Danielle Solzman

Film critic

Voted for

Casablanca1942Michael Curtiz
Schindler's List1993Steven Spielberg
Jurassic Park1992Steven Spielberg
Star Wars1977George Lucas
Jaws1975Steven Spielberg
Raiders of the Lost Ark1981Steven Spielberg
Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back1980Irvin Kershner
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World1963Stanley Kramer
Avengers Endgame2019Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Singin' in the Rain1951Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen



1942 USA

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman put in performances that would define both of their careers. It was a match made in heaven in casting the film. A love story that was also doomed from the very beginning.

Who would have ever thought that an unproduced play, Everybody Comes to Rick's, by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, would become one of the greatest films ever made? It certainly helps that the casting fell into place. Perhaps what is most surprising about the film's production is that scenes were shot without knowing what was coming next. I would not say that the film was rushed into production but one must wonder if a polished script would have given us such results. Given the circumstances, Michael Curtiz certainly did a brilliant job behind the camera.

Schindler's List

1993 USA

We can say everything we want about all the great Steven Spielberg blockbusters, but Schindler's List is his masterpiece. This is the film that cemented Spielberg's legacy not so much as a filmmaker but as a person. Without this film, it's very possible that Spielberg wouldn't have started the USC Shoah Foundation. The foundation made it possible for more Holocaust survivors to tell their story. Spielberg first noticed Thomas Keneally's novel ten years earlier but he hadn't yet reached a stage in his career where he could make this film.

Jurassic Park

1992 USA

Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park remains as innovative, groundbreaking and inspiring as when it was originally released in June 1993.

The moment when the jeeps stop and Dr. Grant looks up remains awe-inspiring. The framing and the actors' reactions hit so well. Grant doesn't look away as he turns Ellie's face towards the sight of the Brachiosaurus standing in front of their own eyes. It's only then that we hear Hammond's classic line, "Welcome to Jurassic Park!"

Perhaps what should be celebrated most about Jurassic Park is that it was the beginning of the end of an era in visual effects and the start of another. The dinosaurs in the film appear by way of animatronics and visual effects. It's a spectacle to behold in that regard – truly innovative and groundbreaking. The advance of special effects in Jurassic Park helped pave the way for a change in blockbuster filmmaking. Without the technology that was invented for this film, so many other films might never have seen the light of day. The

Oscars for Best Visual Effects speaks for itself, as this film stands the test of time.

Star Wars

1977 USA

Star Wars: A New Hope takes on an entirely new perspective when watched after Rogue One. When I watched the film for the first time in the 1990s, you knew instantly that Darth Vader was a bad guy. What we didn't realize was just how capable he was of pure evil and destruction. Sure, the last ten minutes or so of Rogue One may have been pure fan service but it sets the tone for what we see during Star Wars: A New Hope. The film's opening plays in a very different way as a result.

When we talk about the great world-builders, there aren't that many names to speak of. George Lucas is right there sitting alongside the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and maybe George R.R. Martin. Even though the film itself was the idea of one person, Lucas would go on to birth this vast universe. Visual effects would certainly never be the same. Had Jaws been made after this film, the shark would have been more terrifying than it was in 1975.  Star Wars singlehandedly changed the game for blockbuster movies and remains one of the greatest films of all time.


1975 USA

When it came to how he framed and presented the shark, Spielberg appears to have gone for the Alfred Hitchcock thriller approach: the less we see the better. When we do finally see the shark, it's clearly an animatronic. If the film had been made years later, Spielberg would probably have opted for CGI and made it a scarier animal. But Spielberg made the best possible film that given the technolog at the time.

Can you imagine a time when blockbuster films were not heavy on special effects? You'll have to take a time machine back to 1975. I know that it's crazy but it's definitely true. Without Jaws, we wouldn't have a lot of films. Well, we might have them, but they would not be marketed the same way. This is because Jaws was a game-changer when it comes to American blockbusters. Nobody could have ever thought this would be the case when the film opened in theatres.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

1981 USA

Many filmmakers in New Hollywood either collaborated on projects together or would offer their advice to one another. In this instance, the brains behind both Jaws and Star Wars teamed up to give us a kind of American James Bond. This film has everything: action, adventure, and yet another reason to root against the Nazis.

