Category: Top Tens

The Top Tens: Is There Any Role They Can’t Play?

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten items based on certain topics. We then feature an alphabetical list of items along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

In cinema, certain actors tend to play the same or similar roles throughout their careers. It takes a certain kind of talent to be able to try new things and succeed at them. This month, we’re looking at actors that we feel are the most versatile. Among the four of us, we have a total of 35 actors who’ve shown to us that they have what it takes to choose any role and excel at it.

Looking over the list, five names stand out as being noteworthy. These individuals appear on two separate lists. Alec Guinness, Katherine Hepburn, Gary Oldman, Rosalind Russell, and Meryl Streep are the names and all are considered among the foremost actors of their generations and of all time.

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Evil…They’re Just Drawn That Way

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

What makes a villain to some may be different to others. Whether it’s a measure of menace, of depravity, of fright, of viciousness, of malice, or of any number of other traits, our choices for villains run the gambit form actual serial killers to Nazis to witches to housekeepers. What we each looked at was different, though we all came to similar rationales for each of our choices.

Looking over the list, none of us unified behind a single choice, but three villains managed to place on three-of-four lists. The Wicked Witch of the West, Reverend Harry Powell, and Janet Iselin are among the universally agreed great villains. Others with two mentions were T-1000 and Mrs. Danvers. Oddly enough, only one character managed to make it in under vastly different interpretations. Hunchback of Notre Dame villain Frollo/Judge Claude Frollo is represented here from both the 1939 film version and the 1996 animated version.

Whether villains make your skin crawl, make you cringe, or make you worry that they are far too real, these monsters, for indeed some of them are monsters, are among the most terrifying and frightening that cinema has ever created.

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: The Future Is Ours

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

When we originally scheduled this list’s release, we were not looking at the impending release of Blade Runner 2049 as a tie-in. However, the timing is perfect for that. Although the original Blade Runner did not make any individual lists, it is no less an astute influence on the genre of science fiction, which is the theme of this month’s list.

There are myriad sci-fi features out there dating all the way back to 1902 when Georges Méliès released his futuristic fantasy A Trip to the Moon. Since then, countless directors have tackled the genre from dystopian futures to idyllic ones and a wide array in between. Cross-genre films have also been frequently manufactured from sci-fi comedies to sci-fi horror films. We celebrate the very best of science fiction with this list, but admit freely that there are countless others each of us could have cited on any given day.

Looking over our lists, we have a lot of agreement. All four of our contributors put a single film on the list: Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror classic Alien. It is the epitome of everything the genre had offered up to that point and could be distilled into many future productions. The science fantasy film Star Wars, the biggest blockbuster in history, made three lists while 1977’s other major sci-fi property, Close Encounters of the Third Kind led the list of films with two citations. That list also includes The Day the Earth Stood Still, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, Planet of the Apes, and WALL-E.

One director makes an appearance with three different films on the list. No other than Steven Spielberg, whose varied history includes a number of different sci-fi spectacles received mention for his films Close Encounters, E.T., and Jurassic Park. Two others directors are represented on the list for two film each. James Cameron has both his first and second Terminator films cited on separate individual lists, and Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future and Contact are also mentioned.

This isn’t the definitive list of our members as we each agree that on any given day and with different criteria, an entirely different set of films could have been referenced. After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Male Supporting Performances

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

This month, we finish out our individual performances series by looking at supporting actors. Considering the long history of film, it should come as little surprise that our selections are so broadly distinct from one another. It’s rather surprising then that only five performances manage to show up on multiple lists and none of them more than once. Walter Huston in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Claude Rains in Notorious, Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th Street, Martin Landau in Ed Wood, and George Sanders in All About Eve are those five. A further 30 other individual supporting performances grace the list.

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Female Supporting Performances

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

In May and June, we looked at the best performances by actors and actresses in leading roles. These were the big performances that dominate a film in an obvious way. For the next two months, we’ll be looking at performances that dominate the screen in different ways. A supporting actor or actress has the unenviable task of building on the world that the lead must inhabit. Their characters form the backbone of the production, but are seldom given the due they should be thanks to a societal focus on leads in movies. That doesn’t mean many aren’t memorable. Some are indelible part of our cinematic landscape.

