We’ve made it to our first milestone! We have published 100 posts on the interwebs! To celebrate this, while Lauren is off enjoying her hen party weekend, I have decided to do a 100 year retrospective on my favourite (not critically-acclaimed, or necessarily best) film from each decade between 1910 and 2010.
1910s: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920)
Yes, I know this was released in 1920, but I’m going to count the date of production rather than the 1920 release. Whether it’s in the films of Tim Burton, the film noir movement of the 40s-50s, countless graphic novels, or pretty much most horror that followed on for the next forty years, The Cabinet of Dr Caligari can be counted as a major influence. German Expressionism at its best, this movie looks amazingly original, and regardless of how many times the stylistics have been pastiched, it still charmed the pants off me while being very unsettling to boot. I consider it a favourite of mine, despite being released almost 100 years ago.
1920s: The Gold Rush (1925)
Talking about charming the pants off me… Charlie Chaplin, oh how I wish an equivalent actor was jobbing in Hollywood nowadays. Modern Times may be his best work, but The Gold Rush is relentless tomfoolery with a heart. Slapstick humour hasn’t evolved a great amount since Chaplin’s movies, but he will always be the undisputed king of that pool of comedy. There will never be an actor that can tell a story using their body with such precision as Charlie Chaplin, and despite a decade of seminal classics such as The Jazz Singer, Metropolis and Battleship Potemkin, this movie slapsticks its way into my top spot for the 1920s. This film also contains the best use of a chicken suit in cinema history.
1930s: Things To Come (1936)
The thing I love about this British science fiction movie from the mid-30s is how weirdly accurate it is in predicting following 100 years. Granted they thought we wouldn’t make it into space until 2035 (idiots, pah), they did however mention wars, plagues, the mistrust of science and machines, and revolting workers. As a bit of an After Effects/post-production geek, I love how they achieved the visuals in this movie. Much like The Impossible, but a million times more impressive, they used practical effects because they didn’t have computers. Well they did, but they were much bigger and I don’t think you would be able to run After Effects 64-bit on them.
1940s: Double Indemnity (1944)
Do you remember your first film noir experience? Mine just so happened to be with Double Indemnity. It was gentle at first but towards the end I was being taken on such a ride I could barely breathe. There was something quite magical about watching my first noir; I was coming off the back of a photography a-level, so was pretty obsessed with chiaroscuro, and noir pretty much is the biggest proponent of that high contrast between light and dark aesthetic. Style aside, Billy Wilder knows how to put together a story, and Double Indemnity is gripping from the first to the last.
1950s: Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
Electric pacing, stunning performances from every cast member, gripping plot. This is the second Wilder movie on my list, and it’s not the last either. In my opinion, there isn’t a better courtroom drama than Witness for the Prosecution, and this is one of my ‘go to’ movies that I feel compelled to watch each year. Nail-biting, and if you haven’t seen it, stop what you are doing and spend the next 2 hours in cinematic heaven by watching Witness for the Prosecution. It’s such a special movie.
1960s: The Apartment (1960)
Some people have a song or a city that reminds them of a special time with a loved one. I have The Apartment, a movie that changed the opinion of a girlfriend that has stated, on record, that black and white movies are rubbish. Billy Wilder constructs the best rom com in history, with a set of believable characters and a charming story of love and loyalty. Jack Lemon, who would later go on to start in Grumpy Old Men, gives the performance of a lifetime as a cheerful, hapless in love office worker that falls for a woman who knows how to press his buttons. It’s funny, beautiful, brilliantly-paced and NOT cloying or sickly. A complete cinematic experience, and I think I’m going to watch it again today!
1970s: Alien (1979)
I should not have been allowed to watch this at such a young age. Alien gave me nightmares for a couple of years, and, to this day, is a movie that knows how to terrify me. The 1970s were fantastic for dystopian science fiction movies, and while there are some classics from the decade, none manages the same rewatchability as Alien. It blends horror and sci-fi, looks gothic yet futuristic, and doesn’t resort to cheap narrative cliches to achieve its scares. It might be cool to say you like Alien, but do I care? Nope.
1980s: The Shining (1980)
I only realised last week after a conversation with Lauren why I love this film so much. Kubrick has constructed a movie in The Shining that looks extremely photographic. You could literally take any still from this The Shining (or any Kubrick film for that matter), frame it and hang it on your wall. Much like Mulholland Dr., The Shining has a narrative that demands you think about what you are seeing, and the ending, while being the literal opposite to what happens in the book, is a massive head-fuck. I love being challenged by a film, be it through imagery, thematics or narrative structure and development, and The Shining absolutely carries the flame for all of those categories.
1990s: LA Confidential (1997)
I bought the video game, LA Noire, expecting something as engaging as LA Confidential, but was bitterly disappointed. Much like the rest of the films on this list, LA Confidential left me feeling completely engrossed in the story, and it puts a smile on my face when I think about the first time I watched it. The 90s were Kevin Spacey’s decade, and his output doesn’t get any more compelling or exciting than LA Confidential. If you haven’t seen this, why the hell not?!
2000s: Mulholland Dr. (2001)
No hay banda. There is no band.
My mind was blown so much when I saw this movie at the beginning of university that I decided to do my dissertation on Lynch. There are so many memories I have related to Mulholland Dr.; doing an all-nighter with mates and putting this on at 8am, much to their confusion; watching it in the rain in an open air cinema in Somerset House, London, with my girlfriend; watching it twice in one day while writing the final chapter of my dissertation about this movie. It’s clever, sleek, dream-like, confusing, a complete mind-fuck, but it’s just so damn good. If this is Lynch’s middle finger letter to Hollywood, my 11,169 word, 65 page dissertation is a love letter to Lynch.
2010s so far…: Inception (2010)
There have only been three and a half years of the Teens, and while we’ve seen some fantastic movies released, I don’t think any of them have come close to giving me the feeling I had when I left the cinema after watching Inception. I caught a late screening, but if I had seen it during the day I absolutely would have bought another ticket and watched it again. Nolan is magical, and regardless of the fact this movie has been called many things, I would proudly be the standard bearer for Inception as a blockbuster with smarts. Much like Looper, forget the science or technicalities of the plot and let it wash over you like the intelligent sci-fi action movie that it is. Amazing.
Honourary mentions (some of these are on par with my choices, and could be interchangeable, especially the 1950s, that was a GOOD decade):
The Public Enemy, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The Big Steal, Stray Dog, Rear Window, Singin’ in the Rain, Night of the Hunter, Les Diaboliques, North by Northwest, Psycho, Dr Strangelove, Goldfinger, Soylent Green, The French Connection, Chinatown, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice, Labyrinth, Aladdin, The Usual Suspects, Men in Black, 28 Days Later, City of God, Oldboy, Shaun of the Dead, Brick, Martyrs, I Saw the Devil, The Cabin in the Woods, Looper