Ranking the 50 Movies Project, Round Two: #25-1

This is it, folks. The end result of a year’s worth of movie watching. The 25 films listed below are all fantastic in their own ways, and I would happily give each of them my full endorsement. In my initial reviews, I only gave out one “ten” rating. After further reflection, at least the top four films would all receive this elusive rating from me. Let’s get to it:

Blow Out [1981]
25) Blow Out [1981]

It’s easy to see why Quentin Tarantino considers this a favorite of his. Can’t get over that ending.

The Wild Bunch [1969]
24) The Wild Bunch [1969]

Quite possibly the most violent Western I have seen, and it culminates with a bloodbath for the ages.

23) Rocky [1976]

A number of progressively worse sequels cannot damage the brilliance of one of film’s greatest underdog stories.

Into the Wild [2007]
22) Into the Wild [2007]

A tremendously beautiful film that stirred up emotions in me that I just wasn’t prepared for.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? [2000]
21) O Brother, Where Art Thou? [2000]

I’m not a bluegrass guy, but I couldn’t stop listening to this film’s soundtrack for days afterward. Now one of my favorites from the Coen brothers.

Casino Royale [2006]
20) Casino Royale [2006]

My first Bond film. After watching another half dozen or so, this one is still light years above the others.

Coffy [1973]
19) Coffy [1973]

This film may very well be the most fun out of all of these — I could watch Pam Grier kick ass all day.

Blue Velvet [1986]
18) Blue Velvet [1986]

Quintessential David Lynch film that contains the deliriously psychopathic role Dennis Hopper was born to play. Just one unforgettable scene after another.

For a Few Dollars More [1965]
17) For a Few Dollars More [1967]

Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef teaming up to take down a ruthless fugitive? Hell yeah.

Paths of Glory [1957]
16) Paths of Glory [1957]

Kubrick’s early anti-war film is still incredibly powerful.

To Kill a Mockingbird [1962]
15) To Kill a Mockingbird [1962]

Worth seeing just for Gregory Peck’s big courtroom speech. What a performance.

Singin' in the Rain [1952]
14) Singin’ in the Rain [1952]

Yeah, I’m still surprised at how much I enjoyed this. Just a great all-around film with some insane dance numbers.

Modern Times [1936]
13) Modern Times [1936]

Charlie Chaplin is as entertaining as always, but I couldn’t help falling in love with Paulette Goddard. What a combination those two made.

M [1931]
12) M [1931]

Fritz Lang’s film delivers some pretty heavy subject matter for the time period, and Peter Lorre’s disturbingly effective performance lingers for days.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
11) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade [1989]

I don’t know if I prefer this or Raiders of the Lost Ark, but both are incredible adventures.

A Fistful of Dollars [1964]
10) A Fistful of Dollars [1964]

Could be called “bite-size” Leone, but the result is a quick, highly entertaining effort.

The Sting [1973]
9) The Sting [1973]

The best caper film I have seen — is there a better duo than Paul Newman and Robert Redford?

Metropolis [1927]
8) Metropolis [1927]

An unbelievable cinematic feat that was well ahead of its time.

On the Waterfront [1954]
7) On the Waterfront [1954]

This is a contender, alright. Fantastic work from all involved, especially Marlon Brando’s Terry Malloy.

Vanishing Point [1971]
6) Vanishing Point [1971]

The movie that made me want to hit the open road and not look back.

Notorious [1946]
5) Notorious [1946]

I didn’t know what to expect out of this Hitchcock classic, but it has quickly become one of my favorites from the auteur.

Lawrence of Arabia [1962]
4) Lawrence of Arabia [1962]

This historical epic is still a technical marvel today, and it is absolutely stellar on the big screen.

Touch of Evil [1958]
3) Touch of Evil [1958]

I was hooked from the opening scene, one of the best I can remember. This may have very well eclipsed Citizen Kane as my favorite Orson Welles film.

The Last Picture Show [1971]
2) The Last Picture Show [1971]

As a former resident of a small town myself, I could infinitely relate to this film. I can’t think of another that better encapsulates the experience of growing up in a rural town like this.

The Lives of Others [2006]
1) The Lives of Others [2006]

In a project full of great selections, this is the one that blew me away the most. This is a film that requires the utmost attention, but if you provide this, the rewards just keep coming. There aren’t many performances that are better than what Ulrich Mühe delivers here, and it’s incredibly tragic that this was his last film. I will be recommending this anytime I get the chance.

So there you have it. The 2012 edition of the 50 Movies Project is now complete. What do you think of the rankings? What should be bumped up or pushed down? Have you seen The Lives of Others? Let’s hear your thoughts!

34 thoughts on “Ranking the 50 Movies Project, Round Two: #25-1

  1. impsndcnma says:

    When “The Lives of Others” won best foreign film from Pan’s Labyrinth I remember thinking to myself…That must be one hell of a film. Indeed I was right. It’s a fantastic film and while many will argue with its placement at the top, there’s no denying its brilliance.

    • Eric says:

      I’m glad you’re a big fan of The Lives of Others as well, Max. I honestly didn’t know what to expect with it, but it connected with me in ways that few films have. At the very least I hope my high ranking will encourage others to watch it sooner rather than later.

