We are just at the end of my list of the films that I consider the greatest 50 films of all time. This list has been a labor of love for me. I just love movies, and I loved doing all the research, and discussing the film, and I hope my readers will get a chance to go on Netfilix, or if these films wind up on their cable, or dish networks, they will check them out. As a little bonus, since the Oscars are airing THIS Sunday, the 26th of this month on ABC at 7pm EST, I am going to give out my personal Oscar picks for just the major categories.
That being said, in the last section, I went over great films such as “Richard III” (1955), “Gandhi” (1982), “Elmer Gantry” 1960, and others. Here is the final group. This group of movies are the movies that I call the best of the best.
Here are my top ten films of all time (10-1)
10. Titanic (1997) directed by James Cameron
Synopsis: The film is a fictionalized account of two lovers, one a steerage passenger, Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), and the other, a woman,Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) who is engaged to a wealthy man (Billy Zane) who are on board the ill fated RMS Titanic.
My Analysis: Titanic is awesome. I have seen this film so many times, and never get bored. I have been fascinated with the story of the disaster since childhood, and I still am amazed that something like this could have happened. The two pet peeves for me is arrogance and stupidity, and this disaster has plenty of both. I mean, the Titanic’s captain is given six ice warnings on the day the ship would eventually run into the iceberg, and does not even slow the ship down? How arrogant and stupid does he have to be?
Anyway, DiCaprio, Winslet, and Gloria Stewart who plays Rose as an old survivor who tells the story in flashback are all awesome. The movie is awesome in just about every way. I do wish the Californian had been featured, but other than that, the film is amazing The film was nominated for 14 Oscars and won 11. The film is a classic, and Celine’s singing of “My Heart Will Go On” puts the film over the top as a great film.
Titanic Sinking: Grand Staircase Scene:
9. On the Waterfront (1954) directed by Elia Kazan
Synopsis: Former boxer and longshoreman, Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is tormented by the decision to testify against his corrupt boss, Johnny Friendly (Lee J.Cobb).
[adinserter block=”2″]My Analysis: This is an incredible film, despite director Elia Kazan’s use of the film to make Malloy (Brando) (who finally agrees to testify against his boss, Friendly (Cobb),a hero, only to justify his (Kazan) going before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee where Kazan named names. Brando gives one of his very best performances in which he won his first Best Actor Oscar. Eve Marie Saint is awesome as Edie McCoy, the sister of the man whose murder Terry Malloy was tricked into assisting . Karl Malden is fabulous as Father Barry who counsels both Edie and Terry. Cobb is great as Johnny Friendly, and Rod Steiger is fantastic as Malloy’s brother Charlie. I definitely recommend readers check this out. In my opinion, Marlon Brando is the best American actor ever. This film performance just solidifies my position.
The famous “I could have been a contender.” speech:
8. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951 ) directed by Elia Kazan
Synopsis: Based on the Tennessee Williams play of the same name, a washed up Southern Belle, Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) moves to New Orleans to live in with her sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), and Stella’s brute of a husband, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando).
My Analysis: This is a great adaptation of Williams’ play. Williams, along with Oscar Saul co wrote the script for the movie. Due to the Hays Code that was still in effect, all references to homosexuality were removed. Nonetheless, the film tells the story of Blanche DuBois who a kind, southern belle type, but still has delusions of grandeur. Vivien Leigh just nails the role. The viewer picks up on Blanche’s kindness, but you also pick up on her vulnerability, and one can sense she is not quite ”all there” Three of the four main characters were played by the actors who played them on the Broadway play, except for Blanche who was played by Vivien Leigh. Karl Malden is amazing as Mitch, Stanley’s co worker and best friend who starts a romance with Blanche. Brando’s performance as Kowalski is one of the most memorable in movie history, even though, unlike his co-stars, Leigh, Hunter (excellent as Stella), and Malden, he did not receive an Oscar. I highly recommend readers and movie fans check this film out.
