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The B+ Movie Guide

That title doesn’t amount to much, but I didn’t know what else to call it. This one made sense as something that tied it to the blog and didn’t come across as me making some proclamation of “this is the one that everyone has to use.”

Anyway, here’s the story behind this. On May, 27, 2012, at about 2:45 in the morning, Tokyo time (which was 10:45 LA time), Colin sent me an email. This is as the class of 2012 is graduating from our school, many of whom we are friends with. (A lot of things seem to revolve around graduation ceremonies with this blog.) It said:

You’ve gotta do a list of movies you must have seen. Like the inverse of your list of movies people would be surprised to find you hadn’t seen. The essential list. You’ve done top tens and directors, but I’m looking for the list of movies people must have seen. I don’t know as I’ve seen that. 

AFI top 100, that’s different. You know the difference between what is a “good” movie and what is a movie you must see. Yojimbo, very good movie. I don’t expect people to have seen it. That’s foreign, but you get the picture.

Pun.

Anyway, this doesn’t even have to go on the blog. I just want it as like…homework. The shit that any self-respecting “film person” should have seen. Whether it’s 100 or 500. I have HUGE holes in my repertoire, stuff I need to see. I’d use your other lists, but I want essentials, with no real thought given to when or who. Just essential or not.

Coincidentally, at that exact moment, I was sending some other random email to Colin about a completely unrelated topic. Colin and I had this crazy ability to send each other emails at the exact same moment in those days. Not in the middle of a conversation. Like, I just woke up and sent him an email, and as I sent it, there’d be one in my inbox from him. No idea how it always managed to work out that way, but it did.

I responded by asking what he meant by essential. He didn’t answer, which I found out later was deliberate. I reasoned my way through it and figured out what I thought it meant, and the last thing I wrote was, “That could be fun, actually.”

Cut to five hours later.

I had spent two hours compiling a giant list of movies and the remaining three writing it up:

You can’t say this was unexpected (or uncharacteristic). It was so long I had to put it in a Word document. (14 pages.)

This will give me a nice set of articles to write up in the future. So that’s good.

This was 4:13pm. Attached was a giant document.

The best part was that as soon as I sent it, this appeared in my inbox:

And I JUST woke up. Uncanny.

And then about a half hour later, I got this:

I did know this would happen. I even expected it as an attachment. This is how these things go. I even sent that email before bed cause I knew it’d be ready for morning.

“Hey Mike, I want ______.”
“That could be a thing.”

6 hours later.

“So remember that thing? Here’s the thing.”

Attachment.

This is how I operate. Dangle something interesting in front of me and leave it vague enough to where I don’t have to do it (because once it’s work, it’s not happening), and I’ll have it done within hours. Colin is used to getting emails from me saying, “I gotta figure out next month’s Pics of the Day today so I can get them up in time.” And then by the time he wakes up, he’ll see, “I scheduled the next year’s worth of Pics of the Day, and thought up ideas for two new lists and sets of articles and figured out how to work everything into the schedule.” If it’s movies, I don’t even notice the time. I’ll spend all day on it.

So anyway, from that, a list was created. I sent over a bunch of suggestions, Colin went through and did some separating, and we whittled it down to a cool 500 movies. Some changes were made throughout, but eventually we settled on a list of 500 quasi-“essential” movies.

I hesitate to use the word essential, just because the minute you put the word essential on a movies list, some idiot reads it and goes, “Well what about (this movie)?” and “(This movie)? Are you joking?” So the idea was, I’d present Colin with a list of movies that he ought to have seen, or should see, because they’re essential for whatever reason, or they’re just great, and he’d decide what he thought was the way to go.

And now, five hours’ work from me has turned into about seven weeks’ worth of content. (And more than that. But we’ll get to that later.)

The way these articles will work is: little by little, we’re gonna work our way through the entire list that we created. I’ll put in what I originally wrote about each one, about why I felt they were “essential,” and probably some more (because let’s face it… it’s me). And Colin will write what he thought about the movies based on having seen them for the first time.

Some of them he will have seen. There’s probably something like 200 that he had seen already. But for the most part, the majority of the article will be Colin’s thoughts about having seen these movies for the first time, and documenting the fact that this whole thing was accomplished. This entire blog started because I wanted to document a movie quest. So this was going to be done in some form.

