I’m a compulsive. It’s no surprise that my list is full of movies about compulsion. Whether it’s a man who must play God in his relationship, casting his beloved in an image of his design, or a guy who can’t stop working, whoring, and drugging, I find myself drawn to depictions of people trying to find order in chaos. I’ve discovered this has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. When I dug up my 2002 list of this type, I shuffled the order and kept eight of the titles. I dropped the most emotional and the most rigorously organized movies, replacing them with films that were twice as organized and emotional. By this rationale, I’ll drop four movies in 2022 and be driven bat-shit insane looking for replacements.
This isn’t a list of my favorite movies, though two of these would appear on that list. This is a list of movies that profoundly affected me more than any others. With that said, a caveat is in order: Movie lists always inspire grouchy comments reflecting what a person felt should have been on them. Let me stop you now. You have no say in what should or shouldn’t be here because you are not me. Thank your lucky stars for that.
10. All That Jazz (Bob Fosse, 1979). Bob Fosse shaped 8 ½ to his specifications, but for me, what elevates this over Federico Fellini’s classic is that it’s a musical. All That Jazz is alive with music, and not just on the soundtrack. Its Oscar-winning edits riff like the jazz of its title, its pace as offbeat as its subject’s choreography. Joe Gideon is a brilliant creation. He’s frustrating, egotistical, and compulsively leaning toward self-destruction—just like Fosse. There’s beauty in his chaos, but also a dire warning that Gideon’’s doppelganger didn’t heed: You can work yourself to death for art, but sometimes it’s better if the show does not go on.