  2. The Blog of Big Ideas says:

    Stunning collection of films here. Now I can understand why films like The Truman Show didn’t make it to your top half.
    I may have to agree with you when it comes to your #1 choice. The Lives of Others is incredibly powerful and one of only 15 films I’ve given a perfect score to. Also glad to see Metropolis ranked so high as well as “M”, the other Fritz Lang masterpiece.
    Casino Royale is also my favorite Bond film up to now (I find most of the older ones utterly awful actually).
    I just recently watched Into The Wild and it truly surprised me. I felt very much connected to the main character in ways I wasn’t expecting. And well, Paths of Glory is the last Kubrick film I have yet to watch. Will get to it very soon!

    • Eric says:

      Hi Niels, great to hear your approval of many of these. I really can’t think of any flaws with The Lives of Others — I should have given it a straight-up 10/10 in my initial post. I had a similar reaction to you with Into the Wild. I honestly wasn’t expecting much, but I loved it. Hope you see Paths of Glory, one of Kubrick’s many excellent films.

  3. Chris says:

    Nice to see On the Waterfront & Modern Times feature, in my top 100. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, you had already watched previously? That’s my fav of the Dollars trilogy .I intend to catch up on “Metropolis” and “M” during 2013.
    The Lives of Others is great, in fact recent German cinema is pretty strong from the last 10y. You can do a CTRL+F search on “Germany” on my blog, for a few more from that region.

    • Eric says:

      Yep, I saw The Good, The Bad & The Ugly a few years back. Should probably revisit it since I finally watched the others in the trilogy.

      I’ll have to check out your German posts. I can only think of two that I have seen off the top of my head — The Lives of Others and Downfall — and both are terrific.

      • Chris says:

        Well I didn’t write any posts about German cinema, only the titles : ) Downfall is terrific and believable, no doubt.
        Germany filmmakers: Tom Tykwer, his best is arguably Run Lola Run (1998), blew me away. Wim Wenders, his finest is probably Wings Of Desire (1987), a modern masterpiece.
        Fatih Akin also makes powerful German films, Head-on (2004), & Edge of Heaven (2007) are worth seeking out.

        • Eric says:

          Ah yes, Run Lola Run has been on my list for a while now. Really need to see that! I should look into more Wim Wenders, too, since I enjoyed Paris, Texas quite a bit.

          I’ve had my eyes on Head-on ever since the AV Club included it in their New Cult Canon series. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. jsicktheslick says:

    Such a phenomenal collection of films! I’m happy you enjoyed The Last Crusade so much: it’s my personal favorite Indy film.

    Also, huge props indeed for Gregory Peck! If I’m not mistaken, several large chunks of that courtroom scene are done without any cutaways! That’s an impressive performance indeed!

    • Eric says:

      Thanks dude, yeah it’s a tough call between Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade. Glad to hear you’re a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird — that one surprised me a bit, actually.

  5. Alex Withrow says:

    A bold pick for number one (considering the others you watched) but one I can fully get behind. The Lives of Others is an ingenious film. I really need to sit down and watch that one again.

    Great ranking here!

    • Eric says:

      Thanks man! I thought I might get a little grief about my top choice, but it really is one hell of a film. I’m going to have a blast showing that to newcomers.

  6. ruth says:

    Wow, sooo many awesome classics! I can’t believe I still haven’t seen The Sting yet, what a dynamic duo. I’ve only seen them in Butch Cassidy. Ooo, I’ve got to see The Lives of Others soon, especially since it tops soo many other great films you’ve seen.

    As for Casino Royale, I’m super curious to hear what you think of the two Dalton’s Bonds now, I do hope you give those two a try Eric 😀

    • Eric says:

      Hey Scott, great to hear from you! Was wondering what happened to you — it’s not the same without FRC up and running. Things are going well over here, just putting the finishing touches on this year’s project. Hope you have an awesome 2013, man.

  7. jackdeth72 says:

    Hi, Eric and company:

    These are some excellent choices, my friend!

    I’ll have to start looking for ‘The Lives of Others’, since I’ve missed it.

    Very pleased and surprised to see ‘Metropolis’, ‘M’ and ‘Vanishing Point’ in attendance. Fritz Lang’s films have so much to see and learn from. A master of shadow and detail. While Barry Newman and ‘Vanishing Point’ are just great, no budget fun!

    • Eric says:

      Hi Jack, I hope you’re able to see The Lives of Others soon. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

      Vanishing Point was great fun indeed. Have you seen Two Lane Blacktop? Heard those two compared a bit, and was thinking about giving it a shot soon.

      • jackdeth72 says:

        Hi, Eric:

        ‘Two Lane Blacktop’ is more of a road trip flick. Though it does involve a cross country race to Washington, DC. Where the loser gives up their vehicle. ‘Blacktop’ is a bit more romantic and has more people involved. Especially Warren Oates and Harry Dean Stanton as a hitchhiker picked up in Oklahoma. Definitely worth looking up!

        Personal choice for a film to put up against ‘Vanishing Point’ would be ‘Dirty Mary Crazy Larry’ from 1974. Shot in Stockton and other parts of California that look like the Deep South. With Peter Fonda, Adam Roarke, Susan George and Vic Morrow.

        • Eric says:

          Great, thanks for the info, Jack! I just watched Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and it had me jonesing for more Warren Oates. It seems he would make a great pairing with Stanton.

          I’ll check out Dirty Mary Crazy Larry as well. Can’t wait to see both of them!

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