Lists (#110 of 104)

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2016 Numbers #25-#50 and Individual Ballots

Comments Comments (...)

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2016

Paramount Pictures

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2016

From Clayton Dillard's introduction to Slant Magazine's Top 25 Films of 2016: “Celebrating great art amid the transition to political catastrophe can feel like, to paraphrase the title of poet Ocean Vuong's recent collection, a moonlit sky with exit wounds. But the phlegm of post-truths shouldn't get caught in our throats, let alone our eyes and ears, because films from across the globe continue to present a portrait of resilience in the face of international turmoil.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors' individual ballots.

The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked

Comments Comments (...)

The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked
The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked

Finding the crux of a Pedro Almodóvar film is not unlike asking how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. In each case, the supposed science of the issue at hand is often short-circuited by impatience. Lest the comparison seem too glib, Almodóvar's entire filmography is, to varying degrees, about the performance of taste, where characters often relate to one another not through their minds, but through their fingers, eyes, and teeth. Sweet tooths are more than a matter of dental hygiene; they're a means of defining personal placement within the broader spectrum of vivid characters and self-serving interests. The bright color scheme of Almodóvar's mise-en-scène redoubles these matters by problematizing realism as a dissenting faction amid otherwise psychologically defined characters, whose motivations are typically for sustenance of a rather short-order sort. On that note, Almodóvar's oeuvre, and the characters that comprise it, can perhaps be best summarized by Carmen Maura's character in Matador, who says near the film's end: “Some things are beyond reason. This is one of them.”

The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

Comments Comments (...)

The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

Rialto Pictures

The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

During the closing moments of John Carpenter's They Live, a sound collage of news readers and media pundits is unfurled, one of them indignantly blasting the low culture wrought by the likes of George A. Romero and Carpenter himself. It was a none-too-subtle in-joke for fans, but also a gesture of respect, one craftsman tipping his hat to his peer across the aisle. Had the speaker continued, he might easily have spoken the name of Paul Verhoeven, whose U.S. tour of duty resulted in several of the highest-profile and least respected films of their day.

Verhoeven signed his name to at least two VCR classics (RoboCop and Total Recall), one bona-fide game changer that dominated media and water-cooler conversations for months on end (Basic Instinct), and one certified turkey (Showgirls) whose fate may still be undetermined. While his stock rose and fell several times during his volatile tenure as a Hollywood auteur, his films rarely failed to provoke excitement and contention; only the bookends (Flesh+Blood in 1985, Hollow Man in 2000) fail to contribute to the tsunami.

Verhoeven didn't just arrive in America a fully formed auteur director; he began making features that way, arriving at his feature directorial debut, Business Is Business, equipped with a favorite set of progressive themes and a flair for instilling even small moments with a swaggering, ramshackle kineticism. Most movie buffs will now associate his name only with rank sensationalism—bare breasts and broken bones—and it isn't as if he would decline the honor. But filmed depictions of sex and violence don't exist within Verhoeven's purview exclusively. What we may have been responding to was the casualness, bordering on grinning impertinence, with which he deployed images designed to titillate or shock. A girl in Turkish Delight lops off the top of a banana before using a spoon to extract the meat. Verhoeven goes after your nervous system the same way: Why peel?

In honor of Film Society of Lincoln Center's complete retrospective of Paul Verhoeven's work, running from November 9—23, we ranked the Dutch filmmaker's films from worst to best.

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

Comments Comments (...)

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

You may differ on the relative greatness of the Toy Story films, but it's pretty obvious that Pixar's 17th full-length feature, Finding Dory, is the studio's best sequel that doesn't feature characters named Woody and Buzz. Before catching up with the adventures of Dory, Marlin, and Nemo, join us in revisiting the Pixar canon, ranked from worst to best.

The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles

Comments Comments (...)

The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles
The 20 Greatest David Bowie Singles

If any single thread connected David Bowie's now sadly completed half century-long musical journey, it was irrepressible restlessness. Bowie never, ever stopped exploring new musical avenues, which has historically been interpreted in one of two ways: that he was rock's ultimate chameleon, refusing to be contented with any past success and constantly pushing himself to reach new heights, or that he was a shallow trend-hopping whore who parlayed a keen ear for ever-shifting popular music trends into commercial success.

If it's ever permissible to call pop artists geniuses, then Bowie is indubitably among them; the fact that he managed to remain a giant of popular culture for decades while completely overhauling his sound every few years is a testament to that. To dismiss him as a mere copycat would be like calling the Boeing 747 a piece of hackwork because the Wright brothers existed. Marc Bolan may have been wearing makeup and playing glammy guitar first, but he didn't come up with the invention that was Ziggy Stardust. Kraftwerk may have pioneered the cold, cerebral electronic aesthetic that influenced Bowie during his Berlin period, but they never wrote “Heroes.”

These 20 singles, not all of them chart hits, but invariably essential entries in the rock canon, span from Bowie's first iconic song to enter the public consciousness in 1969 to the remarkable title track from his just barely pre-posthumous swan song, Blackstar, thus proving that his quest to turn and face the strange never ceased so long as there was a breath left in him. Jeremy Winograd

Every Episode of Hannibal Ranked

Comments Comments (...)

Every Episode of Hannibal Ranked

NBC

Every Episode of Hannibal Ranked

NBC's Hannibal ran for three seasons, but its concept called for at least twice as many. Undertaking a freeform adaptation of author Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter saga, producer Bryan Fuller crocheted 39 episodes out of Will Graham's involvement with modern crime fiction's most notable maneater without once mentioning the iconic Clarice Starling. In short, the result of the NBC severance was a bridge that reached not quite halfway across the river before being rudely interrupted by lack of funds. Happily, the unfinished symphony yielded great beauty.

