Landscape In The Mist 1988~ Theo Angelopoulos 51 points from 3 ballots Highest Placement: #3 on 1 ballot
Awards: European Film Award for Best Film; European Film Award nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography.
Trivia: After the scene of the hand surfacing out from the sea, the young actor says the sentence 'Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies?'. This sentence is from The First Elegy by Rainer Maria Rilke.
Watching a film like this one recalls something from Tarkovsky , images that are gloomy, misty, pale in color and hypnotic, but instead of pushing the expectator in a state of lassitude, the journey of two siblings and a third fellow is nothing but a treat for the senses, the director is at all moments showing his gift to find beauty were any other filmmaker would find boredom.
The film is composed by sequences that at first sight might not reveal a link with each other, is not exactly a film of visual contrasts, but they do connect through symbolism, there’s a scene of a dying horse happening just a few meters away from a couple celebrating their wedding or a beautiful scene that conjures a sense of belonging followed by what suggest to be a terrible crime, every scene makes its points clear about a country in search for identity, and following the tradition of films that favor to remain open to interpretaion, still is easy to recognize the happiness and dissapointments of life, put together in what it seems like a never ending parade of beautiful vistas.
Back To The Future: Part II 1989~ Robert Zemeckis 52 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #1 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects
Trivia: Crispin Glover sued the filmmakers, as he had not granted permission to use his likeness in Part II. Crispin's suit named John Doe 1-100 as defendants, where he did not have to name all of the individuals he was suing. Crispin ended up dropping the lawsuit after the case was settled out of court for $765,000 by Universal's insurance company, who decided it would be cheaper to pay Crispin than to go to trial. The Screen Actors Guild subsequently introduced new rules about illicit use of actors.
I love the original movie, so don't get me wrong, but I have a special thing for really cool looking futuristic things. Especially if they're made out to look really interesting like in this sequel. The story is still very good, the characters are still loveable and have some great lines, and the ending is superb even if it leaves you wanting for a little more. Interchanging between this movie and the last (even the next) were great twists and turns, probably still the best achievement i've seen properly executed in a film to date.
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan 1982~ Nicholas Meyer 53 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #2 on 1 ballot
Trivia: In the Blu-ray special feature "The Captain's Log", Ricardo Montalban says that once he committed to this film, he realized that he had trouble getting back into the character Khan. After years of playing Mr. Roarke on Fantasilandia (1977), he found that he was "stuck" in that character. He requested a tape of Star Trek: Space Seed (1967) from Paramount, and proceeded to watch it repeatedly. By the third or fourth watching, he had recaptured the essence of Khan's character.
After the cerebral Space Odyssey-inspired Star Trek: The Motion Picture plodded its way into theaters, evoking no more than one big collective “huh?” from audiences, Paramount Pictures knew a different approach was clearly needed if this cult television franchise was ever going to succeed on the big screen. Enter a lower budget, pulpier tone, smaller scale, and genre director Nicholas Meyer (himself not even a fan of the original series). The result was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: the first truly great revival special, and one of the best sci-fi/adventure films of all time. Wrath of Khan works so well in large part because of its simplicity. The plot is focused. The villain is threatening and compelling. The pacing is relentless. And most of all, the stakes are personal. Despite a far darker and more action-heavy tone, Wrath of Khan is so beloved by the show’s hardcore fanbase because of just how much weight, focus, and care it places on its lead characters. Spock, Bones, and most importantly Kirk have never felt so human, so lived-in. And the urgency of their plight has never felt this purposeful. The final act of the film absolutely pulsates with hard-earned emotions. No, Kirk isn’t saving the galaxy or rewriting history. He’s simply (and finally) reckoning with the fact that there are some problems you cannot solve, some friends you cannot save.
Heathers 1989~ Michael Lehmann 53 points from 8 ballots Highest Placement: #7 on 2 ballots
Awards: Indie Spirit winner for Best First Feature; Indie Spirit nominations for Best Female Lead (Winona Ryder), Best Screenplay
Trivia: The same week Winona Ryder received the script, a student from her high school committed suicide, which only inspired her more to do the film.
Dan Waters wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct his script.
I think that says a lot about Heathers. This isn't like any other high school movie out there. Waters wanted to create a "Dr. Strangelove of teen movies" and what we get is pretty damn close. Like Strangelove, this is bleak and horrifying: an absurdist, pessimistic view of humanity's penchant for self-destruction. And even more than Strangelove, this is outrageously funny as it tears down every piece of morality that supposedly separates us from the animals.
The Hit 1984~ Stephen Frears 54 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #8 on 1 ballot
Awards: BAFTA nomination for Most Outstanding Newcomer to Film (Tim Roth)
Trivia: Joe Strummer was originally considered for the part of Myron, but his bandmates (in The Clash) nixed the idea. Strummer then recommended Tim Roth for the part, based on his appearance as "Trevor the Skinhead" in the TV movie Made in Britain (1982). This movie was Roth's first theatrical feature, and granted him a BAFTA nomination for Best Newcomer.
The Hit is possibly the best film in the varied career of Stephen Frears, and one of the finest British crime films ever. Throwing together three characters in different stages of criminal life -- the reformed rat, the ice cold professional, and the wet behind the ears youngster makes this truly unique. Casting Terence Stamp, John Hurt, and Tim Roth makes it legendary.
Clue 1984~ Jonathan Lynn 54 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #6 on 1 ballot
Trivia: According to an interview with writer and director Jonathan Lynn, after a screening on the 25th anniversary of this movie's release, Carrie Fisher was originally cast as Miss Scarlet, until she ended up in rehab for drug addiction four days before filming started. Fisher called Lynn and agreed to a work furlough, which received approval of her clinicians and the producers, but was vetoed by the production's insurance company, forcing Lynn to dismiss her from the project. Lesley Ann Warren was cast as a last-minute replacement. .
”Everything alright?” “Yup. Two corpses. Everything’s fine.”
