Movies that are perfect examples of their genre
January 4, 2015 5:51 AM   Subscribe

After reading so many people say that Die Hard is a perfect (or at least near-perfect) action movie, I've wanted to watch other films that are considered perfect executions of their particular genre. What are the films you consider "perfect"? I'd love it if you could tell me why you or someone else considers them so, but if you can't do that I'm not really fussed.
posted by bunglin jones to Media & Arts (77 answers total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
 
'Perfect' is a strong word, but here are some very good Westerns: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, High Noon, The Searchers, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West.
posted by box at 6:10 AM on January 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


Airplane! and Blazing Saddles are pretty much perfect comedies, in my book.
posted by Mchelly at 6:13 AM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'd agree with box that Once Upon a Time in the West is a nearly perfect example of a Western. The protagonist has no real name (he's called "Harmonica" because of his instrument), and he's driven to seek revenge for a murdered love one. He is the classic American protagonist, this kind of Byronic anti-hero who is alluring, mysterious, dangerous, and probably doomed. The forces that are colliding around him represent progress (civilization) and freedom (the West itself). The gunfights are classic Sergio Leone, as is the camerawork. So much is said with silence in a Western; dialogue is often unnecessary, because words are transmitted through the eyes. Finally, the setting is almost a character unto itself, which is an important factor.

Once Upon a Time in the West isn't the best of the genre (maybe that goes to Unforgiven), but it really shows off a lot of the characteristics.
posted by jackypaper at 6:17 AM on January 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


David Mamet says "The Godfather, A Place In The Sun, Dodsworth, Galaxy Quest—these are perfect films".
(I've only seen the first and the last, but both are top-notch.)
posted by fings at 6:30 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would give my vote for most perfect western to Unforgiven.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:31 AM on January 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Godfather is the best movie about organized crime. Although I think that Goodfellas is also a perfect example of the genre.

Casablanca is certainly a perfect example of whatever it's an example of. Not really a war movie, not just a romance, and kind of approaching a buddy picture. As long as we're on the subject of Bogart, let's throw in The Maltese Falcon, it's a perfect detective yarn.

The Thin Man is also perfect as a detective yarn. My Man Godfrey is a perfect screwball comedy. Best Years of Our Lives is a perfect post-war (WWII) movie. William Powell is the perfect leading man. He just is.

Singin' in the Rain is the perfect musical.

A Face in the Crowd is the perfect 'fame corrupts' story.

I could go on and on. We're very lucky really, there are so many perfect movies.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:39 AM on January 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


As a general rule I hate the Romantic-Comedy Genre. I find the movies to be cheesy, unrealistic or plain annoying.

So I think "Confessions of a Shopaholic" is the perfect Rom-Com, because it's the only one I've seen that I actually like. It's well executed.

A lot of people seem to think "When Harry Met Sally" should get that vote. So maybe look to that one too. I just find that movie kinda awkward.
posted by manderin at 6:50 AM on January 4, 2015


The Godfather is the best movie about organized crime. Although I think that Goodfellas is also a perfect example of the genre.

The Bunny makes an interesting distinction here, I think. Goodfellas is a better perfect-example of an organized-crime movie than The Godfather, but The Godfather is probably the better movie.

There are better hood movies than Menace 2 Society, but I think it might be the most emblematic of the genre.

There are better romcoms than You've Got Mail, but I don't know if there are any that are more exemplary (on preview, yeah, maybe that one).

There are better nature documentaries than March of the Penguins, but it might be the most nature-documentary-y of 'em.
posted by box at 6:52 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd say Roman Holiday gets the nod for a perfect example of a romance.
posted by Beardman at 7:00 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


It Happened One Night -the perfect romantic comedy: two charming yet flawed leads from different worlds become better people through love. Fulfills the genre's requirements of great comic set pieces, snappy dialogue, beautiful clothes, and an awwwww ending; while avoiding the pitfalls of too-silly plotting, implausible obstacles, or irritating leads.

Notorious would be my choice for the perfect spy thriller, low-key division. Truly edge-of your seat action consisting entirely of tiny eye movements as characters connect A to B, and the greatest villain reveal of all time. North By Northwest is the perfect spy thriller, high-key division, with chases and exotic locales.

