70 Favorite Films Part IV: Mind-Bogglers
49. 8 ½ (1963)
Director: Frederico Fellini
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni
Plot: A director struggles to conquer ennui and finish making his film.
Awards: 2 Oscars – Best Foreign Language Film, Best Costume Design
What filmmaker has not, in one point of his/her career, felt exactly like Guido? Actually, what person in one point of his/her life has not felt exactly like Guido? I admit the first time I watched this I was tempted to fall asleep. But the second time left an echo in my heart. It’s still not the easiest film to watch but I love it just the same.
48. To Die For (1995)
Director: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Nicole Kidman
Plot: Suzanne Stone will do anything to become a newscaster. ANYTHING.
Award: Golden Globe Best Actress – Comedy/Musical
This is one of the few films that I’ve watched only once, years and years ago and yet still remains so vividly in my mind. And not to mention the mind-blowing performance of Nicole Kidman, arguably better than most of her recent performances, except for The Hours of course. And here’s a little quote that applies to our image-obsessed culture today (hello Paris, Lindsay) “You’re not anybody in America unless you’re on TV. On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what’s the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody’s watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person.”
47. Orlando (1992)
Director: Sally Potter
Starring: Tilda Swinton
Plot: based on Virginia Woolf’s novel of the same title.
What I love most about this is the quietness with which it’s made. The character
Orlando is ordered by Queen Elizabeth to stay young forever and so he does, but not only as a man but as a woman too. And through every reincarnation he/she deals with love, life, war and even poetry proving that these things are not really so different between the sexes.
46. I Heart Huckabees (2004)
Director: David O. Russell
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Isabelle Huppert, Lily Tomlin, Dustin Hoffmann, Naomi Watts, Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg
Plot: An existential comedy.
While debating on whether Mulholland Drive should be on this list, I remembered another film that so fascinated me: I Heart Huckabees. While the former is gorgeous to look at even though you barely understand what’s happening, the latter is funny and charming even though you barely understand what’s happening. And since this is a favorite film, countdown, I therefore conclude that I Heart Huckabees deserves to be on the list more. So there.
45. Fight Club (1999)
Director: David Fincher
Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton
Plot: Mischief. Mayhem. Soap.
Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in the same film? What other reason is there? Okay, there are a lot of other reasons like the cool filmmaking (look for the split-second edited shots), the anti-establishment and anarchist sentiments and the superb acting of both leads. Not since Primal Fear have I seen Edward Norton so creepy. And that’s a good thing.
44. Memento (2000)
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Guy Pearce
Plot: Revenge and short term memory loss.
This film had me riveted from beginning (or end) to end (or beginning) and even throughout the wonderful special features in the DVD. In the end when the audience knows how wrong his actions were (are and will be) and how he remains oblivious to it because he can’t remember them just makes it all the more tragic. And it scares you how much self-delusion a person can suffer from, even without the memory loss. So anyway, I’ll leave you with the closing lines of the film: “I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if I can’t remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world’s still there. Do I believe the world’s still there? Is it still out there?… Yeah. We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I’m no different.”
43. Magnolia (1999)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, William H. Macy, Tom Cruise, John C. Reilly
Plot: The similar lives of 13 different people intersect.
The reason why this film is in this category and not with the other dramatic films is because I still don’t understand the frogs. I mean, why frogs? Was it a reference to the biblical plague? Or because frog precipitation is not that unlikely to happen? (see: wikipedia) Well, frogs aside this is one of the best films about loneliness ever made.
Next: Knock. Knock. Who’s There? 42 More Films to Go…