The 251 Best Damn Films of All-Time (Part Seven)

Part One |Part Two |Part Three |Part Four |Part Five |Part Six |Part Eight | Part Nine |Top 25

102. Saló, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975)

Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini (1)

Graziella Aniceto, Lamberto Book, Caterina Boratto, Umberto Chessari, Dorit Henke, Faridah Malik, Franco Merli, Tatiana Mogilansky, Antiniska Nemour, Antonio Orlando, Sonia Saviange, and Hélène Surgère in Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975)
Pasolini’s Saló is the infamous gag-inducing film of radicalized fascism imbued with an underhand history and revealing nature towards Italian politicians. The backstory is almost as compelling as the film, leading to Pasolini’s death. The film itself is an absolutely inescapable nightmare that has plenty of shock value. Knowing the history certainly makes it palatable, but there is a strange sick, sadistic entertainment value here that I’m endlessly intrigued by.

|It is when I see others degraded that I rejoice knowing it is better to be me than the scum of “the people”. Whenever men are equal, without that difference, happiness cannot exist. So you wouldn’t aid the humble, the unhappy. In all the world no voluptuousness flatters the senses more than social privilege.”

101. Stagecoach (1939)

Director: John Ford (1)

John Wayne, George Bancroft, and Louise Platt in Stagecoach (1939)
Stagecoach is truly the penultimate western and peak John Ford. Influenced countless other films throughout time for its use of abstract character archetypes and visionary grandeur. On a technical level, it’s virtually perfect.

“If there’s anything I don’t like, it’s driving a stagecoach through Apache country.”

100. Cape Fear (1962)

Director: J. Lee Thompson (1)

Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck in Cape Fear (1962)
Adrenaline pulsating thriller with two incredible dueling performances from Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck. The protection of a family from a cold-blooded killer with a vendetta. Mitchum’s menacing and calculated creates the ultimate dread hanging over the story. The Bernard Herman score and the central theme is that of legends and adds an extra layer to this film.

“I got somethin’ planned for your wife and kid that they ain’t nevah gonna forget. They ain’t nevah gonna forget it… and neither will you, Counselor! Nevah!”

99. The Last Picture Show (1971)

Director: Peter Bogdanovich (1)

Image result for the last picture show cinematography
A small town coming unglued at the seams. Bogdanovich’s portrait of middle America and the slow deterioration of society through the loss of our tradition and values. It’s a simple narrative with tremendous meaning. How even in old age we can still feel the range of emotion for people.

“If she was here I’d probably be just as crazy now as I was then in about 5 minutes. Ain’t that ridiculous?… Naw, it ain’t really. ‘Cause being crazy about a woman like her is always the right thing to do. Being an old decrepit bag of bones, that’s what’s ridiculous. Gettin’ old.”

98. The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin (1)

Image result for the exorcist cinematography
The Exorcist is genuinely one of the scariest horror films of all-time. Friedkin’s mix of extreme horror and religion creates a black feeling of despair. The possession of a young girl fighting against the source of all evil. The craft from Friedkin is surreal and the film only gets more terrifying as they reach the climax. The editing here deserves more praise as well.

“The Power of Christ compels you!”

97. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985)

Director: Paul Schrader (1)

Image result for mishima cinematography
Mishima is Paul Schrader at his best. An account of the famous Japanese author and political figure Yukio Mishima’s last day, told as an unconventional biopic that interweaves his narrative work and life struggle. A story told through Mishima’s drastic ideas on life that translate into gorgeous imagery explained in detail through his writing. Mishima is one of Schrader’s best scripts and the film features one of the most slept on original scores ever produced by Phillip Glass

“All my life I have been acutely aware of a contradiction in the very nature of my existence. For forty-five years I struggled to resolve this dilemma by writing plays and novels. The more I wrote, the more I realized mere words were not enough. So I found another form of expression.”

96. The Trial (1962)

Director: Orson Welles (2)

Anthony Perkins in Le procès (1962)
Welles adapting Kafka leans into the labyrinth structure of the novel, disturbing and nightmarish descent into the jaws of an unjust justice system. Existing in a perpetual state of arrest, Welles captures that with some of the most inventive set designs in history taking modern office layouts and architecture and spinning them.

“Can there be any doubt that behind my arrest a vast organization is at work, an establishment which contains a retinue of civil servants, officers, police, and others. Perhaps even hangmen!”

95. Kes (1969)

Director: Ken Loach (1)

Kes (1969)
Kes is a beautiful tragedy of life. The unfortunate luck of being born into a broken family, and the non-stop stress of living in a community that barely recognizes one’s existence. The pain of adolescence with no one paying attention, and the sheer power of how the tiniest gestures can greatly impact one’s life.

“C’mon Kes!”

