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.
#90 – Deliverance
Why is it here:
Hopefully without evoking the film’s famous “squeal like a pig” scene in your consciousness, this film is seminal. Essential. A gritty, raw, and wholly effective razor sharp film from one of the most underappreciated filmmakers ever. John Boorman. A great filmmaker. Based on James Dickey’s great but not AS great book this is not only a showcase for four actors who are still doing good work forty years later, it’s a timestamp for the genre and film in general. From my review:
“Deliverance is still a masterpiece, whether it be due to the amazing stillness and grace its pacing and execution conveys or the series of shattering events that leave the survivors hollow and fearful shells of themselves. This is an artfully made movie, something which is still fresh from the opening sounds of friends giving each other shit as the company credits appear right on through the odd and weirdly shot transformation moment for Jon Voight’s character as he spends a night on a cliff top waiting to kill a man. There’s a lot of air between the big moments here, and though it isn’t an improvisational film there’s a really immersive nature to the way the cast interacts and the camera digests it all.”
Moments to savor:
The angle of Ronny Cox’s arm. Burt and bow. The quiet moments. The iconic banjo boy. Sweet, sweet revenge.
This is one of those great “once every couple of years” films.
I got misty-eyed reading the message board thread for my review. So many names that have come and gone here. This is a movie that every generation needs to see, and ideally before being inundated with the base and frankly unfair stereotypes associated with it. The banjo and rape scenes are the least of why this movie is powerful, great, and timeless.