The Best Damn 501 Films Ever Made: Part Four (349-301)

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8

Author Note: The next 50 on the 501 are full of eccentric directors making some of their most bizarre films. There’s also a number of films that exist within the populist zeitgeist that made this portion of the list. A number of contemporary films from America and beyond, a few highly underrated films, a third of the Coen brothers filmography and Ingmar Bergman.  I hope you enjoy

349. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967)

Dir: Stanley Kramer (2)

DP: Sam Leavitt (1)

Editor: Robert C. Jones (1)

Writer: William Rose (1)

Starring: Spencer Tracy (2), Sidney Poitier (2), Katherine Hepburn (2), Katherine Houghton (1), Cecil Kalloway (1)

Composer: Carol Kaye (1)

Country: USA (68)

Genre: Drama (41)

A controversial film that doesn’t accurately express the Black experience in America but does capture white angst in a more incisive way than most films and the hypocrisy at the center of that feeling. Spencer Tracy is magnificent as the vulnerable father, getting slightly nudged in every direction towards doing the right thing. However, Sidney Poitier and Katherine Hepburn are transcendent in their roles, exploring the subject honestly. A great film that’s become a cliché because of its reverence and provocative title.

348. Seconds (1966)

Dir: John Frankenheimer (2)

DP: James Wong Howe (1)

Editor: David Newhouse (1)

Writer: Lewis John Carlino (1), David Ely (1)

Starring: Rock Hudson (1), Salome Jens (1), John Randolph (1), Will Greer (2)

Composer: Jerry Goldsmith (2)

Country: USA (69)

Genre: Thriller (13), Sci-fi (6)

Seconds is a subtle and disturbing examination of discarding one’s own life in search of a more vain existence. The idea of a second chance, sprung on by a mysterious call from a friend who many thought was dead, is Frankenheimer diving deep into science fiction concepts that ask confounding questions of his characters. The filmmaking does an excellent job concealing identity and experiencing the joy of Hudson’s new life as well as the harmful side effects. Rock Hudson is fantastic

347. A Taxi Driver (2017)

Dir: Jang Hoon (1)

DP: Go Rak-sun (1)

Editor: Kim Sang-bum (2), Kim Jae-beom (2)

Writer: Eom Yu-na (1)

Starring: Song Kang-ho (4), Thomas Kretschman (1), Yoo Hae-jin (1)

Composer: Cho Young-wuk (2)

Country: South Korea (7)

Genre: Political Drama (6)

A politically motivated narrative that adapts the horrifying events of the Gwangju protest and the amazing friendship that develops between an unknowing taxi driver played powerfully by Song Kang-ho and a foreign journalist played by Thomas Kretschman. A film about the enormous power of normal people and their ability to band together to fight tyranny. Song Kang-ho is inspired here, both as a coward and a brave fighter – it’s one of his greatest performances in a legendary career.

346. After Hours (1985)

Dir: Martin Scorsese (2)

DP: Michael Ballhaus (1)

Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker (2)

Writer: Joseph Minion (1)

Starring: Griffin Dunne (1), Rosanna Arquette (1), Verna Bloom (1), Teri Garr (2)

Composer: Howard Shore (3)

Country: USA (70)

Genre: Comedy (18)

Drunk, tired, lost at 3am, and miserable – the usual feelings post binge drinking and After Hours captures that feeling in one singular narrative that understands the sheer randomness of those late hours of night and what can take place. Griffin Dunne is the vehicle we discover this through, as he struggles with one simple task: finding his home. One of the most surprisingly relatable films on the list and in Scorsese’s filmography 

345. End of the Tour (2015)

Dir: James Ponsoldt (1)

DP: Jakob Ihre (1)

Editor: Darrin Navarro (1)

Writer: Danny Margulies (1)

Starring: Jason Segal (1), Jesse Eisenberg (2)

Composer: Danny Elfman (2)

Country: USA (71)

Genre: Drama (42)

An introspective and contemplative look at arguably the most important author of this century in David Foster Wallace. Constructed as a slow, conversation piece that digs deep into Wallace’s insecure psychology and how that influences his outlook on the tragedy of life. Jason Segal is otherworldly good as David Foster Wallace and paints an empathetic portrait of a broken man, and Eisenberg as the probing journalists creates a lasting bond between the two – a fascinatingly deep character study. 

344. Big Wednesday (1978)

Dir: John Milius (1)

DP: Bruce Sertees (1)

Editor: Robert L. Wolfe (1)

Writer: John Milius (1), Dennis Aaberg (1)

Starring: Jean-Michel Vincent (1), William Katt (1), Gary Busey (1), Patti D’Arbanville (1)

Composer: Basil Poledouris (2)

Country: USA (72)

Genre: Coming-of-age (3)

Indulge me for a second, as John Milius’s summer surfing opus on the wide varying experience of life is captured in this coming-of-age film that understands the beauty of the unknowing teenage years and the hardships of their friendship as adults. A lifelong story of friendship that builds into a profound indictment on life and what it means to live. A film that’s personal to me as it mirrors my adolescent years in familiar ways that make me burst with nostalgia.

343. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

Dir: Billy Wilder (3)

DP: Russell Harlan (1)

Editor: Daniel Mandell (2)

Writer: Billy Wilder (3), Agatha Christie (2), Harry Kurnitz (1)

Starring: Charles Laughton (2), Marlene Dietrich (2), Tryone Power (1), Elsa Lanchester (1)

Composer: Matty Malneck (1)

Country: USA (73)

Genre: Courtroom Drama (1)

Billy Wilder getting the opportunity to utilize Charles Laughton’s unbelievable eccentricities as an actor was a match made for the screen. The looping narrative of Witness for the Prosecution and the performance driven structure turns all lights, cameras, and eyes on Laughton as he exposes the world to these crimes in wonderfully moving ways. Bold, overconfidence is felt in Wilder’s direction and in Laughton’s portrayal that blends into the narrative and makes it a memorable experience.

342. No Country for Old Men (2007) 

Dir: Joel Coen (3), Ethan Coen (1)

DP: Roger Deakins (2)

Editor: Joel Coen (3), Ethan Coen (3)

Writer: Joel Coen (3), Ethan Coen (3), Cormac McCarthy (1)

Starring: Javier Bardem (1), Tommy Lee Jones (2), Josh Brolin (2), Woody Harrelson (1), Kelly Macdonald (1)

Composer: Carter Burwell (2)

Country: USA (74)

Genre: Drama (43) Thriller (14)

Incredibly cold and calculated, the Coen’s created one of the most menacing figures in cinema – Javier Bardem’s relentless fixer that carries around a captive bolt killer murder weapon and seems to work based on the unforeseen forces of the world as well his desire for violence. A character that wakes you up at night screaming, the Coen’s magnum opus combines all the great elements of their filmography into their most ambitious project in their careers. 

341. Mississippi Burning (1988)

Dir: Alan Parker (1)

DP: Peter Biziou (1)

Editor: Gerry Hambling (1)

Writer: Chris Gerolmo (1)

Starring: Gene Hackman (2), Willem Dafoe (2), Frances McDormand (2)  Brad Dourif (1), R. Lee Emery (1)

Composer: Trevor Jones (1)

Country: USA (75)

Genre: Thriller (15), Drama (44)

The harrowing summation of hatred in one backroads Mississippi town that sparks a federal investigation. A town insulated, focusing it’s hatred on the poor Black population and the devastating events that follow. A tough film to watch, but one that directly grapples with the why of the situation.

340. To Die For (1995)

Dir: Gus Van Sant (3)

DP: Eric Alan Edwards (2)

Editor: Curtiss Clayton (3)

Writer: Buck Henry (1)

Starring: Nicole Kidman (1), Matt Dillon (), Joaquin Phoenix (2), Casey Affleck (1), Alison Folland (1)

Composer: Danny Elfman (1)

Country: USA (76)

Genre: Drama (49), Comedy (20)

Nicole Kidman is masterful at acting unhinged and this some of her most inspired work. Based on the true story of a deranged school teacher that attracted some impressionable students (played by Joaquin Phoenix as a teenager) to commit truly heinous crimes. Set to the tone of Kidman’s ditzy and spacey Legally Blonde routine that’s both unnerving and perfectly unaware. A strange detour for Gus Van Sant but one of his most eccentric films that is unwittingly dark. 

339. High Noon (1952)

Dir: Fred Zinnemann (1)

DP: Floyd Crosby (1)

Editor: Elmo Williams (1)

Writer: Carl Foreman (1), John W. Cunningham (1)

Starring: Gary Cooper (1), Grace Kelly (2), Thomas Mitchell (1)  Lloyd Bridges (2)

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin (2)

Country: USA (77)

Genre: Western (4)

Fred Zinnemann’s explosive revenge western is one of the most challenging in the history of the genre. A narrative filled with a vulnerable hero in Gary Cooper that expresses his humanity above his masculinity. Gary Cooper gets down on his knees and begs, which spawned a response from John Ford in Rio Bravo where John Wayne couldn’t possibly ask for help. The film that captured my love for this old Hollywood genre and undoubtedly one its best representatives.

338. A Taxing Woman (1987)

Dir: Juzo Itami (1)

DP: Yonezo Maeda (1)

Editor: Akira Suzuki (1)

Writer: Juzo Itami (1)

Starring: Nobuko Miyamoto (1), Tsutomu Yamazaki (1), Masahiro Tsugawa (1)

Composer: Toshiyuki Honda (1)

Country: Japan (19)

Genre: Comedy (21)

Juzo Itami has this incredibly hilarious knack for taking mundane subjects and extracting all the glorious bits of funny out. It helps to have the perfectly charming Nobuko Miyamoto, whose childlike imposition makes all her hardened tax duties feel like a breeze, while holding onto her adolescent outlook. Only Juzo Itami could make a film this funny about taxes.

337. Man on the Moon (1999)

Dir: Milos Forman (1)

DP: Anastas M. Nichos (1)

Editor: Adam Boome (1)

Writer: Scott Alexander (1), Larry Karaszewski (1)

Starring: Jim Carrey (1), Danny Devito (1), Courtney Love (1), Paul Giamatti (1)

Composer: Michael Stipe (1)

Country: USA (78)

Genre: Comedy (22)

Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman were cut from the same cloth. Share the same sensibilities and benign and bewildering sense of humor that made most uncomfortable, but for those with those same sensibilities, fall in love with his act. Milos Forman’s Man in the Moon captures this all through Carrey’s ravishing portrayal of his boyhood idol. It’s as uncomfortable as one would expect, and wants people to float in those uncomfortable feelings before making it back around to humor – as Kaufman would’ve liked it.

336. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Dir: Victor Fleming (1)

DP: Ernest Haller (3)

Editor: Hal C. Kern (1), James E. Newcom (1)

Writer: Ben Hecht (2), Margaret Mitchell (1), Sidney Howard (1), John Van Druten (1)

Starring: Vivian Leigh (1), Clark Gable (1), Olivia de Havilland (1), Leslie Howard (2), Hattie McDaniel (1), Thomas Mitchell (2)

Composer: Max Steiner (4)

Country: USA (79)

Genre: Epic (1), War (13), Romance (17)

The grand war epic that swept the United States off its feet in the first half of the 20th century. An incredibly popular book spawned the theater boom and a cultural significant moment in film. Outside of its historical significance, Victor Flemming somehow managed to take the broad character avenues of the novel and make them work in one four-hour film. The production design, costuming, cinematography, and most importantly, the performances are all marvelous. A sprawling epic that has us still admiring it today.

335. Jaws (1975)

Dir: Steven Spielberg (4)

DP: Bill Butler (1)

Editor: Verna Fields (1)

Writer: Peter Benchley (1), Carl Gottlieb (1)

Starring: Roy Scheider (3), Richard Dreyfuss (2), Robert Shaw (1)

Composer: John Williams (4)

Country: USA (80)

Genre: Horror (15) 

The Blockbuster of all blockbusters. Jaws, on the surface, is a simple narrative lacking layers or innovation, but Spielberg’s precision elevates this B-movie plot into one of the most well renowned films ever made. The reputation it garnered over the years has cemented its status as a giant in the industry and Spielberg the visionary that made swathes of families drive to the movies during the hot summer heat. A fantastic film that hits all the right spots for all sorts of audiences. 

334. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Dir: Irvin Kershner (1)

DP: Peter Suschitzky (1)

Editor: George Lucas (1), Paul Hirsch (1), Marcia Lucas (1), T.M. Christopher (1)

Writer: George Lucas (1), Leigh Brackett (1), Lawrence Kasdan (1)

Starring: Mark Hamill (1), Harrison Ford (1), Carrie Fisher (1), Alec Guinness (2)

Composer: John Williams (5)

Country: USA (81)

Genre: Sci-fi (7), Fantasy (7)

Many point to Spielberg’s Jaws as the birthplace of the modern American blockbuster (including myself), but Star Wars is what sent movie fandom into the stratosphere. The Empire Strikes Back is so memorable in the context of the original trilogy because George Lucas allowed the dark side to fester and be explored. It’s Darth Vader’s film and that’s what makes it so special.

333. Manila in the Claws of Light (1975)

Dir: Lino Brocka (1)

DP: Mike de Leon (1), Clodualdo del Mundo Jr. (1)

Editor: Ike Jarlego Jr. (1), 

Writer: Clodualdo del Mundo Jr (1), Edgardo Reyes (1)

Starring: Hilda Koronel (1), Bembol Roco (1), Lou Salvador Jr (1)

Composer: Max Jocson (1)

Country: Philippines (1)

Genre: Drama (50), Mystery (10)

A beautiful film about the past, present, and future of trying to live a comfortable life under enormous economic and societal stress in Manilla. A political allegory that succeeds in displaying the depredations in the urban layer that occupy the social outlook of the people it’s depicting. A film that’s honest to those people and their small, grand melodrama of life. Lino Brocka’s poetic touch with the natural lighting and general hustle and bustle of the city makes the immersion feel real and the audience connected 

332. Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

Dir: Sidney Lumet (1)

DP: Ron Fortunato (1)

Editor: Tom Swartwout (1)

Writer: Kelly Masterson (1)

Starring: Phillip Seymour Hoffman (2), Ethan Hawke (1), Albert Finney (1), Marisa Tomei (1)

Composer: Carter Burwell (4)

Country: USA (82)

Genre: Thriller (16), Crime (9)

Sidney Lumet, in his final film, drove his characters through the mud with Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead. A overwhelmingly tense and despicable thrill ride that pushes these characters into the deepest and darkest avenues of their subconscious. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is terrifyingly cruel with his shocking portrayal of the devil feigning his humanity. It’s an impossible film to grapple with due to the unpredictable nature of this story.

331. The Plumber (1979)

Dir: Peter Weir (1)

DP: David Sanderson (1)

Editor: Gerald Turney-Smith (1)

Writer: Peter Weir (1)

Starring: Ivar Kants (1), Judy Morris (1)

Country: Australia (1)

Genre: Horror (16)

On the surface, Ivar Kants is a polite gentleman that’s just doing you a service, but a deeper inspection reveals all the grime and filth he hides away. A horror film from Peter Weir that picks at your anxiety rather than rushes you with that singular feeling of terror. A slow-burn horror that compounds the stress in each scene as the hopelessness of Judy Morris’s situation never seems to release. A simple, one-room horror that’s pervasive to the senses, and attacks you in a place of comfort – your subconscious, or in this case, the plumbing in your apartment. It conjures up the hidden away fears of personal invasion in better ways than any horror film I’ve ever seen.

