Thursday, November 21, 2013

Top 100 Films of the 20th Century – Part 11: 55-51

Rank: 55
Title: Nashville
Release Year: 1975
Genre: Music/Drama
Director: Robert Altman
Plot Summary: An ensemble drama telling the stories of various people associated with the music business in Nashville in the days leading up to a big political convention/concert.
What Makes It Special: Nashville is a standout film for its music alone, which captures the glory days of country and western music. However, what makes it a classic is its ability to display such a range of characters, each feeling developed and whole. The film speaks to a feeling or attitude in America at the time, a mixture of hope for the future and apathy that nothing really changes. It is at the same time honest and a satire.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray

Rank: 54
Release Year: 1945
Genre: Drama
Director: Marcel Carne
Plot Summary:  Claire Reine, who goes by Garance, is loved by many men, but she only loves a theater mime named Baptiste. However, after she is falsely accused of stealing a man’s watch, she flees Paris under the protection of another man. Both Garance and Baptiste toil in loveless relationships until one day, she finally returns to Paris.
What Makes It Special: Children of Paradise is a French epic that features almost everything cinema has to offer as a medium. It blends visuals, music, and emotion fluidly. Each aspect of the film seems to meld together creating almost a dream-like experience of wonder. The film is often referred to an allegory for the French Resistance against German occupation (Garance the purity of France’s soul), as it was made during the occupation. It is a grand film, achieving artistry unlike any film before or since (something that can also be said about Barrault’s performance).
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray

Rank: 53
Title: Goodfellas
Release Year: 1990
Genre: Gangster
Director: Martin Scorsese
Plot Summary: This is the story of Henry Hill, an outsider who worked his way up through the mob only to rat them all out, and his friends – their rise and fall.
What Makes It Special: With Goodfellas, Martin Scorsese made a gangster film that feels both classic structurally and modern stylistically. It is hyper-violent, yet hip and cool. It takes terrible, bad men and makes them extremely likable and engaging, only to slowly warp that perception. In many ways it is not just a gangster film, but also a look at the cultural change that America underwent from the 1950s through the late 1970s. Goodfellas defines the gangster genre, while irreparably altering it forever.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 52
Title: Metropolis
Release Year: 1927
Genre: Dystopian Sci-Fi/Drama
Director: Fritz Lang
Plot Summary: A futuristic city is divided between the controlling city planners and the anguished working class. However, salvation might finally be at hand for the working masses when the son of the city’s mastermind falls in love with the working class’s prophet – a young woman, who predicts that such a savior will arise.
What Makes It Special: At the time of its release, Metropolis was maybe the most visually ambitious film ever made (rising to the heights of D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance) – its production design is still a marvel even today. It is also one of the most influential films in cinema history, setting the baseline for sci-fi in popular culture going forward. The film is ripe with social, religious, and philosophical ideas and overtones. It is a film that simply cannot be missed for those intrigued by the genre and film’s history.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

Rank: 51
Release Year: 1957
Genre: Drama
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Plot Summary: During the black plague, a knight seeking the meaning of life and answers about the existence of God plays a game of chess against the Grim Reaper.
What Makes It Special: The Seventh Seal is a visual poem, shouting in the darkness, grasping for anything of substance and meaning. It expresses man’s fear that his life has no meaning, that death is inevitable and final, and that faith may have no validity. This is all beautifully played through the story of Antonius Block, a knight returning from the Crusades (a Holy War waged in the name of God) to find his homeland plunged into despair and death with the onset of the Black Plague. Ingmar Bergman’s mortal struggle is breathtakingly visualized and stunningly ambitious in regards to its intellectual engagement with the viewer.
Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

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