Stanley and Blanche meet for the first time:
7. Amadeus (1984) directed by Milos Forman
Synopsis: A film adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play of the same name where after an attempted suicide, composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) confesses to a Priest that he recognized that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had a lot of talent, but since God did not bless him (Salieri ) with the talent, but blessed a rather (in Salieri’s eyes) a rather smutty guy like Mozart, Salieri then talked about how throughout Mozart’s career, Salieri would do everything he could to sabotage Mozart’s career to the point of murder.
My Analysis: This is a great work of art. In the background, you can hear Mozart’s glorious work. F. Murray Abraham is fantastic. Tom Hulce (Animal House) is great as Mozart. There is a lot of drama, mixed in with comedy. The costumes, plus the film being primarily shot in Prague give the film that late 18th Century flavor. There is also that creepiness aspect of Salieri wanting to kill Mozart. Even back then, there were politics, and backstabbing. The film is totally awesome, and I could watch it over and over. One thing to remember, this movie is NOT to be taken as a biographical film on Mozart. Awesome film nonetheless.
Salieri “helping” Mozart finish Mozart’s Requiem (sorry for the French subtitles):
6.The Godfather II (1974) directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Synopsis: Based on the characters in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather,” “The Godfather II” is a sequel to the events to the first “Godfather” film where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) is now the head of the family, and the leader of the family business. The film is also a prequel to the first movie where the viewer gets to see the young Vito Corleone arrive in America, and make his mark. The adult version is played by Robert DeNiro who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
My Analysis: This is the best sequel ever. I really enjoy how Coppola intertwines the past, and the present together. The film is really brilliant in that respect. Pacino gives a great performance, and should have won Best Actor, but Oscar’s idiosyncrasies struck again. The Best Actor Oscar went to Art Carney for “Harry and Tonto,” a movie about an old man and his adventures with his cat. Unbelievable. Regardless, the rest of the cast is great. Diane Keaton , as Corleone’s wife, Kay, is fantastic. John Cazale is awesome as Fredo. Lee Strasberg is great as Hyman Roth. DeNiro is terrific as the young Vito Corleone. This is a great sequel, and I highly recommend it.
The Movie’s Trailer:
5. Casablanca (1942) directed by Michael Curtiz
Synopsis: An American expatriate Rick (Humphrey Bogart) Cafe Owner in Casablanca helps a former girlfriend Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) and her husband, a Czech resistance leader, Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid) escape the Nazis. The film is based on “Everyone comes to Rick’s,” by Murray Burnett, and Joan Alison
My Analysis: This film is an incredible film, and ranks as one of the best of all time, and deservably so. Rick’s conflicted feelings about his remaining love for Ilsa, and his sense of duty to fight the Nazis are very palpable. Bogart, in his first romantic role, hits this out of the park. He and the lovely Ingrid Bergman have such great chemistry. Paul Henreid, who I find to be a very stiff actor, does a pretty good job. However, it is the smaller roles that are performed by people such as Peter Lorre, and Claude Rains which really shine. Lorre’s character, and the Laszlos were supposed to meet to get these letters of passage, but Lorre’s character, Signor Ugarte dies while in police custody, and never revealed that Rick had them. Claude Rains nearly steals the film as the French officer who changes his mind like the wind trying to please everyone, including the visiting Nazi officers. “Casablanca” won for Best Picture.
The Dueling Anthems scene:
4. Citizen Kane (1941) directed by Orson Welles
Synopsis: A once idealistic newspaper man, Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), eventually becomes corrupted, and hungry for power. The film is very loosely based on the life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.
My Analysis: Many critics consider this the best film ever. With the way Welles, and crew had the film shot, and with all the cinematography involved , which was pretty advanced for 1941, it is hard to argue. It is an awesome film. The acting by Welles as he portrays Kane as a young, idealistic newspaper man who becomes overrun with ego, and ambition, and then develops a lust for power. He drives off his friends that helped him along the way, and pretty much dies alone, blurting out, “Rosebud.” “Rosebud,” is the word on that sleigh. I think it represents that lost childhood he never had. Nevertheless, this film is fantastic. Joseph Cotten (Jedediah Leland) is great as Kane’s best friend before the two grow apart. Overall, there is great acting in a great film which was nominated for 11 Oscars, and would only one for Best Screenplay (Original).
