The main group from “Perks of Being a Wallflower”

My 100 Favorite Films: 60–51

This is an ongoing piece where I rank my 100 favorite films of all time.

Welcome to the on-going countdown of my 100 favorite films! This is for 60 through 51. If you are looking for previous posts, just click on the grouping you would want to see: 100 to 91, 90 to 81, 80 to 71, and 70 to 61.

60. L’Avventura (1960)

The first of a trilogy on “modernity and its discontents”, L’Avventura is a polarizing film. Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni — who developed the story and co-wrote the screenplay — the film follows Claudia (Monica Vitti) and Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) after their friend disappears after a trip on the ocean. The two develop a relationship, despite their relationship with their missing friend: Claudia is her friend and Sandro is her boyfriend.

Many find the film’s pacing — slow but deliberate — troublesome. The opening scenes include the trip out on the ocean, where the disappearance occurs. What follows is a lot of standing and talking, peppered in with moody performances. The film has no direct plot. More so, it’s about how their friend’s disappearance changes Claudia and Sandro.

A breakdown of L’Avventura’s mystery

Action packed fan? Stay away. But, I love a great character study. L’Avventura is among the best. Antonioni directs with a clear vision in mind, and the film interestingly digs deep into the these two lives and they develop after a horrible event. Plus, the film introduced me to actress Monica Vitti, who absolutely is among the best things about L’Avventura. I went more in-depth here.

59. Fantasia (1940)

Again, a film really about nothing.

Fantasia is a Disney class. Filled with well-known pieces of classical music and memorable animation, Fantasia is a fabulous stepping stone into the world of music and animation. The film consists of eight animated shorts, each with their own unique identity. Animated in varying fashions, the scenes are paired with a piece from a classical music giant: Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky. This film was a repeat viewing as a kid, and the scenes are equally as re-watchable on YouTube.

The music from Fantasia’s most memorable scene

There is not a ton of deep thinking going on with Fantasia. Watching as a kid, Fantasia captured my imagination. It brought to life the animated characters dancing to the certain scores. Once a little older, I started seeking out more about the music. Despite the film being shorts, there is a lot to appreciate and love about Fantasia.

58. The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

Reading the list of people attached to The Strawberry Blonde, I wonder how this is not a more recognizable film!? Directed by Raoul Walsh, the film stars James Cagney, Rita Hayworth and Olivia de Havilland. The film is a forgotten, fun Hollywood flick that has a sweet story attached.

Cagney plays “Biff” an angry man who appreciates little in life. Still mad about his first love (Hayworth) marrying his friend, he soon realizes that his wife (de Havilland) was the right person to marry — and being bitter about losing your first love is not worthy of holding a grudge.

Cagney and de Havilland

This was the first film in which I watched Cagney go against his usual gangster type. He still has a mean streak about him, but his character has a softer side. He shines in the role, as does de Havilland. The film’s non-linear storytelling can be a challenge, but the characters (and story) are too sweet and enjoyable. Add in the Oscar nominated music and The Strawberry Blonde is worth seeking out.

57. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Having a film with Marilyn Monroe in my top 100 is a little weird. Her acting abilities are straight-up annoying, and I have never been a fan. However, Some Like It Hot puts Monroe in the backseat. Its stars — Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis — absolutely dominate the film. They have performances that will last a lifetime.

Some Like It Hot is about Lemmon and Curtis’ characters dressing in drag to escape being caught up with the mafia. The events following are comedic gold. Co-written and directed by Billy Wilder, the film was met with criticism from Motion Picture Production Code for its cross-dressing characters and “playing” with the idea of homosexuality.

Hogwash. The film is a fun, entertaining buddy film. Lemmon and Curtis are sensational; the two together are a match made in heaven. The Monroe scenes are…fine. She’s not great, but it’s a passable performance. It’s a silly film that is anchored by two giant comedic performances.

56. The Lion King (1994)

What’s there to say about The Lion King that has been said?

Perhaps one of the greatest animated films of all time, The Lion King emerged from Disney’s Renaissance period — the name given to the success Disney had in the 1990s — and has lived a successful film life. It hits the important themes of family and friendship, with doing so with animation style. The vocal talent — Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Moira Kelly, Jeremy Irons — are memorable and provide unique traits to their animated counterparts.

The opening is still a favorite

The main selling point of The Lion King is the music. Beautifully composed and performed, the soundtrack for this film is just as good as the film. The songs are melodic and powerful. There is nothing not to like about this Disney classic.

55. Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

I hated this book. Recommended to me in high school, I read it with huge disappointment. When the film was released, I made sure to it avoid at all costs. But, curiosity got the best of me. Thank the film gods for intervening.

