Tag Archives: best of

The Biggest and Best Movie Meta-List in the History of Cinema

Sorry for the over-the-top title, but hyperbole can be effective in getting your attention. I’ve just created a new movie meta-list – it’s the largest one I’ve ever made (791 movies) and, for the first time, I’ve arranged it in reverse chronological order so that the most recent movies are at the top. Click here to go directly to: The Big Movie List.

To make this list I put together all the movies on three other movie meta-lists from Make Lists, Not War: Best Films of All Time – Ranked; Best Films of All Time – Ranked (Older Version); and Top 200 Movies of All Time – Using a New Methodology.  Then, I took the meta-lists from Best Films – Year by Year (which covers 2002-2016) and added the top 10 movies (or more, in the case of ties) from each Year by Year list.  The result is a comprehensive list of the best movies ever made, as determined by film critics, scholars and journalists.  Since the typical “best films of all time” list tends to skimp on recent movies, the addition of the Year-by-Year lists has infused the overall list with a large number of movies from the last 20 years.

Of course, as with all lists, many will find glaring omissions (how could they leave that out???) and a few clunkers (how could they put that in???).  But that is of course the fun of lists.  Note that these are not my personal favorite 791 movies – I haven’t even seen many of them.  I did add my personal 1-10 rating for all the movies on the list that I have seen.  If you want to see a list of my favorite films, go HERE.

If you have strong opinions one way or the other, please feel free to add a comment.

If you think this list is pretty cool, feel free to share it.

 

Building Sites: The New, Improved Architecture Lists

Update: I recently discovered several new lists of Best Architecture, Best Buildings, etc., and added them to the existing lists.  I also went through the Best Architecture and Best Architecture – Chronological lists and added more pictures: I mean, LOTS MORE PICTURES.  I tried to show aerial views in many cases, and also street level views of tall buildings. For ruins, I tried to find artist’s conceptions of what the building looked like in its heyday.  I think you will like the improvements.  Click on the links below to see the new, improved sites:

Best Architecture of All Time – The Critics’ Picks
— lists every work of architecture on 4 or more of the 24+ original source lists
— organized by rank (that is, with the items on the most lists at the top)
— items on the same number of lists are organized in chronological order

Best Architecture of all Time – Chronological
— considerably longer list than the above list
— lists all the buildings/architectural works on 3 or more of the original source lists
— organized in chronological order by date that construction began (if available)

As a result of the new Best Architecture lists I found, I was able to add 7 new buildings to the lists.  They are:

  • St. Pancras Railway Station. London, England, UK.
  • Natural History Museum. London, England, UK.
  • Imperial Hotel. Tokyo, Japan (destroyed in 1968)
  • Washington National Cathedral. Washington, D.C.
  • Getty Center, J. Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles, California, US.
  • Reichstag (restoration and renovation). Berlin, Germany.
  • The Shard (London Bridge Tower). London, England, UK.

Other pages that contain information about architecture and building:

Best Architects of All Time – The Critics’ Picks
(organized chronologically by date of birth and listing each architect’s most important works)

Best Works of Civil Engineering

Best Works of Civil Engineering – Chronological

A warm welcome to my LinkedIn connections, who will now be getting posts from Make Lists, Not War: The Meta-Lists Website.

 

Best Books of the 21st Century (So Far)

I’m completing a mini-series of “Best of the 21st Century (So Far)” meta-lists with a list of the best books.  I collected over 7 lists of best books of the 21st Century and combined them into two lists: fiction and non-fiction.  I’ve also included my personal five-star-rated (out of five) books since 2000.

For the other “Best of the 21st Century” meta-lists, go to:
Best Albums of the 21st Century (So Far)
Best Films of the 21st Century (So Far)

FICTION
On 7 Lists
The Corrections (2001). By Jonathan Franzen

On 6 Lists
White Teeth (2000). By Zadie Smith
Atonement (2001). By Ian McEwan
Middlesex (2002). By Jeffrey Eugenides
The Road (2006). By Cormac McCarthy
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007). By Junot Díaz

5 Lists
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000). By Michael Chabon
Kafka on the Shore (2002). By Haruki Murakami
The Namesake (2003). By Jhumpa Lahiri
Oryx and Crake (2003). By Margaret Atwood
Gilead (2004). By Marilynne Robinson
Cloud Atlas (2004). By David Mitchell

