Lists are great. They inspire discussion, create arguments, and tend to spiral off into fun new lists. When you do a list about the “BEST” of anything it goes from being fun to becoming a hotbed for arguments. There’s no such thing as a definitive list but I’ve decided to pull from my rather extensive life of film watching and put it to good use.
This is not the “film critic’s top 100” list. There’s no guarantee Citizen Kane or The Bicycle Thief will be in the top echelon or even on the list. This is the 100 movies I would put my name on as my top 100. If I died tomorrow this would represent the 100 films I find most vital, special, or ones that bonded to whatever it is that makes me me. I’m not including documentaries, though that might make for a nice supplemental list.
The first 80 will be in no particular order. The last 20 will be in very particular order. One a day, you have my word.
#95 – One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Why is it here:
Here’s how great One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is: It beat Jaws, The Man Who Would Be King, and Dog Day Afternoon handily in the Oscar and I’m fine with it. At least one of those films is in my top ten of all time [spoiler] but the fact remains. This is an uplifting, depressing, funny, tragic, goofy, and perfect movie. The balance of performers is perfect, the casting prescient. The direction proved that Milos Forman was one of the big dogs, and the classic moments come fast and furious. Jack Nicholson is as purely Jack as he’s ever been and if there were one film to personify his unique magnetism I’d choose this performance over any other of his, which is saying a lot. Louise Fletcher so effectively created the Nurse Ratched character that I still want to punch her in the face. The supporting cast filled with the likes of Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Brad Dourif (who, if he’d won his deserved Oscar would be as big a star as at least Steve Buscemi), and Will Sampson all absolutely kill it. It’s a great story well told that celebrates life amidst some pretty heartbreaking death. If you haven’t seen it, see it immediately. Then read Ken Kesey’s seminal book.
Moments to savor:
The baseball game. Nicholson fighting authority. “You want me to take a shit on the floor?” Billy Bibbitt’s weakness. Nurse Ratched in all her grotesque glory. Watching a stable of now legendary character actors at the beginning.
Moderate. It’s such an odd mixture of highs and lows that it’s a rollercoaster of emotion that’s not too easy to take a lot but it’s so damn compelling that it’s hard not to want to.
You could rebuild Hollywood from the ashes of this movie. Brad Dourif, Vincent Schiavelli, and Michael Berryman would handle the horror genre, Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd comedy, Nicholson and Fletcher drama, and Scatman Crothers and Will Sampson would be minorities.