50. There Will Be Blood (2007) There’s a lot of John Ford-ness in this P. T. Anderson film, but it has a force, and weight, that is all its own. It’s pragmatic capitalism versus old-time religion in a battle for the soul of America, but there are only losers in this conflict. My favorite film of the 21st century so far, along with David Fincher's Zodiac.
49. Being There (1979) The final film of Peter Sellers, a strange and darkly comic meditation on money, religion, and pop culture, Being There also slyly portrays how power operates in the world. Chance the Gardener is an idiot who everyone mistakes for a genius in Jerzy Kozinski’s story, and his mindless parables are interpreted by everyone into precisely what they want to hear. (Although it turns out Kozinski may have plagiarized his source material). Pay careful attention to that final burial scene!
48. Night Moves (1977) Movies don’t get much more 1970s than this one, a private detective picture in which the private detective doesn’t detect anything and arguably causes more harm than good. Gene Hackman plays the lead, and although he never has anything but the best intentions – unlike everyone else in the film – he always stays a couple moves behind (the title is a chess pun). Striking dialogue, terrific scenes, and one of the strangest and most memorable endings of the decade.
46. Broadcast News (1987) A movie that looks more and more like a time capsule as the major networks become increasingly irrelevant, but with a core story will never get old. Holly Hunter is a top news producer, Albert Brooks a cost-effective reporter, and William Hurt in his greatest role, as a likable bumpkin with a gift for inducing trust. The scene in which Brooks explains to Hunter why she cannot end up with Hurt is probably my favorite scene in any movie ever.
45. Throne of Blood (1957) One of Akira Kurosawa’s Shakespeare adaptations, this is Macbeth with a clever transposition to feudal Japan. The great Toshiro Mifune plays the doomed would-be king, whose final death scene is justly famous. (The archers were shooting real arrows.)
44. Citizen Kane (1941) Yeah, I know every critic’s poll puts this at #1. And it is an amazing film, a fantastic technical achievement, with a few scenes that are as memorable as anything ever put on screen. I love the picture. I just love other pictures more. Watching film is as subjective as it gets; Casablanca isn’t on this list at all, and I like that very much.
43. Masculin-Feminin (1966) Godard fell in love with Anna Karina, and you can see why. Light, funny, and surprisingly touching, this is a deconstructed romance about the “children of Marx and Coca-Cola.”
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