Essential Movies – 1962 – Alternative View

For my original post explaining my criteria – click here!

Rules: Ten films which, in some way, show our history and culture reflected in film and  film’s growth and change as a medium. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best 10 films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. 

  1. Lawrence Of Arabia (Best Picture option)

2. The Longest Day (Top Grossing Option)

3. How The West Was Won (Best Film Critical option)

4. Lolita

5. Cape Fear

6. Dr No

7. The Mutiny On The Bounty

8. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

9. The Manchurian Candidate

10. To Kill A Mockingbird

Which 10 films would make up your Essential list?

Essential Movies – 1962

Greetings, Glancers! We’re back again to check which classic movies should be considered essential within each category of viewer. Check out my 1962 Oscars posts for more on some of these movies, otherwise lets go.

Cape Fear

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Stars Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck, remade by Martin Scorsese, all time classic villain, influential thriller.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Didn’t win any Oscars, wasn’t a top grossing movie, the shocks and plot may have been diluted by time.

What I Think: One of the great thrillers and peppered with shocking moments. Essential for critics and wannabees and fans of the cast. Film Nerds should see it. Almost essential for horror fans and with enough points of interest to engage casuals.

Days Of Wine And Roses

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Top 20 Grossing Movie, 1 Oscar win and four additional nominations, Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Blake Edwards, 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old and a little dated for modern viewers, people looking for a happy time won’t be interested.

What I Think: One of the most famous and best films about addiction with two fantastic leading performances. Essential for critics. Wannabees and Nerds should try to get to it, otherwise only essential for fans of the cast.

 Dr No

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: The first Bond movie – need I say more?

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Some people don’t like Bond, some people don’t like older movies.

What I Think: By no means my favourite Bond, but I consider every Bond film a personal must see. Essential for critics, Wannabees, Fans, Film Nerds, Casuals should still enjoy it and Twats will likely see it.

The Exterminating Angel

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Luis Bunuel – that should be enough for some people. A Classic of Surrealism.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old, weird, talky, foreign, no stars.

What I Think: It’s one of those weird ideas that when I hear it, I instantly want to see it – a group of people at a house party discover, though no-one understands why, that they are unable to leave. I don’t think anyone outside of Critics and Bunuel fans will deem it essential.

How The West Was Won

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: 2nd highest grossing film. Massive cast featuring Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Eli Wallach, Henry Fonda, George Peppard, Gregory Peck. Nominated for 8 Oscars, won 3. Zeppelin named a DVD after it.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Fairly long. Old school Westerns aren’t everyone’s thing – mine included.

What I Think: One of the last epic Westerns and a great chance to see some of Hollywood’s finest. It looks stunning. It is fairly long and it may feel disjointed to some. Film nerds should see it, Western fans should see it, I doubt anyone in any lower category will watch.

Jules And Jim

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Truffaut. New Wave. Influential. Frequently named one of best Foreign Movies ever.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Foreign, old, no Oscars, not a top grossing movie, most people won’t care about the cast.

What I Think: A classic romance of heartache, desire, tragedy and fairly accessible. Essential for critics, Wannabees should get to it, Film Nerds should see it to appreciate the later media which references it, any fans of French New Wave should see it. Most others won’t care.

Lawrence Of Arabia

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Come on, it’s one of the most famous movies ever.  David Lean. Peter O’Toole. Alec Guinness. Riding out of the horizon. Omar Sharif. The soundtrack. Won seven Oscars. Was the top grossing film of the year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s almost four hours long and people nowadays can’t be expected to go without Twitter for that long.

What I Think: Although I’m not its biggest fan it is undoubtedly one of Cinema’s greatest achievements and needs to be seen by anyone remotely serious about calling themselves a movie fan. C

Lolita

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Kubrick. Sellers. One of the most controversial books ever turned into one of the most controversial films ever. Top 15 grossing film of the year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It still makes for uncomfortable viewing so anyone scared of taboo-breaking films may want to keep away.

What I Think: It’s Kubrick so you have to see it if you call yourself a film fan. You already know it’s going to be great on a technical level, but it’s also provocative and well acted. Casuals should give it a go.

Sanjuro

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Kurosawa. Mifune. Swords.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Old. Black and white. Foreign.

What I Think: I don’t like it as much as Yojimbo or Seven Samurai but it’s still one of the five or ten Kurosawa films everyone should see before they can be considered and honest ass film fan.

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: One of the most successful and highly regarded British films of the era.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Definitely one that Brits, and specifically Brits of the time will get the most out of.

What I Think: A product of the time but the themes echo onwards and rebellious youth is always bound to suck in new audiences. Probably only essential for critics and wannabees.

The Longest Day

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: 2nd highest grossing film of the year, nominated for five Oscars, won two, and features one or two names you may recognise – John Wayne, Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, Sean Connery, Leslie Phillips, Curt Jurgens, Henry Fonda and many many more.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Some will be put off by the not fully linear plot and documentary style shooting and the cast is so large that no-one stands out.

What I Think: A classic war film with many influential moments and an incredible scope. War fans should consider it essential.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Top 20 grossing film. John Ford. John Wayne. James Stewart. Lee Marvin. Lee Van Cleef.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: The usual – old, black and white, and somewhat darker than most John Ford films. 

