Levinson. Barry Levinson is here because of the impressive filmography- I cannot call him a style-plus director. However, both his debut (Diner– one that never gets mentioned among the best debuts of all-time and should) and second film (The Natural) are highly ambitious. He never hit those artistic highs again in his career. Still, not many directors left with two films that land in their respective decades top 100.
Best film: Diner. It is remembered for the talented ensemble cast (in the mid-90’s this felt like a who’s who but that has faded a little), the quotable dialogue, hilarious vignettes (something close to American Graffiti or Amarcord)—all extremely praiseworthy—but in his debut, Levinson starts the film with a jaw-dropper of a tracking shot through a party. In 1982 this to feel like the beginning of something remarkable.
total archiveable films: 6
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (Diner)
top 100 films of the decade: 2 (Diner, The Natural)
most overrated: Nothing for Levinson—the only two films listed on the TSPDT consensus top 2000 list are both underrated.
most underrated : Diner and The Natural are on there— but way too low. Neither fall in the TSPDT top 1500!
gem I want to spotlight : The Natural. It is a triumph of sight and sound. Caleb Deschanel is the DP, Randy Newman does the score— genius work from both—probably their best work (and look at their credits sometime-wow). The slow-motion photography ties in throughout, detailed period production sign and certainly Levinson gets credit for tying it all together.
- The Baltimore trilogy- Levinson is from Baltimore and made a trio of films (both Diner and Tin Men in the archives) set there
- 20th century production period detail. Bugsy has that in spades- a gorgeous production. Levinson nails early 20th century baseball nostalgia in The Natural and a coming of age story in 1959 Baltimore in Diner
- Fellini feels like an influence—Diner is like half town-based memory piece vignette like Amarcord and half coming of age male group of friends story like I Vitelloni
- The Natural
- Rain Man
- Wag the Dog
- Tin Men
By year and grades
|1984- The Natural||HR|
|1987- Tin Men||R|
|1988- Rain Man||R|
|1997- Wag The Dog||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
Speaking of debuts, would you consider Darabont’s debut as one of the best of all time? I’ve rarely seen it mentioned amongst critics too.
Also, what do you think of Darabont as a director?
@Azman– I don’t think too much of Darabont after Shawshank– but that is one impressive film. I think he may not get mentioned because he had a TV movie he directed before? That’s just a guess. Another guess would be that he didn’t use Shawshank as a springboard into a great career.
@drake, do TV movies count? Do you archive them? Most TV films seem slightly subpar compared to regular films.
@Azman- sure they count– especially now the “tv movie” thing seems like a thing of the past with Netflix, etc.
Ya. You’re right. I was constantly debating what TV movie meant and if Netflix counts as a TV movie. What do you think? The term is somewhat outdated/different now right?
This reminds me that someone said he was one of the best in history, because he directed 2 masterpieces according to him (Shawshank and Green Mile).
How many archivable movies does 2 have? 3?
@Aldo- yikes– one of the best in history? Green Mile as a masterpiece? hmm… Yeah I have him with 2 archiveable movies but The Green Mile is like the 44th best film of 1999.
What about You don’t know Jack(2010)?It has over 90 on RT and contains Pacino’s best performance since Insomnia.
@Chris- I’ve seen it once- didn’t feel it was worthy of the archives but am open to watching it again. Pacino’s best performance since Insomnia (and beyond that– at least as far back as The Insider) is The Irishman
What the hell where is Good Morning Vietnam(1987)?Can’t believe such a good film is not in the archives.Clearly a Robin Williams hater.
@Malith– I’m sorry but if I state that Boxcar Bertha is not an archives worthy film that makes me a Scorsese hater?
@Malith– Robin Williams is fantastic. But there’s a lot less going on artistically in Good Morning Vietnam than you think.
I don’t wanna sound stupid (because Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liasons still exist) but on a per minute basis (although she has limited screen time in Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liasons attraction as well) The Natural is the best performance by Glenn Close. I think Carmen Maura is the best in 1988 , The Natural should’ve been Close’s Oscar. What do you think @Drake?