For many years, there seemed to be a notion among film critics that high art and pure entertainment could rarely equal one and the same thing. That if a film is truly a blast, the idea of awards consideration or a ranking on a top year-end list simply wasn’t acceptable. Thankfully, in recent years, this stigma toward entertainment – in particular comedies – has started to vanish among modern film criticism. It does remain prevalent unfortunately – possibly due to an over-exposure to studio-mandated blockbuster cinematic universes and the ever-dying full creative license in Hollywood filmmaking – but when a film with its own unique flavor manages to slip through into the mainstream, it can often catch the film world by surprise.
This was never the case for Jonathan Lynn’s Hasbro board game-inspired murder-mystery-comedy Clue which opened to a lukewarm critical response and never broke it’s $15 million budget at the box office. Thankfully for the rest of us nowadays, it developed a cult following since its release and we can enjoy it in all of its zany, sidesplitting, quotable glory that audiences in ’85 were clearly not ready for.
That a movie based off of the board game Clue was even made is a pretty ridiculous feat in itself, but the fact that it also happened to be as exciting and uproariously funny as it was is pretty magical. Even beyond that, it features one of the finest ensembles ever put to film (yeah, not just comedy ensembles, ensembles period) highlighted by best-ever performances from comedic genius Madeline Kahn and the always-delightful Tim Curry just makes you wonder how strong that cocaine was audiences were all snorting in 1985 to not realize how brilliant this film was.
To say Clue had a unique flavor was certainly an understatement. The best comparison is to Robert Moore’s Murder by Death, although Clue dodges all of that film’s fatal flaws (racist/sexist jokes that punch down, Peter Sellers’ notorious “yellowface”) and simply just sets out to have a great fucking time. The murder mystery film all other murder mystery films wish they could be. Just like having a memorable and entertaining game night with all of your closest friends. I’ll gladly take this film anytime, anywhere, as my weapon of choice.
Rumble Fish 1983~ Francis Ford Coppola 55 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #8 on 2 ballots
Awards: Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Score.
Trivia: The sound technicians on the film had a hard time hearing Mickey Rourke's dialogue on set, often asking him to speak louder. As a result, the sound crew referred to the production as "Mumble Fish".
The dark(er) side to Coppola’s other S.E. Hinton adaptation The Outsiders, Rumble Fish is about as mature and brilliant as an adaptation of a young adult novel can get. Rumble Fish is a film about reckoning with the past, and trying to find some semblance of a future. Mickey Rourke brings so much gravitas to a character known only as the Motorcycle Boy that his presence looms large over the entire film in the same way that his character’s legacy looms over the life of his brother Rusty James.
Fitzcarraldo 1982~ Werner Herzog 55 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #6 on 1 ballot
Awards: Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival; BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Foreign Film
Trivia: The film was shot during one of the region's driest summers on record. Indigenous Amahuaca launched a hit-and-run raid on the film camp. One man survived an arrow through his throat. His wife was hit in the stomach, necessitating eight hours of emergency surgery on a kitchen table. According to Werner Herzog, "I assisted by illuminating her abdominal cavity with a torchlight, and with my other hand sprayed with repellent the clouds of mosquitoes that swarmed around the blood." Herzog decided against a revenge attack, believing it would be bad for relations.
After a Peruvian logger was bitten by a deadly snake, he immediately cut off his own foot with a chainsaw to prevent the spread of the venom. Werner Herzog commented, "It was a good decision, he lived."
An adventure that treads on dangerous and an ambition that treads on madness. Lengthy but every bit weighty as its steamship. This is pure and raw Herzogian cinema. Klaus Kinski was perfectly cast.
The Purple Rose of Cairo 1985~ Woody Allen 57 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #8 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay
Trivia: Jeff Daniels replaced Michael Keaton in the lead male role. Keaton was originally cast, and footage was shot for ten days. Director Woody Allen decided it wasn't working, feeling that Keaton, despite a good performance so far, was miscast being too contemporary for the part and was not fitting well into this period movie. Keaton had taken sizable salary cut to do a film with Allen. Apparently, Keaton was to appear in another later Allen film to make-up for this disappointment, but to date (August, 2020) this has yet to occur.
The greatest movie about movies... ever? I hesitate only because its charm and swift runtime belie its strength. But hey, in New Jersey, anything can happen!
We’ve all used the allure of film to escape our reality, but what might it look like if Prince Charming escaped the fairy tale for a harsh dose of Depression-era America? With this whimsical confection, Woody Allen creates what I think is his most intelligent, multi-layered film. It’s at once both an ode to the magic of the movies and a surrealist enchantment, a most worthy successor to Cocteau and Buñuel. Bolstered by two incredibly soulful performances from Mia Farrow and Jeff Daniels, the film may only run for 82 minutes, but every one of those minutes is pure bliss.
“I didn't listen in court, not until you called to me. They were all... all against me.”
A Short Film About Killing 1988~ Krzysztof Kieslowski 57 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #1 on 1 ballot
Awards: Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival; European Film Award for Best Film; Best Film of 1988 according to Cahiers du Cinéma
Trivia: Kieslowski's graphic depiction of the effects of violence so shook up the Polish authorities that they declared a five year moratorium on capital punishment.
The moment the first images appear on screen, the dirty green color makes it look as if it is ugly water from a fish tank, creates the effect that we’re watching individuals and while it looks like they move around freely, they’re already trapped and got used to their enviroment.
Three particular characters caught our attention, a taxi driver, a recently graduated lawyer and a young homeless man, and in Kieslowski fashion, their lives will connect in unexpected ways. Being a film about killing, the murder scenes are very graphic, and not exactly because of the blood or stylization but because of the point of view we see these actions, Kieslowski stripped the images of any distraction, is all done in a very ordinary way, watching humans doing damage to another humans. The reason why this film and the entirety of The Decalogue works so well, even to this day is because while acknowledges the political enviroment where this individuals live, it is far more interested in their rhythm of life and relationships as a consequence of it.
Stranger Than Paradise 1984~ Jim Jarmusch 58 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #7 on 1 ballot
Awards: Golden Camera winner at the Cannes Film Festival.
Trivia: The whole film is sequence shots with live sound - editing consisted simply of putting them end to end.