In ranking all 39 episodes, the rich, once-in-a-lifetime series leads one down several paths. What's the most fascinating aspect? Fuller's fruitfully complex relationship with the source material, switching from solemnly pious to manically freestyle (even openly rebellious) at the drop of a hat? An equally complex study in the dynamic relationship between auteur (and not-so-auteur) directors and a showrunner who needs a stable of weirdly brilliant minds to realize his epic vision? The show's evolution from vague Mentalist retread—possibly a canny bit of misdirection on Fuller's part—to the grandest opera dedicated to the destructive infatuation shared by two men ever to air on network television?

Or is it simply about the story, meat and potatoes, and nothing more? Does the series rise and fall based on how tunefully a given episode renders the ballad of Will (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen)? In truth, all these concerns factor into a 39-episode ranking, to a degree that Hannibal makes for a solid, encyclopedic study of the different ways we experience pleasure (or displeasure) with episodic television drama. This ranking will endeavor to adhere to a rough calculus, weighing the complex pleasures from one episode to the next. In preparation, I revisited every episode, in its established order, but also checked in with a selection of isolated scenes, quiet and loud alike.

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2015 Numbers #25-#50 and Individual Ballots

Comments Comments (...)

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2015

Sundance Selects

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2015

From James Lattimers's introduction to Slant Magazine's Top 25 Films of 2015: “The wonderful thing about cinema is how it resists easy ordering principles. Once you start thinking about the movies you've seen, they automatically blur into one, a glorious procession of images, sensations, and recollections that is itself like escaping into the darkness of the auditorium. Yet this quality becomes a hindrance as soon as you need to pick out individual films from the flow: Which film did I see at which time and how did it make me feel both now and then? How we consume films today makes things even harder, as both the proliferation of film festivals, themed programs, and retrospectives in New York and beyond and the wealth of Blu-ray editions and streaming options actively encourage us to think boundless.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors' individual ballots. Happy reading.

15 Famous Mars Movies

Comments Comments (...)

15 Famous Mars Movies
15 Famous Mars Movies

In one of two blockbuster adaptations to showcase his shining star this year (the other being the inexplicable feature-length translation of a little game called Battleship), Taylor Kitsch leads the weekend as the title character in John Carter, leaping miles in a single bound and surely climbing the box-office charts too. John Carter's action, of course, unfolds on Mars, Earth's ever-cinematic neighbor. What other films have seen their heroes roam the red landscape or tussle with its residents? From buddy comedies to creature features to—wait for it—holiday fare, turns out there are quite a few.

Through the Years Madonna’s "Vogue" at 25

Comments Comments (...)

Through the Years: Madonna’s "Vogue" at 25
Through the Years: Madonna’s "Vogue" at 25

A sample of Madonna's 1990 hit “Vogue” inexplicably appears two-thirds of the way through the sexually charged “Holy Water,” a track from the singer's new album, Rebel Heart. Previously, Madonna erupted into the song's refrain at the end of her 1992 single “Deeper and Deeper,” and it's perhaps a testament to the euphoric spirit of “Vogue” that she seemed compelled to reference it at these climactic moments. Released 25 years ago tomorrow, “Vogue” wasn't just a hit single; it was a cultural phenomenon. Ironically, no other song better exemplifies both Madonna's influence on pop culture and the accusations of appropriation that have been lobbed at her over the years. The track, produced by Shep Pettibone, is at once a musical map of disco, shamelessly ripping MFSB's “Love Is the Message” and Salsoul Orchestra's “Ooh, I Love It (Love Break),” and an enduring prototype of its own, spawning countless copycats and spoofs in the early '90s and inspiring covers by more contemporary acolytes like Britney Spears, Rihanna, and Katy Perry. Like the Harlem drag balls that inspired it, “Vogue” is about presentation, and unlike, say, “Like a Virgin,” the queen of reinvention has found little need to fuss with perfection. Sal Cinquemani

The Films of David Cronenberg Ranked From Worst to Best

Comments Comments (...)

The Films of David Cronenberg Ranked From Worst to Best
The Films of David Cronenberg Ranked From Worst to Best

David Cronenberg's films don't age. This is incredible when one considers the range and speculative nature of the material that often attracts the director, particularly during the first half of his career. Many low-budget 1970s and 1980s genre films are quaint now, but the years haven't diluted Cronenberg's early “body horror” films one iota, and, in many cases, time has intensified their outrage, which mixes the visceral with the cerebral in a fashion that's distinct to the filmmaker. Cronenberg has subsequently worked in every genre, save, arguably, for comedy, though his films are reliably informed by a subterranean strain of mordant humor. He's adapted a handful of notably subjective novels thought to be “un-filmable,” and he's consistently wrestled with defiantly alienating subjects, often associated ambiguously with unconventional sex.

This agelessness springs from an uncommon authorial focus, directness and clarity, which is reflected by the films' deceptively unfussy, nearly sculptural mise-en-scène (honed in significant part with a group of longtime collaborators). Cronenberg rarely strains for melodrama, never leans too heavily on the score when silence or diegetic noise will more effectively establish emotion or mood. The director never approaches shocking material as if it's shocking, and this casually intellectual need to explore something, while reserving judgment in a manner that's analytical yet human, is the very center of his cinema. Cronenberg's greatest accomplishment, though, may be the mystery that tinges all of his films, which still, for all their thematic ambition, ultimately possess an element of unknowability. The weird pull of these films can be attributed to a contradiction: They're the work of a literalist who's determined to plumb the figurative.