|2001: A Space Odyssey
|Francis Ford Coppola
|The Battle of Algiers
|The Great Dictator
|Monty Python's Life of Brian
2001: A Space Odyssey
Daring in look, structure, performance, editing, music. Cinematic storytelling that defies gravity, and succeeds.
But of course! Still mesmerising after a hundred watches. Epic in scale and emotion, full of career-defining performances, and totally absorbing from start to finish.
The Battle of Algiers
Raw in look, unflinching in its realism, honest in its politics. This is a masterclass in verité cinema, where fiction and documentary-like performance and camerawork push you right into the heart of a bitter, contemporary conflict. It’s also more dramatic and tense than a thousand thrillers made after it.
The Great Dictator
Chaplin shows us why movie comedy is not just entertaining but essential. An attack on the bluster and blood of fascism, mocking and exposing the moral emptiness of Hitler long before the world caught up. Chaplin uses cinema to create an endlessly inventive parade of shock, buffoonery and emotion to dare the world to take on hate. And, for someone defined by the silent era, Chaplin shows us the emptiness behind the public rhetoric of autocrats. Brilliant.
America’s Fellini, Altman revels in sprawl, rawness, improvisation, and multiple characters and storylines, to come up with something truly whole and original. At once heartbreakingly personal and yet ambitiously satirical, a whole country and culture is summed up brilliantly in one place at one time. This ambition has never been bettered.
Allen shows how comedy can be much more inventive and free in its storytelling than straight linear drama. Flashback, animation, subtitles, breaking the fourth wall; it could all be a box of tricks were it not underpinned by an emotional honesty and focus on the joy and fracture of a relationship.
Sets the bar for all other spine-chillers since. Perfect storytelling, from a director who knows precisely when to wind up and when to let go.
Stripping cinema of lumbering conventions, the experiment is abundantly triumphant. A farce about abuse, a family tale about social breakdown, a sad-happy slurring of genres that thoroughly enjoys all the exciting possibilities it’s pointing us to.
Amazing set pieces and epic battles handled with such control and beauty. Stylised and yet emotionally unpredictable, this retelling of the King Lear story is the apogee of Kurosawa’s storytelling craft. An ageing director giving us one of his last dramas; it’s ravishing, haunting, cruel, and forever memorable.
Monty Python's Life of Brian
Again, it’s comedy that shows how huge themes can be tackled in an interesting and formally daring way. It looks lavish, but the jokes and themes stay close, intimate and real.