The Pendragon Society

The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films (2018) 1000-981


1000. The Ten Commandments (1956) Dir. Cecil B. DeMille, 220 mins.

Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 biblical epic, a remake of his own 1923 version, is still notable for its sublime Oscar winning effects and great performances. While it has some daft moments and often veers away from the biblical narrative of Exodus, the near 4 hour film’s popularity has never waned. Recommended particularly for the parting of the Red Sea sequence that remains one of the greatest special effects of all time.

999. Return of the Jedi (1983) Dir. Richard Marquand, 134 mins.

The third instalment of George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy has never received the acclaim of its two predecessors (some were not taken with the cuddly Ewoks) but it’s still action packed stuff.  Ultimately we care far more about these characters than those in Lucas’s later trilogy and Return of the Jedi gives us the sort of thrilling entertainment often missing from the 21st century’s CGI laden Sci-Fi films.

998. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Dir. Henry Selick, 76 mins.

Produced and conceived by Tim Burton this stop-motion classic is as magical for adults as it is for little people. The film follows Jack Skellington who leaves his home in Halloween Town and goes through a portal to Christmas Town. Humour, romance and great Danny Elfman songs produce a fabulous and original entertainment.

997. Stand By Me (1986) Dir. Rob Reiner, 89 mins.

Four Oregon friends go on a hike and come across a dead body in Reiner’s nostalgic coming of age drama. Featuring a notable performance by River Phoenix, the film is an affectionate look at that tricky time between childhood and adolescence and is one of just a handful of successful adaptations of Stephen King’s work.

996. Mary Poppins (1964) Dir. Robert Stevenson, 139 mins.

With terrific songs from the Sherman Brothers and an Oscar winning performance from Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins remains one of the most beloved musicals of all-time. Andrews plays the nanny who floats into London to improve the lives of the dysfunctional Banks family. Even Dick Van Dyke’s laughable attempt at a Cockney accent couldn’t prevent the film becoming the only Disney production made during Walt’s lifetime to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.

995. The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Dir. Wes Anderson, 110 mins.

The absurdist and ironic humour will annoy some but those who embrace The Royal Tenenbaums will delight in it’s eccentricities. A stellar cast tells the whimsical tale of three once gifted siblings and the attempts of their estranged father, a terrific turn by Gene hackman, to reconcile with them. It was listed by the BBC as one of the 100 greatest films of the 21st century.

994. Dazed and Confused (1993) Dir. Richard Linklater, 103 mins.

A coming of age comedy following Texas teenagers during their last day at school in 1976. A strong cast, including Matthew McCounaughey plus that moustache, and a director who manages to find the tone of the era combine to create an amusing and affectionate look at the end of high school. Quentin Tarantino picked it for his 2002 Sight & Sound ballot.

993. Drugstore Cowboy (1989) Dir. Gus Van Sant, 102 mins.

Matt Dillon plays the leader of a group of drug addicts who support their habits by robbing pharmacies and hospitals. As one would expect from Van Sant its lyrically and stylishly shot and is seen as the director/writers breakthrough film.

992. The Incredibles (2004) Dir. Brad Bird, 115 mins.

The Incredibles follows a family of superheroes forced to hide their powers and live a quiet suburban life. Brad Bird moves slightly away from the normal Pixar formula but his dysfunctional family tale provides plenty of wit, a great deal of entertainment and some amazing animation. A sequel was released in 2018.

991. The Last King of Scotland (2006) Dir. Kevin Macdonald, 123 mins.

Propelled by Forest Whitaker’s Oscar winning performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, The Last King of Scotland delivers a taut and satisfying (partly fictional) drama. James McAvoy plays the Scottish doctor who naively falls in with a monster.

990. A Man For All Seasons (1966) Dir. Fred Zinnemann, 120 mins.

Paul Scofield delivers a career defining performance as Thomas More, repeating the role he played on stage. Catholic More rejects Henry VIII’s (Robert Shaw) breaking away from the church in order to divorce Anne Boleyn. An intelligent and stirring film.

989. The Jungle Book (1967) Dir. Wolfgang Reitherman, 78 mins.

The film follows feral child Mowgli, who having been raised by wolves, journeys through the Indian jungle with the help of the panther, Bagheera and bear, Baloo. His new friends must convince him to go to the human world before he falls into the clutches of the evil tiger, Shere Khan. Memorable songs and fun characters, particularly Phil Harris as the ‘bare necessities’ singing Baloo, make The Jungle Book one of the most entertaining of Disney animations.

988. Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Dir. Kathryn Bigelow, 157 mins.

Following the success of The Hurt Locker the former Mrs. James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow returned to the subject of war in the middle east. The film dramatises the international manhunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama Bid Laden the mastermind behind the 9/11 terrorist atrocities. Not without controversy (some felt it featured pro-torture propaganda) the film is a gripping and suspenseful thriller with an ending that will remain long in the memory.

987. Argo (2012) Dir. Ben Affleck, 120 mins.

Directed and starring Ben Affleck the film follows a CIA operative who leads the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Iran, under the guise of filming a science fiction film during the 1979–1981 hostage crisis. Growing as a filmmaker Affleck delivers both a gripping thriller and a satirical look at Hollywood.

986. The Blue Angel (1930) Dir. Josef von Sternberg, 124 mins.

Directed in Berlin by the Austrian-American von Sternberg, the film was a co-production of Germany’s Ufa and Hollywood’s Paramount. Emil Jannings, back in Germany after his brief but highly successful stint in Hollywood silents, stars as the respectable straitlaced professor who transforms into a cabaret clown and descends into madness. Jannings is good but it’s Marlene Dietrich who steals the show as the magnetic temptress who ensnares him. The film made Dietrich an international superstar and remains, over 85 years later, an enthralling tale of love and obsession.

985. Pauline at the Beach (1983) Dir. Eric Rohmer, 94 mins.

Teenager Pauline vacations with her supposedly maturer cousin Marion and finds her feet during a summer of romantic experiences. Once again director/writer Eric Rohmer manages to generate charm and emotional energy from a minimal plot line.

984. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) Dir. Blake Edwards, 115 mins.

The film features Audrey Hepburn’s most iconic role as Holly Golightly the naive and eccentric socialite. The future A-Team star George Peppard plays the lonely neighbour and writer who becomes enchanted with her. The overall charm (particularly the cat named ‘Cat’) will allow most viewers to forgive the dafter parts.

983. Arrival (2016) Dir. Denis Villeneuve, 116 mins.

There were few doubts that Villeneuve was the right man to helm the sequel to Blade Runner thanks to the success of his previous sci-fi effort. Some may find Arrival slow and lacking in action but others will find it intelligent, sophisticated and by the end emotionally affecting. Amy Adams delivers maybe her best performance yet as the linguist trying to communicate with aliens.

982. 300 (2007) Dir. Zack Snyder, 116 mins.

Based on the 1998 comic of the same name, Zack Snyder’s film is a fictionalised retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae where Spartan King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) leads 300 warriors against a Persian army of 300,000. While some dismiss it as overly violent and with little characterisation, few could argue that 300 doesn’t deliver dazzling visuals and plenty of enthralling action.

981. Easy Rider (1969) Dir. Dennis Hopper, 95 mins.

Director Dennis Hopper and producer Peter Fonda star as two bikers who travel southern America with the proceeds of a drug deal. Their journey carries them to a hippie commune and to an encounter with an alcoholic civil rights lawyer, portrayed by Jack Nicholson. While now looking dated, Easy Rider, helped along by the popular rock song soundtrack, still holds on to a notable place in cinema history for helping to start the New Hollywood era and for encapsulating 1960s counterculture.