What I Think: As the Western genre was on its last legs in this decade, the big hitters needed to be at their best to stay relevant – this is one of the best and essential for Western fans.

The Mutiny On The Bounty

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Top 10 grossing film. Brando, Milestone, Harris, Howard. Nominated for seven Oscars even though it was not well received upon release.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: Many consider the 30s version to be the better and essential version, it was a box office bomb due to a massive budget, and critics see it as a lesser Brando performance.

What I Think: It’s still Brando, and the film was notorious for its production problems. If want to say the 30s one is best, you need to see them both. Brando fans should see it, but not essential enough for regular movie fans.

The Music Man

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Top 5 grossing film. Nominated for 6 Oscars. Won one.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s not a musical many would name if you asked them to list five or ten off the top of their heads. Also – it’s a musical.

What I Think: You know my feelings about the genre, and outside of a small handful I wouldn’t consider any essential. However, due to its success musical fans should see it but anyone outside of that group won’t care.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: If you’ve been to school in America or Britain you’ve read the book. And you’ve probably seen the film. Gregory Peck. Boo Radley. Racism. Top 10 grossing film. Nominated for 8 Oscars. Won three.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: It’s a school book movie – you want to watch shit blow up when you stick a movie on. Too simplistic, too idealistic, and in attacking racism becomes racist itself.

What I Think: You have to see, don’t you. And even if you don’t want to, they’ll make you. Luckily, it’s good. Better than that Silas Marner shite anyway.

The Manchurian Candidate

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Top 15 grossing filmFrankenheimer. Sinatra. Harvey. Janet Leigh. Angela Lansbury. Released at the height of Cold War fears.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: I have no idea… too slow, too long, too old?

What I Think: A gripping thriller which should pull anyone in if they give it a chance, but I can’t see anyone outside of fans of the cast clambering to see it.

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Top 15 grossing film. Bette Davis. Joan Crawford. Nominated for five Oscars, won one.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential: People now won’t care about the real life rivalry between the stars. It’s weird. It’s old, black and white, and features old people shrieking at each other.

What I Think: A cult classic, for more positive reasons than negative. Well acted, creepy, and still referenced enough that you should see it to understand. Probably a hard sell for modern casuals and likely a no go for anyone in a lower category of viewer.

Which of the above films would you rate as Essential, and who would you say it is Essential for? Let us know in the comments!

Essential Movies – 1961 – Alternative View

For my original post explaining my criteria – click here!

For the mainstream view – click here!

Rules: Ten films which, in some way, show our history and culture reflected in film and  film’s growth and change as a medium. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best 10 films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. 

  1. The Hustler (Best Picture Winner)

2. West Side Story (Top Grossing Movie)

3. 101 Dalmations (Best Film Critical Choice)

4. The Guns Of Navarone

5. Breakfast At Tiffany’s

6. Yojimbo

7. The Innocents

8. Judgement At Nuremberg

9. One-Eyed Jacks

10. The Pit And The Pendulum

Essential Movies – 1961

Greetings, Glancers! Welcome back to my series of posts examining those movies intelligent people call Essential – and whether the rest of us should agree.  Check out my explanation post for more info, and have a look at my 1961 Oscars posts if you have additional time to waste. Onwards!

A Raisin In The Sun

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the first films to feature a predominantly African American cast including Ruby Dee and Sidney Poitier. Preserved by the USA National Film Registry.

Why It May Not Be: Dated even though still topical, no-one remembers it, didn’t do huge business.

What I Think: Even Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds will likely miss out on this one, probably essential for Fans of the cast.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Blake Edwards, one of the most iconic Romances of all time. Top 15 grossing movie that year. Won two Oscars, nominated for three others. Moon River. Preserved by NFR.

Why It May Not Be: It’s old?

What I Think: One of the most obviously all around Essential Movies of the 60s. You don’t get to be a Critic, Film Nerd, or Film Fan without seeing this. Casuals and Careless will know it and should see it.

Fanny

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture and Actor.

Why It May Not Be: It has an unfortunate name. Most people won’t care about the cast. It wasn’t successful. I don’t think anyone remembers it outside of devout stage fans.

What I Think: Essential only if you’re determined to see every film nominated for Best Picture. No-one else needs to seek this out, as enjoyable as it may be.

Judgement At Nuremberg

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Preserved by NFR. Top 15 Grossing film that year. The most famous film about one of the most important Court Cases ever. Stanley Kramer directs. Spencer Tracey, Burt Lancaster, Max Schell, Judy Garland, William Shatner, Marlene Dietrich appear among others – some of the biggest names in Hollywood History. Nominated for 11 Oscars with Schell winning Best Actor.

Why It May Not Be: It’s old and modern audiences may not know all of the historical nuances.

What I Think: Essential for Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds. Should be essential for Film Fans – a must see for Courtroom Drama fans or fans of the cast. No-one else will be interested in finding it.

Last Year At Marienbad

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Directed by Alain Resnais. Masterpiece of surrealism. Influenced David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, nominated for an Oscar two years after release.