330. Hour of the Wolf (1968)

Dir: Ingmar Bergman (2)

DP: Sven Nykvist (2)

Editor: Ulla Ryghe (2)

Writer: Ingmar Bergman (2)

Starring: Max Von Sydow (2), Liv Ullmann (2), Gertrud Fridh (1)

Composer: Lars Johan Werle (1)

Country: Sweden (2)

Genre: Horror (17)

The moody overcast overtones, distinct composition in the cinematography, the unique personalities at play, and the rushing wind sound design that lingers over the narrative. Bergman’s film is absolutely remarkable, with harrowing atmospherics and a penetratingly provocative storyline based on mistrust. A masterclass in tone.

329. Son of Saul (2015)

Dir: Laszlo Nemes (1)

DP: Matyas Erdely (1)

Editor: Matthieu Tapponier (1)

Writer: Clara Royer (1)

Starring: Geza Rohrig (1),  Levante Molner (1), Urs Rechn (1)

Composer: Laszlo Melis (1)

Country: Hungary (2)

Genre: Drama (51), War (14)

Perspective driven filmmaking done in a literal sense as Son of Saul places you directly in the shoes of prison inmate Geza Rohrig as he tries to survive a concentration camp. The hyper focused tracking method of shooting the film has never been done this effectively and from a peripheral perspective, we experience the horror of the holocaust as one in the camp would. It has no exposition, meaningful character or plot development, and doesn’t have a second of exposition, it’s all the experience from one man’s limited perspective, but through that we see it all.

328. The Captain (2017)

Dir: Robert Schwentke (1)

DP: Florian Ballhaus (1)

Editor: Michael Czarnecki (1)

Writer: Robert Schwentke (1)

Starring: Max Hubacher (1), Milan Peschel (1), Frderick Lau (1)

Composer: Martin Todsharow (1)

Country: Germany (3)

Genre: War (15)

One of the most underseen films on the entire list, Robert Schwentke’s Wartime stroll through Germany imitating a captain in high command is a bleak thriller with a dark comedy element connecting the harsher scenes together. It has an unbelievably gorgeous aesthetic with Florian Ballhaus (Michael Ballhaus’s son) black-and-white cinematography that speaks to the calamitous feeling that hangs over the narrative. The visuals are both surreal and grounded in the horror of the holocaust. An enveloping experience that examines the causes of oppression and our willingness to accept it.

327. Fail Safe (1964)

Dir: Sidney Lumet (2)

DP: Gerald Hirschfield (1)

Editor: Ralph Rosenblum (1)

Writer: Eugene Burdick (1), Harvey Wheeler (1), Walter Bernstein (1)

Starring: Henry Fonda (1), Walter Matthau (1), Fritz Weaver (1), Larry Hagman (1)

Country: USA (83)

Genre: Thriller (17), Drama (52)

The fear of a nuclear winter was so palpable and real during the mid-1960s that filmmakers had no choice but to try their hand at the subject. And out came Fail Safe, a consequential take from deeply contemplative director, Sidney Lumet, making this partially a character study of the mental state of a president in this situation (Henry Fonda) and a procedural look at what happens in the war room. Drenched in sweat thriller with implications that involve the entire human species. Get your tickets!

326. Ed Wood (1994)

Dir: Tim Burton (1)

DP: Stefan Czapsky (2)

Editor: Chris Lebenzon (1)

Writer: Rudolph Grey (1), Scott Alexander (2), Larry Karaszewski (2)

Starring: Johnny Depp (1), Martin Landau (1), Sarah Jessica Parker (1), Patricia Arquette (1), Bill Murray (2)

Composer: Howard Shore (4)

Country: USA (84)

Genre: Comedy (23), Drama (53)

An incredibly endearing story focused on the neverending will and passion of a creativz regardless of talent or skill. Ed Wood, while laughed at in some circles, is beloved by many others who find his D-movie style to be full of creative integrity and imagination without the wherewithal to accomplish the vision. Tim Burton’s depiction comes from a place of love and adoration and he nevers turns Wood into a caricature, but a full-life breathing person with immense passion. We see that in Johnny Depp’s eccentricities and the zany black-and-white visual style. One of the best films on the filmmaking process.

325. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

Dir: John Cassavetes (1)

DP: Mitch Breit (1)

Editor: Tom Cornwell (1)

Writer: John Cassavetes (1)

Starring: Ben Gazzara (2), Timothy Carey (2), Seymour Cassel (1)

Composer: Bo Harwood (1)

Country: USA (85)

Genre: Thriller (18), Crime (10)

John Cassavetes films don’t have a rhythm or structure that aligns with any preconceived notions on what a story should look like. In Killing of a Chinese Bookie, it flows to Ben Gazzara’s anxiety or slow moving motivations, but has little to offer in terms of structure. It’s mucky, lacking morality, and a part of human nature that’s unnatural to the rest of the world, but Cassavetes doesn’t want you to move in, he just wants you to spend some time in this space and through that nonchalance immersion is born.

324. Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

Dir: John Frankenheimer (3)

DP: Burnett Guffey (1), John Alton (1)

Editor: Edward Mann (1)

Writer: Thomas E. Gaddis (1), Guy Trosper (1)

Starring: Burt Lancaster (2), Karl Madden (1), Thelma Ritter (1)

Composer: Elmer Bernstein (2)

Country: USA (86)

Genre: Prison Drama (2)

A paint drying slow prison drama without any of the genre tropes or cliches, that tells an unbelievably true and empathetic story of a killer’s return to humanity. Burt Lancaster is unreal in this performance, showing a hardened exterior with a tender interior that are often at ends with each other. The dichotomy in his delivery is felt so naturally and speaks to one regaining a sense of self, even when confined to small, barely livable spaces. It’s heartfelt and meaningful, even if his life is treated as anything but meaningful.

323. Z (1969)

Dir: Costa-Gavras (1)

DP: Raoul Coutard (2)

Editor: François Bonnot (3)

Writer: Vasilis Vasilikos (1)

Starring: Yves Montand (2), Irene Papas (1), Jean-Louis Trintignant (1), Jacques Perrin (1)

Composer: Mikis Theodorakis (1)

Country: France (14)

Genre: Political Drama (7)

Z is a fascinating film with the climax right at the start of the film – the fallout of a political assassination and the maddening search for answers that only puts those seeking truth in danger. A powerful statement about the wide reaching arm of government and the despicable intent to silence any opposing voices. Costa-Gavras treats this like a procedural from a compositional and framing perspective, and it invokes the strongest feelings out of this screenplay.

322. Elmer Gantry (1960)

Dir: Richard Brooks (2)

DP: John Alton (2)

Editor: Marjorie Fowler (1)

Writer: Sinclair Lewis (1)

Starring: Burt Lancaster (3), Jean Simmons (3), Arthur Kennedy (1)

Composer: Andre Previn (1)

Country: USA (87)

Genre: Drama (54)

Elmer Gantry, although bathed in the religious lighting and over-the-top preacher style delivery, is a mucky film that deals with those taking advantage of people wanting to be good. Lancaster is a revelation as the hypocruful pastor. His hedonistic lifestyle mashes headfirst into the pious arms of Jean Simmons mother Teresa-like portrayal and this devil hidden in sheep’s clothing forms. Brooks deals in the abstract of Sinclair’s novel and Lancaster captures that duality at the center.

321. Bad Timing (1980)

Dir: Nicholas Roeg (1)

DP: Anthony B. Richmond (1)

Editor: Tony Lawson (1)

Writer: Yale Udoff (1)

Starring: Art Garfunkel (1), Theressa Russell (1), Harvey Keitel (3)

Composer: Richard Hartley (1)

Country: United Kingdom (18)

Genre: Drama (43), Mystery (11)

Tony Lawson’s editing in Bad Timing is immaculate – a combination of great montage editing with a great soundtrack and sequences editing that speaks to the complexities of these characters. Roeg films seem to always emphasize what a cut can do to a scene and is what incorporates his visual flare and provocative narrative style. Theressa Russell is sensational in an outburst of a lead role across Art Garfunkel.

320. Paris, Texas (1984)

Dir: Wim Wenders (1)

DP: Robby Müller (1)

Editor: Peter Przygodda (1)

Writer: Sam Shepard (1), L.M. Kit Carson (1)

Starring: Harry Dean Stanton (2), Natassja Kinski (1), Dean Stockwell (1), Hunter Carson (1)

Composer: Ry Cooder (1)

Country: USA (88)

Genre: Drama (44)

The loss of memory, focus, family, love, and connection to the world. Wim Wenders Paris Texas is a complex journey back to self, an almost biblical-like figure comes from the dirt of the Texas desert and finds his way back to understanding. A visually stunning film with amazing wide angle cinematography and an emphasis on primary colors that speak to the main character’s mental state. Harry Dean Stanton, with the puzzled look on his face, is the perfect vehicle to experience this benign story through.

319. Crumb (1994)

Dir: Terry Zwigoff (1)

DP: Maryse Alberti (1)

Editor: Victor Livingston (1)

Writer: Terry Zwigoff (1)

Starring: Robert Crump (1)

Composer: David Boeddinghaus (1)

Country: USA (89)

Genre: Documentary (4)

Terry Zwigoff, an often misaligned creative mind with many facets and interests, created a documentary about one of his friends and 1980s cartoon icon and weirdo, Robert Crumb. Only Zwigoff could’ve captured what makes Crumb such a fascinating case study and the dichotomy between his nerdy, isolated personality and his bold and brazen artistic endeavors that make him up as a person. If you love characters like Crumb, who are fraught with complexities and a contentious streak, this is the documentary. One of my favorite documentaries ever because of its simplicity and genuinely interesting subject.

