Harvey Keitel is great in it and the directing is good as well. The cinematography resembles the 1970's 'wash away' look that is unattractive to say the least. Not worthy of essential list though.
One of the best films ever made. This is the film that opened up Japanese culture to European and American audiences. Directing is outstanding. Acting is great as well, but not according to our Western standards. Don't miss it.
It's a good film, but it is not superior to Rashomon, nor is it worthy of the essential list.
Kurasawa's vision of King Lear has a color pallet that you will never forget.
One of the best Hitchcock films, and it shows how many things you can achieve in just one location. Don't miss it.
Probably the best Hitchcock film that you need to see twice to really grasp it.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST
Even though the film doesn't make much sense and some of the sequences (the plane chasing a pedestrian) are ridiculous and obviously staged for our entertainment, it's a nice movie. But that is all … a nice movie.
BONNIE AND CLYDE
I love Penn's take on the outlaws. Both, Beatty and Dunaway, are amazing in it, but Estelle Parsons steals the show. Beautiful fighting sequence that makes you weep.
By far one of the top 10 films ever made. Directing, cinematography and acting are superior and whatever you do don't miss it.
LAST TANGO IN PARIS
Provocative and beautiful cinema that comments on life. Brando's last scene makes me cry every time I see it.
ACE IN THE WHOLE
The movie attempts to have a message, but as a whole is dated and the plot is unbelievable. Don't bother.
SOME LIKE IT HOT
This film is considered to be the best comedy ever made with it's plot points. Billy Wilder is one of the best comedic directors and Tony Curtis is a treat.
KILLER OF SHEEP
This movie might be part of African-American cinema, but when compared to the rest of the films on this list, it's a disgrace. Bad directing, bad acting.
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER
If you like Film Noir don't miss it. It has some of the best black and white cinematography that you will ever see. On the other hand, the film can only be part of the Film Noir list, not of the essential list.
Creative editing and story telling, but by far not one of the best films ever made.
THE BRIDGE ON RIVER KWAI
If you are a David Lean fan definitely see it. It has a good message and story. In my opinion, Lean made a couple of films that are better than this: "Great expectations" and "Brief encounter."
LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
Amazing wide screen composition and cinematography. This film is a landmark in wide screen directing.
ON THE WATERFRONT
Probably the best Elia Kazan production. Marlon Brando is outstanding and we all know the line "I could've been somebody." Even this good of a film can't cover the fact that it was made by a person that ratted on his friends to save his skin.
A FACE IN THE CROWD
It looks like it could be a great film, but it's lacking something essential. Don't bother.
Amazing Fellini, great acting. Don't miss it.
LA DOLCE VITA
Life in Italy is great, if you are rich. Or maybe not. Film of a mastermind director.
One of the best films ever made. Everything in the film makes sense in a nonsensical 'filmic' environment.
CITY OF GODS
Even though Meirelles hasn't made anything worth while since this film, don't miss this gem of Brazil filmmaking.
A world cinema classic.
THE GODFATHER II
Good film because of the way the story is told, but not as good as part one.
One of the best films of the French New Wave. Great story, great acting, and great directing.
DAY FOR NIGHT
If you want to see a good documentary about filmmaking, this is the one.
George C. Scott is great in it, but the film lacks the emotional depth of other war films.
Really? - just a movie, nothing more.
THE ROAD WARIOR
The sequel to "Mad Max" and the apple didn't fall far from the tree.
BATTLE OF ALGIERS
One of the best directed crowd scenes and one of the best direction of non-professional actors. Don't miss it.
THE LAST DETAIL
Jack is good in it, but it reminds you of a high school drama compared to the classics in this list.
Cool. That's what it is. Cool. Everything is cool in it - groundbreaking editing and storytelling. Cool acting and a beautiful break from the norm. Don't miss it, even if you don't like Godard.
WEST SIDE STORY
Pure Hollywood - a lot of hoopla for almost nothing.
STRANGER THAN PARADISE
Weird characters, quintessential Jarmusch, but in the big scheme of things this film is important only as a part of American cinema.
Paul Scofield is great as the Nazi, but you can't help but notice how stupid the bad guys are and how smart the good guys are … all the time. At the end it just falls flat.
THE MALTESE FALCON
Great Film Noir, except for Bogart's acting.
THE TREASURE OF SIERRA MADRE
Probably one of my favorite Huston films. The message is great, the story is believable and the symbolism is worthy of a master storyteller.
I know a lot of people think this is one of the good independent films, but it doesn't hold up to some of the films here.
You want to move to the big city? - watch this film first. I love the story, the acting and the experimental party scene.
Somewhat staged and predictable. Olivier's accent comes and goes and the directing is "obvious."
BOYS N THE HOOD
This is life in the hood. Don't miss it.
This is life in Mexico. Great story and great directing. Acting is not bad as well.
Very creative. Shows you glimpses of a culture that you don't know.
HOME OF THE BRAVE
Are you kidding me ?
Horrible acting, bad writing, and staged directing. One of the worst movies i have seen.
If you like Scorsese you should see it, but …
This is the best film Scorsese has ever made. It's brilliant.
The blood is excessive and unnecessary. It's OK as a film.
One of the best scripts ever written. Do yourself a favor and see it, even if you don't like love stories, this is one of the best films ever made.
Good Neo Noir, but inferior to other Neo Noirs that are not part of this list.
THE RED SHOES
Over the top … everything. The "sledge hammer" at its best.
This is another one - "You've got to be kidding me?" I don't care if the film is part of African-American culture, it's still nothing special.
I AM CUBA
Don't miss it. The cinematography alone is worth seeing. There are shots that are so surprising that you'll think about them for several days after. This film was banned in the USA because its anti-American, but it is so great that filmmakers like Coppola made it possible for us to see it.
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO's NEST
The film will shake your world. Don't miss it.
One of the best characters created in a script format in recent cinema. The script is great, the directing is outstanding and the acting is great. The special effects are not bad either.
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT
Good, but not great.
TOUCH OF EVIL
If you think you want to do anything in film and movies, then you have to see this film. It's by far the best film ever made and there isn't a single weak element in it.
Another African-American movie that is just not worth it next to films like "Touch of evil."
Classic noir, but its not worthy of being included.
IS PARIS BURNING?
Long and boring.
If Mr. Lee was making an "Essential American" film's list, then I agree this film should be part of it, but other than that it shouldn't be here.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
It might be an American classic book, but as a movie it is mediocre.
ROME OPEN CITY
Great example of Italian Neorealism, but the acting is theatrical and the film in places is not very good.
This is the better Rossellini. But as a whole De SIca is the better filmmaker.
The best Neo Noir made. Everything is great.
See it to understand what it's like to be on the receiving end of the Atomic bomb.
DOG DAY AFTERNOON
See it just to know what acting is. Al Pacino at his best.
SINGIN' IN THE RAIN
Beautiful and in places a very funny "dream." Entertainment at its best, charming, elegant and … it makes sense.
PATHS OF GLORY
Kirk Douglas thinks that if he raises his voice, the volume carries bigger emotional power. To me, he is the same in every movie. Kubrick has made better films.
Big production, but just a movie.
Now this is great Kubrick, better than the other two war films contained on this list.
KUNG FU HUSTLE
It's entertaining and funny in places, but it's not worthy of essential list ranking of any kind.
DIRTY PRETY THINGS
This is what it's like to be an immigrant, but I wouldn't refer to it as essential.
This is a great documentary and it's well told.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Good American classic, but not worthy of World cinema.
EMPIRE OF THE SUN
This is what I call a "flat character." He can do no wrong. Some good moments don't makeup for the empty production.
COOL HAND LUKE
This whole essential list is a pure example of a "failure to communicate" what essential films need to be seen. Some of the movies on this list don't need to be seen by beginning filmmakers.
Malick's story is good, but he has made better films. "The Thin Red Line" is the example I'm referring too.
DAYS OF HEAVEN
It's daring for the way it was shot, but overall is OK movie.
THE WIZARD OF OZ
Oh, I forgot that we are including ridiculous movies - big budgets and empty shells.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS
If I can see the set, then I can visualize the director saying "action." And i see the sets all the time in this flick.
LUST FOR LIFE
Don't even bother. Another one of the "big and empty" ones.
THE BICYCLE THIEF
Exactly the opposite of the title above. This is a World cinema classic and I cry at the end every time I see it.
MIRACLE IN MILAN
De Sica is one of the best Italian and world directors. He makes cinema of the unfortunate better than anybody else. Even though I think "Shoeshine" is a better film.
Somewhat unbelievable story, but the directing and acting is good.
Allen is the funniest filmmaker since Billy Wilder. Why? - because he knows what's funny and what's intelligent.
Addendum - I wonder why Mr. Lee needed to have an addendum? Why didn't he include the films created by female directors in the first place? Did he get back lash from colleagues/ students /family members?
I guess the important thing is he did include the films.
Amazing recent film. Don't miss it.
DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST
Everything in this movie-want-to-be is so forced that it makes you hurt.
THE HURT LOCKER
Another one of the "big budget and empty shel" ones.
THE SEDUCTION OF MIMI
These are great characters and the directing is great, but its not worthy to be part of the "Essential list."
LOVE AND ANARCHY
Funny and very Italian, yet inferior to any film that Leni Riefenstahl has made.
Over the top movie that shows what a misandrist filmmaker can make. Man is bad, and Woman is good.
By far the best Lina Wertmuller film. I loved it.