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For You, What Qualifies As A Masterpiece. (1 Viewer)

Sultanofcinema

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A masterpiece for me must be perfect. You can still have a great/excellent film, but very few are perfection. Tess, Spartacus, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Black Narcissus, Days Of Heaven, Gone With The Wind, Chinatown and Paths Of Glory to name a few. What films come to your mind that you can watch and love and see nothing that needs to be changed, altered or deleted?
 

Walter Kittel

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There are a lot of great and near great films, where only one or two elements might detract from the film. Perfection, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but here are some titles that I have a difficult time envisioning as being better in any demonstrable way...

(In chronological order)

The General
City Lights
Harvey
Roman Holiday
Some Like It Hot
The Last Picture Show
The Godfather
Being There
Raging Bull
Ran
Unforgiven
Spirited Away
Open Range


There are plenty of favorite films that just miss the cut because there are things that I might change, but pretty much that is not the case for the above films.

- Walter.
 

Joe Wong

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The Court Jester (1955)
Groundhog Day (1993)

EDIT: added the year of release
 
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Winston T. Boogie

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I am curious to see what the most recent masterpiece is, that gets named in this thread. Or what recent films get named in this thread. And really by recent I mean made after the year 2000.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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My definition of a masterpiece when it comes to motion pictures is one that stands out from other pictures. A film that it would be difficult to replicate because the filmmaker reached for something that spoke directly to him or her. So, not something you can franchise, prequel, or sequel. It is an achievement that other filmmakers would aspire to. It would not fit into a box and it has to really deliver something that has a lasting impact on you. So, a picture I continue to think about and ponder and would use as an example of great filmmaking. It requires several of the parts to be great. The writing, the photography, acting, direction, atmosphere, sets...if it is a masterpiece, really all of these things should be outstanding and work toward making the film magnificent.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I obviously think Dr. Strangelove is a masterpiece. I think Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece. The Third Man is a masterpiece. Same for Citizen Kane, The Wild Bunch, The Searchers, I could name a bunch. Come and See is a masterpiece. However, I am going to push myself to name films made from 2000 forward for this exorcise because, I want there to continue to be masterpieces made and I think it is much harder now to make one than it was in the past.

OK, so after the year 2000, here are some pictures I would give the masterpiece award to:

No Country for Old Men (2007) - This is just a stunning film. Perfect to me in every way. It is always the first post 2000 film that pops into my head when I am trying to name great films made after the year 2000. The Coens are master filmmakers.

The Master (2012)- Paul Thomas Anderson is a filmmaker on another level. Yes, he stands on the shoulders of some other great filmmakers, but his subject matter is his own, and his obsessions are his obsessions. I know many people would have gone with There Will Be Blood, a magnificent film, but to me The Master has a mesmerizing level of perfection on display that floors me. It is also a story about a cult leader that is totally full of crap that was made before a cult leader that is totally full of crap sort of took over this country, only a few years after this was made. It is a picture that screams out for multiple viewings and it deepens in impact and meaning on each one. A strange and unique film that I don't even think his own fans were ready for when it arrived.

Nightcrawler (2014) - Hits like a hammer. Not sure what was going on with Dan Gilroy when he came up with this one, but just a tremendous film. This is also probably the best performance Jake Gyllenhaal will ever give. He's an excellent actor, but the combination of this material and his ability is just jaw-dropping. Speaks directly to our times. A beauty of a neo-noir.

Annihilation (2018) - I think this picture was a flop. Not sure if it will grow into having an audience or not. It is, I think, the best science fiction picture of the last 20 something years. Oddly, in a time when women seem hugely important to the industry, here's a picture that features a nearly all female cast and delivers a smart and beautiful story that is gorgeously photographed and mostly, it seems totally ignored. Garland, I believe, felt a bit crushed by how this film was received and I think rightly so. He did everything right with this, delivered something that seemed perfectly in tune with the times, and it went right by people. Oh well, it is there for anybody that wants to find it.

I'll stop there for the moment as I ponder what else I have missed. Those are pictures I have not stopped thinking about since I have seen them though and keep wanting to go back to.
 
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Sultanofcinema

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OK I went thru my film book and I see these films as excellent and with nothing to alter them.
Masterpieces of the past are different from masterpieces of the 2000's because the world, society and culture has changed.
Dirty Pretty Things
Catch Me If You Can
Pride And Prejudice
Eastern Promises
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
No Country For Old Men
Gravity
Gone Girl
A Serious Man
The Ghost Writer
Contagion
The Artist
Casino Royale
The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
 

Thomas T

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What qualifies as a masterpiece? That's an almost impossible question to answer. I've already seen some hideous to mediocre films touted as masterpieces in this thread. No, I won't name them. People get pissed when you trash their movie darlings. The term masterpiece is overused and misused and often applied to movies that are anything but. It's like the term legend or legendary. Nicole Kidman (an actress I greatly admire) was once referred to as a legendary actress and Lauren Bacall (alive at the time) was furious and she was right. Kidman is hardly a legend. Monroe, yes! Bette Davis, yes! Ingrid Bergman, yes! But not Nicole Kidman (at least not yet).