A tale of two stories... First this universal ode to the young immigrant experience. It happens to take place in New York City at a time when such a pilgrimage was possible, but it could honestly apply to anybody anywhere. Through primarily comic means documenting the culture (or lack thereof) and the almost desperately overbearing attempts to distance oneself from your roots, said roots ability to begin growing back, and the ease and temptation of assimilation.
Then it hits the road, and the little NYC immigrant story transforms into something akin to Kerouac. Battered old cars, dingy little motel rooms, late night eateries, and a small slice of the heartland. Stranger than Paradise is a keenly American odyssey of opportunity, however small and aimless, the dissolution of dreams, the highs and lows, and purposeless nature of the freedoms afforded by slacker life.
For Jim Jarmusch it was a startlingly intuitive exercise in simplicity that so absolutely captured something so perfectly and precisely, and given its trailblazing place in the pantheon of indie cinema in America it set the bar at a level tough to top when so early on you discover the gift for crafting cinematic paradise, so strangely.
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters 1985~ Paul Schrader 58 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #4 on 1 ballot
Awards: Best Artistic Contribution at the Cannes Film Festival.
Trivia: Yukio Mishima's family originally cooperated with the making of this film but when their request that the gay bar scene be removed was denied, they withdrew their help.
One of the best biopics ever put to screen, Paul Schrader's Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters sets itself apart from most other biographical films in the way it plunges itself into the fantastical writings of Mishima itself. In layering story on top of story, Mishima becomes a collage of ideas and images, synthesizing reality and fantasy to show the interplay between the two. It's both a fictionalization of reality and an actualization of fantasy, all unfolding as a sort of enchanting storybook epic. From the relentlessly imaginative production design to John Bailey's magnificent cinematography, Mishima is a hypnotizing visual adventure that simply overwhelms you with its rich, distinct color palettes and sheer beauty, both natural and artificial. The real show-stopper, though, is the all-time great score from the legendary Philip Glass, whose music cues hit like a lightning-strike and are absolutely transcendent. The real-life narrative it tells, of course, is gripping, a classic Schrader-esque tale of a man's radicalization, intensely brought to life by a stellar performance from Ken Ogata. But to invoke a tired cliche, it's the way that Mishima tells its story that embellishes it with so much richness and spectacle. One of the monumental artistic achievements of '80s cinema.
Batman 1989~ Tim Burton 59 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #4 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award winner for Best Art Direction
Trivia: Robin Williams was offered the role of The Joker when Jack Nicholson hesitated. He had even accepted the role, when producers approached Nicholson again and told him Williams would take the part if he didn't. Nicholson took the role, and Williams was released. Williams resented being used as bait, and not only refused to play The Riddler in Batman Forever (1995) but also refused to be involved in any Warner Bros. productions until the studio apologized.
After revisiting for the first time in at least a decade (and likely two decades), I discovered a film whose power comes from a rare alchemy of artifice, absurdity and horror. It starts with the score. Elfman's work is one for the ages and does a lot of heavy lifting early in the film (specifically making Nicholson's Jack Napier about 80% more sinister in those early scenes). Secondly, the set design - with special adoring emphasis on that first shot of Gotham, all dark, smudged pastels, like something out of Caligari or Metropolis. The opening scene when we're introduced to Keaton's Batman is impeccable. His "I'm Batman" gave me the same thrill as it did 25 years ago. And then the two scenes when we're introduced to Nicholson's Joker - first in the alley surgeon's; then in his confrontation with Jack Palance. Both scenes are stagey and artificial - and genuinely frightening (again credit to Elfman). In Burton's Batman, the world is not real; but the darkness is. For me, that's the real strength of the movie and why I never took to Nolan's vision. Bale's grumbly caped crusader; Eckardt's Two-Face - unintended absurdities that undermined the movie's "reality." Only Ledger's indelible Joker struck the right tone.
Burton's film belongs to the same celluloid world that seems to have inspired it - classic and silent Hollywood. Dames in distress and dudes in dress up facing off in a studio back lot. Caricatures with soul. Dumb jokes and sentimentality lying alongside tragedy.
--courtesy of Sam Van Hallgren from Letterboxd
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Ferris Bueller's Day Off 1986~ John Hughes 59 points from 6 ballots Highest Placement: #5 on 1 ballot
Awards: Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy (Matthew Broderick).
Trivia: John Hughes told Ben Stein, who had a degree in Economics, to present an actual Economics lecture in his scenes. Hence nothing Stein says (aside from the roll call) is scripted.
‘Ferries Bueller’s Day Off’ is a joyous, vibrant celebration of teenage hedonism, and allows us to vicariously do what most of us wanted to but few of us actually did – tell a bunch of lies, skip school and get out on the town with the people you love. It’s all wonderfully ridiculous, right down to the glorious ‘Twist & Shout’ bonanza midway through. Matthew Broderick gives us a teenage rebel to route for – not the easiest task – and Jeffrey Jones is a cartoon villain for the ages. ‘Ferris Bueller’ is cheesy, fun and oh-so 80s – you can’t not love it.
RoboCop 1987~ Paul Verhoeven 60 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #4 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award winner for Best Sound Editing (Special Award); Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing.
Trivia: The RoboCop suit was so hot and heavy that Peter Weller was losing 3 lbs a day from water loss. Eventually, an air conditioner was installed in the suit.
Made on a low budget and with the feel of a b-movie, this sci-fi thriller set in a dystopian near future is nothing less than a violent social satire. Filled with funny one-liners, gore and an excellent soundtrack, Robocop is deservedly considered a modern cult classic which you'd definitely buy for a dollar!
Gallipoli 1981~ Peter Weir 60 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #3 on 1 ballot
Awards: Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Film
Trivia: At the time of filming, Peter Weir felt that his young star, Mel Gibson, was "full of beans, and really with no grand career ambitions."
The end of Peter Weir's great Australian period. Visually the work of a romantic (this Gallipoli is very strange, very foreign... an Arabian nightmare), though its power lies somewhere else entirely. In its depiction of how these young men meet their doom for reasons they can't understand or control, the movie has a direct, dispassionate lyricism... and a theme that bears a striking resemblance to Weir's masterly Picnic at Hanging Rock.
To Live and Die in L.A. 1985~ William Friedkin 61 points from 6 ballots Highest Placement: #8 on 1 ballot
Trivia: During the opening sequence, when Willem Dafoe's character is printing money, the film crew was actually creating counterfeit bills. A convicted counterfeiter was on set showing them how it's done. They were filming out in the desert, and Dafoe said that every time a helicopter flew over the building they were sure it was the police coming to arrest them all.
Fresh off a brief stint in director’s jail after the controversial Cruising and harshly panned Deal of the Century, William Friedkin made a triumphant return to his ‘70s greatness with To Live and Die in L.A. Similar in style to The French Connection (and not just the legendary car chase), but replacing some of the ‘70s grittiness for ‘80s sleakness, to brilliant results. The film is further elevated by Robby Müller’s photography, Wang Chung’s music, a truly shocking moment or two, William Petersen proving that he could’ve been a movie star if he wanted to, and a slimy Willem Dafoe making you want to start your own counterfeiting business.
The Right Stuff 1983~ Philip Kaufman 63 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #7 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award winner for Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing; Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Sam Shepard), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction.
Trivia: Original composer John Barry left the film because he found it impossible to understand what Philip Kaufman wanted from the score, citing a meeting where Kaufman described his ideal score as "sounding like you're walking in the desert and you see a cactus, and you put your foot on it, but it just starts growing up through your foot."
This is a movie about a bygone era, about the kind of no-nonsense heroic men that don't really exist anymore. A generation of men forged and tested by World War II, who were so fearless, that they took a huge amount of untold risks with their lives to advance the cause of science and the race to reach the stars. The Right Stuff is an epic story that focuses on these fearless American test pilots, many of whom would also go on to become Astronauts in the cold war space race against the USSR. Written and directed by Philip Kaufmann and starring some of the most masculine and grizzled actors in movies (Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Fred Ward), it is a truly great film about courage and discovery.
Glory 1989~ Edward Zwick 64 points from 3 ballots Highest Placement: #5 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor (Denzel Washington), Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing; Academy Award nominations for Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction.
Trivia: Edward Zwick claimed that, for the flogging scene, Denzel Washington was lashed at full contact with a special whip that would not cut his back, but still stung. For the final take of the scene, Zwick hesitated to call "Cut!" to signal the flogging to stop, and the result was Washington's spontaneous tear down his cheek.
Arguably the best film about the American civil war ever made, one of Glory's greatest strength is it's focus on the group of African American ex-slaves turned Union soldiers. While Matthew Broderick's Colonel Robert Shaw is technically the lead, the true heart of the story belongs to the depiction of the camaraderie of band of black soldiers, fighting for freedoms they never had. A brilliant Oscar winning performance by Denzel Washington stands out, but the likes of Morgan Freeman and Andre Braugher give great performances as well. Skillfully directed by Edward Zwick, it also has a wonderfully evocative and memorable score by James Horner. Give 'em hell 54th!
Koyaanisqatsi 1982~ Godfrey Reggio 65 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #1 on 1 ballot
Awards: Included in the National Film Registry.
Trivia: The choral piece near the end of the film, "Prophecies", is sung in the Hopi dialect. The translation is: "If we dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster. Near the Day of Purification, there will be cobwebs spun back and forth in the sky. A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky, which could burn the land and boil the oceans."
“Koyaanisqatsi.” The title alone is monolithic. It evokes not just an entire genre of cinema that followed in its wake, but also the hypnotic power that those successive films have been unable to capture as effectively as Godfrey Reggio’s 1982 classic.
Using a blueprint that hadn’t been dusted off since the days of Dziga Vertov, Koyaanisqatsi is a veritable blitzkrieg on the senses. Utilizing time-lapse photography and breathtaking images culled from all over the world (all backstopped by a starkly haunting score by Philip Glass), Reggio paints an abstract yet unmistakable landscape depicting the advent of global progress, and its simultaneous promise of dread and wonder.
Tootsie 1982~ Sydney Pollack 65 points from 10 ballots Highest Placement: #12 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Lange); Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Dustin Hoffman), Best Supporting Actress (Teri Garr), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Original Song.
Trivia: Dustin Hoffman tried out his role as Dorothy by passing himself off as his daughter's Aunt Dorothy at her parents' evening at school. His performance was so strong he actually convinced the teachers. They never suspected.
Dustin Hoffman is gives an amazing performance as both Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels in this witty, hilarious and surprisingly heartfelt film. Sydney Pollack gives us a satirical, rather introspective look on the inner workings of the movies and TV industry and how women are forced to meet the unrealistic standards of people who do not really value them. The best thing about the film is how Hoffman imbues Dorothy with a sense of dignity and self-respect and never even once decends into a tasteless caricature or a self-parody; Dorothy manages to be a funny yet a fully realized and humane character.
The Dead 1987~ John Huston 66 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #2 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design.
Trivia: The final shot is not of Ireland, but of snow falling in Joshua Tree National Park, California.
Conjures the lost pleasures of hospitality and tradition. Bit by bit you begin to see the human cost behind this ancient ritual, behind the idea of contentment and home. These people, with their broken dreams and hopes, their recollections, their laughter, their songs, with all their merriment: these are the dead. There is a sense that the burgeoning world outside is no longer compatible with the warmth of the hearth. A movie of great compassion, with equal affection for the young and the old, for the rebel and the homesick, for the women who wither away in the name of family--this is an old master’s passionate plea for life.
A Christmas Story 1983~ Bob Clark 67 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #6 on 1 ballot
Awards: WGA nomination for Best Adapted Comedy Screenplay.
Trivia: Darren McGavin ad-libbed the profane rants while fighting with the furnace. He said he speaks gibberish the entire time because it was almost impossible for him to ad-lib angry words without actual profanity. He did this in order to ensure a "PG" rating.
