The 99% Club: You’ll find it, way past 98% on the Tomatometer, but just before 100%. Inside, a coterie of cinema’s practically-finest, movies promising an experience beyond most others – movies that are almost perfect. These are the ones to warm hearts, stir the soul, call forth eruptions of laughter, and rattle your bones. To anyone who approaches to see and hear their stories, they will enthrall the audience…save the stray naysayer or two, of course.
Its members are fleeting; membership comes with no lifetime guarantee. Any additional Rotten reviews could toss the movie from the 99% Club and into the gutter that is a 98% score, to associate with the likes of Wizard of Oz and The Godfather.
You’ll notice most in the 99% Club are from this century. Movies may or may not be getting better, but they are getting reviewed more. When a work generates nearly 400 critics’ appraisals, its Tomatometer score can better endure Rotten reviews and sustain its 99% score. Classic films, by dint of having fewer reviews in written existence, can have their scores torpedoed by a single Rotten remark.
The 99% Club: On the cusp of triple-digit Valhalla. Come join in their almost-perfection.
Critics Consensus: Fresh and inventive yet immediately accessible, Cameraperson distills its subject's life and career into an experience that should prove immediately absorbing even for those unfamiliar with her work.
Synopsis: Cinematographer Kirsten Johnson exposes her many years behind the camera through a memoir made up of decades of footage shot... [More]
Critics Consensus: An undisputed masterpiece and perhaps Hollywood's quintessential statement on love and romance, Casablanca has only improved with age, boasting career-defining performances from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
Synopsis: Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), who owns a nightclub in Casablanca, discovers his old flame Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) is in town... [More]
Critics Consensus: As bruised and cynical as the decade that produced it, this noir classic benefits from Robert Towne's brilliant screenplay, director Roman Polanski's steady hand, and wonderful performances from Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.
Synopsis: When Los Angeles private eye J.J. "Jake" Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is hired by Evelyn Mulwray to investigate her husband's activities,... [More]
Critics Consensus:Eighth Grade takes a look at its titular time period that offers a rare and resounding ring of truth while heralding breakthroughs for writer-director Bo Burnham and captivating star Elsie Fisher.
Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Kayla endures the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through the last week of... [More]
Critics Consensus: Brutally honest and utterly compelling, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me offers a riveting, vanity-free portrait of its legendary subject while offering a few essential truths about the human condition.
Synopsis: Plagued by medical issues and memory lapses, the Broadway icon contemplates retirement and mortality as she approaches her 87th birthday... [More]
Critics Consensus: Marvelously directed by Sebastian Lelio and beautifully led by a powerful performance from Paulina Garcia, Gloria takes an honest, sweetly poignant look at a type of character that's all too often neglected in Hollywood.
Synopsis: An aging divorcee (Paulina García) embarks on an intense affair with a man (Sergio Hernández) she picked up at a... [More]
Critics Consensus:Goldfinger is where James Bond as we know him comes into focus - it features one of 007's most famous lines ("A martini. Shaken, not stirred.") and a wide range of gadgets that would become the series' trademark.
Synopsis: Special agent 007 (Sean Connery) comes face to face with one of the most notorious villains of all time, and... [More]
Critics Consensus: With his electrifying performance in Elia Kazan's thought-provoking, expertly constructed melodrama, Marlon Brando redefined the possibilities of acting for film and helped permanently alter the cinematic landscape.
Synopsis: Dockworker Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) had been an up-and-coming boxer until powerful local mob boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb)... [More]
Critics Consensus:Paddington 2 honors its star's rich legacy with a sweet-natured sequel whose adorable visuals are matched by a story perfectly balanced between heartwarming family fare and purely enjoyable all-ages adventure.
Synopsis: Settled in with the Brown family, Paddington the bear is a popular member of the community who spreads joy and... [More]
Critics Consensus: Fueled by a gripping performance from David Oyelowo, Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr. -- but doesn't ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.
