Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest filmmakers to have ever graced the silver screen with art. He is arguably the greatest writer of film ever and he writes and envisions perfect scenes which he executes with prowess. Making this list was like making a list of short films because that’s what a great scene is. It tells a story. It has a beginning and it has an ending. They ways Tarantino gets to those endings are always breathtaking. This is my list of the greatest scenes Tarantino has constructed.
10. Django’s Revenge (Django Unchained)
It’s a solemn image that begins the scene. Silhouettes of a group of people walk away from a funeral, they finally make it to Candyland where they find Django. He offers them their comeuppance. The scene offers a perfect end to a perfect movie. After all the blood and carnage, it’s a happy ending, an ending where bad people are triumphed over and love prevails. It’s fun, it’s cool and it is glorious.
9. Stuntman Mike Meets His Match (Death Proof)
When you watch Death Proof, what you’re watching is a slasher movie. The killer at it’s heart doesn’t use a knife, a chainsaw or an axe however, he uses his car. The film just builds and builds to its explosive ending, arguably the greatest car chase in film. Quentin Tarantino has a way with villains and Stuntman Mike is one hell of a villain. He gets quite the unexpected surprise when he chooses his latest victims.
8. Sicilians (True Romance)
True Romance wasn’t directed by Quentin Tarantino, but he did write it. The movie as a whole, and especially this particular scene, have Quentin’s brilliant dialogue written all over it. Tarantino has a way of creating these almost one-act dramas with some of his scenes. In this scene, the tension rises at perfect pace as it always does and the characters take hold. Both Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper perform off of each other flawlessly.
7. Showdown at House of Blue Leaves (Kill Bill)
Kill Bill is one movie and story told in two volumes. Volume 1 has quite the satisfying conclusion in House of Blue Leaves. This is where she’ll find the first name on her Death List, Oren Ishii. The samurai sword fight between the two of them is epic but it’s the lead up to their fight that makes this scene amazing. Alone and vicious, The Bride cuts her way through Oren’s personal army, The Crazy 88s. The scene is one of Tarantino’s most incredible undertakings and one you can’t take your eyes off.
6. Dinner in Candyland (Django Unchained)
Prior to this scene, Django Unchained is about the loving plight of Django and his friend Dr. King Schultz. This scene is Calvin J. Candie’s show and what a show he puts on. Like all psychotic and sadistic villains, Candie can switch on a dime and that’s just what he does here along with the scene. Everything seems to be going swimmingly for Django until Calvin pulls out a skull and begins to muse about his dead slave, “Old Ben”. We then begin to understand just how despicable this man truly is.
5. La Louisiane (Inglourious Basterds)
The classic drama that plays out in the tavern, La Louisiane, is a miracle of a scene. The first three chapters of Inglourious Basterds introduce its the characters that will play their parts in the cataclysmic fifth chapter. The fourth chapter introduces another character, Lt. Archie Hicox. There are a few scenes in this fourth chapter involving Hicox but it’s the scene in La Louisiane that takes the cake. Quentin Tarantino knows tension and as a result, scenes like this are relentless in their excellence.
4. Killing Bill (Kill Bill)
With a title like Kill Bill, it stands to reason there’s going to be quite the scene involving someone killing Bill. In entirety of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, that just so happens to be the greatest scene in the blood-soaked revenge masterpiece. The relationship between Beatrix Kiddo and Bill is one of love and bloodlust. It’s got the music, it’s got the dialogue and it’s got the emotional baggage. This is the scene with the greatest death in film. The movie builds to this single moment and it’s one of the most satisfying moments in film.
3. Candyland Massacre (Django Unchained)
As Dr. King Schultz and Calvin J. Candie verbally square off, Django quietly sits on the side lines waiting to burst. This is just another one of Tarantino’s classic tension oozing scenes. It’s a scene dedicated to the three best characters in the movie. Calvin Candie once again proves what scum he is, while Schultz once again proves himself to be a good man, a hero. The scene then escalates into the phenomenal gun fight this masterpiece deserved. It’s the greatest scene in Django Unchained and one of the greatest scenes in film.
2. Diner (Pulp Fiction)
In Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino literally defines pulp before your eyes and then gives you the fiction and it’s fiction of the literary variety. The final scene in the movie takes place in a diner and it’s easily one of the greatest scenes in film. Jules Winnfield is the best character in the film and the final diner scene utilizes him to exemplify the very idea of a bad man turning good. There’s never a dull moment in this masterpiece, but this is far and away the greatest scene in the film. This final diner scene is what makes Pulp Fiction the movie it is. It may be a cliché, but this is one of the most perfect examples of a story being brought full circle.
1. Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France (Inglourious Basterds)
Watch Inglourious Basterds and witness Quentin Tarantino’s greatest feat, Inglourious Basterds. The first chapter is a single scene and it’s simple enough, a one-act drama if you will, that consists of a Colonel in Hitler’s Third Reich and his conversation with a cow farmer who may or may not be hiding enemies of the state in his house. This scene unveils one of the greatest characters and villains in cinema, Col. Hans Landa.
The first chapter of Inglourious Basterds is just an example of perfect writing. A central character to the real drama that’s unfolding is introduced and developed as the scene tells a story in and of itself. Denis Ménochet is able to play off a masterful actor in magnificent ways. Christoph Waltz gives a flawless portrayal of a flawlessly written character, Tarantino’s best. The scene exemplifies Tarantino movies as a whole. A beautiful piece of art and always a good time at the movies.
A very long time ago I posted my list of Top Ten Movie Villains. I love a good villain and a great villain almost always makes for a great movie. Just recently, I posted my Top Ten Movie Antiheroes and I’ll certainly I’ll edit those lists as I see fit, but before that I decided this was a list I had to make. Heroes are the kind of characters you love to see prevail because they do the right things when the right things need to be done.
Like many lists, this was a difficult one to come to a conclusion to. First off, I didn’t exactly know how to go about this list. Should I judge the heroes based on how much I personally enjoy the character or should I judge the heroes based on their intentions as a hero. I ultimately chose to make a list with both of those ideas in the back of my mind and this is the result.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece is an allegory of the events and relationships that can drive a person to do the things they do. The nameless hero at the films core is a true hero and one for the ages. He’s mysterious, charming and most of the time he needs no words. He simply puts himself in danger for the people he cares about. Ryan Gosling plays the character masterfully.
9. Rooster Cogburn
One of my favorite genres in film is the western. In terms of the western genre most of the time the protagonists of the story can be considered antiheroes especially in my favorite Clint Eastwood westerns. You’ll find one of my favorite western heroes in the Coen Bros. masterpiece, True Grit. Jeff Bridges just may have given the greatest performance of his career as the alcohol chugging, foul-mouthed, trigger happy U.S. Marshall Reuben “Rooster” Cogburn.
The Dark Knight Rises tells the perfect story it does because it’s made up of so many rich and meaningful characters. I love the part that Catwoman plays in the war that transpires between Batman and Bane. You never know what to expect from her. By the end she’s right where she belongs in this epic. Catwoman fits right in the middle between Batman and Bane in this story of hope. It’s a little reminiscent of the part Harvey Dent played in The Dark Knight only this time with more inspiring results. By the end, Catwoman can’t run away and fight what she truly is, a hero.
Sanjuro simply epitomizes the idea of a lone warrior and wandering samurai. Sanjuro is an enigma, but it’s hard not immediately side with him as he causes chaos in a village ruled by rival gangs. The clever ronin pits the two gangs against each other and the result is intense and completely enjoyable. Sanjuro is a cool, level-headed and wise samurai. He can’t be rattled and if he draws his sword with intent to kill then death is inevitable. He’s one of if not the most iconic samurai in film and he’s one of the greatest heroes to boot.
The Lord of the Rings tells one of the greatest stories in all of film and in said story there are many characters you can’t help but despise and many characters you can’t help but love. My favorite character in all of Middle-Earth is the great wizard, Gandalf. Where as some may argue that the shoes of the hero are filled more by Aragorn, Frodo or Sam I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you. However, the wise and powerful Gandalf is a hero on all accounts and he’s my favorite character in the tale so making this list with out him would be a sin. If you want a true showcasing of heroism just watch Gandalf battle the Balrog in the Mines of Moria.
5. R. P. McMurphy
At the heart of the masterpiece, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is a beautifully woven relationship between a hero and a villain. The power-hungry establishment is personified in my most hated villain (in a good way) ever put on screen, Nurse Ratched. The rebellion to think and act freely is led by one of the greatest heroes put on screen. Jack Nicholson gives his career-best performance as Randall Patrick McMurphy. The character is unbelievably likable regardless of his crazy antics. No matter the case, he has respect for the people that deserve it and though it may mean he stays in the looney bin forever, he’ll take a stand and do the right thing when no one else will. R. P. McMurphy is a truly magnificent character and one the greatest heroes in film.
4. James Bond
James Bond is one of, if not the most, iconic character in existence. He is the definitive secret agent and he is an awesome movie character. My favorite incarnation is Daniel Craig. He takes the realistic world he’s been presented and dances circles around it. He’s a dutiful hero and a reactionary. His charm and charisma are second to none. Never was James Bond more masterfully explored than in Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. Not only are Bond’s roots examined, in the same film he meets his match. James Bond always has his fun with women and his drinks that are shaken rather than stirred, but at the end of the day he does his duty as secret agent, 007.
If you’re looking for heroism in film, look no further than 1954 and you’ll find a gorgeous masterpiece entitled Seven Samurai. Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai tells the tale of seven brave warriors who join forces to protect a village of farmers from bandits. My favorite samurai I’ve had the pleasure to meet through film is the seventh samurai, the clown, the triangle, Kikuchiyo. Toshirô Mufine is the only actor that makes the list twice and how could he not? The man is a delight to watch every single second he embodied Kikuchiyo. He was a confident master of the sword and seemingly he’s also a bit of a buffoon, why not have fun? He was an odd one as the other six samurai point out, but aren’t we all.
He’s a freed slave, he’s a bounty hunter, he’s a vengeful gunslinger, but most of all Django is a hero. He’s a courageous and benevolent force driven by love. His journey is an epic one, the story is gorgeous and Django is a character you feel the need to root for. He’s the fastest gun in the south and nothing will stand in the way of him and the woman he loves. Django is the epitome of a badass and his heroism is the stuff of legend. The character is defined and portrayed flawlessly. Django Unchained is a wild and eloquent excursion into southern slavery in the form of a spaghetti western fantasy and at its heart is Django, without a doubt one of the greatest heroes in film.
My favorite movie, without question, is The Dark Knight. My favorite villain in all of cinema is Heath Ledger’s Joker. It goes without saying, but choosing the number 1 slot for this list was no difficult task. What Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale first crafted in one of my favorite movies ever made, Batman Begins, was nothing short of the greatest hero’s journey ever put on screen.
They also succeeded in crafting the greatest hero in existence. Obviously, Batman was first created in 1939, but never was the character more realized than with what Christopher Nolan has been creating in his Dark Knight Legend. Both Nolan and Bale just show a complete understanding of their character at hand. What Bruce Wayne is, is a man with no responsibility or agenda. He could’ve done anything he wanted to, whether that be a powerful villain or a lazy, rich playboy that he seemingly is. Instead, he became Batman.
The symbol for hope and good in Gotham is Batman, a character like no other who literally is good for the sake of being good. The character may best be defined by the final line of Batman Begins. Lt. Jim Gordon attempts to show his gratitude, “I never said thank you,” he says to which Batman immediately replies “And you’ll never have to.” Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman for the thank you’s or the praise. He does the right thing because it’s the right thing.