4 Lists
Austerlitz
(2001). By W. G. Sebald
American Gods (2001). By Neil Gaiman
Bel Canto (2001). By Ann Patchett
The Kite Runner (2003). By Khaled Hosseini
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003). By Mark Haddon
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004). By Susanna Clarke
2666 (2004). By Roberto Bolaño
Never Let Me Go (2005). By Kazuo Ishiguro
No Country for Old Men (2005). By Cormac McCarthy
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007). By J. K. Rowling
The Art of Fielding (2011). By Chad Harbach

3 Lists
The Secret Life of Bees (2001). By Sue Monk Kidd
The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003). By Audrey Niffenegger
The Line of Beauty (2004). By Alan Hollinghurst
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2005). By Stieg Larsson
The Book Thief (2005). By Markus Zusak
The Thirteenth Tale (2006). By Diane Setterfield
The Name of the Wind (2007). By Patrick Rothfuss
The Hunger Games (2008). By Suzanne Collins
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008). By Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
The Help (2009). By Kathryn Stockett
Wolf Hall (2009). By Hilary Mantel
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010). By David Mitchell
The Night Circus (2011). By Erin Morgenstern
The Fault in Our Stars (2012). By John Green
Gone Girl (2012). By Gillian Flynn

NON-FICTION
On 5 Lists
Persepolis (2000). By Marjane Satrapi

4 Lists
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America (2003). By Erik Larson
The Year of Magical Thinking (2005). By Joan Didion

3 Lists
Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000). By David Sedaris
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000). By Dave Eggers
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (2003). By Lynne Truss
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (2005). By Steven D. Levitt
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006). By Michael Pollan
Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time
(2007). By Greg Mortenson

2 Lists
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000). By Malcolm Gladwell
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (2000). By Stephen King
London: The Biography (2000). By Peter Ackroyd
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001). By Barbara Ehrenreich.
John Adams (2001). By David McCullough
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (2005). By Malcolm Gladwell
The Glass Castle (2005). By Jeannette Wells
Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (2006). By Elizabeth Gilbert
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006). By Alison Bechdel
Enrique’s Journey (2006). By Sonia Nazario
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007). By Naomi Klein
The Hemingses of Monticello (2008). By Annette Gordon-Reed
Zeitoun (2009). By Dave Eggers
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (2009). By Chris McDougall
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern (2011). By Stephen Greenblatt
Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011). By Daniel Kahneman
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2012). By Susan Cain
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (2012). By Cheryl Strayed

MY FIVE-STAR BOOKS OF THE 21ST CENTURY

Fiction
Peace Like a River (2001). By Leif Enger
Atonement (2001). By Ian McEwan
Austerlitz (2001). By W.G. Sebald
Middlesex (2002). By Jeffrey Eugenides
The Known World (2003). By Edward P. Jones
Never Let Me Go (2005). By Kazuo Ishiguro
Europe Central (2005). By William T. Vollmann

Non-fiction
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000). By Dave Eggers
John Adams (2001). By David McCullough
Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (2002). By Janet E. Browne
A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003). By Bill Bryson
They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace, Vietnam and America, October 1967 (2003). By David Maraniss
The Stories of English (2004). By David Crystal
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004). By Steve Coll
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (2005). By Charles C. Mann
The Rough Guide To Classical Music (2005). By Duncan Clark
The Year of Magical Thinking (2005). By Joan Didion
James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon (2006). By Julie Phillips
American Movie Critics: An Anthology From the Silents Until Now (2006). By Philip Lopate, ed.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006). By Michael Pollan
Cleopatra: A Life (2006). By Stacy Schiff
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (2007). By Alex Ross
The Hemingses of Monticello (2008). By Annette Gordon-Reed
Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood (2008). By Mark Harris
The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (2010). By Isabel Wilkerson
Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music – The Definitive Life (2011). By Tim Riley
Conversations with Scorcese (2011). By Richard Schickel
The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code (2013). By Margalit Fox
Lawrence in Arabia; War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2013). By Scott Anderson

Best Albums of the 21st Century (So Far)

People who like to make lists have little patience, so it’s not surprising that even though our century is less than two decades old, I was able to find a bunch of “Best Music of the 21st Century” lists online.  Most of the lists focus on popular genres such as pop, rock, hip hop, R&B and alternative, so there is little or no jazz, classical or even country in this meta-list. For fun, I have also appended my personal five-star albums of the century so far (to match the meta-list, I’ve excluded classical and jazz).  Here are the albums on two or more of the original source lists I collected.

NOTE: Most of these lists were made long before 2017 – one of them is from 2009  and a few are from 2012 and 2013 – so there is a definite bias towards the first decade of the century.

On 10 “Best Music of the 21st Century” Lists
Elephant (2003) – The White Stripes

On 7 Lists
Stankonia (2000) – OutKast

6 Lists
Kid A (2000) – Radiohead
Is This It (2001) – The Strokes
Discovery (2001) – Daft Punk
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) – Kanye West

5 Lists
Funeral (2004) – Arcade Fire
Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006) – Arctic Monkeys
Sound of Silver (2007) – LCD Soundsystem
In Rainbows (2007) – Radiohead
Fleet Foxes (2008) – Fleet Foxes   

4 Lists
American Idiot (2004) – Green Day
Back to Black (2006) – Amy Winehouse
Let England Shake (2011) – PJ Harvey
Channel Orange (2012) – Frank Ocean

3 Lists
The Blueprint (2001) – Jay-Z
Vespertine (2001) – Björk 
Up the Bracket (2002) – The Libertines
Songs for the Deaf (2002) – Queens of the Stone Age
Original Pirate Material (2002) – The Streets
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) – Wilco
Fever to Tell (2003) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Savane (2006) – Ali Farka Touré
xx (2009) – The xx 
Lost In The Dream (2014) – The War On Drugs

2 Lists
Relationship of Command (2000) – At The Drive In 
The Marshall Mathers LP (2000) – Eminem
Rated R (2000) – Queens of the Stone Age
Weezer [The Green Album] (2001) – Weezer
Lateralus (2001) – Tool
Radio Tisdas Sessions (2001) – Tinariwen  
Time (the Revelator) (2001) – Gillian Welch
American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002) – Johnny Cash
( ) (2002) – Sigur Rós 
The Black Album (2003) – Jay-Z
Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge (2004) – My Chemical Romance
A Grand Don’t Come for Free (2004) – The Streets
Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004) – Kings of Leon
College Dropout (2004) – Kanye West
I Am A Bird Now (2005) – Antony and the Johnsons
Gypsy Punks Underdog World Strike (2005) – Gogol Bordello
Sam’s Town (2006) – The Killers  
Donuts (2006) – J Dilla
Untrue (2007) – Burial 
Raising Sand (2007) – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
For Emma, Forever Ago (2007) – Bon Iver
Sky Blue Sky (2007) – Wilco
Dear Science (2008) – TV on the Radio  
808s and Heartache (2008) – Kanye West 
The ’59 Sound (2008) – The Gaslight Anthem
The Hazards of Love (2009) – The Decemberists
Good Kid, m.A.A.d City (2012) – Kendrick Lamar  
AM (2013) – Arctic Monkeys
Black Messiah (2014) – D’Angelo
To Pimp A Butterfly (2015) – Kendrick Lamar

And, for those who care, here are the albums from 2000 to present that I rated five out of five stars, in chronological order (excluding classical and jazz):

I Am Shelby Lynne (2000) – Shelby Lynne 
Fado em Mim (2000) – Mariza  
Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000) – PJ Harvey
All That You Can’t Leave Behind (2000) – U2 
Sweet Tea (2001) – Buddy Guy     
The Id (2001) – Macy Gray  
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) – Wilco    
Sea Change (2002) – Beck 
One Beat (2002) – Sleater-Kinney   
Fever to Tell (2003) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs   
Electric Version (2003) – The New Pornographers     
Funeral (2004) – Arcade Fire   
Petra Haden Sings: The Who Sell Out (2005) – Petra Haden
Illinois (2005) – Sufjan Stevens   
Z (2005) – My Morning Jacket      
Boys and Girls in America (2006) – The Hold Steady
Let’s Get Out of This Country (2006) – Camera Obscura
Neon Bible (2007) – Arcade Fire
Challengers (2007) – The New Pornographers
Once: Music From the Motion Picture (2007) – Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
White Chalk (2007) – PJ Harvey    
Hold On Now, Youngster… (2008) – Los Campesinos!     
Bird-Brains (2009) – Tune-Yards         
The Suburbs (2010) – Arcade Fire      
Majesty Shredding (2010) – Superchunk      
Cannibal Courtship (2011) – Dengue Fever       
Bad As Me (2011) – Tom Waits
Yuck (2011) – Yuck
The King Is Dead (2011) – The Decemberists 
Let England Shake (2011) – PJ Harvey
Visions (2012) – Grimes
Pedestrian Verse (2013) – Frightened Rabbit
Sleepwalker (2013) – Angel Olsen  
Alvvays (2014) – Alvvays
Brill Bruisers (2014) – The New Pornographers
My Woman (2016) – Angel Olsen
Antisocialites (2017) – Alvvays  

