Rank #1: Harmony Korine
Spring Breakers was the buzz film of the Toronto Film Festival, and was screened at the Museum of the Moving Image immediately after its American premiere at SXSW. The Museum screening was part of a retrospective of Korine's films. Visually and aurally dazzling, Spring Breakers is a high-concept pulp-fest starring former Disney Channel actresses Selena Gomez and Ashley Benson as co-eds who perform a catalogue of illegal and incendiary activities in order to get out of their boring small town for spring break. With the encouragement of their new friend вЂњAlienвЂќ (James Franco) and an assortment of neon bikinis, they will stop at nothing for an experience they will never forget.
Rank #2: Daniel Day Lewis + Paul Thomas Anderson
Daniel Day-Lewis's magnificent performance as the ambitious and ruthless oil tycoon Daniel Plainview is at the core of Paul Thomas Anderson's critically acclaimed movie There Will be Blood. In this discussion, which followed a Museum of the Moving Image preview screening of the film, the actor and director playfully and thoughtfully discussed their intense collaborative process.
Rank #3: Jim Jarmusch
To celebrate the release of his remarkable movie The Limits of Control, the Museum of the Moving Image presented an evening with Jim Jarmusch. The director talked about his entire body of work, starting with his NYU student feature-length film Permanent Vacation. His 1984 breakthrough film Stranger than Paradise, an eccentrically deadpan road movie was also a surprise commercial success that inspired the growth of the American independent film movement. With films such as Dead Man, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, and Coffee and Cigarettes, Jarmusch has maintained his distinctly idiosyncratic vision. This raw audio includes the film clips in their entirety.
Rank #4: Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernayвЂ™s Middle of Nowhere was one of the most remarkable American independent films of the year in 2012, winner of the Best Director award at Sundance. The film focuses on a woman whose husband is sentenced to eight years in a California prison. Ruby (played by Emayatzy Corinealdi), drops out of medical school to maintain her marriage. Driven by love, loyalty, and hope, Ruby learns to sustain the shame, separation, guilt, and grief that a prison wife must bear. Her new life challenges her to the very core of her identity. Ava DuVernayвЂ™s elegant and emotionally inspiring film portrays the universal dilemma of how a woman maintains herself as she commits to loving and supporting someone through hardship. After a special screening at Museum of the Moving Image, DuVernay spoke about the challenges behind making and distributing the film.
Rank #5: Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola's 1982 film One from the Heart, a romantic fantasy set in Las Vegas, was intended as a light, frothy venture to follow the grueling, tortured production of Apocalypse Now. Instead, the movie was a commercial and critical disaster that received inordinate negative publicity and bankrupted Coppola's Zoetrope Studios. Twenty years after its release, the movie holds up extremely well as a charming and playful reinvention of the old-fashioned musical. Coppola was in a playful mood himself, even bursting into song, when he presented the New York premiere of a restored print at Museum of the Moving Image.
Rank #6: Sidney Lumet
Serpico may be the quintessential Sidney Lumet film. A gritty blend of urban realism, character study, and concise storytelling, Serpico is also a great New York City film that makes expressive use of its numerous locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Al Pacino gives a riveting performance as the idealistic yet eccentric New York City cop who exposed corruption in the police department. Lumet's engaging, unpretentious style is on full display in this wide-ranging discussion, which took place following a special screening of a new print of Serpico, just a few months after Lumet received an Honorary Academy Award.
Rank #7: Brad Bird
Brad Bird made his mark as an animation director with the 1999 film The Iron Giant, which has gained recognition over time as a classic of storytelling and visual style. Bird's next film, The Incredibles, won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Inventive and rich in its characterizations, it is the story of a family of retired superheroes trying to settle into suburban family life. The Pixar film was an enormous critical and commercial success. Bird spoke at Moving Image as part of the Museum's annual New York Film Critics Circle series.
Rank #8: Elizabeth Olsen + John Hawkes
In Sean Durkin's impressive first feature, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Elizabeth Olsen delivered a breakthrough debut performance as a woman who escapes from a polygamous cult and struggles to reconnect with her family after years of abuse and estrangement. Olsen and co-star John Hawkes join Chief Curator David Schwartz at the Museum of the Moving Image to discuss what drew them to Durkin's screenplay. This wide-ranging conversation explores the Jackson Frank song used in the film, scouting locations, and how Hawkes avoided caricature while creating his riveting performance as a cult leader.
Rank #9: Errol Morris
Errol Morris's film Tabloid is an entertaining and provocative compendium of some of his favorite themes, including crime, obsession, truth, and the nature of self-presentation. It digs deeply into a sensational and salacious news story about Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen whose alleged kidnapping and rape of a Mormon in England in 1977 made her a pop culture sensation. This conversation between Morris and Chief Curator David Schwartz at Museum of the Moving Image included a lively exchange with the audience about Morris's attitude towards his subject, and whether the film encourages us to admire her or laugh at her...or both.
Rank #10: Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-wai is one of the most influential film directors of his generation. His impressionistic, evocative movies capture the fleeting nature of time and love and the chaotic swirl of contemporary urban life. The Hong Kong director is best known for his dazzling romances, including Chungking Express (1994), Fallen Angels (1995), and In the Mood for Love (2000). He spoke about his career at a Museum of the Moving Image program on the eve of the theatrical release of My Blueberry Nights (2007), his first English-language film. Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee introduced the evening.