To a movie buff or someone who makes a site about movies, it’s essential to make Top Ten Lists. Some of my favorites to make were Top Ten Movie Directors and Top Ten Movie Villains. Top Ten lists are a very fun way to perfectly establish your opinion, but it is often a very difficult task. The most important and most difficult Top Ten List to make is a list of your favorite films.
A Top Ten List of your favorite films has to be honest and completely encapsulate your take on films. I for one couldn’t do it. I do have a list of my top ten favorite films in this post, but I decided instead to post my Top 25 favorite movies of all time. Its a list that was practically impossible to make and will change as the years go on (I will edit the post if needed), but here we go. My Top 25 favorite films are…
25. To Kill A Mockingbird
Gregory Peck is stunningly believable as Atticus Finch, one of the greatest fathers and heroes in cinema. To call To Kill A Mockingbird inspirational is an understatement. Like many great films, while inspiring, To Kill A Mockingbird is equally defeating. It’s a must-see film for every reason imaginable. The original novel is about the author’s actual childhood and the film doesn’t skimp on the thematic potential and tells the powerful tale through the eyes of the children.I have yet to have the pleasure of reading the original source material, but it sure made for one of the greatest films I’ll ever be blown away by.
Trainspotting is a masterfully told film about herione-addicted misfits and friends in Scotland. Though disturbing and twisted throughout, Trainspotting still manages to stay unarguably beautiful, while entertaining from beginning to end. With Trainspotting, what you get is a pitch-perfect portrait of the very ideas of life in general, flawed and fun. Trainspotting is a true masterpiece of a film that makes you love, hate, laugh, cry and enjoy, among others.
Federico Fellini beautifully portrays the memories of his youth and the town where he grew up. The movie is as poignant, colorful, hilarious and honest as life itself. To watch it is to be consumed by it. Fellini is one of if not arguably the greatest filmmaker to ever bless the silver screen with a work of true art and like a true artist, Fellini doesn’t just make pieces of art, with his movies what we are consumed by are pieces of himself.
22. The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is unquestionably one movie. The Lord of the Rings is an epic in every sense of the word. That’s truly the best way it can be described. The Lord of the Rings has in it just about everything you could ever want in a movie; love, drama, adventure, friendship, a huge cast of memorable characters, a beautiful beginning, a magnificent middle, an epic ending and much, much more. The Lord of Rings is that kind of movie that other movies should aspire to be. It’s a movie that makes you realize why we love movies in the first place. It’s a truly sprawling epic of an adventure and one that inspires and enthralls every time.
21. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece is easily one of the most unforgettable and unbelievable experiences in cinema. Still visually striking to this day, but even more striking is Stanley Kubrick’s ambition. 2001: A Space Odyssey may very well be the most ambitious undertaking in cinema as Kubrick manages to tell the story of all of us and our very existence.
20. 12 Years A Slave
With just three masterpieces under his belt, I can already say with confidence that Steve Mcqueen is one of my favorite filmmakers. He has somehow managed to one up himself with each movie he has made and it goes without saying that I can not wait to see what he has in store for us next time. Excuse me if I doubt he’ll be able to top his latest any time soon. 12 Years A Slave is the most raw, real and horrific excursion into the human tragedy that is slavery that I’ve ever witnessed. It’s also one of the most glorious articulations of love and hate ever crafted in the form of art.
19. Throne of Blood
Never before has Akira Kurosawa captured atmosphere like he has in Throne of Blood. Like he does with all his masterworks, he poured his soul into this one and it shows in more ways than one, not the least in the portrayal of Washizu by his greatest collaborator, the awesome Toshiro Mifune. This may be his greatest performance as he plays the samurai version of Macbeth with unbelievable humanity. He manages to find a perfect balance between intimidating and completely fragile.
18. The Shining
Stanley Kubrick’s greatest film is also the most beautiful, flawlessly crafted horror film I’ve ever seen. We walk through the doors of The Overlook Hotel and we witness evil. It’s an evil place and the tragedy that takes place there in is one I willingly experience over and over again. I’m drawn in and blown away by the mastery every single time. Stanley Kubrick was a man who was meant to make masterpieces, with The Shining you’ll find my favorite of those masterpieces.
17. Inside Llewyn Davis
About Inside Llewyn Davis, The Coen Bros. were quoted as saying, “We wanted to make an odyssey where the hero doesn’t go anywhere”. Well in there search for nothing, the greatest duo in film have found everything you could ever want in an extraordinary piece of expression. The film is beautifully melancholy and resonates with its palpable reality and tone. The conclusion or lack there of is unmistakably profound and makes it one of the greatest films I’ll ever made. It surpasses almost every one of their remarkable masterpieces.
It’s hard to swallow that M was made over 80 years ago. And yet it’s still as haunting as ever. Unlike many movies made before it and many movies made long after it, M is not a movie you would call dated. M is a seamlessly plotted psychological drama that will always be pondered over. There’s reason behind every choice Fritz Lang makes in the crafting of this timeless classic.
15. The Human Condition
Whether he’s the protagonist or the antagonist, Tatsuya Nakadai always has a likability to him, which makes The Human Condition that much more painful as we witness what may be the most arduous journey ever depicted on film. With a title like “The Human Condition” you need a hero whose particularly human and that’s just what Kobayashi and Nakadai craft in the courageous, yet flawed Kaji. At over 9 and a half hours, The Human Condition makes for one of the most exhilarating and all-encompassing experiences in cinema.
Akira Kurosawa creates pure cinematic poetry with Rashomon. Kurosawa may be the most influential director to ever make a film and in terms of craft, Rashomon is arguably one of, if not, the most influential of his films. Rashomon not only shows just how much can be done with the art of film, it also tells one of the most powerful stories ever told about stories, human nature and the enigma that lies there in. Rashomon can be viewed as Kurosawa’s entire life and his endless search for truth.
