The Best Damn 501 Films Ever Made: Part Five (300-250)

Part 1Part 2Part 3 Part 4Part 6 Part 7Part 8

Author note: Hope everyone reading this is having a great fucking week!  We’ve made it tp the top 250 and I can’t be more excited. As for today’s piece, plenty of outstanding cinema to be had here.  Ingmar Bergman makes his presence felt with five films in part five. Japanese films from Oshima, Itami, Kurosawa, and others. Many challenging films from some of the most challenging directors – Lumet, Russell, Scorsese, etc. I love making these list because even the lower end is filled with so many excellent cinema experiences 

300. The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

Dir: Martin Scorsese (3)

DP: Michael Ballhaus (2)

Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker (3)

Writer: Martin Scorsese (1), Paul Schrader (1), Jay Cocks (1), Nikp Kazantzakis (1)

Starring: Willem Dafoe (3), Harvey Keitel (4), Barbara Hershey (1), Harry Dean Stanton (3), David Bowie (1), Verna Bloom (2)

Composer: Peter Gabriel (1)

Country: USA (95)

Genre: Drama (54)

Martin Scorsese directly challenged the sacred Jesus of Nazareth story in The Last Temptation of Christ using vulnerability and melodrama in the form of temptation to explore his humanity. Scorsese’s vision is overtly provocative with Ballhaus creating incredibly striking images behind the camera, representing the dramatic urges of sin. The journey plot lends itself to bold direction and grand performance – especially from the lead Willem Dafoe, cast perfectly as Jesus. The Last Temptation is Scorsese testing the limits of provocation and it works to great success.

299. The Fountain (2006)

Dir: Darren Aronofsky (1)

DP: Matthew Libatique (1)

Editor: Jay Rabinowitz (1)

Writer: Darren Aronofsky (1), Ari Handel (1)

Starring: Hugh Jackman (1), Rachel Weisz (3), Ellen Burstyn (1), Mark Margolis (1)

Composer: Clint Mansell (1)

Country: USA (96)

Genre: Sci-fi (9)

Darren Aronofsky can only make films in one type of way and even in The Fountain’s profound journey through time and space, it still maintains Aronofsky’s hectic pacing and explosive characters. It’s outrageously ambitious in the approach and in the reach, it finds semblance of meaning. Aronofsky never lets you rest and any moment of comfortability immediately dissipates into fear and confusion. Convoluted and a little bonkers, The Fountain is the culmination of Aronofsky’s style and this illustrious journey only works with his touch.

298. The Lord of Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

Dir: Peter Jackson (1)

DP:  Andrew Lesnie (1)

Editor: John Gilbert (1)

Writer: Peter Jackson (1), J.R.R. Tolkien (1), Fran Walsh (1)

Starring: Elijah Wood (1), Ian McKellan (1), Viggo Mortensen (1), John-Rhys Davies (1), Orlando Bloom (1), Liv Tyler (1), Sean Astin (1)

Composer: Howard Shore (5)

Country: New Zealand (1)

Genre: Fantasy (8), Epic (2)

In the realm of great adaptations of renowned works of fiction, Peter Jackson does a marvelous job with J.R.R. Tolkien’s sprawling fantasy epic and captures the wider scope of the world at large. Fellowship of the Rings is a splendid start to this journey, focusing on the characters rather than the world and getting to spend a full m movies worth of time with  Ian McKellan as Gandolf, Viggo Mortensen as Aarogrn, and Sean Bean in the role he was born to play. Plus, there’s 20 minutes of Hobbit production design – an all-time great production design job.

297. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

Dir: Peter Jackson (2)

DP: Andrew Lesnie (2)

Editor: Jamie Selkirk (1)

Writer: Peter Jackson (2), J.R.R Tolkien (2), Fran Walsh (2)

Starring: Elijah Wood (2), Ian McKellan (2), Viggo Mortensen (2), John-Rhys Davies (2), Orlando Bloom (2), Liv Tyler (2), Sean Astin (2), Domhall Gleason (2)  Christopher Lee (2)

Composer: Howard Shore (6)

Country: New Zealand (2)

Genre: Fantasy (9), Epic (3)

If Fellowship is known for characters, Return of the King is known for its massive scale and the meaningful conclusion to Frodo’s arc. Return of the King is a modern day epic, flashing glorious visual effects that blend into the practical work seamlessly. No layer of the production is overlooked – from the best  of Howard Shore’s long career, to all the extras work to achieve this vision. Peter Jackson took on a mammoth task of adapting Lord of the Rings and he succeeded in every regard imaginable.

296. Lenny (1974)

Dir: Bob Fosse (1)

DP: Bruce Surtees (1)

Editor: Alan Heim (1)

Writer: Julian Barry (1)

Starring: Dustin Hoffman (1), Valerie Perrine (1), Jan Miner (1)

Composer: Ralph Burns (1)

Country: USA (97)

Genre: Drama (55)

Splattered all the hyperbole onto Bob Fosse’s name because that man was a miracle worker. A visionary of the highest artistic nature with a devilish sense of self deprecating humor and a pension for self-destruction in his leads. Dustin Hoffman, delivering arguably his best performance ever as Lenny, is an exhaustive contrarian that’s usually more interesting than funny as a comedian. Lenny’s lifestyle is captured in Alan Heim’s shining montage editing, communicating his lack of comprehension in every element of life. A perfect film for Fosse’s backwards sensibilities in both a visual and character sense.