94. 8 ½ (1963)

Director: Federico Fellini (3)

Marcello Mastroianni and Anouk Aimée in 8½ (1963)
From legendary Italian director Federico Fellini comes “8 1/2” a film about a director played instinctually by Marcello Mastroianni, that’s in way over his head. Shot to convey the overwhelming stress and compounding anxiety as his gigantic set-design reaches empire state building levels and his relationships fall apart. The narrative is brilliantly constructed and moves delicately to strengthens the impact of the result of all these problems building on top of each other. The filmmaking is otherworldly good from Fellini, and Mastroianni is a great leader for his vision. A masterful work of abstract but humane art.

“My Dears… Happiness consists of being able to tell the truth without hurting anyone.”

93. Psycho (1960)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock (3)

Martin Balsam in Psycho (1960)
Hitchcock created an incredibly sharp and precise character study with a distinctly unnerving premise. Anthony Bates as the iconic Norman Bates, proprietor of the Bates motel with his mother. The building of suspense and tension in Psycho is some of the best of all-time.

“They’ll see. They’ll see and they’ll know, and they’ll say, “Why, she wouldn’t even harm a fly…”

92. In the Name of the Father (1993)

Director: Jim Sheridan (1)

Daniel Day-Lewis in In the Name of the Father (1993)
In terms of great Daniel Day-Lewis performances and films, In The Name of the Father is highly overlooked. A forceful look at the wrongly accused victims of a scrutinized justice system during points of tension with the IRA in Ireland. It’s not only one of Day-Lewis’s best performances, but all-time great work from Pete Postlethwaite and Emma Thompson. A striking story of justice in the face of grave uncertainty and distrust.

“I’m a free man, and I’m going out the front door.”

91. Kagemusha (1980)

Director: Akira Kurosawa (6)

Image result for kagemusha opening scene
Kurosawa’s most underrated film bar-none. It’s the writing of the protagonist and visual design. The protagonist plays a shadow of another human being, feels his love, and then gets tossed aside like dirt. A powerful message towards familial bonds told through one of the legendarily great Japanese actors Tatsuya Nakadai and he gives an overwhelmingly poignant portrayal. On the outset, it’s Kurosawa’s vibrant color palette to only reveal a deep emotional heart.

“The shadow of a man can never stand up and walk on its own.”

90. Double Indemnity (1944)

Director: Billy Wilder (5)

If Stagecoach is the penultimate western, apply that same title to Double Indemnity in the noir genre. Billy Wilder’s best film. One that best expresses his technical prowess as a filmmaker, showing his propensity towards complex and layered narratives with compelling narratives. Double Indemnity being his most back-stabby.

“Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money – and a woman – and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?”

89. Inland Empire (2006)

Director: David Lynch (2)

Laura Harring, Scott Coffey, and Naomi Watts in Inland Empire (2006)
In terms of all the modern Lynch horror films, Inland Empire stood above the rest. It’s convoluted and messy but the most unsettling, acid trip of a film since Lynch’s Eraserhead. Laura Dern is magical in the lead role, but Inland Empire is a continually changing plot that goes to completely unforeseen places.

Nikki: Hey! Look at me. And tell me if you’ve known me before.
Lanni: Yes. We will do that.

88. Suspiria (1977)

Director: Dario Argento (1)

Eva Axén in Suspiria (1977)
And speaking of acid trips, Dario Argento’s Goblin scored Suspiria is one blood infused witches curse of an experience. The style is Giallo, but it’s so distinct to this movie alone. The mix of the music, visuals, and coven vision for the narrative.

“We must get rid of that bitch of an American girl. Vanish! She must vanish! Make her disappear! Understand? Vanish, she must vanish. She must die! Die! Die! Helena, give me power. Sickness! Sickness! Away with her! Away with trouble. Death, death, death!”

87. Neon Genesis Evangelion: The End of Evangelion (1997)

Director: Hideki Anno (1)

Shin seiki Evangelion Gekijô-ban: Air/Magokoro wo, kimi ni (1997)
An ode to one of the greatest pieces of fiction ever produced, “The End of Evangelion” is the true end to the Evangelion saga and an explosive piece of storytelling. In a truly magnificent finish to the Shinji, Asuka, and Rei storyline, the film carries to a devastatingly dark place. The *primordial soup of humanity,* if you know what I’m saying. My advice: watch all of Evangelion.

“The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth.”

86. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Director: Stanley Kubrick (3)

Eyes wide Shut is Kubrick at his most abstract with atmosphere and cult-imagery. It’s a magic night in New York City as if it’s a dream. Led by a gravitational pull of performance from Nicole Kidman while Tom Cruise is blindly guided around the city in search of meaning.

Alice Harford: I do love you and you know there is something very important we need to do as soon as possible.
Dr. Bill Harford: What’s that?
Alice Harford: Fuck.

