Citizen Kane has finally been dethroned in Sight & Sound’s prestigious fifty greatest films list. Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is the new reigning champion. Of the fifty greatest films ever made, Netflix currently has seven of these on instant:
8 1/2 (1963) – Not rated – Number 10
“Dog-tired movie director Guido Anselmi retreats to thoughts of yesteryear when his producers, his wife and his mistress all pressure him to start making another movie in director Federico Fellini’s rumination on the joys and rigors of filmmaking.”
The Battleship Potemkin (1925) – Not Rated – Number 11
“Propaganda notwithstanding, director Sergei M. Eisenstein’s masterwork remains a cinematic landmark, charting events that ultimately led to the Bolshevik Revolution. Fed up with the ship’s officers’ brutalities and with maggot-infested rations, the crew of the battleship Prince Potemkin revolts. The rebellion ignites an uprising by the citizens of Odessa, resulting in czarist troops’ infamous, systematic slaughter of insurgents and bystanders.”
Apocalypse Now (1979) – Rated R – Number 14
“The horror, the horror. Francis Ford Coppola disappeared into the Philippine jungle and emerged 2 years later with this film, possibly his greatest work. Based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the story follows Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) as he journeys upriver in search of the mysterious — and completely insane — Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). His mission: terminate Kurtz — “with extreme prejudice.””
The much longer (and by all accounts worse) Apocalypse Now Redux is also available.
Persona (1967) – Not rated – Number 17
“To achieve more effective treatment, a young nurse named Alma and her patient — actress Elisabet, who has stopped speaking — check into an isolated cottage by the sea, where one of them unravels.”
In the Mood for Love (2001) – Rated PG – Number 24
“In 1962 Hong Kong, neighboring married apartment-dwellers Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan discover that their spouses are having an affair. The two spend time together and find they have much in common, but vow never to behave like their unfaithful mates.”
The Bicycle Thief (1948) – Not Rated – Number 33
“Poverty-stricken Antonio needs his bicycle to do his new job. But the same day he buys it back from a pawnshop, someone steals it, prompting him to search the city in vain with his young son.”
Metropolis Restored (1927) – Not Rated – Number 35
“In the year 2026, when the populace is divided between workers who must live underground and the wealthy, who enjoy a futuristic city of splendor, a man from the upper class abandons his privileged life to join oppressed workers in a revolt.”
There is also a 1984 version of Metropolis from Giorgio Moroder.
Amazon Prime has The Searchers (#7), 8 1/2, The General (#34), and Metropolis (but an earlier non-restored version) so a whopping four titles.
Hulu Plus, which I normally don’t take into consideration as their movie choices are typically abysmal, actually has an unfair advantage here. Their exclusive deal with The Criterion Collection means they easily have the most. Hulu Plus has an astounding twenty-three of the top fifty (all from Criterion): Tokyo Story (#3), The Passion of Joan of Arc (#9), Battleship Potemkin, L’ Atalante (#12), Breathless (#13), Late Spring (#15), Au Hasard Balthazar (#16), Seven Samurai (#17), L’ Avventura (#21), Ordet (#24), Rashomon (#26), Andrei Rublev (#26 – tie), The General (#34), Metropolis (#35), Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (#35), The 400 Blows (#39), Gertrud (#42), Play Time (#42), Close-Up (#42), The Battle of Algiers (#48), City Lights (#50), Ugetsu monogatari (#50), and La Jetee (#50).
Hulu note: While Hulu’s interface has been updated, their search function is by far the worst. When I’m searching for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, I understand Gus Van Sant’s version showing up in the results or even Mary Harron’s delightful American Psycho. What I don’t want to see are a selection of 200 clips that might be related to my search.
Final note: You may notice a lot of duplicate numbers. That is because there were many ties for certain places.