295. Violence at Noon (1966)

Dir: Nagisa Oshima (1)

DP: Akira Takada (1)

Editor: Keiichi Uraoka (1)

Writer: Tsutomu Tamura (1)

Starring: Saeda Kawaguchi (1), Akiko Koyama (1), Kei Sato (1), Hideo Kanze (1)

Composer: Hikaru Hayashi (1)

Country: Japan (23)

Genre: Drama (56)

Director Nagisa Oshima’s introduction is warranted in the fact that he’s one of the most instinctual filmmakers on the entire list. In Violence at Noon, Oshima follows his senses and creates a picture rooted in his desire to be unconventional and the violence flows to his will. A discerning view of a sociopath, disturbingly played by Saeda Kawaguchi, that explores past basic reasoning of his criminology. Akira Takada’s hidden cinematography has an aura in the wilderness – a film that’s disproportionately dark in the character study.

294. The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou (2004)

Dir: Wes Anderson (2)

DP: Robert D. Yeoman (2)

Editor: David Moritz (1)

Writer: Wes Anderson (2), Noah Baumbach (2)

Starring: Bill Murray (3), Owen Wilson (3), Cate Blanchett (2), Anjelica Houston (2), Willem Dafoe (5), Jeff Goldblum (2)

Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh (1)

Country: USA (98)

Genre: Comedy (25), Drama (57)

Wes Anderson’s visual style is quite the spectacle in all the best ways. His style feels victorian with the structure and abundance of aesthetic choices making it stand out in discernible ways. In The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou, the comedy makes the ridiculous picture book look of the production design fit the tone of the narrative. Bill Murray’s casting takes this myopic yet inspired character and makes him endearing. However, it’s the Wes Anderson ensemble cast that makes this a classic, starting and ending with Willem Dafoe’s lovably obsessive second in command.

293. Woman in Witness Protection (1997)

Dir: Juzo Itami (2)

DP: Yonezo Maeda (2)

Editor: Akira Suzuki (1)

Writer: Juzo Itami (2)

Starring: Nobuko Miyamoto (2), Masahiko Nishimura (2), Kazuya Takahashi (2), Toru Emori (2)

Composer: Toshiyuki Honda (2)

Country: Japan (24)

Genre: Comedy (26), Drama (58)

Woman in Witness Protection isn’t Juzo Itami’s best film, but it’s most certainly his funniest. And damn near one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. The humor is a mix of playful tone blending into parody, then a satire of a strict procedural, but it’s nothing without Itami’s partnership with his lead, Nobuko Miyamoto, and her indelible spirit and double-sided delivery. A dynamic actor that perfectly adapts to all the bizarrely tones Itami throws at her – one of the all-time great actresses.

292. Rules of the Game (1939)

Dir: Jean Renoir (1)

DP: Jean Bachelet (1), Jacques Lemare (1), Jean-Paul Alphen (1), Alain Renoir (1)

Editor: Marthe Huguet (1), Marguerite Renoir (1)

Writer: Jean Renoir (1), Carl Koch (1)

Starring: Nore Gregor (1), Paulette Dubost (1), Mila Parely (1), Julian Carette (1)

Composer: Joseph Kosma (1)

Country: France (16)

Genre: Drama (59), Romance (22), Comedy (27)

Renoir’s provocative 1939 satire on France’s social structure, The Rules of the Game sets the groundwork of structuring the plot around an entire party rather than one lone protagonist. In fact, the film has no protagonist at all. Instead, it’s constantly moving, with characters coming in from the foreground, background, or from the side, all with different individual narratives and subplots It subtly tells the story through wide angle shots that capture all facets of a scene. All the actors are clearly acting in their own subplots, not distracted by the world around them. It plays similarly to a silent film – a towering achievement in early French cinema.

291. Sanjuro (1962)

Dir: Akira Kurosawa (6)

DP: Takao Saito (2), Fukuzo Koizumi (1)

Editor: Akira Kurosawa (3)

Writer: Akira Kurosawa (6), Hideo Oguni (2), Ryuzo Kikushima (2), Shugoro Yamamoto (1)

Starring: Toshiro Mifune (4), Tatsuya Nakadai (2), Keiju Kobayashi (1), Yuzo Kayama (1), Reiko Dan (1), Takashi Shimura (3)

Composer: Masaru Sato (2)

Country: Japan (25)

Genre: Drama (60), Comedy (28)

A companion piece to Akira Kurosawa’s infamous Yojimbo, he takes the same Toshiro Mifune characterization and places him in an unfamiliar environment and role. He’s forced into mentorship of young impressionable Samurai and the result of this dynamic is cinema gold. The film is filled with unbelievable compositions and some of the greatest use of blocking. Kurosawa is able to tell most of the story through compositions, tightly packing frames to meticulously place every actor in a frame. From a craft perspective, it’s remarkable work.

290. Barton Fink (1991)

Dir: Joel Coen (4)

DP: Roger Deakins (3)

Editor: Joel Coen (4), Ethan Coen (4)

Writer: Joel Coen (4), Ethan Coen (4)

Starring: John Turturro (1), John Goodman (2), Judy Davis (1), Michael Lerner (2), Tony Shalhoub (1), Jon Polito (3)

Composer: Carter Burwell (5)

Country: USA (99)

Genre: Comedy (29), Drama (61)

An underrated Coen brothers film – if ever that distinction could be made – is Barton Fink. The deepest dive into the Coen’s screenwriter psychology comes in the form of John Turturro’s neverending writer’s block, captured in Roger Deakins most exaggerated cinematography, that instills a hallucinatory element to the drama unfolding on screen with extreme angst and amusement. As the character falls victim to distraction, so do we, the viewer, and the dreamlike quality builds on Barton Fink’s anxiety. 

289. Boyhood (2014)

Dir: Richard Linklater (1)

DP: Lee Daniel (1), Shane F. Kelly (1)

Editor: Sandra Adair (1)

Writer: Richard Linklater (1)

Starring: Ellar Coltrane (1), Patricia Arquette (2), Ethan Hawke (2), Lorelei Linklater (1)

Country: USA (100)

Genre: Coming-of-age (4)

The 12-year Richard Linklater production that beautifully utilizes the natural process of aging to tell a universal story about life. Boyhood is Linklater at his most profound, communicating the unknowingness of growing into maturity from a young age. The uniqueness of the production allowed so many themes to be prevalent in Ellar Coltrane’s story, as each subsequent section only adds to the complexities. Outside of the shooting process, Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette are absolutely phenomenal and need to be mentioned. Inspired vision from Linklater that’s no gimmick but a fascinating way to tell a story.

288. Outrage (2010)

Dir: Takeshi Kitano (2)

DP: Katsumi Yanagjima (2)

Editor: Takeshi Kitano (2), Yoshinori Ota (1)

Writer: Takeshi Kitano (2)

Starring: Takeshi Kitano (2), Jun Kamimura (2), Tomakazu Miura (1), Soichiro Kitamura (1)

Composer: Keiichi Suzuki (1)

Country: Japan (26)

Genre: Yakuza (1)

Beat Kitano’s films are injected with a sense of urgency and madness from the jump and Outrage might be the film series that best exemplifies his eccentric style. Spitting anger coupled with high testosterone of the Yakuza and a brutally violent look to the violence, Outrage channels Kitano’s pension for madness into one explosive experience. It’s completely unhinged and Beat let’s his imagination fly off the handle. There’s never been a film with this many betrayals. And I’d be remiss not to mention Keiichi Suzuki’s synth-pop score that underlines the film’s tension.

287. The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001)

Dir: Joel Coen (5)

DP: Roger Deakins (4)

Editor: Joel Coen (6), Ethan Coen (6)

Writer: Joel Coen (6), Ethan Coen (6)

Starring: Billy Bob Thorton (1), Frances McDormand (3), Michael Badalucco (1), James Gandolfini (1), Scarlett Johansson (1), Jon Polito (4) , Richard Jenkins (2)

Composer: Carter Burwell (6)

Country: USA (101)

Genre: Noir (12)

When people ask me about Roger Deakins, I mention The Man Who Wasn’t There without much hesitation. Striking is too weak a word to describe his searing contrast black-and-white cinematography, playing a central theme in developing this surprisingly complex neo-noir. A film that on the surface plays by conventions, but pulls back reveals a nuanced character study of a complicated man. Billy Bob Thorton is surreal as he’s barely present in each interaction and characters seem to project everything onto him with no expectation for a retort. Cold, deadpan, stylish, and satirical – a little bit of everything that makes the Coen’s great.

286. Being John Malkovich (1999)

Dir: Spike Jonze (1)

DP: Lance Accord (2)

Editor: Eric Zumbrennen (1)

Writer: Charlie Kaufman (1)

Starring: John Cusack (1), John Malkovich (2), Camerine Diaz (1), Catherine Keener (1)

Composer: Carter Burwell (7)

Country: USA (102)

Genre: Drama (62)

Charlie Kaufman has elevated a great actor in John Malkovich into a God-like figure in Being John Malkovich. The most unconventional of unconventional films, using a person living in our reality, and placing the viewer in his breathing skull through a portal in a tiny, condensed office space. It’s uncomfortably funny with a pervasive feeling of Malkovich looming over you as you watch. The surreal tendencies of Spike Jonze lend itself to bizarre yet brilliant Kaufman script and he fully embraces the idea.

285. Mikey and Nicky (1976)

Dir: Elaine May (1)

DP: Lucien Ballard (2), Victor J. Kemper (3), Bernie Abrahamson (1), 

Editor: Sheldon Kahn (1), John Carter (1)

Writer: Elaine May (1)

Starring: Peter Falk (1), John Cassavetes (1), Ned Beatty (2)

Composer: John Strauss (1)

Country: USA (103)

Genre: Crime (15), Drama (63)

God, I love films like this one. That on first viewing seem to have no discernible qualities, characters you neither like but find repulsed by, and little plot to speak of but open up unconventional ideas through this lingering narrative structure. Peter Falk and John Cassavetes are stupidly entertaining together and this drunken stupor of a plot allows them to spend some quality time while the underlying duality of the situation makes you question every aspect of their friendship. Elaine May’s grimy realism only accentuates the best part of this misaligned friendship

284. Red Beard (1965)

Dir: Akira Kurosawa (7)

DP: Asakazu Nakai (4)

Editor: Akira Kurosawa (4)

Writer: Akira Kurosawa (7), Hideo Oguni (3), Ryuzo Kikushima (3), Masato Ide (1), Shugoro Yamamoto (2)

Starring: Toshiro Mifune (5), Yuzo Kayama (2), Tsutomu Yamazaki (3), Reiko Dan (2), Kyoko Kagawa (1)

Composer: Masaru Sato (3)

Country: Japan (27)

Genre: Drama (64)

Red Beard puts Toshiro Mifune back in a more docile, socially acceptable role, where he’s aged and filled with worldly wisdom. It’s not his normal eccentricities that make this performance stand out, but his strict, emotionless glare getting to the heart of the problem with answers rather than historically unaware depictions of radical characters. Red Beard is well respected and a saint to his community for his tireless dedication and Mifune captures that here. It’s a much slower examination of caring to the point of exhaustion but Mifune channels all of it in a stunning performance.

283. Se7en (1995)

Dir: David Fincher (2)

DP: Darius Khondji (1)

Editor: Richard Francis-Bruc (1)

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker (1)

Starring: Brad Pitt (1), Morgan Freeman (1), Kevin Spacey (1), Gwyneth Paltrow (1)

Composer: Howard Shore (6)

Country: USA (104)

Genre: Thriller (20)

David Fincher showcasing his meticulous level of detail and his extreme control over the atmosphere in Se7en. A film that is hard to qualify as any genre or thing with its blending approach to the narrative, combining recognizable genre elements but not in one cohesive structure that audiences can easily recognize. That’s what makes Se7en such a memorable experience, as the motive and meaning is evading. The dark overtones don’t distract from the performances Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman deliver on screen, but accentuate that angst the characters are feeling. Encroaching darkness on each shot.