Singin' In the Rain IS the perfect musical! Raiders of the Lost Ark I saw recently and it still holds up as the perfect Adventure Movie-- both of these are also tongue-in-cheek commentaries on the histories of their own genres which make them even more fun.
posted by Erasmouse at 7:01 AM on January 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also, I don't know about representatives of a specific genre, but I would class both Ghostbusters and Grondhog's Day as perfect movies in their own right
posted by Mchelly at 7:12 AM on January 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd choose Some Like It Hot for a perfect comedy. Doctor Strangelove is a perfect black comedy.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 7:13 AM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


I tried - really tried - to not post this, but, out of the millions of movies out there, the one that never fails to suck me in ( no matter where I enter) is The Great Escape. I don't know that I'd call it perfect, but I'd definitely call it a must-see.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:17 AM on January 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd go with The Maltese Falcon as the perfect Film Noir movie although you could go with Double Indemnity there too. Falcon is almost clock-like in its plotting (thanks to Hammet's novel) and amazingly innovative in its visuals but has real human characters whose downfall you actually care about.
posted by octothorpe at 7:27 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Young Frankenstein, for comedy. Marty, for romance. Aliens, for science fiction.
posted by tomboko at 7:32 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Came in to plug North by Northwest and Once Upon a Time in the West, for all the reasons cited. well, I have a soft spot for NxNW becasue I grew up in the Black Hills and I love seeing the old Mt. Rushmore concession in the cafeteria scene.
posted by achrise at 7:47 AM on January 4, 2015


The perfect "red-scare" movie" The Thing (Both of them) The early one depicts the unknown terror of a transition from a hot war to a cold war. The latter, depicts the terror from within one's own "neighborhood".
posted by Gungho at 8:20 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


A Matter of Life and Death is the perfect romantic film. It is perfect for its romantic theme of love overcoming all else, for love as a source of strength, for its faith in the individual in the face of larger forces and for its belief in our shared humanity. It is also perfect for its inventiveness in applying film technology in visually stunning ways and for its cinematography and for its script.

Honestly, get hold of a copy and a box of tissues.
posted by biffa at 8:29 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The question presumes some meta-generic consensus on the boundaries of film "genres," which of course only emerges once the conventions of a genre have become familiar, if not hackneyed, and subject to ironic commentary. So in a sense "Pulp Fiction" is the perfect example of "pulp fiction," in that Tarantino is citing and messing with an encyclopedia of references to genre action/crime/blaxploitation movies, very self-consciously.

The meta-meta-critical move is then to insist that no postmodern citation could ever equal the finest unselfconscious examples of the original, sincere genre exemplars being cited. Works the same in music, too.

So thinking of it this way, the greatest movie ever made is probably the live-action remake of The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.
posted by spitbull at 8:29 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's been a long time since I've seen it, so not sure if it's held up well, but I remember thinking Das Boot was a perfect war film.

The Muppet Movie is in many ways a perfect 1970s film.

Network is just bloody perfect.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:47 AM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Screwball comedy: His Girl Friday.
posted by parki at 8:55 AM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Alien is a great movie, but I think of it more as horror in SF garb than SF per se. As a horror movie, it is pretty much ideal. It avoids a lot of the superficial tropes of typical horror movies, but works as one.

An SF movie should make you think about what it means to be human, IMO, and on that basis, Blade Runner, AI (despite its flaws), or Moon would all be better SF movies.
posted by adamrice at 8:58 AM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think Raiders of the Lost Ark is nearly perfect example of whatever you'd consider it to be. (Action adventure?)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:19 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


For me at least, Scorcese's After Hours is a perfectly realized dark comedy: fun, weird, fast-paced and surreal. Also from 1985, My Life As A Dog is a perfect 'coming of age' movie.
posted by Flashman at 9:28 AM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Would Rashoman be the most evocative of the "Rashoman genre" of films told from multiple perspectives.
posted by mmascolino at 9:51 AM on January 4, 2015


Groundhog Day for perfect romantic comedy. Or even comedy, period. It scores on so many levels - physical comedy, dialogue, concept, execution, and it has a strong moral foundation, rather than just cheap sex jokes.

Zulu for war movie. Here's one man's thoughts on why it still works.
posted by BWA at 10:00 AM on January 4, 2015


As much as I love Die Hard, I have to disagree with putting it forward as the perfect action movie. As far as pure action, I would put forward Aliens. After the set up, it is pretty much non-stop action with well placed pauses for the audience to catch its breath before the action ratchets up even further. As Roger Ebert so ably described in his review, Aliens left him feeling drained and not wanting to talk to anyone as he left the theater.