"You used up all the glue on purpose!" This movie nails every beat and does it so casually. Its only modest goal is to make you laugh, smile, and reminisce, but it does so perfectly. What other movie has audiences all over watching it on loop on an annual basis and never gets stale? The triple dog dare, the leg lamp, Scut Farkus, the headless duck, the bunny costume, the line for Santa, and of course, the Red Ryder BB Gun. Yes, it's a Christmas movie; heck, it's the Christmas movie, but it's so much more than that. It captures the child's perspective with an adult's sharpness better than most famed bildungsromans. A Christmas Story owes its success to the genius of its creators in every department: the ensemble, the writing, the directing, the editing, the sets and costumes all come together so crisply it's nearly flawless. It's also the only movie where the narrator actually makes the movie better.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles 1987~ John Hughes 67 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #3 on 1 ballot
Trivia: Director John Hughes was known for staging improvisational moments for his actors in order to capture a genuine reaction. Since he was not satisfied with the Owen scene introductions after several takes, he privately instructed Dylan Baker (Owen) to wipe spit in his right hand hand just before shaking hands with Neil Page. Steve Martin was not expecting this, thus his disgusted reaction to shaking Baker's saliva slathered hand. The film crew reportedly exploded in laughter as Martin ran off to wash his hands immediately following the encounter. Hughes got the reaction he needed and the footage was kept in the film.
It’s not hard to claim that it’s one of the most copied road trip movies ever which also surprisingly never gets old or feels outdated. Maybe the certain elements did but you still don’t mind it. John Hughes is often associated with the teen comedies he wrote in the 80s and to some others, depending on which country you are from, his name is more synonymous with the family movies that has been aired on every TV channel every year that are “Home Alone”, “Baby’s Day Out” and “Beethoven”. This one, alongside “Vacation” movies is probably the most distinctive in his filmography. Less or more, you know where the story is going but Hughes has put so much heart and great comedic moments into this that you keep enjoying the ride. For a two-hander like this, the chemistry has to work well between actors and thankfully, it does. Hopefully him being less prolific for decades has not made people to forget Steve Martin’s genius. One of the most versatile comedy film actors has stopped to take roles in his trademark comedy style in the early 80s and went to take more unusual roles starting with awards-winning performance in “All of Me”, sadistic singing dentist in “Little Shop of Horrors” and this one where he was more of a straight, a more mature, though often annoyed man - something he never played up until that point but he’s still funny. While Martin’s character is more cold and serious, John Candy gives the film its sweetness with his warm presence that is still missed in movies today. The result is probably the best thanksgiving film ever and an absolute holiday classic with sharp script and two excellent performances.
Matewan 1987~ John Sayles 68 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #4 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography.
Trivia: According to John Sayles' official web-site, this picture "has become a staple in the teaching of U.S. Labor History".
John Sayles is the master of the ensemble film full of well-drawn characters that does not skimp on plot and always has something interesting to say thematically, politically, and/or socially.. and Matewan is his finest achievement. Based on a true story, the film is about a corrupt mining company and the desperate need for its employees to unionize. The film is set in 1921, and tackles issues that are still relevant 100 fucking years later. Sayles gives us rich characters on every possible side of the conflict, and a perfect cast to bring them to life.
Manhunter 1986~ Michael Mann 71 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #9 on 1 ballot
Awards: Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination for Best Motion Picture.
Trivia: In shooting the final confrontation between Francis Dollarhyde (Tom Noonan) and Will Graham (William Petersen), Noonan had to lie in a pool of stage blood for several hours as the crew worked on other shots. After all of this time, the stage blood dried into a thick, cement-like adhesive that nearly fused Noonan to the carpet.
Both a foundational piece for serial killer procedurals and a quintessential '80s vibe. Mann follows up his stylish, grimy debut banger with the equally astonishing Manhunter, a perfect showcase for Mann's unique blend of perfunctory, obsessive procedure with a Romantic, dreamy atmosphere. The sizzling synth soundtrack, the glassy modernist production design, Dante Spinotti's moody, color-tinted cinematography -- Manhunter is an absolute heaven of style, an exhilarating trip into a grotesque nightmare. Brian Cox gives the first ever on-screen portrayal of Hannibal Lecter (or, Lecktor), playing a bit more loose and nonchalant than the iconically theatrical Hopkins, crafting both a charismatic and menacing turn that leaves an indelible impression in his minimal screen-time, an ominous shadow hanging over the entire film. Though while Cox makes the bold statement, that's not to discredit the compelling work of William Petersen's brooding, haunted profiler (before it was too much of a trope!) and Tom Noonan's deeply uncomfortable turn as the killer. In all regards, Manhunter is a film that films very much ahead of its time, while simultaneously belonging very much to its time. Just a gorgeous piece of filmmaking.
Ghostbusters 1984~ Ivan Reitman 72 points from 7 ballots Highest Placement: #10 on 2 ballots
Awards: Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects, Best Original Song.
Trivia: In the middle of the film's initial release, to keep interest going, Ivan Reitman ran a trailer that was basically the commercial the Ghostbusters used in the movie, but the 555 number was replaced with a 1-800 number, allowing people to actually call in. Callers got a recorded message of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd saying something to the effect of "Hi. We're out catching ghosts right now." They got 1,000 calls per hour, 24 hours a day, for six weeks.
The one-liners and sarcasm throughout this movie are both extremely funny AND extremely memorable. 20 years later, the jokes still hold up, and people of all ages still quote it in everyday conversation. Even though I've seen it a hundred times, I still laugh out loud every time. Every actor is superb in his/her role, and the comic timing is brilliant. Plus, this is one of those movies with tons of nuances and silly little things that you have to watch dozens of times to catch.
Raising Arizona 1987~ Joel and Ethan Coen 72 points from 7 ballots Highest Placement: #7 on 1 ballot
Awards: National Society of Film Critics nominations for Best Actress (Holly Hunter), Best Screenplay.
Trivia: Fifteen babies played the Arizona quintuplets in the film. One of the babies was fired during production when he learned to walk. The mother went so far as to put her baby's shoes on backwards in order to prevent him from walking.
A light-hearted comedy about kidnapping a baby, escaped prisoners, a police chase where the officer fires randomly in a neighborhood, and a murderous wildling. It shouldn't work, but the Coens put the focus on H.I. and Ed's struggles to become parents and in turn parenting a newborn baby creating a journey that is entirely heartfelt. This energetic rocket-sled of a film comes in at just over 90 minutes, but covers so much ground and includes some of the best moments in the Coens's stupendous filmography and a perfect ensemble that play off each other together in fantastic fashion. Fun incarnate.
The Last Emperor 1987~ Bernardo Bertolucci 73 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #7 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing.
Trivia: During filming of the immense coronation scene in the Forbidden City, Queen Elizabeth II was in Beijing on a state visit. The production was given priority over her by the Chinese authorities and she was therefore unable to visit the Forbidden City.
The third of Bertolucci's great epic films (after The Conformist and Novecento) though the first one with an actual epic theme—the death of an empire. A movie of great sensuousness, if not fully credible intellectually (we're led to believe Communism brings 'enlightenement', but not even the movie believes this). But who cares when you have the GOAT cinematographer in peak form giving us his vision of a decadent Orient? Incense and red curtains...
Blood Simple 1984~ Joel and Ethan Coen 74 points from 7 ballots Highest Placement: #8 on 1 ballot
Awards: Indie Spirit winner for Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (M. Emmett Walsh), Indie Spirit nominations for Best Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay.
Trivia: On the advice of Sam Raimi, the Coens went door-to-door showing potential investors a two minute 'trailer' of the film they planned to make. They ultimately raised $750,000 in a little over a year, enough to begin production of the movie.
In the Coen brothers debut film, Blood Simple, their own uique style as filmmakers already shines through, from how they write their characters and how the plot unfolds to the mashup of genres. The camera work, lighting and music all helps to build the atmosphere in this neo noir but what strikes me the most is how skillful the brothers already are in their execution and how well they build suspense and intensity even in the quieter scenes. The cast is very good as well - M. Emmet Walsh is excellent and so is Frances McDormand, and it is not hard to understand that she has become one of the best actresses of her generation seeing her here in her screen debut.
The Color Purple 1985~ Steven Spielberg 79 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #1 on 2 ballots
Awards: Academy Award nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Whoopi Goldberg), Best Supporting Actress (Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Avery), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Original Song.
Trivia: Whoopi Goldberg won the part of Celie in her audition for Steven Spielberg by doing a comedy act she had developed about a stoned E.T. getting arrested in Oakland, California for possession. The audition was attended by many of Spielberg's famous friends, including producer Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson.
One of Steven Spielberg first outing into the much serious drama genre is an anger inducing, emotional roller-coaster.
Whoopi Goldberg breakthrough performance showcases whoop you (pun intended) with the immerse talent of her as an actress to the point it was surprising, especially if you only know her for her much humorous role, this is a complete tour de force. Glover and Winfrey are tight in the second either their powerhouse performances that gets under your skin. Dare I say Danny did such a phenomenal job when they tried to redeem him I couldn't lash onto that idea.
There are some great camera work and cinematography that elevates the material. Especially on the first tavern scene, it boasts such a great energy and that's thanks to the mix of the score and the way the camera sweeps through the entire place.
All in all, this is a splendid job that finds its iconic director navigating into alien territory with great success.
The Untouchables 1987~ Brian De Palma 81 points from 4 ballots Highest Placement: #2 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor (Sean Connery); Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design.
Trivia: An envelope is dropped on the desk of Eliot Ness in one scene. It is assumed to be a bribe, but the amount inside is never revealed. In real life, Al Capone promised Eliot Ness that two $1,000 bills would be on his desk every Monday morning if he turned a blind eye to his bootlegging activities (an enormous amount of money then; more than $30,000 today). Ness refused the bribe, and in later years struggled with money. He died almost broke at the age of fifty-four.
David Mamet knows Chicago - its violent history, its biddable players. His script (“They pull a knife, you pull a gun”) knows it too, valuing verbs and versuses, like something John Sturges would’ve been the man to make a few decades earlier.
Capone thought Chicago was his playground, but here it’s De Palma’s - as Pauline Kael said “Our movie-fed imagination of the past is enlarged and given a new vividness.” He never lets down a set piece — it sure takes gall to repurpose Potemkin’s Odessa Steps — and he consistently rums up the visuals with unique flavor and size. De Palma’s richness is like Capone’s own at his grooming throne that perfectly conveys Mamet’s own assertion that “the mafiosi are merely the Plantagenets of our day.” Everything is made deeper by the keen, heartbreaking Sean Connery performance and Ennio Morricone’s score - one of the most vibrantly unexpected, idiosyncratic scores I can think of.
Tampopo 1985~ Jûzô Itami 83 points from 7 ballots Highest Placement: #3 on 1 ballot
Awards: Indie Spirit nomination for Best Foreign Film.
Trivia: Many elements of the film closely parallel a classic Western. Goro is the mysterious stranger who rides into town; he saves the pretty girl from harassing bad men, and even has a brawl with another man at the edge of town.
An old Japanese woman with a compulsion for groping fruit plays hide-and-seek at the supermarket. She squashes a peach until it squirts in her face. Not fully satisfied, she moves furtively to get her hands on other objects. Elsewhere in the city, a passionate couple orgasm without touching, egg yolk sliding from tongue to tongue until it dissolves in her mouth.... This "noodle Western" has erotic passages and a jazzy absurdity that would make Buñuel blush. A kaleidoscope of oral fixations, sex likened to clammy oysters and death no more than a grilled sausage dripping with soy sauce...
sex, lies, and videotape. 1989~ Steven Soderbergh 84 points from 8 ballots Highest Placement: #7 on 1 ballot
Awards: Palme d'Or and Best Actor (James Spader) at the Cannes Film Festival; Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Trivia: The film was playing in Berlin's largest movie theaters when the Berlin Wall fell. A lot of East Germans crossing over to West Berlin went to see it, expecting Western-style porn.
With his directorial debut, Steven Soderbergh won the Palme d’Or and planted the seeds for the booming American indie film movement of the 90s, and somehow, it wasn’t all downhill from there for him!
In his intriguing screenplay, Soderbergh manages to create fully realized human beings that also happen to be largely defined by their sexual impulses and inhibitions. The ensemble of actors (all excellent) probe the neuroses of their characters with incredible intelligence and restraint.
With Soderbergh’s assured camerawork and an incredibly hypnotic score from Cliff Martinez, the finished product is sexy, at times perverse, but always beautifully controlled… This is undoubtedly one of the most powerful film experiments I’ve ever seen.
“I borrowed your razor... and - well, you'll read all about it.”
Dressed To Kill 1980~ Brian De Palma 89 points from 5 ballots Highest Placement: #1 on 1 ballot
Awards: Golden Globe nomination for New Female Star (Nancy Allen).
Trivia: As a young man, at his mother's urging, Brian De Palma followed his father and used recording equipment to try and catch him with another woman. That incident inspired this movie.
The work of De Palma, especially from this era has a reputation of being a parade of lurid, graphic, violent and sexualized images, and while that’s all true, is also very reductive, a horror comedy heavily influenced by Hitchcock but with an identity of its own, Dressed to Kill is his most hypnotic, beautiful and form-focused work.
The main plot makes it look like a ridiculous pulpy thriller, but the pitch-perfect casting, with Angie Dickinson in particular having the time of her life in the museum scene, one of the best in all De Palma’s filmography, the sharp dialogue the actors utter, the camera carefully observing their faces as well as their surrounding, giving information about them, all of that could be easily taken for granted, a good example would be a moment towards the end that encompasses one of the controversies that surrounds the film, a comic scene, in which characters, through well-informed as well as hilarous lines, express their acceptance of transexuality in detail.
This is De Palma’s show through and through, creating a plastic and graphic world, bold and quite shameless, even to this day, rejoicing in the trashiness of the material, stunning from an aesthetic point of view and from the shock of the violence, the film is very blunt in that way, and the more enjoyable because of that.
Airplane! 1980~ Jim Abrahams, David and Jerry Zucker 89 points from 9 ballots Highest Placement: #9 on 1 ballot
Awards: Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy or Musical.
Trivia: Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker chose actors such as Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Peter Graves, and Leslie Nielsen because of their reputation for playing no-nonsense characters. Until this film, these actors had not done comedy, so their "straight-arrow" personas and line delivery made the satire in the movie all the more poignant and funny. Bridges was initially reluctant to take his role in the movie, but his sons persuaded him to do it.
I remember the first time I watched Airplane! my stoned ass was laughing uncontrollably for 88mins. This movie is absolutely stupid and I mean that in the best way possible. It is a masterpiece of absurd humor. The granddaddy of all spoof films and the genre’s crowning achievement. The visual gags, everything, is hilarious and everything in the movie just works in a way that no other movie of its kind that I’ve seen has. I absolutely love how a lot of the actors are playing it straight most of the time, it’s comedy gold. Then Leslie Nielsen shows up and you immediately know it’s about to get even better. It holds up on repeat viewings and you always find a new joke that you missed before. Airplane! is undeniably one of the funniest movies ever made
Thief 1981~ Michael Mann 90 points from 9 ballots Highest Placement: #3 on 1 ballot
Awards: Razzie Award nomination for Worst Music Score. (Yes, this really happened.)
Trivia: James Caan made sure to speak slowly and clearly and tried to avoid using contractions in his words. He decided that Frank would do this so he would save time by never having to repeat himself.
Michael Mann’s attention to detail and accuracy in the criminal realm was already at its peak in his theatrical debut, Thief. Watching a safe being cracked has never felt more real, and that authenticity elevates the film. In possibly the best performance of his career, James Caan’s Frank is a product of the criminal justice system and a man who is very good at what he does, and this is obvious to the audience because of just how real it all looks… and it’s also clear to crime boss Leo. Robert Prosky (chillingly badass in his film debut) is Leo, an obvious symbol of capitalism, who recruits lone wolf Frank to work for him and as you’d expect, screws him over… culminating in one of the most kickass finales you’ll ever see in a crime film. Thanks for everything, Tangerine Dream.
The Last Temptation of Christ 1988~ Martin Scorsese 97 points from 6 ballots Highest Placement: #5 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy Award nomination for Best Director.
Trivia: Martin Scorsese banned smoking from the set, both because he's a severe asthmatic, and to avoid any photographs being taken of actors and actresses playing Biblical characters, primarily Willem Dafoe, who smoked at the time, with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.
For someone to understand more clearly what The Last Temptation Of Christ is about I will reference some phrases from the introduction of Kazantzakis’ book, of which the film is an adaptation of. The author states that “This book is not a biography, it is the confession of every man who struggles” and that he is trying to explore the “duality” of Christ, the struggle between his human side and his spiritual one. The book was seen as “heretical” upon it’s release in 1955 and resulted in it’s author been excommunicated by the church and even denied a Christian burial two years later, despite the fact that he had been a devout Christian all his life. The adaptation of the book became a passion project for Scorsese and had been working on it for several years beforehand, but finding funding for it was extremely difficult. Scorsese’s film had a similar fate as the book, since there were riots by religious fundamentalists upon it’s release in 1988 and it was banned (and still is banned) in several countries.
The film’s focus is on the human side of Christ, as we see him face the same doubts, fears and struggles any common man would face. But as the difficulties pile up and he questions his destiny, even his own existence, he never strays from his goal. “It is accomplished!” he cries on the cross at last, having overcome all the obstacles, all the temptations laid in his path. And that is the moment he achieved godhood, rose above his earthly existence, as he put his fellow men above himself and made the ultimate self-sacrifice. Christ is a symbol for all people, a role model that shows that anyone can overcome their innate selfishness and help others in need. Only through selfless acts can we develop as people and better our lives and society in general and, thus, also achieve “godhood”.
Kiki’s Delivery Service 1989~ Hayao Miyazaki 98 points from 8 ballots Highest Placement: #2 on 1 ballot
Trivia: Hayao Miyazaki didn't want to bore the audience during the film's end credits by using just the names. He set it up to be like a mini sequel so that the audience would leave the theatre feeling happy.
A newly independent young woman is shopping and sees a pan that looks perfect for her. She picks it up, her eyes glittering... and then she sees the price, sighs, puts it back. Then she sees a mug with a cat on it and buys that because cats are awesome.
