We’re kind of new on the block, and we know people are starting to read the site and probably wondering, “Here I am, but am I truly ready to fully jump into Flixist?” That’s a great question, because the harrowing truth is that you might not be. Don’t worry, we have you covered.
Below are the Flixist 15. These are the 15 films you need to see in order to really get Flixist. Don’t be misled. This isn’t a list of the greatest films ever made (though, many might be on that). This is a list of films, picked by the staff, that we think exemplify what Flixist is all about. These are movies that could easily pop up in an everyday conversation on Flixist, and the awesome thing is they’re all great too.
We didn’t try to avoid clichés, we didn’t try to choose movies no one has ever seen in order to look cool, and we didn’t attempt to choose classics so we could seem smarter. We simply sat down and chose the movies we love and the movies we think are important to have seen in order to love movies. After the staff gave Tom and me their films we went through and narrowed it down to the 15 below and then explained why we chose them.
I think that explains it, so without further ado, the Flixist 15.
City of God: (Fronz)
It would be hard to find someone who didn’t like Slumdog Millionaire, and even harder to find someone who didn’t love The Godfather, yet it would sadly be easy to find many people who haven’t seen City of God. Cidade de Deus is the perfect blend of the aforementioned fiction films, and is still every bit as violently interesting, even though it’s based on the real lives of rival Brazilian gangs during Rio de Janeiro’s deadly past. Most “true stories” these days have to lie about how real they are to get away with a decent film, but witnessing gangs take over an entire town in City of God might be the best crime story that’s ever been adapted into a movie.
His Girl Friday: (Matt)
To begin: Cary Grant. Respect.
To conclude: This is the smartest, quickest screenplay you will ever read/see and Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell deliver it so well that you can’t believe it was ever put to paper. Not only is their relationship in the film possibly one of the greatest man/woman relationships ever, but it was also groundbreaking for the time how sharp and quick witted Russell’s character, Hildy Johnson, was. I guarantee if you watch His Girl Friday you will instantly be disappointed with almost every screenplay and all dialogue in film from then on out. Sadly, people don’t speak or write like this anymore, but if you want to understand our basis for great writing, you’ll pick this film up and watch it again, and again, and again.
Out of all the films suggested by the staff for this list, Alien and Aliens – even when counted separate – were two of the most picked titles on our long list of candidates. Aside from having one of the best sequels ever made, the original Alien movie is responsible for the series’ most famous scene that literally had chests thumping with priceless authentic acting. Some film critics say that the best movie ever made needs to flawlessly encapsulate all genres at once, and both Alien and its sequel routinely dare you to define it as simiply a space horror film. With comedy, drama, and all sorts of odd emotional influences, Alien was a scientific furore of film excellence that proved imaginative scary stories become more terrifying as they become more intelligent. It’s easy to forget that this film is over thirty years old because it could be released this year and would probably still grab the throne. To simply understand how hard it is to put together a film with so many styles is to understand what we think of as great at Flixist.
To start with, I’m a massive Bond fan, and as Editor-in-Chief I expect all readers to like what I like. So there’s one good reason for Goldfinger to be on this list, but there are many more actual reasons as well. Goldfinger epitomizes Bond (everything that is wrong and right) and Bond epitomizes action cinema (everything that is wrong and right). The reason Bond has lasted so long? Because the franchise adapts to the times and then pushes things further. The first Bond films revolutionized how fight scenes were shot, with quick cuts to emphasize blows. Later on, Moore’s Bond would head to space when Star Wars was big, but come back to earth when the franchise knew it had gone too big. If you ever want to feel the pulse of popular cinema, just head to a Bond film.
Children of Men: (Fronz)
In an era of filmography that’s ruled by film editing phenoms, no one was expecting a movie to stand up and show how a seven minute scene without a single visible camera cut could shake and terrify the audience to their core. Combining some of the most elaborate live action scenes with the simplicity of refusing to turn the camera off, the action produced several of the most memorable film moments over the past decade. Camera work aside, the story’s social aspects are uniquely disturbing, and few films have ever gone on to juxtapose life and death as grandly and purely as Children of Men. We’re hesitant to mention Blade Runner near any other science-fiction film because so few can stand up to it, but Children of Men is Flixist’s Blade Runner.
Much like Goldfinger, Rope represents a catalog of films. Those films would be Hitchcock’s films — in case there was any doubt. Though it could be a fine specimen for a much smaller collection of movies: the single shot film. Due to technical limitations at the time, Hitchcock could only film in chunks that were not long enough for the entire film, but other than the cuts cleverly handled in the film to make you miss them, Rope takes place entirely in one shot, and is still one of the most compelling mystery films you will ever see. So while many of Hitchcock’s other works like Rear Window or Psycho may be better known, Rope shows his true mastery of not only the mystery genre, but of the camera as well. Far from a gimmick, Hitchcock actually uses the single shot to play with the viewer and hide information where we can’t see it throughout the film. This is how you direct a movie as simply as possible and for that, it is a must watch.