Rank #11: Gael Garcia Bernal + Diego Luna
The Mexican hit comedy Rudo y Cursi reunites Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna, the stars of Alfonso Cuaron's 2001 road movie and sex comedy Y tu mama tambien. Rudo y Cursi is about stepbrothers who escape life on a banana farm and find fame, fortune, and rivalry as soccer stars. The film is the directorial debut of Carlos Cuaron, who wrote Y tu mama tambien. Bernal's and Luna's friendship and chemistry is on display in this lively discussion, which took place just days before the U.S. theatrical release. Note: some audio from the beginning of the program is missing.
Rank #12: Rachel Weisz
In The Deep Blue Sea, Terrence Davies's lush and deeply moving adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play, Rachel Weisz plays a woman who abandons her passionless marriage, entering a torrid affair with a troubled former Royal Air Force pilot. Weisz gave a career-topping performance that earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, and won her the Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle. Weisz brings to an unmatched luminosity, magnetism, and emotional rawness to her performance, which she discussed after a screening of the film at the Museum of the Moving Image.
Rank #13: Alex Ross Perry
The Color Wheel, Alex Ross Perry's highly original second feature, beautifully filmed in black-and-white 16mm, follows the calamity and chaos when a young woman, JR, forces her reluctant and disapproving younger brother Colin on a road trip to help her move out of her professor-turned-lover's apartment. During this conversation with Chief Curator David Schwartz at Museum of the Moving Image, Perry, an inveterate cineaste, discusses his influences, and the film's unique style and its startling portrayal of incestuous sexual tension.The Color Wheel, which has developing a following on the festival circuit, was recently called "The future of cinema, I hope," by film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.
Rank #14: Saturday Night Live and Presidential Politics Panel
Saturday Night Live has provided an irreverent yet influential perspective on American presidential politics since its debut season in 1975. Two days after kicking off its fall 2008 season with a sketch portraying Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton, SNL was the subject of a panel discussion with series creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels (pictured left, selected by Time Magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential people; cast members and Weekend Update co-anchors Amy Poehler (center) and Seth Meyers (right); and veteran SNL writer James Downey. The program celebrated the launch of the 2008 edition of the Museum's website The Living Room Candidate, an archive of American presidential campaign commercials.
Rank #15: Sidney Lumet, Ethan Hawke, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei
Sidney Lumet's critically acclaimed 2007 film Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, a dark family comedy and crime drama, was the latest triumph in a remarkable career as a film director that began 50 years earlier with 12 Angry Men and includes such classics as Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network. This tribute evening included remarks by the three stars of Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, Ethan Hawke, Marissa Tomei, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and a lively conversation with Lumet about his many collaborations with great actors and his approach to filmmaking.
Rank #16: Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper is one of the most iconoclastic and accomplished actors and directors in American cinema. He has appeared in nearly 300 films and TV shows, with credits including Rebel Without a Cause, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, and Blue Velvet. 2008 was a particularly good year for Hopper; he received great reviews for his performance in Elegy, starred in the TV series Crash, and was the subject of an exhibition at the Cinematheque Francaise. In this evening of conversation and clips, introduced by artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel and moderated by Chief Curator David Schwartz, Hopper talked about his remarkable career.
Rank #17: Jerry Lewis + Peter Bogdanovich
Jerry Lewis has been one of the most popular and inventive figures in American show business since the late 1940s. As a performer, director, writer, and producer, he has created an enormously entertaining body of work in film, television, and live performance that is deeply personal while offering a fascinating view of American culture. In this Museum of the Moving Image special event, Lewis discussed his career in a conversation with the film director, actor, and author Peter Bogdanovich. The two have been friends for more than forty-five years. In 2009, Lewis received an Academy Award for his humanitarian work.
Rank #18: Glenn Close
Glenn Close's Academy Award-nominated performance as the vengeful siren Alex Forrest in the 1987 thriller Fatal Attraction ranks among one of the most memorable villains in screen history, and is the definitive depiction of the fury of a woman scorned. The hit film, directed by Adrian Lyne, captured the popular imagination and changed the cultural landscape with its terrifying take on modern sexual warfare. Glenn Close, a five-time Oscar nominee and three-time Tony Award winner, spoke at the Museum about her harrowing performance as Alex, and about how she overcame her shyness to forge her remarkable career on stage and screen.
Rank #19: Michel Gondry
Michel Gondry is one of the most creative contemporary directors, known for his astonishingly inventive style that combines complex technological innovation with an almost childlike playfulness, and an ability to move fluidly between dream and reality. Gondry has directed feature films (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind, The Science of Sleep), documentaries (Dave Chappelle's Block Party), music videos for Bjork, Radiohead, The White Stripes, and Daft Punk, and numerous award-winning commercials. He is also an installation artist who has been featured at Deitch Projects. In this conversation with Chief Curator David Schwartz, Gondry discusses his remarkable career.
Rank #20: Pete Docter
Pete Docter, the director of the Disney/Pixar movie UP, is one of the top creative figures in contemporary animation. He directed Monsters, Inc. and was a writer for Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Wall-E. Docter spoke at a Museum of the Moving Image event following a preview screening for the Museum's new family member group Red Carpet Kids. The discussion includes questions from some of the young children in the audience. The event took place just days after Docter returned from France, where UP became the first animated movie to open the Cannes Film Festival.