Welcome to TG10s. This year, echoing another publication, we are posting our top 10s, and taking votes from you. Keep reading The Twin Geeks for lists from our regular writers, as well as some extra special selection of lists from some amazing guests.
This 1940 classic cartoon helped set a standard for the animation genre and how it can be paired with sound. With a dozen directors in total and compositions from Schubert, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and more Fantasia demonstrated itself as a uniquely approachable opera that served both as a proof of concept of what the animated genre could do with sound, and reaffirmed (as the third Disney cartoon feature film) that animated feature-length films could in fact be money makers for Disney.
The quintessential stranger in a strange land narrative, permeated with anti-war sentiment, mythos, geopolitics; and incidentally the godfather of 5.1 Surround Sound. With career-defining work from Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, that Apocalypse Now’s many facets congeal is a rare example of a film achieving eminence despite being mired in production difficulty.
Hitchcock’s ultimate paranoid detective story and most plain ghost story. San Francisco appears to take on the haunted look of post-war Europe, and the film itself seems to be a peek into the mind of Hitch himself. Bernard Herrmann’s chilling and imposing score, and the “vertigo” effect created by Hitchcock cement Vertigo as one of cinema history’s most significant pictures and timeless narratives.
Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane stands as an example to all burgeoning filmmakers of how powerful a directorial debut can be, and to many established filmmakers how hard it is to achieve grandeur. Welles’ use of deep focus, personal myth, and search for pathos in a loveless titan sit at the center of what is as close to unanimous cinematic genius as you can get. Steeped in characters based on reality, the screenwriter’s criticism of Kane (William Randolph Hearst) is what provides the narrative with the same ageless qualities that Gregg Toland’s black and white cinematography has.
Scenes from a Marriage (Series (1973))
Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage is a six-part piece that examines the banal simplicities of human behavior, intimacy, and longing. Few love stories have ever had the blistering honesty and unflinching matter-of-factness as Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage.
The New World
Poetic and yearning Terrence Malick’s The New World is at once an impressionist painting that moves, a tale of the founding of America, a story of untimely love, and a depiction of the harshness of life. Transcendental cinema has rarely been as approachable as this.
Hayao Miyazaki’s 1997 animated film Princess Mononoke straddles many storytelling devices and conventions expertly. Both a fable and a depiction of the hero’s journey, the film details an engrossing journey through the sins of humanity and the blessings of nature. With descendants from both sides as central characters, there’s almost no barrier to entry and plenty to chew on for all ages.
The Matrix encapsulates many of the fears pervading Western culture at the turn of the century, those fears and the Science Fiction ideas they’re rooted in have rarely been more digestible, entertaining, or engaging. As the originator of “bullet time”, and a cultural zeitgeist of unique proportions The Matrix belongs in the upper echelons of film history no matter how you parse it.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men proves that formally rigorous simplicity, engaging dialogue, and a solitary interior is more than enough to command an audience’s attention when there’s an invigorating moral play at the center of events. A film that still feels as ripe with relevance as it did in the 50s, what is America, who are Americans, and what are our rights?
Antonioni’s listless romance on the skirts of volcanoes conveys something subliminally profound about desire and guilt without ever needing to answer the mystery at the center of the film.