The MoFo Top 100 Neo-noir Countdown

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Sin City received a lot of nominations and awards. These are some of the most notable:
  • Nine (9) Satellite Award nominations, including Best Supporting Actor (Mickey Rourke)
  • Five (5) Saturn Award nominations, including a win for Best Supporting Actor (Rourke)
  • Three (3) ALMA Award nominations, including Best Actor (Benicio del Toro)
  • Three (3) MTV Movie Award nominations, including a win for Sexiest Performance (Jessica Alba)
  • Two (2) Cannes Film Festival nominations, including the Technical Grand Prize (Robert Rodriguez)
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Memories of Murder received a lot of nominations and awards. These are some of the most notable:
  • Nine (9) Grand Bell Award nominations, including a win for Best Film
  • Six (6) Cine21 Movie Award nominations, including a win for Best Actor (Song Kang-ho)
  • Four (4) Cognac Festival du Film Policier Awards, including the Grand Prix Award
  • Two (2) Blue Dragon Award nominations, including a win for Best Cinematography (Hyung Koo Kim)
  • One (1) Chlotrudis Award nomination for Best Visual Design

Welcome to the human race...
three votes.

seen gone girl at least two or three times and think it's a generally solid time, though i guess i'd put it somewhere in the middle of a prospective fincher ranking.

collateral was my #17. mann's capacity for crafting dense crime epics is impressively compartmentalised within this particular story's 24-hour timeframe and the minimal premise of two guys in a car is carried out so well by cruise and foxx. the shift to digital is also a nice touch.

heat was my #4. kind of the boring choice for the best mann film, but it's more than earned it.

i had not seen angel heart in a while before submitting my ballot, but i rewatched it recently and found it excellent enough that i might have put it on there.

zodiac is definitely good, maybe fincher's best but i'd have to get around to revisiting it to confirm.

thief was my #5. i obviously gave the edge to heat, but this is basically tied for it and arguably the most noirish of any of his films with its absolutely singular focus on caan as the titular crook. banging score, too.

the conversation and the man who wasn't there both fall under "seen once and liked". really should revisit them.

sin city used to be a favourite of mine, but as with just about every other rodriguez film i've more or less outgrown it. every once in a while, i think about going back, but whether i ever will is rather unlikely.

memories of murder is the best bong film, which counts for a lot.
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.
Iro's Top 100 Movies v3.0

I forgot the opening line.
26. Sin City - Seen this numerous times, the last time being in a recent neo-noir hall of fame. I wrote that "I find Sin City to be an interesting, direct descendant of classic film noir - with private detectives, cops, femme fatales and conspiracies all mixed together in the back alleys, rainy streets and dark nights these tales usually play out in. I've always really liked it - without being a super fan (I never got around to seeing the sequel or reading the graphic novels.) Something this over the top was always going to appeal to me to some degree, and there's absolutely no debating the visual flair the film has. It's absolutely gorgeous, and it's mix of animation and live-action has a look that was completely original in it's day." It's extremely nice film to just gaze at. Was never going to make my ballot though.

25. Memories of Murder - I don't know if maybe I didn't consider this neo noir, because it's certainly good enough to make my ballot. It didn't though. I keep meaning to get the Criterion edition. It's the first Bong Joon-ho film I ever saw, and I remember being extremely surprised by how funny he made this, despite the subject matter and despite treating the subject matter itself very seriously. I really marveled at that, and at that very time the first stirrings of "need to look more at South Korean filmmaking" started to enter my mind. Interesting to note that the serial killer who inspired this movie was eventually found - turns out he was serving time already for killing his sister-in-law when it was discovered that he was the guy who killed 15 women and girls over an 8 year period from 1986 to 1994. But get this : by the time he was found, the statute of limitations had run out, so he can't be prosecuted for it. (Excuse me if someone has already said all of this.) He's been up for parole since 2015, serving a life sentence - so I think they should just never grant him parole.

Seen : 51/76
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.
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Sin City was my #9. It's a brilliant modern pastiche of noir, cleverly designed to bring the look of the comic book to life.

Interesting to note that the serial killer who inspired this movie was eventually found - turns out he was serving time already for killing his sister-in-law when it was discovered that he was the guy who killed 15 women and girls over an 8 year period from 1986 to 1994. But get this : by the time he was found, the statute of limitations had run out, so he can't be prosecuted for it.
I think if you kill that many people, the statute of limitations shouldn't apply, or the window for prosecution should at least get longer for each murder committed.

Though with the complete lack of justice, it seems that Bong Joon-ho got the ending right after all.

Memories of Murder is indeed a masterpiece, ending up at #8 on my list.

