the skuriels

as part of the aggregate of bloggers and critics that takes part in the muriel awards, i was invited to also cast a ballot in a new project that we did in conjunction with the fine folks that do a similar project over at the skandies. once every ten years, venerable british film magazine sight & sound releases their list of the top fifty films of all time. it's one of the few lists that i give any credence. we thought it might be fun to put together a response and, as it is a collaborative enterprise between our two groups, the result was christened the skuriels. we assembled a top twenty of our own and there are also tons of extras, including honorable mentions, orphan films that were sentimental favorites and a directors list. there is a lot of good writing about a lot of great films and i am very pleased to have been included. amidst all the opining, on this page you can find my brief appreciation of jean-pierre melville's army of shadows (1969).

on the surface, it's a simple assignment. one easy question - what twenty movies best represent to me the greatest that cinema has to offer? then you start making mental lists, then you start jotting notes, then you run out of paper, then you scrap it all and start all over. once you do all that, you realize that on any given day you would come up with a completely different result, rendering all of this moot. still, it's a fun exercise. if you don't feel like digging through all the stuff over at the skuriels page, here is my ballot (ranked, which wasn't required). for now, this is the best that i think cinema has to offer.

1. a woman under the influence (1974), john cassavetes
2. army of shadows (1969), jean-pierre melville
3. citizen kane (1941), orson welles
4. the testament of dr. mabuse (1933), fritz lang
5. the mirror (1975), andrei tarkovsky
6. aguirre, the wrath of god (1972), werner herzog
7. the third man (1949), carol reed
8. animal crackers (1930), victor heerman
9. the rules of the game (1939), jean renoir
10. there will be blood (2007), paul thomas anderson
11. the general (1926), clyde bruckman/buster keaton
12. contempt (1963), jean-luc godard
13. bride of frankenstein (1935), james whale
14. mccabe & mrs. miller (1971), robert altman
15. stardust memories (1980), woody allen
16. naked (1993), mike leigh
17. taxi driver (1976), martin scorsese
18. in cold blood (1967), richard brooks
19. it's a gift (1943), norman z. mcleod
20. beauty and the beast (1946), jean cocteau

there are some notable absences there, obviously. hitchcock, fellini, bergman, kurosawa and a lot of other favorites that didn't make this cut. check back in ten years and we'll see if that changes. in the meantime, if you'd like to play along, feel free to leave a ballot of your own in the comments section. i'm always eager and curious to see what makes up someone else's essentials.

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