A Century of Film
Westerns

The Genre:

Westerns are a uniquely American art form.  It has been said that the three things America has contributed to world culture are baseball, Jazz and Westerns.  The very start of Westerns goes back to the start of narrative story-telling in American film with The Great Train Robbery perhaps the first great narrative American film.

I had written a paragraph about what I see as the basic Western (as opposed to the sub-genres listed below) but then I found this bit on page 195 of The Rough Guide to Westerns that summed it up much better than I had:

Pulp writer Frank Gruber says there are seven essential Western plots:

  1. The Union Pacific story (the railroad/stagecoach comes to town or wagon train adventures)
  2. The ranch story (conflict between ranchers or ranchers vs. others)
  3. The empire story (an epic version of the ranch story)
  4. The revenge story
  5. The cavalry and indians story
  6. The outlaw story
  7. The marshal story.

Those pretty much sums it up.  The fifth one is a specific sub-genre below and the third one really kind of fits into the “Epic” sub-genre.  But otherwise, those are pretty much the films that don’t have a sub-genre.  Ironically, most of the films starring the biggest Western stars (also listed below) aren’t in any of the sub-genres but fit those basic story types.  You can also get much more detailed by going here, though most of what is down below you will only find here which is why I wrote all this. (more…)

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“We’re disturbed, we’re disturbed / We’re the most disturbed / Like we’re psychologically disturbed” (p 207)

My Top 10:

  1. West Side Story
  2. The Hustler
  3. One, Two, Three
  4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
  5. The Bridge
  6. Elevator to the Gallows
  7. A Raisin in the Sun
  8. Pocketful of Miracles
  9. The Misfits
  10. Macario

Note:  There are 16 films on my list.  Three of them are listed below, as they were Consensus nominees (The Guns of Navarone – #13, Fanny – #15, Judgment at Nuremberg – #16).  The other three are all the way down at the bottom.
Note:  Unfortunately, this is a year where there were several source materials I was unable to get, so I had to do the best I could. (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…)

"But the moment my eyes locked onto hers in that dark grove, I knew I couldn't leave there until I had killed him."

“But the moment my eyes locked onto hers in that dark grove, I knew I couldn’t leave there until I had killed him.”

My Top 10:

  1. Rashomon
  2. The Bad and the Beautiful
  3. Miss Julie
  4. The Man in the White Suit
  5. The Quiet Man
  6. A Christmas Carol
  7. The Card
  8. Sudden Fear
  9. Moulin Rouge
  10. Carrie

(more…)

To have any other film as my #1 would be inconceivable.

To have any other film as my #1 would be inconceivable.

You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films (or directors) in olive are links to earlier posts that I don’t want to have show up in blue and be mistaken for a nominee.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing the top 10 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. The Princess Bride
  2. Hope and Glory  **
  3. Broadcast News  *
  4. Au Revoir, Les Enfants
  5. Empire of the Sun  *
  6. Manon of the Spring
  7. The Dead
  8. Matewan
  9. The Last Emperor  *
  10. Jean de Florette  *

Analysis:  All of these are **** films (and there are three more: Full Metal Jacket, The Untouchables and House of Games).  But, outside of The Princess Bride, none of them are really high-level **** films.  It’s the year of lots of great films but only one of them is truly great.  As a result, we have a Top 5 that is lower than the year before but a Top 10 that is the highest in seven years.  Jean de Florette is the best #10 film since 1963.  And how did the Academy acknowledge this remarkable year?  By nominating Fatal Attraction, one of the worst films ever nominated for Best Picture. (more…)

STANLEY [with heaven-splitting violence]: STELL-LAHHHHH!

STANLEY [with heaven-splitting violence]: STELL-LAHHHHH!  (p 60)

My Top 10:

  1. A Streetcar Named Desire
  2. Detective Story
  3. A Place in the Sun
  4. The African Queen
  5. Strangers on a Train
  6. Oliver Twist
  7. La Ronde
  8. Death of a Salesman
  9. He Ran All the Way
  10. Alice in Wonderland

(more…)

ran-1985-1You can read more about this year in film here.  The Best Picture race is discussed here, with reviews of all the nominees.  First there are the categories, followed by all the films with their nominations, then the Globes, where I split the major awards by Drama and Comedy, followed by a few lists at the very end.  If there’s a film you expected to see and didn’t, check the very bottom – it might be eligible in a different year.  Films in red won the Oscar in that category (or Globe, in the Globes section).  Films in blue were nominated.  Films (or directors) in olive are links to earlier posts that I don’t want to have show up in blue and be mistaken for a nominee.  Films with an asterisk (*) were Consensus nominees (a scale I put together based on the various awards) while those with a double asterisk (**) were the Consensus winners.

I’m listing the top 10 in the categories but only the top 5 earn Nighthawk nominations.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture
  1. Ran  *
  2. Blood Simple
  3. Kiss of the Spider Woman
  4. The Purple Rose of Cairo  *
  5. Brazil
  6. Witness  *
  7. Back to the Future
  8. The Color Purple  *
  9. After Hours
  10. A Private Function

Analysis:  It’s the fourth time that Kurosawa wins Best Picture at the Nighthawks, although Bergman has won it three times since Kurosawa won it last.
This is the strongest Top 5 in this category in five years, namely because Brazil is the best #5 film in five years.  Witness is the best #6 film in six years.  That strong top 5 means a low Oscar score (54.1 – the lowest since 1977 and second lowest since 1969).  The Oscar itself goes to Out of Africa, the worst choice since the 50’s; it’s the first film since 1974 to win without a single critics award.  But the Consensus Award goes to Prizzi’s Honor, which is my #12. (more…)