What are the best Criterion Collection movies?
February 21, 2006 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Im about to take on the 300+ Criterion Collection library: how can I narrow down which ones to start with? (more in a methods way, not in a naming movies way!)

Please dont just write what movies you like! This is science we are conducting here...

Can anyone think of a reliable way to figure out which are the most popular? (eg. of Kurosawa's movies, which are the most popular, etc.)

What also might be good is something that will say 'people who liked this movie also liked: --- '. Incidentally, Tampopo is my favorite movie by a long shot if anyone has seen that and can recommend anything based on that! But only if you have seen that movie specifically! I know what you're thinking! Dont do it!
posted by GleepGlop to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why not lose the hassle and Buy the whole thing?
posted by cyphill at 8:48 PM on February 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

I find Amazon's 'people who bought this movie also bought' feature surprisingly helpful. Start with Tampopo and move on.

PS Kurosawa? It's RASHOMON.
posted by unSane at 8:48 PM on February 21, 2006

Response by poster: Ok yeah I was going to say about Amazon, mmm, Im not so sure. There has to be a better way. I looked at 'people also bought' and it was just other movies about food...
See I went with Criterion because its already started off by narrowing it down to the cream of cinema type thing. But Im hoping I dont have to enter all 300+ movies into some kind of search to find out how many hits theyve gotten or something...
posted by GleepGlop at 8:54 PM on February 21, 2006

Tampopo is a really good movie. I casually collect criterion movies, kurosawa initially caught my interest. then i watched a little fellini. I dont know if there is really a good way to go about collecting the most popular. perhaps if you go onto IMDB, and look at how many user ratings which ones have recieved and so on.

Just pick an auteur you like and go nuts.

Hell sometimes i just go thru a movie store and look at the cover and just get it off that.

If your buying them all, hell why not just blindly choose one to watch. Just enjoy it, its 300 great movies...
posted by buzbomb at 8:56 PM on February 21, 2006

see if they can leave out Armageddon. also Naked is a new one not on that Amazon list that I think is to be avoided.

everything else looks good.
posted by destro at 9:07 PM on February 21, 2006

If you choose blindly, you might get Armageddon. Yes, the Bruce Willis one.
posted by smackfu at 9:08 PM on February 21, 2006

I don't know if you'd really want to own the entire collection. I'd start (and end) by getting the films that you enjoy.

I guess you'd be "cool" for having the whole thing, but do you really need x number of films that you don't care for or will not watch or whatever? Wouldn't it be better to get x number of films that you enjoy that much more?

Am I crazy?
posted by ODiV at 9:08 PM on February 21, 2006

I'd go in chronological order. Start with the oldest--The Passion of Joan of Arc, maybe?--and move to the most recent (Traffic?).

Or, go by country. Start with Japan, then do Italy, then France.
posted by maxreax at 9:13 PM on February 21, 2006

How about Alphabetical order?
Chasing Amy
The Rock

Or more seriously... spine order.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:24 PM on February 21, 2006

Response by poster: No I dont plan on getting nearly the entire thing. I would normally just start with big directors (kurosawa, truffaut, etc), but I'm sure there are all kinds of ones that I dont know anything about that I'd like.
posted by GleepGlop at 9:25 PM on February 21, 2006

Sorry - I know you said no recommendations, but forallmankind recommends For All Mankind....
posted by forallmankind at 9:26 PM on February 21, 2006

Try browsing through Roger Ebert's list of Great Movies until you find something that interests you and has a Criterion version.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 9:34 PM on February 21, 2006

how can I narrow down which ones to start with?

Do a changing rotation - one from the 1940s, then from the 50s, 60s, etc., then add a genre or country rotation as well. So, you'll end up with something like this:

1940s comedy
1950s drama, Japan
1960s documentary
1970s crime thriller, UK
1980s, Africa

The point is to mix it up, and allow interesting leads from your daily life to guide your next choice. I do a similar thing to help me decide what books to read next; as systems go, it's a fun one.

Can anyone think of a reliable way to figure out which are the most popular?

That's a different question, isn't it? Armageddon would probably be right near the top of that list. Is that really what you want?
posted by mediareport at 9:37 PM on February 21, 2006

Holy crap everyone, am I the only one with dirty love for Armageddon? I love me a good depressing or black and white or obtuse or cerebral film, but sometimes you gotta change it up for a second.

Don't tell me you think Robocop is no good either!
posted by samh23 at 9:53 PM on February 21, 2006

Just to counterbalance destro's comment here, I wholeheartedly agree with avoiding Armageddon----- but Mike Leigh's Naked is absolutely more than Criterion worthy!!

way way more deserving than the rock, chasing amy, do the right thing, fear and loathing, royal tennebaums even.

But I realize submitter's aim was not to get everyone flaming on their faves or non faves.

I would just go with my approach on the ipod. Just press shuffle.
300 fantastic films you can't go wrong, each film stands on it's own.

Not weighed down by being grouped with similar titles by director, country, time period, subject matter etc. Doing that would just in my opinion weaken the experience for each individual film to stand on their own.

There have been many a time that i've gotten so juiced on reviews and essays on seeing something that ended up being anti climactic and sort of clinical--- as opposed to having a film sneak up on me fresh with no expectations and/or baggage.
As for my picks--- Naked, Vagabond, Ikiru, battle of algiers,
andre rublev and killing of a chinese bookie.

thanks for this post--- I'm reminded that i think i'm going to fatten up my netflix
queue a bit with some of these!!
ymmv of course goes w/o saying...
posted by stavx at 9:55 PM on February 21, 2006

Here's another idea:
Go to the IMDb ultra-super-power search page. Put "Criterion Collection" in the Distributor field (section 2), and select "Display first 100 highest rated movies matching all other criteria" (section 4).
posted by CrunchyFrog at 9:59 PM on February 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Probably far too subjective (And full of spoilers), but The Criterion Contraption may help you get a feel for what you'd like to watch.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:34 PM on February 21, 2006

300 fantastic films you can't go wrong

You mean to say you've never had a "*That's* a Criterion Collection film??!" moment?
posted by mediareport at 10:51 PM on February 21, 2006

From back in my film school days, I remember http://www.filmsite.org/ being a great resource that would invariably have additional, often-times in-depth, information on the films we screened in classes. If you go down their "greatest film" lists and pick up the Criterion discs that are listed, I don't think you'll get a stinker. (I'm pretty sure that Armageddon isn't on the list ;)
posted by lhl at 11:30 PM on February 21, 2006

Go to the Criterion Forum and check out the threads there--there's one for each film.

As for me, I just pick up Criterion discs randomly on occasion. Otherwise I never would have gotten General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait, or Tokyo Olympiad, or Haxan: Witchcraft through the Ages. Though it has good editions of films by Bergman, Cassavetes, Cronenberg, Kurosawa, etc., the Criterion Collection's primary strength is in films for minority tastes that would never see release otherwise.
posted by Prospero at 4:53 AM on February 22, 2006

I don't really understand what you're looking for here. If what you're interested in is "most popular," why are you focusing on Criterion? There are far more popular movies out there. Most people who buy Criterion are (I'm guessing) interested in the quality of the movies. Why do you care if (say) Rashomon is more "popular" than (say) High and Low? They're both great, amazing Kurosawa movies, and if you like Kurosawa in the first place I don't understand why you would care if some random strangers preferred one to the other. But maybe I'm missing something.

Oh, and Naked is a fantastic movie, pay no attention to anyone who says otherwise.
posted by languagehat at 5:14 AM on February 22, 2006

While not in the Criterion collection, if you loved Tampopo you might like Marusa no Onna (A Taxing Woman). It has the same cast and director.
posted by Alison at 5:35 AM on February 22, 2006

I'd second looking through The Criterion Contraption linked above. (And Naked is a great movie, as are most of Mike Leigh's!)
posted by OmieWise at 6:17 AM on February 22, 2006

Be sure that the movie is "enhanced for widescreen TVs" or "anamorphic", so they won't look awful if/when you get a widescreen set. More than a few Criterion Collection discs are NOT anamorphic, which means you'll need to "zoom in" to get rid of the letterbox when you're watching them on a widescreen television. That means you're magnifying, say, 350 lines of resolution to take up 480 lines (EDTV example).
posted by Merdryn at 6:18 AM on February 22, 2006

This is the idea of what I was thinking: say Tampopo was a Criterion movie. Tampopo would be nowhere near Amazon's most popular purchased / hit movies, but it may be high up in Criterion's most popular since it is so accessible and genius etc. And since there are still a whole lot of Criterion movies which i know i'll only like a certain % of them, its still worth trying to narrow them down from the wisdom of the masses that, if they are looking at Criterion movies I can assume they have good taste in movies to start with!
posted by who else at 9:35 AM on February 22, 2006

Whoops, forgot to log out of my brother's account!
posted by who else at 9:58 AM on February 22, 2006

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