Alton Brown’s Top10
Although Alton Brown is now known mostly for his work in food media, his first career was as a filmmaker. His big break came when he shot the music video for R.E.M.’s 1987 song “The One I Love,” which allowed him to transition to directing commercials before deciding to head to culinary school to get the background for Good Eats, the Peabody Award–winning Food Network show he created and hosted for fourteen years.
No movie is more Fellini than this tale of a film director in crisis. It’s all here: crazy characters, an ever-roaming camera, a great score by Nino Rota, and of course . . . Marcello.
All That Jazz
Bob Fosse’s long, dark look in the mirror is a perfect bookend to 8½. Roy Scheider gives the performance of his career and an all-new meaning to the phrase “It’s showtime, folks!” This came out the year I graduated from high school, and it literally changed my life.
The soundtrack alone is enough to put this on my top ten list, but honestly, the real thrill here is watching Bill Murray transmogrify into . . . Bill Murray.
Still the finest film ever made about cooking and what it means to be a cook.
Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
“Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the war room.” Enough said.
I still don’t know what the hell Lynch made that baby out of.
The Great Beauty
I want to be Toni Servillo when I grow up.
Witness the Coens becoming the Coens, in the good old days when Barry Sonnenfeld was still their DP. And, oh my . . . Frances McDormand with that “I haven’t done nothing funny.”
Sure, Seven Samurai is the best known of Kurosawa’s canon, but I say Yojimbo takes the cake because it’s got one thing that Samurai doesn’t: a sense of humor. It’s also Toshiro Mifune’s best outing, bar none.
The Third Man
Carol Reed’s black-and-white tale of postwar Vienna is a perfect storm of dialogue, music, photography, and production design. Although the most celebrated moment is the reveal of Welles and that sly smile, for me the moment that makes the film is the final shot when Alida Valli just walks right by Joseph Cotten. Damn.