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.
#72 – Unforgiven
Why is it here:
Because it’s the coda to the best career in the Western genre and it’s as good as any film made in that once crowded genre. Because it’s Clint Eastwood at the end showing he can still do it better than anyone but also offering a bit of commentary in the process. Sharp, hard, punctuation. William Munny is a great character, the Angel of Death in retirement and when coupled with Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris it’s truly like a Hall of Fame Class in one film. The violence when it comes is prolific and vicious but there’s such a strong antiviolence theme to the film that it makes for that rare modern film that plants its stake in both worlds and plays to the strongest sensibilities of both. It’s an impeccable film and the best thing about it is that film historians and imbeciles can both appreciate it. Not sure which camp I’m closer to though I have suspicions.
Moments to savor:
When Munny becomes what he hates. Gene Hackman chewing though scenery int he best possible way. The humor between Eastwood and Freeman. Watching Western tropes deliver in the opposite way you expected.
High. It’s Unforgiven for fuck’s sake.
Al Pacino beat Clint Eastwood with his performance in Scent of a Woman. It was ludicrous then but it’s a downright atrocity now.