This month, we’re looking at the women. In our lists, six actresses appear on multiple lists. The strange part is, compared to previous lists, each of them appear twice (or more) for the exact same performance. That isn’t to say that these actresses don’t have a bounteous array of performances from which to choose, it’s that these are oftentimes iconic performances that transcend the average performance they would give. One of those six shows up three times: Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Talk about iconic. The other five actresses, showing up twice each are Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca; Judy Davis as Sally in Husbands and Wives; Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate; and Thelma Ritter as Moe Williams in Pickup on South Street.

Now, let’s give our contributors an opportunity to explain just why these performances are so great to them. After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Our Funniest Favorites

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

We take a comedy break this month between our lists of favorite individual performances. They say drama is easy and comedy is hard. There’s also a fine line between crass and humorous and that line can be crossed without sacrificing comedic value. These films, while many are quite traditional, also feature some obscure films that some may not have seen. Our contributors put together a list of their favorite films. Four films appear on two lists, but none appear on three or more. That gives us a total of 36 films to look at this month.

The four films that were cited twice are Auntie Mame, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, and Dr. Strangelove, all from prior to the 1970s when comedy began morphing thanks in some small part to films like these four, especially Dr. Strangelove. Of the directors most frequently cited, George Cukor comes out on top with three titles on the list: Dinner at Eight, The Philadelphia Story, and The Women. Three other directors place two titles on the list. Joel Coen (ostensibly with brother Ethan Coen even if not credited such on the two films listed, Fargo and Raising Arizona), Woody Allen (a surprising pair of films: Manhattan Murder Mystery and Midnight in Paris), and Billy Wilder (two of his most famous and popular: The Apartment and Some Like It Hot).

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Male Lead Performances

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

Last month, we took a look at our favorite female lead performances. Now, we’re taking a glimpse at the men’s side of the equation. Of the forty submissions made by our four contributors, only one single performance appears on more than one list: Henry Fonda’s work in The Grapes of Wrath. Beyond that, only two actors are cited twice each. Jack Nicholson shows up for both Five Easy Pieces and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Daniel Day-Lewis makes the cut for both My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood.

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Female Lead Performances

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films or individuals fitting certain topics or themes. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films or individuals along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

For our new top ten list, one of four we’ll be doing by the end of the year, we look at the top individual lead performances by a female actor. While some actors are great each time, many still have a singular great performance that stands out. Others were never greater than the performances we name here. Any direction you look at them, these magnificent performances are among the best.

Looking over the list, we have four actresses whose performances in the same film were recognized. Olivia de Havilland was cited twice for To Each His Own, Diane Keaton was mentioned two times for Annie Hall, Rosalind Russell made two lists for Auntie Mame, Maggie Smith was referenced twice for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Gloria Swanson was selected for Sunset Boulevard twice. Meanwhile, not all actresses are recognized for the same pinnacle performance. Five actresses were also referenced twice but for different films: Ingrid Bergman, Ellen Burstyn, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, and Diane Keaton. Keaton is in both of these groups, making her the only person mentioned more than twice.

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each performance.

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The Top Tens: A Film in Any Other Language…

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

How can you build a list of only ten films from such a broad array of cinematic achievements. Over 100 countries have produced cinema in some way, fewer than two dozen of which have created thriving film communities that have influenced and impressed international cinephiles. It was daunting task for each of us to create such a narrow list, but we’ve each come up with our list of ten favorites, though it’s possible we could each pick another ten tomorrow and still have a great list.

Looking over the selections, we have one film selected by three of our contributors, A Separation, and three each selected by two, Bicycle Thieves, Day for Night, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. As to the most represented directors, Ingmar Bergman has three films featured on the list (Autumn Sonata, Cries and Whispers, and Wild Strawberries); Federico Fellini has two (8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita); and Krzysztof Kieslowski has two (Dekalog and The Three Colors Trilogy).

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Hollywood: The Next Generation

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

This month, our contributors are looking at young actors under the age of 35 who makeup the new generation of actors that will carry Hollywood forward through the next few decades.

Looking over our lists, none of us agreed on a single individual, but there was a single person three of us agreed on: Saoirse Ronan. Four other actors received consideration from two different sources. They were: Michael B. Jordan, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, and Shailene Woodley

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Non-Nominated Working Actors

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

This month, with the Academy Awards festivities in full swing, we thought we’d take a look back at Oscar in a different way than most. Instead of discussing what our favorite winners or nomines are, we’ve decided to look at our favorite non-nominees. These are actors and actresses who have never been nominated for an Oscar. Whether it’s because of age, types of roles, or some mysterious rationale that none of us can fathom, the Academy just hasn’t given them their just rewards.

Looking over the list, the only name to appear on all four of our lists is nothing of a surprise. Emily Blunt has been close to a nomination on several occasions and few thing she isn’t deserving. With three citations, Colin Farrell is probably the most surprising as his name rarely comes up in Oscar conversations. Appearing on two lists each, Allison Janney, Ryan Reynolds, and Donald Sutherland were the only other names mentioned more than once, a surprisingly small cross-over.

After the break, dig into our setups and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Best Musicals

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

There are myriad types of musicals in Hollywood’s history. From the all-singing, all-dancing revues of the 1920s to the Technicolor marvels of the 1930s and 1940s to the epic sweep and majesty of the Broadway-to-screen adaptations of the 1960s to the grand productions of the 1990s and later to the Disney musicals of every era. There is no one way to enjoy a musical and our tastes are no different.

As usual, everyone put their lists together separately, so the similarities and differences are interesting. One film made it onto three lists, 1972’s Cabaret. Eight other films appear on two lists: The King and I, Moulin Rouge!, My Fair Lady, Oliver!, Singin’ in the Rain, The Sound of Music, South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, and The Wizard of Oz. We had no director with more than two films on the list, they were George Cukor, Stanley Donen, Bob Fosse, Vincente Minnelli, Alan Parker, and Robert Wise.

Before we get into our individual thoughts on these films, here are introductions written by each contributor.

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The Top Tens: Films That Warm Our Hearts

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

For our final list of 2016, we have decided to celebrate the holiday season with a list of our favorite films that warm our hearts and lift our spirits. Peter, Tripp, Thomas, and I have put together our individual lists of the 10 films that most speak to us when we need cheer, holiday or otherwise.

A look at our lists finds minimal overlap. Five films are common between our lists: Babe, Beauty and the Beast, It’s a Wonderful Life, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, and Random Harvest. For directors, Frank Capra is the only director featured twice showing up with It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

After the break, dig into our introductions and our subsequent blurbs on each film.

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The Top Tens: Films We Put on Repeat

EClue7very month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

When we sat down to this list, we wanted to do something that required us to look at films not necessarily that we enjoyed as cinematic works, but also as ones we connected to mentally and emotionally in a way that allowed us to watch and appreciate them repeatedly. These are the lists we came up with.

A few facts about these lists: Of the forty possible films we could list (ten for each of the four contributors), we came up with 39 completely different titles (and that includes two sets of trilogies). Clue was the only film mentioned by more than one contributor, appearing on both Wesley’s and Tripp’s lists. And speaking of trilogies, The Lord of the Ring trilogy and the Toy Story trilogy brought the total films to 43. On the directing side, four directors ended up on the list more than once, two of whom were paired for both efforts. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, longtime Disney animation directors, showed up with two animated titles (Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame). They appear alongside the only director with three titles on the list, Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Jurassic Park), and master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock (North by Northwest and Notorious.

After the break, dig into our introductions and follow that by reading about each film.

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The Top Tens: Our Favorite Directors

Every month, our contributors submit lists of ten films fitting certain topics. Each month, we feature an alphabetical list of films along with commentary explaining our selections. There will also be an itemized list at the end of each of our individual selections.

For the third month in a row, we focus on individuals within the film industry who have had an impact on our appreciation of film. This month, the directors get their turn. With 120 years of film history behind us, it’s difficult to narrow down a list of favorite actors, actresses, or even directors. Just as there are many types of actors, there are also many types of direectors and when so very many of them fit into rolls of the best ever, it’s incredibly difficult to winnow down a list.

Our attempt to do so left some interesting results. Some of the directors frequently cited as the best got only one or two mentions. Only Alfred Hitchcock managed to make each of our lists. He had something for everyone and his influence was tremendous. Aside from that, there was little agreement. Eight directors received two mentions, the rest were individual suggestions. Those directors were Woody Allen, Frank Capra, George Cukor, John Ford, David Lean, Hayao Miyazaki, Steven Spielberg, and Billy Wilder. The list did include a number of non-American directors, but unfortunately, history isn’t as flush with women or black directors, so there were none included in our final lists. However, some have referenced them within their individual introductions, which you can find below.

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