Why It May Not Be: Surrealism is a tough self and this is ambiguous as films get. There are no easy answers and most people like a beginning, middle, and end with clear structure.

What I Think: Essential for Wannabe Critics. Film Nerds should give at least one Alan Resnais film a go, so why not this. Surrealist Fans should see it. No-one will care.

La Notte

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Antonioni, Mastroinanni, Jeanne Moreau.

Why It May Not Be: Who?

What I Think: A dense Italian drama about a collapsing relationship – not going to be an easy sell to a modern audience. Wannabe Critics should see it, Film Nerds should try, if you’re not a fan of Antonioni or the cast you’re not going to chase it down.

Lola

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Jacques Demy. Anouk Aimee.

Why It May Not Be: Again, who?

What I Think: If you’re not a fan of Demy or Aimee, or a devotee of the French New Wave you won’t care.

Lover Come Back

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Nominated for an Oscar. Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Screwball comedy in an world of Executives.

Why It May Not Be: Old, dated, corny, not well remembered.

What I Think: Only essential if you like the two stars.

One Eyed Jacks

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Directed by and starring Marlon Brando.

Why It May Not Be: Other than the above, there isn’t much to recommend it to people.

What I Think: An interesting curio and essential for Brando fans. Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds should be aware of it and therefore should see it, but wouldn’t class it as essential for them.

One Hundred And One Dalmations

Why It May Be Considered Essential: It’s Disney. Cruella De Vil. Spawned a Live action sequel or two. Top 10 Grossing Film of the year.

Why It May Not Be: It was during a dark period for Disney where their films were not doing so well, critically or commercially and suffers from being a little dull. The songs aren’t great.

What I Think: Even though Disney films were not great during this time, this one proved they could still make a lot of money on a small budget. Aside from the wacky and dark story, it’s quite a plain story but as it is a Disney animated movie it should be considered Essential for almost everyone. The Casuals may have seen it when younger or if they have kids of their own, and same goes for The Careless – not as vital as some Disney movies, more important than others – so somewhere in the middle.

Splendor In The Grass

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Natalie Wood. Warren Beatty. Elia Kazan. Top ten grossing film of the year. Won one Oscar and nominated for another.

Why It May Not Be: Teen drama from an era long gone. Most modern audiences won’t care about the cast. Stupid name?

What I Think: A fine school-based drama with good performances and timeless arguments, but a setting and style and period which will not resonate as easily with modern viewers. Only essential for fans of the cast, not essential for Film Nerds and not high up the must see list for Wannabe Critics.

The Exiles

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the first films of its kind, a pseudo-documentary, but based mostly on the lives of young Native Americans who have left their reservations and moved to the big city.

Why It May Not Be: See above. No-one has ever seen it.

What I Think: I have no idea.

The Guns Of Navarone

Why It May Be Considered Essential: 2nd highest grossing movie of the year. Gregory Peck. David Niven. Anthony Quinn. Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Score, Writing, and others and won for Best Visual Effects.

Why It May Not Be: In the pantheon of great war action movies, this one has maybe been overshadowed by some others. Modern audiences looking for action aren’t likely to look so far in the past.

What I Think: One of the finest WWII era action movies and a perennial seasonal British favourite. Essential for Film Nerds more than Wannabe Critics, but both groups should see this. Essential for War fans, interesting enough that channel surfers may catch it and be drawn in by the cast and the action.

The Hustler

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Paul Newman. Piper Laurie. George C Scott. Nominated for Best Picture and 8 other Oscars, winning for Set Decoration and Cinematography.

Why It May Not Be: Old and Black and White?

What I Think: One of the best Sports movies ever with some iconic performances and characters. Essential for Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds, and fans of the cast. Fans of Pool and Snooker should consider it essential. Likely too distant now for Casuals or Careless to go looking for it.

The Innocents

Why It May Be Considered Essential: One of the finest ghost/haunted house movies ever, dense and gothic.

Why It May Not Be: Old, BW, not many obvious scares, and probably too stodgy and sterile for modern audiences.

What I Think: A classic in the British horror genre, but a slow-burner which only certain horror fans will appreciate. Essential for Wannabe Critics, less essential for Film Nerds and horror fans, not essential for anyone else.

The Ladies Man

Why It May Be Considered Essential: A Jerry Lewis comedy.

Why It May Not Be: Not many modern viewers will care about the above.

What I Think: Only essential for Lewis fans.

The Misfits

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Miller. Huston. Gable. Monroe. Arguably more famous for the Production issues than the end result. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be: Monroe may remain a household name, but how many modern viewers have actually seen one of her films? If they have, it’s not this one. A flop on release.

What I Think: Filmed as Miller and Monroe were separating and Huston was drinking heavily. Monroe was in rehab during production. Gable died days after filming finished, Monroe a year later. An interesting film to be aware of due to its troubled history, so Essential for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics. Essential for fans of the cast due to strong performances. Not essential for anyone else.

Through A Glass Darkly

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Bergman. Won Best Foreign Film Oscar. Harriet Andersson. Max Von Sydow. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be: See above.

