Leave the cannoli, take the movies

Review Blog

My Favorite Films - #10

Posted by Jonathan Leithold-Patt on October 16, 2010 at 4:45 PM

As promised, I am going to start a countdown of my 10 favorite films (or at least as close and as satisfying a Top 10 as I've yet made). This is a process I find very difficult, and after several failed attempts at comprising a Best Of All Time list I have finally made one I feel mostly comfortable with. Of course, films had to be left off, and with only 10 slots there were quite a few that unfortunately could not make the cut.

Without further ado...

(Some) of My Other Favorites

8 1/2 (1963), by Federico Fellini

Amadeus (1984), by Milos Forman

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), by Andrew Dominik

Au Revoir les Enfants (1987), by Louis Malle

Billy Elliot (2000), by Stephen Daldry

The Black Stallion (1979), by Carol Ballard

Chinatown (1974), by Roman Polanski

City Lights (1931), by Charlie Chaplin

The Conversation (1974), by Francis Ford Coppola

Cries and Whispers (1973), by Ingmar Bergman

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), by Woody Allen

Double Indemnity (1944), by Billy Wilder

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), by Steven Spielberg

The English Patient (1996), by Anthony Minghella 

Forbidden Games (1952), by René Clément

The Godfather: Parts I and II (1972/1974), by Francis Ford Coppola

The Graduate (1967), by Mike Nichols

Hour of the Wolf (1968), by Ingmar Bergman

Howards End (1992), by James Ivory

Hud (1963), by Martin Ritt

Late Spring (1949), by Yasujiro Ozu

Network (1976), by Sidney Lumet

On the Waterfront (1954), by Elia Kazan

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), by Sergio Leone

Pelle the Conqueror (1988), by Bille August

Ran (1985), by Akira Kurosawa

The Right Stuff (1983), by Philip Kaufman

The Silence (1963), by Ingmar Bergman

Sunrise (1927), by F.W. Murnau

Sunset Boulevard (1950), by Billy Wilder

Ugetsu (1953), by Kenji Mizoguchi

Vertigo (1958), by Alfred Hitchcock

And the list begins...

#10  -  2001: A Space Odyssey     STANLEY KUBRICK, 1968

       In 1968, Stanley Kubrick made a film that was as big and heady as any film that had been created yet. His characters weren't elaborate, his story didn't follow a conventional narrative, and his focus was not on humans, but on the entire universe - its past and its infinite future. Painting in methodical, abstract movements of color and shape, he managed to put forth a vision of worldly existence that was transcendent and eminently radical. Some saw it as boring, pretentious drudgery, others saw a hallucinatory odyssey that explored human life and the beyond as no other had ever done. In 1968, it was a Space Oddity. In 2010, it is simply one of the greatest pieces of art to emerge from the 20th century.

     What makes 2001: A Space Odyssey so resonant to me? In purely cinematic terms, Stanley Kubrick's visual stylings can hardly be matched. His mise-en-scène is as deliberate and controlled as the coolly futuristic architecture he navigates, and his steady arm knows exactly how long a scene should progress. The use of classical music, most notably (and famously) Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra creates an operatic sonic landscape that reverberates through the vast planes of space. It's a movie that trusts its inhibitions, one that fully lets its images do the speaking. And its visual effects, revolutionary for the time, are still as robust and gloriously naturalistic today. But what makes the film one for the ages is just how grand in scope it is. Very few films, if any, can claim to be working on such a massive universal scale as 2001. It is a purely visual film, a testament to the powers of the moving picture, and it uses its devices to examine an epic, winding timeline of life. From the monkeys at the beginning to the bone that morphs into a spaceship, to a diabolical machine named HAL 9000 and the weakly humans who challenge him, to an old man in a sterile room looking up at a giant monolith, and finally, to the birth of a star child that will perhaps carry on the cycle innumerably; Kubrick's space-aged masterpiece discovers a compendium of time and space in a way our linear lives just can't experience. Metaphysical, mystical, scientific, mind-expanding, 2001: A Space Odyssey remains a film well ahead of its comparatively archaic times.

Categories: My Favorite Films

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Reply Andy
10:07 PM on October 17, 2010 
No Pixar?
Reply Jonathan
11:06 PM on October 17, 2010 
If I were to choose an animated film, it would be "The Lion King." Nothing against PIXAR or animation in general, I just have other favorites. Maybe a Top 100...