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.
#71 – Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Why is it here:
It’s a legitimate epic in an era where the word has just been thrown around to equate effects and budget. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World was extremely expensive but that money was on screen in the grandeur of the ships and the authenticity of the naval warfare. It’s a gift from a bygone era, probably why it ultimately wasn’t the franchise starter (there’s many, many books in the series) everyone had hoped for. As it stands it’s a wonderful movie that is both delightfully acted, entertaining, and just awe-inspiring in its depiction of life at sea for the saltiest gentlemen of the sea. Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany are peas in a pod, and their relationship carries the film well beyond the spectacle. Peter Weir is one of the best and least appreciated directors on the planet and this should have been his ascendance. It got a bunch of Oscar nominations but it’s still sort of an odd bird, especially considering that it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.
Moments to savor:
The weevil story. Classic music played at sea. The combat. The Galapagos visit (including the drawing of the reptile saying “argh”). The water has never looked more powerful and beautiful.
Once a year. Without a hitch.
If this had come out two years earlier or two years later it probably would have rocked the world. They should have just called it Master and Commander. Russell Crowe still wants to make more of these and not out of desperation. He knows as well as many of us fans do, these are timeless and important movies.