30 Before 30: The Recap

Last year, I had just turned 29, and I was realizing how much my film education was sorely lacking. Sure, I’ve probably seen far more films than many of my friends will ever see, even if I stopped seeing movies altogether. But the real classics, or at least efforts from the filmmakers who really changed cinema, were a real blindspot for me. So while I couldn’t get through some directors with vast filmographies, I at least saw what many people would say is their best or most representative work. I also made sure a third of the slots were reserved for female directors, since I’m not committed enough to do #52filmsbywomen, let alone devoted to see an older film every week anyway. I was a week late in finishing this project, but I’m glad I did. Below, I break down the films I saw by tiers. Almost everything was good, and a few films were truly great. I won’t rank them all from top to bottom, but John Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence would be at the top, while Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless would be at the bottom. That might seem like blasphemy, but that’s my take.


(Federico Fellini, 1963)
The 400 Blows (Francois Truffaut, 1959)
All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999)
Hard Boiled (John Woo, 1992)
Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957)
The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957)
A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)

13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)
Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)
The King of Comedy (Martin Scorsese, 1983)
Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001)
The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993)
The Virgin Suicides (Sofia Coppola, 1999)

Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999)
Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991)
Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995)
Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997)
Meek’s Cutoff (Kelly Reichardt, 2010)
My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, 1988)
A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971)
The Red Shoes (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1948)
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1928)
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010)
Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987)

Blow-up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)
Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow, 1987)

By the numbers:
1929 – oldest film (Man with a Movie Camera)
2016 – most recent film (13th)
68 minutes – shortest film (Man with a Movie Camera)
155 minutes – longest film (A Woman Under the Influence)
1 – Best Picture nominee (The Piano)

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