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BBC Culture did something pretty fun today, as they released their list of the 100 Greatest American Films, as determined by a poll of 62 international film critics.
How did they define what made an “American film”? If it got its funding from an American source, it was eligible to be selected.
Here’s the full, very Billy Wilder-heavy, list:
100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1965)
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
No Coen Bros? No Paul Thomas Anderson? No Wes Anderson? Egad! I will say that I applaud any list that tosses Citizen Kane back in its rightful spot at the top. Back when Sight and Sound did their poll a few years back, Vertigo had crept over Welles’ masterpiece. I love them both, but the greatness of Citizen Kane is indisputable, particularly when you compare it to other, stagier, classics of the same era.
But, to not bury the lede as it concerns the interests of The Beat, The Dark Knight is the only comics based film to make the cut. An interesting choice, and for my money it’s easily the best superhero film (any capes and tights offering that takes a visual page out of Michael Mann has a little more going for it than, say, your average X-Men movie), but is it one of the Top 100 American Films of All Time? I don’t even think it’s Christopher Nolan‘s best film, so probably not. But, it’s nice to see our favorite medium get a little bit of respect in this part of the critical community.
I’d have replaced it with American Splendor myself.
If you had the day off yesterday, we hope you had a lovely Presidents Day! Here are a few of the big headlines of interest making the rounds this morning…
– There’s a Deadpool Casting Call that appeared on Casting247, under the fake-title of “WHAM!”, and has led to speculation as to which roles these place-holder names represent. As I’ve said before, my X-Men knowledge is awful, but people better in the know think that “Ridge” is at least Garrison Kane, the villain of the film.
– The Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan sat down with Looper and Star Wars Episode VIII director Rian Johnson for a 30 minute interview regarding last year’s Interstellar at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica. It’s a pretty great, lengthy chat for anyone interested in the art of filmmaking. (recording made available via SoundCloud user TheBigKahoona)
– Robert Downey Jr. was interviewed by Empire regarding Captain America: Civil War, and states that the lead-up to the new Captain America sequel is in Avengers:Age of Ultron:
The clues are in Ultron about where we might find [Stark] next, but what would it take for Tony to completely turn around everything he’s stood for, quote-unquote, because he was the right-wing guy who could still do his own thing. The idea of Tony being able to march into Washington and say, ‘I’ll sign up’, wouldn’t have made sense if the political climate in the real world hadn’t shifted the way it has. It’s a little bit of things following a real world continuum in, ‘What would you do?’ You have to figure, ‘Were you to ask the question, what would the American government do if this were real? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see Tony doing something you wouldn’t imagine?’
– Bryan Singer has posted another tease for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse, this time a piece of production art that shows…something. If you’re on Instagram, it’s worth following Singer’s posts, as he shares a ton of info via his account.
I've been thinking for some time about how fandom reacts when its beloved auteurs fail. When someone like Aaron Sorkin produces something as preachy, self-satisfied, and misogynistic as The Newsroom, fandom reacts with dismay, but is that surprise justified? In Sorkin's case, all of these flaws were baked into his work going back as far as Sports Night, and they were ignored, excused, and
The “titles” of Batman Begins showed the symbol of a bat formed in a swarm of bats, the titles of The Dark Knightshowed it in fire, now The Dark Knight Rises shows it in ice. The bats in Begins were a symbol of fear, the titles a metaphor for an identity forming out of shadows. The fire of The Dark Knight was like a wall of fire for that bat, that symbol, pushing through the chaos inflicted by the Joker. Now, the bat is, literally, the cracks in the ice formed by the isolation of Gotham City at the hands of Bane.
For several days now, I've been debating with myself whether Interstellar is a bad film that does several things quite well, or a good film that has had the misfortune of having to shoulder, and justify, its creator's reputation. At some point in the last half-decade, popular culture decided--erroneously, if you ask me--that Christopher Nolan is a purveyor of Deep, Serious entertainments. And
Have you seen the movie Interstellar? Director Christopher Nolan (pictured, via) wrote a comic to reveal a back story for two characters: Dr. Mann (played by Oscar winner Matt Damon) and his robot SKIPP.
Wired posted “Absolute Zero” in its entirety on the magazine’s website. The 7 page comic will also appear in the print edition; Nolan is serving as the guest editor for this issue which focuses on themes of time, space, and multiple dimensions. Animator Sean Gordon Murphy created the artwork for this project.
Here’s more about the comic book: “Before Cooper left his daughter to find humanity a new home in space, there were the Lazarus missions. Led by Dr. Mann, this was NASA’s first attempt to locate a hospitable exoplanet. So what happened to Mann on the other side of the wormhole? We teamed Christopher Nolan with award-winning comic-book artist Sean Gordon Murphy to tell Mann’s story.” (via The Hollywood Reporter)
Some friends and I went to see Inception this afternoon because we had some time to kill and we were all curious about it. For a summer blockbuster, it's not bad at all.