For some reason, it is this little moment that I keep coming back to. There is so much that I love about Kiki's Delivery Service, and I can't stop thinking about that pan and that mug. They're a microcosmic representation of how Kiki is learning to deal with the world: not knowing how to be an adult, but so desperately wanting just that - not wanting to be a child, but unsure of how to be a grown up. Two sides that are intrinsically part of her identity, that she doesn't know how to reconcile. This kind of thing is often labeled "coming of age," but here it's more like a mystery, a girl looking trying puzzle out what kind of adult she wants to be, taking pieces from the people around her (like the generous Mrs. Osono) and rejecting pieces from others (like the spoiled girl who sneers at the birthday gift from her grandmother).
There's another image from this film that is perhaps even more representative of who Kiki is. A moment towards the beginning, where she runs to her father's arms and he lifts her to swing her about over his head - but he stumbles under her weight, puts her down for a moment, adjusts his grip and then swings her properly. A woman too old for these childish games, but young and kind enough to love the bond that they celebrate.
Videodrome 1983~ David Cronenberg 100 points from 7 ballots Highest Placement: #4 on 2 ballots
Awards: Best Science-Fiction film at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film
Trivia: David Tsubouchi, who appears here briefly as a Japanese porn dealer, later became a Minister in the Ontario provincial government. His appearance in this controversial film as a pornographer was exploited by the opposition.
One main theme that pertains to most of David Cronenberg’s films is the impact that technology has on the human psyche. How it affects the mind and the body, how it can change societal norms and habits and how it’s uncontrollable and unrestrained use and dependence on can lead to disastrous results. Videodrome is no exception to this rule, it is actually the film of his in which these themes are in their fullest force.
But Videodrome is also a very cynical critique on the media and how they are used by those in power to manipulate the viewers through the projection of unimportant information or even misinformation, so as to forge a sort of collective conscience that would make the masses easier to control and deceive. Reality is shaped through the news networks and always according to the benefits of those in power. As professor Brian O'Blivion claims in the film: “television is reality and reality is less than television”. Thus it forms naive, mindless people that don’t think for themselves, eating up whatever they are served. Because if it’s on the news then it must be true, right?
Videodrome is just as relevant today as it was back in 1983 and it will probably stay relevant for centuries to come.
This Is Spinal Tap 1984~ Rob Reiner 101 points from 6 ballots Highest Placement: #2 on 1 ballot
Awards: Included in the National Film Preservation Board.
Trivia: After the film opened, several people told Rob Reiner that they loved the film but he should have chosen a more well-known band for a documentary.
Rob Reiner’s mocumentary This is Spinal Tap brilliantly blends humor and rock music. Some scenes appear painfully accurate as portrayals of real life rock artists but then quickly pivot to legendary humor. From cold sores to drugs to debauchery to pure ego, it delivers on the absurdity of rock & roll with still an underlying respect. Truly the only movie that deserves a rating of 11/10.
Evil Dead 2 1987~ Sam Raimi 104 points from 7 ballots Highest Placement: #5 on 1 ballot
Awards: Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy &amp;amp; Horror Films nominations for Best Horror Film, Best Makeup, Best Special Effects
Trivia: Most of the film was shot on a set built inside the gymnasium of the JR Faison Junior High School in Wadesboro, North Carolina.
Evil Dead II is one of the greatest sequels ever made, horror or otherwise. It's a less then thinly veiled remake of the first film but taken to a more extravagant comedic extreme. It’s a great middle-ground between the rougher low-budgetness of the original, and the studio goofy sheen of Army of Darkness. The gore is off the walls brilliant and seeing Ash mow down a bunch of deadites with his chainsaw hand is an amazing sight to behold. Ash is a great character, and Campbell gives his best B movie actor turn in the role, with his crazy laugh ranging between being infectious and downright terrifying at points. Just like the entirety of the film, it’s totally groovy.
The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover 1989~ Peter Greenaway 109 points from 7 ballots Highest Placement: #2 on 1 ballot
Awards: European Film Awards nomination for Best Production Design
Trivia: The lengthy tracking shot from the restaurant to the toilet is supposed to be symbolic of food passing through the intestinal tract.
The Cook, the thief his wife and her lover is probably one of the best examples of symbolism in cinema. And not only as a method to express the invisible and immaterial, through objects visible and tangible, but also in a more poetic way, as human actions don’t stand on their own in this film, but are more of a representation of feelings and the senses. Greenaway achieves this through the very clever use of color, using both the film’s sets and costumes. The movie takes place in four different areas (or rooms), each of which is painted with a different colored background that represents an aspect of our world. Moreover, the clothes the people are wearing also change color depending on the room they are in, but also on their mood. The attention to detail given here is staggering and everything is set in such a way as to showcase the films greater meaning: the greedy and gluttonous nature of capitalism will just devour any sort of spiritual pleasure (weather it’s love or artistic inspiration), unless it is kept under tight restraints. This film is a truly magnificent work of art.
Dead Ringers 1988~ David Cronenberg 110 points from 8 ballots Highest Placement: #3 on 1 ballot
Awards: Cahier du Cinéma: Top 10 of 1989
Trivia: Initially, Jeremy Irons had two separate dressing rooms and two separate wardrobes which he would use depending on which character he was playing at the time. Soon he realized that "the whole point of the story is you should sometimes be confused as to which is which," after which he moved to a single dressing room and mixed the wardrobes together, and found an "internal way" to play each character differently, using the Alexander technique to give them "different energy points," which gave them slightly different appearances.
Who better than Cronenberg to tackle the old mind-body problem? With an epicurean twist, that is: everyone in this movie is determined to abolish pain no matter the cost. Easier to live as an organism than play at being human. (It's a world of pills out there). Jeremy Irons is a marvel in the dual role of twins leading strictly biological lives till the threat of separation comes along. And Geneviève Bujold fascinates as the barren actress doomed to individuality. (Cheap TV roles her only means of propagation). Cronenberg is accused of being a cerebral director but Dead Ringers is no post-human schlock. It's a rather affecting, perplexing tragic film... something agonizingly human is upsetting the machinery.