282. Nashville (1975)

Dir: Robert Altman (3) 

DP: Paul Lohman (1)

Editor: Sidney Levin (1)

Writer: Joan Tewksbury 

Starring: Ronee Blakely (1), Keoth Carradine (1), David Arkin (1), Barbara Baxley (1), Ned Beatty (1), Karen Black (1), Shelly Duvall (1), Lily Tomlin (1), Jeff Goldblum (3), Henry Gibson (1)

Composer: Gary Busey (1), Ronee Blakely (1), Karen Black (1)

Country: USA (105)

Genre: Music (1), Political Drama (8)

Robert Altman’s sprawling ode to the country music genre that explores a recurring motif in Altman’s work – the American dream. Shot with no real character focused and densely packed with bodies in each shot, Nashville is far more of an experience than a narrative. The cinematography is hectic but catches all the insanity with beautifully choreographed sequences. The music itself is wonderful and all the individual performances produce truly great songs that mesh well with the scenery. It’s a dynamic film that continually adapts to bizarre situations and paints a portrait of America during the 1970s.

281. The Train (1964)

Dir: John Frankenheimer (5)

DP: Jean Tournier (1), Walter Wotittz (1)

Editor: David Bretherton (1) , Gabriel Rongier (1)

Writer: Walter Bernstein (2), Franklin Coen (1), Rose Valland (1), Frank.Davis (1)

Starring: Burt Lancaster (5), Paul Schofield (1), Jeanne Moreau (1), Suzanne Flon (2)

Composer: Maurice Jarre (3)

Country: France (17)

Genre: War (16), Action (3)

The Train is truly one of the greatest action thrillers ever made. A rousing and intelligent film that speaks to larger themes of human value and the value of culture. The action set pieces are mind-blowing with some incredible stunt work. Burt Lancaster is fantastic in the lead role bringing that trademark intensity. Frankenheimer, over his many years directing, established himself as the preeminent action director and The Train his best work in the genre.

280. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington 

Dir: Frank Capra (1)

DP: Joseph Walker (2)

Editor: Gene Havlick (1), Al Clark (1)

Writer: Lewis R. Foster (1), Sidney  Buchman (1)

Starring: James Stewart (1), Jean Arthur (1), Claude Rains (1), Thomas Mitchell (3)

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin (3), Ben Oakland (1), R.H. Bassett (1)

Country: USA (106)

Genre: Political Drama (9), Comedy (30)

A breakthrough for the boy wonder both on the screen and off as Jimmy Stewart’s magnificent and adolescent performance gave rise to one of the greatest careers ever to grace the industry. As for the film, it’s a riveting political drama, heavy on the themes that presents government as an attainable feat while attacking the principals it stands on. The boyish sensibilities don’t seem incisive, but provide a pretty damning critique of corrupt politics through a new perspective.

279. Holy Motors (2012)

Dir: Leos Carax (1)

DP: Caroline Champetier (1), Yves Cape (1)

Editor: Nelly Quettier (2)

Writer: Leos Carax (1)

Starring: Denis Lavant (1), Edith Scoob (1), Eva Mendes (1),  Kylie Minogue (1)

Composer: Akira Ifukube (1)

Country: France (18)

Genre: Drama  (65)

Holy Motors is a fascinating experience – a nameless, faceless man played eloquently by Denis Lavant, inhabits the role of different people in society, showing the many facets of that person and almost coming from a place of empathy. Carax’s approach is not empathetic in nature, but does provide a wealth of understanding that comes with narrative like this one. Avant-garde French cinema is difficult to comprehend but beautifully rewarding in the pursuit. A luscious aesthetic backs Levant’s incredible but strange lead performance

278. Persona (1966)

Dir: Ingmar Bergman (4)

DP: Sven Nykvist (3)

Editor: Ulla Ryghe (2)

Writer: Ingmar Bergman (4)

Starring: Bibi Andersson (2), Liv  Ullmann (3)

Composer: Lars Johan Werle (2)

Country: Sweden (4)

Genre: Drama (66)

Ingmar Bergman’s most renowned work, maybe save for The Seven Seal, comes in the conversational and dramatic overtones of Persona. A film bursting with immense passion that spills into every element of production. Deeply haunting in the exploration of these two women and the many themes of this narrative. The most important takeaway, however, is the unexplainable nature of this story and the emotional reckoning of these two incredible performances from Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann.

277. North by Northwest (1959)

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock (2)

DP: Robert Burks (2)

Editor: George Tomasini (1)

Writer: Ernest Lehman (1)

Starring: Cary Grant (1), Eva Marie Saint (1), James Mason (2)

Composer: Bernard Hermann (1)

Country: USA (107)

Genre: Thriller (21), Spy (1)

A Hitchcock film that initially felt like a lesser work, but the more I’ve watched this the 14 times TCM plays it each year, my appreciation for it grows. It’s one of Hitchcock’s most technically proficient films in terms of the sprawling production design, beautiful use of matte paintings that blend in nicely with foreground, and a phenomenal leading man performermance from Cary Grant. A spy-thriller with Grant delivering his brand of humor but also showing his serious chops as an actor – a fantastic film that I expect will continue to rise in the years to come

276. Winter Light (1963)

Dir: Ingmar Bergman (5)

DP: Sven Nykvist (4)

Editor: Ulla Ryghe (3)

Writer: Ingmar Bergman (5)

Starring: Gunnar Bjornstrand (2), Ingrid Thulin (3), Gunnel Lindblom (2), Max von Sydow (4)

Composer: Evald Andersson (1)

Country: Sweden (5)

Genre: Drama (67)

Many of Bergman films are existential crises playing out in his head that get translated onto the page. Winter Light is the personification of an existential breakdown, questioning every element of our own existence and reality. The striking part of Winter Light comes in the framing of these characters, using heavy atmospherics and long-takes of close-up monologues. An entirely different approach that feels stage-like, but the camera affords us a far more personal examination. The usual Bergman ensemble is excellently dour and concerned in their delivery and elevates this material to new heights.

