Friday, June 21, 2013

Top 10 Movies of 1959

I fear that sick sense of obligation to finish what I've started is rearing its ugly head again. Regardless, with this list I finish the 1950s. Enjoy!

EDITOR'S NOTE: I accidentally left off North By Northwest when I made this list, but since I'm unsure where I might have put it anyway, just magically insert it anywhere on here that suits you.



10. Pickpocket

Very slow-paced and emotionally vacant (as many of Bresson's films seem to be), Pickpocket is still a tense, well-written drama with great camerawork and fine editing.


9. Sleeping Beauty

One of the greatest Disney princess movies, this film has wonderful animation, enjoyable characters, and one of the greatest villains of all-time in the unforgettably dark and sinister Maleficent. Maybe not the most well-developed film, but an excellent one nonetheless.


8. A Bucket Of Blood

A movie that basically established (at least, in my mind) Roger Corman as being one of the great B-movie directors of all-time. Very dark and cheesy, with a wicked sense of humor. You can definitely see early traces of Little Shop Of Horrors in this film.


7. Anatomy Of A Murder

One of the most memorable, well-acted, and wonderfully paced courtroom dramas of all-time. James Stewart (basically playing a version of himself, as always) is perfectly-cast -- in fact, everyone in this movie is perfectly-cast. It may be somewhat typical, but that doesn't change the fact that it's just fantastic.


6. Ben-Hur

One of the biggest movies ever made. An epic of epic proportions by William Wyler, Ben-Hur is one of the greatest biblical films of all-time, and certainly one of the most watchable -- despite it being nearly 4 hours long. Fantastic acting, wonderful set design, and surprisingly thrilling. This is what big-budget film-making should aspire to be.


5. Hiroshima, Mon Amour

The feature-length debut of French filmmaker Alain Resnais, Hiroshima has touches of vagueness and ambiguity that is very much featured in some of his later work. I see this very much as a precursor to Last Year At Marienbad, with a story I feel must have partially influenced Lost In Translation. If that isn't a selling point, I don't know what is.


4. Some Like It Hot

One of the most highly-acclaimed comedies of all-time, Some Like It Hot is one of many films vying for a place atop the list of Billy Wilder's finest efforts. With fantastic performances, a hilarious script, and one of the most memorable endings in the history of film, it's no wonder why people (including myself) love this movie so much.


3. The 400 Blows

It's hard for me to call this Francois Truffaut's finest film (Day For Night makes it a very tough battle), but The 400 Blows does stand as being one of the greatest coming-of-age dramas I've ever seen, and definitely one of the can't-be-missed films from the era. A movie filled with subtle emotion and a deep understanding and sympathy for its characters. A very moving film.


2. The World Of Apu

The third and final chapter in Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy, The World Of Apu (or Apur Sansar) stands as being not only the finest in the trilogy, but in his entire body of work. Packed with strong visuals, character development, and Ray's wonderful signature style, this is one of those movies that will forever be a shining example demonstrating how less is more when it comes to emotional payoff.


1. Ballad Of A Soldier

One of the strongest films centered largely on the effects of war on society, as opposed to the action of war itself. This Soviet masterpiece is at times heart-warming and devastating, cynical but hopeful, youthful yet mature; a perfect blend of the emotions it tries to convey, resulting in a film not only pleasing to the eye, but moving to the soul. It would be nice to have seen more from Grigori Chukhrai, because as a straight-up drama, this is one of the best to be found.
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