those films that never fails to make me happy - I'm so glad to hear it will be on your list, too, and I'm looking forward to seeing your list in total!

    @Rich - Yes, it's always difficult to push out beloved films, but there are so many wonderful films out there, I love making room for new ones, too. Very much looking forward to seeing what you think of Meek's!

  9. A lovely list! I'm always so amazed at you guys who put in the effort to track screenshots for every movie on the list. It's quite an effort!

    Just putting together my own list made me exhausted. But I suppose it gets easier if you do it more times, starting from an old list and moving on from there.

    I loved your number 1! :) It's one of those movies I could watch many, many times and yet not grow tired of it.

  10. Thanks, Jessica! Yes, compiling a list the first time is particularly overwhelming, but it's much easier after that, not only having a list from which to work but also keeping that list in mind throughout the year and noting those new films that might be added to the list.

    The first time I did the list, I didn't do screencaps at all; the second time I used a lot of screencaps forum members had already found; this year, I've replaced a lot of screencaps with new ones of my own - and I'd like to perfect that even more next year by grabbing new, more interesting shots throughout the year. I don't suppose I'll ever have a perfect list, but it's still fun to work on it. :)

    It's a Wonderful Life is, I think, the first film I ever fell in love with - I was quite young, but it was a key film in jump-starting a bigger, general love for film. It's a film, too, that has grown up with me - I didn't get the despair of it as much when I was young; I relate to it so much more now. I love that it has become more deeply affecting as the years have gone by.

  11. high five on these films:

    Memories of Murder
    Say Anything
    A Mighty Wind
    In a Lonely Place
    The Commitments
    North by Northwest
    Shadow of a Doubt
    Roman Holiday
    Cleo from 5 to 7
    Stardust Memories
    Two Veroniques
    Tokyo Story
    In the Mood For Love
    Empire Strikes Back (RIP, Mr Kershner)
    Crimes & Misdemeanors
    All About Eve