13. La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita is a juggernaut of a film that is as bitter as it is oh so sweet. Federico Fellini captures stark black-and-white beauty in every frame as his first Marcello Mastroianni alter-ego searches hopelessly and shamelessly for “the sweet life”. The film is inspired by Fellini’s own past as a journalist and in a way challenges us to look into our own pasts as he has, learn and progress.
Takashi Shimura breathes pure humanity into Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece of a man searching for meaning in his final days. It is without a doubt a must-see for anyone and not just movie buffs, for it may be the most universal of all of Kurosawa’s masterworks. Kurosawa evokes life in Ikiru, literally “To Live”, and perhaps even more notably, death in an unbelievably fitting structure. It may not sound like the most original story ever told on film, but it’s certainly unlike anything I’ve ever seen and easily one of the most touching.
Yojimbo/Sanjuro doesn’t tell one fluid story and in fact you could watch either of the flawless masterpieces first and all would make sense, for you’d still be watching just one of two endlessly viewable portraits of the life and times of a masterless and wandering samurai. Toshiro Mifune’s nameless samurai is the heart and hero of Yojimbo/Sanjuro and he makes for one of if not the most badass character in film. Akira Kurosawa is a master of the craft and can accomplish realism with ease, but with Yojimbo/Sanjuro he presents one of the most fun and fantastically captivating adventures in film.
10. The Master
In The Master there is not a single beautiful shot or brilliant line of dialogue out of place. Paul Thomas Anderson has a way of getting the best performance out of at least one of his actors and in this case Joaquin Phoenix gives the best performance of his career, which is saying a lot because Joaquin Phoenix is an incredible actor. Some could even make an argument for Philip Seymour Hoffman in this masterpiece. The film is a magnificent and dark enigma. Paul Thomas Anderson just knows how to make a movie and he proves that with his sixth film, The Master, a gorgeous film about choice, obedience, control and freedom.
9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is undoubtedly one of the greatest feats in Cinematic history. One Flew is a beautiful and enthralling tale of the life and times of Randall Patrick McMurphy in a mental hospital. Jack Nicholson gives the performance of his illustrious career. Through the friends he meets, the schemes he pulls and most of all the enemy he makes, we get a story filled with brilliant morals and themes. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an incredibly entertaining film, an inspirational masterpiece.
8. Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is Francis Ford Coppola’s flawless masterpiece. Coppola gets endless praise for his brilliant work, The Godfather, but its Apocalypse Now that he should be remembered for. Apocalypse Now is and forever will be a truly epic war film that brings you on an amazing journey deep into the heart of darkness. The film builds and builds almost to the point of promising you one of the greatest climaxes in film and gives you just that. Apocalypse Now is equal parts violent and philosophical, a truly indelible masterpiece.
7. There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood is tremendous in the way that it tells a story through through the eyes of a single man and examines not the dream, but the american nightmare. It’s one of the greatest character study ever made and without a perfect portrayal of this antihero it wouldn’t be the flawless film it is. Daniel Day-Lewis gives one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen as Daniel Plainview, a depraved oil man whose mask slides off revealing a complete lack of humanity. The drama and rivalry that ensues once Plainview begins drilling makes for one of the most monumental and gorgeous pieces of art I’ll ever bare witness to. There Will Be Blood is unique, real, but at the same time larger than life and monumentally powerful. There Will Be Blood is a beautifully-woven masterpiece in which we watch in horror as an ambitious oilman loses any remnants of a soul.
6. No Country for Old Men
The Coen Brother’s are, unquestionably, two of the greatest filmmakers of all time and this is their greatest feat. No Country is a beautifully violent film filled with unstoppably moralistic power. It’s a blood-soaked tale told magnificently through subtleties, a film that is truly perfect in every way imaginable. No Country for Old Men tells, what seems to be on the surface, a simplistic tale of cat and mouse. A chess game, if you will, between an average joe who happens upon a suitcase full of drug money and a ruthlessly intelligent killer who has no empathy what so ever and will stop at nothing. The powerful tale that is realized with No Country for Old Men is one of violence, malevolence and art. No Country for Old Men is a masterpiece in every single sense of the word.
Ran is an epic tragedy of gargantuan proportions. At 75-years-old Akira Kurosawa still knew exactly how to make a film and not just any film, but a monumental achievement as only a truly magnificent artist could have envisioned and realized. From the first frame to the last I am swept away to this vast and evolving world. Ran is on a whole other level of filmmaking. It defies and tramples over any expectation you could have in a film by any director and this is the director. It astounds with every passing second. Discussing it here could never do it justice. Like all true masterpieces, Ran is a film one must experience for themselves.
Anyone who enjoys the occasional movie owes it to themselves to bask in the glory and perfection that is Harakiri. It begins simply enough, a samurai walks into the house of the Iyi clan and asks to commit Harakiri (the ritual suicide of a samurai). Harakiri offers one of the most engrossing movie experiences ever and on top of that it’s one of the most important. Tatsuya Nakadai makes Hanshiro Tsugumo one of the most captivating characters in film as the one man willing to take a stand against the powers that be. Harakiri tells its compelling story that captivates from start to finish and long after once you begin pondering about all the film has to say, not exclusively bringing into question the meaning of honor. Harakiri tells an endlessly powerful story which by the end proves to be one of the greatest ever told.
3. The Dark Knight Legend
Batman Begins is nothing short of the perfect hero’s journey. We are brought on the wondrous, yet arduous journey of one man as he becomes the greatest hero of all time, Batman. It is a story that asks and answers the question, what makes a hero? And it does so flawlessly and without once being anything, but completely enjoyable. It is monumental, there is an eloquence to it, it is a masterpiece and it was only the beginning. The Dark Knight is unlike any other story or film ever created in the way that is a pure, spectacular and perfect examination of good and evil. The Dark Knight takes the symbol for good established in Batman Begins and brings him to the darkest corners of existence when he goes toe-to-toe with a symbol for evil and the greatest villain in history, The Joker. The Joker is evil for the sake of being evil, while Batman is good for the sake of being good. To see this poetically constant battle unfold between the two is to see nothing short of some of the greatest cinema of all time.
The Dark Knight Rises is a sweeping epic that defines the story that has been being told and offers the greatest end in the history of film. While Batman Begins was about Batman and The Dark Knight was about Batman and The Joker, The Dark Knight Rises is about the beating heart of Gotham and the people who are willing to fight to keep it beating. It can be viewed as Batman’s final trial into the status of a legend. It is an extraordinary masterpiece that brings the story to its inevitable conclusion. The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus through and through. I care about this story and these characters and the events that transpire. As if it were poetry or Shakespearean, this story actually has alot to say and it says alot to me personally. Whether it be The Joker, Bane, Batman, Catwoman, Jim Gordon, Alfred, Ra’s Al Ghul, Talia Al Ghul, Scarecrow or any of the other magnificent characters in this story on the screen I am hooked. I’m involved and engrossed because I care about these characters and what they add to the majesty of it all.
2. 8 1/2
I’m a bit lost for words when it comes to 8 1/2. And I mean how fitting that I find it hard to collect my thoughts and actually produce something when it comes to 8 1/2. I don’t know if there is a movie in existence other than 8 1/2 that calls to mind the phrase “speaks for itself”. Federico Fellini’s masterpiece is truly something you must experience to believe.
“I thought my ideas were so clear. I wanted to make an honest film. No lies whatsoever. I thought I had something so simple to say. Something useful to everybody. A film that could help bury forever all those dead things we carry within ourselves. Instead, I’m the one without the courage to bury anything at all. When did I go wrong? I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the same.” Federico speaks honestly through Guido and to us and from the beginning of 8 1/2 to end Fellini bares all that he has and is.
In personifying himself in 8 1/2, Federico Fellini has crafted a work of art for us and about us. In telling the story of a director finding his voice we realize the similar challenges we all face. He effortlessly uses Guido’s tale as an allegory depicting for all of us from a whimsical dream of a birth to the stage we leave behind. I defy anyone to witness 8 1/2 and not find a little piece of themselves as it is the most personal film I’ve ever seen, if not the most personal and progressive film ever made. It is not only one of the greatest films ever made, but one of the most glorious and beautiful pieces of art I will ever bask in.
1. Seven Samurai
Akira Kurosawa is the greatest artist to ever craft a piece of art and Seven Samurai is his greatest and my favorite movie. No other film offers the reality, the escape, the journey, the camaraderie, the inspiration, the honesty, the heroism, the humanity, the growth, the truth and the beauty that Seven Samurai overflows with. It is the true masterwork of a man who consistently worked to better himself and his incomparable craft.
Not just the film as a whole, but every painstaking detail from character to camera movement to cut is a living, breathing thing with purpose and resonance. I am in awe by it and the master craftsman who made it all possible to say the least. This is a film as only Akira Kurosawa could make. Auteurs have their recognizable trends and styles, but Kurosawa’s trend is consistently progressing, starting from scratch and delving into an entirely new world and feeling. Seven Samurai is like no other film, not even an Akira Kurosawa film as no two Kurosawa films are even close to the same (other than of course the companion pieces Yojimbo and Sanjuro, but that’s neither here nor there).
Seven Samurai tells a seemingly simple story about a village, some bandits and seven samurai. Akira Kurosawa tells his tale and fills it to the brim with as much profound substance and beauty as a single film could have and then some. The film could not have been made any other way. No detail could have been changed. Every character and sequence amounts to the unbelievable epic at hand. I am wholly invested in every second of the film. It dramatically capitalizes on all the potent emotion you could ever ask for in a single film. It’s fun and funny, it’s sad, it’s overwhelming in its scope and it’s a visionary work of art and magic. Seven Samurai is my favorite film and the greatest piece of art ever crafted.
Ranking the films of Quentin Tarantino is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Once I heard word of Inlgourious Basterds I decided to hold off on this list. Quentin Tarantino certainly has his own style of directing, no one, absolutely no one can produce scenes as good as he can. I’m going to be releasing a list of my favorite movie scenes soon and a lot are from the great mind of Quentin Tarantino. It seems that every single scene is nurtured and treated with respect, making each of his films quite magnificent.
Also, obviously any fan of Tarantino knows that he hasn’t directed ten films, only six. So to fill up the other four spots I’ve decided to include the films that he’s also written or created the “story” for or “special guest directed” (whatever that means). This made the list even more difficult to design because Some of the films he’s written I believe stack right up there with his other masterpieces. Well, here it is. Hope you enjoy.
10. From Dusk Till Dawn
From Dusk Till Dawn is just down right fun. Tell you the truth, its not a very good movie. It’s pretty darn corny (on purpose). I could pick up and watch this movie any time. You just have a blast with it. Its hard not to. It starts off as a crime caper, following a spree of the fictional Gecko brothers played by George Clooney and Tarantino himself. Half way threw, the movie takes a completely unexpected turn into chaos. I don’t want to go into detail because the less you know, the better the outcome.
9. Jackie Brown
Jackie Brown is a fantastic film about the double crossings that occur when $500,000 in gun runner money is up for grabs. This is the only Tarantino movie he directed that isn’t an original script. And though it’s great it is the worst film Tarantino directed. Its based off a book and I believe that’s the reason it doesn’t stack up to the caliber of his other movies. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, its just not nearly as amazing as a lot of the other movies on this list.
8. Sin City
Quentin Tarantino was the “special guest director” of Sin City. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I could certainly see some of his style in this film. Sin City is probably the most visually appealing movie I’ve ever seen. It’s quite the beautiful film about not so beautiful crooks. It tells three violent tales involved in the same brutal city. I love every one in this star studded cast and I can never get enough of the film itself. I could and have watched this film an outlandish amount of times.
7. True Romance
True Romance is the first script Quentin ever wrote. Its also one of his best written scripts. I love True Romance it offers a story of violence, drugs, criminals, cops, but most of all, true love. Its the story of a loser who falls mutually falls in love with a call girl. When he accidentally steals a suit case full of cocaine, it sets off a chain of events that lead to chaos. Also, there is a particular scene shared between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper. It is literally one of the greatest scenes ever put on screen. Don’t take my word for it though, you have to watch for yourself.
6. Reservoir Dogs
Reservoir Dogs is the first movie Quentin Tarantino ever directed and it is nothing short of amazing. It tells the tale of a heist gone wrong with out actually showing the heist. Its really a brilliant film showing the aftermath of a heist gone wrong. The fact that one of them just so happens to be a cop offers a bit of fun to the mix. One character I particularly love is the downright sadistic Mr. Blonde. Watch for a scene where he cuts off a mans ear while listening to “Stuck in the Middle With You”.
5. Death Proof
Most people didn’t like the Grindhouse experience or Death Proof for that matter. I for one wasn’t a huge fan of Planet Terrror, I did how ever love every moment of Death Proof and I mean every moment. Death Proof is “the” guilty pleasure movie for me. I look at it and can see that its not that great of a movie. To me it’s a masterpiece though because of how much enjoyment I get out of watching it and trust its been a large amount. I love Kurt Russel, but I never enjoy him as much as when he plays Stuntman Mike. I also love a good car chase, but no car chase is as enjoyable to me as the one at the end of this film. I absolutely love Death Proof and I always will.
4. Kill Bill
If any of Quentin Tarantino’s films can be considered epic, it’s Kill Bill. Kill Bill is a four hour masterpiece driven by the greatest female hero ever put on screen and a fantastic antagonist played to perfection by David Carradine. Kill Bill is the greatest story of well -deserved revenge ever. We know exactly what she’s after, we can’t wait till she achieves in her actions and when she finally does, there’s not much else that is as satisfying. There is an incredible amount of memorable moments from the battling of an entire army of ninjas to a fight between a one-eyed nemesis. I’d also like to mention that Kill Bill has the greatest beginning in film.
3. Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction is one of the greatest films ever made. A masterpiece made up of amazing characters, writing and directing. Has the most quotable script of all time. It’s really amazing how wildly entertaining and amazing a film that Pulp Fiction is. It tells many different stories with many different characters and many memorable moments. Its almost impossible to compete with the palette of awesomeness that is Pulp Fiction. Its hard to express into words my love and admiration for this piece of art. You really have to see this brush stroke in originality for your self. Pulp Fiction basically defines great filmmaking.
2. Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino knows characters, he knows writing and he sure as hell knows how to make a film. That is a perfect combination and Django Uncahined is a perfect movie. Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson make a savage team as the slithery and horrible Calvin J. Candie and his house slave Stephen. Standing against them are the cunning and friendly Dr. King Schultz and the freed slave Django, a hero through and through.
With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino has crafted a spaghetti southern surrounding the dark tragedy that is slavery. Along with his new found friend, Django is the stuff of legend. he’s a hero filled with love and rage. His journey is one of purpose and vengeance. Purpose being the rescue of the woman he loves with vengeance against the onslaught of slavery. Django Unchained manages to surpass the greatness that is Pulp Fiction. Django Unchained offers a folk tale of a movie that is unstoppably gripping.
1. Inglourious Basterds
Back in 1992, with the release of Reservoir Dogs , Tarantino showed that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Than he released a masterpiece in 1994 entitled Pulp Fiction. A film so utterly amazing that no one thought (including me) it could ever be topped. He came close in 2003 and 2004 with the release of the epic samurai tale, Kill Bill. Even that wasn’t able to top Pulp Fiction. It took him 15 years, but he finally did it. He created one of the greatest movies of all time. A film I’m sure he’ll never be able to top. What he created was a spectacle of everything that makes a movie fantastic. I can honestly say with out a doubt in my mind that Inglourious Basterds is Quentin Tarantino’s greatest piece of cinema.
It’s the story of three very memorable characters whose stories intertwine and collide within the darkest time in history (WWII). One character is a young jewish woman (Shosanna) bent on avenging her slaughtered family. Another charcter is a renegade American Lieutenant ,with a penchant for scalping Nazis, who’s hired to lead a band of jewish soldiers whose intentions include causing as much damage as they can to the Third Reich. The last character is one of the greatest ever put on screen. Colonel Hans Landa, played pitch-perfectly by Christoph Waltz, is a nazi detective whose motives are clear to him and him alone.
In the film Inlgourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino has a blast telling the exact story he wants to tell. He holds no punches and has fun with it and as a result I have fun. I love every moment of Inglourious Basterds because Quentin cares about every single moment of this film. Each moment is pivotal to the tale at hand and you never want to take your eyes off the screen. Inglourious Basterds is a masterpiece in every single sense of the word.
The original minds of the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. Their love for violence, their fantastic and memorable writing and their ability to never let you down, just to name a few. But I think Quentin Tarantino tops the Coen Brothers in his creation of some of the most memorable characters in film. Tarantino puts such a graceful brush stroke on every single one of his characters, making each one (no matter how manner) just plain awesome.
As always it was a difficult list to make because I love practically every character Quentin creates. I unfortunately was not able to make room for many characters I would love to find on a top ten such as this. Mr. Pink and Mr. Blonde are my favorite criminals from Reservoir Dogs who weren’t able to make to list. I wish I had room for Shosanna Dreyfuss of Inglourious Basterds, but she just missed the cut. Anyways, here they are, my favorite Quentin Tarantino characters…
10. Calvin J. Candie (Django Unchained)
If Candyland is the mountain surrounded by hellfire that Dr. King Schultz describes in his german legend, than Calvin J. Candie is the fire breathing dragon. Leonardo DiCaprio never fails to show off his chops as an actor and he really shines here as a sadistic, savage and charismatic plantation owner. He’s the kind of villain you just despise from the moment you meet him and DiCaprio sells out. It’s a brilliant character that deserved a brilliant performance.
9. The Bride (Kill Bill)
The Bride is my favorite female hero in all of film. Period. Her determination and bloodlust drive the epic force that is Kill Bill. I love every moment of the four hour movie and it tells the tale of her escapades. Of course I love her. She puches her way out of a coffin buried 6 feet under, kills “88” people (not really, but still a large number) with out breaking a sweat and gouges out a rivals eye with her bare hand. Black Mamba is a samurai and the deadliest woman in the world.
8. Lt. Archie Hicox (Inglourious Basterds)
He only makes it in three scenes of Tarantino’s WWII masterpiece, but one of them just so happens to be almost a half hour long and quite possibly the best scene in the movie. Hicox is an english officer bent on helping the Allies in any way he can. What makes him a shoe-in for this list for me is a scene when he’s told of his imminent death. With pride he sucks down his cigarette, picks up his glass of scotch and says one of my favorite lines in film, “There’s a special rung in hell for people who waste a good scotch and since I may be wrapping on the door momentarily…(finishes the glass)… I must say, damn good stuff.”
7. Stuntman Mike (Death Proof)
I absolutely love Death Proof. Is it that good of a movie? Most would say no probably, but I have a blast with every single time I’ve watched it. I think for the most part I love the movie because its driven by a character I love. The psychopathic killer, Stuntman Mike. A sweet talkin’ charmer who happens to kill girls with his car. He has played many bad asses in his illustrious career, but I don’t enjoy watching Kurt Russell nearly as much as I enjoy him as this bad ass.
6. Bill (Kill Bill)
Bill is simply what he calls himself, “a murdering basterd”. Look deeper though and he’s still a murdering basterd, but also a wise samurai with a broken heart. Every single line Bill has is uttered with sauch subtle grace and beauty by David Carradine. Every single moment is made quite epic by his presence. We don’t even see his face for the first half of the movie. Instead, we get a few shots of his hands, his sword and his cowboy boats slowly walking over to the half dead corpse of the woman he loves and is about to shoot in the head. Bill has a way a about him that makes him hated and loved by all he’s touched by. I for one just love the guy.
5. Dr. King Schultz (Django Unchained)
I like to imagine that Tarantino sees a bit of himself in Dr. King Schultz, a man who could never truly understand Django’s pain and struggle, but who would never the less help Django in any way he could. Dr. King Schultz walks into Django’s life very suddenly and they instantly hit it off. He says it himself, Schultz “despises” slavery and he sees to the freedom of a man he was meant to meet. Together they form a bond willing to stand up against the atrocious tyranny of slavery. He’s a charming man, a wise mentor and a friend.
4. Lt. Aldo Raine (Inglourious Basterds)
Known to his enemies as Aldo the Apache is a nazi-scalping aficionado and the leader of the band of renegade jews sent to do as much damage as they possibly can against the Third Reich. He bares a lynching scar across his neck and we don’t know why, but I love it. Aldo goes through no transition or arch as a character and that’s the reason I love him. We know what to expect out of him. We know what he loves and we know he’d like to be doing it till the day he dies and that is “killin’ nazis.”
3. Jules Winnfield (Pulp Fiction)
Jules Winnfield is by far one of the greatest movie characters of all time. A notorious hitman touched by the grace of god and changed spiritually forever. This is by far Samuel L. Jackson’s best and most iconic performance. “Hmm, that is a tasty burger.” I love every single violent and philosophical induced moment with this “Bad Motherfucker”. You can’t talk about Quentin Tarantino movies and not mention the awesomenous that is Jules Winnfield. From the bible verse he recites before killing somone to his rightfully stitched wallet, I can never get enough of him.
2. Django (Django Unchained)
In Django Unchined, you’ll find the greatest hero Quentin Tarantino has ever created. I never want anything bad to happen to Django and his love, Broomhilda. From the moment he is released from his chains I am rooting for him. He’s the definition of a badass and he’s a righteous man, a hero looking for retribution. Django is reminiscent of a mighty knight riding in to save the woman he loves. You love him and his woman and his journey, you hate the villains that stand in his way and to watch his wrath unleash when it goes down is nothing short of breathtaking.
1. Col. Hans Landa (Inlgourious Basterds)
“The Jew Hunter” is one of the greatest characters in film and by far the greatest character Quentin Tarantino has ever created and probably ever will create. It took him 15 years to top the character Jules Winnfield. I seriously doubt he’ll ever be able to top Hans Landa. A nazi is probably the most hated figure in history, but finally someone had the guts to give one some depth, and Col. Hans Landa is the result (played to nothing short of perfection by Christoph Waltz).
Col. Landa is actually a man who doesn’t buy into the nazi propaganda and instead is just doing his duty and he’s damn good at it because the S.S. officer is also a detective. It really doesn’t get much more interesting than an intelligent nazi colonel who intertwines through the threads of the events and people around him, eventually betraying his country in order to secure his survival and happy future. Col. Hans Landa is a despicable mastermind with no cap on his malevolence.
This is a list I’ve truly been prepping for, for about a year now. About a year ago I had only seen a couple westerns that I had actually enjoyed (a few of those made this list), and I realized as a lover of movies I have not seen nearly enough westerns. So, I filled my netflix queue and got to watching and enjoying. I realized two things while watching the many westerns I did.
First of all, I’m quite sorry to say and I know many won’t agree with this statement and might even just X out of this page as soon as they read it, but an opinion’s an opinion and I’m not gonna lie to agree with society. I found John Wayne to be overrated. I’m just not a fan. I liked a few of his movies, such as The Searchers and The Shootist, and my favorite would probably have to be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but that didn’t even make the list. It probably would be 11 or 12 though if I were to add on to this list.
