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.
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47. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) It’s a photographed play – and never more than that – but it doesn’t matter when the script and cast are this good. One of the most quotable movies ever made, and a dark depiction of Mamet’s “world of men.” Also one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, enacted by one of the greatest casts ever put together.
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.”
42. The Stunt Man (1980) Peter O’Toole as a movie director as God in a surrealist adventure about a man on the run (Steve Railsback) who finds that being in a movie might be more dangerous than fleeing the police. Full of ideas, absurd humor, and brilliant scenes, Richard Rush’s picture is especially a must for fans of O’Toole. Rewards repeat visits.
41. Modern Times (1936) A Marxist critique of American industrial conditions, but also a hilarious satire that still works perfectly today. Chaplin literally gets run through a machine, which sounds over the top but feels oddly poetic. A beautiful and resonant film.