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.
#12 – The Insider
This is the top twenty. These are in order.
Why is it here:
Michael Mann has made a lot of very good movies but none of them are as mature, effective, and balanced as this one. A performance from Al Pacino in the 2000’s that reminds us why we’s a legend. Russell Crowe’s perfection at maintaining “almost ready to explode” intensity harnessed. Kickstarting the renaissance of the amazing Christopher Plummer. Gambon. Baker Hall. Torn. Most importantly, Wing Hauser as a lawyer.
The Insider is a masterpiece. A rare intelligent and classical mainstream film that connects on every single level possible. That it came out in 1999 is unfortunate. It was nominated for many awards, winning zero. It’s better than every other movie from that very special year. In fact, it’s only gotten better with age, and somehow manages to balance a lot of plates that on paper seem very bland and barely cinematic. Damn near perfect.
Moments to savor:
The driving range scene, somehow the idea of the guy hitting balls and then staring at Jeffrey Wigand is just as scary as the bullet in the mailbox. Mann is a beast at making little moments stick. The confrontations between Plummer and Pacino. The parade of character actors coming in and owning it, from Colm Feore to Cliff Curtis to WINGS FUCKING HAUSER!
The only Achilles Heel Michael Mann had in the years between 1995 and 2000 was in putting too much stock in Diane Venora.