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.
#70 – Lone Star
Why is it here:
John Sayles is one of the truly great American filmmakers of this or any era, especially considering how he’s been able to make small and personal films for his whole career by doing tons of genre “writer for hire” work on blockbusters. He’s basically the epitome of the perfect filmmaker. There’s not a sellout bone in any of his films and Lone Star will stand as his most accessible (aside from Eight Men Out of course) and grandest work. A small, literary story of a small town sheriff who uncovers a mystery that dates back to his father’s era as sheriff and the mystery surrounding his death. The film is packed with racial strife, territorial angst, illicit relationships, and good old fashioned Western tropes. It’s a leisurely paced affair but Chris Cooper does a great job (as he always does with Sayles) and Matthew McConaughey and Kris Kristofferson have some great moments during the film’s flashback moments. This is a fine cut, dense and subtle. But so rewarding.
Moments to savor:
The transitions. Kristofferson and McConaughy squaring off. Chris Cooper doing a great job as a leading man. The familial reveal.
Sporadically. It’s great but since it’s slow paced and not with a lot of big moments it may not have the punch some films do upon consistent revisiting.
John Sayles is one of my favorite filmmakers and also one of the hardest for me to recommend to anyone under the age of 30. His stuff just takes its sweet time and focuses on small things. That said, City of Hope, Matewan, and Eight Men Out are flat out classics.