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.
#53 – 2001: A Space Odyssey
Why is it here:
I would love to have been able to see this film upon its initial release. To witness something that transforms an art form so massively must be thrilling, scary, and mindbending. The film is so bold and odd and visionary that there’s nothing to compare it to. I don’t presume to be intelligent, educated, or even deep enough to grasp a lot of what the film is selling but I know that it moves me and that it is a monolith of its own when it comes to legacy and ambition. Stanley Kubrick was one of those people operating on a completely different level and to watch his films is an experience that often doesn’t bear fruit initially. This movie and its use of sound and image is that rare one that can take a different shape and offer different rewards each time. As an art film. As a science fiction. As a message. As ‘the ultimate trip’. As a reminder of why film is and always will be the medium that keeps us going forward. This film is a huge example why.
Moments to savor:
The centrifuge-incorporating interior of the Discovery in all its glory. When HAL really becomes HAL. Those awe-inspiring slow movies across tech or vastness. Seeing the Monolith appear and what it foreshadows. ‘Daisy Bell’.
That depends on the person. I believe this to be a once a year revisit. It gets the juices flowing. It shows what a leap forward in film this was, which is something I don’t know is possible anymore. On many levels you can say Avatar made a large step mostly on technical and presentation levels, but people are so hot and cold about that one it’s not a fair comparison.
We spent a lot of time on this movie back in 2007 (look at all those contributors, let it not be said that I didn’t give this web thing my best effort) and it was a vital experience for me because something clicked and took this movie from a masterpiece I appreciated to one I love and enjoy. It was a huge step because this was always a difficult one for me growing up and in film school. I blamed it on me never using drugs, which is ludicrous.