best film: Fargo Is currently the #1 ranked Coen Brothers film and they are simply one of the greatest auteurs since their debut in 1984 (also Frances McDormand’s debut). So, there is obviously no blemish in this category for McDormand. Moonrise Kingdom is not far off in this category and McDormand’s crazy good start to the 2020s (Nomadland, The French Dispatch) is an impressive stretch for any actor- let alone one in her sixties. It is impossible to tell the story of The Coen Brothers or 1990s cinema without Frances McDormand and her Marge Gunderson Fargo character.
best film: Michelangelo Antonioni is currently listed as the #11 film director of all-time and Monica Vitta is front and center in four of his best six films. All four of these films fall in the top 267 of all-time (with three in the top 120 and two in the top 100). Red Desert leads the way as the #40 film of all-time beating out L’Avventura. Being the solo lead in one of the best fifty films of all-time is a major resume-builder, as is being a big part of three of the best 120 films of all-time.
best film: The Godfather would be the easy choice for almost every actor in film history, so it is no surprise it is Diane Keaton’s strongest as well. But there is company here for at the top for Keaton- The Godfather: Part II is not far behind the 1972 original, and both Annie Hall and Manhattan land in the top 100 of all-time. So Keaton bests even Julianne Moore here. Still though, It is Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 crime opus that lands at the top here. Keaton’s part in the film, and series, is nowhere near as essential to
best film: Chinatown wins out here but there is some healthy competition from Network and Bonnie and Clyde. Dunaway’s achievement in Chinatown may not be on par with Roman Polanski, Robert Towne (damn that screenplay) or Jack- but she is only a half-step back. She is simply stunning in the film - and of course - key to the unforgettable “Sister, Mother, Sister” slap scene with Nicholson. Dunaway in Chinatown. She gets the iconic slap scene- but also a very tender scene earlier in the film in bed with Nicholson's character. best performance: Network
best film: Touch of Evil but it is not as black and white as it first looks. Josef von Sternberg is not as well regarded as Orson Welles and rightly so- but he is not far off and Marlene Dietrich is the star of von Sternberg’s best films including Morocco and Blue Angel. Josef von Sternberg is a big part of the history of film style-even if, again, his work cannot quite touch the muscular, eye-popping genius on display in Touch of Evil. Dietrich is certainly not the star of Touch of Evil- but she is pitch perfect in
best film: Julianne Moore’s riches in this category embarrasses even other all-time great actresses. The fact that the answer is not Boogie Nights, Magnolia or The Big Lebowski is just astounding. The answer is Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men. Julianne Moore plays the Janet Leigh in Psycho role so to speak in Children of Men- but she is still integral. Magnolia is not far off of course. Moore’s work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s opus is just to play one of the many petals on the flower- an incredible ensemble. Moore is acting with her hair on fire- sensational- she
best film: Bringing Up Baby is Katharine Hepburn’s best film and despite decades of phenomenal work - it is not that close. The Philadelphia Story and The African Queen would be the closest, but this is not a category of strength for Hepburn. Yet, Bringing Up Baby is a comic masterpiece and the very best of the screwball comedy subgenre. Hepburn is not only one of Hollywood's most decorated actors- but certainly gives one of the best comedic performances of all-time in Howard Hawks' Bringing Up Baby best performance: Bringing Up Baby again here but
best film: Juliet of the Spirits edges out La Strada here. In La Strada in the 1950s, Fellini is still heavily influenced by his neorealism roots (he worked on the writing for Rome, Open City and Paisan) and the two performances at the heart of La Strada (Masina and Anthony Quinn) are just more central to the film. By Juliet of the Spirits (eleven years later), Fellini is in full blown breathtaking expressionist mode. Masina plays Giulietta Boldrini in Juliet of the Spirts - a film that deserves spot in the canon close to La Dolce
best film: Pierrot le Fou is the second-best Godard film and lands safely in the top 100 of all-time. Watching Anna Karina spar with Jean-Paul Belmondo in amidst the backdrop of Godard’s crazy, avant-garde world is such a privilege. A Woman is a Woman is probably next- but Godard and Karina collaborated for five (5) films that are must-see or better- and she also had tiny spot in Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7 as well. Karina with the scissors, in red, in front of the Picassos as an immaculate cinematic painting from Pierrot le Fou
best film: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. There are really three candidates here. There is The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Repulsion (an often-overlooked Polanski masterpiece) and Dancer in the Dark (where Deneuve is in support of course). All three films land between 100-200 on the all-time list- with Demy’s masterpiece at the top. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is visually spectacular—a flood of color and a prime contender for the strongest compositions of the films from the French New Wave. though not her debut, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg finds a 21-year old Catherine Deneuve in her first archiveable film- front
best film: Jules and Jim. Jules and Jim is simply one of the crown jewels of the French New Wave on top of being one of the best films of all-time (currently sits at #19). That ranking makes it the single highest rated film of the French New Wave, Truffaut’s career, and the best film from a French director. This category strengthens Moreau’s case. best performance: Jules and Jim. Moreau is transcendent in Truffaut’s masterpiece as Catherine. Catherine is mercurial and Moreau dominates when she is on screen (sorry and all due respect to Oskar Werner and Henri Serre).
best film: Intolerance is a giant masterpiece that has influenced everyone from Erich von Stroheim to David Lean to Christopher Nolan. Gish does not have a big role in Intolerance. She plays the handle that rocks the cradle so to speak—a symbolic role- eternal mother or grandmother. As much as it as it is derided for the outrageously wrong and racist content—The Birth of a Nation is still a masterpiece so that is a candidate here though Intolerance is the stronger of the two films. Lillian Gish in Intolerance- one of her five archiveable collaborations with D.W.