I didn't know what to make of Sin City when I first saw it in theaters, but I ended up really liking it when I watched it again recently. Not quite enough to make my ballot, though. Anyway, here's a review:

It was nice to watch this again because if I could sum up my first viewing experience with one word, it would be "overwhelming." With the movie's then-unique visuals, flowery narration, just as flowery dialogue and hard-R violence, there was a lot for my slightly younger brain to process. I liked it, but the many stimuli affected my enjoyment. This time, I knew what to expect and thus was in a better space to enjoy the ride and enjoy it I did.

While everything I mentioned made this viewing more fun, they would all be sound and fury if it weren't for the characterizations, which are the movie's secret weapons (yes, even more than Miho's arsenal). Our heroes in the three stories are more than worth the investment, but it's Del Toro's delightfully sleazy cop Jackie Boy who is the MVP. A guy who not only knows how to have fun with a part, but also whose fun is contagious - see The Usual Suspects - he knows exactly what kind of movie he is in. Also, as his fate encapsulates, the violence is extreme, but it manages to be funny and make you admire its beauty as much as it shocks. Take the execution scene, which proves that for some tough bastards, flipping the switch once is not enough. Again, not enough can be said about the look and feel - besides what maybe Nolan is doing, what else has been this daring since - and its fractured, Tarantino-like narrative is a welcome and meaningful touch.

Rodriguez, Tarantino, Miller and company deserve all the praise for their depiction of a world where doing the right thing will most likely get you killed. However, if you don't die, you'll end up feeling like you have fought a war all by yourself. When I’m in the mood for a rewatch, the movies of the mid-2000's are not ones I typically reach for. I doubt I am not alone in thinking they are relatively lean years. Since this was not only better the second time around, but also from this era, seeing it again was an especially sweet surprise. In other words, it's like being pulled over, but being let off with a mere busted taillight warning.

I think if you kill that many people, the statute of limitations shouldn't apply, or the window for prosecution should at least get longer for each murder committed.

Though with the complete lack of justice, it seems that Bong Joon-ho got the ending right after all.

I had a "wait, wat?" Moment of response to this. (Mentally, I guess I hadn't processed Phoenix's post).

This might be the American perspective talking, but I'm kind of surprised murder has a statute of limitation at all in Korea. It certainly doesn't in the US. Not that I think the US criminal system is any type of role model to the world, but I would have guessed murder would be a crime that wouldn't have a statute of limitation in most of the world.

But I guess it does in Korea (I haven't tried googling "statute of limitations on murder by country" yet).

I did not expect much from Sin City but I pretty much loved it-my #22

I did expect a lot from Memories of Murder but the comedic elements kept me from loving it.
I was similar. I only saw Sin City because a couple of friends wanted to see it so I saw it too. I have a thing about 'all star casts' in that they're often a bad sign. A bit like the words Starring Samuel L. Jackson when it's a post 2000 film. But I was blown away with how much I enjoyed it. A little less on the subsequent watches (probably because my expectations were so low with that first viewing) but still very entertaining. But for all that, I needed films and Sin City was #13 on my list.

Memories Of Murder was a blind buy and I thought it was fine. OK. A little moody but nothing special... Then a year or so later everyone seemed to be raving about it. I've not seen it again, but maybe I should?

The Conversation I've seen twice but not for decades, but I've never 'got it'. I didn't enjoy it either time.

The Man Who Wasn't There is another of those films I've had for over 20 years and still not seen.
5-time MoFo Award winner.

A couple more from my ballot.

The movie I have seen more than any other on my ballot is Sin City and I had it at number 6. It's funny, it's violent, the style works for me and the performances are just the right amount of over the top. Marv is one of my favorite film badasses of all time.

Also had Memories of Murder down at number 15. This was a PRHoF rec for me a couple years ago and and absolutely loved it. It grabbed me right from the beginning and never let go.

I had Heat at number 10. It's probably one of my favorite movies to make my ballot but I dinged it a bit for not really being neo-noir, in my opinion. But it's great, it was eligible and so here it is.

Dark City

Alex Proyas, 1998


Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly

Le Cercle Rouge

Jean-Pierre Melville, 1970


Alain Delon, Bourvil, Gian Maria Volonté, Yves Montand


Dark City - An amnesiac man realizes he's wanted for a series of brutal murders. As he tries to prove his innocence, he is led into a nightmarish underworld ruled by a group of beings called the Strangers.

Le Cercle Rouge - After getting out of prison, a master thief prepares for his next heist by recruiting a notorious escapee and a former policeman, while a police commissioner is determined to stop them.

Seen both, like both quite a bit, but none made my list.

