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.
#43 – Chinatown
Why is it here:
Roman Polanski’s classic is a lot of things, but the indelible thing that always sticks with me is tone. It’s neo-noir flick but the tone Polanski achieved is so rich and special that it allows for everyone in the film to just dissolve into character and create a story that could have easy been bland or boring. The hooks and twists are fantastic but the main plot involving control of water is not exciting on its own. Here, thanks to a legendary script by Robert Towne and an unforgettable performance from Jack Nicholson, it’s unmissable. So rich and so measured.
Moments to savor:
Jake injures his nose. Parental issues of the highest order. Wait that person didn’t just get killed. John Huston, cold as fuck.
Moderate. The pace is slow but there’s so much richness it’s easy to be swept away.
Imagine Roman Polanski’s career had he not started putting hard things into young things.