Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Top 100 Films of the 20th Century – Part 4: 90-86

Rank: 90
Title: Amadeus
Release Year: 1984
Genre: Revenge Drama
Director: Milos Forman
Plot Summary: Talented composer Antonio Salieri tells the story of his rival Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (whom he reveres and hates in equal measures) in confession from his room in an asylum late in life (through flashbacks).
What Makes It Special: Amadeus is phenomenal is every facet. Musically, it revels in the brilliance of Mozart’s work. Visually, it is astounding with beautiful candle-lit sets and delightfully lavish costume design. And from a performance standpoint, F. Murray Abraham gives one of cinema’s best as Salieri – a man consumed by his own legacy and mediocrity. Yet, it is Milos Forman’s exploration of jealously, envy, and revenge that are the film’s most intriguing aspect. It is utterly engrossing.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Streaming

Rank: 89
Release Year: 1946
Genre: Drama
Director: William Wyler
Plot Summary: Three WWII veterans return home to their small town in America, only to discover that they feel uncomfortable around their families and that everything has changed.
What Makes It Special: WWII is mostly considered to be pretty black and white with clear villains and heroes along with a strong moral reason for why so many sacrificed their lives (unlike say The Vietnam War for example) – and yet, The Best Years of Our Lives taps into the difficulty that returning veterans still experienced, coming back to a country that had moved on without them. In many ways, the film is utterly heartbreaking. These men gave everything, but in many instances came back to nothing (in addition to being forever mentally and physically scarred by the horrors they witnessed). The film beautifully expresses the adversity faced as they try to socially re-adjust. It has a timeless quality as it resonates just as strong today as it did in 1946.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Streaming

Rank: 88
Release Year: 1996
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Danny Boyle
Plot Summary: Renton is a heroin addict, as are most of his friends. However, Renton has a plan to kick junk and get clean – that is, unless his friends pull him back down.
What Makes It Special: Trainspotting is one of the great indie films to come out of the 1990s that completely revitalized cinema and introduced the world to a new generation of fresh auteur filmmakers. While mostly American directors had been leading the revolution (Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, and the Coen Brothers to name a few), Trainspotting gave brilliant British filmmaker Danny Boyle a global stage and along with Kar Wai Wong the indie transformation of Hollywood an international feel. Trainspotting is wonderfully subversive, gleefully funny, and aesthetically vibrant. Like most of these great indie films of the 1990s, its influence is felt in many of today’s films and filmmakers. Plus, it has of the 1990’s most iconic soundtracks.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Streaming

Rank: 87
Release Year: 1950
Genre: Drama
Plot Summary: Eve wants nothing more than to be a star. Seeing an opening, she inserts herself into a circle of theatre friends hoping to find a place in their company. From there, she starts to subtly edge out the aging star of the company Margo (but not without a fight).
What Makes It Special: Simply put, All About Eve is a drama built upon the masterful performances of its stars Bette Davis (who is in one moment a booming volcano of furry, and the next a deflated, beaten pawn asking for the audience’s pity) and Anne Baxter (who at first beguiles with preserved goodness and nativity, only to later fully reveal her true killer instinct). It is a screenwriting sensation as the backstage backstabbing and other shenanigans all play out with quick wit and sharp tongues. There may never again be a character drama as well written or acted.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Streaming

Rank: 86
Release Year: 1954
Genre: Crime Drama
Director: Elia Kazan
Plot Summary: Former prize-fighter Terry Malloy enjoys the perks afforded to him by his job as a longshoreman, benefitting from the corruption of his union bosses and his status in the community. However, he finds himself in a tough position after witnessing a murder, struggling internally with whether or not he should stand up to the union bosses in protest.
What Makes It Special: On the Waterfront is a powerful character drama, taking place in the dark, ugly places of society with rough characters. Lead by Marlon Brando’s iconic performance, the cast in full is absolutely phenomenal, every scene teaming with dramatic weight. Yet, it is Brando’s portrayal of Malloy that seems to resonate for viewers. His struggle to stand up or not is intensely affecting – and as a result On the Waterfront continues to be one of cinema’s greatest character dramas.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Streaming

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