Milan Pavlovic


Voted for

Blade Runner1982Ridley Scott
Mad Max: Fury Road2015George Miller
Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud1995Claude Sautet
New York New York1977Martin Scorsese
No Country for Old Men2007Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
North by Northwest1959Alfred Hitchcock
Once upon a Time in America1983Sergio Leone
The Searchers1956John Ford
Some Like It Hot1959Billy Wilder
The Wild Bunch1969Sam Peckinpah


Blade Runner

1982 USA, Hong Kong

I had just turned 17 in the summer of 1982, putting together the very first edition of the film magazine “Steadycam”, when I skipped school in order to travel to London to see “The Thing” and “Blade Runner” as early as possible. As much as I was shocked by John Carpenter’s FX-extravaganza (it took me years to get it!), I was enlightened and mesmerized by Ridley Scott’s magic. It has never ceased to amaze me, although I think the alterations over the years were only so and so. In a “Milan Cut” I’d keep some of the Off-commentary (especially on the roof!), and the unicorn, of course. Every time I see one of the newer versions, I miss the sun at the end of the original theatrical release. All the same: This film is a unicorn of its own kind.

Mad Max: Fury Road

2015 USA, Australia

42 years ago “Mad Max” was among my first R-rated movies. I didn’t like it. Little did I know how much George Miller’s re-imagining almost four decades later would blow me away. The trick of course being that Max Rockatansky plays second fiddle to Charlize Theron’s majestic Furiosa. She’s not only a great warrior but a character of unexpected depth, too. Driven by her will to gain freedom, buoyed by a pulsating score (by Tom Holkenborg) the film never stops moving, even in the silent moments.

I’ve seen several outstanding movies since 2012, but nothing came close to “Fury Road”, the only new film with the power to make my Top 10.

Nelly & Monsieur Arnaud

1995 France, Italy, Germany

Each year this marvel of a movie keeps growing on me. Many observers prefer the early Sautets, but I see this as the culmination of his work, even better than “Un cœur en hiver” (both with Emmanuelle Béart at her most ravishing). When I was young I always thought (and/or hoped) that one day I’d be able to decipher the films of Michelangelo Antonioni emotionally and intellectually. So far, that has not happened. Instead I got Claude Sautet. Fair trade, I’d say.

New York New York

1977 USA

For more than 30 years Martin Scorsese was my favorite director. And although I fully understand that almost everybody thinks that “Taxi Driver”, “Raging Bull” and "GoodFellas" are his chef d’œuvres, “New York, New York” remains my personal favorite. It taught me (as a kid) a lot about the (mis)communication between men and women. About obsession and compromise, stubbornness and the necessity to let go. I do not think of the film as being hysterical but rather hysterically funny. And tragic. And tender. Which makes the ending even grander.

No Country for Old Men

2007 USA

The first time I laid eyes on this mindbending Neo-Western, I was so enthused that I HAD to call friends in Seattle to inform them what would be coming to them soon: a monolith of a film, simultaneously abstract and matter of fact, very dark yet devilishly funny, down to earth and fantasmagorical. (Or is it -goreical in this case?) It starts with two scenes full of naughty violence which suggest that the Coens may aim for Olympic gold in mayhem. The film actually doesn’t get more violent after that. It gets worse. It gets psychological.

I loved Coen films from the get go, and it is just impossible to say which one is the best. As in 2012 I went for “No Country for Old Men”, by a blade.

I met the brothers twice, by the way, and remember vividly how bored they reacted when I asked them about their favorite Westerns for a “Steadycam”-poll. They just mumbled: “Leone, Leone, Leone”. (Of course they had a point there, but they behaved rude and joyless.) Then again I couldn’t care less about their manners – as long as they put films out like they have for almost 40 years.

North by Northwest

1959 USA

There are more directors with three masterpieces than you might think. There are, of course, fewer members in the club of directors with three home runs in a row. Scorsese has done it THREE times (1976-1980, 86-90 AND 90-93), John Ford (39-41 – four titles!) and Howard Hawks (39-41 – four titles!), Billy Wilder (59-61) and Woody Allen (83-85) at least once; Clint Eastwood and the Coens came close several times, Lubitsch and Ridley Scott once. But no triptych is as perfect as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1-2-3-punch between 1958 and 1960. “Psycho”, which came out last, was no doubt the most influential of that trio. “Vertigo” and “North By Northwest” have always been closer to my heart, though. In 2012 I named “Vertigo”, and I was very happy to see it win the poll. I switched back to “North by Northwest” this time because it is one of the cornerstones of my cinematic upbringing. It whetted my teenager’s appetite to find out how films were made and by whom. The rest (Cary Grant, James Mason, the cropduster, Mount Rushmore, Bernard Herrmann) is history. There are few movies I can watch as often as this one.

Once upon a Time in America

1983 USA, Italy

“Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo”? “C’era una volta il West”? Two marvelous movies, and I’d go so far as to say that “West” is one of probably fifteen films that I’d call perfect. So why is it not on the list? Well, Sergio Leone is to blame, because “America” is among the other 14 perfect films AND still my very favorite movie. As I stick to the rule of not mentioning any director more than once, “the West” is benched, again.

Everyone in “America” is at the top of their game. I’ve even made peace with the casting of Elizabeth McGovern as the grown-up Deborah, Noodles’ great love/dream, a character that was played to perfection at a young age by the luminous Jennifer Connelly. (I am eternally grateful to the makers of “Top Gun: Maverick” for giving her the chance to shine after all those arduous roles.)

The way Leone put this gargantuan story together – with back door exits, mysterious turns, changes of time, mood and speed resonating long after the end – is unique. The sentence “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” must have been invented for Leone's way of dreaming big.

The Searchers

1956 USA

If I had succumbed to the idea of naming a Leone-Western instead of “Once Upon a Time in America” the genre would have been present three times (or rather five, counting the semi-Westerns “No Country for Old Men” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”). I wonder what that says about me, but there is just no way of NOT including John Ford’s Homeric milestone about the loneliness of men and the inability to settle down.

Some Like It Hot

1959 USA

Good comedies walk along the edge of an abyss. Great comedies dance on that edge.

Good comedies have a plan of making people laugh. Great comedies make people forget that such a plan exists.

My favorite comedy dares to make that plan part of the story.

“Some Like it Hot” starts with our two heroes (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) trying to survive. But as soon as they have mastered this first step, the scheming for the jackpot (Marilyn Monroe) begins. What is so brilliant about the structure of “Some Like it Hot” is the fact that the whole film is about improvisation – but behind it all is clever planning and meticulous plotting of the screenwriters (Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond). This is high art, but the writers never look back, breezing to the next punchline. They are so unpretentious that you don’t even have the luxury to be stunned by their inventiveness. My favorite scene is the one on the beach, with Joe/Josephine/Junior (Curtis) making first contact with Sugar (MM), pretending to be the heir of Shell Oil, afraid of all those “shyster lawyers”. Fabulous stuff. I can’t wait to see it again.

The Wild Bunch

1969 USA

Let’s Go. – Why not.

Further remarks

On the surface not much has changed since the 2012 S&S-poll. Except for one movie – the daredevil, white-knuckle madness called “Mad Max: Fury Road”, giving Charlize Theron the role of the decade – all of my films have already appeared either in 2002 or 2012. My favorite directors have stayed the same, even though Martin Scorsese had to vacate his throne for the Coens, and Woody Allen fell off the grid for

the first time… ever! Sadly sidelined as well: Coppola, Cameron, Tarantino, Hawks, Eastwood, Pollack, Pakula, Lean, Kubrick, Nolan, Villeneuve, Visconti, Welles, Melville, Assayas, Audiard, Greengrass...

To name just 10 films really is a sadist’s choice. Which is precisely the reason why we went for a “Catch 22”-limit at “Steadycam”. That would have allowed me to throw in (sticking to the “one film per director”-rule):

“The Godfather Part II” (Coppola, film # 3 with Robert De Niro),

“Chinatown” (Polanski), “The Graduate” (Nichols),

“10” (Edwards), “Groundhog Day” (Ramis), “Midnight Run” (Brest, film # 4 with Robert De Niro),

“The Last of the Mohicans” (Mann), “Le Doulos” (Melville), “Streets of Fire” (Hill),

“The Right Stuff” (Kaufman), “The Dead Zone” (Cronenberg),

“The Purple Rose of Cairo” (Allen)

Plus three shorts: “Toy Story: Hawaiian Vacation”, “Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos” and Tom Tykwer’s “True”.

(Please forgive me for smuggling in additional titles, I just couldn't resist.)

What HAS changed since 2012 isn’t reflected here: I could easily name 10 or 22 TV series that would challenge some of the best movies, starting with the first season of “Fargo”, the third season of “The Crown” and “Babylon Berlin”, the ingenious Bulls-documentary “The Last Dance”, the unique "Ted Lasso" and not stopping with the hilarious (and tragic) “Better Call Saul”. Maybe, just maybe, S&S could come up with a made-for-TV-poll in 2027?