Synopsis: Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination was still rampant in certain areas, making it... [More]
Watching the movies Alfred Hitchcock made over his five-decade career is not only a thrilling way to spend your free time, but doubles as a legitimate lesson in the history and development of cinema. As director, Hitchcock withstood every significant upheaval of the industry and, in fact, seemed to flourish with each transition. He started in the 1920s during the silent era (The Lodger), transitioned to sound when many of his peers and actors could not (The 39 Steps), and came to America at the height of Hollywood’s Golden Age (Best Picture-winning Rebecca). And yet Hitch was only just getting started. When color became the movie standard, he ascended to the Master of Suspense mantle that will become his enduring legacy. 1948’s Rope was his first color film, and what followed seemed an endless beloved parade of wrong men, guilty women, and nefarious murderous plots: Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, and on and on. Even as movies hardened in the ’70s after the collapse of the Hays Code, Hitchcock gleefully followed suit, concluding his career with sordid, cynical takes on his formula in Frenzy and Family Plot. Now, it’s time to dial F for Fresh as we look back with Alfred Hitchcock movies ranked by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus:Spellbound's exploration of the subconscious could have benefitted from more analysis, but Alfred Hitchcock's psychedelic flourishes elevate this heady thriller along with Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck's star power.
Synopsis: When Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck) arrives at a Vermont mental hospital to replace the outgoing hospital director, Dr. Constance... [More]
Critics Consensus: Remaking his own 1934 film, Hitchcock imbues The Man Who Knew Too Much with picturesque locales and international intrigue, and is helped by a brilliantly befuddled performance from James Stewart.
Synopsis: Dr. Ben McKenna (James Stewart) is on vacation with his wife (Doris Day) and son in Morocco when a chance... [More]
Critics Consensus:Dial M for Murder may be slightly off-peak Hitchcock, but by any other standard, it's a sophisticated, chillingly sinister thriller -- and one that boasts an unforgettable performance from Grace Kelly to boot.
Synopsis: Ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice (Ray Milland) wants to have his wealthy wife, Margot (Grace Kelly), murdered so he can get... [More]
Critics Consensus: Marking Alfred Hitchcock's return to England and first foray into viscerally explicit carnage, Frenzy finds the master of horror regaining his grip on the audience's pulse -- and making their blood run cold.
Synopsis: London is held in the grip of a serial killer whose modus operandi is to murder his victims by strangling... [More]
Critics Consensus: Infamous for its shower scene, but immortal for its contribution to the horror genre. Because Psycho was filmed with tact, grace, and art, Hitchcock didn't just create modern horror, he validated it.
Synopsis: Phoenix secretary Marion Crane (Janet Leigh), on the lam after stealing $40,000 from her employer in order to run away... [More]
Critics Consensus: Not even notorious studio meddling can diminish the craft and tantalizing suspense of Suspicion, a sly showcase for Joan Fontaine's nervy prowess and Alfred Hitchcock's flair for disquiet.
Synopsis: Charming scoundrel Johnnie Aysgarth (Cary Grant) woos wealthy but plain Lina McLaidlaw (Joan Fontaine), who runs away with him despite... [More]
Doug Liman first burst onto the Hollywood radar by directing two all-time indie comedy cult classics in Swingers and Go, before graduating to blockbuster fare with two very different spy movies, The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Now, Liman’s headed back to the high-stakes world of espionage and anti-heroes for American Made, which follows the crazy real-life story of Barry Seal, a former commercial pilot who was recruited to run guns for the CIA, and ended up running drugs for Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel on the side.
The movie, which lands in theaters September 29th, also happens to be a reunion for the director and star Tom Cruise, who collaborated on the beloved sci-fi/action movie Edge of Tomorrow back in 2014. Liman recently took a break from promoting American Made in London to speak with RT about a few of his favorite films, how this movie is the “anti-Top Gun,” and the downright terrifying way Cruise once woke him up from a nap during filming.
I love Bringing Up Baby. Anything that Katharine Hepburn’s in. I’m committed to the Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn era of filmmaking. The African Queen is influencing me on Chaos Walking, which I’m shooting right now.
North by Northwest was a big influence for TheBourne Identity. I’m really drawn to adventure, and characters being plucked from normal life and sent on extraordinary adventures. When Tom and I had the opportunity to go deep into the rain forest to shoot scenes in a really remote location [for American Made], I was promised 360-degree vistas with nothing manmade in sight for a hundred miles. Well, Tom and I are both going to jump at the chance to go on that kind of adventure. So I’m interested in stories where characters are sent out and get to have an adventure, the kind of adventure I dream of having.
The reality is, the movies that were most impactful to me growing up, when I decided I wanted to make movies, I was going to see Woody Allen double features with my brother, back when they had double features. Younger audiences today, they don’t even know what that word means. But they would show two Woody Allen movies back to back. Bananas. Take the Money and Run, that era of Woody Allen.