Secondly, and much more importantly, I realized that the Western genre is one of my favorites and this list would be harder to make than I thought. I was very right. Through watching this dying genre I found not only fantastic westerns, but also some of the greatest movies I’ve seen of all time. Well, I’ve been waiting to do this for a long time now. Here are my top ten favorite westerns.
10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
At the heart of this classic lies what may be the most iconic duo of all time. Paul Newman and Robert Redford play so impeccably well off each other that every scene is made real and memorable. The timing of every witty crack is absolutely perfect, the action sequences are highly entertaining, while sticking to realism and the finale is breathtaking.
Tombstone is a fantastic film that was a shoe in for this list. Tombstone is the greatest telling of the now classic tale of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. There are many memorable parts, from the classic OK coral shoot-out, to Holiday’s tricks with a tea cup in a bar. There’s something for everyone in this flick because even if you don’t find solace in the fantastic scenes, you will certainly find enjoyment out of Val Kilmer’s masterful performance as Doc Holiday.
8. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This is one of the newest westerns to be placed on this list and in my eyes this movie is a breath of fresh air because it showed that great westerns can still be made today. Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck are phenomenal. A brilliant cast and script was combined to tell the very true and quite epic tale of the assassination of one of the most famous western outlaws there ever was.
7. For A Few Dollars More
For A Few Dollars More is a fascinating character study of bounty hunters in the old west. It’s the second film in Sergio Leone’s Man With No Name Trilogy, but as with every movie in the Dollars trilogy, it stands alone as its own fantastic story. Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef make for a very interesting and entertaining pair in the old west. Leone builds tension, keeps you guessing, and in the end he most certainly does not disappoint.
6. The Proposition
The Proposition is another western that is relatively new. It was made only a few years ago and I believe it is one of the greatest westerns of all time, only surpassed by some of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. The plot of The Proposition is genuinely simple, yet superbly poetic. In the Australian Outback, a man is hired to kill his older brother in order to save his younger one from the noose. It’s the most brutal western I’ve seen and it never lets up till its pitch-perfect ending.
5. True Grit
The Coen Brother’s never cease to amaze and with their remake of the now classic John Wayne movie, they do more than that. True Grit is undoubtedly the most light-hearted of their films I’ve seen and the most light-hearted western. It’s also the one that feels the most real. Like almost all westerns, True Grit tells a simple tale, but because of the people who are telling the tale, what you get is something unbelievably moving.
4. Once Upon a Time in the West
Sergio Leone’s complex, gritty, western tale of revenge and mayhem is so amazing that it was hard to even put it at just number three. I’m going to say this right now, Sergio Leone builds tension better than Hitchcock does. Every single scene from the (waiting for the train) opening to the final showdown, your always on edge. I’d also like to say that Ennio Morricone is probably the greatest film composer in history. Westerns almost always have fantastic scores, but this is my favorite of any western score.
Last, but certainly not least I have to mention Henry Fonda’s flawless performance as the ruthless western gunslinger Frank, certainly out of character for him; his best work. This is some of Sergio Leone’s best work. A film that builds and builds with a well thought out, detailed and at times even complex plot that ends up being a very simple tale of good vs. evil. Sergio Leone’s masterpiece is the third greatest western I’ve seen.
3. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Most commonly called the classic western and for good reason. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is nothing and I repeat nothing short of a masterpiece. If I’m not mistaken I think the Man With No Name trilogy is the only trilogy that truly gets greater with each film. Leone’s skill for building tension, which has been attempted, but never matched, was never greater than in every single, intricately plotted, scene of this movie.
What Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood (Blondie-The Good) , Lee Van Cleef (Angel Eyes-The Bad) and Eli Wallach (Tuco- The Ugly) have given us is masterful look at the west, the adventures, and the subsequent stories that were inspired. A story full of depth and characters, whether that be the good guys, the bad guys, and the ones in between. A timeless epic that savors my hunger for excellence with each passing scene eventually leading to what is probably the most iconic and greatest western showdown/ending ever put on screen. And for this, from the bottom of my heart, I thank them.
2. Django Unchained
Django Unchained is about a hero of mythical proportions on a quest for love. It’s a tale of friendship and taking a stand against the savagery of slavery. It’s a spaghetti western and an epic legend with all the blood and violence of the west and the heroes and villains you find in legends. It’s finds a balance between the intense drama that’s playing out and the rollicking good time that it is. It’s a magnificent story as only Quentin Tarantino could’ve told.
It’s hard not to root for Django in his vengeful and loving journey. It’s hard to to jump up and cheer when the whip or gun is turned back on the slaver. Dr. King Schultz can see slavery for what it is and he sees Django as a man and a friend in need. Only together can they attempt to conquer the Candyland and the ignorant villainy that lies within. Django Unchanged is ridiculously entertaining and unbelievably powerful.
As I said in the past, this was a difficult list to make, but there is not a doubt in my mind when it comes to number one. Clint Eastwood starred in many classic westerns including Sergio Leone’s classic Man With No Name Trilogy. Then he directed some of his own great westerns. His knowledge on the genre grew over years of experience and he eventually gave us the greatest western of all time. Unforgiven is the western that was able to do what no other western was able to. It showed us what the west really was. Unforgiven showed us that a ruthless killer could fall off his horse or miss a shot.
Unforgiven shows the realistic West where no one could really be considered the good guy, not even the guy your rooting for (William Munny- Clint Eastood in an Oscar nominated performance) , and especially not the sheriff (Little Bill Dagget- Gene Hackman in an Oscar winning performance). Unforgiven was a masterful look into a world we’ve never seen. We thought we had, but we realize now that was all just fantasy. Unforgiven mixes dark realism with the fantasy Western genre. Add brilliant acting and characters, fantastic writing and direction and the result is not only the greatest western of all time, but one of the greatest movies ever made. A true masterpiece of our time worthy of recognition and praise.