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.
#11 – The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
This is the top twenty. These are in order.
Why is it here:
This movie is a piece of the bedrock from which many of the great spy flicks are carved from. Not the James Bond stuff, though the latter entries do owe a small debt to this sober 1965 classic. It’s a John Le Carre adaptation and as faithful as faithful gets. So many of the great movies between then and now pay a little service to this film that has only become more valuable over the years. For the time the plot was as complex and unorthodox as one could expect but thanks to Richard Burton absolutely killing it was accepted. Now it’s a niche classic and for me one of the first truly dense examples on how to create tension and dread without really any action at all. It’s a quiet movie where words or the lack thereof are like pistols. It isn’t fast paced but it’s enriched and it’s impossible to watch it and not see so many great nuances that it lent to a very hearty genre.
Moments to savor:
The crushing ending. Richard Burton at his coolest and most battered by life. The overall maturity and sense of forward thinking.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is one of my favorite movies of the past half decade so it’s cool to see the character of Smiley given life many decades before.