Why Take the Money and Run over, say, later Allen movies like Annie Hall or Manhattan?
Maybe because his character is so flawed. You know, you can probably see traces of that in Barry Seal [in American Made]. I’ve never made a movie with a hero, really. Your classic Hollywood hero. My protagonists are always deeply flawed.
Rick Mele for Rotten Tomatoes: You touched on something I wanted to ask you, but why do you think you’re drawn to these kinds of protagonists as a director? Whether they’re anti-heroes like Barry Seal or just reluctant heroes like Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow?
Doug Liman: I don’t know. But when I was in Columbia making American Made, we’re really back at the scene of the crime, and we’re flying airplanes, so we’re meeting other pilots, because we had to hire local pilots to work with us. And, basically, all the pilots we hired had a history of trafficking in narcotics. They all knew Barry Seal. And one of them told us how much he loved Barry. And we said, “How did you meet?” He said, “Oh, Barry stole an airplane from me.”
He came down to take a look at it, and said, “Do you mind if I take it up for a test flight?” And then never came back. And this guy loves Barry! And I love Barry for it. I don’t know why when I hear that about Barry, I like him even more. For stealing another drug smuggler’s airplane. But if that airplane belonged to the Catholic Church, I might also love him. It’s not just who he stole it from. It’s that he saw an opportunity and he just couldn’t help himself but take it.
RT: Sure. It’s just so audacious, you can’t help but laugh.
Liman: I guess because he’s audacious, yeah. That’s why I’m so drawn to him. I’m not drawn to sneaky characters. I’m drawn to the characters who wear their flaws proudly.
RT: When you’re telling a true story like this, how much research do you have to do before you head into production?
Liman: A movie like this, there’s a lot of research that goes into it. It’s a true story, so we want to honor that. But we’re not making the movie because it’s a true story, we’re making the movie because it’s a great story and has great characters in it. But I’ve often found sticking to the truth makes for better movies, at least when I make them. I come up with better scenes when I’m hemmed in by the reality of the situation. Limiting the CIA’s power in Bourne Identity – what they really could do at the time versus, you know, other movies that came up with magical command centers, where the CIA has eyes in the sky that can see everything in real time, and not deal with the reality that a spy satellite that’s low enough to see people on the ground isn’t geo-stationary, but is travelling across the land at a very high rate of speed. And it can be over a site for maybe 30 seconds. I’m interested in those limitations. I think they make the scenes more exciting.
So, making a movie like American Made, I’m interested in the reality of the story, because in my career up to date, the reality of the situation has always made my scenes more entertaining and more dramatic. And here I can always go back to the well, so any time I felt like the screenwriter was taking a shortcut, I’d say, “Well, let’s look at how it really happened.” And inevitably, I’d find a more exciting scene.
RT: Tom Cruise has a well-earned reputation for doing his own stunts. I’m guessing that’s really him flying these planes?
Liman: Oh yeah. He does all his own flying in the movie. I have to say – when we were flying to this remote airstrip, it’s Tom flying the airplane, there’s a safety pilot in the plane, and I’m in the back. I took a pillow from the hotel and I’m lying down on the floor. Because the airplane doesn’t have any seats in the back. In the movie, he’s using it to shuttle cocaine and guns, so all the seats are out of the airplane.
So I’m lying on the floor and eventually I fall asleep. Because it’s a two-and-a-half hour flight across nothing — it’s just trees. And I wake up, I’m in the air slamming into ceiling, because Tom saw I’d fallen asleep in the back and thought it would be funny to wake me up by putting the airplane into a parabolic arc and slamming me into the ceiling.
RT: How much of a difference do you think it makes that audiences can see that’s actually him flying, and you’re not hiding anything or fudging anything in those scenes?
Liman: I think it makes a difference that it’s a real airplane. We’re doing car chases with airplanes, and it’s not CG. I think that makes a difference to the audience. To me, as a filmmaker, it’s a huge advantage to be able to shoot scenes with your actor flying the airplane, and not have to think about stunt-doubling it. We’re able to do a way bigger movie than our budget otherwise would’ve allowed for, because we didn’t need to spend money on the kinds of visual effects you’d have to spend money on to do what we did.
And also, we were inspired by Smokey and the Bandit. We were inspired by these very lo-fi movies. And you can’t help when you’re making a movie with Tom Cruise to think about the brand of Tom Cruise, and Tom Cruise and airplanes… the comparison to Top Gun is inevitable. And I wanted to be like, “OK, this is the anti-Top Gun. The airplanes are s—-ier, and his character is s—-ier.” But you can do way more for the money if your movie star’s actually doing the stunts for real.
RT: This character seems sort of tailor-made for someone like Tom Cruise. What do you think made him a good choice to play a guy like Barry?
Liman: What I love about working with Tom – and it was the same thing with Matt [Damon] – when you have these characters that are a little darker, you get to embrace the dark side, and yet still have people root for them. I didn’t have to sugarcoat Jason Bourne’s past, and I didn’t have to sugarcoat Barry Seal’s many flaws. You can’t help but think about the Tom Cruise brand if you work with him. And with Edge of Tomorrow, I was like, I want to make a movie where if you love Tom Cruise, great. He’s going to play a role that’s different than anything he’s done; he’s going to play an unabashed coward. But he’s going to be awesome at it. And if you hate Tom Cruise, you’re going to get to watch him die a hundred times.
But I just love how fearless he is. It’s way easier to be fearless about the stunts than it is to be fearless about trying new kinds of characters. And the fact that he allowed me to explore a version of “Tom Cruise” on the silver screen that is completely different than what his mainstream movie persona is, first of all, it’s just really fun. We shared a house while we were making the film, along with the screenwriter, and the common expression heard around the house, besides “It’s your turn to do the dishes” – literally, because we didn’t have a housekeeper, because of security concerns – was “Wouldn’t it be fun if…? Wouldn’t it be exciting if…? Wouldn’t it be funny if…?” We would just explore what we could do with the story, and with his character, and with the love story.
How do you describe the career of a guy who started as the host of Talk Soup on E! and within five years was Oscar nominated for a role opposite Jack Nicholson? Greg Kinnear certainly hasn’t taken the usual career path. He may have starred opposite Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, but he was also conjoined with Matt Damon, played a sex addict and a meat inspector, guest starred on Friends and voiced a character in the Beavis and Butthead movie. Not to mention leading the SAG-winning ensemble in one of the best indie comedies of recent years in Little Miss Sunshine.
Now he’s on screen as the inventor Bob Kearns in Flash of Genius, and he was happy to be playing a real-life character no one’s ever heard of. “Well, it’s not like everybody comes in with a preconceived idea of who Bob Kearns is,” he says. “So it was kind of loose as to how I could portray him. You know, nobody’s ever going to stand up in the theatre and say, ‘Hey, that’s not what I remember the intermittent windshield wiper guy to be like!’ It’s not like with Clinton or Nixon or some sort of galvanising figure that everyone’s familiar with. At the same time, as an actor I felt absolutely obligated to try to, as best I could, make him real.”
Later this year he’ll be sees in Paul Greengrass‘ new film Green Zone, about the hunt for WMDs in Baghdad after the American invasion. “Paul is a remarkable director,” he says. “He just has an immediacy on the set. He doesn’t come in with a prearranged agenda of how things are going to go, and he’s always chasing something that’s not easily found. It’s his own journey as a filmmaker, but I think everybody feels like you want to give him everything you’ve got, because the thing that he’s searching for always translates to the screen, always creates these pictures that feel very vibrant. He has a way of making even smallest moments really big and lifelike on screen. It was wonderful.”
When asked about his five favourite films, he looks to the ceiling and comments that he’s going through his mental Rolodex…
“Great performances from a great ensemble of actors. Jonathan Demme did such a great job of making that look so real, creating an atmosphere that felt very immediate. It’s a funny film, but it’s scary as hell in parts. And it’s a completely unpredictable movie, I think. There’s no expectation, as you go into that film, what to expect or where it’s going.”
“For obvious reasons. It’s just painted on a giant canvas – it’s larger than life. There’s a reason it’s a classic, and I don’t know what else to say about it that hasn’t already been said. It’s just one of the greats. There’s not a character in it that I don’t like, and there’s not a performance in it that’s flawed. It’s incredible.”
