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Stephen's Top Ten

by Stephen Furda

Created 07/04/12

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One of my dreams has always been to write a top ten list for Criterion. Now I can do it, in no particular order. I want to give a shoutout to Paris, Texas, a title that I feel really bad about leaving out, moreso than the other ones I had to leave out, like The Friends of Eddie Coyle or Rushmore. My favorite Criterion release is The BBS Story, but I only included one film from that particular set.

  • This was the first Criterion release I ever owned, for one thing. But it's also a perfect film and John Travolta's truest moment of brilliance. De Palma is a favorite director of mine and this is the time when he best combined schlocky B-movie elements and smart, stylish filmmaking to create a masterpiece.

  • The thing about this film is that, stylistically, it appeals to my every impulse. I mean, a soundtrack that makes ample use of 80's reggae, new wave and New Order? It's like Jonathan Demme lived inside my head when he chose the songs that score this film. Demme handles the crucial switch in tone with grace and directs every one of his actors - not just Melanie Griffith, Jeff Daniels and Ray Liotta, but the character parts too - to perfection.

  • One of the great summer movies, one of the great New York movies, I would also consider Do the Right Thing to be just about perfect. I've always said the best thing about it is the way Spike refuses to take sides in his portrayal of the argument. Everybody hates somebody else. Everybody in the neighborhood is flawed. I'll never forget my stunned reaction at the ending when I was first saw the film. I was only 13.

  • For months, I thought about The Ice Storm daily. It burrowed itself in my mind and stayed there for a long, long time. A spellbinding family drama that just fucking gets everything about suburban Connecticut (my place I reside in) and the 70's swinging and Watergate fear. By far my most wanted upgrade of all of the Criterion titles.

  • This really wouldn't be a cool list if it didn't have at least one tie on it. Anyway, Godard. These are the two films that made me fall in love with him. A Woman is a Woman was first. Don't even remember that well, to be honest, but I don't think I'll every forget the gorgeous color close-ups of Anna Karina. Pierrot le fou is a true masterpiece, a stunning film that excels in every area, with so many little Godard touches that set his films apart from everybody else who has ever made movies. "Ma Ligne de Chance" is maybe my favorite thing in a Godard movie. Ultimately, I think these two films led to a deeper appreciation of foreign cinema.

  • "Wanting to feel, to know what is real..." The "Porpoise Song" segment on Blu-Ray is probably the most gorgeous thing I have ever seen. Those colors are just amazing. I first saw this film with my dad. He thought it was trash. I think it's pure brilliance from start to finish. Plus, it has some of the Monkees' very best tunes. It rarely gets better than "Porpoise Song", "Daddy's Song" or "Circle Sky."

  • This one kind of changed my life. It taught me a lot of things about cinema. Through this film, I learned to appreciate so many things about pacing. Literally nothing happens in the film - there are shots that are just the main characters sitting, smoking cigarettes or watching TV - yet it is one of the most enthralling things I've ever seen. That's basically Jarmusch's specialty. He's one of my favorite directors. I'd love to see this get the Blu-Ray treatment but I'm also kind of nervous about seeing it again. Maybe I should just leave it at one watch and not risk ruining those memories of the first time I saw this film.

  • C'mon. It's Chaplin at his peak. Need I say anymore?

  • Nicholas Ray is, along with Hitchcock, the greatest director of the 1950's. This film in particular is a great example of what his best work was like visually and thematically. I cherish this Blu-Ray because the transfer is stunning, as is Ray's original compositions. I've always felt that the color films of the 50's were the best movies ever looked and this is a fantastic example. The other thing about Bigger Than Life that is so great is the performances, not only James Mason, whose scream of "GOD WAS WRONG!" is one incredible moment, but Barbara Rush and Walter Matthau too. We need more Nicholas Ray in the collection!

  • A list of reasons why Harold and Maude is great: New Hollywood, Hal Ashby, Ruth Gordon, Bud Cort, Cat Stevens, San Francisco, Harold's faked suicides, etc.

24 comments

  • By Carodgers_123
    July 05, 2012
    08:06 PM

    Great list!!
    Reply
  • By Alexander
    July 07, 2012
    03:46 PM

    Jeff Daniels is great in Something Wild.The scene at the reunion is everything you would want from a demme film.
    Reply
  • By Michael B. De Haan
    July 11, 2012
    11:59 AM

    A+ :)
    Reply
  • By atarirec
    July 11, 2012
    11:31 PM

    not bad....
    Reply
  • By waltwhite
    July 15, 2012
    12:39 PM

    great list. Something Wild is one of my favorite films in the collection
    Reply
  • By Kenny_V
    July 15, 2012
    11:03 PM

    Great list Stephen. I love Paris, Texas too. Glad to see Head and Harold and Maude on here too. They are two of my favorites.
    Reply
  • By jesseislameee
    July 18, 2012
    12:37 AM

    My two favorite Godard films. Do the Right Thing and City Lights are both great. Need to watch more Jarmusch.
    Reply
  • By TanPhung
    July 31, 2012
    03:30 AM

    Love that Blowout is number 1. Not mine personally but definitely in my top 5.
    Reply
  • By Manish M.
    August 07, 2012
    10:00 PM

    great list, some really interesting and diverse choices
    Reply
  • By HenryLeconte
    August 22, 2012
    04:08 AM

    I am 30 now but was also 13 when I watched "Do the Right Thing" for the first time. I taped it from a national Danish tv-channel and it quickly became the most worn-out-vhs I had which in the long run of course did less and less justice to the amazing colors of this Spike Lee Joint. The blu ray edition by Universal has not done justice to the films heating colors showing "the hottest day of the year". Hopefully a better blu ray edition will be released sometime soon. In regards to the themes of the film, the portrait of an area with that many characters causing a political friction between each other reminds me a teeny weeny bit of more dramatized Robert Altman. For me a Top 10 would be impossible, but this particular movie is a damn fine choice on a decent list, Stephen.
    Reply
  • By Mike Prado
    August 22, 2012
    07:33 PM

    Great list Stephen. I just want to comment on The Ice Storm. Pity that I had forgotten about it until now, fortunate that I read your list! I was working at a movie theatre when this little gem came out, and was lucky enough to be able to go in and sit through 15-30 minutes of it anytime I took a break. Totally intrigued, I eventually got around to watching the whole thing on my own time. I remember feeling the same way, though I'm from California and not Connecticut - it burrowed in, and stayed with me for a long time. Awesome. Thanks for sharing, man. And thanks to you I'll be seeing it again very soon.
    Reply
  • By HUSKY
    August 29, 2012
    10:40 AM

    More Nicholas Ray in the collection for sure!
    Reply
  • By Christopher Lawrence
    September 11, 2012
    08:22 PM

    Two of my favorite Godard films. Nice.
    Reply
  • By Jean
    September 28, 2012
    03:30 PM

    Yo, Stephen. Your list isn't even mediocre. Great films. I think it's pretty genuine (unlike a lot of cheesy pseudo-intellectuals around), coming from a 16/17 year old. The best lists are those that don't try to look good.
    Reply