Reading Lists

Although I love lists, I don’t like to make my own Top 10, Top 25 or Top 100 lists. I usually have many more than 10, 25 or 100 favorites in any category, and so the supposedly fun process of making the list becomes the intensely painful process of cutting items from the list. I love more than 100 movies, 100 books, 100 musical recordings, etc. – what is the point of putting myself through the unpleasantness of culling the sum total of favorites just to meet some arbitrary cut-off number? My preferred method is to rate items on a scale (1-5 or 1-10 usually) and then list all the top-rated items (those with 5 out of 5 or 10 out of 10 stars) as my “best of” list. Some may find this disconcerting, because there is no easy round number of items – both my best movies and best books lists have somewhere between 200 and 300 listed items – but I find this listing method much less arbitrary and more fulfilling, because it is comprehensive.

I recently updated my list of best/favorite books – you can find every book I’ve rated 5 out of 5 stars HERE. In going over the list, I noticed that I read a number of the books before high school. I rated them as an adult based on how I remembered feeling about the book way back when. This is a risky technique, I suppose, since I don’t know if I would give the book five stars if I read it as an adult. The list I’ve set out below shows the 16 books on my “Five-Star Books” list that I read before entering high school (1st through 8th grade), organized chronologically by date of publication:

  1. The Voyage of the Beagle. Charles Darwin (1839)
  2. On the Origin of Species. Charles Darwin (1859)
  3. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Jules Verne (1869)
  4. Kidnapped. Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
  5. Dracula. Bram Stoker (1897)
  6. The Bounty Trilogy: Mutiny on the Bounty; Men Against the Sea; Pitcairn’s Island. Charles Nordhoff & James Hall (1932-1934)
  7. Life Long Ago: The Story of Fossils. Carroll Lane Fenton (1937)
  8. The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkein (1937)
  9. The Catcher in the Rye. J.D. Salinger (1951)
  10. The Foundation Trilogy: Foundation; Foundation & Empire; Second Foundation. Isaac Asimov (1951-1953)
  11. Nine Stories. J.D. Salinger (1953)
  12. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour: An Introduction. J.D. Salinger (1955)
  13. The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien (1956)
  14. Franny and Zooey. J.D. Salinger (1961)
  15. The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1973)
  16. All the President’s Men. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward (1974)

Books (or movies, or music, or other works of art) come into our lives at different points in our development and we respond to them as the people we are then. What books were right for that moment but would not translate well to this moment we are living in now? What books did we just not appreciate at the time we read them that we would see today totally differently? Feel free to let me know what you think.

FYI, here are links to all my five-star lists:
My Five-Star Books
My Five-Star Films
My Five-Star Albums

The Making of a List – The Best 200 Movies of All Time – Using a New Method

This post introduces a new “Top Movies” meta-list that I compiled using a completely new methodology.  Those of you familiar with my lists know that I usually make all my meta-lists the same way: I collect “Best of” lists on a specific topic from the Internet, books and magazines and give one point to an item for every list it is on.  You also know that, for complicated mathematical reasons explained HERE, I treat all lists equally, no matter how long they are (a top 10 list and a top 1000 list are not weighted differently, as long as the total number of items in the classification is much higher than 1000), and no matter where an item is on the list (in the case of a top 1000 list, for example, I treat the item at Number 1 exactly the same as the item at Number 1000).  Don’t fret – it all works out.

NOTE: The links to the new list are at the bottom of the page if you want to skip the methodology and analysis information below.

Because my traditional method for making meta-lists does not take advantage of the more complicated rating schemes available on certain websites (particularly those involving film), I thought it would be fun to use those websites to see what kind of a film list they would create.  Here’s what I did:  First, I took the top 250 movies (as rated by the public) on the website IMDb.com (the Internet Movie Database), along with the 1-10 rankings for each movie.  I then added the top 100 movies on the Rotten Tomatoes website, as determined by the site’s Tomatometer score, which uses an algorithm based on critics’ reviews.  I added to that the top 200 movies as rated by the members of the Rate Your Music website (which rates films as well as music), along with the ranking (RYM rates on a 1-5 scale, so I just doubled each score to get a 1-10 rating). To put my personal opinions in the mix, I then added every movie that I rated 10/10.  I then added all the films on the most recent Sight & Sound Magazine polls of film critics and directors (100 movies on each list, from 2012).  To get a ranking, I assigned numeric values on a 1-10 basis (10 for the top 10 movies, 9.95 for the next 10, and so on).  I took that list of nearly 500 movies and looked up for each movie the average critic score from Rotten Tomatoes (which is calculated differently from the from the Tomatometer score and tends to be lower), my personal 1-10 rating (if I had seen the film) and the critics’ rating from Metacritic.com, if available. (Metacritic doesn’t rate most older movies unless they were recently re-released or reissued.) This gave each film the possibility of up to eight 1-10 ratings.  To avoid skewing the data, I then deleted any film that did not have at least three of the eight ratings, which reduced the total number of movies on the list to 376.  Using Excel, I calculated the average rating for each movie.  The top film had a 9.67 rating; the film at the 376th spot was rated at 6.25.  I then somewhat arbitrarily selected the top 200 films on the list as the best of all time (the 200th film’s rating was 8.67).

The result is definitely not your typical best movies list: for one thing, there are quite a few very recent films; some perennial favorites are missing and some unusual selections have made it. The list sometimes rates less well-known films of a director higher than the film usually considered the director’s best.  Using my personal ratings means that many of my favorite movies are on the list (and movies I gave very low ratings did not make the cut: so long Forrest Gump, Inception, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Up and WALL-E!).  But don’t think of this as a list of my favorites.  If anything, the Sight & Sound movies received the most weight, since they are drawn from hundreds of respected movie critics and directors. Many of my top-rated movies were cut because they didn’t have a minimum of three ratings out of the eight potential sources.  So, for example, I have never seen the top three movies on the list – Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar, Luchino Visconti’s The Leopard and Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Conformist – although you can believe I’m pushing them to the top of my Netflix queue.

I have examined the new list a bit and came up with some interesting tidbits about it, as shown in the analysis below:

MOST FEQUENTLY LISTED DIRECTORS AND THEIR MOST-LISTED FILMS

6 Films
Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo)

5 FIlms
Jean-Luc Godard (Contempt)
Ingmar Bergman (Fanny and Alexander)

4 Films 
Robert Bresson (Au Hasard Balthazar)
Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai)
Federico Fellini (La Strada)
Stanley Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey)
Luis Buñuel (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie)
Billy Wilder (Sunset Blvd.)

MOST COMMON COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN AND TOP FILM FOR EACH COUNTRY

United States: 107 films (Top Film: The Godfather)
France: 27 films (Top Film: Au Hasard Balthazar)
United Kingdom: 19 films (Top Film: A Hard Day’s Night)
Italy: 16 films (Top Film: The Leopard)
Japan: 9 films (Top Film: Seven Samurai)
Germany: 8 films (Top Film: Aguirre, the Wrath of God)
USSR: 5 films (Top Film: Battleship Potemkin)
Sweden: 5 films (Top Film: Fanny and Alexander)
Denmark: 3 films (Top Film: Gertrud)
New Zealand: 3 films (Top Film: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) (co-production with US)

DECADES WHEN FILMS WERE PRODUCED AND TOP RATED FILM OF EACH DECADE

1910s: 1 film (Intolerance)
1920s: 12 films (Top Film: Battleship Potemkin)
1930s: 16 films (Top Film: The Rules of the Game)
1940s: 19 films (Top Film: Open City)
1950s: 33 films (Top Film: Anatomy of a Murder)
1960s: 36 films (Top Film: Au Hasard Balthazar)
1970s: 27 films (Top Film: The Conformist)
1980s: 11 films (Top Film: Shoah)
1990s: 15 films (Top Film: Pulp Fiction)
2000s: 18 films (Top Film: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
2010s: 13 films (Top Film: Boyhood)

TOP-RATED DOCUMENTARY FILMS
Shoah (France, 1985) Dir: Claude Lanzmann
Man with a Movie Camera (USSR, 1929) Dir: Dziga Vertov
Capturing the Friedmans (US, 2003) Dir: Andrew Jarecki
The Act of Killing (Denmark, 2012) Dir: Joshua Oppenheimer
Grizzly Man (US, 2005) Dir: Werner Herzog
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Canada/US/France/Germany/UK, 2010) Dir: Werner Herzog
Man on Wire (UK/US, 2008) Dir. James Marsh
Hoop Dreams (US, 1994) Dir: Steve James
Stop Making Sense (US, 1984) Dir: Jonathan Demme

TOP-RATED MUSICALS
Singin’ in the Rain (US, 1951) Dir: Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly
A Hard Day’s Night (UK, 1964) Dir: Richard Lester
The Wizard of Oz (US, 1939) Dir: Victor Fleming
Nashville (US, 1975) Dir: Robert Altman
Once (Ireland, 2006) Dir: John Carney
La La Land (US, 2016) Dir: Damien Chazelle

TOP-RATED ANIMATED FILMS
Anomalisa (US, 2015) Dir: Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson
Toy Story 3 (US, 2010) Dir: Lee Unkrich
Spirited Away (Japan, 2001) Dir: Hayao Miyazaki
Toy Story (US, 1995) Dir: John Lasseter

So now that I’ve piqued your interest, you probably want to see the new list.  Click on the links below for two versions: one is organized by rating/ranking, the other is chronological.

Top 200 Movies – By Ranking
Top 200 Movies – Chronological

My Personal Year-End Round Up: Books and Movies

It’s not quite the end of 2016, but like many of you out there, I am in a rush for the year to be over, so I’m publishing my end of year summary a few days early.  Here are some of the highlights of my year in movie-watching and book-reading.

MOVIES
Number of Movies Seen in 2016: 64

Category
Feature Films: 37
Short Films: 17
Documentaries: 10

Date of Movie
1920-1930: 12
1930-1959: 10
1960-1979: 4
1980-1999: 3
2000-2014: 16
2015: 9
2016: 9

Highest Rated Movies
10/10
Shoe Shine (Italy, De Sica, 1946)
Anomalisa (US, Johnson & Kaufman, 2015)
Moonlight (US, Jenkins, 2016)

9/10
Ballet mécanique (France, Léger & Murphy, 1924)
The Freshman (US, Newmeyer & Taylor, 1925)
Ghosts Before Breakfast (Germany, Richter, 1928)
Lot in Sodom (US. Webber & Watson, 1933)
Meshes of the Afternoon (US, Deren & Hammid, 1943)
21-87 (US, Lipsett, 1964)
Land of Silence and Darkness (West Germany, Herzog, 1971)
The Cruise (US, Miller, 1998)
The Secret in their Eyes (Argentina, Campanella, 2009)
The Big Short (US, McKay, 2015)
45 Years (UK, Haigh, 2015)
Tangerine (US, Baker, 2015)
Son of Saul (Hungary, Jeles, 2015)

BOOKS
Number of books finished in 2016: 12

Category
Fiction: 4
Non-Fiction: 4
Epic Poems: 4

Date Published
1000-1299: 5
1300-1799: 0
1800-1999: 1
2000-2016: 6

Highest Rated Books
FIve Stars

The Tale of Genji (Japan, 1021). By Shikibu Murasaki
Europe Central (US, 2005). By William T. Vollmann
Lawrence in Arabia (UK, 2013). By Scott Anderson

Best Films of the 21st Century (So Far)

If there’s one thing listers like to do, it’s make lists, and we don’t need much of an excuse. Case in point: I was wandering around the Internet the other day and found about 10 lists of “The Best Movies of the 21st Century.” Being that this century is less than 16 years old (less than 15 if you want to be technical about it), this seemed like a rush to judgment, to say the least. Nevertheless, I was intrigued enough to pull all the lists together to see which movies were on the most lists. Spoiler alert: David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive (2001) was the highest vote-getter – it was on seven lists. The resulting meta-list is below, organized in chronological order – with every film that made it onto 3 or more of the 10 lists I collected. In addition to the title, number of lists, country of origin, date and director, I have added my personal 1-10 rating for those movies on the list that I have seen.

– John M. Becker

In the Mood for Love (on 5 lists)
China 2000  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Wong Kar-Wai

Memento (on 3 lists)
US 2000  (JMB: 9/10)
Director: Christopher Nolan

Yi Yi (Yi Yi: A One and a Two) (on 3 lists)
Taiwan 2000  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Edward Yang

Mulholland Drive (on 7 lists)
US 2001  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: David Lynch

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (on 5 lists)
New Zealand/US 2001  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Peter Jackson

Amélie (on 4 lists)
France 2001  (JMB: 9/10)
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Spirited Away (on 4 lists)
Japan 2001  (JMB: 9/10)
Director:  Hayao Miyazaki

The Royal Tenenbaums (on 3 lists)
US 2001  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Wes Anderson

City of God (Cidade de Deus) (on 6 lists)
Brazil 2002  (JMB: 9/10)
Director: Fernando Meirelles

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (on 4 lists)
New Zealand/US 2002  (JMB: 9/10)
Director: Peter Jackson

Talk to Her (Hable con Ella) (on 3 lists)
Spain 2002  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Punch-Drunk Love (on 3 lists)
US 2002  (JMB: 8/10)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (on 4 lists)
New Zealand/US 2003  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Peter Jackson

Oldboy (on 3 lists)
South Korea 2003
Director: Park Chan-Wook

Elephant (on 3 lists)
US 2003  (JMB: 8/10)
Director: Gus Van Sant

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (on 4 lists)
US 2004  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Michel Gondry

The Incredibles (on 3 lists)
US 2004  (JMB: 8/10)
Director: Brad Bird

Caché (Hidden) (on 5 lists)
France 2005  (JMB: 9/10)
Director: Michael Haneke

The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen) (on 5 lists)
Germany 2006  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck

Pan’s Labyrinth (on 4 lists)
Mexico/Spain 2006
Director: Guillermo del Toro

Children of Men (on 3 lists)
US/UK 2006  (JMB: 9/10)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

No Country for Old Men (on 6 lists)
US 2007  (JMB: 10/10)
Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen

There Will Be Blood (on 5 lists)
US 2007  (JMB: 9/10)
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Zodiac (on 4 lists)
US 2007  (JMB: 8/10)
Director: David Fincher

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (on 3 lists)
Romania 2007  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Cristian Mungiu

Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in) (on 4 lists)
Sweden 2008  (JMB: 8/10)
Director: Tomas Alfredson

The Dark Knight (on 4 lists)
US 2008
Director: Christopher Nolan

The White Ribbon (Das weiße Band, Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte) (on 5 lists)
Germany 2009  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Michael Haneke

The Tree of Life (on 4 lists)
US 2011  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Terence Malick

12 Years A Slave (on 3 lists)
UK/US 2013
Director: Steve McQueen

Boyhood (on 3 lists)
US 2014  (JMB: 10/10)
Director: Richard Linklater

 

Make Lists, Not War: Fall 2016 Updates

Over the last few months, I have added two new pages to the website and made significant changes to several others.  Here are the updates:

Best Works of Civil Engineering
Best Works of Civil Engineering – Chronological
From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the International Space Station – with lots of buildings, bridges, waterworks, canals and tunnels in between: the greatest achievements in civil engineering. Plenty of diagrams and photos.

Best Short Stories of All Time – The Critics’ Picks
I have added links so that the full text of nearly every story on the list is now just a click away.

Best Works of Art of All Time – The Critics’ Picks, Part 1
Best Works of Art of All Time – The Critics’ Picks, Part 2
Art History 101 – Part I: The Prehistoric Era – 1399 CE
Art History 101 – Part IIA: 1400-1499
Art History 101 – Part IIB: 1500-1599
Art History 101 – Part III: 1600-1799
Art History 101 – Part IV: 1800 – Present
I increased the size of the images in many cases and added images in other cases.  I also significantly revised or completely rewrote a number of the essays accompanying each work of art.

 

My Watchlist: Favorite Films of 2015

Another year of movie-watching having passed, I have rated all the movies I saw in the past year on a 1-10 scale and organized them into two lists.  The first list contains all the movies I’ve seen so far that were officially released in 2015.  (Note: I saw several of these films in 2016. )  The second list contains all the movies I saw in calendar year 2015 that were not released in 2015.  I am grateful that my techniques for deciding what movies to watch have become so effective that I did not see any movie that I rated below 6/10 (although, believe me, a 6/10 is a lot worse than a 10/10).  Unlike most of my lists, this is not a meta-list, with its aura of objectivity, but simply a case of my subjective personal preferences.

2015 FILMS SEEN

10
Anomalisa (US, 2015) Dir: Charlie Kaufman

9
45 Years (UK, 2015) Dir: Andrew Haigh
Spotlight (US, 2015) Dir: Tom McCarthy
The Big Short (US, 2015) Dir: Adam McKay
Heart of a Dog (US, 2015) Dir: Laurie Anderson
Room (Canada/Ireland, 2015) Dir: Lenny Abrahamson
Brooklyn (Ireland/UK/Canada, 2015) Dir: John Crowley
Tangerine (US, 2015) Dir: Sean Baker

8
Amy (UK, 2015) Dir: Asif Kapandia
Bridge of Spies (US, 2015) Dir: Steven Spielberg
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (US, 2015) Dir: J.J. Abrams

7
Grandma (US, 2015) Dir: Paul Weitz
Trainwreck (US, 2015) Dir: Judd Apatow
The Revenant (US, 2015) Dir: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
What Happened, Miss Simone? (US, 2015) Dir: Liz Garbus
Mad Max: Fury Road (Australia/US, 2015) Dir: George Miller

OTHER FILMS SEEN IN 2015

10
Forbidden Games (France, 1952) Dir: René Clément
The Virgin Spring (Sweden, 1960) Dir: Ingmar Bergman
The Act of Killing (Netherlands, 2012) Dir: Joshua Oppenheimer

9
Strike (USSR, 1925) Dir: Sergei Eisenstein
It’s a Gift (US, 1934) Dir: Norman Z. McLeod
Los Angeles Plays Itself (US, 2003) Dir: Thom Andersen
Beginners (US, 2010) Dir: Mike Mills
Poetry (South Korea, 2010) Dir: Chang-dong Lee
Barbara (Germany, 2012) Dir: Christian Petzold
Museum Hours (Austria/US, 2012) Dir: Jem Cohen
Under the Skin (UK/US, 2013) Dir: Jonathan Glazer
Mr. Turner (UK, 2014) Dir: Mike Leigh
Happy Christmas (US, 2014) Dir: Joe Swanberg
Inherent Vice (US, 2014) Dir: Paul Thomas Anderson
Goodbye to Language (France, 2014) Dir: Jean-Luc Godard
Two Days, One Night (Belgium, 2014) Dir: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne

8
Scarface (US, 1932) Dir: Howard Hawks
You Only Live Once (US, 1937) Dir: Fritz Lang
Saboteur (US, 1942) Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
Scarlet Street (US, 1945) Dir: Fritz Lang
The Naked Kiss (US, 1964) Dir: Samuel Fuller
Henry & June (US, 1990) Dir: Philip Kaufman
Farewell My Concubine (China, 1993) Dir: Chen Kaige
The Pillow Book (UK, 1996) Dir: Peter Greenaway
American Pimp (US, 1999) Dir: Albert & Allen Hughes
Forks Over Knives (US, 2011) Dir: Lee Fulkerson
Upstream Color (US, 2013) Dir: Shane Carruth
Selma (US, 2014) Dir: Ava DuVernay
Flowers (Spain, 2014) Dir: Jon Garaño & Jose Mari Goenaga
It Follows (US, 2014) Dir: David Robert Mitchell
American Sniper (US, 2014) Dir: Clint Eastwood
Maps to the Stars (Canada, 2014) Dir: David Cronenberg
Force Majeure (Sweden/France, 2014) Dir: Ruben Östlund

7
The Far Country (US, 1954) Dir: Anthony Mann
This Boy’s Life (US, 1993) Dir: Michael Caton-Jones
Infernal Affairs (Hong Kong, 2002) Dir: Andrew Lau & Alan Mak
Waste Land (UK/Brazil, 2010) Dir: Lucy Walker
The Punk Singer (US, 2013) Dir: Sini Anderson

6
The Ruling Class (UK, 1972) Dir: Peter Medak
Snowpiercer (South Korea/US, 2014) Dir: Bong Joon-ho