“I had a chance to work with Jack Nicholson, which was a real thrill. You can scoop out a lot of performances from Jack, and consider them as possible films you could add to this list, but that was a great performance. Roman Polanski‘s direction is incredible too. It’s a movie where, the first time you see it, it’s kind of shocking because you don’t know where it’s going and how big the story actually is that’s being told.”
“I like the classics! I like a pretty eclectic mix actually. But if you want a great old movie, this is it. It’s in colour but it always feels like a black and white movie to me. It feels like a film with great history in it, and it’s got great style.”
“It’s one of the great endings to a movie ever when Willy asks Charlie what happened to the little boy who got everything he ever wanted. “You don’t know? He lived happily ever after!” And then the glass elevator breaks through the glass roof. It’s incredible. I worked briefly on a television show with Mel Stuart, the director, and heard all sorts of fantastic stories about that remarkable film. And of course I knew all the songs – I still do. I have a 5-year-old, but I haven’t shown it to her yet. It’s kind of scary – that guy who shows up with the little shopping carriage and makes that little speech about how nobody who goes in ever comes out. And the Oompa Loompas. And that boat ride – woo, acid trip!”
Flash of Genius opens in UK cinemas this week. It is on DVD in the US and in cinemas in Australia.
Ten years ago the AFI gave us a list of the Top 100 American Films Ever Made — and when that was done they churned out 15 other lists every few years. And then last night they updated the Top 100 … I guess because they ran out of lists.
Frankly I think all of these lists are a little silly, but they do spark a lot of movie discussion and therefore I’m all for ’em. Seems a bit unnecessary to update a list that’s barely ten years old, but hey, you do what you have to do to get the viewers interested. I’ll post the new list below, but if you’d like to compare it to the original Top 100, you can check our source below.
And definitely feel free to share your thoughts, opinions and outrage regarding the big list. There’s a lot of movies out there, so please do toss your lists out, too. (The one below came from a list of 1,500 filmmakers, writers, actors, critics, and "others.")
At the very least, this list should give you a good idea of how to fill up your Netflix queue.
IGN Movies has been doing some snooping on behalf of all you Trekkies (and Trekkers) out there, and they know which three major stars are in talks to play the young Starfleet officers in "Star Trek XI"!
IGN’s super scooper Stax has received confirmation from studio sources that the key actors currently in talks to play Kirk, Spock, and McCoy in the J.J. Abrams-helmed pic are…drumroll please…Matt Damon, Adrien Brody, and Gary Sinise, respectively. According to the report, the three actors are "the closest to being cast, with Damon’s talks said to be further along than the rest."
Damon as Kirk, Brody as Spock, Sinise as McCoy…can you imagine it?
Damon has long been rumored to play the young Kirk, although the plot of "Star Trek XI" and even the very idea of it being a prequel are as-yet-unconfirmed speculations. Many believe the film will definitely pick up with familiar "Star Trek" characters during a pre-Enterprise, Starfleet academy time period. Director J.J. Abrams is being notoriously tight-lipped about plot details, but did reveal last month that a first draft of the script (by "Transformers" scribes Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman) was complete.
Looks like Ashton Kutcher‘s using his own production shingle to set up some mildly interesting projects. The next one will be a romantic comedy about a florist, but after that is a project that was inspired by watching "Run Lola Run" and "North By Northwest." We shall see.
From Variety: "Twentieth Century Fox has landed "The Engineer," a pitch to be developed as a star vehicle for Ashton Kutcher. Mike Finch will write and Jason Goldberg, Kutcher’s partner in Katalyst Prods., will produce.
Script by Finch, who most recently wrote "Adrenaline" for Intermedia, covers 24 frantic hours in the life of an American engineer in Tokyo after he’s labeled a terrorist.
Led by just-promoted veep Autumn Wilner-Herd, Katalyst developed the pitch with Finch over the past 10 months, using thrillers like "North by Northwest" and "Run Lola Run" as inspiration."
Veteran screenwriter / producer Ernest Lehman passed away on July 2nd after a lengthy illness. Mr. Lehman was nominated for a half-dozen Oscars over the course of his illustrious career, but the only one he ever brought home was a 2001 Honorary Oscar "in appreciation of a body of varied and enduring work."
Writer’s Guild President Daniel Petrie Jr. said of Ernest Lehman: "A creative giant among writers and within the industry, Ernest possessed one of the most distinctive voices of the last half-century."
Mr. Lehman is survived by three sons and two grandchildren. He was 89 years old.