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Best of the Decade (40s)

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on August 31, 2014 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The best films of the 1940s. This was a decade in cinema defined by one massive, incontrovertible event: World War II. There was simply no denying it. The latter years of the war sent shockwaves through cinema all around the world, from Golden Age Hollywood to decimated Italy and Japan. The US responded by turning out some of its most astonishingly dark, socially trenchant films, finding notes of despair and yearning in genres as disparate as the musical and the war film, while establishing perhaps the decade’s defining epoch, adopted and adapted from the Germans and the French: film noir. Europe, meanwhile, saw the beginnings of some of its all-time most influential movements, namely Italian neorealism, which has ever since impressed its indelible mark on world cinema. It was a tough decade, one scarred by unfathomable political, social, and economic upheaval. And as always, the movies were there to reflect it.

And the best of the best are:

01. Bicycle Thieves 1948

02. Citizen Kane 1941

03. Late Spring 1949

04. To Be or Not to Be 1942

05. Double Indemnity 1944

06. Oliver Twist 1948

07. Casablanca 1943

08. Shoeshine 1947

09. The Third Man 1949

10. It's a Wonderful Life 1946

These are just as good:

The Letter, 1940

The Philadelphia Story, 1940

The Lady Eve, 1941

Sullivan's Travels, 1941

Yankee Doodle Dandy, 1942

Day of Wrath, 1943

Meet Me in St. Louis, 1944

Cover Girl, 1944

The Children Are Watching Us, 1944

Scarlet Street, 1945

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1945

Paisan, 1946

Notorious, 1946

Record of a Tenement Gentleman, 1947

The Lady from Shanghai, 1948

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948

Adam's Rib, 1949

White Heat, 1949

Best of the Decade (50s)

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on August 1, 2013 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

The 1950s, like the two decades on either side of it, can also lay claim to being the peak of great cinema. This was a particularly fascinating and rich ten years for many reasons, not least of all because the film landscape was transitioning from traditional, conservative narratives to films that would readily challenge the conventions of the medium. This was nowhere truer than in the US, where the all-powerful studio system that had controlled the nation's movie industry was on its last legs, leading to a boom in independently produced and financed pictures. The Production Code wouldn't be out of the way until the 1960s, but you could already feel its ugly grasp slowly eroding in morally ambiguous and suggestive American films by the likes of Douglas Sirk, Anthony Mann, Nicholas Ray, and Billy Wilder, among others. Meanwhile, a scarred post-WWII milieu allowed for a kind of cynicism and angst that hadn't really been thoroughly explored before. This was also the decade where foreign films found their fullest exposure in the US, with Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman causing waves and essentially launching art house cinema in proper. And if that tease of the greater freedom of expression to come weren't enough, the tail-end of the 1950s saw the beginnings of the French New Wave, its influences then and now simply incalculable.

Here we go...

01. Nights of Cabiria 1957
02. The 400 Blows 1959
03. Sunset Boulevard 1950
04. On the Waterfront 1954
05. Ugetsu 1953
06. Vertigo 1958
07. Seven Samurai 1954
08. The Apu Trilogy 1955-1959
09. Forbidden Games 1952
10. The Seventh Seal 1957

These runners-up are brilliant, too:

All About Eve, 1950
Orpheus, 1950
Winchester '73, 1950
Strangers on a Train, 1951
A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951
Bellissima, 1951
Singin' in the Rain, 1952
The White Sheik, 1952
Early Summer, 1952
Sawdust and Tinsel, 1953
Summer with Monika, 1953
Little Fugitive, 1953
I Vitelloni, 1953
La Strada, 1954
Sansho the Bailiff, 1954
Rebel Without a Cause, 1955
It's Always Fair Weather, 1955
Written on the Wind, 1956
The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957
Wild Strawberries, 1957
Touch of Evil, 1958
Mon Oncle, 1958
The Hidden Fortress, 1958
Hiroshima, Mon Amour, 1959
North by Northwest, 1959
Some Like it Hot, 1959

