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.
#15 – The French Connection
This is the top twenty. These are in order.
Why is it here:
The Gene Hackman 1-2 punch concludes with Francis Ford Coppola’s excellent paranoia tone poem. Deliberately paced, superbly acted, and still relevant, The Conversation is one of those movies people either love or simply don’t get. It’s one of the great and all-too-few John Cazale greats, one of Hackman’s finest hours, and Coppola at his peak. It’s also the first venture out of the gate by Coppola’s The Directors Company movies (read Easy Riders, Raging Bulls for a great look at how that started and blew up) and a film that really captured the era perfectly. This is the best, but a mini-festival of this, Blow Out, The Lives of Others, and Cache would be a great start to a subgenre that will bear fruit for as long as we as a society are being scrutinized.
Moments to savor:
Toilet flushing as a diversion. The trade show. Jazz sax. Innocuous conversations given prestige.
A lot of folks worship dePalma’s Blow Out and prefer it to this. It certainly has more entertainment value and is a much different film, but this is the one for me. It was neat seeing Hackman return to the genre a bit in Enemy of the State.