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.
#60 – Once Upon a Time in America
Why is it here:
This is a difficult masterpiece, and a perfect coda to Sergio Leone’s amazing career. Robert Deniro, James Woods, William Forsythe, Elizabeth McGovern, Joe Pesci, Danny Aiello, and a wide variety of familiar faces dot this massive gangster epic. Released heavily edited in the early 80’s, it was a huge failure. Seen in a much longer cut shortly after, it was considered a classic. Now as a four and a half hour movie it truly stands right up there with the best of the best in the genre.
This movie is so different than most in how it takes its time with everything. Scenes stretch out and moments linger, partially because Leone was making an effort to really infuse a European sensibility to an American genre but also because the world of filmmaking had veered into a new and faster-paced world and it flat out didn’t suit him. As a result the film really does capture the opium dream state alluded to in the film’s bookending sequences.
Absolute class and loaded with classic moments and a film that really got some great performances from young people.
Moments to savor:
A young Jennifer Connelly’s bare ass. Deniro and James Woods butting heads. A group of precocious young men take on James Russo. Deniro in his prime.
Low, unless you like the slowest things to happen to you.
Robert Deniro flat out rapes two women in this movie. Rapes them in no uncertain terms. No way that would fly in today’s world.