Today marks our one year anniversary. It’s hard to believe it’s gone by so quickly, and it’s even harder to fathom how quickly our site has grown. We never thought when we started that we’d be getting tens of thousands of readers and listeners. We humbly thank you all for reading.
Surprisingly, there is only one film on our list that won the Academy Award for Best Picture. All of them, with the exception of Paths of Glory, were nominated for best picture. We scanned all genres, decades, and nations to pull together a list we’re very happy with. It wasn’t easy, but it sure was fun. We’re not ranking them. Instead, we’re simply naming these The Ten Greatest Movies Ever Made:
Paths of Glory: This is an anti-war film that looks at the true inhumanity we don’t often speak of in war, and that is how we treat our own soldiers. Paths of Glory has a script that is wise without ever wagging a finger in our faces and has some of the best war cinematography ever seen. It gives a sense of gloom and a foreboding destiny for the soldiers. Kirk Douglas was fantastic.
The Wrestler: This is simply a phenomenal film. We’ve heard people say it was nothing but violence and a “dumb guy movie.” They missed the point. This is a father/daughter story. It’s about a man who makes every wrong decision, but always tries to make it right. He has a great heart, but can’t get out of his own way. It’s a heartbreaking story with a performance by Mickey Rourke that is rarely seen. He is the only man that could have been Randy “The Ram.”
Forrest Gump: Is one of those rare films that touch on every aspect of our lives: love, loss, hope, fear, humor, confusion, growth and being lost before you find your way. This film was brilliantly directed and acted and had incredible waves of emotion, from complete hilarity to disbelief, heartbreak and fear. It’s a masterpiece.
Dr. Strangelove: It’s hard to believe that someone could make the Cold War funny, but that’s exactly what Stanley Kubrick did in this dark, smart comedy he co-wrote and directed. He took something that gripped two nations with fear and had the intelligence to make a script with absolute levity. We couldn’t be happier to have this film on the list.
Raging Bull: Which film won best picture at the Oscars the year Raging Bull was nominated? Anyone? Anyone? Exactly. It was “Ordinary People,” a good but forgettable film. Raging Bull will always stand the test of time. It’s unforgettable. As the great Roger Ebert said: “(Raging Bull) is a movie about brute force, anger, and grief. It is also, like several of Scorsese’s other movies, about a man’s inability to understand a woman except in terms of the only two roles he knows how to assign her: virgin or whore.”
Jaws: The perfect action thriller. Amazing acting, tight and suspenseful directing, and an antagonist that lived up to the hype. Each time we watch it, we think it’s even more than the last. It put Steven Spielberg on the map and ushered in the first summer blockbuster.
The Shawshank Redemption: It takes an amazing story to grip you for three hours with little or no action. Stop and think about it. What was Shawshank’s big action scene? There wasn’t one. Even the jail break at the end was told in flashback. And yet, we cannot remember a film that gripped us more than this one did. The dialogue is thought provoking and honest and the acting of the entire collaborative cast gets you hooked right from the beginning. This is the kind of movie that people can relate to and understand 100 years from now. A gem.
Seven Samurai: Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece is a triumph of the human spirit. It shows what can happen when a group of people decide to rise up against all odds and defend the life and people they love. We are introduced to a foreign land in a foreign time spoken in a foreign tongue and yet there’s not a person on earth that can’t relate. That’s a testament to not only Kurosawa the filmmaker but also Kurosawa the writer. A true artist and genius.
The Exorcist: The most unnerving and frightening film ever made. Why did it end up on this list? Because it’s about more than pea soup vomit and curses thrown at holy men from a foul demon. It’s about good winning over evil when it feels like all hope is lost. It’s also about a faith challenged man, who despite his questioning of God, still finds his heart when he needs it most. William Friedkin’s work here is stupendous and timeless.
Pulp Fiction: The greatest and most important independent film ever made. It not only made Quentin Tarantino a household name, it also put Miramax on the map and opened doors for so many indepedent filmmakers. Not only is the movie historically important but it is also amazing entertainment wrapped in possibly the greatest script ever written for the silver screen. The dialogue is spot on perfect, the casting is perfect, the progression is perfect, and his direction is flawless. You see where I’m going with this? Perfect.
Top 5 Technologies that Changed Movies Forever
What will Superman change in now that phonebooths are all gone?
5. The Cell Phone: This isn’t really a technology that was directly made for the cinema but it changed the way movies were written. No longer are characters tied to desks, telephone booths, or home phones. All conversations can take place anywhere at anytime and are untraceable. Stop and think about how many movies in the last 10-15 years could not have been made without a cell phone. Almost every modern crime, action, and horror film completely relies on them. Also, cell phones have to be accounted for somewhere in the story. A character will almost always show that they can’t retrieve signal on their cell phone, lose it, or damage it in order for the plot to progress where they are helpless and alone or the audience’s first question is, “Why don’t they just call for help on their cell phone?”
4. Panaglide: I’m sure some of you are saying, “What the hell is Panaglide?” Well, Panaglide was a steadicam that attached by harness to a cinematographer to allow them to have isolation between the movement of the camera and the movement of the operator. This allowed them to get shots that were previously considered impossible. In the past, sets had to be created to allow for fluid movement of the camera and space for dolly tracking and cranes so that it wasn’t done handheld with the “shaky cam” effect. Panaglide solved that problem by creating smooth motion with one operator in cramped spaces. A great example of Panaglide is the opening sequence of the horror classic “Halloween”. The technology allowed the Director of Photography (Dean Cundey) to smoothly move from outside the house, inside and through it, have a murder scene, and then exit the house in one continuous shot in cramped space on location without dolly track on a very limited budget. Remember that great shot in Goodfellas where we are introduced to all the mob characters in one shot? Panaglide. Remember that great shot in Boogie Nights at the pool party that kept going for almost three minutes and underwater? Panaglide. It changed how films were made forever.
3. Surround Sound: I remember like it was yesterday the first movie I heard in full Dolby Digital surround sound. It was the terrific film Star Trek: First Contact. I was sitting in the theater and the moment the opening credits started I got goosebumps. The theater was completely alive with sound coming from all directions with crystal clear clarity. Unlike the days of stereo, when a spaceship flew by it felt like it went right over your head and through the theater. It immersed you in the experience of the story in a more complete way. Surround sound also changed the way directors and sound engineers created their movies. Effects and sounds had to be thought of in a 360 degree environment where the audience was just as invested with their ears as their eyes.
2. CGI: Love it or hate it, CGI changed movies forever. A lot of movies in the past were considered unfilmable. The ideas of large creatures, otherworldly locations, or sheer volume of fictional characters on screen at one time required such a huge financial commitment from film financers that many scripts were thrown away. CGI changed all that. For example, Steven Spielberg has said that without CGI, he would have never made Jurassic Park. After George Lucas saw what the technology could do, he decided it was time to start making new Star Wars films. And, James Cameron sat on his Avatar film for years because he knew that he needed CGI in order to achieve his vision. The technology had an even greater effect on the world of animation. The majority of films today are made through the process of computer animation. Pixar, Dreamworks, and Sony are just 3 of the many studios that are computer generated only. It has resulted in billions of dollars of revenue and been a driving force for creative flexibility.
1. Home Video: There is no single technology other than film itself that has changed cinema more than the ability for us to have movie playback in our home. It has gone through several advancements over the years: Beta to VHS to laserdisc to DVD to blu-ray and streaming. But, no matter the method of playback, the technology created new businesses through the home video rental market, movie collectors to buy and own their favorite films, and opened up a second way to get revenue for studios besides box office numbers. But, the most important thing it gave us by far is for us as film lovers to see movies we never got to see before. In the past, films would get re-released in theaters for short periods of time so that we could see films that we missed during their initial theatrical run. But, you would never know which films would come back and for how long. Today, we are so lucky to be able to see almost any film we want through services like Blockbuster, Netflix, Cable on-demand, or streaming boxes like Apple TV. It’s a great age to live in if you’re a film buff and it’s the most important technology added to movies ever!
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