Saturday, August 29, 2015

Screening Log: This Year's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" Films, Part Two

*Click the links in the titles to view the original articles for more detailed analyses*

Dick Tracy (dir. Warren Beatty, 1990)

Warren Beatty labored hard to bring the classic comic strip hero Dick Tracy to life, and it shows onscreen. The film pops with art deco design and vibrant colors, with more than a few grotesque character designs to really sell the comic-book world the film inhabits. Yet, despite its visual excellence, the film falters in terms of story and acting. Beatty does his level best as the famed detective, but isn't always up to the task. Al Pacino goes over-the-top cartoony as the film's villain, Big Boy Caprice. Madonna, however, hits the right mix of sultry seduction and sublime silliness as temptress Breathless Mahoney. If only the rest of the film could have followed her lead. B

Amadeus (dir. Milos Forman, 1984)

This is what a biopic should be: a portrait of the subject's life thematically, spending less time on nitty-gritty details and "greatest hits" moments and more time on context and the subject's importance. But who's biopic is this? Is it Mozart's, played with impish delight by Tom Hulce? Or is it Salieri's, the pitiful Svengali played by F. Murray Abraham (in an Oscar-winning performance) who wanted to be the vessel of God's holy noise only to outdone by a vulgar young man? The beauty of Forman's brilliant adaptation of Peter Shaffer's play is that it operates as both. It's a splendid duet that gives due to both the composing legend and the man who toiled in his shadow. A

Magic Mike, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and more after the jump.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Short Take: "Disney's Descendants" (TV Movie, 2015)

I'm working on a snappier name for a subgenre of films that can best be described as "cinematically illiterate but nevertheless entertaining." Camp classic is probably the best term, but not every film can be Miami Connection or The Rocky Horror Picture Show (the latter of which is actually competently made, by the way). You can't consciously make a camp classic; just ask the makers of Snakes on a Plane or Machete. You have to believe you're making something truly great, and failing so miserably that the badness is what makes it entertaining. This isn't the same thing as a "great bad movie," either, though. It's something in-between: something that could earn midnight screenings in the future, but isn't truly remarkable in its own right.

I've been thinking about this distinction mostly because of Disney Channel's latest original movie, Descendants. Not to be confused with Alexander Payne's George Clooney-starring Oscar-winning film, this film opens in a magical world where Belle (Keegan Connor Tracy) and the Beast (Dan Payne) got married and banished all of the world's villains to a single island, where they're imprisoned by a magic barrier. The prince, Ben (Mitchell Hope), is about to become king, and decrees that four children from the Isle of the Lost be permitted to attend high school within the kingdom, giving them a chance to be good rather than evil. Those children are Mal (Dove Cameron), the daughter of Maleficent (Kristen Chenoweth); Evie (Sofia Carson), the daughter of the Evil Queen (Kathy Najimy); Carlos (Cameron Boyce), the son of Cruella De Vil (Wendy Raquel Robinson); and Jay (Booboo Stewart), the son of Jafar (Maz Jobrani). Maleficent encourages the children to steal the Fairy Godmother's (Melanie Paxson) wand and set them all free, but each kid finds that task more difficult the more they find themselves fitting in in their idyllic new home.

This is the kind of film that opens with an atrocious, grating dubstep number (because that's what the kids are into, and listen to how gritty it is!), peaks with a peppy love song "Did I Mention," which was actually written by Fountains of Wayne bassist/songwriter Adam Schlesinger and lives up to its repeated refrain of "ridiculous," and, for whatever reason, includes a god-awful, unnecessary electronic remix of "Be Our Guest." It's a film that questionably plays with uncomfortable racial stereotypes (the sassy black woman, the thieving Arab). It's a film that tries so hard to be cool and trendy and exciting and is still overwhelmingly sincere. It's yet another example of Disney plundering its own vault and throwing disparate characters together because the company's policy is to basically write its own fan fiction at this point (see also: Once Upon a Time).

