Top 100: The Social Network and The Third Man

Even after years of working with movies in this particular critical exercise, I've never quite done the work to really explore the Top 100 on a more individualist level. I've never memorized the ordered list either. Usually I just keep a copy around and develop an intuitive sense of it over the year. This year, since the Top 100 was sort of rigid in it's approach, more so than in years past, I'm going to try to write about every film on the list.


100. The Third Man (1949)

In the last spot on the Top 100 is Carol Reed's The Third Man. It's a classic with a lot of the trimmings you'd expect a classic film noir to have. Low key lighting, some moral grey areas, and drama with a lot of stakes and questions kind of purvey. In the past I've moved this film off the list because, except for a few choice moments it does begin to drag into the realm of the boring. I think this became a problem for movies in the 1950s, that the film world settled for less interesting pieces. The 1940s and 1960s produced many of the best pictures ever made.

But The Third Man and later Touch of Evil (1958), had these really strong production and visual elements to the films. Film noir is always characterized by the moodiness, but I don't see a lot of this done or done well in films before The Third Man. A lot of the iconic imagery associated with genre comes at high stakes, but boring development in this particular film.


99. The Social Network (2010)

So this movie is something of a modern classic. I think the most important part of The Social Network's status as a movie about the present, in a way that is clinical in directing and smarmy in writing, sort of comes off as really getting everything right. Of course it's nice to see a movie with so much craft. A level of craft does permeate the entire list, and The Social Network is a pinnacle of craft from everyone involved, everything is just perfectly exacting. I find that this has the result of taking me out of the real world a little bit and giving me the chance to look from the outside in, like a neutral third party on events which are in some intimate ways part of my own growing up. It's the way The Social Network pulls of this feat that earns it this spot.