Written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, the author the book, the film stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller and Mae Whitman. The coming-of-age story is done to near perfection, as it follows the lives of high school misfits coming together and learning about the importance of romance and friendship.

Watching the film now, it exists of a reminder of how and why high school was a great time of my life. Going to school with over 4,000 students, friends could be found — no matter who you were or what you enjoyed. The film conjures fond memories of high school that mirror the characters in the film. The performances are outstanding, especially Ezra Miller’s. The film is a must watch just to see his performance.

Don’t read the book; watch the movie. How often is that said?

54. Blue is the Warmest Color (2013)

Caution: this is extremely polarizing.

Whereas L’Avventura is polarizing because some are bored by the and don’t call it great, Blue is the Warmest Color features polarizing material. The film, directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, stars Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. The film, another coming-of-age story, showcases the relationship between Emma (Seydoux) and Adèle (Exarchopoulos). Blue is the Warmest Color features graphic sex scenes, and the two stars later complained of the horrible on-set conditions. This is not a film for everyone.

However, sex scenes aside, Blue is the Warmest Color one of the best acted and developed coming-of-age stories on film. Seydoux and Exarchopoulos are sensational as conflicted lovers, women and humans in today’s ever-changing world. The film touches on themes of sexuality and class structure, as well as the bond between two friends. Kechiche does not shy away from any topic, and the raw, realistic story is met with lush direction.

So much great acting!

I touched on the film more in a post of its own.

53. Viridiana (1961)

I love a film that challenges. Whether that be the viewer, culture or filmmaking itself, it always amazes me when you see something rarely done in a film.

Luis Buñuel does so in Viridiana, which was banned in Spain throughout the film’s first years of existence. Starring Silvia Pinal, Francisco Rabal and Fernando Rey, Viridiana is a tough tell of family and faith.

Viridiana (Pinal) is taken to her uncle’s as his only living family member. There, he realizes how his niece closely resembles his dead wife. He asks Viridiana to wear his dead wife’s wedding dress and to marry him. She refuses; the uncle decides (but stops himself) from raping her. The next day, the uncle informs her she cannot go back since he had raped her, only to confess otherwise. The uncle hangs himself and the property is handed down to Viridiana.

For the rest of the film, Viridiana is unsure how to process and proceed with her life. The events that transpired challenge her faith and who she loves and trusts. The film continues to challenge faith and belief, ending on a scene that disgusted the Spanish film board. Buñuel is unapologetic about the challenges of faith in the modern day. He digs deeper in these issues head on and with memorable performances from its lead actors.

Viridiana is a shocker and a must watch.

52. Rope (1948)

Psycho is important and great, but Rope is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film. Based on the true story, Rope stars Jimmy Stewart, Joan Chandler, John Dall and Farley Granger. The premise is simple: two young men plan the perfect crime. They murder a former classmate, as an “intellectual challenge”. When they hide the body in their apartment, they host a dinner party. But, the pressure of hiding a body grows and they began to worry the guests will find out.

Edited in “real time” and to appear as one continuous shot, Rope is 80 minutes of suspense and tension. It’s Hitchcock at his best. The film features fun, memorable performances. But what is really noticeable is Hitchcock’s genius. Camera shots were planned out and the set was designed to make way for the movement of cameras and microphones. It was a challenge for Hitchcock to film, but his work, along with the other crew members, paid off.

I delved deeper into Rope’s production here.

51. Grease (1978)

Grease lightning!

Is this the greatest musical ever made? It’s hard to say, but its a film filled with songs that are pure jams. From the opening number to the last one, Grease has music that had me singing long after the movie was over.

Starring John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Jeff Conway and Stockard Channing, Grease is the typical high school story of friendship and relationships. Set in the 1950s, Grease possesses a nostalgia quality about the era — which can be dangerous. The film pulls it off with humor and music.

The theme — done with animation — oozes cool

There’s some cheesy acting and situations, but the film is anchored by the on-screen chemistry of its leads: Travolta and Newton-John. They are a romance we root for and hope for the happy ending they deserve. Watching their relationship progress, the audience meets with a host of colorful characters and songs. It’s not a technically superb film, but it’s one that dominates pop culture. These films— like the Marvel films of today — are just as important to the story of film. And you can’t have more fun than with Grease.

I dare you not to sing along.

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Alex Bauer

Alex Bauer

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Just a guy who likes telling great stories, however and whenever I can. Click the Twitter icon to follow or e-mail me at ambauer93@gmail.com