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.
#51 – 12 Angry Men
Why is it here:
It’s easy to forget Sidney Lumet when it comes to Hollywood but the man is beyond being a great director. He’s an icon and between this film, Serpico, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, and the the criminally underappreciated classic Prince of the City alone he’s worth a spot in everyone’s collection. This is the gateway Lumet and also his work that will live forever. It’s so simple yet endlessly engaging. Henry Fonda is great as usual but the character actors surrounding him really make it sing. Before ever birthing thousands of roaches E.G. Marshall brought his blend of grumpiness to this, Jack Klugman rocked ass way before coming a TV doctor, and the likes of Martin Balsam and the legendary Jack Warden all served as vital parts of the machine of twelve men trying to reach a unanimous verdict on a crime. Though it’s old it’s still quite relevant, especially in showing human nature at its most raw. The way an idea can change shape when bounced off different people and their baggage, motives, laziness, ideals, and prejudices is evergreen and no movie captures it better. A great “Dad” movie for me. If my son ever doesn’t be a little maniac I look forward to sharing this with him if he doesn’t murder me in my sleep before then.
Moments to savor:
This film is loaded with great moments, but they aren’t exactly big moments as it’s all dialogue in a controlled environment. Watching a few legends squaring off bears so much fruit though. It’s where I fell in love with Jack Klugman, an actor who probably should be more revered.
Not high, but it is a timeless flick and even the remake is pretty solid.
When in high school I wrote a short called 12 Angry Manitous. You can probably guess the plot. It was never made, a consistent thread in most of my creations.