A few more notes before we get to the list — the way I compiled it was, I started by looking at the giant list on They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? where they list the 1000 greatest movies. That list is way too pretentious for me, since a quarter of it is made of foreign films that almost no one’s heard of. But I got what I needed out of it. Then I went to the exact opposite version of that list — the IMDB Top 250. Which is ridiculous to the other extreme. According to IMDB ratings, Inception is one of the top 15 movies ever made. Then I went through and looked at my own Top Ten lists, and also used basic logic (since my brain is basically a giant index of movies at this point). I got more than I needed.

I started from features forward, since a three hour movie shouldn’t count the same as a six minute silent movie. Plus, at that point, you’re in a film class. No need to get too complicated. 500 is a real easy number to come up with. I also didn’t include anything after 1999, because it’s hard to pick things from the previous decade. We also made it a point to include at least one movie from every year. So at least one movie from 1920-1999 is included on the list.

I also, since I wrote up more movies than were necessary, rated each movie on a scale of 1-3. 1 being a movie that you need to see if you’re alive. Like The Godfather or Citizen Kane or Star Wars. 2 are movies where you should see them if you’re into movies. And then 3 was for movies where you should see them if you’re a film student and interested in it on that level. I’m now expanding the 3 to include films that I put on there just because they’re awesome or culturally important. That’s the 3. Not essential, but quasi-essential for specific reasons that I will explain. I’ll also do my best to put a rating on each film at the end to give people an idea of what I think about them.

I typically based it on American films, since there’s such a wealth of great American stuff out there, and all these highbrow lists marginalize genre cinema for obscure foreign films. And I don’t care who you are — most people would prefer a good B movie noir to a black and white Polish movie from the 70s. And honestly — are seven movies from the same Czech filmmaker that I’ve never even heard of really better than seven mainstream American movies from the 50s? Fuck that. So I didn’t get too heavy on foreign cinema. Foreign cinema is overrated.

So yeah, that’s what I did. I wrote up any movie I could think of, and then Colin went through and pulled out an easy 420 or so that he felt needed to be there. Then we went through everything that was left to figure out the last bit. And we tweaked it along the way. Ultimately, we ended up with a final list.

The list clearly doesn’t feature everything that would be deemed essential, and there are more than a few entries on there that I only put because I knew Colin would love them. Because as knowledgable as he is about movies, he doesn’t need to sit through The Rules of the Game when he could watch something awesome like Lonely Are the Brave. It’s just a list we came up with for this purpose. I don’t pretend to be the authority on what’s essential and what’s not. I can get you 80% of the way there, though.

This is the list we ended up using. This is the list Colin finished about two months ago, and this is the list we’ll be writing up over the next few weeks:

  1. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
  2. The Kid (1921)
  3. Nosferatu (1922)
  4. Our Hospitality (1923)
  5. The Last Laugh (1924)
  6. The Battleship Potemkin (1925)
  7. The Gold Rush (1925)
  8. The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
  9. The General (1926)
  10. Metropolis (1927)
  11. Sunrise (1927)
  12. Wings (1927)
  13. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
  14. The Man With A Movie Camera (1929)
  15. All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
  16. City Lights (1931)
  17. Frankenstein (1931)
  18. Little Caesar (1931)
  19. (1931)
  20. The Public Enemy (1931)
  21. Freaks (1932)
  22. Grand Hotel (1932)
  23. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
  24. Scarface (1932)
  25. 42nd Street (1933)
  26. Duck Soup (1933)
  27. Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)
  28. King Kong (1933)
  29. The Gay Divorcee (1934)
  30. It Happened One Night (1934)
  31. The Thin Man (1934)
  32. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
  33. Captain Blood (1935)
  34. The Informer (1935)
  35. Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
  36. A Night at the Opera (1935)
  37. Top Hat (1935)
  38. Triumph of the Will (1935)
  39. Dodsworth (1936)
  40. Modern Times (1936)
  41. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)
  42. My Man Godfrey (1936)
  43. Swing Time (1936)
  44. The Awful Truth (1937)
  45. Grand Illusion (1937)
  46. Make Way for Tomorrow (1937)
  47. Shall We Dance (1937)
  48. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
  49. A Star is Born (1937)
  50. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
  51. Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
  52. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
  53. Pygmalion (1938)
  54. You Can’t Take it With You (1938)
  55. Gone With the Wind (1939)
  56. Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939)
  57. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  58. Ninotchka (1939)
  59. Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
  60. Stagecoach (1939)
  61. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  62. Fantasia (1940)
  63. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
  64. The Great Dictator (1940)
  65. His Girl Friday (1940)
  66. Rebecca (1940)
  67. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  68. The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
  69. The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
  70. Citizen Kane (1941)
  71. The Lady Eve (1941)
  72. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  73. Sergeant York (1941)
  74. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
  75. Casablanca (1942)
  76. Cat People (1942)
  77. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  78. Now, Voyager (1942)
  79. The Pride of the Yankees (1942)
  80. Random Harvest (1942)
  81. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
  82. The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  83. The More the Merrier (1943)
  84. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
  85. Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  86. Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
  87. Double Indemnity (1944)
  88. Gaslight (1944)
  89. Going My Way (1944)
  90. Laura (1944)
  91. Lifeboat (1944)
  92. Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
  93. The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944)
  94. National Velvet (1944)
  95. Brief Encounter (1945)
  96. Detour (1945)
  97. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
  98. The Lost Weekend (1945)
  99. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  100. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  101. A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
  102. My Darling Clementine (1946)
  103. Notorious (1946)
  104. The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
  105. Black Narcissus (1947)
  106. Gentleman’s Agreement (1947)
  107. Kiss of Death (1947)
  108. The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
  109. Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
  110. Out of the Past (1947)
  111. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
  112. Force of Evil (1948)
  113. Red River (1948)
  114. The Red Shoes (1948)
  115. Rope (1948)
  116. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
  117. Unfaithfully Yours (1948)
  118. All the King’s Men (1949)
  119. Battleground (1949)
  120. The Third Man (1949)
  121. White Heat (1949)
  122. All About Eve (1950)
  123. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
  124. In a Lonely Place (1950)
  125. Harvey (1950)
  126. Night and the City (1950)
  127. Rashomon (1950)
  128. Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  129. Ace in the Hole (1951)
  130. The African Queen (1951)
  131. An American in Paris (1951)
  132. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  133. A Place in the Sun (1951)
  134. Strangers on a Train (1951)
  135. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
  136. The Thing from Another World (1951)
  137. The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
  138. High Noon (1952)
  139. Ikiru (1952)
  140. The Quiet Man (1952)
  141. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  142. The Band Wagon (1953)
  143. From Here to Eternity (1953)
  144. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
  145. Roman Holiday (1953)
  146. Shane (1953)
  147. Stalag 17 (1953)
  148. Tokyo Story (1953)
  149. The Wages of Fear (1953)
  150. War of the Worlds (1953)
  151. Dial M for Murder (1954)
  152. Godzilla (1954)
  153. Magnificent Obsession (1954)
  154. On the Waterfront (1954)
  155. Rear Window (1954)
  156. Sabrina (1954)
  157. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
  158. Seven Samurai (1954)
  159. A Star is Born (1954)
  160. To Catch a Thief (1954)
  161. All that Heaven Allows (1955)
  162. Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
  163. Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
  164. The Ladykillers (1955)
  165. East of Eden (1955)
  166. The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)
  167. Marty (1955)
  168. Mister Roberts (1955)
  169. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
  170. Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
  171. Rififi (1955)
  172. Giant (1956)
  173. The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
  174. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  175. The Killing (1956)
  176. The Red Balloon (1956)
  177. The Searchers (1956)
  178. The Ten Commandments (1956)
  179. Written on the Wind (1956)
  180. The Wrong Man (1956)
  181. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  182. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  183. The Cranes are Flying (1957)
  184. A Face in the Crowd (1957)
  185. Paths of Glory (1957)
  186. The Seventh Seal (1957)
  187. Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
  188. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
  189. Ashes and Diamonds (1958)
  190. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
  191. The Defiant Ones (1958)
  192. Touch of Evil (1958)
  193. Vertigo (1958)
  194. The Vikings (1958)
  195. The 400 Blows (1959)
  196. Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
  197. Ben-Hur (1959)
  198. The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)
  199. Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)
  200. Imitation of Life (1959)
  201. North By Northwest (1959)
  202. Rio Bravo (1959)
  203. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  204. The Tingler (1959)
  205. The Apartment (1960)
  206. Breathless (1960)
  207. Inherit the Wind (1960)
  208. La Dolce Vita (1960)
  209. The Magnificent Seven (1960)
  210. Peeping Tom (1960)
  211. Psycho (1960)
  212. Spartacus (1960)
  213. The Sundowners (1960)
  214. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
  215. The Hustler (1961)
  216. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
  217. Splendor in the Grass (1961)
  218. West Side Story (1961)
  219. Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)
  220. Cape Fear (1962)
  221. Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
  222. Dr. No (1962)
  223. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  224. Lolita (1962)
  225. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)
  226. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  227. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
  228. The Miracle Worker (1962)
  229. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  230. What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
  231. 8 ½ (1963)
  232. The Birds (1963)
  233. The Cardinal (1963)
  234. Charade (1963)
  235. Cleopatra (1963)
  236. From Russia With Love (1963)
  237. The Great Escape (1963)
  238. Irma la Douce (1963)
  239. The Pink Panther (1963)
  240. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  241. Goldfinger (1964)
  242. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  243. Mary Poppins (1964)
  244. My Fair Lady (1964)
  245. Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)
  246. Doctor Zhivago (1965)
  247. Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
  248. The Great Race (1965)
  249. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)
  250. The Sound of Music (1965)
  251. Thunderball (1965)
  252. Blow Up (1966)
  253. The Fortune Cookie (1966)
  254. The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
  255. A Man for All Seasons (1966)
  256. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
  257. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  258. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
  259. The Graduate (1967)
  260. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
  261. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  262. Point Blank (1967)
  263. Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
  264. Wait Until Dark (1967)
  265. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  266. Bullitt (1968)
  267. The Odd Couple (1968)
  268. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
  269. The Producers (1968)
  270. Romeo and Juliet (1968)
  271. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
  272. Planet of the Apes (1968)
  273. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  274. Easy Rider (1969)
  275. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  276. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
  277. They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)
  278. The Wild Bunch (1969)
  279. Five Easy Pieces (1970)
  280. Little Big Man (1970)
  281. Love Story (1970)
  282. MASH (1970)
  283. Patton (1970)
  284. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  285. Dirty Harry (1971)
  286. The French Connection (1971)
  287. Harold and Maude (1971)
  288. The Last Picture Show (1971)
  289. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
  290. Straw Dogs (1971)
  291. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
  292. 1776 (1972)
  293. Cabaret (1972)
  294. Deliverance (1972)
  295. The Godfather (1972)
  296. Last Tango in Paris (1972)
  297. The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
  298. Sleuth (1972)
  299. American Graffiti (1973)
  300. Badlands (1973)
  301. Don’t Look Now (1973)
  302. The Exorcist (1973)
  303. The Last Detail (1973)
  304. Mean Streets (1973)
  305. Paper Moon (1973)
  306. Papillon (1973)
  307. Serpico (1973)
  308. The Sting (1973)
  309. Blazing Saddles (1974)
  310. Chinatown (1974)
  311. The Conversation (1974)
  312. The Godfather Part II (1974)
  313. Lenny (1974)
  314. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
  315. The Towering Inferno (1974)
  316. A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
  317. Young Frankenstein (1974)
  318. Barry Lyndon (1975)
