Jackson. Obviously Jackson isn’t on this list without The Lord of the Rings but the momentous achievement of that masterpiece cannot overlooked. I count The Lord of the Rings as one film in the same way I count Dekalog or Kill bill as one film. However, I do put more weight in the size of this 10 hour masterpiece than I do with some masterpieces that I feel are even on the same level as LOTR (which is tough to reason out logically but whatever). It’s been a rough stretch for Jackson since King Kong in 2005 and that’s the weakness. Still, King Kong is good (and has ton in common visually with LOTR) and Heavenly Creatures another strong achievement so he’s no one-hit wonder either—even if, in 2019, he’s done.
Best film: The Lord of the Rings. It’s almost tough to overstate this one. For lists purposes the fact that it was released as 3 separate films make it tough to gauge where critics are on it.
total archiveable films: 3
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (The Lord of the Rings)
top 100 films of the decade: 2 (The Lord of the Rings, Heavenly Creatures)
most overrated: I don’t have one for Jackson. There’s nothing according to the TSPDT consensus (they have both Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King between 600-900 of all-time—both of which are underrated) but some people like one or both of his early horror-shtick films Dead Alive and Bad Taste, and I don’t think either is worthy of the archives.
most underrated: Heavenly Creatures should definitely be in the TSPDT top 1000 and it isn’t. I think it’s easily Jackson’s second best effort and an unbelievable film debut for a 19 year old Kate Winslet. The editing here is also clearly an aesthetic choice and highlight.
gem I want to spotlight: This film has fantastic acting, writing, but it’s really the immersive (and once thought to be un-filmable) world-building that most amazes. It’s filled with gorgeous production design and Jackson’s visual inventiveness– that is the star. You can see some of his horror roots, surrealistic, and gothic touches in Heavenly Creatures evident in LOTR as well. It’s Tolkien of course, but this film is truly Peter Jackson’s piece of art.
stylistic innovations/traits: I’ve mentioned all of it above but Jackson does have a clear talent and penchant for production design. The way he integrates the sort of schizophrenia or surrealism of his leads in LOTR and Heavenly Creatures is genius (and reminds me of Aronofsky a little). His visual detail is stupendous and, in particular, I also need to mention the gorgeous work with miniatures for establishing shots. It could be the best I’ve ever seen on film.
- The Lord of the Rings
- Heavenly Creates
- King Kong
By year and grades
|1994- Heavenly Creatures||HR|
|2001- Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring||MP|
|2002- Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||MP|
|2003- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King||MP|
|2005- King Kong||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
how would you rank each lotr film?
for me even though they are all great
1. return (clear choice to me)
(don’t know too much about the bottom two, haven’t seen them in a while.
2. two towers
@m Thanks for the comment. hmm. So I do consider it one long film– it was shot at once, broken up mostly for distribution like Kill Bill— but if forced I would actually go in the opposite order– I was just so impressive with the world-building in the first film and have reservations with the 7 endings in return of the king. Why do you think that’s the clear choice? Not trying to be a jerk– but am genuinely interested in why it’s so clear to you…
Have you seen the extended versions of TLOTR ? If yes, did you think they are superior? (I’m also interested in the opinion of other readers of the blog as well)
I don’t even really remember the theatrical versions anymore. The extended versions are the only versions as far as I’m concerned.
i love the extended versions. more to love. saw them all recently and was blown away. return of the king is one of my very favorite movies but i also can’t get images out of my head such as them hiding under the tree in the first film. amazing stuff.
It’s one big film to me…though I agree that probably 50% of the most brilliant shots/scenes/moments in it come in the Return of the King section.
Viggo Mortensen is a top 100 actor.Top 5 performances 1Lord of The Rings 2Eastern Promises 3A history of Violence 4Green Book 5Captain Fantastic
@Janith– Viggo is a magnificent actor– Very strong top 3 here.
Loved his performance in Green Book.It certainly may not be the best film but the most enjoyable in 2018 for me.What do you think of Green Book and his performance?
@Janith – I do have Green Book here- http://thecinemaarchives.com/2020/01/16/green-book-2018-farrelly/
You don’t like Brain Dead aka. Dead Alive? That’s one of my favorite horror-comedy and a New Zealand classic.
@Harry- No, not really- I’ve only seen each once and it was some time ago.
@Drake-Do you feel like the success of the Lord of the Rings films eventually led to the early decline of Peter Jackson? And probably dimmed his ambition to make more films with his own vision like Heavenly Creatures?
@Malith- Fair question- both sort of the height of what he was able to do cinematically and forever changed the trajectory of his career.