best film: Apocalypse Now is a monster. Over the years it’s been creeping up the list on the TSPDT and Sight and Sound top 100 (currently at #11 and #14). I’ve had it as the best or second best film for nearly 20 years. Badlands, Terrence Malick’s debut film,  is also a masterpiece, as is Scorsese’s The Departed but frankly even those two can’t sniff Apocalypse Now.

best performance:  Apocalypse Now. Francis Ford Coppola shot much of Apocalypse Now with Harvey Keitel and then went back and redid it with Sheen. Keitel is a marvelous actor but I can’t imagine him topping Sheen here. The voice over is impeccable. The stare—Keitel didn’t have that. The breakdown in the opening (Sheen himself struggling with alcoholism) isn’t fake- it’s not acting- it’s real. It’s a towering tour-de-force performance in the second greatest film of all-time. It’s tough to calibrate and award points for that on a list like this.

stylistic innovations/traits: Sheen doesn’t have the depth in his filmography to be in the company he’s in (Duvall two slots ago, etc) but almost no actors have a performance like Sheen does in Apocalypse Now. Even then I think Sheen would be easier to write off if it weren’t also brilliant in another 1970’s masterpiece: Badlands. It makes it hard to just say Coppola got one hell of a fluke of a performance out of him. The rest of his career (in cinema) has been pretty mediocre. He’s great in his few scenes in Wall Street (it takes a hell of an actor to give a throat punch to Michael Douglas when he’s on the roll he is in that movie/character) but that’s about it.

directors worked with:   Nobody more than once. Those he worked with once include Francis Ford Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg (that’s a nice start), Malick (yes), Cronenberg, Mike Nichols, Oliver Stone.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Apocalypse Now
  2. Badlands
  3. Wall Street
  4. The Dead Zone
  5. The Departed

Archiveable films

1970- Catch 22
1973- Badlands
1979- Apocalypse Now
1982- Gandhi
1983- The Dead Zone
1987- Wall Street
2002- Catch Me If You Can
2006- The Departed
2014- Selma