And yet, somehow, the whole thing ends up being entertaining - at least in the moment. Director Kenny Ortega doesn't always seem to know what he's doing visually, but once the music starts he stages memorable dance sequences (belying his reputation as a choreographer first, director distant second). And a few of the performances, from Cameron's genuine charisma to Chenoweth and Najimy hamming it up, are great fun. There's no denying that the whole thing is bad; fun or not, this film is a trainwreck. But at least it's an enjoyable one. C

Ricki and the Flash (2015)

Writer Diablo Cody has emerged as the pre-eminent storyteller of women who have to come to terms with their realities. It started with her Oscar-winning debut, Juno (2007), in which Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) dealt with her unplanned pregnancy. It continued with her Showtime series United States of Tara (2009-11), in which Toni Collette played a woman with multiple personalities, and Young Adult (2011), starring Charlize Theron as a ghostwriter for young-adult novels who tries to rekindle a high school romance. Even her maligned horror flick Jennifer's Body (2009), starring Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried, at least had the virginal central character realizing that her best friend was possessed by a demon, and her oft-forgotten directorial debut Paradise (2013) centered on Julianne Hough's crisis of faith.

Her latest, Ricki and the Flash, continues the trend, and proves that she's mastered the art of characterization in her storytelling. The film concerns Ricki (Meryl Streep), a would-be rock star who left her family behind in Indiana to move to Los Angeles and pursue her music career. She plays a local bar with her band, the Flash, mostly playing a mixture of classic rock and jammy takes on recent pop songs (for the youth, you see). However, she's called back home when her daughter, Julie (Mamie Gummer), has attempted suicide after husband has left her. Ricki's not exactly welcome though: Julie's hostile from years of estrangement, ex-husband Pete (Kevin Kline) has remarried to Maureen (Audra McDonald), and where one of her sons, Max (Gabriel Ebert), is openly angry at her, her other son, Josh (Sebastian Stan), is friendly but has chosen not to invite her to his wedding, or even tell her about it.

More after the jump.

Inside Out (2015)

At the peak of its powers last decade, Pixar Animation Studios could crank out films with charmingly simple stories that would entertain kids while packing an emotional wallop for adults. Films like The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up were smart, sophisticated family movies that could make boatloads of money for parent company Disney while also routinely showing up in the upper echelons of year-end "best of" lists. At the turn of the decade, the rapturous reception for their films cooled significantly. A major reason for this was the company's move away from original stories toward sequels to their previous hits; three of their previous four films had been sequels, and more have been announced since then. But there's also been rumors of turmoil within the creative team: early stalwarts like Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) and Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) have moved on to live-action filmmaking, while the company's other 2015 release, The Good Dinosaur, has undergone several changes in the director's chair and has even replaced its entire voice cast. Needless to say, that sterling winning streak has a bit more tarnish on it.

I open with this bit about the company's recent woes because their latest, Inside Out, is a reminder of what the company's creative team can do when all goes right. The film takes place inside the mind of Riley (voice of Kaitlyn Dias), where her five core emotions - Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), and Anger (Lewis Black) - guide her through her day and help her create memories. Joy is by far the most dominant, proud of her accomplishments in making Riley's life exciting. But when Riley and her family have to move from their Minnesota home to San Francisco, she has trouble adjusting, just as Sadness tries to contribute more to the emotions' group effort. Joy and Sadness end up getting lost outside of Mission Control, and have to find their way back before Riley's personality is altered forever.

Hailing from the directing team of veteran Pete Docter (Up) and first-timer Ronaldo Del Carmen (a former animator), Inside Out displays the very best that an animated film has to offer: indelible performances, inspired world-building, and a surprisingly complex message about emotional health that is outright progressive for an ostensible children's movie.

More after the jump.

Cameo Culture: Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" Video and Relentless Celebrity Cameos

On the eve of this Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, and given the recent "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" episode that focused on the ceremony's Best Cinematography nominees, now seems like an appropriate time for me to get something off my chest. Taylor Swift's video for the Kendrick Lamar-featuring remix of "Bad Blood" is up for seven awards, including Video of the Year, and seems like a safe bet to walk away with most of those prizes.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a huge Taylor Swift fan. She's progressively gotten better with each successive album, each one representing another step away from the country-pop sound of her early years and toward full-blown pop stardom. Her latest, 1989, made the great leap forward, and it landed at the top of my personal top 10 list last year. She also just seems like a great person, judging by her Instagram account and Twitter feed. Love her or hate her, she's evolved into one of the biggest, and perhaps most important, pop stars of this decade.