Best of the Decade (60s)

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on May 20, 2013 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The 1960s might just be my favorite decade for film. As audacious as a statement like that tends to be - and maybe foolhardy, too - the '60s seem to earn it, fulfilling cinema's potential as the premier innovator in all of art. This was a decade of progress, of cultural and political tumult, of redefined (and blurred) boundaries and of revolution on a gigantic scale: socially, politically, and artistically. It was reflected in the films. Sweeping big-scale epics brushed shoulders with luxuriant musical adaptations; New Cinema movements from France, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia broke all the prevailing rules of cinematic grammar while engaging with a radical political consciousness; arthouse was brought to the mainstream; Italian neorealism transformed into the florid fantasias of Fellini and the psycho-angst of Pasolini and Antonioni; and the USA, theretofore encumbered by a restrictive production code, grew adventurous, genre-smashing films that expanded the definition of American film. And Ingmar Bergman, greatest director alive, had the most fruitful 10 years of his career.

The films that made it great?

01. Persona 1966
02. 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968
03. 8 1/2 1963
04. The Silence 1963
05. Once Upon a Time in the West 1968
06. The Graduate 1967
07. Hud 1963
08. Il Posto 1961
09. Lawrence of Arabia 1962
10. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 1967

And the truly ravishing runners-up:

La Dolce Vita, 1960
The Virgin Spring, 1960
Rocco and His Brothers, 1960
Peeping Tom, 1960
Viridiana, 1961
West Side Story, 1961
The Hustler, 1961
Cléo from 5 to 7, 1962
Mamma Roma, 1962
Winter Light, 1962
Le Doulos, 1962
The Exterminating Angel, 1962
La Jetée, 1962
High and Low, 1963
Les Carabiniers, 1963
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964
Bonnie and Clyde, 1967
Hour of the Wolf, 1968
Shame, 1968
Oliver!, 1968
The Lion in Winter, 1968
Night of the Living Dead, 1968
They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, 1969
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969
Midnight Cowboy, 1969
My Night at Maud's, 1969
The Cremator, 1969

Best of the Decade (70s)

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on October 11, 2012 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (4)

The 1970s saw quality cinema arriving at a place delicately balanced between art and commerce. Summer blockbusters would get their big kick-off, foreign films would flourish, and a new wave of American auteurs would establish themselves, early on, as the startlingly fresh eyes of a generation fed up with war, politics, and tradition. While films like The Godfather, Jaws, and Star Wars garnered as much money as they did critical plaudits, foreign pictures from old masters like Bergman, Fellini and Truffaut had some of the healthiest successes of their careers. It was a decade not wanting for brilliant arthouse provocations or brilliant mainstream popcorn fare, and with the two meshing together in ways both strange and sublime, it was a melting pot of movies to cherish.

01. Apocalypse Now 1979
02. The Godfather: Parts I & II 1972/1974
03. Cries and Whispers 1973
04. Chinatown 1974
05. Taxi Driver 1976
06. The Conversation 1974
07. Network 1976
08. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles 1975
09. A Clockwork Orange 1971
10. The Last Picture Show 1971

The amazing runners-up:

Kes, 1970
The Conformist, 1970
McCabe & Mrs. Miller, 1971
Murmur of the Heart, 1971
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, 1972
Cabaret, 1972
The Holy Mountain, 1973
Badlands, 1973
Paper Moon, 1973
Last Tango in Paris, 1973
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, 1974
Lenny, 1974
Amarcord, 1974
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975
Dog Day Afternoon, 1975
Barry Lyndon, 1975
Love and Death, 1975
Rocky, 1976
Annie Hall, 1977
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977
News from Home, 1977
Days of Heaven, 1978
The Deer Hunter, 1978
The Black Stallion, 1979
Manhattan, 1979
The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1979

Best of the Decade (80s)

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on March 26, 2012 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The best films of the 1980s. This was a tremendous decade for film, especially for ones coming from overseas. Sweden, Denmark, Italy, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and more were responsible for some of the greatest cinema to be found in the 80s. The American product wasn't too shabby, either, with groundbreaking work from Scorsese, Spielberg, (Spike) Lee, Cameron, Kaufman, Schrader, and Woody Allen being some of the most notable. The 1980s was no lesser of a decade for movies than any other; people who consider The Breakfast Club and Back to the Future the pinnacle of its output are full of hot air.

01. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters 1985
02. Amadeus 1984
03. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 1982
04. Au Revoir les Enfants 1987
05. Ran 1985
06. Pelle the Conqueror 1988
07. Raging Bull 1980
08. Crimes and Misdemeanors 1989
09. The Right Stuff 1983
10. Cinema Paradiso 1989

My brilliant runners-up:

Ordinary People, 1980
Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981
Fanny and Alexander, 1983
Paris, Texas, 1984
Brazil, 1985
Come and See, 1985
The Purple Rose of Cairo, 1985
Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986
Aliens, 1986
A Room with a View, 1986
Empire of the Sun, 1987
The Last Emperor, 1987
Wings of Desire, 1987
Dangerous Liaisons, 1988
Do the Right Thing, 1989

Best of the Decade (90s)

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on April 27, 2011 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

The best films of the 1990s. The decade I was born in, the decade I grew up with - even if the films on this list aren't exactingly the ones I was watching then. All in all, a fantastic 10 years for movies.

01. Schindler's List 1993

02. Goodfellas 1990

03. Howards End 1992

04. The English Patient 1996

05. Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White, Red 1993/1994

06. The Long Day Closes 1992

07. Magnolia 1999

08. Pulp Fiction 1994

09. Fargo 1996

10. Benny's Video 1992

My brilliant runners-up:

Close-Up, 1990

Dances with Wolves, 1990

Beauty and the Beast, 1991

JFK, 1991

Unforgiven, 1992

What's Eating Gilbert Grape, 1993

The Lion King, 1994

Hoop Dreams, 1994

Bullets Over Broadway, 1994

Shine, 1996

Titanic, 1997

L.A. Confidential, 1997

Deconstructing Harry, 1997

Taste of Cherry, 1997

Life is Beautiful, 1998

Saving Private Ryan, 1998

The Thin Red Line, 1998

The Talented Mr. Ripley, 1999

Ratcatcher, 1999

American Beauty, 1999

Best of the Decade (00s)

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on July 8, 2010 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)


Growing up and becoming a hardcore, obsessive cinephile in the 00s, there is naturally no decade where I've seen as many films from. Because of this, making a Top 10 list of its absolute best offerings was excruciatingly difficult: my list could just as easily include any of the runners-up I mention aftewards and it would be equally as satisfying, equally as rich and worthy. So while my Top 10 is, well, a Top 10, feel free to look at this list as more of a Top 34. And realize that if I were truly to list all of my favorites from the last decade, this would never end.


02. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford 2007

03. No Country for Old Men 2007

04. Lost in Translation 2003

05. There Will Be Blood 2007

06. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004

07. Brokeback Mountain 2005

08. A Serious Man 2009

09. Pan's Labyrinth 2006

10. Thumbsucker 2005

My brilliant runners-up:

Billy Elliot, 2000

Traffic, 2000

The Gleaners and I, 2000

Mulholland Drive, 2001

Memento, 2001

A.I. Artificial Intelligence, 2001

The Hours, 2002

Gangs of New York, 2002

Adaptation., 2002

Blissfully Yours, 2002

Monster, 2003

The Return, 2003

Finding Nemo, 2003

The Aviator, 2004

King Kong, 2005

Munich, 2005

Caché, 2005

Children of Men, 2006

Letters from Iwo Jima, 2006

Little Miss Sunshine, 2006

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, 2007

Milk, 2008

WALL-E, 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2008

Let the Right One In, 2008

Flight of the Red Balloon, 2008

A Single Man, 2009

Avatar, 2009