85. Call Me by Your Name (2017)

Director: Luca Guadagnino (1)

Spending a warm Italian summer in Luca Guadagnino’s romance “Call Me By Your Name” is a luxury. A film that envelopes you and the love shared through Timothy Chalamet and Armie Hammers’s relationship as it melts into the luscious Italian landscape and the experience takes you. The fact that their homosexuality is secondary to the sheer passion for one another and the devastation that follows shows a real understanding of love. The Stuhlbarg monologue at the end serves as a heartfelt and meaningful representation of true, unapologetic love.

“But I never had what you two have. Something always held me back or stood in the way. How you live your life is your business, just remember, our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and, as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it. Right now, there’s sorrow, pain. Don’t kill it and with it the joy you’ve felt.”

84. Prisoners (2013)

Director: Dennis Villeneuve (1)

Jake Gyllenhaal in Prisoners (2013)
Villeneuve’s “Prisoners” is a hauntingly dark film. The world curated is completely unforgiving, showing the twisted side of humanity and how backward the world can turn in a hurry. Hugh Jackman and Jack Gyllenhaal deliver career-best performances with monstrous anger. A film that questions how far one would go to save their children.

“He’s not a person anymore. No, he stopped being a person when he took our daughters.”

83. Annie Hall (1977)

Director: Woody Allen (2)

Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (1977)
Honest relationships go through rough patches and don’t always end up working out. No matter how compatible the two people are, sometimes life happens and it doesn’t end like a fairytale. Annie Hall is the witness of a breakup happening in slow motion. Filled with two wonderful performances from Allen and the unforgettable Diane Keaton. The writing is masterful as is Allen’s direction. The breaking structure separates this from any other romance

“A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.”

82. The Elephant Man (1980)

Director: David Lynch (2)

Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt in The Elephant Man (1980)
A devastatingly touching and beautiful story about the remarkable young man born with elephantiasis. A narrative meant for David Lynch’s artistic touch and unique view on the subject. Anthony Hopkins and John Hunt are incredible together, but Hunt’s broken portrayal of the elephant man makes this an all-timer.

“I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am a man!”

81. All The President’s Men (1976)

Director: Alan J. Pakula (1)

Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in All the President's Men (1976)
A film that gets better on every watch. The story of the timely reporting on Watergate from Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford embody the drive of these two journalists. For a film shot with almost all interiors, it has some of the best cinematography of all-time.

“Half the country never even heard of the word Watergate. Nobody gives a shit. You guys are probably pretty tired, right? Well, you should be. Go on home, get a nice hot bath. Rest up… 15 minutes. Then get your asses back in gear. We’re under a lot of pressure, you know, and you put us there. Nothing’s riding on this except the, uh, first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters, but if you guys fuck up again, I’m going to get mad. Goodnight.”

80. Shoplifters (2018)

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda (2)

Lily Franky and Jyo Kairi in Manbiki kazoku (2018)
The appallingly human story about a makeshift family living on the outskirts of society. It’s stunningly beautiful and filled with compassion for these characters. Sakura Ando and Lily Frankie broke me in this film. The family dynamics and class structure presented in Shoplifters curate excellent discussion. A meaningful film with just an amazing ensemble. Kore-eda’s masterpiece.

“Sometimes it’s better to choose your own family.”

79. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Director: David Lean (1)

Alec Guinness and Sessue Hayakawa in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
In one of the great entrees into the cinema for the great British director David Lean, Bridge on The River Kwai is the exploration of Stockholm Syndrome through Alec Guinness’s all-time performance as Colonel Nicholson. In a beautiful venture into a British POW camp in Japan, Lean delicately captures their struggle with stunning imagery and phenomenal editing. One of the strongest technical and directorial efforts in history.

“You and Colonel Nicholson, you’re two of a kind, crazy with courage. For what? How to die like a gentleman, how to die by the rules – when the only important thing is how to live like a human being!… I’m not going to leave you here to die, Warden, because I don’t care about your bridge and I don’t care about your rules. If we go on, we go on together.”

78. Eraserhead (1977)

Director: David Lynch (3)

Jack Nance in Eraserhead (1977)
Lynch’s midnight release masterpiece. The most obscure representation of fatherhood or the daunting responsibilities of it told in a hyper-visual sense. Or this film is about whatever you want. That’s the glory of Henry (Jack Nance) while he’s on vacation. Truly some of the best abstract art ever produced on film.

“In Heaven, everything is fine….In Heaven, everything is fine….:

77. Repulsion (1965)

Director: Roman Polanski (1)

A thriller, horror masterpiece. Catherine Deneuve delivers the most strung outperformance I’ve ever seen. The sound mixing is damn near perfect and the feeling of repulsion. The anguish

“We must get this crack mended.”

76. Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Director: Charlie Kaufman (1)

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Charlie Kaufman is working on a higher plane than most human beings and Synecdoche, New York is a magnificent example of his genius. I don’t have words to describe this screenplay. It’s a man directing a man playing himself played by someone else all starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s a real work of literary genius.

“I know how to do it now. There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They’re all the leads of their own stories. They have to be given their due.”

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