5. Solyaris (1972)
I wouldn’t have expected Inception to be considered, in film history, better than Andrei Tarkovsky’s original adaptation from Stanislav Lem. However, I find it not arguable that the latter is the best SF about the human mind, the human spirit. Its profound message and the deconstruction of reality it brings make it, for me, the greatest Science Fiction ever made. Yes, better than Kubrick’s movies. The brilliant ending has one of the most striking, stunning visual messages ever delivered in film history.
Andrei Tarkovski received at the Cannes International Film Festival in 1972 the FIPRESCI Award, The Grand Prize of the Jury, and has been nominated for Palme d’Or.
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4. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
Considered by The Sunday Times THE BEST AMERICAN PICTURE MADE THIS CENTURY, The Bourne Ultimatum is, in my opinion, the best espionage movie ever done. Forget Mission Impossible (all three series), The Saint, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Alias, 24, and The Agency. Forget Alfred Hitchcock’s suspenseful spy thrillers. Forget about the Robert Redford spy thrillers (Three Days of the Condor, All the President’s Men, A Bridge too Far, Sneakers, Spy Game). Forget all the James Bond, Jack Ryan, and all four Nikita (French, Canadian, and 2 American) films. Forget about the most recent Enigma (2001), Munich (2005), Syriana (2005), and Rendition (2007). Forget the other Bourne movies.
It is time to see (if you haven’t) the best espionage film made this century. The trilogy started with The Bourne Identity (a mediocre film), continued with The Bourne Supremacy (a solid espionage movie), this second adaptation after Robert Ludlum’s novels (after the film from the ’80s), ends with Paul Greengrass’ The Bourne Ultimatum. The intrigue is centered on Bourne’s identity and the core moral choices that a spy must make. Intelligent, suspenseful, and international, it is not only an absolute masterpiece raising Paul Greengrass as one of the greatest American filmmakers, but it is also the restructuring of what spy films are. Most recently, Hanna (2011), Salt (2010), and Body of Lies (2008) are clearly inspired by the new way of making espionage thrillers work.
Three Oscars. 2 BAFTAS (+4 other nominations, including best film and best director). Another 13 wins and 22 nominations. Nr. 177 in the Top 250 IMDb.
This CIA spy thriller is the most intelligent you’ve ever seen, only to be equaled by Marathon Man (1976). If you know of another I have not cited, please contradict me.
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3. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Considered ONE OF THE BEST WAR FILMS EVER MADE, it won 7 Oscars (best picture, best directing, best leading actor, best-adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Music), 4 BAFTAs, 3 Golden Globes, and 13 other Awards.
Considered BEST FILM (awarded): Academy Award, Golden Globe, David di Donatello (best foreign picture), 2 BAFTA (!!!)(Best British Film and Best Film from Any Source), National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.
David Lean was awarded the best director: Academy Award, Golden Globe, The Director’s Guild of America, National Board of Review, and New York Film Critics Circle Awards. BAFTA did not have a category for “best director” then, but afterward, the award for best director received was called “The David Lean Award for Best Film Directing.”
Alec Guiness has received the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, BAFTA the Golden Globe, the National Board of Review, and the New York Film Critics Circle Awards.
The Screenplay written by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson based upon Pierre Boulle’s novel has received: Academy Award and BAFTA. In those days, Golden Globes did not have a category for screenplays.
Nr. 86 in Top 250 IMDb.
A satire and a tragedy about human nature and the futility of war. During WWII, the Japanese hold British troops prisoner and ordered them to build a bridge for the Burma-Siam railway. Between escape, their mission as soldiers, and their role as prisoners, the British have to make a moral decision. Their leader negotiates with the Japanese commander that they would execute the bridge as British engineers and not as prisoners, working together for a higher purpose. To me, it is the greatest war film that was ever made. I must repeat myself, the brilliant ending has one of the most striking, stunning visual messages ever delivered in film history.
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2. Traffic (2000)
Oscar for Best Director: Steven Soderbergh (+nomination for Golden Berlin Bear+ Satellite Award, +15 other awards for Best Film Director, +5 other nominations, including BAFTA and Golden Globe), Best Adapted Screenplay: Stephen Gaghan (+BAFTA award, +Golden Globe,+Writer’s Guild of America Award, +), Best Supporting Actor: Benicio Del Toro (+Silver Berlin Bear,+BAFTA Award, +Golden Globe, +Screen Actors’ Guild Award), Best Editing: Stephen Mirrione. Nominated at Academy Awards and Golden Globes for Best Picture (unfairly, in my opinion), lost to Gladiator. Satellite Award for best picture of 2000. Other 8 national & international awards for Best Picture and 11 other nominations for Best Picture. Other actors awarded or nominated for individual performances: Don Cheadle, Erika Christensen (2 awards+2 nominations), Topher Grace, Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones (including Golden Globe). The list just goes on and on… Check it for yourself here.
This docudrama has been advertised as a suspense/action movie based on the original thrilling mini-series Traffik (1989). But the brilliant Stephen Gaghan (also the acclaimed writer and director of Oscar and multi-award-winning Syriana) transforms the story into a universal drama that gets you in the middle of the problem without ever presenting hope for change or the real causes or the whole mechanism. “Traffic” is not THE movie about drug trafficking, but it is one of the BEST films on this topic ever made. It is not just a perfect movie; it is one of the best docudramas made in the XXth Century.
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1. Ostrov (2006)
A Russian monk hunted by his past in the 2nd World War becomes known as a prophet at a monastery on an island. People seek his help, fear him, or envy him. This movie is one of the best Orthodox films I have seen. It well deserves to be compared with Tarkovski’s masterpieces.
Pavel Lunghin’s film has received the Crystal Simorgh Award for best film in the Competition of Spiritual Cinema at the Fajr Film Festival. In addition, it has been nominated at the Sundance International Independent Film Festival for the Grand Jury Prize as the best drama in the section of World Cinema.
The NIKA Awards (“The Russian Oscars”) for best film, best director, best actor (Pyotr Mamonov ), Best Supporting Actor (Viktor Sukhorukov), best cinematography (Andrei Zhegalov), and Best Sound (Stéphane Albinet, Vladimir Litrovnik, and Stepan Bogdanov)
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