Monday, September 03, 2012

A Top 100 Films of All-Time List

This is the hypothetical Sight & Sound Top Ten list I came up with a couple of weeks ago, ranked in no particular order:

1. Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)

2. Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai, 1994)

3. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (FW Murnau, 1927)

4. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

5. Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)

6. Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)

7. La Commune (Paris 1871) (Peter Watkins, 2000)

8. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1948)

9. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)

10. The Red Shoes (Powell & Pressburger, 1948)

I think it's a nicely balanced list, but limiting to only ten films inevitably leaves a lot of gaps (no Hitchcock!, no Ozu!) and as such what it leaves out is almost as (if not more) interesting than what it includes.  With inclusiveness as the goal, my annual Labor Day Top Films of All-Time lists have gotten ridiculously long over the years (see last year's Top 1000, for example), but I think I need to find some kind of middle ground between ten and infinity and also something that acknowledges the inherent instability and incompleteness of all such lists (they can't ever end, they can't ever be finished, there's no way for them to ever be "right").  So, for this year's Top Films of All-Time list, I'm applying the Vishnevetsky Method, outlined in this article on the creation of Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's Sight & Sound Top Ten ballot.  It's essentially just creating a large list and then applying a random number generator to whittle a smaller list out of it.  I started with a list of 825 movies I think could plausibly carry the label of "Top 100 Film" and randomly selected 100 of them to form this year's list.  These are the results in the order they were generated, with no editing or juggling.

1. Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955)

2. Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas, 2008)

3. Pierrot le fou (Jean-Luc Godard, 1965)

4. The Tales of Hoffman (Powell & Pressburger, 1951)

5. High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941)

6. Gojira (Ishiro Honda, 1954)

7. Hero (Zhang Yimou, 2002)

8. Kill Bill Vol. 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)

9. A Farewell to Arms (Frank Borzage, 1932)

10. The Leopard (Luchino Visconti, 1963)

11. A Canterbury Tale (Powell & Pressburger, 1944)

12. Masque of the Red Death (Roger Corman, 1964)

13. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)

14. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent, 1974)

15. What's Up, Tiger Lily? (Woody Allen, 1966)

16. Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Ackerman, 1975)

17. Seventh Heaven (Frank Borzage, 1927)

18. Thieves' Highway (Jules Dassin, 1949)

19. Twentieth Century (Howard Hawks, 1934)

20. My Girlfriend's Boyfriend (Eric Rohmer, 1987)

21. Night on Earth (Jim Jarmusch, 1991)

22. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)

23. He Walked By Night (Alfred Werker & Anthony Mann, 1948)

24. A Day in the Country (Jean Renoir, 1936)

25. King Kong (Cooper & Schoedsack, 1933)

26. Police Story (Jackie Chan, 1985)

27. Don't Go Breaking My Heart (Johnnie To, 2011)

28. Punch-Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002)

29. Masculin féminin (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966)

30. The Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)

31. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)

32. Bonjour tristesse (Otto Preminger, 1958)

33. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)

34. The Tall T (Budd Boetticher, 1957)

35. Early Summer (Yasujiro Ozu, 1951)

36. The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman, 1973)

37. Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957)

38. Magnificent Obsession (Douglas Sirk, 1954)

39. Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

40. Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, 2001)

41. Senso (Luchino Visconti, 1954)

42. Thomas Mao (Zhu Wen, 2010)

43. The Clock (Vincente Minnelli, 1945)

44. Climates (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2006)

45. The Quiet Man (John Ford, 1952)

46. Hatari! (Howard Hawks, 1962)

47. Stella Dallas (King Vidor, 1937)

48. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, 2009)

49. Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey, 1963)

50. All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

51. Orphans of the Storm (DW Griffith, 1921)

52. Shock Corridor (Samuel Fuller, 1963)

53. LA Story (Mick Jackson, 1991)

54. Curse of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)

55. Exiled (Johnnie To, 2006)

56. Band of Outsiders (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964)

57. Wagon Master (John Ford, 1950)

58. God of Gamblers (Wong Jing, 1989)

59. Flags of Our Fathers (Clint Eastwood, 2006)

60. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

61. Going My Way (Leo McCarey, 1944)

62. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, 1988)

63. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis, 2008)

64. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)

65. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)

66. Raise the Red Lantern (Zhang Yimou, 1991)

67. The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz, 1938)

68. The Most Dangerous Game (Pichel & Schoedsack, 1932)

69. It's Always Fair Weather (Donen & Kelly, 1955)

70. Ran (Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

71. Anchorman (Adam McKay, 2004)

72. Enter the Dragon (Robert Clouse, 1973)

73. 24 City (Jia Zhangke, 2008)

