I love “the classics”. You know what movies I’m talking about.
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE GODFATHER, STAR WARS, JAWS, TAXI DRIVER, THE THIRD MAN… This list could go on and on. Many movies come out and are forgotten. Others come out and enjoy a moment in the sun before being relegated to “that movie was pretty good!”
And then there are “the classics.”
These are the films that stick with us. You can put one on at anytime and whatever you were planning on doing during those two and a half hours melts away. These movies have everything you could possibly want from cinema. They are the movies you want to show your new girlfriend or boyfriend. The movies you can’t wait to show your kids. The movie that is just waiting for a rainy afternoon so that you can put one on and experience it all over again.
It usually takes decades for us to suss out what a “classic” film is. That’s fair. When a movie comes out it’s hard to tell what it will mean for you ten years down the line. I was certain ten years ago that I would be watching V FOR VENDETTA for the rest of my life. I haven’t seen it since and I’m okay with that.
There have been, however, several films that have come out in the last decade that are going to be classics. You can mark my words.
These are going to be all-timers.
MOONRISE KINGDOM – 2012
(dir. Wes Anderson)
This movie is both the greatest coming-of-age story this century and an example of one of our greatest directors working at the peak of his abilities. I had actually seen GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL before I had seen this and thought that it was the high point of Anderson’s career. Then I saw MOONRISE KINGDOM and found out he had actually made his greatest movie two years earlier. Anderson has always spun a charming, eccentric yarn… but this film showed that he also could imbue his wild musings on the wonderful outsiders of our world with visuals seemingly concocted in the dungeons of whimsical master craftsman. His movies have always felt alien and yet deeply relatable in equal measure. None more so than this.
FORCE MAJEURE – 2014
(dir. Ruben Östlund)
A Swedish film about the upheaval of a family’s internal dynamic in the wake of a “disaster.” What follows is an incredible, dark, and often humorous look at masculinity and patriarchy in a society that has a diminishing need for them in abundance. The filmmakers are thoughtful and dissective, the cast are all top-notch, and the story is one that leans on dread and increasing chaos until it gives way to an unexpected sense of hope. It’s a terrific film and one that has not left my thoughts since I first saw it.
NIGHTCRAWLER – 2014
(dir. Dan Gilroy)
A movie about the “American Dream” in all of its corrupted, perverted, and mis-idealized glory. Jake Gyllenhaal gives the performance of just about any actor’s career in this film. It’s on the same level as DeNiro in TAXI DRIVER and I do not make that comparison lightly. His Lou Bloom tears through the seedy underbelly of LA freelance crime videography with no regard for people, laws, or basic human morals. It’s completely sickening and probably the most watchable, magnetic film to have come out that year. You want Lou to succeed. You want him to get everything he wants by any means necessary. It is the dark side of wish-fulfillment and it leaves you dirty and completely enchanted.
THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD – 2007
(dir. Andrew Dominik)
Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck star in this contemplative and lyrical western that focuses on the dying days of the old west and the bad men fated to go extinct along with it. Every single frame of this film could be in an art gallery. Every single performance should be studied by future generations of actors. Every note of every song is haunting and so deeply, recognizably human. The story, as written, is quite simple. The melancholy feelings it leaves you with at the end is anything but. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a film that examines a fading legend and inevitable mortality quite like this.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK – 2010
(dir. David Fincher)
Every film on this list is about the main character or characters attempting to find their place in this world. Be it to achieve the success they have always wanted, to find someone who understands them, or sometimes, when they have both, the fight to protect and sustain their own idealized status quo. This falls into every category. David Fincher’s eye teamed up with Aaron Sorkin’s pen and we received a masterpiece that told the story of a modern enterprise’s formation in a quick-witted, emotionally devastating, and relentlessly entertaining fashion. This is a movie that had such an impact on me that I stayed in the theater to think about it so long after I first saw it that I ended up just seeing the next showing. It had everything that I have ever wanted in a movie. And it always will.
Check back next week for Vol. 2!