275. Society (1989)

Dir: Brian Yuzna (1)

DP: Rick Fichter (1)

Editor: Peter Teschner (1)

Writer: Rick Fry (1), Woody Keith (1)

Starring: Billy Warlock (1), Connie Danese (1), Ben Slack (1), Patrice Jennings (1)

Composer: Mark Ryder (1), Phil Davies (1)

Country: USA (108)

Genre: Horror (19)

Society is not particularly noteworthy in terms of the craft or performances. It doesn’t have a profound message about life, but it does provide for maybe the most disturbing 90 minutes of your life. Brian Yuzna’s obscene horror is terribly uncomfortable, but a hilarious critique on the rich sucking off the poor (and this is done in a *literal* visual sense in the film). The practical effects are Carpenter-esque but go even a step further and create lasting images that you can never escape from ever. A genuinely fun film to show your weirdo friends and be grossed out together.

274. Sonatine (1993)

Dir: Takeshi Kitano (1)

DP: Kasumi Yanagijima (2)

Editor: Takeshi Kitano (1)

Writer: Takeshi Kitano (1)

Starring: Takeshi Kitano (1), Ayo Kokumai (1), Tetsu Watanabe (2), Susumu Terajima (1)

Composer: Joe Hisashi (3)

Country: Japan (28)

Genre: Thriller (22), Crime (16)

Sonatine is not a new type of narrative for Takeshi Kitano, but it does take a beat from his normal Yakuza films. Sonatine is contemplative and much slower. We spend quality time with Beat Kitano’s cliché aging gangster persona on the beaches of Okinawa, exploring his sensibilities in thoughtfulfulness rather than full-blown emotion like other Kitano films of this nature. It’s not Takeshi’s best leading performance but it comes damn close with a more perceptive lead with his focus spread out and docile. An unconventional take on one of the oldest cinema narrative structures.

273. The Taste of Tea (2004)

Dir: Katsushito Ishii (1)

DP: Kosuke Marsushima (1)

Editor: Katsushito Ishii (1)

Writer: Katsushito Ishii (2)

Starring: Maya Banno (1), Takahiro Saito (1), Tatsuya Gashuin (1), Tadanobu Asano (1)

Composer: Tempo Little (1)

Country: Japan (28)

Genre: Comedy (31)

A surrealist version of life, told through a free-flowing structure and getting to the heart of normal everyday problems through bizarrely suggestive imagery. It’s like a Kore-eda film but if he did some psychedelics before writing the script. It’s a heartfelt story about puberty and all the tiny nuances and awkwardness that comes along with that. On top of that, a small girl is stalked by a giant observing head that resembles her own with the understanding that once she can do a backflip on the jungle gym she will be left alone. Relatable right? It’s also about the parents, trying to balance parental responsibilities and their own careers. It all wraps up into one beautifully funny film that is completely backward and different from anything of the sort – excerpt from my review January 20th, 2018

272. Burning (2018)

Dir: Lee Chang-dong (1)

DP: Hong Kyung-pyo (2)

Editor: Kim Hyun (1), Kim Da-won (1)

Writer: Lee Chang-dong (1), Haruki Murakami (1), Oh Jung-mi (1)

Starring: Yoo Ah-in (1), Steven Yeun (1), Jeon Jong-seo (1)

Composer: Mowg (2)

Country: South Korea (10)

Genre: Mystery (12), Thriller (23)

Lee Chang-dong’s slow and silent dissection of class inequality with a charming and mysterious antagonist at the center of the film’s angst. Steven Yeun is unfairly good in this role, holding onto the enigma of the character and being so concealing in his delivery when it comes to himself. A twisted look at privilege and what it does to those yearning for that level of respect, love and recognition. Shot in smaller Korean towns, it’s an isolated thriller with unsettling Mowg score and gasping cinematography from Hong Kyung-pyo.

271. The Passion of Anna (1969)

Dir: Ingmar Bergman (6)

DP: Sven Nykvist (5)

Editor: Siv Lundgren (1)

Writer: Ingmar Bergman (6)

Starring: Max von Sydow (5), Liv Ullmann (4), Bibi Andersson (3), Erland Josephson (2)

Country: Sweden (6)

Genre: Drama (68), Romance (23)

Ingmar Bergman loved nothing more than a great story about isolation and how it reframes how a person’s mind works. Max von Sydow, alone on this small Swedish island, meets another person dealing with similar trauma played by Liv Ullman as Bergman peels back the layers of their pain with pathos and distrust. The Passion of Anna plants an unsettling idea in the viewers mind early and Bergman writes this to conceal the true nature of these characters. It’s wonderfully dark and a deep character study of emotional distress.

270. Tokyo Story (1953)

Dir: Yasujiro Ozu (4)

DP: Yuharu Atsuta (2)

Editor: Yoshiyasu Hamamura (2)

Writer: Yasujiro Ozu (3), Kogo Noda (3)

Starring: Chishu Ryu (3), Setsuko Hara (2), Chieko Higashiyama (1), Haruko Sugimura (3), So Yamamura (1)

Composer: Takanobu Saito (2)

Country: Japan (29)

Genre: Drama (69)

Ozu’s most singular family drama and one that has permeated throughout Eastern and Western cultures since. A gorgeous and simple film mainly about the small delicate dynamic and experiencing that connection through all facets of this family. The amazing performances, as well as Atsuta’s tatami mat compositions, carry the drama in a peculiar sense. The narrative structure gives ample development to each character making the final act a dramatic force of ethos. Quiet and still, Tokyo Story is about as lifelike as a movie can be.

