by Anthony King
10. Scenes from a Marriage (1974, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
I typically don't count a miniseries as a movie, but since Scenes was also edited as a theatrical release, I'm counting it even though I watched all six episodes of the series. Before I check out the remake miniseries starring Erika's boyfriend and Jessica Chastain, I felt like I needed to see the original material. This past year my wife and I really dove into the massive Ingmar Bergman's Cinema boxset from Criterion and watched six of his films, the lowest of which I gave three stars on Letterboxd (The Hour of the Wolf). Scenes, as expected, was devastating and had me laughing and crying and fuming with anger in each episode. It follows ten years in the lives of Marianne and Johan (played by Bergman regulars Liv Ullmann and Erland Josephson). It's a brutally honest portrayal of human nature and marriage and, in my humble opinion, a must-watch.
9. Carnal Knowledge (1971, dir. Mike Nichols)
Written by world renown cartoonist Jules Feiffer and directed by the great Mike Nichols, Carnal Knowledge is yet another brutally honest yet satirical portrait of men and their sexual desires and maturation (or lack thereof) through young adulthood into middle-age. Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel are the two friends who meet in college and fawn and fight over women played by the likes of Candice Bergen, Ann-Margret, Rita Moreno, Cynthia O'Neal, and Carol Kane.
8. The Cranes Are Flying (1957, dir. Mikhail Kalatozov)
My earliest-watched film on this list, I watched Cranes back in January of 2021 and it still ruins me when I think about it. As far as I know this was my first venture into Czech cinema and I've since watched a half dozen others as they've all been beautiful works of art. Cranes is about Veronica and Boris, two young people who fall in love during WWII. On the day they are supposed to meet, Boris is drafted and must report immediately. While deployed, Veronica stays and works with Boris' family, desperately waiting to hear from him. My heart shattered over and over in this movie until the very end, when I was bawling hysterically, the film gave me such a ray of hope I felt so much love and compassion for my fellow man like I'd never felt before.
7. The Hot Rock (1972, dir. Peter Yates)
Finally, a movie that didn't make me cry or feel any feelings other than joy and humor! The Hot Rock is a good ol' fashioned heist movie starring Robert Redford, Geroge Segal, Ron Leibman, and Paul Sand. Based on the Donald Westlake novel and written by William Goldman, this, along with the next film, is probably the most fun I had watching a movie all year. Fresh out of prison, Redford leads a crew to steal a giant diamond from a museum and Murphy's Law comes into play, along with an unforgettable turn by Zero Mostel.
6. Deathtrap (1982, dir. Sidney Lumet)
I won't say much about Deathtrap because you can read my 52/82 piece on it here. But, as mentioned above, this was the most fun I've had watching a movie in a very long time. Story, performances, direction, etc. Everything works.
5. Jeremy (1973, dir. Arthur Barron)
4. Sweet Smell of Success (1957, dir. Alexander Mackendrick)
3. The Great Silence (1968, dir. Sergio Corbucci)
2. Elevator to the Gallows (1958, dir. Louis Malle)
1. Two-Lane Blacktop (1971, dir. Monte Hellman)