318. The Magician (1958)

Dir: Ingmar Bergman (3)

DP: Gunnar Fischer (1)

Editor: Oscar Rosander (1)

Writer: Ingmar Bergman (3)

Starring: Max von Sydow (3), Gunnar Bjornstrand (1), Ingrid Thulin (1), Bibi Andersson (1), Erland Josephson (1)

Composer: Erik Nordgren (1)

Country: Sweden (3)

Genre: Drama (45)

The Magician, much like other Bergman films, explores the duality of his lead played splendidly by Max von Sydow – as his magician character toils with faith, reason, and the role his audience plays in his act. Sydow’s a self-referential version of Bergman and his answer to critics that lambasted him as a stage director. It’s a concealing bit of writing that hides all true intentions making every interaction indelible.

317. Wake in Fright (1971)

Dir: Ted Kotcheff (1)

DP: Brian West (1)

Editor: Anthony Buckley (1)

Writer: Evan Jones (1), Kenneth Cook (1)

Starring: Gary Bond (1), Donald Pleasence (1),  Chips Rafferty (1), Jack Thompson (1)

Composer: John Scott (1)

Country: Australia (2)

Genre: Thriller (19)

Wake in Fright is such a dirty, sweaty, and smelly looking film that it does require taking a shower after watching. Kotcheff’s vision for this goes off the proverbial rails as a schoolteacher on vacation stumbles through hell and back. It’s a vision of a less welcoming Australian countryside littered with drunkards, casually violent borderline criminals, and a debilitating culture that rots everything it touches. Every pint of beer Gary Bond forces down, the bizarre world around him seems to open up.

316. 3-Iron (2004)

Dir: Kim Ki-duk (1)

DP: Jang Seong-back (1)

Editor: Kim Ki-duk (1)

Writer: Kim Ki-duk (1)

Starring: Lee Seung-yeon (1), Jee Hee (1), Kwon Hyuk-ho (1)

Composer: Slvian (1)

Country: South Korea (8)

Genre: Drama (46), Romance (18)

Kim Ki-duk’s stealthy and deranged sensibilities are at peak display in his oddly titled 3-Iron – a different type of film that plays like a genre film but has a much more contemplative and emotional side. It’s hard to accurately describe this film succinctly in one paragraph because of all the many strange factors involved, but it’s one of the weirdest and unique Korean films ever made. 

315. Charulata (1964)

Dir: Satyajit Ray (3)

DP: Subrata Mitra (2)

Editor: Dulal Dutta (3)

Writer: Satyajit Ray (3), Rabindranath Tagore (1)

Starring: Soumitra Chatterjee (2), Madhabi Mukherjee (1), Shailen Mukherjee (1), Gitali Roy (1)

Composer: Satyajit Ray (3)

Country: India (3)

Genre: Drama (46), Romance (19)

Charulata is such a delicate film, like Satyajit Ray picking a rose petal from a flower, and Madhabi Mukherjee is that flower. A profound look at creativity and talent and where it’s inspired and originates. A powerful story about a dying way of industry as well as a complex forbidden romance that can never be. It’s broad in the scope of the story, but wonderfully intimate between Charulata and Soumitra Chatterjee, who together have such a fiery chemistry. Heartbreakingly sad and telling of the role of these women in society.

314. Pale Flower (1964)

Dir: Masahiro Shinoda (1)

DP: Masao Kosugi (1)

Editor: Yoshi Sugihara (2)

Writer: Masahiro Shinoda (1), Shintaro Ishihara (1), Masaru Baba (1)

Starring: Ryo Ikebe (1), Mariko Kaga (1), Takashi Fujiki (1)

Composer: Toru Takemitsu (1), Yuji Takahashi (1)

Country: Japan (20)

Genre: Drama (47), Crime (11), Romance (20)

The first Shinoda film on the list is a penetratingly dark and morally ambiguous thrill ride. A gangster played by Ryo Ikebe is led down a bizarre path by a hedonistic, dangerous femme fetale that has no utter regard for human life. She seeks pleasure in all its forms and gives in to all temptation – a wonderfully blurry character that leaves you  questioning every element of the film. It’s one of Shinoda’s best genre films.

313. Being There (1979)

Dir: Hal Ashby (1)

DP: Caleb Deschanel (1)

Editor: Don Zimmerman (1)

Writer: Robert C. Jones (1), Jerry Kosinski (1)

Starring: Peter Sellers (2), Shirley MacLaine (2), Melvin Douglas (2), Jack Warden (2)

Composer: Johnny Mandell (1)

Country: USA (90)

Genre: Comedy (24)

Hal Ashby has a sunny disposition on life and even when dealing with the harsh realities, he makes it feel like a vacation for the characters and the audience. Peter Sellers is marvelous in this unsuspecting, adolescent role filled with a childlike discovery of people, places and things. It’s the story of the sheltered man forced to integrate into regular society, as his naivety in his later years allows him to keep his delusional outlook on living. Heartwarming and hilarious, Sellers once again is able to paint a broad, nuanced look at his character that creates a lasting bond.

312. Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Dir: Ernst Lubitsch (1)

DP: Victor Milner (1)

Writer: Samson Raphaelson (1) Grover Jones (1), Ernst Lubitsch (1)

Starring: Miriam Hopkins (1), Kay Francis (1), Herbert Marshall (1)

Composer: W. Franke Harling (1)

Country: USA (91)

Genre: Pre-Code (1), Crime (12), Romance (21)

Ernst Lubitsch’s morally absurd story of a world of thieves, all loitering around a young heiress played fascinatingly by Miriam Hopkins, is an abnormally stylish film filled to the brim with betrayal. It’s the hunter mingling with its prey and finding something worthwhile during the hunt…a human center. Herbert Marshall and Kay Francis are wonderfully keen on each other and bring this experience full-circle with their dubious activities, but it’s the conscious choice from Hopkins’ character that makes this great

311. Breathless (1960)

Dir: Jean-Luc Godard (2)

DP: Raoul Coutard (3)

Editor: Cécil Decugis (1)

Writer: François Truffaut (2), Jean-Luc Godard (2)

Starring: Jean-Paul Belmondo (1), Jean Seberg (1)

Composer: Martial Solal (1)

Country: France (15)

Genre: Drama (48), Crime (13)

Jean-Paul Belmondo thinks of himself as the ultimate bad boy and conveys an extreme sense of confidence around him. Jean Seberg sees through that facade and his boyish and idealistic crime spree and vacates. The essence of Breathless comes in the brief conversations between those points, discussing purpose, happiness, bravery, cowardice, and if one is truly free. The writing is so naturalistic and the conversations go much deeper than the surface level discussion. A fascinatingly unique film from one-of-a-kind mind of Godard

310. The Leopard (1963)

Dir: Luchino Visconti (1)

DP: Giuseppe Rotunno (2)

Editor: Mario Serandrei (1)

Writer: Luchino Visconti (1), Giuseppe Tomasi Di (1), Suso Cecchi d’Amico (1), Massimo Franciosa (1), Enrico Medioli (1)

Starring: Burt Lancaster (4), Alain Delon (2), Claudia Cardinale (1), Paola Stoppa (1), Terrence Hill (2)

Composer: Nino Rota (4)

Country:  Italy (3)

Genre: Epic (2), Drama (49)

A towering novel that could only have been adapted by Luchino Visconti. The setting of magnificent ballroom, mansions, and torn down city’s gives this film its epic feeling conveying the whole of Sicily dreams and nightmares. A story that spans decades and contemplates the fading memories of old Sicily and the eternal, undying idea of its royalty. It places the audience at the center of these two clashing ideologies, as the old die out and memories fade. Burt Lancaster shows his excessive range as an actor playing the lustrous Leopard figure and delivers a special performance.

309. Police Story (1985)

Dir: Jackie Chan (1)

DP: Yiu-Tsou Cheung (1)

Editor: Peter Cheung (1)

Writer: Jackie Chan (1), Edward Tang (1), 

Starring: Jackie Chan (1), Maggie Cheung (1), Brigette Lin (1), Bill Tung (1), Chor Yeun (1)

Composer: Michael Lai Siu-Tin (1)

Country: China (4)

Genre: Martial Arts (3), Action (2)

The greatest action film ever made. Period. Jackie Chan takes stunt work to another level in Police Story. Jackie constantly injured himself during the shoot for this film because the stunts were not only dangerous, but totally insane. Every choreographed action sequence from the opening car chase to the mall sequence is executed to perfection. Jackie Chan’s physical ability will leave your jaw dropped at certain points. Add in Michael Lai Siu-Tin’s amazing score and you have a perfect movie.

308. Paprika (2006)

Dir: Satoshi Kon (1)

DP: Michiya Katou (1)

Editor: Takeshi Seyama (3)

Writer: Satoshi Kon (1), Yasutaka Tsutsui (1), Seishi Minakami (1)


Composer: Megumi Hayashibara (1), Toru Emori (2)

Country: Japan (21)

Genre: Animation (7), Sci-fi (8)

Satoshi Kon was taken from us far too early in his life. His creative mind worked on a much broader and expansive scale than the average writer or director. Paprika is an excellent example of the sheer imagination of Satoshi Kon and his ability to bring his ideas to life. Paprika is a mind-bending, medium entering thriller that blends dreams and reality and the Takeshi Seyama editing expresses this duality precisely. The animation itself is overflowing with vibrancy that it allows a character as unique As Paprika to fit right in. A film has inspired countless numbers of filmmakers working today.

307. The Public Enemy (1931)

Dir: William A. Wellman (1)

DP: Devereaux Jennings (1)

Editor: Edward M. McDermott (1)

Writer: Kubec Glasmon (1), John Bright (1)

Starring: James Cagney (2), Jean Harlow (1), Edward Woods (1), Joan Bondell (1), Donald Cook (1)

Country: USA (92)

Genre: Crime (14)

Any doubt in your mind that James Cagney is one of the greatest will dissipate when you watch his sheer ferocity, demeanor change, wise-guy delivery, and his softer side reserved for his momma in The Public Enemy. A story about the unfortunate souls who grow up poor in the slums and the life they are forced to live to venture out into the world. Wellman’s direction emphasizes this duality of man and the fact that crime creeps into every part of a man’s life all the way back to his family. Cagney and Edward Woods are both fantastic in this role as Jean Harlow brings it full circle.