For me, the perfect Western is Shane. The other movies mentioned are elegiac in nature. They are all perfect at conveying the message they want to convey, that the Old West must eventually give way to Civilization as the Frontier slowly closes. But Shane is a perfect look at the West when it was still The West and not just a bunch of men who were fighting the inevitable march of history.

World War II is more or less a genre unto itself with many many subgenres depending on time and place during the war as well as when the movie itself was made. They Were Expendable is a great look at the opening of the Pacific War. I can't not feel a sense of impending doom as I watch this movie with Robert Montgomery and John Wayne commanding PT boats in the Philippines at the dawn of the war. Yet it ends with a triumphant note, a perfect ending on which to send wartime audiences forth.

A movie that falls into many genres including the epic, of which it is a perfect example: Lawrence of Arabia, starring Peter O'Toole in the role that made him rightfully famous. When I was growing up both physically and in my knowledge of and appreciation for the cinema, I really preferred director David Lean's other works, especially The Bridge on the River Kwai. But there came a point in my adulthood where I sat down one time to watch Lawrence and I just got it. It suddenly made sense and I started picking up on all the little nuances of the character as he interacted with Omar Sharif and all the others. It wasn't just about a cast of thousands parading around the desert on camel and horse, it became Lawrence, a man writing his own destiny affecting and being affected by the sweep of history. The only comparable epic is Ben-Hur.

There are many more, but let me end with a perfect movie that is perfect regardless of the genre: The Silence of the Lambs. It a movie that is incredibly well put together with actors who know their characters and definitely earned their Oscars working with an excellent adaptation that conveys all the fear and horror as Clarice Starling navigates the world of men like Lector and Buffalo Bill.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:05 AM on January 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


For suspense, it has to be Wages of Fear. The extended tension caused by the premise is palpable. Good choices above for noir, but for me the perfect noir is The Set-Up: it's got the classic characters of noir, a killer premise, and the visuals are out of some noir ur-text. As a bonus, it's also the most perfect boxing movie of all time.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:07 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, and maybe some other noir recommendations can be found in this thread -- Out of the Past, recommended by me and others, could be in the running for the perfect noir. Mostly it's the performances of the three leads (Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, and especially Jane Greer) that does it.
posted by .kobayashi. at 10:15 AM on January 4, 2015


When Harry Met Sally is the perfect romantic comedy. Like Die Hard, it's kind of genre-defining in a particular way.

I'm battling it out mentally whether 2001 or Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is the more "perfect" science fiction film. Close Encounters probably hews closer to the most important genre tropes, but 2001 actually takes place in space, which also seems important. And is probably the "better" film overall.

Sense And Sensibility is the perfect period drawing-room comedy of manners type thing. Definitely the perfect adaptation from a 19th century novel.

Walk The Line is the perfect biopic. I don't necessarily enjoy it that much or think it's a great movie, but it really does the job of a biopic well.

One thing I'll say is that opinions on this stuff are going to vary widely. I feel like I've seen a lot of rom-coms, and the movies I see people suggesting as the "perfect" rom-com feel like bullshit next to my perfect rom-com. I don't think "Airplane!" is a particularly good representation of what a comedy is, in general, and the genre it's parodying is so long gone from the public consciousness that I don't think it makes sense to call it the perfect parody. On a certain level you're really just asking "what are your favorite movies?"
posted by Sara C. at 10:21 AM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wait no, I take it back, Amadeus is the ur-biopic. Duh.
posted by Sara C. at 10:22 AM on January 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


The Road Warrior is the perfect post-apocalyptic action movie. It not only defined the genre (and spawned a billion awful imitators in the mid- to late-80's), it does not have a single wasted frame.
posted by Lokheed at 10:22 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Wait no, I take it back, Amadeus is the ur-biopic. Duh.

I agree with this for the biopic genre. And thanks to it all being Salieri's colored recollections, the movie can get away with so much that may otherwise be seen as artistic license.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:32 AM on January 4, 2015


Do biopics bifurcate into the fun and the serious? The Elephant Man has a good claim here.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:36 AM on January 4, 2015


Wings of Desire is the perfect foreign art film for me (an American person). Repo Man is the perfect cult movie, or maybe Rocky Horror Picture Show. I would vote for Ed Wood as the perfect biopic. Branagh's Henry V is the perfect Shakespeare adaptation.
posted by feste at 10:51 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't not feel a sense of impending doom as I watch this movie with Robert Montgomery and John Wayne commanding PT boats in the Philippines at the dawn of the war.

Similarly, Das Boot. Though some disagree.

For WWI, either Paths of Glory, or Grand Illusion, or All Quiet on the Western Front.

Fantasy - Cocteau's La Belle et la bête. The trailer does not do it anything near justice. The most dream-like movie I can think of. (Though I preferred la bête before he turned back into human.)

Horror - I've always liked Cat People for sheer creepiness and only a modest dollop of cheese. But it's up against some giants, so it must remain a personal quirk.
posted by BWA at 11:03 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are more modern contenders from your Pixars and Miyazakis (and Disney themselves), but the perfect example of an animated movie might be Pinocchio.
posted by box at 11:12 AM on January 4, 2015


My Fair Lady is the perfect musical.
posted by akk2014 at 11:13 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Rocky
posted by djb at 11:13 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


The "War Is Hell" movie: Battleground

The "Film Noir" movie: Double Indemnity

The "Organized Crime" movie: Tie: Once Upon A Time In America (make sure its the full length version) and Donnie Brasco

The "Slapstick Comedy": Duck Soup

The "Screwball Comedy": Some Like It Hot

The "Romantic Comedy" L.A. Story
posted by KingEdRa at 11:19 AM on January 4, 2015


I'm not enough of a film buff to name a "perfect" movie so I'll just suggest a few I think are outstanding examples.

Strictly Ballroom works all the musical and romance tropes and makes them sing (and dance).
The Philadelphia Story and His Girl Friday are amazing, amazing movies.
Singin' in the Rain, as mentioned, is cited as "the perfect musical" for good reason.
Ocean's Eleven is a very good (but not perfect) caper flick. If you've seen a few caper flicks (so you can appreciate how it twists some of the standard elements), Inside Man is excellent.
A Fish Called Wanda still shines.
posted by Lexica at 11:20 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the Die Hard thing comes out of it being a structurally perfect action movie, which is to say exactly the right things happen at exactly the right time with no fluff or filler. Following that example, I believe the following movies are structurally perfect examples of their respective genres:


The Incredibles
Back to the Future
Aliens
Casablanca
Toy Story 2 & 3
Raising Arizona
Groundhog Day
Galaxy Quest
posted by bluecore at 11:30 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


How about the first Star Wars, which basically defines its genre.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:47 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


As much as I'd like to be snobby and say the 1969 Italian Job is the ultimate caper film, I genuinely think it's been edged by Ocean's Eleven. Still, it took 32 years so it's probably worth seeing. I would also point out that in the Western department, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid won 4 Oscars, and while it may not be typical of the genre, I personally think it's the best of.

For Teen Drama, I think it might still be The Breakfast Club. This is going to vary a lot though.

Otherwise, I add my vote to Philadelphia Story and Close Encounters, add Rear Window as the ultimate thriller. And anyone who says The Shining isn't the scariest motherfucking horror film ever is mistaken.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:00 PM on January 4, 2015


The Green Ray is the perfect example of a French movie where little happens, the dialogue is much more important than the plot and very naturalistic, and the heroine would be maddening in real life and yet we end up caring deeply for her by the movie's end. Saw it again at the cinema today and consider me enchanted.
posted by AuroraSky at 12:28 PM on January 4, 2015


Agree that "Some Like it Hot" is the perfect screwball comedy.
posted by Melismata at 12:35 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think Heat is another legit perfect-example caper candidate.
posted by box at 12:38 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Basic Instinct might be a perfect execution of its subgenre, the Erotic Thriller.

As for the line between "2001" vs. "Close Encounters," "2001" is a specimen of hard SF in particular-- preferring scientific and technical detail. "Close Encounters" is a softer form of SF, containing hand-wavy elements like the nebulous alien communication using telepathically-transmitted visions of Devil's Tower, for example.

Hard SF movies still tell very human stories-- one need only look at "Moon" or "Interstellar" to see a good examples of that genre. I think "Moon" is pretty perfect for that.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:46 PM on January 4, 2015


As far as pure action, I would put forward Aliens. After the set up, it is pretty much non-stop action with well placed pauses for the audience to catch its breath before the action ratchets up even further.

I also class Aliens as a prime example of the action film rather than of SF. Interestingly, I was rewatching the Special Edition the other night and noticed that it is the 70th minute before Vasquez finally cuts loose with 'Let's Rock!' and the action to that point is very limited. I still agree with you however.
posted by biffa at 12:49 PM on January 4, 2015


Seems to me like the perfect example of a genre is something which excels at all of the important elements of that particular genre. To just say "It's a perfect movie, that happens to be X genre" seems to be a different discussion. If a movie is constantly cited as part of a "It's ___ meets ___" logline, there's probably a good chance it qualifies.

Die Hard perfects the formula of ordinary guy in extraordinary situation. Has to (mostly) work alone, makes wisecracks, goes up against a smart villain, the fate of a loved one hangs on his actions.

Star Wars has set the mold for modern sci-fi adventure... Ragtag group of characters, unique sidekicks, cool props and vehicles, cliffhangers, big action-packed climax, visual, fun. The dialogue and acting may not be A-grade, but that's not what you look for in the genre.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:51 PM on January 4, 2015


My nominations are:

Perfect sports movie: Chariots of Fire
Perfect religious satire: Life of Brian
Perfect sword and sorcery movie: Excalibur
Perfect Flamenco movie: Vengo
Perfect romantic comedy: Four weddings and a funeral

I agree that Groundhog Day should be the perfect example of something - romantic comedy seems the most fitting category. I'd like to say the original version of The Wicker Man is the perfect horror movie, but perhaps it's too atypical.
posted by rjs at 1:42 PM on January 4, 2015


Perfect fish out of water: Local Hero

For me, it's just a perfect movie in so many ways.
posted by dglynn at 2:08 PM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Halloween for horror movies. It's not my favorite (although I enjoy it quite a bit!) but I think it's a very good example.
posted by moons in june at 3:51 PM on January 4, 2015


I'd argue that Fifth Element is the perfect scifi action movie. I can't think of anything before or since that did it better(and alien, etc, aren't really action movies. more of slow-build horror scifi)

Similarly, i hear a lot of argument that The Dark Knight is the perfect superhero movie. I can't really think of a better example.

If you're going to talk about perfect comedies though, it seems really messed up to not bring up Steve Martin(in basically anything from the late 70s to late 80s). Or Airplane, for that matter.
posted by emptythought at 3:56 PM on January 4, 2015


Fantasy: the original Conan the Barbarian
Drama: magnolia or Before The Rain
Heist Flick: Resevior Dogs and Ocean's Eleven. Different moods though!
Sci-fi: Terminator or Run Lola Run
comedy: Ghostbusters
Thriler: Jaws
Kid's film: Paranorman
Scary drama: Silence of the Lambs
Suspense: The Usual Suspects
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:06 PM on January 4, 2015


For screwball genres, I strongly recommend anything described as "The Citizen Kane of ___ movies."

Examples: Shakes the Clown (alcoholic clown movies), Rubber (sentient tire movies).
posted by zippy at 4:39 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking Chinatown may be the best detective noir movie, I don't know about the word perfect as it seems to mean something archetypal but more like stereotypical, and it isn't black and white, but it's a helluva film for any genre. Brick is also a stellar example of the genre without being black and white and very conscious of its genre. Touch of Evil is black and white but stands out for its nontypical elements.

Unless someone defines the parameters of "perfect" it's impossible to tell what fits, especially because all the best films transcend their genre, but this isn't asking for the best film. Perfect in genre may have to mean most schlocky.
Best to word everything very carefully, like wishes that could go horribly wrong.
posted by provoliminal at 5:00 PM on January 4, 2015


I'm starting to get the sense that a lot of you haven't even seen Withnail & I.
posted by sneebler at 5:26 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've always thought Blade Runner was the perfect SF movie.
posted by andraste at 6:12 PM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


* Bildungsroman: Dazed & Confused
* Psychological Thriller: Se7en
* Horror: The Shining
* Romance: Let The Right One In
* Comedy: The Big Lebowski
* Neo Noir: Taxi Driver/Blue Velvet (tie)
* Crime: Reservoir Dogs
* War: The Thin Red Line
* Animated: The Iron Giant
* Western: The Unforgiven
posted by samizdat at 6:23 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was a film major (lover, still) before I switched to TV Journalism (ask me how that turned out - my grad degree was Culinary School - dirty dirty journalism :))


Roger Ebert, just before he died, reviewed Cloud Atlas by saying: "I know I've seen something important, and I don't know what it was."

In fact, I think Cloud Atlas was A WHOLE NEW WAY OF STORY TELLING IN FILM. It veered away from the narrative structure of the novel it was based on significantly. People who tell you, "I didn't like the editing of Cloud Atlas," failed to realize the editing was the story. Memento did this, but Cloud Atlas did it better. Moon probably did it a bit, too. There are others. Siesta and Inception come to mind.

I'm not sure what genre spiritual/philosophical/psychological thrillers are (maybe that IS the genre?) but Cloud Atlas is the pinnacle thus far. Pure genius.

Memail for further notes.
posted by jbenben at 10:19 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd say the first Raimi-directed Spider-Man is the perfect comic book superhero movie. It's got the obligatory origin story and all the big budget special effects you see in modern superhero films, but it also really nails the corny charm, gee-whiz wonder, and the visual styling of the mid-century comic books it's based on, all without cheapening the strong emotional throughline. In fact, the film's success is largely responsible for the huge resurgence in comic book blockbusters over the last dozen years.

(Plus, J.K. Simmons is just flawless as J. Jonah Jameson.)
posted by Rhaomi at 10:27 PM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]




sneebler: "I'm starting to get the sense that a lot of you haven't even seen Withnail & I."

I've seen it. But what genre is it an exemplar of?
posted by adamrice at 7:19 AM on January 5, 2015


Private eye: Chinatown
Steamy, sexy noir: Body Heat
posted by marsha56 at 7:26 AM on January 5, 2015


Trust no one: Rosemary's Baby
posted by marsha56 at 7:51 AM on January 5, 2015


Yeah, "perfect" would seem to be in the eye of the beholder, but, that said, I don't think there's much argument that Douglas Sirk is the exemplar of color-saturated Fifties melodrama.

A couple of trailers: Imitation of Life and Written on the Wind.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 8:54 AM on January 5, 2015


Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the perfect high school comedy -- it's re-watchable to a fault and captures the being-on-the-edge-of-something that most peoples senior year of high school embodies.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:54 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like to call this 'best in breed'.
posted by bq at 9:18 AM on January 5, 2015


"Definitive" might be another way to describe what the OP was asking for.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:24 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


How could I forget Harvey?
posted by Splunge at 10:16 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Walk the Line" and "Amadeus" are interesting choices for best biopic. I think I would have chosen "Coal Miner's Daughter," which pre-dates them both.
posted by Groovymomma at 12:26 PM on January 6, 2015


Speaking of which, "Walk Hard" is the perfect biopic parody.
posted by Gungho at 1:02 PM on January 6, 2015


Hey all - thanks for all the responses! I've marked the "best answer" only because I've seen all the films mentioned and can understand why they are considered "perfect" (whatever that means).
I might return and mark more as best but I'm just grateful to have been able to elicit so many thoughtful answers.
posted by bunglin jones at 6:15 AM on January 8, 2015


Perfect movies:
The Sting
The Godfather
Unforgiven
Star Wars (the original)
Casablanca
My Fair Lady
posted by SLC Mom at 11:07 AM on January 10, 2015


Ghostbusters should be in there somewhere - that and Galaxyquest are sort of the fantasy and science fiction bookends of speculative comedy. Aliens is definitely action rather than SF and is a near-perfect action movie. 2nding My Life as a Dog and Wings of Desire.

The Dark Knight is notable for being an action movie that is itself a grand tour of action movie sub-genres - it's a heist film! now it's a chase movie! now it's a foreign spy adventure! now it's a psychological thriller! etc.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:56 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


The other movies mentioned are elegiac in nature. They are all perfect at conveying the message they want to convey, that the Old West must eventually give way to Civilization as the Frontier slowly closes. But Shane is a perfect look at the West when it was still The West and not just a bunch of men who were fighting the inevitable march of history.

I feel ya, but then I also think that that inevitable-march-of-history might be part of what makes up the perfect Western. The difference between Western and sci-fi (well, one of them) is that closing, that Sopranos idea of coming into something after the best times are already over.
posted by box at 6:59 PM on January 23, 2015


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