I preface with all of this because the "Bad Blood" video is awful. For all the hype that lead up to it (and it was heavily hyped by Swift and her team), it ends up being a disappointing mismatch of sci-fi and action tropes, with a cavalry of celebrity cameos - each given a character name via onscreen text - coming and going before Swift engages in an (offscreen) battle royale with Selena Gomez and her army. It's more an ode to the depths of Swift's Hollywood connections than anything else.

And that's precisely the problem. The video is essentially a microcosm of a trend that's been swallowing up pop culture as a whole: the endless parade of celebrity cameos that ultimately amounts to nothing.

More after the jump.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Your 2015 Honorary Oscar Winners

Earlier today, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced this year's recipients of honorary Oscars, to be bestowed at the Governors' Awards in November. Gena Rowlands and Spike Lee will be given Honorary Oscars for their achievements onscreen, while Debbie Reynolds will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her efforts with the Thalians, an entertainer-lead charity group that focuses on mental health treatment and awareness.

All three recipients are incredibly deserving of the honor. Refreshingly, none of this year's recipients have won competitive Oscars in the past. Don't get me wrong; Rowlands and Reynolds certainly deserved to win for their indelible performances, and that Lee's Do the Right Thing was almost completely ignored by the Academy (two measly nominations) in 1989 ranks high among their greatest oversights. But, to me at least, honorary Oscars shouldn't be handed out to artists who've already collected trophies; let them be an opportunity to right historical wrongs and recognize terrific work that, for whatever reason, had previously been ignored.

Rowlands was undoubtedly one of the most impressive actresses of the 1970s and 1980s, delivering a number of terrific performances after getting her start in the 1950s and 1960s in television. Perhaps no one understood her raw talent better than John Cassavetes, her frequent collaborator and husband. Together, they combined for one classic film after another, from the intimate relationship dramas Faces (1968) and Minnie & Moskowitz (1971) to the bolder character studies A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Opening Night (1977). A Woman Under the Influence is, perhaps, her greatest performance: she plays Mabel Longhetti as a symbol of the modern woman, and imbues her with such rich life that the performance earned Rowlands the first of her two Oscar nominations for Best Actress. The second would come in 1980, for Gloria, also directed by Cassavetes. Unfortunately, Hollywood failed to take notice of her talents, and she instead retreated back to television, ultimately winning four Emmys and two Golden Globes. Her most notable recent role came in The Notebook (2004), directed by her son Nick Cassavetes, though she has worked fairly steadily over the past decade.

Lee certainly needs no introduction. He erupted onto the independent scene with his 1983 NYU student thesis film, Joe's Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, and followed it up with one incendiary film after another: She's Gotta Have It (1986), School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), Mo' Better Blues (1990), Jungle Fever (1991), and Malcolm X (1992) makes for one hell of a run of films. And though his output has since grown spottier, the subsequent years have yielded two devastatingly emotional documentaries in 4 Little Girls (1997) and When the Levees Broke (2006), a bona-fide masterpiece in 25th Hour (2002), a misunderstood gem in Bamboozled (2000), and the biggest hit of his career in Inside Man (2006). Even in his failures, however, Lee remains a fascinating, engaging, and confident filmmaker, making him one of the most important and interesting voices in American cinema. That he only has two Oscar nominations to date - an Original Screenplay nod for Do the Right Thing, a Documentary Feature nomination for 4 Little Girls (losing both) - does little to diminish the long shadow he casts over the industry.

Reynolds had acted in a handful of films before taking on the role of Kathy in the 1952 masterpiece Singin' in the Rain, but that film was her true introduction to the world. And what an introduction it was, too, as Reynolds sang, danced, and charmed her way into the hearts of millions with her winning performance. She would star in a number of other musicals afterward, including Bundle of Joy (1956), Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), the lattermost of which earned her her sole Oscar nomination for Best Actress. In 1969, she starred in her own television show, The Debbie Reynolds Show, which ran for one season. Since the height of her fame, however, she's divided her efforts between film, television, Broadway, and her business ventures, which include the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in North Hollywood and the Thalians.

The Governors' Awards will be handed out November 14, which a taped broadcast set to air during the Academy Awards next year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Angels in America" (miniseries, 2003)

*This post is part of the "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" blogathon at The Film Experience*

Before we begin discussing Angels in America, I want to talk about its author, Tony Kushner. Kushner is the author of the plays that the miniseries is based on, and has also written the screenplays for the films Munich (2005) and Lincoln (2012). Look, the script for Lincoln was quite simply the very best screenplay of that year, and arguably the best of the decade thus far. I first read Angels in America in a theatre class during my first year of college, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that not only did it completely alter my understanding of art, but it now holds the place as the single greatest text I have yet read. In terms of becoming a writer, Kushner is my idol, the man I want to emulate the most (well, one of; his husband Mark Harris is no slouch either, authoring my two all-time favorite books about film, so clearly their marriage is the most magnificent thing to ever bless this planet). Needless to say, I love this work, and I was pre-disposed on title alone to love this miniseries.

My issue in putting this post together, then, is that it is such a thematically immense work that I have no idea where to even begin with it. This is a story that weaves the AIDS epidemic, Reagan-era politics, religion, sexuality, supernatural beings, and 20th century history through the tale of six New Yorkers whose lives intersect (Kushner subtitled his plays "A Gay Fantasia on National Themes"). Prior Walter (Justin Kirk) is diagnosed as HIV-positive, and upon hearing the news, his boyfriend, Louis Ironson (Ben Shenkman), leaves him. Joe Pitt (Patrick Wilson) is a clerk at the federal appellate court who is up for promotion thanks to the involvement of notorious right-wing fixer Roy Cohn (Al Pacino), who has himself been secretly diagnosed with HIV. Joe's wife, Harper (Mary-Louise Parker), is miserable in her life, taking copious amounts of pills to stabilize her mental condition yet still hallucinates about a travel agent named Mr. Lies (Jeffrey Wright). Joe comes out to both Harper and his mother, Hannah (Meryl Streep), and starts a relationship with Louis. Roy, meanwhile, falls under the care of drag queen/nurse Belize (Wright). And Prior is having dreams about an angel (Emma Thompson) who tells him that he is a prophet.

Like I said, there's a lot going on in this miniseries, and it's an incredible feat that Kushner (adapting his own plays) and legendary director Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) keep the whole thing on track. So to tackle this unwieldy project, I've decided to break down this article episode-by-episode.

Check them out, along with my best shots from each, after the jump.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Trainwreck (2015)

Amy Schumer is on fire at the moment. Her Comedy Central sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer, recently completed its third season to its greatest critical acclaim and viewership, landing seven nominations in the process (including one for Schumer for Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series). Several of her show's sketches have gone viral, notably "Last Fuckable Day" (starring Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Patricia Arquette) and "12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer," in which a jury of famous men including Paul Giamatti and John Hawkes debate, in a parody of 12 Angry Men, whether or not Schumer is "hot enough for television." Plus, she's made headlines for her outspoken support of feminism, Planned Parenthood, and stricter gun control laws. So headlining a major summer movie, directed by Judd Apatow, that she also wrote and produced is essentially just the icing on the stellar cake of a year she's been having.

Trainwreck stars Schumer as Amy, a writer for a Cosmopolitan-esque magazine whose life is pretty chaotic. She's constantly berated at work by her abrasive boss (Tilda Swinton), and even though she's in a relationship with a dimwitted gym rat (John Cena), she regularly sleeps with random men. Her younger sister Kim (Brie Larson) is happily married, but their relationship is strained by Amy's commitment-phobia and her close relationship with their ne'er-do-well dad (Colin Quinn), who taught both girls early on that monogamy is a lie. However, Amy's worldview is challenged when she meets Aaron (Bill Hader), a sports doctor she interviews for the magazine. Aaron could be the perfect guy for her, and nothing terrifies her more.

On the surface, this is exactly the sort of setup that one of Schumer's sketches would skewer: a traditional romantic-comedy story that would get turned on its head to reach a new, feminist angle. And the film does exactly that, only at feature length, it finds room to toss in some other ideas too, to varying degrees of success.

More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Chicken Run" (2000)

*This post is part of the "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" blogathon at The Film Experience*

Ginger (voice of Julia Sawalha) dreams of escape. While all of the other chickens at Tweedy's farm have accepted their lot in life - lay eggs daily or else face execution - Ginger refuses to live such a soulless existence. However, every plan for escape falls short, until a strapping American rooster named Rocky (voice of Mel Gibson) literally falls out of the sky into the coops. Rocky is billed as the "amazing flying rooster," and Ginger and the others immediately see him as their savior, especially since Mrs. Tweedy (voice of Miranda Richardson) has invested in a pie-making machine that will specialize in chicken pies. With death looming over them, Ginger relies on Rocky for their salvation, even though she doesn't initially like his cocky attitude. But Rocky's secret - he can't actually fly - may ruin them all. Will they escape in time to avoid certain death?

Chicken Run represents an interesting moment in time for animation. For one thing, it's the last time Gibson was considered a viable option for a family film (and as a leading man in general; What Women Want premiered the same year to major commercial success) before going way off the deep end. It also represents the first feature-length film from British animation outfit Aardman, which before then had specialized in the famed "Wallace & Gromit" and "Creature Comforts" shorts. Those shorts had earned the company great critical acclaim, with director Nick Park winning three Animated Short Oscars for entries in both series (and picking up a fourth nomination for W&G short "A Grand Day Out"). Their specialization in stop-motion animation with clay figurines, known as "Claymation," distinguished them on the animation landscape. At a time when Pixar was revolutionizing computer-animation (and other studios were buying in) and hand-drawn animation was on the decline, Aardman was offering an interesting alternative that was unique and imaginative while also lending a "handmade" quality to their works. Its position between Pixar's Toy Story 2 (1999) and Dreamworks' Shrek (2001), as well as hand-drawn efforts like Disney's Tarzan (1999) and Dreamworks' Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), places it at a crux in the evolution of big-studio animation.

That's not a bad accomplishment from a film that essentially blends the Pixar (emotionally fraught, often dark narratives) and Dreamworks (pop-culture references and madcap silliness) house styles before they even existed, with an added dash of dry British humor. 

More after the jump.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sight & Sound Sunday: What Have We Learned from This Journey?

And what a journey has it been. When I started this project, my intention was simply to fill some gaps in my cinematic knowledge and share what I've learned from these films. I chose to make it biweekly so that I would have the time to view the films, correctly fearing that a few might be difficult to obtain (hi, Satantango!), with the intention of finishing within two years. And now, here we are, a little under two years later, and I've written about all 52 films.

The most remarkable thing about this to me, and what I am most proud of, is that I finished. In the past, I've started projects on this blog that I have either abandoned completely (RIP, "24@24") or am stubbornly refusing to admit have been abandoned (sorry, "Oscars of the Aughts" and "Gimme Five"). I haven't been all that great at following things through here, so actually completing this project is a magnificent accomplishment for myself that I'm proud of.

Before we get into what I've learned from all of this, I want to take a moment to make an announcement: this fall I'll begin working on my Masters of Fine Arts in Film and Television Studies at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts. I can't say definitively if it had anything to do with my acceptance, but I did reference this series in my application, so draw your own conclusions.

What I'm saying is this project has been incredible for me. So with all of that out of the way, let's discuss the films and the list itself, and what we can glean from it.

1. These films are perhaps better termed "most influential" than greatest. The first thing you'll notice about a lot of these films and what I've written about them is the impact that they've had on cinema. Of course, this is a subjective list compiled through a vast array of other subjective lists, so individual tastes are playing a role in its creation, even if its been minimized. So looking over this list kind of looks like a syllabus for a "influential films" college course - you've got the big names like Alfred Hitchcock, Yasujiro Ozu, Stanley Kubrick, Federico Fellini, and Orson Welles at the top of the list, with multiple entries from Jean-Luc Godard, Andrei Tarkovsky, Carl Theodor Dreyer, and Francis Ford Coppola further down. These aren't exactly obscure artists, you'll notice.

