Top Ten Movies of 2012

When it comes to movies, 2012 is the kind of year other years should aspire to be. This was a year full of life changing films, films that resonate in their excellence and astound in their innovation. I loved 2012 and would go as far as to call it my favorite year in film. Subsequently, this was a list I could not wait to make. It’s a list that celebrates my favorite year in film, how could I not be excited to write it? Well, let’s get into it.

10. Prometheus

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Prometheus tells a sort of Greek tragedy in the form of a bleak and beautiful science-fiction odyssey. This is Ridley Scott’s greatest film since Gladiator and it’s a wonder that it happens to be in a genre he helped define back in 1979 and 1982. He redefines it here with a glorious tale of searching for the answers to life’s biggest questions and the cataclysmic events that ensue when curiosity gets the better of us. To tell his tale, he also crafts a character study of a human and a robot. Michael Fassbender enthralls in his portrayal of David.

9. Lincoln

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Lincoln is without a doubt one of the best biopics I’ve seen. Everything just works. Steven Spielberg obviously knows how to make a great film and when he has the greatest living actor working hard to play the main character of his film, you’re essentially guaranteed one hell of a movie. Every supporting actor does a great job, but Tommy Lee Jones deserves a lot of recognition for his scenery chewing performance. Daniel Day-Lewis is the real star here though and his performance is breathtaking.

8. Silver Linings Playbook

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David O. Russell takes boy meets girl genre conventions and flips them on their head. Silver Linings Playbook tells a tale as touching and engrossing as it is inspirational. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro all give knockout performances with their human characters. We follow Pat on a road to self-discovery after his stint at a mental institution. Evey living person is different and this is a superb film about people and the relationships inspired by ones own defining characteristics.

7. Looper

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This is Rian Johnson’s third film and once again he hits it out of park because I loved Brick and The Brothers Bloom, but Looper is his best film yet. Looper may very well be the greatest film involving time travel that I’ve seen and that’s because Looper isn’t about time travel, it subtly uses the idea of time travel to tell an imaginative tale of life, death and the choices that can change everything. Joseph-Gordon Levitt is brilliant in his role of the younger Joe (a hard hitting Bruce Willis) and the movie as a whole is a fascinating drama with delightful tricks up its sleeve.

6. Seven Psychopaths

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Seven Psychopaths is an oddity of a film about film, stories and the people that inspire those stories. Martin McDonagh blew me away with In Bruges and he takes it up a few notches with this masterpiece of reflexivity, nut cases and inspiration. Everyone does their part justice, but the real magic comes from Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken as Billy and Hans. Though they’ve gotten protagonist Marty involved in a dog-napping scheme, Billy and Hans want to help Marty finish his latest screenplay at whatever the cost.

5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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When all is said and done, like The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit trilogy may make for one of the greatest stories ever told. The masterpiece that is The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey does after all begin the story flawlessly.  Much to Bilbo Baggins’ resistance, he is thrust into an adventure that will change his life and middle-earth forever. The film is just an amazing time from start to finish, every single moment was fun and glorious. My mouth is watering with anticipation for the rest of the story.

4. The Master

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Four years after his magnum opus Paul Thomas Anderson proves that all he knows how to make anymore is masterpieces. There is just miraculous beauty to any Paul Thomas Anderson film. Everything he puts in front of the camera is made gorgeous by perfect camera work and direction. The Master examines Freddie Quell, a drifter lost and looking for his way after WWII. He soon stumbles upon an enigmatic and powerful man, Lancaster Dodd. There is a mysterious nature in the way this tale delves in with so much substance, but does so with the examination of a single friendship. The relationship between these two men envelops an extraordinary story of obedience and control.

3. Django Unchained

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Django Unchained was the gorgeous piece of art it was meant to be. In a year this perfect, it would only make sense that Quentin Tarantino would unveil his most recent masterpiece. As his new friend and mentor, Dr. King Schultz, unchains him from his shackles, Django instantaneously falls into his role as a heroic and vengeful freed slave. He’s a total badass and together with his wise new partner they epitomize a force to be reckoned with against the harsh and brutal atrocity that is slavery. The film is relentless in its intensity and constantly a blast.

