06 May 2012

Roger Ebert re the "best damn film list"

Ebert agrees with me that most lists of "best films" are worthless either because of subjectivity or because they are created for publicity reasons.  But he offers one exception:
Every 10 years, the ancient and venerable British film magazine, Sight & Sound, polls the world's directors, movie critics, and assorted producers, cinematheque operators and festival directors, etc., to determine the Greatest Films of All Time...

The most recent time I voted, in 2002, this was my list (alphabetically):
Aguirre, Wrath of God (Herzog)
Apocalypse Now (Coppola)
Citizen Kane (Welles)
Dekalog (Kieslowski)
La dolce vita (Fellini)
The General (Keaton)
Raging Bull (Scorsese)
2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
Tokyo Story (Ozu)
Vertigo (Hitchcock)

In 2002, the critics as a group voted for:
1. Citizen Kane (Welles)
2. Vertigo (Hitchcock)
3. La Règle du jeu (Renoir)
4. The Godfather and The Godfather part II (Coppola)
5. Tokyo Story (Ozu)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick)
7. Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein)
7. Sunrise (Murnau)
9. (Fellini)
9. Singin' In the Rain (Kelly, Donen)

In the same year, the directors as a group voted for:
1. Citizen Kane (Welles)
2. The Godfather and The Godfather part II
3. (Fellini)
4. Lawrence of Arabia (Lean)
5. Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick)
6. Bicycle Thieves (De Sica)
6. Raging Bull (Scorsese)
6. Vertigo (Hitchcock)
9. Rashomon (Kurosawa)
9. La Règle du jeu (Renoir)
9. Seven Samurai (Kurosawa)

Now it is time for me to commence this ten-yearly ritual, and decide on my list for 2012... Looking over great new movies from the past decade, I come up with some contenders:

Chop Shop
No Country for Old Men
Pan's Labyrinth
A Separation
Silent Light
Synecdoche, New York

Other films come to mind...
Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
The Music Room
Rules of the Game
The Third Man
The Ebert essay has hundreds of comments.  For my own purposes, I've boldfaced the ones I've seen.  I plan to browse some of those others in the year to come.  I'm open to recommendations (positive or negative) re the non-boldfaced ones.


  1. A Separation is one of the most excellent films I have seen in a long time. I loved it.

  2. The Seven Samurai is the most important film of those you haven't seen, in my opinion. A modern film not on the list that is on mine id Ridley Scott's "The Duelists"

  3. Funny how such lists are so subjective. For example, I think "Das Boot" is one of the finest war films ever made. Yet I don't see it on the lists. Weird.

  4. When I start watching these movies, I cant
    stop. They are on the love list.

    Top movie of all time: For a Few Dollars More
    Stir Crazy
    Road Warrior
    Spinal Tap

    I mostly watch documentaries, and would love to see a list that Tywkiwdbyites think are indispensable. Stuff like:

    Why We Fight
    Blue Planet
    Deep Water
    Manufactured Landscapes
    God in America
    Triumph of the Will
    Grizzly Man
    Wild South America
    Hoarders, season 2 lol

    If you like Hertzog, you should see "My best friend: Klaus Kinsky". Then, you will HAVE to watch "Aguirre" again.

    1. To continue your tangent, documentaries I consider must-watch:

      Virtually anything with David Attenborough, aside from Greatest Wildlife Show On Earth (a tacky and dated tie-in with the millennium hype) and Wildlife Specials [First Life is a personal favorite among favorites, for being about very early macro-life]


      Earth Story
      The Adventure Of English
      Simon Schama's History Of Britian
      How Earth Was Made
      Ken Burns' National Parks
      Earth: Making Of A Planet
      Wonders Of The Universe
      Richard Hammond's Invisible Worlds
      Fry's (Stephen, of course) Planet Word
      Last Chance To See

      I obviously have a few pet interests and favorite presenters, but I tried to keep it at least somewhat diverse. There are more. I may add to this when I can look at my collection at home.

    2. For documentaries, I would offer these:
      God Grew Tired of Us
      the Planet Earth series
      many of the American Experience series (my favorite was the one on the CCC)
      Ken Burns' The Civil War and also his Thomas Jefferson documentary
      the 7 Up series

      - and I'll second N.Normal's recommendation for Why We Fight (the 2005 film)

    3. Some of my favorite docs:

      Grizzly Man
      Man on Wire
      King of Kong
      This Film is Not Yet Rated
      The Bridge
      Street Fight
      Jesus Camp
      Deliver Us From Evil

      probably forgetting some great ones.

    4. If you like history at all, Michael Wood's docs are a must.

      Legacy: A Search for the Origins of Civilization (1992)
      In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great (1997)
      Conquistadors (2000)

    5. May I suggest for the documentary category "Say Amen, Somebody!"

    6. Great stuff! I'm glad I checked back. I can't get enough. Thanks, all

  5. A second vote here for Seven Samurai. The characters are so very well realized that it has aged and crossed cultures very gracefully. Be aware that it is long and rather depressing, though - you may want to take a couple of nights to watch it.

  6. Yeah, Seven Samurai is amazing. I would also highly recommend Dekalog if you can find it. I grabbed a copy of it via ebay and it is amazing. 10 lightly connected shorts that have an amazing depth. But due to the changing rules, he can't vote for it any more (each would count as a vote).

    La Règle du jeu is Rules Of the Game and is a pretty incredible movie, although I think my favorite Renoir's is Grand Illusion.

    I would also highly recommend Children Of Paradise.

    1. I would second The Dekalog. A must see imho.

    2. Found Dekalog in our library catalogue. Requested. Tx.

  7. Of the three lists, Ebert's is def. my favorite. I'd have a real hard time choosing between Aguirre and Fitzcaraldo though.

  8. From the last 10 years these come immediately to my mind in no particular order:

    The Lives of Others (2006)
    The Diving Bell and the Butterlfy (2007)
    No Country for Old Men (2007)
    Kill Bill 1 & 2 (2003-04)
    A Single Man (2009)
    The Good, The Bad,The Weird (2008)
    Let The Right One In (2008)
    The Savages (2007)
    Mary & Max (2009)

    1. Exit through the gift shop (2010) - Hoax or not it's a great story.

  9. Nice to see Man Who Shot Liberty Valance on your list. A wonderful movie.


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