The adventure that screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan offers in Raiders of the Lost Ark is hard to match. This is a one-of-a-kind film, and an 80s film through and through. The magic of this film just can't be replicated with all the newer technologies of the present day. You could try but it just wouldn't be the same. The effects are certainly top-notch given the options available at the time. CGI could certainly smooth out some of the practical effects but it just wouldn't be the same. At the same time, the images of the melting face is something we'll never forget.

Raiders of the Lost Ark isn't just one of the greatest films of the 1980s but one of the all-time classics.

Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back

1980 USA

The film introduces us to new concepts not seen in the first film. Obi-Wan Kenobi's (Alec Guinness) body disappeared but we don't have a clue why. Appropriately, we learn that he became a Force ghost after being struck down. This is one of those ideas that we ultimately come to learn about during the prequels (well, the novel tie-in, since the scene managed to get cut out of Revenge of the Sith).

Perhaps one of the biggest moments comes after Luke leaves to save his friends. Obi-Wan Kenobi believes that Luke is the last hope and should things fail, hope is lost. It's Yoda who informs us that "There is another."  Who is this other hope? Tune in for Return of the Jedi unless you watched the Star Wars prequels!

The prequels do enhance viewing of The Empire Strikes Back but a first-time viewer is best off watching the original trilogy first. Watching the prequels will certainly prevent viewers from being shocked. It is probably hard to go into Star Wars for the first time without knowing the twist.

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

1963 USA

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is one of the best ensemble comedies and the star-studded film remains a classic.

Imagine being surrounded by some of the best comedy stars of the day. It sounds impossible, right? Think again, because this film doesn't have a few of them but brings everyone together in an epic race to find the Big W. Let's get one thing straight ,though. This isn't a case of everyone joining together in the third act. Many of our favourite comedians and comedy stars will pop up in cameos throughout the film. Some were unable to join in the fun because of scheduling conflicts or salary demands. Yet for all the people who were offered a role in this laugh riot, nobody ever reached out to Don Rickles. Rickles never let Kramer hear the end of it.

Avengers Endgame

2019 USA

It's hard to talk about the fun moments without spoiling the film. Let's just say that we get a different perspective on things, but the results change with knowing what we know now. One of those moments recalls Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but I couldn't stop laughing. Then there's Avengers: Age of Ultron getting a callback. But to see one of the most iconic cinematic moments again? Pure joy. There are so many Easter Eggs in this film that it will play even better on rewatch down the road. There's so many more that I can't even talk about without fear of getting snapped.

The fight scenes that do take place are epic. Among these battles, one in particular stands out from among the rest. Hands down, it's Cap (2023) going against Cap (2012). Getting to see the epic battle in the third act makes 2012-19 worth it. To see everyone on screen in the fight of their life and working together was one of those moments where I was crying from tears of joy. It's this moment that truly makes this film so special.

Singin' in the Rain

1951 USA

Taking place at the start of the talking picture era, Singin' in the Rain will go down in cinema history as the best movie musical of all time.

The late 1920s were an interesting time for the motion picture business. Silent pictures were all the rave but things changed when Warner Brothers premiered The Jazz Singer. Producing a movie musical about this era in time is a genius move on Arthur Freed's part. While many executives believed talking pictures to be the thing of the future, others were wary of adding sound. In some ways, the film is a satire of this era but, believe it or not, the sound era did end careers. Lina Lamont is the perfect example: once she opens her mouth, her career is practically doomed.

The film plays up Gene Kelly's strengths as a song-and-dance guy in his performance as Don Lockwood.  Lockwood's partner during his vaudeville days is Cosmo Brown. The two are partners for life. They both move to California and work at Monumental Pictures. Lockwood quickly becomes one of the leading stuntmen and then a leading man in the silent era. Brown heads up the music department during the sound transition.

Further remarks

Thank you for thinking of me in the Sight and Sound poll!