This is the next batch of 50 films counting down my Top 1000 Films of All-Time.  The films down through Footlight Parade all earn an 86 while the rest of them earn an 87, which is high ***.5.  I recommend reading the introduction first.  For the previous installments, click on the Top 1000 among the tags at the top of the post.

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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…)

wild-bunch-2You 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 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 Wild Bunch
  2. Chimes at Midnight
  3. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid  *
  4. Z  **
  5. Once Upon a Time in the West
  6. Oh! What a Lovely War!
  7. Midnight Cowboy  *
  8. Stolen Kisses
  9. They Shoot Horses Don’t They  *
  10. Shame

Analysis:  A truly great top 5, including three of the greatest Westerns ever made.  This is the best Top 5 since 1946 and the second best to date.  The Top 10 is strong as well – the best since 1962 and tied for the third best to date.  They are all **** films, but there is a four point drop from #6 to #7. (more…)

Death arrives out of the seemingly endless desert.

Death arrives out of the seemingly endless desert.

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 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. Lawrence of Arabia  **
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird  *
  3. Throne of Blood
  4. The Music Man  *
  5. Jules and Jim
  6. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
  7. Through a Glass Darkly
  8. Ride the High Country
  9. The Manchurian Candidate
  10. Last Year at Marienbad

Analysis:  There’s a big drop here after #9 – it drops from a mid-range **** to a high-level ***.5.  This year ties 1960 as having the best Top 9 to date.  Ride the High Country and The Manchurian Candidate really match up with Tunes of Glory and The Hidden Fortress as the best #8 and #9 films to date.  I re-watched Jules and Jim before doing these awards and ended up bumping it up in a few categories, most notably Picture and Director, which ended up costing The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance its only two Nighthawk nominations.  But in years like this, it’s hard to just pick five films at the top.
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striding towards death: The Wild Bunch (1969)

My Top 20:

  1. The Wild Bunch
  2. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
  3. Z
  4. Once Upon a Time in the West
  5. Oh! What a Lovely War
  6. Midnight Cowboy
  7. Stolen Kisses
  8. They Shoot Horses Don’t They
  9. Take the Money and Run
  10. Boudu Saved from Drowning
  11. Easy Rider
  12. The Round-Up
  13. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  14. The Rain People
  15. The Rite
  16. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
  17. The Brothers Karamazov
  18. Medium Cool
  19. Andrei Rublev
  20. Cactus Flower (more…)