269. Wild Strawberries (1957)

Dir: Ingmar Bergman (7)

DP: Gunnar Fischer (2)

Editor: Oscar Rosander (2)

Writer: Ingmar Bergman (7)

Starring: Victor Sjostrom (1), Ingrid Thulin (2), Bibi Andersson (4)

Composer: Erik Nordgren (2), Gote Loven (1)

Country: Sweden (7)

Genre: Drama (70)

Wild Strawberries was ripe for Bergman’s existentialism and it’s almost a surprise he never braved the subject of old age and decay like he did here. Victor Sjostrom is magnificent as Bergman’s vehicle to explore the triumphs and failings of a life lived. It’s a more singular focused film than the rest of his filmography as we watch a human being come to terms with his mortality. A warmer film towards its characters but still muddied with Bergman’s grand themes of isolation. The Gunnar Fischer surrealist cinematography adds an extra layer to this archetypal story and shows the beauty and tragedy of Sjostrom’s existence

268. Lost Highway (1997)

Dir: David Lynch (1)

DP: Peter Deming (1)

Editor: Mary Sweeney (1)

Writer: David Lynch (1), Barry Gifford (1)

Starring: Bill Pullman (1), Patricia Arquette (3), Balthazar Getty (1), Robert Blake (2), Robert Loggia (1)

Composer: Angelo Badalamenti (1)

Country: USA (109)

Genre: Mystery (13)

David Lynch’s first appearance on the list (I can’t even type his name without the Badalamenti Twin Peaks horns blowing in my head) starts with his depraved look at the subconscious and the festering ideas that persist inside the mind. The Lost Highway could refer to many things, but the dark exterior with only the headlights flashing on the yellow and white traffic lanes speaks to our admission to this unexplainable highway of the mind. Arguably Lynch’s most confusing narrative, but one with an incredible amount of layers. A darkly pervasive film that stays with you long after watching the film.

267. Fargo (1995)

Dir: Joel Coen (6)

DP: Roger Deakins (5)

Editor: Joel Coen (6), Ethan Coen (6)

Writer: Joel Coen (6)  Ethan Coen (6)

Starring: Frances McDormand (4), William H Macy (1), Steve Buscemi (3), Harve Presnell (1), Peter Stormare (1)

Composer: Carter Burwell (8)

Country: USA (110)

Genre: Black Comedy (2), Crime (17)

Fargo is a masterclass in screenwriting and direction. The Coen’s are able to balance so many moods, tones, and characters without anything ever feeling out of place. It all fits nice and snug into this overly helpful and endearing North Dakota setting with Frances McDormand’s pitch perfect over-the-top accent and duality making this story come home. The two conflicting tones overlapping is where the dark comedy intercepts with the light, nonsense humor and it works wonders. Deakins delivers this same balance in a visual sense, it’s one of the Coen’s stronger overall films.

266. Altered States (1980)

Dir: Ken Russell (1)

DP: Jordan Cronenweth (2)

Editor: Eric Jenkins (1)

Writer: Paddy Chayefsky (1)

Starring: William Hurt (1), Blair Brown (1), Bob Balaban (1), Charles Haid (1)

Composer: John Corigliano (1)

Country: USA (111)

Genre: Horror (20), Sci-fi (10)

Paddy Chayefsky was a brilliant screenwriter well ahead of his time. Ken Russell was a visionary director who didn’t settle for mundane stories, but actively sought out the most irregular stories and figures to make movies about. The two combining to create the psychedelic, otherworldly experience of Altered States was a perfect fit. The narrative goes to unbelievable, inhumane places and is unrecognizable by the time the credits roll – A wild film

265. Departures (2008)

Dir: Yojiro Takita (1)

DP: Takeshi Hamada (1)

Editor: Akimasa Kawashima (1)

Writer: Kundo Kayama (1)

Starring: Masahiro Motoki (1), Ryoko Hirosue (1), Tsutomu Yamazaki (2)

Composer: Joe Hisashi (4)

Country: Japan (30)

Genre: Drama (71)

Genuinely have never cried so much in my life than when watching Departures. A beautiful film about discovering one’s calling in life and showing a deep appreciation for those who have passed on. The structure lays out the shame of working in a mortuary, but the performances bring out the empathy, and more importantly, respect that comes with the service. A thankless job that becomes precedingly more worthwhile as the story develops. Joe Hisashi’s towering score gives this film the emotional backdrop it needed as a moving statement about life and death

264. The Lost Weekend (1945)

Dir: Billy Wilder (5)

DP: John F Seitz (2)

Editor: Doane Harrison (1)

Writer: Billy Wilder (5), Charles Brackett (2), Charles R. Jackson (1)

Starring: Ray Milland (2), Jane Wyman (1), Phillip Terry (1), Howard Da Silva (1)

Composer: Miklos Rozsa (1)

Country: USA (112)

Genre: Drama (72)

The Lost Weekend an incisive, embarrassing, and self-effacing indictment on alcoholism. It’s not puffing up the lifestyle for dramatic purposes, but shows the pain and suffering when these people reach rock bottom. Ray Milland is never better as the disassociate drunk and Wilder, as a recovering alcoholic, understands the sort of test the addiction puts one under. Milland understands it all and translates that into a ravishing lead performance

263. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson (2)

DP: Robert Elswit (2)

Editor: Leslie Jones (3)

Writer: Laul Thomas Anderson (2)

Starring: Adam Sandler (1), Emily Watson (1), Philip Seymour Hoffman (3), Luis Guzman (1)

Composer: Jon Brion (1)

Country: USA (113)

Genre: Romance (24), Comedy (32), Drama (73)

Punch-Drunk Love is a misaligned romance mostly concerned with pudding and airline miles. Adam Sandler gives a performance beyond words in his beautifully authentic depiction of a man desperately seeking connection with the world. He finds this in the strange spark between himself and Emily Watson’s polarizing character that meshes with Sandler like the last puzzle piece. It’s majestic and weird at the same time, with Paul Thomas Anderson balancing the oddities with the meaningful. A distant film that finds humanity along the way.

262. Bottle Rocket (1996)

Dir: Wes Anderson (3)

DP: Robert D. Yeoman (2)

Editor: David Moritz (2)

Writer: Owen Wilson (1), Wes Anderson (3)

Starring: Luke Wilson (1), Owen Wilson (4), James Caan (1), Lumi Cavazos (1), Andrew Wilson (1)

Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh (2)

Country: USA (114)

Genre: Comedy (33), Crime (18)

Bottle Rocket is the epitome of Wes Anderon’s adolescent humor and childlike outlook on life. In his first film of his career, starring the Wilson brothers (who co-wrote this venture) and the legendary actor James Caan, for whatever reason, he creates a simple-minded crime film that’s both delightfully charming and hilariously misconstrued. Incompetent man boys led by Owen Wilson’s unrealistic hopes and dreams, sends them careening towards terribly funny conclusion of their underplanned fling into the crime profession. It’s stupid humor done well and one that I can’t help but indulge in.

261. The Haunting (1963)

Dir: Robert Wise (1)

DP: Davis Boulton (1)

Editor: Ernest Walter (1)

Writer: Nelson Gidding (1), Shirley Jackson (1)

Starring: Julie Harris (1), Claire Boom (1), Richard Johnson (1), Russ Tamblyn (1)

Composer: Humphrey Searle (1)

Country: USA (115)

Genre: Horror (21)

Robert Wise took the haunted house narrative and extrapolated the essence of these films. The booming sound design as if the monster has surrounded you, the fish-eye cinematography from Davis Boulton making the halls of this mansion feel huge and inescapable, and the dire performance from Julie Harris as if the house is guiding her decisions. Wise creates a mystique to this mansion, and a devilishly dark one indeed. The craft is simply immaculate with the augmentation of ghosts that are hidden away in the walls. Dreadfully atmospheric picture that’s easy to get lost in

260. Atonement (2007)

Dir: Joe Wright (1)

DP: Seamus McGarvey (1)

Editor: Paul Tothill (1)

Writer: Christopher Hampton (1), Ian McEwan (1), 

Starring: Keira Knightley (1), James McAvoy (1), Saoirse Ronan (1)

Composer: Dario Marinelli (1)

Country: United Kingdom (20)

Genre: Romance (25), War (17)

Atonement is atoning for the utter destruction of two lives together through lies and misgivings – Saoirse Ronan, as the younger, misunderstood sister, forced into a life of doubt because of her own failings. A great modern tragedy that’s captured in the stillness of McGarvey’s cinematography of the first act, only to fall victim to the bloodshed in the second half. Ronan is rottenly good, but James McAvoy and Kiera Knightley give career best in this passionate yet lamentable romance.

259. White Material (2009)

Dir: Claire Denis (2)

DP: Yvez Cape (2)

Editor: Guy Lecorne (1)

Writer: Claire Denis (2), Marie N’Diaye (1), Lucie Borleteau (1)

Starring: Isabelle Huppert (1), Christopher Lambert (1), Nicolas Duvauchelle (2), 

Composer: Tindersticks (2)

Country: France (19)

Genre: Drama (74)

White Material is a devastating and emotionally complex film that puts faith in the African people but overlooks parts of the continents failing infrastructure and radicalized governments. Isabelle Huppert is unreal in this role, showing such tenacity in a situation of dire straits. Her cold-blooded stare in the face of grave uncertainty is an all-timer. It’s one woman against the failing of an entire country, showing not only empathy but understanding. Claire Denis takes ample time crafting this thought process and it all plays out beautifully on screen and after in reflection.

258. The Hill (1965)

Dir: Sidney Lumet (3)

DP: Oswald Morris (2)

Editor: Thelma Connell (1)

Writer: Ray Rigby (1)

Starring: Sean Connery (1), Ossie Davis (1), Harry Andrews (1), Ian Bannen (1), 

Country: United Kingdom (21)

Genre: Prison Drama (3)

Rest in peace to Sean Connery and happy to include him on the list with Sidney Lumet’s underappreciated The Hill. Connery is remarkable as the mistreated prisoner at his wits end, facing off against military police that have no regard for suffering. Lumet stresses the pointlessness of the titular hill that plays as a mental strain throughout the film. The themes of unnecessary manual labor are captured so feverishly by Connery and this ensemble cast – another great character piece from Lumet that is tirelessly thought provoking and powerful.

257. Death by Hanging (1968)

Dir: Nagisa Oshima (2)

DP: Yasuhiro Yoshioka (1)

Editor: Sueko Shiraishi (1)

Writer: Nagisa Oshima (1), Mamoru Sasaki (1)

Starring: Kei Sato (2), Fumio Watanabe (1), Toshiro Ishido (1), Hosei Komatsu (2)

Composer: Hikaru Hayashi (2)

Country: Japan (31)

Genre: Drama (75), Satire (5) 

Death by Hanging is so unfamiliar in tone and presentation that it could only be an Oshima film. The failed hanging of a prisoner leads to some surreal sequences where the executioner and prisoners engage in civil discussion, as well as non-civil. It’s both a contemplativd story about the harsh reality of capital punishment and a sinfully dark satire. The juxtaposition of tone is done phenomenally well by editor Seuko Shiraishi, using the comedy to mask the horrific nature of the situation.

