The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2020) 780-761


780. The Last Picture Show (1971) Dir. Peter Bogdanovich, 118 mins.

Set in a small town in north Texas from November 1951 to October 1952, the film is about the coming of age of Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and his friend Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges).

779. The Last Emperor (1987) Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci, 160 mins.

The Last Emperor is a visually stunning epic biographical film about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China, whose autobiography was the basis for the screenplay written by Mark Peploe and Bertolucci. Watch

778. Finding Nemo (2003) Dir. Andrew Stanton, 100 mins.

It tells the story of the overly protective clownfish called Marlin, voiced by Albert Brooks, who along with a regal tang called Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, searches for his son Nemo.

777. The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967) Dir. Jacques Demy, 128 mins.

Romance begins busting out all over in Rochefort. A fair is being organised, giving the town an air of excitement and effervescence. Twin sisters Delphine, a dance teacher, and Solange, a pianist and a composer, dream of making it big in the world of music. The sisters, like many in Rochefort, including a dashing American pianist, are looking for love, without realising that their ideal partners are right before their eyes.

776. Horse Money (2014) Dir. Pedro Costa, 103 mins.

A mesmerising odyssey into the real, imagined and nightmarish memories of the an elderly Cape Verdean immigrant living in Lisbon.

775. A Fistful of Dollars (1964) Dir. Sergio Leone, 99 mins.

Clint Eastwood plays a cynical gunfighter who comes to a small border town and offers his services to two rival gangs. Neither gang is aware of his double play, and each thinks it is using him. A recycled plot from Kuroswa’s Yojimbo.

774. The Thin Man (1934) Dir. W.S. Van Dyke, 91 mins.

The film follows a San Francisco based married couple, Nick (William Powell), a hard-drinking, retired private detective and Nora (Myrna Loy) a wealthy heiress. With Nick having left a successful career and Nora accustomed to the high life, the couple spend their time at leisure. While holidaying in New York, Nick is pressed back into service by Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan), a young woman whose father, Clyde (Edward Ellis), was an old client of Nick’s and has mysteriously vanished.

773. Maborosi (1995) Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda, 109 mins.

When her husband commits suicide for no apparent reason, a woman becomes deeply troubled by guilt. After spending years in solitude and then remarrying, she begins to find happiness again, but when she returns to her hometown, a flood of old memories haunts her.

772. Scarface (1932) Dir. Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson, 93 mins.

Written by former news reporter Ben Hecht to be like the story of the Borgias set in Chicago (at the request of Hawks), this ground-breaking and complex gangster film is essentially a family drama. At its core is the barely repressed incestuous desire of Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) for Cesca (Ann Dvorak). While controversial due to the graphic depiction of violence and Muni’s disturbing characterisation of the gangster as grotesque and abnormal, the film boldly outlines the motivations behind Camonte’s actions with a clarity that’s missing from similar gangster stories.

771. Manuel on the Island of Wonders (1984) Dir. Raúl Ruiz, 130 mins.

This three part French TV serial for children is the favourite of many devotees of Raúl Ruiz. It ties the enchantment and mystery of Lewis Carroll, Carlo Collodi and the Brothers Grimm to the filmmaker’s experiments with narrative strategies and what he calls the pentaludic model of storytelling.

770. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) Dir. James Foley, 100 mins.

It depicts two days in the lives of four real estate salesmen and how they become desperate when the corporate office sends a trainer to “motivate” them by announcing that, in one week, all except the top two salesmen will be fired.

769. They Live by Night (1948) Dir. Nicholas Ray, 95 mins.

Based on Edward Anderson’s Depression era novel Thieves Like Us, the film follows 23 year old Bowie, who is one of three prisoners to escape from a state prison farm in Mississippi. Having spent the last seven years in prison, he must now decide on whether to prove his innocence or retire to a home in the mountains and live in peace together with his new love, Keechie.

768. The Lady Vanishes (1938) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 97 mins.

Written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder based on the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White, the film is about a beautiful English tourist travelling by train in continental Europe who discovers that her elderly travelling companion seems to have disappeared from the train. After her fellow passengers deny ever having seen the elderly lady, the young woman is helped by a young musicologist, the two proceeding to search the train for clues to the old lady’s disappearance.

767. The Set-Up (1949) Dir. Robert Wise, 72 mins.

The last film Wise made for RKO follows an aging boxer (Robert Ryan) who defies the gangsters who’ve ordered him to throw his last fight.

766. Juliet of the Spirits (1965) Dir. Federico Fellini, 137 mins.

The film is about the visions, memories, and mysticism of a middle-aged woman that help her find the strength to leave her philandering husband.

765. An Average Little Man (1977) Dir. Mario Monicelli, 118 mins.

Based on the novel of the same name written by Vincenzo Cerami, the film follows an ordinary bureaucrat who decides to avenge the death of his beloved son.

764. Profound Desires of the Gods (1968) Dir. Shōhei Imamura, 172 mins.

The culmination of the director’s examinations of the fringes of Japanese society throughout the 1960s, the film follows Kariya (Kazuo Kitamura), an engineer from Tokyo, as he deals with the natives of a remote island. The inbred and highly eccentric Futori family is shunned by most of the other islanders, but Kariya must work with the strange clan in order to construct a well that will supply water to the sugar mill. As Kariya goes about his job, he encounters various Futoris, including the mystically inclined Uma (Yasuko Matsui) and her disgraced brother, Nekichi (Rentarô Mikuni).

763. My Friend Ivan Lapshin (1985) Dir. Aleksei German, 100 mins.

Set in 1935 in the fictional provincial town of Unchansk, the film is presented as the recollections of a man who at the time was a nine-year-old boy living with his father in a communal flat shared with criminal police investigator Ivan Lapshin and a number of other characters.

762. Mamma Roma (1962) Dir. Pier Paolo Pasolini, 106 mins.

Written and directed by Pasolini and set in postwar Rome, the film follows Mamma who is ready to give up her life as a prostitute and bring her son Ettore to live with her in the city. She moves to a respectable neighborhood, hoping that Ettore will go to school, get a good job, and marry. But Ettore is lazy, taking for granted the gains his mother provides.

761. Behemoth (2015) Dir. Zhao Liang, 91 mins.

Loosely based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Liang’s documentary is about the environmental, sociological, and public health effects of coal-mining in China and Inner Mongolia.


The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2019) 440-421


440. Edward Scissorhands (1990) Dir. Tim Burton, 105 mins.

Burton’s modern fairy tale stars Johnny Depp (in their first collaboration) as an artificial young man named Edward who is built, but unfinished, by an eccentric inventor (Vincent Price). When his maker dies, Edward is left with scissor blades instead of hands, but is eventually taken in by a suburban family and falls in love with their teenage daughter Kim (Winona Ryder). A delightfully quirky and charming film that is also a visual treat.

439. Hero (2002) Dir. Yimou Zhang, 99 mins.

Set in ancient China during the Warring States period, the film stars Jet Li as the nameless protagonist, and is based on the story of Jing Ke’s assassination attempt on the King of Qin in 227 BC. Particularly notable for the use of colour.

438. The Round-Up (1966) Dir. Miklos Jancso, 95 mins.

Following the famous Kossuth Rebellion, the Hungarian police “round up” the likely suspects. They then subject the peasant prisoners to a sophisticated, ritualised form of psychological torture. With sweeping camera movements and an epic scale Jancso’s international breakthrough is now seen as a classic of world cinema.

437. Amores Perros (2000) Dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, 154 mins.

The film is an anthology containing three distinct stories which are connected by a car accident in Mexico City.

436. Fantasia (1940) Dir. James Algar, 120 mins.

The film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski, seven of which are performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra.

435. Night of the Living Dead (1968) Dir. George A. Romero, 96 mins.

The story follows characters Ben (Duane Jones), Barbra (Judith O’Dea), and five others trapped in a rural farmhouse in western Pennsylvania, which is besieged by a large and growing group of unnamed “living dead” monsters.

434. The Crying Game (1992) Dir. Neil Jordan, 112 mins.

The film is about the experiences of the main character, Fergus (Stephen Rea), a member of the IRA, his brief but meaningful encounter with a soldier, Jody (Forest Whitaker), who is held prisoner by the group, and his unexpected romantic relationship with Jody’s girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson), whom Fergus promised Jody he would protect. However, unexpected events force Fergus to decide what he wants for the future, and ultimately what his nature dictates he must do. Putting to one side whether Whittaker works as a British soldier and the famous plot twist that almost overwhelms the rest of the film, The Crying Game is a gripping mystery that becomes an emotionally complex and haunting drama.

433. Toy Story 2 (1999) Dir. John Lasseter, 92 mins.

In the film, Woody is stolen by a toy collector, prompting Buzz Lightyear and his friends to vow to rescue him, but Woody is then tempted by the idea of immortality in a museum.

432. Leviathan (2014) Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev, 140 mins.

Kolya (Alexeï Serebriakov) lives in a small fishing town near the stunning Barents Sea in Northern Russia. He owns an auto-repair shop that stands right next to the house where he lives with his young wife Lilya (Elena Liadova) and his son Roma (Sergueï Pokhodaev) from a previous marriage. However, this existence is threatened by the town’s crooked Mayor Vadim (Roman Madyanov) who has undertaken a legal plot to expropriate the land on which Kolya’s house is built.

431. West Side Story (1961) Dir. Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise, 152 mins.

Tale of a turf war between rival teenage gangs in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen and the two lovers who cross battle lines.

430. Manchester by the Sea (2016) Dir. Kenneth Lonergan, 135 mins.

The film’s plot follows a man’s relationship with his teenage nephew as he cares for him after his brother, the boy’s father, dies.

429. Finding Nemo (2003) Dir. Andrew Stanton, 100 mins.

It tells the story of the overly protective clownfish called Marlin, voiced by Albert Brooks, who along with a regal tang called Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, searches for his son Nemo.

428. Point Blank (1967) Dir. John Boorman, 92 mins.

In this film, Lee Marvin and John Vernon have just swiped a large amount of mob money. As they sit down to divvy up the loot, Vernon pulls out a gun and shoots Marvin. Left for dead, Marvin manages to recover sufficiently to seek revenge.

427. Aparajito (1956) Dir. Satyajit Ray, 110 mins.

It starts off where the previous film Pather Panchali ended, with Apu’s family moving to Varanasi, and chronicles Apu’s life from childhood to adolescence in college, right up to his mother’s death, when he is left all alone.

426. Downfall (2004) Dir. Oliver Hirschbiegel, 156 mins.

The film depicts the final ten days of Adolf Hitler’s life in his Berlin bunker and Nazi Germany in 1945. Bruno Ganz delivers a startling performance as Hitler.

425. Red River (1948) Dir. Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson, 133 mins.

John Wayne revealed unsuspected depths in his portrayal of stoic patriarchal Texas rancher Tom Dunson. The film follows Dunson and his adopted adult son (Montgomery Clift), who are on the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail. Directed and produced by Howard Hawks, the film’s dramatic tension stems from a growing feud over the management of the drive, between Wayne’s character and Clift’s.

424. Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965) Dir. Sergei Parajanov, 97 mins.

Though derided by Soviet authorities, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is considered one of the most striking stylistic achievements in world cinema. Rich in folkloric elements, costumes, rituals and songs, the film is set among the Hutsul people of the Western Ukraine, an isolated ethnic group who live in the upper reaches of the mountain range. Their lives take place within a harsh environment and an ornate cultural system little changed since the 18th century. With its minimalist narrative and ever moving held camera shots, the film is a visual tour de force of symbolic colours.

423. Alexander Nevsky (1938) Dir. Sergei M. Eisenstein, Dmitri Vasilyev, 112 mins.

While his ideas for his previous project Bezhin Meadows ran into opposition from a Russian industry and government looking towards social realism rather than experiments with montage, Eisenstein had far more success with Alexander Nevsky, which coincided with Stalin’s need for nationalist propaganda against the threat of German invasion. The director’s first realised sound film and his first completed production for ten years, the historical epic depicts the attempted invasion of Novgorod in the 13th century by the Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire and their defeat by Prince Alexander, known popularly as Alexander Nevsky (1220–1263). With only sparse dialogue and sound effects, the film’s emotional intensity comes from expressive camera movement, the brilliant use of montage and one of sound film’s great scores from Prokofiev (Eisenstein even re-edited sequences to fit in with the music). More…

422. The Return (2003) Dir. Andrey Zvyagintsev, 105 mins.

It tells the story of two Russian boys whose father suddenly returns home after a 12-year absence.

421. Her (2013) Dir. Spike Jonze, 126 mins.

The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice.


Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post Best of the decade: Film

Ann Hornaday is an American film critic. She has been film critic at The Washington Post since 2002 and is the author of Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies. In 2008, she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. In December 2009 she published her top ten for the decade 2000-09 as well as her worst movie for the period. She includes two of the great masterpieces of the 21st century There Will Be Blood and The Lives of Others but appears to feel guilty about including Finding Nemo. While I wouldn’t name the animated tale of two fish (A male clown-fish and his forgetful friend) searching for the clown-fish’s son the greatest film of the noughties for me it’s much more than a guilty pleasure. I once despaired that the coming of computers would slowly remove the artistry from animation, but Finding Nemo provides the sort colourful and magical computer generated imagery that makes me gleefully rethink and leaves most young children happily fixated on the screen. Adding to the charm is the wonderful emotive music of Thomas Newman. As for Hornaday adding Clone Wars as worst film, I couldn’t agree more.

The best

1. “Finding Nemo” (2003)

2. “You Can Count on Me” (2000)

3. “The Lives of Others” (2006)

4. “The Hurt Locker” (2009)

5. “Y Tu Mama Tambien” (2001)

6. “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006)

7. “The Edge of Heaven” (2007)

8. “A Mighty Wind” (2003)

9. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)

10. “There Will Be Blood” (2007)

The worst

“Star Wars: Clone Wars” (2008)
Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies (Hardcover)