The Essentials of Cinema.

As any cinephilic person would tell you, they love films. They love films so much that they can deftly name their favorite movies with fun facts and naming the actors and the directors. And like any cine-freak would say, they could name the films considered the greatest in the medium. I include myself because I was obsessed for over a year exploring the great masterpieces of cinema in the Silent era, the Golden Age of Hollywood, the experimental New Hollywood of the late 1960s, and the contemporary films of today. As my guide, I overviewed great movie lists from the American Film Institute, movie critics like Leonard Maltin, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), and Amazon. It took me a year, but I discovered the classics. So for fun, I provide 12 films that I personally consider the best in the medium in all parts of the world. Many are poignant, compelling, breathtaking, groundbreaking, epic, critically acclaimed, and just really entertaining. in no particular order (sort of), enjoy:

01. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)

The Story: Science fiction film that spans time dealing with extraterrestrial life, artificial intelligence, and evolution.
Origin: American film.
Why It’s Good: For a movie that rarely has any dialogue, the thematic themes transcend into surreal imagery with abstract thoughts.
Acclaim: Considered the ultimate science fiction film and one of the finest films ever made as the constant parodies persist.
Favorite Moment: The prehistoric apes encounter the black monolith igniting their own intelligence.


The Story: The plight of a German who saves more than a thousand Jews during the Holocaust.
Origin: American film.
Why It’s Good: The movie painstakingly depicts the realistic inhumane horrors of the Holocaust in black and white.
Acclaim: Seven Academy Awards including Best Director and Best Picture.
Favorite Moment: Too many to name. Children hiding in garbage to avoid death, women stripped naked in the gas chambers, and the finale where the families pay their respects to the man who saved more lives than anyone else.

03. CITY OF GOD (2002)

The Story: an epic tale that tells the story of the slums in Rio de Janeiro through the eyes of a young photographer.
Origin: Brazilian Film.
Why It’s Good: Depicts the evolution of the city in the course of two decades with unforgivable violence amongst teenage gangs.
Acclaim: Time Magazine ranked City of God as one of the greatest movies of all time.
Favorite Moment: The gang leader, Lil’ Ze,  forces one of his recruits to choose who to kill between his two prepubescent friends.


The Story: a knight plays a game of chess with Death as he travels across Medieval Europe during the Black Plague.
Origin: Swedish Film.
Why It’s Good: Director Ingmar Bergman explores life and death in beautiful cinematographic images.
Acclaim: Won the Special Jury Prize in the Cannes Film Festival in 1957.
Favorite Moment: The last Supper scene in which the knight is reunited with his family.

05. THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

The Story: A masked vigilante teams up with a district attorney and the chief of police to fight the threat of anarchic lunatic.
Origin: American Film.
Why It’s Good: the Batman franchise is brought to realistic terms with a movie that rivals any good crime movie, including the Godfather.
Acclaim: redefines the rules for what a comic book movie could do as it was the second movie to earn more than $500 million in the box office.
Favorite Moment: A tie between DA Harvey Dent’s descent into madness as his face becomes disfigures while hearing his lover die and the Joker reveals the origins of his scars.

06. THE DEPARTED (2006)

The Story: A mob boss plants his protégé as an FBI informant in the Police department while the department send a cop to infiltrate the mob.
Origin: American Film
Why It’s Good: Martin Scorsese finest work as he sets twists among the search for the snitches.
Acclaim: Won best director and ranks high Scorsese’s other works: Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Taxi Driver.
Favorite Moment: A chase through Chinatown leaves the FBI informant following the rookie cop.

07. VERTIGO (1958)

The Story: An acrophobic cop follows a woman and becomes obsess with her even after death.
Origin: American film.
Why It’s Good: Besides the best location shooting ever in San Francisco, Hitchcock plays the thematic themes of obsession.
Acclaim: Total Film Magazine ranked Vertigo the second greatest film of all time.
Favorite Moment: The final scene where the cop confronts his fear of heights while revealing the truth of his new lover.

08. THE GODFATHER (1972)

The Story: The portrait of the premiere mob family’s dealings with an the unlikely ascension of the new godfather.
Origin: American Film.
Why It’s Good: The first of its kind to view cold mobsters as psychologically deep and complex with haunting and almost poetic music score.
Acclaim: Voted number one as the greatest movie in Empire Magazine’s 500 greatest movies.
Favorite Moment: The montage of murders as the new godfather is announced during a baptism.

09. WEST SIDE STORY (1957)

The Story: Musical about two star-crossed lovers who reside in two teenage, ethnic gangs.
Origin: American Film.
Why It’s Good: Besides the iconic songs, the vibrant exquisite dances are only complimented by the dark themes of race and hate.
Acclaim: Won 10 Academy awards including Best Picture in 1957.
Favorite Moment: The big extended dance scene in the gym as the lovers meet for the first time.

10. AKIRA (1988)

The Story: a biker becomes a psionic psychopath as the Neo-Tokyo government and his biker friends try to stop him.
Origin: Japanese Film
Why It’s Good: Influenced anime with its apocalyptic visuals.
Acclaim: Considered the landmark film of Anime.
Favorite Moment: The psychic goes crazy with his uncontrollable power and causes a massive destruction over the entire city that engulfs Neo-Tokyo.


The Story: Sweeping epic of a southern belle and her love for a man against the backdrop of the Civil War.
Origin: American Film.
Why It’s Good: The enduing symbol of the classic Golden Age of Hollywood
Acclaim: The highest grossing film of all time.
Favorite Moment: Rhett Butler whisks away the southern belle and implies a night of passion.


The Story: the infamous uprising of sailors on the Battleship Potemkin
Origin: Russian Film.
Why It’s Good: Silent film that increases the tension with music and short editing montage creating a propaganda infliction.
Acclaim: considered one of the most influential films of all time by the World’s fair in Belgium in 1957.
Favorite Moment: Calming before the riot as the sailors eat worms and their leader is killed by the officers.

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