2. Skyfall

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If I had been told that my second favorite movie of 2012 was going to be a 007 movie, I just would not have believed it. I loved Casino Royale the first time I saw it and I continue to enjoy it this day. I am a firm believer that Casino Royale is a perfect Bond movie, while Skyfall is a perfect movie. Skyfall utilizes and pays homage to conventions from what has become a full-fledged and changing genre, Bond film. Through this icon, it also manages to tell an extraordinary story about the past and how it may shape the future it doesn’t define it.

In order to tell a magnificent story sometimes you need a magnificent villain. With Silva (Javier Bardem), Skyfall offers nothing short of the perfect Bond villain. This is a story about Bond and Silva and it’s a story about M. James Bond is country man and a reactionary hero who will stop at nothing to see the job done and in Skyfall his job is makes its grand and slithery entrance in the form of Silva, a savage and sadistic mastermind, a betrayer who too will stop at nothing to see to it he’s done what he was always meant to do. Skyfall evokes a gorgeous tale of the ways of the old and making way for the new. There’s a kinetic justice in the narrative and every moment of the film is flawless.

1. The Dark Knight Rises

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The Dark Knight Rises is a gargantuan epic and a masterpiece of the highest caliber. It’s almost magic, the way Nolan makes every image and moment of the film absolutely pivotal. Christopher Nolan is a visionary, the greatest director working today. I am blown away at every turn. This is a continuation of a great hero’s journey, the greatest. This is a man who fights for good and justice and does so because it’s the right thing to do. There’s been many friends and foes along the way and The Dark Knight Rises is filled to the brim with engrossing characters.

Christian Bale gives his best performance yet and the same can be said about every actor stepping back into their character’s shoes again as well as the newcomers, whether they be the mysterious Selina Kyle, the courageous Detective Blake, the kind-hearted Miranda Tate or the malevolent villain. In The Dark Knight Rises Batman faces off against the tactical and ruthless brute force that is Bane. Tom Hardy does wonders with a role in which he can only rely on his eyes to tell the story. And what a spectacular story it is. The Dark Knight Rises is the third installment in a series of films, yet with grace and a clear tone it delivers with fresh and glorious territory.

It’s almost 2013 and 2012 will have come and gone. This is a year that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time because this was the year that my favorite story came to an end. In 2005 Bruce Wayne took his hero’s journey and became Batman. In 2008 Batman faced off against his nemesis, The Joker. What was realized was the perfect tale of good, evil and balance. In The Dark Knight Rises Batman becomes the hope to counter the despair that faces his city. If The Dark Knight Legend (or The Dark Knight Trilogy if that tastes better going down) is about one thing, it’s about hope and when it came to The Dark Knight Rises I hoped it would be a masterpiece, but little did I know, the entirety of The Dark Knight Rises is the perfect ending to the greatest story ever told.

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Top Ten Movie Friendships

This is a list I was just recently inspired to make. Once I got started, there were many options, but it wasn’t actually too difficult of a list to make. I realized very early on that this wasn’t just a list of the closest friends in film, it was a list of my favorite friendships in film and what they meant to their stories as a whole. It was interesting to also look at each individual character and the part they played in the friendship. It was fun list and I hope you enjoy.

10. The Dude and Walter Sobchak (The Big Lebowski)

Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski and Walter Sobchak are two loyal buddies who enjoy conversation, each other’s company and bowling. The Big Lebowski is my favorite comedy and the two main characters are great friends, but part of the hilarity comes from the fact that The Dude and Walter contradict each other so much. The Dude is the chillest of chill, he let’s things slide and lazes around without a care in the world, while Walter is a Vietnam veteran prone to screaming and pulling out his “piece”.

9. Billy Bickle and Hans Kieslowski (Seven Psychopaths)

If you didn’t get the chance to catch Martin McDonagh’s masterpiece, Seven Psychopaths, I’d get on that. Yes, Marty and Billy Bickle are best friends and to watch Billy violently attempt to inspire Martin to finish his most recent screenplay is thrilling. However, in this story about stories, the friendship that offers the juiciest inspiration to Martin’s story is one between Billy and the wise and mysterious, Hans. Hans takes life as it comes whereas Billy has plans to tell his story how he sees fit.