256. The Thing (1982)

Dir: John Carpenter (1)

DP: Dean Cundey (1)

Editor: Todd C. Ramsay (1)

Writer: Bill Lancaster (1), John Campbell Jr (1)

Starring: Kurt Russell (1), Wilford Brimley (1), T.K. Carter (1), Keith David (1), David Clennon (2)

Composer: Ennio Morricone (2), John Carpenter (1)

Country: USA (116)

Genre: Horror (22)

The Thing is far and away the best film John Carpenter has ever made. A distrustful air hangs over this film, as the monster is capable of shape shifting into molds of other humans, making the majority of the plot incredibly tense in anticipation. Carpenter holds the audience in that space and makes them decipher through the same context clues. It’s brilliantly fun for a terrifying horror film and the dim lighting and emphasis on color is what sets this film apart in the genre as well as the insane practical effects work that’s all-time great.

255. The Conversation (1974)

Dir: Francis Ford Coppola (1)

DP: Bill Butler (2), Haksell Webster (1), 

Editor: Richard Chew (1)

Writer: Francis Ford Coppola (1)

Starring: Gene Hackman (3), John Cazale (1), Allen Garfield (2), Cindy Williams (1)

Composer: David Shire (1)

Country: USA (117)

Genre: Mystery (14), Thriller (24)

The Francis Ford Coppola film that gets the rare mention outside cinephile circles, but is arguably his best work. The tension is held by the Klute-like David Shire score, and a Gene Hackman performance that’s both tragic and concealing. Coppola approaches this wiretap thriller with a sense of deception and it shows in the construction of the narrative – a wildly entertaining film that holds the devastating truth until the peak moment of pressure.

254. Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Dir: Werner Herzog (1)

DP: Thomas Mauch (1)

Editor: Beate Mainka-Jellinghaus (1)

Writer: Werner Herzog (1)

Starring: Klaus Kinski (1), Claudia Cardinale (1), Jose Lewgoy (2), Miguel Angel Fuentes (1)

Composer: Popol Vuh (1)

Country: Germany (4)

Genre: Drama (76), Adventure (1)

Werner Herzog took the true-life story of a rubber baron who traversed a boat over a mountain in the Amazon basin and decided he could do the same to create this film. The story is romantic in nature, as Fitzcarraldo, played by the muddled and difficult Klaus Kinski, looks to build an opera in his peruvian village, but the actual process is anything but that. A slog of a time hauling a 320-ton ship over a mountain, a feat the crew of the film accomplished by hand (and were apparently miserable). The production is almost as fascinating as the obscurity of the narrative.

253. Baby Face (1933)

Dir: Alfred E. Green (1)

DP: James Van Trees (1)

Editor: Howard Bretherton (1)

Writer: Daryl F. Zanuck (1), Kathryn Scola (1), Gene Markey (1)

Starring: Barbara Stanwyck (1), George Brent (1), Donald Cook (2),

Country: USA (118)

Genre: Romance (26), Pre-code (1)

Barbara Stanwyck was on a different level than us mere mortals. The sniping glance of her pointed cheeks, and daring eyes made her the perfect cast for this role. She left the crew awestruck in her performance, pushing and pulling the narrative to her liking. A racy and risque pre-code affair that I would’ve loved to see more of post-1933. A sweet, lovely girl recognizing her feminine wiles are useful for more than picking up men but exploiting them. The devilishly clever look in Stanwyck’s eyes tell the whole story.

252. The Devils (1971)

Dir: Ken Russell (2)

DP: David Watkin (1)

Editor: Michael Bradsell (1)

Writer: Ken Russell (1), Aldous Huxley (1), John Whiting (1)

Starring: Oliver Reed (1), Vanessa Redgrave (2), Dudley Sutton (1), Murray Melvin (1), Gemma Jones (1)

Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies (1)

Country: United Kingdom (22)

Genre: Historical Drama (3)

The Devils is Ken Russell’s baroque answer to religious celestial use of faith to extract social power and relevancy. Based on the true story of a group of nuns, Olivier Reed’s divine depiction of a revelatory priest, with unorthodox approach to sex in religion, is entered into a war for religious influence amd his influenced is wholy felt on thw world. The result is an accursed avant-garde experience with vivid images of religious idolatry and sin. It’s such a memorable piece of art that disregards any conventions of the text or tradition, and paints a much more damning portrait. 

251. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Dir: Elia Kazan (1)

DP: Harry Stradling Sr (1)

Editor: David Weisbart (2)

Writer: Tennessee Williams (1), Oscar Saul (1)

Starring: Marlon Brando (1), Vivian Leigh (2), Kim Hunter (1), Karl Malden (2)

Composer: Alex North (2)

Country: USA (119)

Genre: Drama (77)

The depressing idea of life slipping away as the aging process makes one unrecognizable and lost. Vivian Leigh, across a shouting and challenging Marlon Brando, captures these feelings from the spectacular Tennessee Williams stage play in this complex character study. The volatility of Kazan’s direction gives these actors full reign to envelope these personas and use that shouting and enraged energy to immerse the audience in this unpropitious dynamic of the story. Vivian Leigh, even more so than her work on Selznick epics, delivers inspired work and melts into the character of Blanche. A great script with excellent direction and two all-time great performances.

250. Solaris (1972)

Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky (1)

DP: Vadim Yusov (1)

Editor: Lyudmila Feiginova (1), Nina Marcus (1)

Writer: Andrei Tarkovsky (1), Stanislaw Lem (1), Fridrikh Gorenshteyn (1)

Starring: Donatas Banionis (1), Natalya Bondarchuk (1), Juri Jarvet (1), Anatoliy Solonitsyn (1)

Composer: Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov (1), Eduard Artemiev (1)

Country: Russia (1)

Genre: Sci-fi (11), Mystery (15)

Solaris is a science-fiction masterpiece in the sense that it provokes deeper evaluation of the text. Every element of Tarkovsky’s production, from the set designs to the claustrophobic space station cinematography, promotes the fundamental idea at the center of this narrative and coming to some sort of agreement with the identical world of Solaris. A life of blissful illusion as the clone of Donatas Banionis, who’s marvelous in the lead role, late wife comforts him and the audience reconciles with this idea.