best film: pierrot le fou is clearly godard’s most innovative work to date. It’s self-conscious, self-mocking and a brilliant deconstruction of the medium. It’s more than that though because, unlike later godard, it’s wildly visually stylish, appealing, with an uncanny use of color. Yes, it’s narrative anarchy, but it’s eye-poppingly vivid and watchable.
most underrated: I’ve got two here- lumet’s the hill is a masterpiece and yet it can’t find its way onto the consensus top 1000- That’s one of the biggest discrepancies I have with the entire list. Close behind that I have Juliet of the spirits as a top 100 film and TSPDT puts it at #842. I’m at a loss there. Most critics must think of both films as flawed works or even missteps for Fellini and Lumet.
most overrated: I don’t fully understand the love for Bunuel’s simon of the desert (#843). There are some decent ideas there but it’s truncated and half baked. Bunuel didn’t even finish the film and it comes in at 43 minutes.
gem I want to spotlight: polanski’s repulsion isn’t talked about enough by cinephiles. It’s 60/60 on rotten tomatoes. It’s disturbing, atmospheric and showcases an astonishing performance from Deneuve. It’s influenced the horror genre endlessly, aronofsky, amongst others. It’s an ambitious masterpiece.
trends and notables: Breathless in 1960, his debut, may technically be peak godard but he’s dominant in 1965 with not only the best film of the year but two top 10 films which gives him 6 top 10 films of their year in the 1960’s already (with more to come) before he drop off artistically after weekend. Juliet of the spirits is a notable artistic first for Fellini as it’s his first color film. We have firsts from Jane Fonda who is great in cat ballou. She’d go on to be a top-tier actress for the remainder of the decade and the 1970’s. We also have the first archiveable film from the luminous Julie Christie. I’ll mention more on both actresses below. As for directors, we have the first archiveable film for Milos Forman. It’s time to acknowledge some actors and directors on an absolute roll here in 1965. Tony Richardson is on fire in 1965 with his 6th archiveable film since 1959. The pairing of John Frankenheimer and Burt Lancaster would team up again with the train here in 1965 which would be their 3rd collaboration since 1962 (birdman of Alcatraz in 62’ and seven days in may in 1964). Lastly, with thunderball we now have 4 archiveable bond films this decade. It’s more than just a massive box office and cultural impact- it’s making nearly a yearly appearance in the archives of great films.
best performance male: It’s a weak year here- I only have 3 performances I want to spotlight and really two vying for the top spot. Ultimately I chose to go with Jean-Paul Belmondo as the best male performance of the year for his work with Godard and Karina in pierrot. He’s cool, funny, charming and completely free-swinging and arrogant in this odd and extremely difficult role which is reflexive and includes long periods of improvising and reading aloud from a book. It’s Belmondo and impossible to think of anyone else in the role. It’s genius. I was very close to picking Sean Connery’s best career performance in lumet’s the hill. The performance is tough as nails, daunting and punishing. Lastly, I’d like to single out Rod Steiger’s work in doctor zhivago. He’s foremost in all of his scenes—completely commanding.
best performance female: It’s certainly a stronger year for female performances than their male counterparts. The best performance of the year is Juietta Masina in Juliet of the spirits by an eyelash over Catherine Deneuve in repulsion. These two are so frequent on this list (masina in the past and Deneuve in 1964 and going forward). Masina’s journey is a great pairing with Mastroianni’s in fellini’s 8 ½ and as brilliant in quality. Deneuve owns what is a mainly silent performance. She goes from being the best actress in 1964 in a flashy Technicolor musical to a near silent, austere, psychological horror film. Wow. Anna Karina isn’t quite the tour-de-force belmondo is in pierrot but she’s worthy of an honorable mention here. Jane Fonda’s acting confidence and skill is readily apparent in her first archiveable film here in cat ballou. My last two slots are both taken by Julie Christie. What a year for Christie. She won the oscar for darling and she’s very good here but she’s even better in doctor zhivago. David Lean did exactly what he did in Lawrence with Peter O’Toole with his casting here of Christie.
- Pierrot le Fou
- Juliet of the Spirits
- The Hill
- Doctor Zhivago
- For a Few Dollars More
- Chimes at Midnight
- The Sound of Music
- Le Bonheur
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|A Patch of Blue||R|
|A Thousand Clowns||R|
|Bunny Lake is Missing- Preminger||R|
|Chimes at Midnight- Welles||HR|
|Doctor Zhivago- Lean||MP|
|Fist In the Pocket||R|
|For a Few Dollars More- Leone||MS|
|In Harm’s Way- Preminger||R|
|Juliet of the Spirits- Fellini||MP|
|Le Bonheur- Varda||HR/R|
|Loves of a Blonde- Forman|
|Mickey One- Penn||R|
|Pierrot le Fou- Godard||MP|
|Red Beard- Kurosawa||R|
|Ship of Fools- Kramer||R|
|Simon of the Desert- Bunuel||R|
|The Agony and the Ecstasy- C. Reed||R|
|The Cincinnati Kid- Jewison||R|
|The Collector- Wyler||R|
|The Flight of the Phoenix- Aldrich||R|
|The Great Race- Edwards||R|
|The Hill- Lumet||MP|
|The Ipcress File||R|
|The Loved One- Richardson|
|The Sons of Katie Elders- Hathaway||R|
|The Sound of Music- Wise||HR|
|The Spy Who Came In From the Cold|
|The Train- Frankenheimer|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives