140. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) Dir. Frank Capra, 130 mins.
The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man who has given up his dreams in order to help others, and whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community of Bedford Falls would be like if he had never been born.
139. Fargo (1996) Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, 98 mins.
Featuring some terrific dark humour, Fargo stars Frances McDormand as a pregnant Minnesota police chief investigating roadside homicides that ensue after a desperate car salesman (William H. Macy) hires two criminals (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife in order to extort a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law (Harve Presnell).
138. A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 104 mins.
Known as Stairway To Heaven in the US, the film follows Squadron Leader Peter Carter (David Niven) a British Second World War Royal Air Force pilot trying to nurse a badly damaged and burning Lancaster bomber home after a mission in May 1945.
137. Moonlight (2016) Dir. Barry Jenkins, 110 mins.
The film presents three stages in the life of the main character, his youth, adolescence and early adult life. It explores the difficulties he faces with his sexuality and identity, including the physical and emotional abuse he endures growing up.
136. McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) Dir. Robert Altman, 120 mins.
In a small American frontier village, a stranger named McCabe (Warren Beatty) builds a brothel with the help of experienced madame Mrs. Miller (Julie Christie). The town soon prospers, and success brings the jealous, and potentially deadly, attentions of a wealthy mining company.
135. Greed (1924) Dir. Erich von Stroheim, 239 mins.
The film tells the story of McTeague, a San Francisco dentist, who marries his best friend Schouler’s girlfriend Trina. Shortly after their engagement, Trina wins a lottery prize of $5,000, at that time a substantial sum. Schouler jealously informs the authorities that McTeague had been practising dentistry without a license, and McTeague and Trina become impoverished.
134. Gone with the Wind (1939) Dir. Victor Fleming, 238 mins.
Set in the American South against the backdrop of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era, the film tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner, from her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes, who is married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, to her marriage to Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).
133. Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) Dir. Robert Bresson, 95 mins.
Believed to be inspired by a passage from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot, the film follows a donkey as he is given to various owners, most of whom treat him callously.
132. The Big Lebowski (1998) Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, 117 mins.
It stars Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler. He is assaulted as a result of mistaken identity, after which The Dude learns that a millionaire also named Jeffrey Lebowski was the intended victim. The millionaire Lebowski’s trophy wife is kidnapped, and he commissions The Dude to deliver the ransom to secure her release.
131. Playtime (1967) Dir. Jacques Tati, 155 mins.
Mr. Hulot tries to function in an unrecognisable Paris of modernistic glass-and-steel skyscrapers.
130. Pierrot le fou (1965) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 110 mins.
After abandoning his wife and infant daughter for the new babysitter, a woman he’d loved and lost several years earlier, an errant husband embarks on a haphazard road to tragedy. Right up there with Godard’s best work.
129. American Beauty (1999) Dir. Sam Mendes, 122 mins.
Kevin Spacey stars as Lester Burnham, a 42-year-old advertising executive who has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter’s best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari).
128. The Spirit of the Beehive (1973) Dir. Victor Erice, 97 mins.
The film focuses on a young girl Ana and her fascination with the 1931 American horror film Frankenstein, as well as exploring her family life and schooling.
127. Man With a Movie Camera (1929) Dir. Dziga Vertov, 68 mins.
Vertov’s filmic manifesto, produced by the studio VUFKU, presents a utopian image of urban life in the Soviet cities of Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Odessa. Vertov proclaimed the film an experiment, and it is made without actors, intertitles, a script or sets, showing from dawn to dusk, Soviet citizens at work and at play, and interacting with the machinery of modern life. A tour de force in theoretical cinema, the film is only a documentary by material and more a summary of the themes of the ‘kinoki’ movement, the image of the worker perfect as the machine and that of the filmmaker as socially as useful as the factory worker. The culmination of a decade of audacious and controversial work in non fiction filmmaking for Vertov, The Man With the Movie Camera is one of the of the most unusual works in cinema history and was seen as hopelessly out of date on release thanks to its utopian ideals around city living, but for those with an open mind to different filmmaking techniques it can be a memorable viewing experience. For all the criticism and its avant-garde ambitions, it is one of the few silent films that strongly conveys a sense of everyday life in Soviet Russia. More…
126. Contempt (1963) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard, 103 mins.
Contempt is the story of the end of a marriage. Camille (Brigitte Bardot) falls out of love with her husband Paul (Michel Piccoli) while he is rewriting the screenplay Odyssey by American producer Jeremiah Prokosch (Jack Palance). Just as the director of Prokosch’s film, Fritz Lang, says that The Odyssey is the story of individuals confronting their situations in a real world, Contempt itself is an examination of the position of the filmmaker in the commercial cinema.
125. The Conversation (1974) Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 113 mins.
The plot revolves around a surveillance expert and the moral dilemma he faces when his recordings reveal a potential murder.
124. Full Metal Jacket (1987) Dir. Stanley Kubrick, 116 mins.
Its storyline follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their training, primarily focusing on two privates, Joker and Pyle, who struggle to get through camp under their foul-mouthed drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, and the experiences of two of the platoon’s Marines in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War. Becomes somewhat disjointed when it reaches Vietnam but that’s probably to do with war being just that.
123. Aliens (1986) Dir. James Cameron, 137 mins.
Much more of an action film than Ridley Scott’s original, the film follows Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as she returns to the moon where her crew encountered the hostile Alien creature, this time accompanied by a unit of space marines.
122. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Dir. Steven Spielberg, 135 mins.
Made during Spielberg’s most fertile period, the film tells the story of Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss), an everyday blue-collar worker in Indiana, whose life changes after an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO).
121. The Apartment (1960) Dir. Billy Wilder, 125 mins.
The film follows C. C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon), an insurance company clerk who permits his bosses to use his Upper West Side apartment to conduct extramarital affairs in hope of gaining a promotion. Simultaneously Bud pursues a relationship with elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), unaware she is having an affair with one of the apartment’s users (Fred MacMurray).