  319. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
  320. Jaws (1975)
  321. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
  322. Nashville (1975)
  323. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  324. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  325. Shampoo (1975)
  326. The Sunshine Boys (1975)
  327. Three Days of the Condor (1975)
  328. Tommy (1975)
  329. All the President’s Men (1976)
  330. Carrie (1976)
  331. Marathon Man (1976)
  332. Murder by Death (1976)
  333. Network (1976)
  334. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
  335. Rocky (1976)
  336. Taxi Driver (1976)
  337. Annie Hall (1977)
  338. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
  339. The Goodbye Girl (1977)
  340. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  341. Star Wars (1977)
  342. Suspiria (1977)
  343. Animal House (1978)
  344. Days of Heaven (1978)
  345. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  346. Grease (1978)
  347. Halloween (1978)
  348. Magic (1978)
  349. Midnight Express (1978)
  350. Superman (1978)
  351. Alien (1979)
  352. All That Jazz (1979)
  353. Apocalypse Now (1979)
  354. Being There (1979)
  355. The China Syndrome (1979)
  356. Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
  357. The Blues Brothers (1980)
  358. Airplane! (1980)
  359. Caddyshack (1980)
  360. The Elephant Man (1980)
  361. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  362. Ordinary People (1980)
  363. Raging Bull (1980)
  364. The Shining (1980)
  365. The Stunt Man (1980)
  366. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  367. Arthur (1981)
  368. Blow Out (1981)
  369. Clash of the Titans (1981)
  370. Das Boot (1981)
  371. Escape from New York (1981)
  372. On Golden Pond (1981)
  373. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  374. Reds (1981)
  375. Blade Runner (1982)
  376. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  377. Gandhi (1982)
  378. My Favorite Year (1982)
  379. Pink Floyd The Wall (1982)
  380. Tootsie (1982)
  381. The Verdict (1982)
  382. The Big Chill (1983)
  383. A Christmas Story (1983)
  384. The King of Comedy (1983)
  385. The Return of the Jedi (1983)
  386. The Right Stuff (1983)
  387. Scarface (1983)
  388. Terms of Endearment (1983)
  389. Amadeus (1984)
  390. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  391. Ghostbusters (1984)
  392. The Karate Kid (1984)
  393. The Natural (1984)
  394. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
  395. Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
  396. The Terminator (1984)
  397. This is Spinal Tap (1984)
  398. Back to the Future (1985)
  399. Brazil (1985)
  400. The Breakfast Club (1985)
  401. The Color Purple (1985)
  402. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
  403. Aliens (1986)
  404. Blue Velvet (1986)
  405. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
  406. The Fly (1986)
  407. Hoosiers (1986)
  408. Platoon (1986)
  409. Stand by Me (1986)
  410. Top Gun (1986)
  411. Fatal Attraction (1987)
  412. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
  413. Lethal Weapon (1987)
  414. The Princess Bride (1987)
  415. Raising Arizona (1987)
  416. The Untouchables (1987)
  417. Big (1988)
  418. Cinema Paradiso (1988)
  419. Coming to America (1988)
  420. Die Hard (1988)
  421. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)
  422. The Grave of the Fireflies (1988)
  423. Moonwalker (1988)
  424. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
  425. The Naked Gun (1988)
  426. Rain Man (1988)
  427. Batman (1989)
  428. Do the Right Thing (1989)
  429. Field of Dreams (1989)
  430. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  431. Ghost (1990)
  432. The Godfather Part III (1990)
  433. Goodfellas (1990)
  434. Miller’s Crossing (1990)
  435. Barton Fink (1991)
  436. Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  437. Boyz N the Hood (1991)
  438. JFK (1991)
  439. The Fisher King (1991)
  440. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  441. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  442. Thelma and Louise (1991)
  443. A Few Good Men (1992)
  444. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
  445. The Player (1992)
  446. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  447. Scent of a Woman (1992)
  448. Unforgiven (1992)
  449. Wayne’s World (1992)
  450. Groundhog Day (1993)
  451. Jurassic Park (1993)
  452. The Sandlot (1993)
  453. Schindler’s List (1993)
  454. True Romance (1993)
  455. Forrest Gump (1994)
  456. Leon: The Professional (1994)
  457. Quiz Show (1994)
  458. Pulp Fiction (1994)
  459. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  460. Speed (1994)
  461. Apollo 13 (1995)
  462. Braveheart (1995)
  463. Casino (1995)
  464. Heat (1995)
  465. Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  466. Seven (1995)
  467. Toy Story (1995)
  468. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
  469. The Usual Suspects (1995)
  470. Breaking the Waves (1996)
  471. Fargo (1996)
  472. From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
  473. Independence Day (1996)
  474. Jerry Maguire (1996)
  475. The Rock (1996)
  476. Mission: Impossible (1996)
  477. Space Jam (1996)
  478. Trainspotting (1996)
  479. Boogie Nights (1997)
  480. Face/Off (1997)
  481. The Fifth Element (1997)
  482. The Game (1997)
  483. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  484. Jackie Brown (1997)
  485. L.A. Confidential (1997)
  486. Life is Beautiful (1997)
  487. Titanic (1997)
  488. American History X (1998)
  489. The Big Lebowski (1998)
  490. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
  491. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  492. The Truman Show (1998)
  493. American Beauty (1999)
  494. Being John Malkovich (1999)
  495. Fight Club (1999)
  496. The Insider (1999)
  497. Magnolia (1999)
  498. The Matrix (1999)
  499. Office Space (1999)
  500. Three Kings (1999)