8. R. P. McMurphy and Chief Bromden (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

One Flew OVer the Cuckoo’s Nest is one of the greatest movies ever made and the more interesting relationship involved is one between a hero and a villain. However, there are some great friendships formed in the film and the most beautiful of all is the friendship between the free-spirited Randle Patrick McMurphy and quiet Chief Bromden. Chief Bromden is the patient affected most by McMurphy’s will to stand up against the oppressive Nurse Ratched. The friendships leads to one of the greatest endings in film.

7. Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin (The Social Network)

The Social Network is a generation-defining masterpiece and it’s not about Facebook. It uses Facebook and this internet age we live in to tell a timeless tale of people and their nature. At the heart of this extraordinary film is a friendship that exemplifies betrayal. “I was your only friend. You had one friend.” Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were best friends at Harvard University before the multi-billion dollar company, Facebook, got involved. Eduardo is merely “left behind” in the wake of Mark’s rise.

6. Aidan and Woodrow (Bellflower)

Insipered by Mad Max, Aidan and Woodrow are two best friends who aimlessly spend their days making flamethrowers and bad ass cars for their post-apocalyptic gang, Mother Medusa. The only problem is that the apocalypse hasn’t happened yet so until then they’ll seemingly spend their days drinking, hanging and preparing. That is until a girl makes her way into the picture. Aidan is one of the most loyal friends in film. He’ll do anything for his best friend. It’s too bad I can’t say the same about the adolescent antihero, Woodrow.

5. Andy Dufresne and Red (The Shawshank Redemption)

I’ve never personally met a single person who wasn’t moved by the beautiful movie that is The Shawshank Redemption. It’s a stupendous film hardships, hope and the saving grace of friendship. The two friends at the center of this flawless film are none other than Andy Dufresne and Ellis Boyd Redding. Andy and Red are two charming, kind, intelligent and loyal friends. They are also prisoners at Shawshank prison and it’s their friendship that unites them through hell and to eventual freedom.

4. Sam and Frodo (The Lord of the Rings)

The Lord of the Rings isn’t just one of the greatest movies of all time, it’s one of the greatest stories ever told. We are taken on an epic journey and one friendship stands not on;y as the best, but also as the most important for without it middle earth would’ve never been saved. “Frodo wouldn’t have gotten very far without Sam”, those words spoken by Frodo at the end of The Two Towers are honest and true. The friendship between Sam and Frodo is a lasting one that overcomes the fiercest of obstacles. If the two didn’t have each other Middle Earth would’ve never been saved.

3. Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd (The Master)

This was actually the friendship that inspired the making of this list. The Master just came out recently and I was blown away. It’s a modern masterpiece that exudes brilliance with every passing second. It tells a poetic and powerful story about obedience and control. At the heart of The Master is the relationship between a leader and a follower. Freddie Quell is a drifter, a confused man looking for purpose after a violent world war. In a word, Quell is lost until he meets one Lancaster Dodd. Dodd is the influential leader of a religious following entitled The Cause. There’s a unspoken battle of power between the two them, but at the same time there’s an underlying love between them. They care about each other, but they’re just following different paths.

2. Narrator and Tyler Durden (Fight Club)

Fight Club is and always will be one of my favorite movies. It’s a dark, nihilistic and extraordinary look at a bored generation. There is just layers and layers of meaning behind the enthralling masterpiece that is Fight Club. The friendship that drives this raw and insane drama is the friendship between the Narrator of the movie and the charismatic Tyler Durden. The Narrator is the white collar worker who exemplifies that bored generation I mentioned, while Tyler Durden is the anarchist and chaos that takes him out the mundane funk he seems to be in. However, there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the mystery that is Tyler Durden. Tyler Durden is one of the greatest characters in the history of film and it’s a relationship with him that tells one of the greatest stories of all time.

1. Batman and Commissioner Gordon (The Dark Knight Legend)

The friendship between Batman and Jim Gordon represents the greatest friendship in film. The Gotham police Commissioner, James Gordon is Batman greatest friend and ally. Not only are they true friends, but their friendship is solely based on the idea of fighting the good fight against the forces of evil. Batman is an absolute good, he does what he does because it’s the right thing to do. Commissioner Gordon is a good cop, one of the few. He’s a good man, a hero worthy of praise, but he has to do the good things he does under the confines or “shackles” of the law.

“A hero can be anyone, even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat on a young boy’s shoulders to et him know the world hadn’t ended”. The life of the greatest hero in existence can be a lonely one and without the lasting friendship between noble cop, Jim Gordon, Batman would not have been able to overcome the chaos and despair that he overcomes. Batman and Gordon don’t hug, or catch up, they don’t go out for coffee, invite each other over for family dinners, or catch a movie. The friendship between Batman and Commissioner Gordon is based around protecting the innocent and the good people who can’t fight for themselves. It’s the greatest friendship in any story ever told.

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The Master Review

Normally when it comes to a movie as broad, brilliant and enveloping as The Master, it takes me multiple viewings to really appreciate exactly how extraordinary that which has been bestowed before me actually is. Every passing moment of The Master just served as a reminder of its overall excellence. As I sat and watched this film it was hard not to realize that what I was watching was nothing short of a modern masterpiece.

The Master is just a prime example of a movie that gets everything right. Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest filmmakers to have ever existed and he proves that here again with his sixth film. Since his creation of the epic that is Boogie Nights, Anderson has turned out nothing but masterpieces. The Master is just another Paul Thomas Anderson masterpiece that was completely captivating during every single solitary second of the film.

As with all Paul Thomas Anderson movies, there is no shot out of place. He has such a grace to the way he makes film and with There Will Be Blood and The Master, it seems that Anderson has really come into his own as the masterful storyteller he is. Every single dynamic shot is just breathtaking to look at. There is such purpose to every choice Anderson makes. He knows his characters and his vision and with confidence he just does what he does best and tells a story.

The Master tells a mesmerizing and honest tale about the relationship between two men, Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd. Freddie is quite the peculiar character. He’s a drifter and a follower. He’s a confused man who acts on impulse and he sticks to what he knows; fighting, drinking, sex and the sea. He’s finding his way in a post-war world, which leads to a chance meeting with one Lancaster Dodd. Dodd is a leader. Quite literally, he is the “master” of his very own religious following entitled The Cause. Unlike Freddie Quell, Lancaster Dodd is very confident and sure of himself. He is the kind of man who people listen to, whereas Quell is the kind of man who listens. The relationship of these two men is at the heart of this extraordinary drama about choice and control.

The two men are completely different characters and both are played to perfection. From the moment you meet Lancaster, there’s just this enigmatic aura to him. Philip Seymour Hoffman makes it so the character seems important and every line he utters is just another testament to his patience, power and importance. It’s rare for the film to have a scene without its troubled protagonist Freddie Quell and Joaquin Phoenix just became his character. The confused drifter is so incredibly defined through writing and the greatest performance of an amazing actor’s career.

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the greatest directors to have ever made a film and it’s an honor just to watch one of his movies because he really puts his all in it. The Master is his latest masterpiece and with each of his new masterpieces, he brings something new and spectacularly special to the table. He wouldn’t make a movie if he didn’t have something to say and with The Master he says a lot. It’s a film that spoke to me instantly and as I said before, such a beautiful piece of art must be appreciated overtime. I look forward to doing just that, but for now I can call it what it is, a masterpiece.

Grade: A+

Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2012

I was always thinking about making this list, but I never took the time to coherently think about it. This was probably the easiest list I’ve ever made. I never saw much point because I knew it wouldn’t be that difficult to realize what films I want to see more than the others in a year that may go down in history as one of the greatest. Well with out much more introduction I’d like to just get into it. These are my most anticipated movies of 2012…

10. Seven Psychopaths

Martin McDonagh is the writer and director of In Bruges, a unique film that finds a brilliant balance between comedy and drama and a film I’m actually a huge fan of. Seven Psychopaths sounds even more promising. It has something to do with screenplay writing, assassination, and dog-napping. It also stars Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson. I can’t wait.

9. Lincoln

Just the idea of Steven Spielberg making a biopic about arguably the most important President in American history sounds great. Add to that the fact that my favorite actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, is playing the titular character. Also Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing his son. This almost seems to good to be true. I don’t know much about this Lincoln movie at all, but I do know I am unbelievably excited to see it.

8. Skyfall

I absolutely love Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, there aren’t that many movies that offer as much fun as those two movies do. Skyfall is the sequel and one that sounds downright incredible. The story sounds more personal, Ralph Fiennes is involved and the villain is played by Javier Bardem. Daniel Craig is fantastic as the James Bond crafted for a more realistic and gritty world and Skyfall will be awesome.

7. Only God Forgives

Drive was my favorite movie of 2011 and without question one of my favorites ever made. Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling make an amazing team. Only God Forgives is a film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and it stars Ryan Gosling. It tells some type of story involving cops, criminals and a thai-boxing match. I don’t know much, but it interests me and I could know nothing about the story and still need to see it.

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Lord of the Rings offers up one of the greatest stories ever told. The Hobbit is the prequel to that very story and obviously I can’t wait to see it. I do already know that The Hobbit is no The Lord of the Rings, but it is a story that expands upon a universe that I love dearly. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will be spectacular and it’s unbelievable that I’m only able to put it at number 4. Any other year and this could’ve easily been number 1 on this list.

5. The Master

The Master may be the movie on this list I know the least about, but it’s also one of the ones I’m most excited about. Paul Thomas Anderson is one the greatest crafters of film who ever existed. The Master is a movie that examines religion and studies a sort of L. Ron Hubbard character. Had it been another director the film might not have interested me. As a Paul Thomas Anderson movie I can already see all the pieces falling into place.

4. Looper

This movie should be much higher on this list, but 2012 is going to be an extraordinary year for movies. Rian Johnson is a fantastic director, I know this and he’s only directed two movies. Both The Brothers Bloom and Brick are masterpieces. They’re innovative, incredibly written and the directing is brilliant. Looper is Rian Johnson’s next movie and like Brick it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If Looper is anything like his previous works, I’m in for one hell of a treat.

3. Prometheus

This is actually the movie that inspired me to just finally sit down and make this list. There was never a question as to what my top 2 on this list would be, but it was the newest trailer for Prometheus that made me realize how potentially perfect of a year for films 2012 could be. I practically know nothing about the story at hand here, but this looks like genre-defining stuff, truly. Ridley Scott showed what sci-fi movies could be with Alien and Blade Runner and now with Prometheus it looks like he may be doing the same thing, but with the technology we have now. If this reaches its potential, I don’t know if we’ll be able to handle it.

2. Django Unchained

At first I was saddened by the fact that I had to use the picture that I did, but then I realized that picture is all I would need to understand the necessity to see this movie. Quentin Tarantino is my second favorite writer and director and I look forward to all of his future projects, but with Django Unchained, it’s not just the fact that it’s a Quentin Tarantino movie.

The film stars Jaime Foxx, Christoph Waltz (a piece of casting that would get me to see any movie), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Kurt Russell and Leonardo DiCaprio as villain Calvin Candie. Let me repeat that: Leonardo DiCaprio is playing a villain. That’s another fact that would easily get me to see a movie. Now let’s discuses the fact that Django Unchained is also going to be a spaghetti western, a genre that Quentin Tarantino was born to put his own style on.

1. The Dark Knight Rises

I have literally never and I mean never looked forward to a movie as much as I have The Dark Knight Rises. There was never a question as to what movie would be number 1 on this list. If I had to choose between watching between watching The Dark Knight Rises and watching any other movie that has ever existed and ever will exist I would choose The Dark Knight Rises and I would be able to decide that in seconds.

The Dark Knight Rises is the final film in my favorite series of films and in that way, I have never wanted to see a movie more than I have this one. It’s got all the same actors playing the same great characters and plenty of other casting decisions that’ll make for what should be able to stack right up there with The Dark Knight. Its got Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Liam Neeson, Anne Hathaway and the brilliant Tom Hardy as the main antagonist, Bane.

Christopher Nolan is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. In terms of originality, the movies he makes are nothing short of inspiring. The emotion, magic and potent storytelling that Nolan offers up in the Dark Knight Legend he’s been crafting is simply perfection. Christopher Nolan has never let me down and there’s no way he’s going to let me down with the sequel to my favorite movie that has ever been made. Not only is The Dark Knight Rises my most anticipated movie of 2012, it’s my most anticipated movie of all time.

Top 25 Movies

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

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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.

24. Trainspotting

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.

23. Amarcord

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

16. M

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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

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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.

14. Rashomon

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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

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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.

12. Ikiru

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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.

11. Yojimbo/Sanjuro

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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

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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.

5. Ran

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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.

4. Harakiri

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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

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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

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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.

 

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