2. Certain cinematic movements are favored over others. The French New Wave is by far the favored movement on the list, with at least nine films on the list arguably being French New Wave. Italian Neorealism, American studio films, and Japanese New Wave films also notice multiple entries. However, several crucial national movements that were hugely influential are absent, most notably American Independent Cinema and German Expressionism (and, while we're at it, film noir).

3. On a related note, European and American films are far more favored than the rest of the world. Only three films on the list don't originate from Europe, the United States, or Japan: In the Mood for Love (Hong Kong), Pather Panchali (India), and Close-Up (Iran). The rich filmmaking histories of China, Latin America (especially Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico), Africa (nothing from important filmmakers Ousmane Sembene and Souleymane Cisse?), and the Middle East (particularly exclusions from Israel and Egypt) are completely ignored.

4. If there's any common theme to be found here, it's self-reflexivity. In almost every single one of these films, the filmmaker is, in some way, drawing attention to the fact that this is a film. These films exemplify the unique characteristics of film as an artistic medium, and take advantage of these characteristics to tell their stories in remarkable ways. Even documentary entries Man with a Movie Camera and Shoah acknowledge their own filmic properties. And, of course, there are the films actually about film, such as Singin' in the Rain, Contempt, and 8 1/2.

5. Personally speaking, I'm not wild about Godard, but I'm amazed by Tarkovsky. Godard is heralded as the greatest filmmaker of the French New Wave, but I just can't get into his films. Maybe its the degree to which his films are self-reflexive to the point of self-parody, or the detached "cool" that's intentionally abrasive, but I just can't connect with his films. Tarkovsky, on the other hand, has been my favorite find of this project. Before "Sight & Sound Sunday," I had heard of, but never seen, his work; now I can easily declare myself a fan. The measured, precise filmmaking on display in Mirror, Andrei Rublev, and Stalker is phenomenal, a perfect representation of his range and ability. I'm eagerly looking forward to devouring the rest of his filmography (which shouldn't be too hard; he only made seven feature films in his lifetime).

So there you have it: the end of "Sight & Sound Sunday." Thank you all who have shared this journey with me; I hope it was as enlightening and entertaining for you as it was for me. I'll conclude with two lists. The first is the full Sight & Sound poll; clicking the title will take you to the article related to that film.

1. Vertigo (1958)
2. Citizen Kane (1941)
3. Tokyo Story (1953)
4. The Rules of the Game (1939)
5. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
6. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
7. The Searchers (1956)
8. Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
9. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1927)
10. 8 1/2 (1963)
11. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
12. L'Atalante (1934)
13. Breathless (1960)
14. Apocalypse Now (1979)
15. Late Spring (1949)
16. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)
=17. Seven Samurai (1954)
=17. Persona (1966)
19. Mirror (1974)
20. Singin' in the Rain (1951)
=21. L'avventura (1960)
=21. Contempt (1963)
=21. The Godfather (1972)
=24. Ordet (1955)
=24. In the Mood for Love (2000)
=26. Rashomon (1950)
=26. Andrei Rublev (1966)
28. Mulholland Dr. (2001)
=29. Stalker (1979)
=29. Shoah (1985)
=31. The Godfather Part II (1974)
=31. Taxi Driver (1976)
33. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
34. The General (1926)
=35. Metropolis (1927)
=35. Psycho (1960)
=35. Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
=35. Satantango (1994)
=39. The 400 Blows (1959)
=39. La Dolce Vita (1960)
41. Journey to Italy (1954)
=42. Pather Panchali (1955)
=42. Some Like It Hot (1959)
=42. Gertrud (1964)
=42. Pierrot le fou (1965)
=42. Play Time (1967)
=42. Close-Up (1990)
=48. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
=48. Historie(s) du Cinema (1988-98)
=50. City Lights (1931)
=50. Ugetsu monogatari (1953)
=50. La Jetee (1962)

And for the second, my personal top 10, culled from the films we've covered in this series.

1. The Battle of Algiers
2. Singin' in the Rain
3. Shoah
4. Citizen Kane
5. Rashomon
6. La Jetee
7. Taxi Driver
8. Apocalypse Now
9. The General
10. 2001: A Space Odyssey