Monday, November 7, 2011

Top 100 Films of the Last 50 Years (1960-2010): Part XII

4. The Godfather Part II (1974) - While not the best of the trilogy (as you shall see with time). The Godfather Part II does what most sequels can't, it manages to hold its own against the original, and create something truly special and magical the second time around. The Godfather remains the only film series to date that has won more than one Academy Award for Best Picture and there is a reason. While Part III was a bomb in my opinion, Part 2 took what was great about the first, expanded the concept, and reworked it in a way that was just as thrilling, without ever trying to upstage or copy its predecessor to a point of exhaustion and dismay (like so many sequels do nowadays). Coppola has surely had his ups and downs, but his Godfather Series are surely some of the greatest American films of all time, nad have had an incredible cultural and film impact. Robert DeNiro won an Oscar, and never misses a beat picking up where Brando left off. Any lesser actor would not have been able to handle it with such ease. Throw in the rest of this incredible cast, a thrilling plot line, and a timeless theme, and Coppola's Part 2 holds its own.

3. The Graduate (1967) - The Graduate is an odd movie to say the least, and normally, the story of an older married woman seducing a young college graduate doesn't sound like the stuff great movies are made of. But when someone like Mike Nichols takes up any story, it is bound to be worthy of attention, and by writing a deep and wonderful script, Mike Nichols tackles head on broader themes including: love, doubt, hopes and fears of the future, family, friendships, and the process of growing up. It ends up being less and less about Benjamin's affair with Mrs. Robinson, and more and more about the disillusionment that so many recent college graduates face as they exit their bubbles and go off into the real world. As someone who will graduate in May, I understand this feeling whole heartedly. It doesn't hurt that The Graduate is populated with many excellent perfomances, the two main ones being, of course, Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, both of whom play their characters so well, we forget we are looking at two of the greatest actors of all time. The Graduate is a timeless film, and it is one that I think every young person who feels lost should see. It doesn't necessarily have the answers or nicely drawn conclusions, but it expresses what everyone at one time in their life feels, and perfectly captures the messiness of the webs we weave.

2. Psycho (1960) - Alfred Hithcock topped by 30 Greatest Directors of All Time List (Which I think is in need of an update, although his postition will most likely not change), and a list of his accomplishments is proof as to why he got that honor. But Hitchcock was no better than he was in the 1960 classic, Psycho. While it may not scare today's gore-soaked, jaded audiences, those of us who appreciate old movies and film history, will realize just how incredible this film was. Hitchcock beleived in the old addage that what you don't see is sometimes the scariest thing of all, and he waits until the end to reveal his psychotic killer, a truly frightening premise. Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins play their parts well, and Perkins was completely robbed of an Oscar for playing one of the scariest and deranged villains in movie history. But this is truly Hitchcock's baby. He lets the audience stay confused and scared, by placing them in the middle of a psychological breakdown without them even knowing it. He unleases onto the audience pure terror and fright unlike any director had done before him, or has done since. He also managed to raise the bar on horror films, and make them deep and meaningful, as well as scary, something most horror films never seem to master. It is truly a classic, just don't watch it alone.

I realized that in the list, I missed number 20 which was:

20. Apocalypse Now (1979) - Simply put one of Coppola's best films and one of the greatest war films of all time.

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