In the 100+ years of movie making there have been some really good ones made and so I felt the responsibility to share some of the good ones, the classics, the movies you really should watch.
So get a cup of coffee, a tea or something else to drink and join me in this short journey of movies from the 20s and onwards.
Are you ready? Do you have something to drink and are you sitting relaxed, OK then lets start.
Nosferatu or Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauen, horror, 1922
This is a silent film in black and white or maybe that is superfluous to mention. The first adaption of the Dracula novel by Bram Stoker, or the first one I know of as there might have been others.
Why is it not called Dracula, well for the simple fact that it was not an authorized adaption and so Count Orlok (he is the main protagonist) was born and Dracula put to the homeopathic stake as it were.
It is a German expressionist movie of the finest kind. Don’t let the age scare you, this is a movie that still holds its ground and is very enjoyable to watch. You follow the evil and grim looking Count Orlok on his adventures. I am sure you have read Dracula or seen another movie adaption of the novel so I will not tell it in detail.
The movie is partly filmed outdoors and that was not really the standard for the 20s, giving the movie some bonus points right from the start.
The scenes are very expressive, playing with shadows in a way that is truly impressive for a movie that came out so early. Of course there are some things that a modern movie watcher will find funny and of course the acting will be one of them.
As this is a silent movie the acting had to be grand, bigger then life, in other words it is overplaying in most severe way. However if you give the movie a chance and do not watch it as a modern film then you will not get irritated by the acting.
If you like horror movies this is one movie that you have to watch and pay especial attention how well they have managed to create horror scenes without changing the camera 200 times in 5 seconds, like modern movies like to do to create tempo or hide a failing script.
In my book this movie is worth the highest grade, which in my case will be a 5.
Rififi, film noir, 1955
Welcome to the 50s and welcome to a movie genre where playing with shadows were very important, I am of course talking about film noir.
There are several really good movies in this genre but i have chosen this French movie from the 50s as a movie to watch.
The story is centered around a robbery committed by four harden criminals with the aging Tony “le Stéphanois” taking the main lead. He is just out of prison and we follow him and some other characters as they do a heist with all the problems that can involve before, under and after the fact. The story is played out with a realistic feeling that makes this movie feel much more modern than most other movies from that time.
There are several things that this movie manage to do with excellence. How the director manage to work with the scenes and shadows is really beautiful to see. There is a dance scene in a bar, where you only see the dancers silhouetted, impressive and joyful to see how you create much form actually very little. Another great scene you can see when they are commit the robbery. The director manage to create suspense without any dialogue or music whatsoever, impressive is the word that comes to mind.
I also like the rather harsh and brutal way they show the protagonists in the movie, they are not really sugarcoated at all which works very good with this movie.
There are many good film noir movies and among the top 5 I would put this one. Just watch this movie and then watch the Black Dahlia from 2006. You will be able to see an old movie doing almost everything right and a newer movie failing on almost every account.
Rififi, a film noir movie to watch. Were men were men, women were women and your life expectancy weren’t very long, giving this movie a top grade.
Lincoln, biographica, 2012
This movie is a bit of a dark horse in this list as it is not what I would call a pure classic, but it has the elements of one. The movie is about Abraham Lincolns bid to get emancipation of slavery pushed through congress. This is not as easy with great opposition, to this bill, against the ongoing civil war and problems with his family.
The movie has an engaging story, it is nicely filmed but that by itself does not make this movie float up to the celestial place of classical movies. However the performance of Daniel Day-Lewis is a real treat to see. He nails the character with his body language, how he says his lines and how he manage to bring that together to a awesome preformance.
It is seldom that I see a movie that manage only one thing really good and that by itself raises the movie out of the mud of commonplace, but this movie is the exception to that rule of mine.
However to get the highest grades a movie, in my eyes, really have to manage most, if not all, of the parts that makes the film into what it is. How the scenes are shot, how the story is told, managing the tempo of the movie to work with the story and so on.
This movie does not really hit the spot on all of those points and that is why this movie will not get the highest grade. Instead it will have a 4 and that grade is based almost solely on the performance of Daniel Day-Lewis with an extra nudge from Sally Field.
So here you have 3 movies to watch. Jump between the decades and enjoy the different things they can bring to you but with one thing in common. They manage to bring a story to life, and that is what a good movie should do, in my small and humble opinion that is.