Citizen Kane: (Fronz)
Look. There’s a reason it’s on so many “Must See” lists, and it’s because this single movie is one of the largest pillars that our American movie industry was built upon. Pay your dues, and pay them often. Citizen Kane deserves the respect it gets each year from lists like this, and our list is no exception. If you just want to see some damn good movies, hit up the other fourteen films on this list. If you want to take the jump and start learning about the actual industry and how modern day film techniques were born, then Citizen Kane is your Old Testament bible, and Orson Welles is every character in the book.
Singing in the Rain: (Matt)
We are well aware of whom our reader base is, and if we had to guess we would say that musicals are not their most beloved genre. However, Singing in the Rain isn’t just a musical; it also happens to be one of the biggest films Hollywood ever produced and the most fun you can have learning about film history (Citizen Kane isn’t the only place to get an education). Seriously, if you’ve ever wanted to get a quick recap of how Hollywood grew from the silent era into Technicolor wonder then this is your movie. Songs and numbers like “Moses Supposes” and “Make ‘Em Laugh” aren’t just insanely well choreographed, catchy ditties; they’re a glimpse into the struggles of the growing film industry and commentary on cinema itself. So to all you film majors out there, ditch intro to Film 101, drop your nose out of the air, and gain an education in film while tapping your feet.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail: (Matt)
We had an epically hard time deciding on this. First, we wanted to make sure we had comedy represented perfectly, because you may notice that comedy is a big part of how we write here. But there is so much amazing comedy out there. Soon, we were discussing every funny film ever made, and as our discussions-that-aren’t-going-anywhere are wont to do, it eventually deteriorated into movie quotes and punch lines – half of which came from Monty Python. A large chunk of those came from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. In short, to understand a single word we’re saying you’re going to have to know this movie back to front.
American Beauty: (Fronz)
The same year that Fight Club was telling the youth of the nation that they weren’t unique and precious snowflakes, American Beauty was busy showing the entire nation how those snowflakes look when they melt in our disillusioned country. An amazing example of why showing is better than telling in films, American Beauty contains stories across such a wide spectrum of mature topics that it takes a lifetime to fully appreciate its messages. To really grasp how cinema can encapusulate a moment in a society’s life, you need to see this movie.
This was the hardest decision on this list to make. We knew we wanted Kurosawa here as he’s pretty much influenced every aspect of modern cinema there is. Western, action, Shakespeare, color, romance, war, drama, editing: the man was a master of it all. So what the hell do you choose as a must watch when half of a director’s library could arguably be called the best movie ever made and the other half comes in a close second? We went with Rashomon. There are two main reasons for this: The first is that it is one of his earlier films and truly shows the grasp that he had on just what cinema could do, and the second is because its style, telling the same story from three different perspectives, is so important to how we watch film now that it just can’t be ignored. Rashomon adeptly (and excitingly, if we do say so) shows how film can tell a story in so many different ways. For that alone, it must be here, and yet it offers up even more to any viewer.
Grave of the Fireflies: (Fronz)
We considered a few Disney films, then we considered a few Pixar movies, and eventually we considered a few Hayao Miyazaki films, but ultimately none of them can even come close to making viewers feel soul crushing sadness the way that this Japanese animated film can. It would take the five happiest animated films of all time combined to make someone feel an equal amount of emotion as Grave of the Fireflies does, which is why it continues to be one of the most underappreciated war films ever created. For simply showing that animation can be just as powerful as live action, we implore you to check this out.
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: (Matt)
Kubrick. If you want to know about movies and read Flixist, you need to watch Kubrick. If you can only watch one Kubrick film, it should be Dr. Strangelove. Not only is it Kubrick’s masterpiece, but it’s funny, thoughtful and stars Peter Sellers as well. If that last sentence doesn’t have you running to watch (or hopefully re-watch) the movie, then Flixist and you may not get along too well. Only Kubrick could take nuclear annihilation and turn it into a comedy of errors. It’s still one of the most honest and insightful looks at the madness of the Cold War, as well as international politics in general, and applies as much now as it did when it was released. Movies like Dr. Strangelove and performances like Peter Sellers’s in it come along almost never.
Evil Dead 2: (Matt)
Bruce Campbell. Chainsaw for a hand. Groovy. If I have to explain this to you anymore just leave now.
Kung Fu Hustle: (Fronz)
I felt confident that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was going to make this list. I was wrong. We also felt confident that Pulp Fiction was going to lock up a spot on this article, but when it came time to argue over which classic karate film to include, we ended up bumping Tarantino’s movie right off the list to make room. Next, we further surprised ourselves by looking past the Drunken Master movies to instead close the door behind Kung Fu Hustle. The style put into its characters, sets, dialogue, fights, animations, music, and small directorial details combine for a cinematic experience that makes Kill Bill and countless other artistic action movies look disappointing. The execution is scarily similar to Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, yet even more cohesive from start to finish, and the end result is a timeless Stephen Chow classic that both lovers and haters of Dragon Ball Z styled action can thoroughly enjoy. We’d like to think it’s random, yet totally deserving, picks like this that separate us a bit from the crowd.