So last year (2011) I challenged myself to end the year having seen 230 of the movies in the IMDb 250 list, a constantly updated list voted by the internet for the last 15 years or so. I started the year at 178 and ended at 226, but I did watch around 50-60 new movies in total since they move a lot at the bottom of the list, plus they changed the criteria for inclusion late in the year. All in all I highly recommend doing this! As a more casual film geek I wasn’t likely to go pick up Wages of Fear or Smultronstället up on a whim and this challenge made me watch these great movies, among many others.
Since I had seen most of the major ones before I started the challenge (a healthy 71% of the whole list) it was basically only the obscure entries, non-American or pre-60’s movies on my todo list and while they are still fresh in my head I thought I’d pick out the movies I like the most. I’ll be skipping the Blade Runners, Godfathers and 2001’s because you should know to see those. I’ll be sticking to the ones you are less likely to pick up…but should!
The Third Man (1949 – IMDb)
Ok, this one isn’t really that obscure and is really a stable in all lists that list the best movies of all time. However it’s not a movie that a lot of people have actually seen, including myself before 2011. It was my clear favorite from all the movies I watched during my challenge and it really is amazing. It’s a strange, almost dreamlike, noir movie where dark shadows are mirrored in dark European alleyways. It starts out slowly but it isn’t until the great twist that the movie really starts to fly and nothing about it really feels old nor outdated at all. It’s a masterpiece and one of the best movies ever made, with one of the greatest supporting performances I’ve ever seen. Plus it looks absolutely gorgeous. A perfect movie.. See it!
The Wages of Fear (1953 – IMDb)
Now here’s a movie I would never have picked up if it weren’t for the list. It’s a 160 minute french action thriller about desperate men stuck in South America who see a way out by gaining quick money for transferring nitroglycerin across rough terrain in trucks. Strange premise but the movie is full of suspense throughout and in many ways it’s noted as being one of the most revolutionary and influential action movies ever made. Don’t get discouraged by the slow start (although I really liked that part) …the movie has lost none of it’s suspense. The director, Clouzot, also has another movie on the top 250 list….Les Diaboliques, which also stars his gorgeous wife Vera, and I highly recommend people see that movie as well. That one is a Hitchcock style movie which I actually prefer over most of his work (with the exception of Rear Window, which is my favorite Hitchcock).
In the Mood for Love (2000 – IMDb)
This was the first Wong Kar Wai movie I ever saw and so far it’s my favorite of his. Wong Kar Wai has a very unique style and his movies are quite often more an exercise in setting a mood than telling a clear story. In this movie and also in Chungking Express he really succeeds in setting a mood that sticks with you. If you’ve ever read a Murakami book then Wong Kar Wai has a similar style…strange western influences intermingled with magic realism and a strange mood. It’s not really arty, but it’s also clearly not for everyone. If you want to check this style out then your first stop should be In the Mood for Love. It’s an absolutely wonderful movie and one I think I’ll be watching quite often in the future…just to be able to inhabit that world again. I couldn’t really blog about that movie though without including this scene…like the top youtube comment says “Only Wong Kar Wai could make buying porridge look epic”: