Top 50 - 41 through 45

41. Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958)

A confession: I didn't much like Vertigo the first time around. Having read a little about it, I kept waiting for the "second half" to start, and as such found the first three-quarters too mystical, pointless, even boring. And I do still think that the final part of it is much more fascinating than the rest, but I now realize it only works by virtue of what comes before. Now I'm fascinated by the whole thing, trying to decipher clues, trying to understand not only the sphinx-like Madeleine but most of all Stewarts Det. Scottie Ferguson. Hitchcock's stroke of genius was, of course, to cast James Stewart, the all-around good guy, as someone who turns out to be kind of creepy. He already tried in Rear Window, but his obsessiveness is all too understandable there: here, he truly is somewhat crazy, but it's something the viewer denies for the longest time because he just seems so normal, so healthy, and this dichotomy is what makes this one of Hitchcock's most fascinating films.

42. Moulin Rouge (Luhrmann, 2001)

This might be the most love-it-or-hate-it entry on this list. I, for only, fall firmly in the first camp. I don't like frenetic editing much, and I don't have much patience for sentimentality, but this film gets past all my defences: it's just dazzling, so unapologetically over-the-top and full of vibrant emotion I can't resist. It's hard for me even to pick the performances or the details
I like best, because I can't find anything to dislike here: neither the slapstick humor nor the high melodrama. Are there any recent movies with such intense color? I love Strictly Ballroom and Romeo+Juliet too, but this is the culmination of Luhrmann's red curtain trilogy, and the only film I know that manages to put the spirit of opera on screen.

43. Volver (Almodóvar, 2006)

Ok, ok, I should have said "recent American movie with such intense color". Almodóvar likes his reds crimson, and his blues as deep as the sky. In his films, death is often present in some form or other, but they're filled to the brim with life at the same time. Penelope Cruz has never been more beautiful than she is here, nor more feminine, and she shows once and for all that she can act, as long as she's allowed to speak Spanish. This is Almodóvar's ode to women, grandmothers, mothers, daughters, friends, and you can't help but fall in love with each and every one of them.

44. Edward Scissorhands (Burton, 1990)

This definitely is a highly stylized trio of movies. This is fairytale, but channeled through the gothic mind of Tim Burton. Johnny Depp barely speaks, but conveys an amazing amount of emotion through his big eyes. In his leather black gear, he couldn't contrast more with the town's pastels. The freak is feared, accepted, then rejected. It's a Frankenstein story, in a way: the "monster" abandoned by his creator, who doesn't quite know his own strength. Edward is more soulful even than Karloff, though, and the townspeople much more irrational and scary. This is not a subtle movie, but fairytales are not supposed to be subtle, just beautiful. And this one certainly is.

45. Before Sunrise/Sunset (Linklater, 1995/2004)

My only cheat in this list: a tie, but can these two movies really be viewed separately? One is a continuation of the other, and the second could not exist without the first. They are connected more intricately and intimately than most sequels, and as such I think they deserve to be here together. I like the first one better now, probably because I still in my early twenties, and despite my outward cynicism still have hope to once have a true connection with someone, but I do realize the second one is the better movie. I feel like I am like Jesse in Sunrise now, but will be like Celine in ten years, if that makes any sense. I probably will prefer it ten years from now, because it's truer, and as such also more romantic. No matter your age, I defy anyone not to long for romance after watching these films.

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