What I Think: Bergman, so again if you want to be a critic or call yourself a Film Nerd, you have to have seen a few Bergman films. This one is a good mixture of accessibility, art, and heavy themes. Essential for Bergman fans – no one else will give a damn.

Viridiana

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Bunuel. Won the Palme d’Or.

Why It May Not Be: See above.

What I Think: Same as Bergman – you need to see some Bunuel and this is as good a place to start as any. Again, no-one else will care.

West Side Story

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Best Picture winner, top grossing film of the year, won Oscars for Best Director, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and six more. One of the most famous and popular musicals of all time.

Why It May Not Be: Musicals. They’re balls.

What I Think: Arguably the end of the traditional epic Hollywood musical – what more could be done after this? If you’re going to watch one, it may as well be this. Essential for Film Nerds, Wannabe Critics, and Fans – Casuals and Careless will be aware of it and may as well see it but depending on preferences may not seek this out.

Yojimbo

Why It May Be Considered Essential: Kurosawa. Mifune. Swords. Basis of A Fistful of Dollars. One of the best Samurai movies ever. Influential.

Why It May Not Be: Old. BW. Foreign.

What I Think: Essential for Film Nerds, Wannabe Critics, and Kurosawa fans. Like Japanese movies? Then this is essential. Casuals and Careless will not care unless they happen to like old Samurai movies.

Let us know in the comments which movies of 1961 you feel are Essential viewing – feel free to borrow my categorizations or choose your own definitions!

Essential Movies – 1960 – The Alternative Opinion

So, by now you should have read and wept over my Essential Movies discussion post and my post about the Essential Movies Of 1960 where I discussed whether some of the best movies of the year should be considered essential by everyone. It was a bit of a mess, and the conclusion is that only a handful should be seen as essential by a wider modern audience.

As I realized how futile all of this was, I decided the only way to escape was by digging down and making things worse – the end result being this post. This one is a little bit more fun and loose and worthy of discussion with friends, enemies, and randomers (I don’t like the word ‘randoms’). What I’m doing here is looking at 1960 as a whole and picking 10 films which I would personally call Essential (capital E from now on) from that year – the twist being that I am presenting those films (and only those films) to someone, or something else. Imagine you’ve been frozen in time for five hundred years and awoken in a bizarre future where the inhabitants of Earth have the technology to download and watch ancient movies but only the time to watch 10 from each year – what a bunch of freaks. Or you come into contact with aliens and face the same deal. You get where I’m going with this – 10 films from each year.

There are caveats; The future weirdos/aliens are interested in our history and culture and want to see that reflected in Film – they want to see Film’s growth and change as a medium, they want to know what was popular with the masses year to year, they want to understand why certain films won awards versus others. It can’t simply be your ten personal favourites of the year. This means we have some very loose guidelines – I could make these more strict, by all means you can make them more strict – but I don’t want to strangle all of the fun out of it.

Rules; One of your ten choices must be in the top 10 grossing films of the given year. One of the films must have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar (Best Picture, Best Foreign Feature, or Best Animated Feature). One of the films needs to appear in a renowned critic or magazine or book’s best films of the year. These choices can’t overlap. I think that’s it – only three guidelines. When I give my list, I’ll make the first three films hit those guidelines – the rest are in no order. Everything else is down to you, so go nuts. A final note – we’ll all have those years where we want to pick more than 10 movies. I’ll allow that, but only if you sacrifice a film from another year – if you can’t pick 10 movies in any year, the surplus choices from that year can be held over for another year, but you have to pick at least eight – come on now. Mine ahoy!

  1. The Apartment (Best Picture Winner)

2.  Spartacus (Top Grossing Movie)

3. La Dolce Vita (Best Films Of Year choice)

4. Psycho

5. The Magnificent Seven

6. Peeping Tom

7. Black Sunday

8. Breathless

9. Jigoku

10. The Virgin Spring

Feel free to comment the ten movies from 1960 which you would show to the aliens and weirdos of the future!

Essential Movies – 1960

Psycho': The horror movie that changed the genre | EW.com

Greetings, glancers! As promised/threatened in my spectacular viewer categorization post (remember that???), I wanted to have a look at what truly classifies a movie as ‘essential’. My main point in the post linked above is that ‘essential’ is subjective to the viewer, but if we can roughly classify viewers then we can perhaps distinguish between what is essential for each viewer type, and what is not. Now, this is not scholarly in the slightest, nor is it researched in any way aside from in my own head between 1 and 2 am when I can’t sleep. Take it with as many pinches of salt as you like, and perhaps some vinegar.

I’m going to do a thing – this thing; I’m going to look back at my Oscars posts and take the major nominated and award winning movies, and also check out a few lists of the Best Movies of that particular year, and I’m going to break them down into what is ‘essential’ for each viewer type. In other words, this is a pointless thing, like licking the underside of a table, throwing a Guava at a cat, Brexit, or indeed, watching movies. All those things happen, regardless of how pointless they are so I’ll be damned if I’m going to let something like necessity get in my way.

