Analyzing movies is nearly impossible to do on an objective level. Everyone has different opinions of what makes a movie great and even your own mood can easily impact how you view a film. Try watching a comedy on a day where you are feeling a bit grumpy and you may end up spending most of your time rolling your eyes instead of actually laughing. I've only been causally reviewing movies for a few months now and already I've noticed that my initial reactions to movies may have been more related to how I felt at the time of writing compared to the movie itself.
I typically try very hard to go into a movie with positive expectations. I use a very optimistic approach when viewing a film in that I would rather focus on the one great moment in a movie (no matter how small that may be) than simply consider it a failure. I still feel like it's good to point out a film's faults as constructive criticism but typically as long as there is one good memory I have of that film, then I consider it worth seeing. Movies have so many outside variables stacked against them that it's a rare occurrence for me to finish a film and not be able to think of one thing that could have made the experience any better. These so-called "Perfect Movies" come around only once in a great while. In fact, my initial thought was to showcase these perfect movies as an on going series until I realized I couldn't even think of enough to make the series last more than half a dozen entries.
The idea of perfect movies came from the fact that as a relatively new film lover, I've been catching up on all the classic films that people consider to be the best of all time. I would go through movies on the A.F.I. Top 100 or in Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" series and while I usually loved the movies I saw, I couldn't consider them "perfect." While I typically enjoyed all of them, there were always a few key things that caused the movie to lose just a little bit of steam. I'm not saying these movies are not deserved of such high praise, but I think my initial reaction was that I would be continuously blown away by how perfect these movies are. I don't think perfection is the true goal of cinema but I became intrigued and began to think about what films I would actually consider to have reached that level of perfection.
So the first thing I did was set-up the criteria for what I would consider a perfect movie. It's pretty simple actually. It's a movie where no scene is wasted and there is nothing included in the film that drags it down or causes it to grind to a halt, even for just one scene. It's a movie that is all hits and no misses, no matter how small the miss actually is. A movie may be ground breaking and/or world famous, and can easily be considered a 5 star classic, but that doesn't make it perfect. I'm not saying all movies should be held to this standard, I simply think it's interesting to discuss which movies fall into this category. I say discuss and not list because as I already stated, trying to analyze movies is not an objective exercise. You may not agree and in fact some of you may even hate the movies that I consider perfect. You are wrong of course, but at least you have the ability to feel that way.*
I can already feel the tension in the air as I write this (though I may be confusing that with the constant state of fear I live in) so let's get to the fun part, which is what I consider to be some examples of perfect movies. For now, I am just going to give a short list as their inclusion alone perfectly sums up my thoughts. Depending on the feedback I get, I may do an in depth analysis of them at a later date. But just know that I consider everything about these movies, from start to finish, to be essential and interesting:
Bringing Up Baby
The Night of the Hunter
Children of Men
Back to the Future
Those are 5 examples of what I consider to be perfect movies. There may be more, but not many. So now I turn it over to you. What are some examples of your perfect movies? Share your list and if I haven't seen it, I promise to give it a try and do a write up on it. I don't think we should go into every movie expecting perfection, but when we happen to find it, it's really one of the best discoveries you can have as a film lover.