People call movies masterpieces because they love them, it gives them pleasure, not because of their artistic worth. So people call Raiders Of The Lost Ark a masterpiece because they love it so but not Citizen Kane because the Welles film doesn't give them the pure pleasure of Raiders. There are films I truly love like Pillow Talk or The High And The Mighty but I wouldn't call them masterpieces in a million years. Yet there are films that are acknowledged masterpieces (by consensus) like Lawrence Of Arabia or Goodfellas that leave me cold!

In answer to your questions, Here are 12 films I consider masterpieces of cinema:

L'Avventura
Blue Velvet
Citizen Kane
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
La Dolce Vita
Imitation Of Life
(the 1959 version)
The Leopard
Magnolia
On The Waterfront
Taxi Driver
Tokyo Story
Vertigo
 
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Walter Kittel

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In terms of films from this century that might qualify as masterpieces, I've already mentioned Open Range but another film that comes to mind is Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread from 2017. It is meticulously crafted and once again, I have a difficult time fathoming any possible improvements to this film.

- Walter.
 

Walter Kittel

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Looking at Thomas' list I probably should have included Taxi Driver in my initial list, but decided to go with Raging Bull. I think that the latter film's B&W cinematography gives it the slightest of edges for me, but they are both great, great films.

- Walter.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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What qualifies as a masterpiece? That's an almost impossible question to answer. I've already seen some hideous to mediocre films touted as masterpieces in this thread. No, I won't name them. People get pissed when you trash their movie darlings. The term masterpiece is overused and misused and often applied to movies that are anything but. It's like the term legend or legendary. Nicole Kidman (an actress I greatly admire) was once referred to as a legendary actress and Lauren Bacall (alive at the time) was furious and she was right. Kidman is hardly a legend. Monroe, yes! Bette Davis, yes! Ingrid Bergman, yes! But not Nicole Kidman (at least not yet).

People call movies masterpieces because they love them, it gives them pleasure, not because of their artistic worth. So people call Raiders Of The Lost Ark a masterpiece because they love it so but not Citizen Kane because the Welles film doesn't give them the pure pleasure of Raiders. There are films I truly love like Pillow Talk or The High And The Mighty but I wouldn't call them masterpieces in a million years. Yet there are films that are acknowledged masterpieces (by consensus) like Lawrence Of Arabia or Goodfellas that leave me cold!

In answer to your questions, Here are 11 films I consider masterpieces of cinema:

L'Avventura
Blue Velvet
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
La Dolce Vita
Imitation Of Life
(the 1959 version)
The Leopard
Magnolia
On The Waterfront
Taxi Driver
Tokyo Story
Vertigo

That's kind of why before you name something that is a masterpiece you should define what that means to you. It is subjective to a great extent. I mean, with a film a masterpiece to one person just might be a film that entertains them to such a degree that they forget all about life while they are watching it. I like to include in the idea of masterpiece that the picture has a variety of qualities that display great filmmaking, as in the skills, ambition, imagination, and drive to create that are on display.

The reason I did not really want to list films from before the year 2000 is because we are likely to have a lot of the same pictures that crop up on other film lists. After 2000 is where I think it probably gets tougher to name masterpieces and basically, I think that is because that interested the industry far less than making films that make a boatload of cash and those films being repeatable.

On what I listed, feel free to bash any of those pictures. I don't mind and the truth is I have already heard over time plenty of harsh criticism of them. They still display to me true efforts to make an amazing film that is unique.
 

Indy Guy

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Below are examples of 4 films that very different audiences would consider to be masterpieces:
*The Wizard of Oz
*Sleeping Beauty
*Lawrence of Arabia
*2001
What becomes obvious about their diverse nature is there is no consistant measure on which to evaluate levels of "greatness" in comparing one with another. While all 4 films have audiences who consider them to be masterpieces, I would venture to say that very few people would agree to all 4.
Is a masterpiece based on personal or public acclaim, artistic merit, critical review, peer accolades, or simply acknowledged for brilliance if it manages to survive ravages of time, technology and ever changing cultural values?
 

Sultanofcinema

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In terms of films from this century that might qualify as masterpieces, I've already mentioned Open Range but another film that comes to mind is Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread from 2017. It is meticulously crafted and once again, I have a difficult time fathoming any possible improvements to this film.

- Walter.
I left out Phantom Thread, wonderfully executed and cast!
 

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