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7 responses

  1. BlueFox94

    I find the absence of The Lion King quite surprising, considering that it was your #1 ranked Disney film. Any explanation for its omission?

    Though, if I had to guess, The Lion King was merely a box office champ. But many do regard it as the peak of the Disney Renaissance.

    I’m just confused as to why Wayne’s World, From Dusk ‘Till Dawn, Space Jam, and The Sandlot get on (all four with which I’m on various levels of fine), but not The Lion King.
    (Btw, I really think Independence Day would’ve made a much better “Pictorial History of the Movies” entry for 1996 as opposed to Space Jam, as much as I love that film.)
    I get The Rock and Face/Off because of Nicolas Cage, that’s fine I guess.
    But why not The Lion King in place of any of those six films?
    (Like, if I wasn’t born in the ’90s, I doubt The Sandlot (as much as I too love it) would matter as much, especially with Stand By Me covering pretty much the same themes in a more nuanced, more timeless fashion.)

    Also, why not Who Framed Roger Rabbit? I get all the other animation entries, but WFRR was a box office hit, won three Oscars and a special Oscar, and it practically reinvigorated the animation medium in America. It’s the icing on the cake that is 1988’s animation output that includes the box office battle of The Land Before Time vs. Oliver & Company (it wouldn’t have the reputation of a box office battle if people didn’t care) and the Japanese trifecta of Akira, Grave of the Fireflies, and My Neighbor Totoro.
    I mean, come on. No WFRR and yet there’s Moonwalker? (I don’t need a whole movie to watch the music videos for “Smooth Criminal” and “Leave Me Alone”.)

    I get that this isn’t as “essential” as most pretentious film people would want it. But some omissions can get too confusing. And for me, the absence of The Lion King and Who Framed Roger Rabbit due to the inclusion of other, honestly less timeless films is too confusing.

    July 7, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    • Fair enough on the points of The Lion King. It is essential, though that’s outside the purpose of this list. This was for my own coverage, first and foremost; once we accept Disney as generally essential and assume that I’ve seen most — if not all — of their movies, that frees us up for the sort of stuff you start seeing toward the beginning of the list. Otherwise, you start looking at more than five percent of the total list going to Disney movies, which is insane.

      Since it’s a personal project, we reserve the right to do just about anything, but take the 80s and 90s portion of the list with the understanding that those movies are part of our own cultural upbringing, and therefore, the rules are a little different. Those ultra-obvious movies of the last 30 years like Who Framed Roger Rabbit were left off in place of things like Moonwalker, which I hadn’t seen. And actually, every movie missing like that — assume that I’ve seen it and then refer to the 20s-50s for a movie that you hadn’t seen or heard of that made this list as a result.

      If it was a truly complete essentials list, this would have gone to 1000, easily. But it’s our list, so we get to do things like saying, “The quintessential movie of 1996 really should be Space Jam.” The B+ modus operandi is usually to overdo things and overproduce, but without taking the reasoning too seriously.

      -Colin

      July 8, 2015 at 7:12 am

      • BlueFox94

        Taking most things seriously is my M.O., but if I stick with a person/people long enough to know their quirks, I can be cool with all of it. Still won’t stop me from taking stuff seriously though. But that’s just me, and I love the way I think, I admire the way you guys think, and every time I share these articles when I interact with film people at school or on Facebook, those film people completely underestimate the immense value of you and Mike’s perspectives on film.

        Good meeting. Every time I visit this blog, I’m reinvigorated by my love of cinema.

        July 8, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      • I just watch movies and say some shit sometimes.

        July 8, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      • My ultimate goal for this is actually to just put something forward that can be used to potentially get at what an objective list would look like. Once Colin’s list is done, there’s gonna be a bunch more stuff aimed at putting a lot out there so that way if anyone did attempt to do it, they could.

        But I’m not one for proclamations. I’m just a man who likes Network and Space Jam equally.

        July 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm

  2. You should have put on The Story Of The Kelly Gang, The Birth Of A Nation and The Jazz Singer.

    July 8, 2015 at 10:44 am

  3. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/The+Museum+of+Modern+Art/@40.7614327,-73.9776216,17z/data=!3m2!4b1!5s0x89c258fbd5ec7547:0x7edf0a3ade84ad50!4m2!3m1!1s0x89c258f97bdb102b:0xea9f8fc0b3ffff55

    You can find and watch The Noose here, it is available and survives there, available to the public.

    The Way Of All Flesh has never always been a lost film, you can find a review of it in Halliwell’s Movie Guide 2007.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Halliwells-Film-Video-Guide-2007/dp/0007234708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436434850&sr=8-1&keywords=halliwell%27s+2007

    The Story Of The Kelly Gang (1906), the world’s first ever feature length film, that ran at 60 or 70 minutes in it’s full version is shown on YouTube and this site, however, it is a shame to say that only 20 minutes of it survive, it is an incomplete/partially lost film.

    The better version is here:

    http://www.watchmoviestream.com/full-movies/the-story-of-the-kelly-gang/

    July 9, 2015 at 2:46 am

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