All-Time 100 Best Movies

by Time Magazine

Part 2

Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

All-Time 100 Best Movies
(part 2, alphabetical)

Descriptions are excerpted or abridged
from the copyrighted Time Magazine site.

Closely Watched Trains (1966)
Directed By: Jirí Menzel
Screenplay: Bohumil Hrabal (also novel), Jirí Menzel
Cast: Václav Neckár, Josef Somr
...Menzel's film, about a feckless young crossing guard at a sleepy railroad station who becomes an unlikely (and tragic) hero of the resistance to German occupation was [Czech cinema's] sweetly funny, curiously moving masterpiece.

The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)
Directed By: Jean Renoir
Screenplay: Jean Castanyer (story); Jacques Prévert
Cast: René Lefèvre, Florelle tells the story of a hack writer of pulp westerns, cruelly exploited by his crooked publisher, who finally, justifiably, murders the man. It is not, however, a mystery story. It is, among other things, an idealistic parable (the publishing house employees turn the company into a cooperative) and an affecting romance (it ends with Lange and his lover on the run, hoping for a better life, and the audience thinking perhaps they will attain the happiness they deserve).

The Crowd (1928)
Directed By: King Vidor
Screenplay: King Vidor, John V.A. Weaver
Cast: Eleanor Boardman, James Murray
In this silent film, Vidor traces the sad life of a totally ordinary citizen, dreaming big, living small, in a brilliant expressionistic style. But his manner, which might have had a distancing effect, never interferes with the heartbreaking emotions this powerful film stirs.

Day for Night (1973)
Directed By: François Truffaut
Screenplay: Jean-Louis Richard, Suzanne Schiffman
Cast: Jacqueline Bisset, François Truffaut, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Valentina Cortèse
...perhaps the best movie about moviemaking ever made. Truffaut perfectly captures the romance and hysteria, the guiding obsessions, the lunatic distractions and the desperate improvisations of a company shooting a film, which may not be as great as they delude themselves into thinking it is.

The Decalogue (1989) - BEST FILM OF ITS DECADE
Directed By: Krzysztof Kieslowski
Screenplay: Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Piesiewicz
Kieslowski's [made for television] series: ten little dramas, each about 55 mins. long, each finding a contemporary metaphor for one of the Commandments. Its characters, all of whom live in a drab Warsaw apartment block, must cope with infidelity, cupidity, murder, abortion, the loss of a child...Viewers who haven't 10 hours to devote to Decalogue may get the most pleasure from episodes 1, 5, 6 and 7.

Detour (1945)
Directed By: Edgar G. Ulmer
Screenplay: Martin Goldsmith (novel); Martin Goldsmith, Martin Mooney
Cast: Tom Neal, Ann Savage
Al (Tom Neal), a piano-playing loser hitching west to meet his girlfriend, and Vera (Ann Savage), the schemer who embodies all the bad luck a man could ever have...this uncompromisingly bleak tale of a sadist and a schlemiel. They can communicate only their mutual loathing in a realm where words can wound and a telephone cord is an inadvertently lethal weapon.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Directed By: Luis Buñuel
Screenplay: Luis Buñuel, Jean-Claude Carrière
Cast: Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stephane Audran, Jean-Pierre Cassel
People start showing up for a dinner party its hosts are unaware they are throwing—turns into a genial exercise in surrealism. Six middle-class friends keep trying to have a nice meal together, but something—love-making, military exercises, criminal activities, even a sequence where they find themselves on stage in a play, playing themselves—keeps preventing them from breaking bread.

Dodsworth (1936) - BEST FILM OF ITS DECADE
Directed By: William Wyler
Screenplay: Sinclair Lewis (novel); Sidney Howard (screenplay)
Cast: Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Mary Astor
Wyler and his film of the Sinclair Lewis novel about the fraying ties of a plutocrat (Walter Huston), comfortable in his life of prosperity and propriety, and his restless wife (Ruth Chatterton), who needs a sexual fling to prove she is not ready to trudge placidly into old age. Here is a fearlessly mature drama, wise about affairs of the heart and the ego, with acute performances by the stars, including Mary Astor as a dream woman worth traveling the world for.

Double Indemnity (1944)
Directed By: Billy Wilder
Screenplay: James M. Cain (novel); Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler (screenplay)
Cast: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Fred MacMurray's weak-willed insurance agent falls under the spell of a client's scheming wife (Barbara Stanwyck). They murder her husband, but, of course, bloodily fall out themselves. However dark the plotting, the dialogue (by Wilder and Raymond Chandler) remains bright as a penny and hard as nails. One of the few screen adaptations that actually improves on its source (a James M. Cain novel).

Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
Screenplay: Peter George (novel); Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern, Peter George (screenplay and adaptation)
Cast: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Keenan Wynn
In Kubrick’s version, one last bomber plows through to Armageddon, a food fight takes place in the U.S. War Room and crippled scientist is moved by the thrill of it all to lurch to his feet, raise his arm in the Nazi salute and cry out, “Mein Fuhrer, I can walk.” Kubrick’s remains perhaps the blackest comedy ever put on screen, and with Peter Sellers brilliantly playing multiple roles, the blackest, funniest movie of the post-war era.

Drunken Master II (1994)
Directed By: Chia-Liang Liu, Jackie Chan
Screenplay: Edward Tang, Man-Ming Tong, Kai-Chi Yun
Cast: Jackie Chan, Felix Wong
In his 1978 breakthrough, Yuen Wo-ping's Drunken Master, Chan played the real-life kung-fu hero Wong Fei-hung as an impish young man in need of a sifu (teacher) who could purify his technique and his spirit. In the sequel, 16 years later, Jackie is still a young Fei-hung (Anita Mui, eight years his junior, played his mother!), now up against malicious generals, spies and a hundred bad guys with superhuman fighting skills. The greatest of these is Ken Lo (Chan's offscreen bodyguard), whose battle over hot coals is an exhibition of flying arms and feet that leaves the two actors exhausted and the viewer's jaw on the floor.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: Melissa Mathison
Cast: Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore
Screenwriter Melissa Mathison lent a fairy-tale clarity to the director's standard plot of a lost boy seeking his way back home. And Spielberg orchestrated the movements of the camera and the puppet spaceman with the feelings of—it has to be called love—expressed in young Henry Thomas' yearning face.

8 1/2 (1963)
Directed By: Federico Fellini
Screenplay: Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano (story); Ennio Flaiano , Tullio Pinelli, Federico Fellini, Brunello Rondi
Cast: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimée
Marcello Mastroianni's blocked movie director consults his dreams, his memories, his fantasies as he attempts to imagine the movie his producers are demanding of him. A suspicion of autobiography hovers over the film, but the comic frenzy of his imaginings redeems the movie from solipsism and its ending—figures from his past triumphs emerge on his set to rescue the moviemaker from his desperation—is both calmative and lovely.

The 400 Blows (1959)
Directed By: François Truffaut
Screenplay: François Truffaut, Marcel Moussy
Cast: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claire Maurier, Albert Rémy
The movie that defined the French New Wave for the world. Partly autobiographical, both realistic and gently experimental in manner, it tells the story of a mischievous boy flirting with full-scale delinquency.

Farewell My Concubine (1993)
Directed By: Kaige Chen
Screenplay: Lillian Lee (also novel), Bik-Wa Lei, Wei Lu
Cast: Leslie Cheung, Gong Li
Two boys meet as students in a punishing Peking Opera school in the 1920s and remain partners, friends and enemies for 50 of the boldest, most beautiful Chinese films in a decade dominated by them. In the “Concubine” opera that becomes their trademark, stolid Duan Xiaolou (Zhang Fengyi) plays the emperor, luscious Cheng Dieyi (the late, great Leslie Cheung) the concubine. Yin and yang are the roles they assume offstage as well, as Xiaolou has an affair with a courtesan (Gong Li, the imperious queen of Chinese cinema) and Dieyi flirts with the satrap of the occupying Japanese government. Sexual politics gives way to political horror during the Cultural Revolution, when personal betrayal may be the one way to stay alive.

Finding Nemo (2003)
Directed By: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds
Cast: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe
Finding Nemo is, so far, the apotheosis of the Pixar style: the ultimate fish-out-of-water story, with a fretful dad (voiced by Albert Brooks) enlisting a forgetful friend (Ellen DeGeneres) to find his lost son...Pixar doesn't make cute movies for kids. It tells universal stories through a graphic language so persuasive that children and adults respond with the same pleasure and awe.

The Fly (1986)
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Screenplay: David Cronenberg, George Langelaan, Charles Edward Pogue
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis
The Fly is about a scientist, Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum), who slowly and irrevocably morphs into a giant insect, much to his horror and that of his girlfriend (Geena Davis). Brundle might be the victim of any degenerative disease—cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's—who struggles to retain his humanity even as he decays into something ... monstrous.

The Godfather, Parts I and II (1972, 1974)
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay: Mario Puzo (novel); Francis Ford Coppola (screenplay)
Cast: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, John Cazale, Robert De Niro
The gangster movie transformed into dark epic—and, more important, into a metaphor for every family's dysfunction, and a lot of America's, too. The burnished darkness of Gordon Willis's cinematography sets an unforgettable tone. The grandeur of the acting (Brando, Pacino, DeNiro among others) gives it a curious nobility and the multigenerational narrative has the power to move us to terror, pity and, occasionally, bitter laughter.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)
Directed By: Sergio Leone
Screenplay: Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach
Leone's reinvention of the western reaches its epic apotheosis in a movie about the pursuit of gold lost by the Confederates during the Civil War in the Texas theater. Clint Eastwood is the "good" (slow to anger, but quick on the trigger), Lee Van Cleef is the bad (an elegant exemplar of absolute evil) and Eli Wallach is the "ugly" (a menacingly funny, totally amoral bandido whose relationship with the Eastwood character consists largely of betrayals). Leone's magnificent style is all contrasts (huge panoramic shots alternating with tight close-ups, very slow build-ups to lightning-fast action).

GoodFellas (1990)
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay: Nicholas Pileggi (book); Nicholas Pileggi, Martin Scorsese (screenplay)
Cast: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco, Paul Sorvino
The director wanted his bloody, dirty-talking study of small-time Mafiosos to have the spirit of "a rollicking road picture," and he achieved this paradoxical goal brilliantly. The picture only seems amoral. Behind its grinning mask it is an acute parody of "family values" and of moral incomprehension. And Joe Pesci is awesome as the most psychopathic of hoods.

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