Two years of watching Movies You must See Before You Die

Listed in this post are my favorite films that I’ve watched since October 2014 from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. You can read more about the first year, but I do have a couple of things I’d add to my initial commentary: In case you hadn’t noticed already, I place a heavy emphasis on cinematography. Also, I just realized that I don’t have a column for (the mostly useless) MPAA ratings. I’ll leave that up to you to research. More on the technical details after the list…

Europa Europa

  • ugestsuUgetsu Monogatari (1953, Japan) – Mizoguchi lays out this traditional 16th century ghost tale like an ancient scroll.
  • A Man Escaped (1956, France) – A seemingly simple prison escape film, but every element is carefully crafted.
  • Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – I was prepared to be bored, but the cinematography and more importantly the international and personal politics of this WWI true story were quite gripping.
  • 8 1/2 (1963, Italy) – Fellini’s autobiographical hopes, dreams, and worries.
  • gaavGaav (The Cow, 1969, Iran) – A fable about a man in a small village whose beloved cow dies.
  • The Spirit of the Beehive (1973, Spain) – One of those films that has such a unique pathos that it’s nearly impossible to summarize in just a few words. A child’s response to Frankenstein. Compare to Pan’s Labyrinth.
  • Network (1976) – Satirical take on the TV news industry. Not much has changed. Brilliant performances by all.
  • mad-max-1979Mad Max (1979) – You should know the basic idea on this one: gritty, unique, fast-paced, and great sound & visual design.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) – So many iconic elements in this film. I love Freddy’s theme music – Wes Craven 80s music gold.
  • Europa Europa (1990, Poland) – Dark humor, based on a true story about a Jewish orphan who becomes a part of the Hitler Youth.
  • The Big Lebowski (1998)* – Bowling, Dudeism, classic music.
  • All About My Mother (1999, Spain) – Totally engrossing film about love, loss, and caring for one another.
  • Boyhood (2014)* – Director Richard Linklater explores a common theme in all of his movies: time. This one required a 12 year commitment for the entire cast (particularly noticeable is the young boy who goes from age 6 to 18), collapsed into 165 minutes. A first in cinematic history, but also a captivating story about how society and families change over the years.

Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood

In last year’s roundup, I mentioned that I had watched 110 movies on the list from October 2013 to October 2014. I’ve watched about 50 this year. It’s getting harder to find films on the list (a) that I have an interest in seeing and (b) that are available in high definition. I’ve about run out of the ones I want to see that are currently streaming on Netflix; Louisville’s beloved Wild and Woolly Video store closed in late March; and the Louisville Library does not carry Blu-rays.

Below is a simplified spreadsheet of the films from the past two years, or you can download my entire spreadsheet xlsx file which includes a “Favs from 1001 book” tab (details in my movie spreadsheet post).

TitleMyDirectorsAVG criticYear# of IMDb voteFem. dir.Bech-delLGBTQ RussoForeig.JJ watched
The Adventures of Prince Achmed8Lotte Reiniger8219262510YGermany14review
M9Fritz Lang921931660923Germany14review
The Wizard of Oz9Victor Fleming821939183475314review
Dance, Girl, Dance8Dorothy Arzner671940805Y314review
Children of Paradise9Marcel Carné911945109742France14review
A Streetcar Named Desire9Elia Kazan89195157949314review
Ugetsu Monogatari9Kenji Mizoguchi90195397282Japan15review
Night and Fog10Alain Resnais93195587170France14review
A Man Escaped9Robert Bresson90195676400France15review
Lawrence of Arabia10David Lean941962125284015review
9Federico Fellini891963521013Italy15review
The House Is Black9Forugh Farrokhzad8919631393YIran14review
Winter Light9Ingmar Bergman79196391331?Sweden14review
2001: A Space Odyssey10Stanley Kubrick881968274938014review
The Cow (Gaav)9Dariush Mehrjui8619692860Iran15review
The Conformist9Bernardo Bertolucci901970112853Italy14review
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory10Mel Stuart78197183710214review
The Spirit of the Beehive9Víctor Erice88197378313Spain15review
Network9Sidney Lumet85197666736315review
Taxi Driver9Martin Scorsese921976308887114review
Star Wars9George Lucas881977563201114review
Mad Max9George Miller7019798508615review
Blade Runner9Ridley Scott831982313190114review
A Nightmare on Elm Street9Wes Craven76198495510315review
Vagabond (Without Roof or Rule)9Agnès Varda8719852959Y3Belgium14review
Broadcast News9James L. Brooks84198716033314review
The Princess Bride10Rob Reiner811987199210214review
Grave of the Fireflies9Isao Takahata90198872633Japan14review
Rain Man10Barry Levinson801988264938114review
Dances with Wolves10Kevin Costner77199012722714review
Europa Europa9Agnieszka Holland8819909500Y2Poland15review
My Own Private Idaho9Gus Van Sant77199127076314review
Terminator 2: Judgment Day10James Cameron821991460795314review
The Silence of the Lambs9Jonathan Demme881991506266314review
Groundhog Day9Harold Ramis811993270655114review
The Big Lebowski9Ethan Coen, Joel Coen771998447351115review
All About My Mother10Pedro Almodóvar8819995178033Spain15review
The Matrix10The Wachowski Brothers, The Wachowski Brothers8219997411593?14review
The Dark Knight9Christopher Nolan9020081009750314review
In a Better World9Susanne Bier72201023161YDenmark14review
Nostalgia for the Light10Patricio Guzmán7320101606Intl.14review
Senna9Asif Kapadia8520102852814review
A Separation10Asghar Farhadi9320111023963France14review
Drive9Nicolas Winding Refn832011299385314review
Amour10Michael Haneke882012420373France14review
The Act of Killing10Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn8920126483Y014review
In a World…9Lake Bell8120131514Y314review
Boyhood9Richard Linklater89201413017315review
I think I’ll do a post soon about movies I love that are NOT in the 1001 Movies, like Virunga, The Babadook, Before Midnight, The Innocents, Paris Is Burning, and The Holy Mountain.

* Films I’d seen before last November but revisited in 2015.

Antonia from All About My Mother
La Agrado’s monologue from All About My Mother (YouTube)

  • Kurt

    Cool. I’d be curious to know the percentage of the movies you’ve watched that you’d give a thumbs down to (shouldn’t be on the list).

    • Loved Alien, thought Aliens sucked. There are only a few Hitchcocks I liked. Maltese Falcon was boring. Story in Unforgiven was lame (as is almost every Western and John Ford film). Okay, I should stop now. People are going to get mad at me – oh, you just want a percentage? Less than 15%, but note that I’ve been selective, so I’ve avoided ones I think would be a waste of time to see.