We should get one thing out of the way – as per my other post – The Critic should view all films as necessary, as should The Wannabe. If you are a Critic, or if you want to be a Critic, then every movie is essential. Sure some movies are more essential but rather than muddy the waters we’ll just skip The Critic and assume that they should aim to watch every movie ever made and we’ll let The Wannabe cover those italic areas. That leaves us with The Film Nerd, The Fan, The Casual, The Careless, and The Twat. The Twat doesn’t really count either because they are barely human.

For the list of films, I’ll use my own Oscars posts which cover both the Official Winners and Nominees and my own personal picks, and I’ll also use filmsite.org for anything not covered in my posts. Finally, it won’t be as important in these early years, but as time goes on it will be – I’ll also use Wikipedia and IMDB to cover the biggest grossing films of each year so that we don’t just get critic’s choices filling the list. Lets do this!

The Alamo

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

It was both directed by and starred John Wayne, one of the biggest stars in Hollywood history, it won a (minor) Oscar and was nominated for several more, it won a Golden Globe for Best Score, it has a large and varied cast of important actors of the time, and is probably the most famous movie based on the significant historical event.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

John Wayne was a huge star, but it isn’t one of his most fondly remembered or best films. In the rest of the cast there aren’t any or many names which The Fan, The Casual, or The Careless will recognise – Frankie Avalon, maybe? Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, possibly? For a film now 57 years old (at time of writing), it isn’t one which comes up in typical discussions of the best movies of the year or the decade.

What I Think:

Not essential for any of our groups, though John Wayne fans and Wannabes will likely get to it eventually. A Wannabe critic may gloss over certain films from certain eras or genres, and this one doesn’t have enough significance to pull in such viewers with any urgency – same goes for The Film Nerd.

The Apartment

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine, and Fred MacMurray. It was nominated for ten Oscars and won five – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Film Editing, and Art Direction. It was one of the Top Ten Grossing films of the year and critical praise remains high.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Billy Wilder was once a household name, but not any more outside of Film Nerds, Critics, and Wannabes. It’s a black and white comedy featuring moral ambiguities which likely don’t exist anymore, so much of the humour and satire will not work for a modern, casual audience.

What I Think:

Every Wannabe critic should see every Billy Wilder movie, and The Apartment is one of his most successful. As an important and influential comedy, The Film Nerd should consider it essential. The Fan will only see it as essential if they are a Wilder or Lemmon fan, though it is still recommended for general movie fans. The Casual And The Careless will not seek out this movie and it is unlikely they will have heard of it; if they stumble upon it while channel hopping, it is unlikely that it will grab their attention.

L’Avventura

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Directed by Antonioni. That’s pretty much it.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It’s old, it’s foreign, it’s weird.

What I Think:

Essential for Antonioni fans, but not his finest work. Wannabe critics should consider it essential but given the film’s age and lack of enduring cultural significance it seems unlikely that many will get to it. Not essential for Film Nerds or any other group.

The Bad Sleep Well

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Kurosawa. Mifune.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Old. Foreign.

What I Think:

Not one of Kurosawa’s most famous films, but it’s still Kurosawa and Mifune, and therefore is essential for Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds. Not essential for anyone else, unless you’re a fan of Kurosawa.

Black Sunday

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Mario Bava. One of the first gore films, influential on many horror films and directors which followed, and generally considered among the finest horror movies ever.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Foreign. Old. Weird. Dated effects, dodgy acting, and dubbing.

What I Think: Essential for horror fans. Out of all Mario Bava films this is the one most Wannabe Critics should see and Film Nerds should try it out. Other viewers do not need to see this.

Breathless

Why It Could Be Considered Essential: Jean Luc Godard writes and directs. One of the first and best movies of the French New Wave movement which inspired and influenced later generations of Hollywood directors. Frequently considered one of the Best Foreign movies of all time and usually appears on Critical lists of the best films ever made.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Foreign. Old. Weird. The regular American or British person will not know who Jean Luc Godard is, nor will they care about the French New Wave.

What I Think:

Essential for Wannabe Critics – you can’t be a critic without seeing this and understanding its significance. Essential for New Wave or Godard fans. Film Nerds should see it and should consider it essential. Not essential for anyone else.

Butterfield 8

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Starring Elizabeth Taylor who won an Oscar for her performance. Controversial. One of the highest grossing movies of the year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

No-one remembers it or talks about it now, so much of its importance has waned over time. Taylor herself didn’t rate the film.

What I Think: Not essential for Film Nerds and therefore not essential for the other categories, but a must see for Liz Taylor fans. Not important enough that Wannabe Critics will have it at the top of their to do lists.

Elmer Gantry

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Stars Burt Lancaster who won an Oscar, it won two more Oscars, and was nominated for several others including Best Picture. A prescient film about truth and lies.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Most modern viewers will not care about Burt Lancaster, or a film about selling religion to small town America. It didn’t make a lot of money and isn’t a film you see referenced elsewhere or talked about in general.

What I Think:

Essential for Lancaster fans, Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics may get to it eventually, but there is a long list of films ahead of it.

Exodus

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Directed by Otto Preminger, won an Oscar for Best Score, nominated for two others, and stars Paul Newman. 3rd Grossing film of the year.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Most people today will still be aware of Paul Newman, but outside of fans he won’t be a draw. Otto Preminger was once prolific and taboo-breaking but won’t be a familiar name to most.

