The Top 1000 Films


This is the first of what is going to be something like 25 different posts.  That’s not an exaggeration.  My plan is to slowly count down my Top 1000 films of all-time, though first I will make some introductory comments.

  1. This is part of my Century of Film series which covers the first century of feature-length films, beginning with Richard III in 1912 (the oldest surviving feature-length film) and ending with 2011.
  2. The way I went about this was to create a spreadsheet and begin with 1912 and add any film that was ***.5 or better.  Going about things this way, this is when the list passed major numbers: 10 films (1919), 50 (1925), 100 (1930), 200 (1939), 300 (1946), 400 (1952), 500 (1957), 600 (1962), 700 (1968), 800 (1973), 900 (1980), 1000 (1985).  Through 2011, the list has 1895 films but I am only counting down the Top 1000.
  3. Because of that, the initial countdown will only cover films released through 2011.  That’s the calendar release in their initial country and not their Oscar eligible release.  So, 2011 Foreign films that played in the States later will be part of this (though only one film that meets the criteria is actually in the Top 1000).
  4. I will present the list as a 20 part countdown series, 50 films at a time, beginning with films 1000-951.
  5. It won’t just be a straight list.  I will include various information about the film as well (see below) and at least a short blurb if not more, including links to any reviews I have written.
  6. There will be a couple of relevant posts as well dealing with how the list is formed and other aspects of them (like statistics).  That will make more sense when they post.
  7. At the conclusion, there will be a full list, likely with just the title and year.
  8. Following that, there will be the update part.  That will be like the 50 film parts, except covering all films from 2012-2019 that make the updated version of the list.
  9. Then there will be an updated full list.

The Information About All The Films:

  • Title:
    • This will be the title as it appears in its original language.  Any other titles it is well-known by will be included after the title.
  • Director:
  • Genre:
    • This is the genre I classify the film under, out of the 14 options.  There will often also be a sub-genre listed after it in parenthesis.  Some sub-genres aren’t sub-genres per se, as a way I classify films to group them together, as will be made clear with the listings.
  • Distributor:
    • This seems a more accurate term than studio, especially today.  This is whatever company distributed the film to theaters in North America, which, outside of the major U.S. studios is often different for international releases.
  • Year:
    • This is the year it was released in its original country (or at a festival before a regular theatrical run).  In parenthesis, it might say (OE: YYYY).  That is the year it was eligible for the Academy Awards and for the Nighthawk Awards.  If the OE appears like this (OE), that means that while that’s the year it officially played L.A., it wasn’t actually eligible for the Academy Awards.  A reminder that in a lot of years, being nominated for an Oscar in Best Foreign Film prohibits the film from being eligible in any other categories if it doesn’t get released in L.A. in the same year.
  • Country:
    • This is the primary country for its release.  Often that has to do with the director and lots of films have multiple countries involved, so please don’t get too finicky.  If the film is not primarily in English, after the country the language will be in parenthesis.  Again, it’s the primary language and lots of films make use of multiple languages.
  • Major Awards:
    • This will list nominations for all above the line categories (Picture, Director, writing, acting) as well as Animated Film or Foreign Film (which are proxy Best Picture awards for some groups) from the following groups: Nighthawk Awards (NH), Oscars (AA), BAFTAs, Broadcast Film Critics (BFCA), Golden Globes (GG), PGA, DGA, WGA, SAG, Annies or any of the six major critics groups.  Not listed if it received none.
  • N.A. Gross:
    • The gross listed at Box Office Mojo for domestic total.  If it says (TN) after it, it’s not listed at BOM and I got that information from The Numbers.  If it says “@-re” that means I found the rentals figure listed in old issues of Variety and I multiplied that figure by 2.2 to give an approximation of the gross.  If it says (ri) that means at BOM, it only lists a re-issue of the film in a later year and not the gross from the original release.
  • WW Gross:
    • The worldwide gross listed at Box Office Mojo.  Only included if one is listed.  If it says (ic) that means the worldwide total is incomplete which usually means that BOM has given a domestic total from the original release and a worldwide total added on that from later releases.
  • Entry Rank:
    • The number it entered my countdown in its original year.  Because of the way I have conducted this, numbers can only get worse, not better.
  • TSPDT Rank:

One last little bit.  As I mention, films can only go down.  D.W. Griffith’s Way Down East, which enters the list at #21 in 1920 was down to #102 by 1930, down to #512 by 1958, to #905 by 1981 and was in the second batch of films that got knocked off after my full list reached 1000 films in 1986.  By 2011, it’s all the way down at #1837.  So here are the 20 least lucky films, the ones that were in the Top 1000 until 2010:

  1. Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife
  2. Blind Husbands
  3. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
  4. Pepe le Moko
  5. Phantom
  6. My Darling Clementine
  7. Suspicion
  8. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
  9. Top Hat
  10. Seven Chances
  11. J’Accuse
  12. The Crime of Monsieur Lange
  13. Darling
  14. Ugetsu
  15. A Fistful of Dollars
  16. Ordet
  17. Sexy Beast
  18. Millennium Actress
  19. Danton
  20. Bugsy

All but two of those films had been on the list for at least 20 years and several had been on for over 70.  They are all high ***.5 films (except for the top film, they all earn an 85 from me while Bluebeard is the only 86 film not to make the Top 1000).  They are all very good films and deserve to be sought out even if they can’t quite make this Top 1000 list.  It’s worth pointing out about Hitchcock’s Suspicion that it means that there won’t be a Hitchcock film until the fourth part of the list (801-850) and that My Darling Clementine means that John Ford won’t show up until the fifth part of the list (751-800).  Phantom and The Crime of Monsieur Lange are notable because they are the fifth best films for F.W. Murnau and Jean Renoir respectively which means they won’t be among the list of directors with five films in the Top 1000 (a list of 49 directors for the initial Top 1000).