A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.
I’m going to be kicking off a new movie ranking series and I thought the most appropriate start would be to review movies about the movies. These are films that take on an aspect of Hollywood, whether it’s a struggling actor or actress, a psychotic screenwriter or quirky director. As a lover of film, I’ve always been fascinated by these sorts of movies because I always sense a very personal touch to the writing. I think these movies tend to most commonly embody the Orson Welles quote from above.
I also think it’s important to note from the beginning that this is not a purely objective ranking process. I want to be as objective as possible but if I felt a stronger connection with a movie that might not be as heavily acclaimed I will have no problem ranking it higher than most critics.
So without further adieu:
1. 8 1/2– Federico Fellini’s autobiographical masterpiece clearly has to hold down the top spot. It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Period.
2. Singin’ in the Rain– This is the best American musical ever made and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
3. Sullivan’s Travels– This is in my top 5 favorite movies ever. When you hear critics reflect back at turning points in their movie viewing, that’s what Sullivan’s Travels was for me.
4. Sunset Boulevard– This should be the point where you start to notice the trend of all-time great directors making the list. Here Billy Wilder checks in with his masterpiece that combines elements of dark comedy, noir, and one hell of a character study.
5. Barton Fink– I don’t know why but many people recently have started hating on the Coen brothers. I think that’s ridiculous and I think Barton Fink is a classic, underrated gem.
6. Ed Wood– This is an early Tim Burton and Johnny Depp creation that I think was Depp’s best performance.
7. The Artist– Being the first movie about Hollywood to win best picture in my opinion ranks it just outside the first six which in my opinion are untouchable classics.
8. Hugo– View as Martin Scorsese’s love letter to Hollywood. Anyone with even a decent sense of the history of movie making had to love this one.
9. Adaptation– This super original Charlie Kaufman written, Spike Jonze directed film maybe deserves to be a little higher in the rankings but I’m still pretty high on The Artist and Hugo after having seen them most recently. This is a funny look inside the mind of a screenwriter that I would maybe call brilliant.
10. The Player– Closing out the list is my favorite Robert Altman film. We watched The Player in one of my film classes in college and I absolutely loved it. It was the film that made me fall in love with movies about aspects of Hollywood so it had to hold down a spot on the list.
Also considered: A Star is Born, Bowfinger, For Your Consideration, Get Shorty, Silent Movie, Stardust Memories, Swimming with Sharks, The Bad and the Beautiful, The Big Picture, The Kid Stays in the Picture, Tropic Thunder, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Also, for every one of my Top Ten lists, Joseph will be doing his best impression of Statler and Waldorf in providing brief commentary on my list, expressing his agreement but usually his disagreement and bewilderment at the list, ordering, or some combination thereof.
Bits of Banter from the Balcony with Joseph Williams:
I can’t help but wonder if ten to twenty years from now, we’ll view Hugo as a better film than The Artist. I wonder which will hold up better to the test of time. Undoubtedly, The Artist makes your heart flutter more upon first viewing and its original approach should move it above Hugo… for now. I’m just not sure how long.
I also have to ask… What EVER did happen to Baby Jane? I’m disappointed this one didn’t end up on the list, as its blurring of the line between dark comedy and downright horrifying suspense provides a unique depiction of Hollywood and its effects on people. It would have definitely been on my list, although Sunset Boulevard provides a similar approach.
This week’s list ultimately doesn’t give me much to snark about. I’m expecting more controversial decisions in the future so I can live up to my heroes, Statler & Waldorf. Until next time, I’ll have to simply begin my #OccupyClayton campaign with my utter disappointment at NO mention whatsoever of the Disney classic Bolt and the late 70s classic The Muppet Movie. If you hate children, that’s fine, Clayton. Let’s just not take it out on the movies, okay?