Kane fighting with his ex-guardian, Mr.Thatcher (George Colouris)
3. Gone With The Wind (1939) directed by Victor Fleming
Synopsis: An American epic film based on the Margaret Mitchell novel of the same name about a manipulative southern woman, Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) , and a roguish man, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) have a torrid affair during the Civil War and Reconstruction
My Analysis: This is another brilliant film. From the sweeping score by Max Steiner to the beautiful sets, and of course, the great acting by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara), Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), Olivia De Havilland (Melly) , etc, I could just get lost in it all. The love story between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara intertwining between O’Hara’s strong will to get her way is fascinating. O’Hara loves Rhett, but she doesn’t want him on his terms. O’Hara wants things her way, and if that means marrying men who were going to marry her sisters, well, that is what she is going to do. You got to love O’Hara’s spirit and determination, even though it is sad to see her hurt others. She shows vulnerability when she is after Melly’s husband Ashley ( Leslie Howard). Her attraction to Ashley, I will never understand. The guy is weak, and is in love with Melly. Who knows. Anyway, the whole film is awesome. Hattie McDaniels is terrific as the “mammy.” She received Best Supporting Actress Oscar. I highly recommend this film.
The “You Need Kissing Badly” scene:
2. Goodfellas (1990) directed by Martin Scorsese
Synopsis: Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) narrates the story about his life in the mob during the late 60’s and mid to late 70’s. The film is based on the non-fiction book, “Wiseguy,” by Nicholas Pileggi.
My Analysis: I can’t lie. I was so tempted to put this as #1. That is how great this film is. There is not one bad performance in this movie. Henry Hill is portrayed great by Ray Liotta. Robert DeNiro just shines as Jimmy “the Gent” Conway. Lorraine Bracco is fabulous as Henry’s wife Karen. There are so many people in the film who just do amazing work in the film, but the one person who just steals the film is Joe Pesci. Joe Pesci plays a composite character named Tommy DeVito. DeVito is a total hot head. However, Pesci just chews the scenery, and Pesci just makes this character so disgusting that you just want to shoot him yourself. However, Pesci is so good at the character that you kind of wonder what is DeVito going to do next. Overall, with the cinematography, and the use of certain popular songs, etc, this is one of Martin Scorsese’s best work, if not his VERY best work.
The “Spider” scenes (they are split in two parts due to a scene with the Hills fighting):
1.The Godfather (1972) directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Synopsis: An American epic crime film based on the Mario Puzo novel of the same name about an Italian-American Crime family.
My Analysis: This is my pick for the Best Movie Ever. The Godfather is absolutely amazing. What is so great about this film is on one hand, the Corleones are shown as a normal family who are running an olive oil business, but on the other hand, they are a ruthless crime family. Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) does his business at his own daughter’s wedding. He takes care of that undertaker at the funeral parlor in the opening scene. Corleone deals with the singer , Johnny Fontaine (Al Martino) at the wedding. Of course, the Corleone’s show their wicked side with the famous horse’s head on that movie director’s bed so Fontaine gets the part. Michael Corleone, while at the Christening of his nephew, and becoming his Godfather, is having all his enemies killed (my personal favorite scene).
[adinserter block=”1″]Of course, the acting by everyone involved is out of this world. James Caan is superb as the hot headed Santino. Robert Duvall is great as Tom Hagen. Diane Keaton does a great job as Kay. Marlon Brando, who wasn’t wanted by the studios at first, just dominates the film, and won Best Actor for the film. He IS the Godfather. This film is so complete as far as the acting, directing, etc.
The Baptism Scene:
As promised, here are my quick Oscar picks for just the major categories for this Sunday. (To be honest, I only saw a handful of these films, so I am just guessing):
Best Picture: “The Help”
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, “Hugo”
Best Actor: Brad Pitt , “Money Ball”
Best Actress: Rooney Mara, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Best Supporting Actor: Max von Sydow, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, “The Help”
Well, that is my list. I hope you enjoyed it, plus the little bonus, and will check out some of the films as well.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead