Analytic Vision

Top 10 Stefan Alexandrescu’s favourite FICTION films (part II)

Posted by Ştefan Alexandrescu on 02/09/2011

5. Solyaris (1972)

I wouldn’t have expected Inception to be considered, in film history, better than Andrei Tarkovski’s original adaptation from Stanislav Lem, although I find it not arguably that the latter it is the best SF about the human mind, the human spirit. Its deep message and the deconstruction of reality it brings makes 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 has 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.


4. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

Considered by The Sunday Times THE BEST AMERICAN PICTURE MADE THIS CENTURY, The Bourne Ultimatum is, in my own personal opinion, definitely the best espionage movie ever done. Forget Mission Impossible (all the three series), The Saint, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Alias, 24, The Agency. Forget Alfred Hitchcock’s suspensful 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 movies 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, suspensful, international, it is not only an absolute masterpiece raising Paul Greengrass as one of the greatest American filmmakers, it is the re-structuring of what spy films are. Most recent, 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 Top 250 iMDB.

This CIA spy thriller is the most intelligent you’ve ever seen, only to be equalled maybe by Marathon Man (1976). If you know of another I have not cited, please contradict me.



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 DiDonatello (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 awarded best director: Academy Award, Golden Globe, The Director’s Guild of America, National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle Awards. BAFTA did not have a category for “best director” then, but afterwards the award for best director received has been called “The David Lean award for Best Film Directing”

Alec Guiness has received the Academy Award, the Golden Globe, BAFTA, Golden Globe, 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 the human nature and the futility of war. During WWII, the Japaneze hold British troups prisoner and order them build a bridge for the Burma-Siam railway. Between escape, their mission as soldiers and their role as prisoners, the British have to take a moral decision. Their leader negotiates with the Japanese commmander that they would execute the bridge as British engineers and not as prisoners, therefore 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.


2. Traffic (2000)

Oscar for Best DirectorSteven 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 in a universal drama which 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.


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 for 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, has been nominated at the Sundance International Independent Film Festival for the Grand Jury Prize as best drama in the section 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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One Response to “Top 10 Stefan Alexandrescu’s favourite FICTION films (part II)”

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