Of course, you knew there would be a "but". For a summer blockbuster, it's not bad at all, is the faintest of praise. It's not like the competition is exactly a pantheon of cinematic glory.
My feelings about the film are similar to those of Dennis Cozzalio, who wrote a long, thoughtful post that relieves those of us who agree with him from having to say a whole lot more. He says, "It’s not a dreamer’s movie, it’s a clockmaker’s movie," and that sums it up well for me. I didn't strain as much to keep up with the background and plot as he did, but I suspect that's just because I'm very familiar with science fiction exposition. (I think Abigail Nussbaum also has a lot of insight into the movie, particularly from the SF angle.) The puzzle aspects of the film are fun, and they keep our brains engaged while watching, which is more than can be said for most summer blockbusters.
It's awfully long. That was the biggest impression the movie made on me. It wasn't as annoying to me as The Dark Knight, a film I thought so extraordinarily bad in many ways that I just couldn't get much pleasure at all out of watching it the first time (it's actually an interesting film to re-watch, I think, once you no longer expect it to be particularly good on the whole, because there are some moments of magic, and the ways that it's bad are, at least to me, interesting). Inception is entertaining. But it's awfully long.
I recently watched Christopher Nolan's first feature, Following. It's clever and enjoyable in that utterly-contrived-puzzle way that is Nolan's forte. It's also 69 minutes long. Just about the right length for its content. I haven't seen Memento for a while, but I remember it feeling more or less economic in its narrative -- or, at least, I don't remember it lasting for forty days and forty nights like The Dark Knight.
That got me wondering...
I looked up the running times of all his feature films on IMDB, and made a chart:
Interestingly, The Prestige is the only film with a significant move downward in length. Further, it's the one Nolan film I hold in really high regard -- it is, indeed, easily one of my favorite films of the past decade. (Some of the reasons are purely personal rather than aesthetic or rational ones -- I've a fondness for stories about stage magicians and for novels by Christopher Priest, and as adaptations of novels go, I agree with Priest that it's an excellent one.)
My earliest memories are dreams. In the very first I awake up on a beach in China, with snakes coming out of the sand. How could I not love the opening of Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio’s Cobb in the surf with a pagoda in the background?
I’ve been blessed with cinematic, powerful dreams all my life. Sometimes I’ve lived a lifetime in one night – I didn’t know other people had experienced that but, in Christopher Nolan’s film, the characters grow old in the dream, only to wake up young again the next morning. Often, I’ve died in my dreams, so it was good to see that Nolan’s film didn’t promote the popular misconception that if you die in your dreams, you do in real life. In the movie, as in my dreams, it means you (normally) wake up.
Lucid dreaming is having the ability to be aware that you’re dreaming and remain in the dream to control it. The classic conundrum is to know what is the waking state, the “real” world, and what is the dream state. A corollary is to ask which is more important. Read Andre Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto and you may easily become convinced it’s the dream.
In the film the characters carry personal totems so they can tell if they’re dreaming or not. Cobb is never without a small spinning top that apparently only topples in the real world. In dreams it can spin forever. The technique I tend to use is to deliberately look at a scene or view, turn away, turn back and look at it again – if it’s changed it’s an indication I’m in a dream world rather than reality.
When you discover you’re dreaming, the secret is to remember this while staying in your dream. Do that, and you can do anything you want – literally. You become a god, in charge of everything and anything. My first step is normally to fly – there are few things more liberating than swooping across the sky feeling the wind on your face. Sometimes you change your form – if battling a gigantic monster of some description, I reckon I’ll be more successful if growing razor-sharp claws (and just growing).
The Penrose staircase
A slight disappointment of Inception was the lack of “physics”. Near the beginning of the film, new architect Ariadne (played by Ellen Page) asks the question about changing the laws of nature and folds the world in on itself, but that seems to be where it ends. There’s just one later point where Tom Hardy’s Eames magics himself a bigger gun, but that’s all. On the whole, the rules of reality seem to permeate all levels of the dream worlds within the film. A nice touch though, was the inclusion of impossible objects, specifically a Penrose staircase that the characters referred to by name. I’ll be sure to mention it when Sir Roger’s next in my office.
The dream within the dream is a very common by-product for lucid dreamers. Many’s the time I’ve woken up, spent most of the day at work, only to wake up, realize
It’s called “Batman and the Giant Pile of Box Office Receipts”.
Okay, it’s really called THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Everyone has surely made a Viagra joke by now, and there was ours.
In an interview with Geoff Boucher of the LA Times, director Christopher Nolan also reveals that the big villain will not be ….The Riddler! So that’s Mr. Freeze and Riddler crossed off, then. Our own suggestion? Olga, Queen of the Cossacks!
Other things we do know: The story is by Nolan and David Goyer with a script by Nolan and brother Jonah Nolan.
Female casting is underway, suggesting that maybe Catwoman will be involved somehow.
Tom Hardy will be in it somehow, giving us many chances to post photos of him.
And it will NOT be in 3D.
Nolan was most eager to talk about the fact that Warner Bros. had agreed with his argument that the film should resist the current 3-D craze and instead use high-definition approaches and IMAX cameras to strike out on a different cinematic path than the stereoscopic technology that, for better or worse, has become the dominant conversation in the blockbuster sector.
Actress Anne Hathaway will star as Catwoman in the next Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. The movie is set for a July 2012 release. If you don’t want to wait, follow Michelle Phan’s video tips (embedded above) for wearing Catwoman’s signature style.
Christian Bale will reprise his role as Batman, following his blockbuster success with The Dark Knight. Director Christopher Nolan will helm the project once again.
Here’s more from Deadline New York: “Hathaway [will] play Selina Kyle, who has a double identity as Catwoman. Nolan has also acknowledged that his Inception star Tom Hardy will play the villain role of Bane, an escaped prisoner who became abnormally strong after being pumped full of drugs. Bane is known as ‘the man who broke the Bat’ after he broke Batman’s spinal cord in the comics storyline.” (Via Jason Pinter)
After months of speculation we now know that Christopher Nolan isn’t giving up the Batman franchise without going into the sexy feminine side of the myth: Anne Hathaway will play Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises — and yes that sounds pretty dirty. And the previously announced Tom Hardy will play back-breaker Bane, an escaped criminal who gets super strength after getting jacked on drugs. (Bane was responsible for breaking Batman’s spine in a 90s comics storyline.)
Hathaway joins a storied list of Catwomans, from Julie Newmar through Michelle Pfeiffer. (Let’s not mention Halle Berry…oops…) She doesn’t have much action star vibe, but that’s what CGI is for…and she would definitely look adorable in kitten ears. Somehow, we doubt Nolan’s vision includes kitten ears, however.
We’re big Tom Hardy fans here, so as long as he gets good and pumped up to play Bane, we’re all on board.
With two of Batman’s most important nemeses in the third film, Nolan looks on track to break the “third film curse” — if all goes as well as it could, this will be one easily the best superhero film trilogy of all.
Follow this link to watch the trailer–what do you think? Nolan collaborated on the screenplay with his brother, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan. The movie will hit theaters in July 2012. The trailer highlights the infamous Batman villain Bane as he wrecks Gotham City.
Here’s more from Movies.com: “[The trailer revealed] some enticing dialogue from Anne Hathaway, playing Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman). Naturally her chat with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), as they dance close together at a masquerade ball, falls somewhere between seductive and threatening, but that’s what we expect from her character. Will she be a villain? A romantic sidekick? Both? Other brief glimpses of Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Matthew Modine are exactly that — brief glimpses.”
Legendary Pictures has released the third trailer for its upcoming Batman comic book adaptation, The Dark Knight Rises. We’ve embedded the trailer above–what do you think?
According to Comic Book Resources, Titan Books will publish the official movie tie-in novel by Greg Cox. Both the book and the movie will be released in July 2012.
Here’s more from E! Online: “[Anne] Hathaway gets lots of screen time in the new trailer as both [Selina] Kyle and her feline alter ego Catwoman. She appears to be taking Batman’s side and has no problem getting in on the action. There’s plenty of Jordon Gordon-Levitt‘s mysterious new cop John Blake looking all emotional. We also get to see franchise stalwarts like Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman), Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman).”
Have you done your homework for the next Batman movie? We’ve uncovered one free (and unexpected) eBook you should read to prepare for the release of The Dark Knight Rises next week (movie trailer embedded above).
As he created his third epic Batman adaptation, director Christopher Nolan was inspired by Charles Dickens‘ classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities. His screenwriting partner (and brother) Jonathan Nolanexplained in an interview:
I was looking to old good books and good movies. Good literature for inspiration… What I always felt like we needed to do in a third film was, for lack of a better term, go there. All of these films have threatened to turn Gotham inside out and to collapse it on itself. None of them have actually achieved that until this film. ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ was, to me, one of the most harrowing portrait of a relatable, recognizable civilization that completely folded to pieces with the terrors in Paris in France in that period. It’s hard to imagine that things can go that badly wrong.