89. Youth of the Beast (1963) Seijun Suzuki made crazy, stylish pictures about gangsters in a kind of fantasy world. This one is probably my favorite because there are several places where you can see where Tarantino stole stuff from, and because of Jo Shushido’s terrific performance. Bright colors, edgy violence, and a couple of dry quips – it’s got an energy to it that’s infectious.
88. The China Syndrome (1979) During the Seventies, it seems like Hollywood was able to knock out adult dramas at will for a while; of course we all know what changed that. One of the most intense films I’ve ever seen; it will leave you thinking for some time after you see it. Also interesting in that there is no score, which adds to the realistic tone. (As William Goldman pointed out, Michael Douglas is a hell of a producer; check out his credits, which include this picture).
87. Solaris (1972) Decidedly not the insipid Steven Soderbergh remake, but Andrei Tarkovsky’s original; if you haven’t seen any Tarkovsky, it’s worth the effort to catch as many as you can. A slow, surreal, fascinating journey, culminating in a final shot that is justly famous. Dreamlike and thought-provoking.
86. Topsy Turvy (1999) Another one of my favorite backstage pictures, this gets every detail about the experience of stageplays correct. A wide, expansive film, there are spectacular performances and beautiful sets and a fine wit throughout. My favorite of Mike Leigh’s films.
85. L’Avventura (1960) Michelangelo Antonioni is one of my favorite directors, and – like Kubrick – I had to limit myself or this list would have been chock full of both. A picture that likely most audiences would now find boring, I found mesmerizing – and shocking, to use Martin Scorcese’s description. And remember: Monica Vitti was not an established star when the picture released.
84. Blue Collar (1978) Paul Schrader’s finest hour (as writer and director), in my opinion, centers on three union guys (Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, and Yaphet Kotto) who try to commit a crime and find themselves in a much bigger mess than they ever intended. The drama hasn't aged a bit.
83. Fort Apache (1948) Henry Fonda plays a real sonofabitch in this one, and this is one of John Ford’s darkest films, an inversion of the typical Western hero that was sometimes celebrated in his work. Haunting, and strikingly modern in some ways, with an unusual turn from John Wayne and a great ending.
81. Le Cercle Rouge (1970) Alain Delon, this time sporting a mustache, and the great Yves Montand, in a heist film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. What more do you want?