306. Whiplash (2014)

Dir: Damien Chazelle (1)

DP: Sharone Meir (1)

Editor: Tom Cross (1)

Writer: Damien Chazelle (1)

Starring: Miles Teller (1), JK Simmons (1)

Composer: Justin Hurwitz (1)

Country: USA (93)

Genre: Drama (50)

Damien Chazelle took a simple idea and made it truly sing with effective use of sharp editing, a direct screenplay, and a distinct visual style. These three elements combined with what Miles Teller and JK Simmons are doing on screen fit the narrative like a glove and not one second of this experience feels wasted. Chazelle’s stage direction, pacing and intensity have become almost synonymous with Whiplash with every second of run time holding you in that heat

305. Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Dir: Billy Wilder (4)

DP: John F. Seitz (1)

Editor: Arthur P. Schmidt (2)

Writer: Billy Wilder (4), Charles Brackett (2), D.M. Marshman Jr. (1)

Starring: William Holden (1), Gloria Swanson (1), Eric von Stroheim (1)

Composer: Franz Waxman (3)

Country: USA (94)

Genre: Drama (51)

A great entry film for burgeoning cinephiles, Sunset Boulevard expresses the vanity of Hollywood in such a precise manner that it almost feels personal. Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond is one of, if not the most recognizable and iconic Hollywood performances ever given. A film about the dying silent film era and the stars we left behind for talkies that drive a woman to literal insanity. One of Wilder’s darker films that feels closer to a noir than a typical drama, William Holden’s character slots into the morally ambiguous role and deciphering his standing with Desmond is at the heart of the film – ravishing performances through huge, brightly lit scenes and dour, isolated ones. A true gem from Billy Wilder.

304. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring (2003)

Dir: Kim Ki-duk (2)

DP: Dong-hyeon Baek (1)

Editor: Kim Ki-duk (2)

Writer: Kim Ki-duk (2)

Starring: Oh Yeong-su (1), Kim Ki-duk (1), Kim Young-min (1), Seo Jae-kyeong (1)

Composer: Park Ji-Woong (1)

Country: South Korea (9)

Genre: Drama (52)

The mental discipline of a buddhist monk, living outside the confines of society on an isolated pond in a monastery, shot beautifully in the hazy Korean wilderness, shows that discipline in a visual sense. Kim Ki-duk’s vision for this film is held by the mental acuity and will power to resist temptation. It almost works entirely as a silent film with the incredible compositions of this secluded lake make up the narrative. It’s a film that not only expresses these beliefs but challenges them directly with the younger monk character. It’s  an inner journey to realization and acceptance that isn’t easy to grapple with from a moral perspective. One of the most gorgeous films on the entire list.

303. The Favorite (2018)

Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos (2)

DP: Robbie Ryan (1)

Editor: Yorgos Mavropsaridis (3)

Writer: Tony McNamara (1), Deborah Davis (1)

Starring: Olivia Colman (1), Emma Stone (1), Rachel Weisz (1), Nicholas Holt (1)

Country: United Kingdom (19)

Genre: Dark Comedy (4)

The Favourite takes all my favorite elements of Yorgos Lanthimos work and combines them into one darkly comedic period piece with a litany of great performances sprinkled throughout the entire cast. It’s cruel and mean-spirited but biting with the comedy and underhanded in the direction. The fish-eye cinematography from Robbie Ryan condenses the feeling of anxiety in this massive manor to bute size character pieces as the walls seemingly push in on the queen and her subjects. Olivia Colman delivers a masterclass performance by playing the character of the Queen as wilfully unaware but all powerful.

302. The Organizer (1963)

Dir: Mario Monicelli (1)

DP: Giuseppe Rotunno (3)

Editor: Ruggero Mastroianni (2)

Writer: Mario Monicelli (1)

Starring: Marcello Mastroianni (1), Renato Salvatori (1), Annie Girardot (1), Folco Lulli (1), Gabriella Giorgelli (1)

Composer: Carlo Rustichelli (1)

Country: Italy (4)

Genre: Satire (4), Drama (53)

Narratives with main character’s that involve themselves in something far beyond their capabilities have such a relatable quality to them and Marcello Mastroianni’s standing up for unions and mistreated workers in The Organizer is one of the best. The intensity of the situation is palpable and Mastroianni always seems to be dripping in sweat, just barely making sense to keep the charade going. However, his character is so endearingly real with his desire to help but no experience on what needs to be done. The writing is splendid and the satire biting.

301. House (1977)

Dir: Nobuhiko Obayashi (1)

DP: Yoshitaka Sakamoto (1)

Editor: Nobuo Ogawa (1)

Writer: Chigumi Obayashi (1), Chiho Katsura (1)

Starring: Kimiko Ikegami (1), Yoko Midamida (1), Miki Jinbo (1), Kumiko Ohba (1)

Composer: Mickie Yoshino (1)

Country: Japan (22)

Genre: Horror (18)

House is the queen of weird cinema and a pioneering film of the avant-garde Japanese horror movement. The overtones of a storybook aesthetic and unique editing from Ogawa allow the audience to sink into this strange world and accept all the utter insanity of it. It’s a haunted fable with a wide variety of techniques used to convey the universe – stop-motion animation, hand-drawn animation, picture-in-picture edits, and many more. The final act is a real treat for horror fans and there’s nothing else that can replicate the experience.