Film critic Sonny Bunch has put out a list of his Top Ten Criterion Collection movies. The Criterion folks, in case you're unfamiliar, put together top-notch quality prints and editions of (typically) critically acclaimed films.
I love their products, and thought I'd share my own suggestions for a Top Ten, which has only minor overlap with Mr. Bunch. If you're looking for entertainment this weekend, I strongly urge you to pick one of these up. In no particular order:
1. The 39 Steps - Fantastic Hitchcock suspense from 1935. "Hello, what are we stopping for? Oh, it's a whole flock of detectives." I'd recommend Notorious as well, but the 39 Steps transfer is better.
2. The Third Man - This is a gorgeous black and white print of the Orson Welles classic. "Victims? Don't be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?"
3. Stagecoach - The movie that made John Wayne a star is as sweeping and epic as any of John Ford's excellent work. If you haven't seen it - and too few have! - it's a must watch.
4. The Killers - A collection of multiple adaptations of the Ernest Hemingway story, including a Russian version, is worth purchasing for the too-violent-for-TV 1964 version with Lee Marvin, John Cassevetes, and Angie Dickinson - which also happens to be Ronald Reagan's last film, and the only one where he played a bad guy. He was great at it, except for the punching bit.
5. Anatomy of a Murder - My favorite courtroom drama movie, here's what I wrote about it at Awkward Awesome: "It’s a shame so few people have seen Jimmy Stewart’s best performances — in things other than the mawkish films of his youth. Here he is in an Otto Preminger picture as a whip-smart country lawyer, arguing in defense of Ben Gazzara, a hotheaded Army lieutenant who shot his wife’s rapist. The build-up to the climactic scene with George C. Scott is beautiful in its construction. I like that there are no flashbacks; I like the juxtaposition of dark humor and mortal seriousness; and I like the sheer weight of the character actors in this thing. And oh, Lee Remick is dangerous."
6. The Killing - Bunch is absolutely right to pick this Kubrick noir classic for his list - I'm not sure that anyone can top Elisha Cook, Jr.'s pathetic nature as the doomed husband - and it's the inspiration for more caper films than you can count.
7. Before the Rain - A superb Macedonian film about genocide and its ever increasing circle. You'll recognize Rade Serbedzija as the star, and the Tarantino-esque pivot is very well done.
8. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Bunch prefers Wes Anderson's Royal Tenenbaums, which is also quite good and garnered buckets of praise, but I've always found Anderson's box office and critical flop, The Life Aquatic, to be one of Bill Murray's best performances.
9. Homicide - Difficult to choose between this and House of Games, but David Mamet's clipped dialogue is just superbly enjoyable, and Mantegna's performance here is excellent.
10. The Rock - Really. Michael Bay is a national treasure and I will truck with no one who believes otherwise. Why do you hate America?