74. Un chien andalou (Luis Buñuel, 1929)

75. In the Mood for Love (Wong Kar-wai, 2000)

76. Bigger than Life (Nicholas Ray, 1956)

77. The Dawn Patrol (Howard Hawks, 1930)

78. Brief Encounter (David Lean, 1945)

79. Dragon Inn (King Hu, 1967)

80. Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin, 1947)

81. Zelig (Woody Allen, 1983)

82. A Brighter Summer Day (Edward Yang, 1991)

83. An American in Paris (Vincente Minnelli, 1951)

84. Airplane! (Zucker, Abrahams, Zucker, 1980)

85. Hell in the Pacific (John Boorman, 1968)

86. Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli, 1958)

87. No Greater Glory (Frank Borzage, 1934)

88. The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980)

89. Slacker (Richard Linklater, 1991)

90. Under Capricorn (Alfred Hitchcock, 1949)

91. Ninotchka (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)

92. Charulata (Satyajit Ray, 1964)

93. I'm Not There (Todd Haynes, 2007)

94. True Heart Susie (DW Griffith, 1919)

95. Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984)

96. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1979)

97. Oki's Movie (Hong Sangsoo, 2010)

98. Age of Consent (Michael Powell, 1969)

99. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)

100. Mon oncle d'Amérique (Alain Resnais, 1980)


  1. I love how seen as a whole it totally feels like a Sean list and yet there are films on there that I didn't know you loved (or loved this much anyway). Thrilled that A Brighter Summer Day and Charulata made it! And seeing that particular Renoir.

    Going to use the same approach and make my list sometime today.

  2. Yeah, I think that's the really cool think about the randomization: even though it has a lot of movies that haven't been in any previous Top 100, taken as a whole it still sums up the kinds of movies I love and the way I view film in general. It's just as representative of me as any other list I've done, maybe even more so, thanks to some of the more idiosyncratic picks.

    Anything in particular stand out to you as a surprise?

  3. Nothing that I'd call a WTF surprise. Of the ones I've seen anyway. I haven't seen Jason and the Argonauts for instance :).

    For instance, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It's one of my favorite Almodovar movies but I had no idea you loved it too. And I didn't realize till now that I ought to nag you to do a Visconti episode.. what with both Senso and The Leopard on your list! Killer of Sheep kind of surprised me a little as well.

    And then there are others that are not surprises as much as they make for great (and verlooked by me) recommendations. I hadn't even heard of Thomas Mao till I saw it on your list. And I obviously need to watch Gojira :).

    1. I'd like to see more Visconti, especially his postLeopard films. I think these are the only two of his I've seen at all.

      Thomas Mao is from the VIFF. It doesn't even have an imdb entry, but I wrote about it here:

      And Bordwell wrote about it here:

      Note that I wrote mine four days before he wrote his. Clearly he's ripping me off.

    2. Actually, it has an imdb entry, but it's not listed on Zhu Wen's wikipedia page:

    3. Am with you on wanting to watch more Visconti. Didn't you watch White Nights for the Retros? And if you didn't then please do! It's great.
      And Bordwell's post is clearly a solicitation asking to hang out with you at VIFF this year :). Separately, I didn't know Jiayin Liu had another short. Want to watch that too. It sounds like such a great festival.

    4. I did watch that one, I thought there was a third.

      The Liu short was really cool, I wrote about that one too:

      Bérénice Reynaud also covered Thomas Mao in her report on VIFF '10:

      It is a really great festival. Not as hyper and angsty as I imagine Sundance, Toronto and New York are, but with almost as good a selection of films (better than Sundance for sure). Their Asian film series are really amazing, programmed by Tony Rayns and Shelly Kraicer (among others), both very good critics. I've seen Q & As there with Liu Jiayin and Jia Zhangke, which were really interesting and fun. I was so giddy to see Jia in person my wife thought I was having some kind of breakdown. They have a series for first- or second-time Asian directors with an award for the best film at the end. Past winners include Liu (Oxhide, Jia (Xiao Wu, Koreeda Hirokazu (Mabarosi) and Hong Sangsoo (The Day a Pig Fell in the Well), among others.

      I'm so excited to be going back this year.

  4. Also Godard and The Archers ending up in the Top 5 is kinda perfect, no :)?

    1. Yeah, also three of the S&S Top Ten made it (Vertigo, Kane, Man with a Movie Camera) but only one from my hypothetical S&S ballot (Pierrot le fou).

      I think almost all my favorite directors made the list. Keaton and Von Sternberg are missing, those really stand out.