Von Trier. The Dogme95 movement is an important movement in the story of realism in cinema and von Trier is the central figure. I have Breaking the Waves as the best film of the 1990’s. Obviously that has a huge impact on my list here but he’s far from being a one-hit wonder. However controversial he may be, I don’t think his talent as an artist can be argued. Is there any other great auteur as polarizing to critics? Perhaps David Lynch. Anyways, von Trier is certainly a “style-plus” director even if I hope he beefs up his filmography yet as he hits his sixties.

great imagery here from Dancer in the Dark – recalls Wenders’ Kings of the Road a bit

Best film:   Breaking the Waves. It doesn’t have a huge lead on Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction for tops on my 1990’s decade list but I remain comfortable with this film as the best. It’s an amazing achievement.

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from Breaking the Waves – narrative through powerful imagery

total archiveable films: 8

top 100 films: 1 (Breaking the Waves)

top 500 films: 2 (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark)

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the formal rigor here– the stunningly beautiful chapter breaks in Breaking the Waves

top 100 films of the decade: 3 (Breaking the Waves, Dancer in the Dark, Melancholia)

most overrated:   The Idiots– #745 all-time on TSPDT.  I’ve only seen it once and will see it again but this rating blows me away. Controversial content doesn’t bother me so it wasn’t that I was offended by this movie (which is intensely offensive— and not hilariously so like Borat or anything). I just found the style to be flat- and that’s just about the worst thing I can say about a film on a list/project like this. Like I said, I’ll check it out again but liking him because he’s a provocateur isn’t something that interests me just as I don’t dislike him for that reason— the art has to be there.

most underrated:  AntichristDancer in the Dark is starting to get the full recognition it deserves (Breaking the Waves has long been acknowledged and Melancholia will be there too) so I’m left select his next best work­– Antichrist which has not had the artistic revival yet it deserves and was largely panned when it came out (49 on metacritic).

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Antichrist is gorgeous– brazen avant-garde wall-art shot here

gem I want to spotlight:  Melancholia. This film was very important for von Trier. Having that third film as a major achievement (though since it’s 2013 I’m not counting it on the ranking yet) could set apart from many on this list.

a stunner from Melancholia
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one of the strongest films of the 2010’s- Melancholia

stylistic innovations/traits:   Von trier is an arch provocateur, anti-American, and certainly avant-garde. He’s also an irrefutably spectacular auteur despite his enfant terrible status. He’s the godfather of Dogme95 neorealism to Bazan to Kiarostami and the Dardenne brothers– it’s an important step in that lineage Some of his experiments haven’t worked so well (I still struggle with the ugliness of Dogville) but it’s very clear now that 3 decades in a row he’s given us one of the best films. Is there anyone as brazenly experimental and yet so formally rigid?

a stunner from Breaking the Waves
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this one is from 1991’s Europa

top 10

  1. Breaking the Waves
  2. Dancer in the Dark
  3. Melancholia
  4. Dogville
  5. Antichrist
  6. Europa
  7. Nymphomaniac
  8. The Elements of Crime
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always the experimenter– from Dogville here

By year and grades

1984- The Elements of Crime R
1991- Europa R
1996- Breaking the Waves MP
2000- Dancer in the Dark MP
2003- Dogville R
2009- Antichrist R
2011- Melancholia MS
2013- Nymphomaniac R

*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