Should you see the Ten Best Movies of All Time?
Irving J. Silvertoad Returns with His Take on Sight and Sounds Top Ten Picks
Sight and Sound magazine has published their decennial poll results naming the best movie of all time. You have probably heard of most of them and pretend to have seen one or two when you are at parties or on dates. Should you actually see them? Let’s take it on a case by case basis.
10 | 8 ½-
You should TOTALLY see it. An aging film director tries to juggle the women and others in his life while making a movie, dancing (sometimes literally) around his problems while the screen fills with things and images you can’t believe you are seeing. Worth a view if just for the opening sequence.
9 | The Passion of Joan of Arc-
Really great silent film about a miserable woman who gets burnt to death. Should you see it? Sure. But not on a date. Unless they are into that kind of thing.
8 | Man with a Movie Camera-
A real surprise that it is on the list but a really great movie. Basically, a giant student art film from way, way back. And Russian. Should you see it? Yes, but just have it playing in the background during a party and look at it when the conversation lulls. People will think you are arty and smart for having it on.
7 | The Searchers-
John Wayne proving he deserves to be known as a bad ass. John Ford’s masterpiece is still a shocking and powerful movie about this country, revenge, tradition and letting go of our ghosts and rage. Watch it while eating beef jerky and drinking sarsaparilla spiked with tequila. Feel way more manly afterward.
You’ve already seen this, right? You haven’t? Holy cow. Don’t tell anyone. Just go watch it now and let’s never speak of this again. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense. Don’t trust anyone who says it does. They are clearly on drugs.
It’s really interesting and really important and it’s a way for the critics to honor F.W. Murnau without being really brave and throwing on Nosferatu. There are clips of it in Martin Scorsese’s documentary A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese. You should watch that documentary anyway. It’s amazing. Those clips are enough. The crossing the street shot is amazing. Trust me. You’ll know it when you see it.
4 | The Rules of the Game-
Renoir (son of the painter) made a movie about class and injustice and how the rich screw over the poor. And he made it funny. It’s great. Put it on and yell at anyone who won’t watch it because of subtitles. Avoid those people in the future.
3 | Tokyo Story-
I’ve never made it through the whole thing. Skip it. But I pretend that I have. You should do the same. If only to make me feel better.
2 | Citizen Kane-
It’s a masterpiece. See it immediately. Watch it with some recognition in the back of your mind of when it was made. All of those things that seem familiar and done? This is the first time they ever happened. Has as many effects shots in it as the original Star Wars. Welles was 26 when he made this thing. Watch him as an old man. There is no way you don’t believe every moment of it. Endlessly quotable. Funnier than you think it could be. Stylish. One can learn pretty much everything you need to know about film from watching it with the commentary by Roger Ebert. Watch it and then watch it with commentary and then watch it again. Day well spent.
1 | Vertigo-
Should it be #1? I don’t think so. I don’t think it is even the best movie Hitchcock made (North by Northwest earns that title) but it’s great. It’s spooky and creepy and the shots meant to actually communicate the sensation of vertigo are still jaw dropping. The opening title by Saul Bass is incredible, as his always were (best one? Grand Prix). If nothing else will get you to see it, keep in mind the whole thing is really about necrophilia. Yuck. And hilarious.
In the final tally, you should see most of them. Or at least Citizen Kane. There are scads of great films that are much more essential than these top ten (except Kane, which is amazing). Get started immediately. Ultimately, just watch something interesting that you wouldn’t normally see and that stupid people would hate. Don’t bother watching Friday again. They still punch out the big dude and still get high at the end. It doesn’t change on the twentieth viewing.