What I Think:

One for Newman, Preminger, or fans of the other cast members. A significant political film but better to stick with the book, but hardly essential. Wannabe critics should see it at some point, but Film Nerds won’t need to seek this one.

From The Terrace

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward work together. Top 10 Grossing film.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Think of Paul Newman films and you don’t think of this. Have you heard of it? No, you haven’t.

What I Think:

Not essential for anyone.

Inherit The Wind

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Spencer Tracey, Stanley Kramer, Gene Kelly, nominated for four Oscars. Relatively important subject matter covering free speech, McCarthyism, science, religion, fact, and faith.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

No stars that modern audiences will be aware of and a subject matter that may appear to be dated no matter how relevant it is in today’s climate.

What I Think:

Wannabe Critics should get to this one at some point, as should Tracey and Kramer fans as one of their best films. Film Nerds should get to it too, but like others here it is not as vital as a bunch of movies.

Jigoku

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Groundbreaking visuals and one of the most famous and important Japanese horror movies ever.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Modern Western viewers have enough trouble watching foreign movies, they aren’t going to be interested in one over fifty years old.

What I Think:

Essential for fans of Japanese Horror, Wannabe Critics, and Film Nerds. Not quite essential for fans of horror of Japanese Cinema in general. No one else will care.

Late Autumn

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Ozu. One of few films with 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Old. Slow. Foreign.

What I Think:

Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds should see at least one Ozu film – this isn’t one of his most famous, but is as well received as any. No-one else will care.

La Dolce Vita

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

One of the most famous and influential foreign movies ever, always listed as one of Best Films Ever. Directed by Fellini, won an Oscar for Best Costume Design, noted has having iconic styles and imagery.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Same as always – old and foreign, and people most modern audiences won’t be aware of.

What I Think:

A film you feel everyone should see, but in the grand scheme of things it’s a hard sell. There is something here for everyone and it is absolutely essential for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics. I’d like to say most in The Fan category should see this but it’s unlikely that Casuals or The Careless will ever be interested.

The Magnificent Seven

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Steve McQueen. Yul Brynner. Charles Bronson. James Coburn. Eli Wallach. One of the best remakes of all time. Had several sequels, TV series, and its own remake. Iconic score.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Too lightweight and fun to be considered among the greats? I don’t know.

What I Think:

Essential for Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds, Fans. If a casual was planted in front of this, they would love it, and chances are most in The Careless category would too. One of the best Westerns ever and simply one of the most fun films of all time, packed with action, one-liners, an iconic cast and a terrific score – no reason not to see this.

Night And Fog In Japan

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Directed by Nagisa Oshima, who critics love.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

You know the drill, slow, old, foreign. Oshima is not as highly regarded as Kurosawa, Mizoguchi, Ozu.

What I Think:

Wannabe Critics should get to it, Film Nerds will probably pick some of his other films ahead of this. Not essential for anyone else, unless you’re a fan.

Ocean’s 11

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Sinatra. Sammy Davis Jr. Dean Martin. One of the original heist movies. Led to a remake which also had several sequels. Top 10 grossing film.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It’s not very good. It was been overshadowed by the sequel.

What I Think:

I’d consider the remake the more essential choice as it is more likely to be seen by The Fan, The Casual, and the Careless. Even for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics it isn’t going to high on their watch list, but essential for fans of The Brat Pack.

Peeping Tom

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

A controversial and innovative, shocking and groundbreaking movie. Historically notable for effectively ending Michael Powell’s career in Britain. That Powell – of Powell and Pressburger fame who have several essential films and therefore others should be considered for viewing too. Now considered one of the best British movies and horror movies ever.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It doesn’t have star power for modern viewers who will not be as shocked or impressed by the violence or techniques. Some weirdos don’t like horror.

What I Think:

Essential for Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds, and horror fans. Most in The Fan category should try to see it but given the choice will go for Psycho first.

Please Don’t Eat The Daises

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Doris Day. David Niven. Top 10 Grossing Film.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

You’ve never heard of it. Doris Day and David Niven likely won’t be a draw for anyone today, and the comedy, while not dated necessarily, is a little light and fluffy.

Psycho

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

One of the most famous and acclaimed horror movies ever by arguably the greatest and most famous movie director of them all. Inspired countless imitators, essentially created a sub-genre, and was followed by a series of sequels, a remake, and an acclaimed TV series. Contains some of the most famous music and moments ever seen, moments which have been repeated and lampooned endlessly in the decades since.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It’s old and black and white and some people don’t like that sort of thing?

What I Think:

I think you know what I think. One of the most important horror movies ever and in my opinion this is the moment that modern Cinema began. Everyone needs to see it.

Spartacus

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Kubrick. Kirk Douglas. Olivier. I am Spartacus. Highest grossing movie of the year, won a load of Oscars.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It is very long, and some people don’t like that.

What I Think:

Kubrick’s first major hit – Wannabe Critics and Film Nerds should view every Kubrick film as essential. Depending on age and a variety of other factors, The Careless should see this, Casuals likely won’t care, should be essential for most in The Fan category though other Kubrick films will place higher on their must see list.

