“You realize who this linen girl Tanya is?” (p 612 – Pevear / Volokhonsky translation)

My Top 9:

  1. Dr. Zhivago
  2. The Pawnbroker
  3. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
  4. The Collector
  5. A Thousand Clowns
  6. King Rat
  7. The Human Condition: Part III
  8. Thunderball
  9. The Train

Note:  That’s it.  After years and years of a list longer than ten, I can only come up with nine films and one of those, The Train, was actually nominated in the Original Screenplay category even though it was based on Rose Valland’s book. (more…)

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One of film’s most iconic moments and not in the original at all.

My Top 10:

  1. Dr. Strangelove
  2. High and Low
  3. Harakiri
  4. Mary Poppins
  5. The Americanization of Emily
  6. The Best Man
  7. The Night of the Iguana
  8. The Chalk Garden
  9. Goldfinger
  10. My Fair Lady

Note:  There are 20 films on my list.  Only one of the other ten is reviewed below as a WGA nominee (Seven Days in May).  The other nine are all listed towards the bottom of the post. (more…)

swI have always been a proponent of the idea that I can separate what I think is brilliant from what I personally enjoy.  Let’s just look at 2015.  I think that Carol and The Revenant were the two best films of the year.  But if I’m going to sit and watch a movie from 2015, odds are it will be The Force Awakens (this is borne out by the fact that I’ve seen Carol twice, The Revenant all the way through once and The Force Awakens, at a modest count, 21 times complete plus the final 20 minutes about 15 more).

To that extent, I have finally culled together a list of my 100 Favorite Films, the ones I am most likely to sit still and watch, or at least not change the station if I come across them.  They’re not heavy Drama.  In fact, when I went through the genres, only one film on the entire list is one that I classify primarily as Drama (Casablanca).

It’s really hard to do this kind of list when you’ve seen as many films as I have (14,000+).  I put it together by going through year by year and adding films, and once I hit 100, knocking off the films at the bottom.  When I first read Veronica a list of 50 films, I then pointed out that those were the 50 I was about to delete because they didn’t make the list and she was stunned.  “But you love those films!” she pointed out.  “But I love the Top 100 even more,” I replied.  It was very, very tough.  Though they are easily two of the greatest directors of all-time if not the two greatest directors of all-time, not a single Kurosawa or Kubrick film ended up on the list.  There is no Bergman.  There is no David Lean.  The Ealing Comedies and the Hammer Horror, both of which I love so much I wrote about them only have one film each.  I did For Love of Film posts for James Bond (1 film) and Star Trek (2 films).  It’s really, really hard to narrow it all down. (more…)

spectre_ver5SPECTRE

  • Year:  2015
  • Director:  Sam Mendes
  • Series Rank:  #5
  • Bond Girl:  Léa Seydoux (Madeleine Swann), Monica Bellucci (Lucia Sciarra)
  • Bond Villain:  Christoph Waltz (Franz Oberhauser), Dave Bautista (Mr. Hinx), Jesper Christensen (Mr. White)
  • Bond Support:  Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomie Harris (Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q), Rory Kinnear (Bill Tanner)

SPOILER-FREE

The first two Daniel Craig films had gone back to the basics, stripping away all the trappings of the James Bond character as developed in the films and re-imagined him as the original Ian Fleming spy in the 21st Century.  Then came Skyfall, which re-integrated vital parts of the Bond universe with this new Bond.  Skyfall was definitely the best Bond film ever made, but there was no question it wasn’t going to be the last – it cried out for more adventures with a new M, Moneypenny and Q supporting him in whatever would come next.  If SPECTRE is indeed the last film with Daniel Craig as Bond, indeed, if it were to be the last Bond film ever, it would be a satisfying conclusion to one of the great franchises in film history. (more…)

skyfall_ver6_xlgThe Films  (ranked):

  1. Skyfall
  2. Casino Royale
  3. Goldfinger
  4. From Russia With Love
  5. SPECTRE
  6. Thunderball
  7. Licence to Kill
  8. Quantum of Solace
  9. Dr. No
  10. The Living Daylights
  11. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  12. GoldenEye
  13. For Your Eyes Only
  14. Never Say Never Again
  15. Diamonds are Forever
  16. The Spy Who Loved Me
  17. Tomorrow Never Dies
  18. Moonraker
  19. Live and Let Die
  20. The World is Not Enough
  21. Die Another Day
  22. You Only Live Twice
  23. The Man with the Golden Gun
  24. A View to a Kill
  25. Octopussy

Most Over-Rated Bond Film:  Octopussy
Most Under-Rated Bond Film:  Licence to Kill

These two films have the exact same user rating on the IMDb.  And when I went to watch Octopussy again, I had at least three people tell me how much they like it.  There’s no excuse for that.  There is some irony that For Your Eyes Only, the first Bond film I ever saw, the one that got me into Bond and that I have had on video for close to 30 years doesn’t even make my Top 10.

(more…)

skyfall_ver7Skyfall

  • Year:  2012
  • Director:  Sam Mendes
  • Series Rank:  #1
  • Year Rank:  #6
  • Oscar Nominations:  Cinematography, Original Score, Sound, Sound Editing, Original Song
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actor (Bardem), Supporting Actress (Dench), Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Sound Editing, Makeup, Original Song
  • Bond Girl:  Naomi Harris (Eve), Bérénice Lim Marlohe (Séverine)
  • Bond Villain:  Javier Bardem (Raoul Silva), Ola Rapace (Patrice)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench (M), Ben Whishaw (Q), Rory Kinnear (Bill Tanner), Ralph Fiennes (Mallory)

As Skyfall was ending, I had no doubts that I had just sat through the best James Bond ever made.  There was no question in my mind.  It brought together all the best aspects of the original books (cold, hard Bond who pushes himself to do the job but is wearing himself down with drink), the best aspects of the Craig series (the dead look in his eyes – and I mean that as a compliment to his acting, the relationship with M) and the long-standing aspects of the series, most of which had been absent in the first two Craig films (like Q, played brilliantly by Ben Whishaw with the most screen time for the character since at least Licence to Kill if not ever, or the beautiful Aston-Martin, complete with a special feature that brought forth from M the best line of the film: “Go ahead, then.  Eject me.”). (more…)

quantum_of_solace_ver4Quantum of Solace

  • Year:  2008
  • Director:  Marc Forster
  • Series Rank:  #7
  • Year Rank:  #25
  • Nighthawk Nominations:  Sound, Visual Effects, Sound Editing
  • Bond Girl:  Olga Kurylenko (Camille Montes), Gemma Arterton (Fields)
  • Bond Villain:  Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene), Joaquín Cosío (General Medrano), Jesper Christensen (Mr. White)
  • Bond Support:  Judi Dench (M), Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter), Giancarlo Giannini (René Mathis), Rory Kinnear (Bill Tanner)

By the time I got a chance to see this film (I didn’t get to see it in theaters), I had already seen many of the reviews that didn’t care for it.  Most emblematic is perhaps the Roger Ebert review, in which he tries to maintain that James Bond is not an action hero.  This is just a time when I shake my head.  Ebert got used to Roger Moore’s Bond and couldn’t adapt to what Bond was supposed to be like.  Other reviews tried to claim the plot was a mess, but the plot is actually fairly easy to follow – as Bond seeks out the organization that lead to Vesper Lynd’s death, he uncovers some of their other machinations and tries to stop them.  I simply think that most reviewers missed the boat on this one.  Is it Casino Royale?  No.  Is it still a very good action film and one of the better Bond films?  Absolutely. (more…)