I caught up with Le Cercle Rouge during the recent Neo-noir HoF and enjoyed it a lot. Here's my full review and part of what I wrote:

After that first act, it does take its time to set everything up for the heist. I do feel this part could've been trimmed a bit. There is an effective atmosphere built through the character's interactions, but I think some parts could've been abbreviated. The heist, which has echoes of Rififi all over, does succeed in building up tension as we see our three main characters carry it out in silence for almost half an hour.
I do have some issues here and there, but I still liked it quite a bit, though not enough to make my list.

Dark City is one I wish I could've gotten to but just didn't find the time. I saw it a long time ago and remember liking it a whole lot, but I feel it needed a refresher for me to include it on my list. I do remember having some slight issues with the final confrontation, but overall, it's a film I remember quite fondly. I really don't know why I haven't rewatched it in so many years.

SEEN: 53/78
MY BALLOT: 14/25

My ballot  

Ha! Another one of those weird pairings; two "City" films back-to-back, both paired with a foreign film Maybe it's just me looking for connections

Anyway, some list facts:
  • This is Jean-Pierre Melville's first entry in the countdown, but he already had one come up in the Film Noir Countdown: Bob Le Flambeur at #63.
  • He's one of only three directors to crossover between countdowns so far. Some of the crossovers have already come up, others haven't come up yet. Can you find out who else has crossed over?

I've never loved Dark City and I generally am put off by heavy Sci-Fi, but I do think it's a solid film and I have a lot of respect for it. Enough that I put it at #21 on my ballot.

Here's what I wrote about it when I rewatched it for a HOF:
Dark City (Alex Proyas, 1998)

Date Watched:01/28/2020
Cinema or Home: Home
Reason For Watching: 21st MoFo Hall of Fame, nominated by wyldesyde19
Rewatch: Yes

I generally don't care for heavy Sci-Fi and I struggle with suspension of disbelief, so a film about a dying alien race that holds a group of humans captive and modifies their memories for experimental purposes is pretty well out of my comfort zone. Fortunately Dark City features a strong cast, an intriguing premise, loads of atmosphere, and a short enough run-time to keep me from losing interest. But only just.

One of the biggest problems with Sci-Fi films is that they often rely heavily on special effects and, more often than not, those effects don't age very well. I think this is true, at least in part, of this more than twenty year old film. In particular, the final battle between Murdoch and the stranger just looks downright silly and took me out of the film.

The other thing I struggled with is the underdevelopment of its peripheral characters. I understand that this is necessary given the premise, but I generally find it much easier to engage with a film when I'm invested in the people in it. It's a rare occasion when a movie can keep me totally enthralled with only story and imagery and, though it does offer a decent amount of development for Murdoch's character at least, Dark City is not one of those exceptions.

That said, I've seen this movie on a number of occasions, including during its original theatrical release and have always liked it. I last watched it in 2016 in preparation for the MoFo Sci-Fi Countdown and I rated it a 3.5+ at that time. I liked it a little less this time around but I still think it's pretty solid.

I've seen Le Cercle Rouge, but aside from the eye candy that is Alain Delon, I didn't like it.

My Ballot:
1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (#35)
2. You Were Never Really Here (#50)
3. The Man From Nowhere (#87)
4. The Departed (#53)
5. The Big Lebowski (#38)
7. True Romance (#60)
8. Zodiac (#30)
12. Shutter Island (#86)
13. The Nice Guys (#39)
14. Inherent Vice (#41)
15. Gone Girl (#34)
16. Pulp Fiction (#37)
17. Killer Joe (#66)
21. Dark City (#24)

Le Cercle Rouge was #60 on the MoFo Top 100 of the 1970s. Dark City was #90 on the MoFo Top 100 of the 1990s, #69 on the original MoFo Top 100 in 2010, and #48 on the MoFo Top 100 Science Fiction Films.
"Film is a disease. When it infects your bloodstream it takes over as the number one hormone. It bosses the enzymes, directs the pineal gland, plays Iago to your psyche. As with heroin, the antidote to Film is more Film." - Frank Capra

I was kind of annoyed after the fact that I decided to keep Dark City off my ballot. I mean I had two Melville films on there surely I would have been okay with jut one to spread my votes around a bit. It's a unique film that belongs on the countdown and I'm glad it's here. As for the Melville I had Le Cercle Rouge at #24. Expertly directed (that heist eh) with style so cool, not so much slow but deliberate paced with a great performance from Alain Delon.

4. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
10. Alphaville (1965)
13. The Conversation (1974)
14. Zodiac (2007)
15. Memories of Murder (2003)
17. Fireworks (1997)
18. Pale Flower (1964)
19. The Grifters (1990)
20. Inherent Vice (2014)
22. The American Friend (1977)
24. Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
25. Série noire (1979) - One pointer
"Don't be so gloomy. After all it's not that awful. Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

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