Suns And Lovers

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Nominated for Best Picture, Director and more, won Best Cinematography, Jack Cardiff directs one of DH Lawrence’s most important novels.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Most modern viewers will not care about the cast, Jack Cardiff, or DH Lawrence. It’s a watered down version of the book too.

What I Think:

Not essential for anyone, though Wannabe Critics may get to it eventually.

The Sundowners

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay. Fred Zinnermann, Robert Mitchum, Deborah Kerr, Peter Ustinov.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

It didn’t win any of the Oscars and none of the people above will matter to anyone outside of Wannabe Critics and Nerds.

What I Think:

Not important enough to be considered essential for anyone, but Mitchum fans will see it.

Swiss Family Robinson

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Top five grossing film that year, probably the best version of the story.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Dated, and no-one today will care about any of the cast.

What I Think:

A good, family oriented adventure film that you may want your kids to watch, but not essential for any particular group.

Village Of The Damned

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

The best adaptation of Wyndham’s book and features several iconic moments which are referenced in later works.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Dated, no-one will care about the cast, horror fans watching for first time likely won’t have the scares and sensations generated at the time of release.

What I Think:

A classic chiller but hard to say it’s essential even for Film Nerds and Wannabe Critics. Horror fans should give it a go, and it’s a good introduction to horror and sci-fi for younger or newer horror fans.

The Virgin Spring

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

One of Bergman’s most famous and mainstream works and critics will say every Bergman film is essential.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Old, black and white, foreign.

What I Think:

If you’re going to pick any single Bergman film to watch, it should be this or The Seventh Seal. Essential for Bergman fans, Wannabe Critics, Film Nerds should see it, no-one will will give a toss.

The Young One

Why It Could Be Considered Essential:

Luis Bunuel. Critics love him. 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Why It May Not Be Considered Essential:

Luis Bunuel… who?

What I Think:

A lesser Bunuel work, but fairly conventional and simple – not avant-garde. Only possibility of this being essential will be for Bunuel fans and Wannabe Critics, but even then it’s touch and go.

Well, that was bubbling lump of garmonbozia. If you have any thoughts about any of the above or feel that any of my opinions have counter arguments then feel free to launch those in the comments. I’ll have an alternative post coming up shortly which takes a different approach to Essential Movies, and I’ll (try to) follow that through for the rest of the years from 1960 onwards!

Nightman Defines – Viewer Categorization

So, something which has tickled my ass (interested me) recently is the notion of how to classify or categorize people who watch movies – mainly in reference to trying to decide what an essential movie is. Is Citizen Kane really an essential watch for someone who watches maybe ten movies a year? Is The Seven Samurai a must-see for people who only watch movies made in Hollywood? Conversely, is A New Hope an absolute watch for someone in Japan, or Iran, or India? I don’t know the answer to these things (even though the answer is yes) and I’m not going to offer any solutions here.

In reading other blogs and lists recently – fans’ favourite movies ever, critical lists of the best or most important or most essential movies ever, and also writing my Scoring System post has made me question if a better way to think about such things is by categorizing the viewer. The film is the film is the film, but opinions on the film obviously differ from person to person – it seems to me, without an ounce of research, that you can roughly guess the score of a film, or how someone feels about it, by categorizing the viewer – would the person who only watches the latest blockbusters think Citizen Kane was essential, or even good? Probably not. Categorizing people – it’s the way of the world, it’s tribal, it’s how we differentiate between who the good’uns are and who the ones who want to ravage our women and eat are babies are – you know, the ones who talk or look funny or live in that weird country five miles south behind an invisible, arbitrary border.

Yeah, I hate categorization under almost all circumstances – they serve only to de-humanize and make it easier to sleep at night after dropping bombs on them/not offering them a helping hand/refusing to pay them/telling them how they should live their lives. The individual is God. Yet, on the other hand, I love statistics and spreadsheets and lists and management sim games. It’s weird being me, in constant turmoil of hating and loving things even though those things are related.

We’re not trying to solve the world’s ills here though. All I’m doing is calling out a few loose categories of viewer and afterwards I might go back and look through my Oscars posts and say which films are ‘suitable’ for each group. Feel free to break my definitions apart and add your own – I don’t want a tonne of these so I’m hoping five will be a fair number, baring in mind that I’m thinking as I type with no fore planning. I will say that each category has a certain sliding scale and are malleable. Also, these could presumably translate to other media, such as music, games, books…. bird watching.

The Critic

cri

The Critic is at the head of the table. It is a critic’s job to watch everything, regardless of genre, country of origin, language, era etc. The Critic must also be knowledgeable about the history of film, technical processes, what is involved in the creation of a film, and be able to rattle off the most commonly thought of important and influential films of a particular genre, movement, actor, director etc. They will tend to have one or more individual specialist subjects, such as the life of FW Murnau or Spaghetti Westerns. They are more likely to be objective, more likely to be critical of what is popular, and more appreciative or originality, importance, and influence.

The Film Nerd

qtf

The Film Nerd is more often a blogger or a Youtuber. Traditionally they will not have the same access to and knowledge of movies as the Critic, but those lines are being blurred both positively and negatively each year. Nowadays The Film Nerd may see a similar amount of movies as The Critic, but will likely have a tendency towards the popular or the cult rather than the artistic or important, especially when you stretch the boundaries of what is mainstream and what is recent. Genre and language should not be of significance to The Film Nerd when deciding to watch a movie. They should have knowledge of the filmmaking process, but that knowledge will be less on the technical side and more on the conversational side – it is less likely they have studied film in any capacity when compared with The Critic, and won’t have the same level of educational discipline. They will probably care less about certain critical details and be more appreciative of popular efforts than The Critic while also enjoying ‘nerdy continuity’ such as actors reappearing in works with same director. They will be more invested by personal enjoyment than importance or influence, yet they will seek out any movie deemed important or influential by critics. They will have their personal favourite genres, directors, performers etc, but should not let this cloud their judgment.

The Wannabe

qtf

The Wannabe wants to be a critic. Or in the movie business. For my purposes we’ll say they are a critic in waiting. They will have their own blog or channel and will strive to watch everything, but may be more easily influenced by critical opinion – ‘I’m watching this because I’ve been told I have to, and even though I don’t really understand it I’m going to say I love it’. They may sacrifice what is current and popular in their quest to catch up on the critical lists and become narrow  – they should strive to watch everything. The Wannabe is likely a film student or graduate, or has studied some area of Humanities. They don’t have the objectivity or historical or technical knowledge of The Critic yet but must be willing to learn if they wish to become what they desire.  They will have a guilty pleasure which they will hold on to and proclaim as important or essential when it probably is not, giving them an added layer of arrogance as they belief it proves they watch what ‘the rest of us’ watch.

The Fan

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The Fan is a fan of movies in general – they will try to watch as many movies as time allows, but it won’t consume their life. The fan can branch out in many directions and become a specialist – The Horror Fan, The Spielberg Fan, The Audrey Hepburn Fan etc, but in most cases they will stick to what is popular. If they are presented with a list of most essential movies ever, they will have seen many of them, but likely those which are more mainstream, recent, or commercial. The Fan won’t have any burning desire to see every movie on that list, but they will seek out those ones they have heard about from friends who are also in The Fan category. They will enjoy movies by or starring certain people, but won’t necessarily hunt down those they have missed. They will enjoy watching trailers of upcoming movies, get excited by sequels, and the majority of their movie watching will cover films which earned the most money in any given year rather than the indie or foreign markets.

The Casual

TOWIE

The Casual merely enjoys movies – if you take them on a date to the Cinema, it better be something simple like a comedy or action movie starring whoever was on the cover of Tiger Beat recently (that’s not a thing any more, is it?). The Casual watches only what is popular, what others are talking about in school, work, or on TV, and will likely see much fewer movies per year than The Fan. If it’s not in the charts, they won’t be interested. Black and White? Subtitles? Slightly unusual? No thanks. They know what they like and stick to it, and that is usually a narrow field. The Casual may find themselves surprised if they take a risk and discover they actually enjoy something forced upon them by a friend who is in The Fan or Film Nerd category. They more likely enjoy the clothes and red carpet information than The Oscars themselves, and might even care more about who is in a movie than who made it or what it is about. They probably ask a lot of questions while watching and look at their phone.

The Careless

The Careless could NOT care less. Yes, Americans, that is the correct way of saying that phrase. The Careless is probably your dad. Or your mum. Or a farmer. They will have no interest in the discussion of movies and will have no desire to go to the Cinema. They won’t care if they are forced to go by friends, significant other, or kids, but they will likely not may much attention to the movie. If they do, they will have likely forgotten about it the next day. A certain breed of The Careless may enjoy a particular genre or actor, likely due to a crush or some sort of formative experience – Westerns or David Soul or some such. They will channel surf and may stumble upon a movie that looks interesting and watch it, or fall asleep watching it. For The Careless, movies are a distraction from what they really care about, or a novelty that is experienced irregularly and disposed of.

The Twat 

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The Twat only watches a certain type of movie and nothing else – don’t be like The Twat. Like a hipster is to music, The Twat doesn’t really like movies, just watches or claims to watch them so that they can be part of a discussion which they can then turn around to serve their own selfish needs. Alternatively, The Twat may genuinely love their chosen movie but will absolutely, stubbornly refuse to hear any criticism of it or suggestion of an alternative.

So there you have it, some rough breakage (roughage?) of people into groups. You shouldn’t be ashamed of whichever one you fall into, that’s who you are after all, and who you are will influence what films you enjoy. You can of course aim to move into another category, or you may tow the line between two or three of them, but don’t be ashamed. Unless you’re The Twat, in which case I suggest you drastically re-evaluate your life.

Stage two of this needless endeavor will see me (well, it will see me thinking about, but probably not writing about because once I have something out of my system I tend to forget about it) looking at a bunch of movies and ranking them per the above types. Maybe I’ll go through my Oscar’s posts, maybe I’ll take some Critical list or poll and investigate. Or maybe I’ll get drunk. Yeah, that seems like the more plausible outcome.