The MoFo Top 100 Neo-noir Countdown

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In the "cool story, bro" department, when I visited L.A. many years ago, I went to the restaurant in Heat where Al Pacino and Robert De Niro had coffee together. I asked the host if we could sit at the same table. He gave me a quizzical, "oh, great, one of those people" expression before seating us at a likely random table.

As a consolation prize, he let us look at a list of orders celebrities made there. Fun fact: Keanu Reeves likes chopped Asian salad.

A system of cells interlinked
Two votes from me today, even if seeing these films land now is sort of bittersweet. I am glad they both made it, never really questioned that they would, but honestly think they both should be in the top 20, with Zodiac perhaps being Top 10. Alas, apparently, not enough people place it in the noir style, so here we are.

Zodiac is a masterpiece, pure and simple. I have seen this film many times, and I have yet to find a flaw in it. I go back and forth on whether or not Zodiac or Se7en is Fincher's best, but I think when the chips are down, I would probably go with Zodiac, as it is the subtler film. Or maybe it's I said, I go back and forth!

Anyway, I had Zodiac on my ballot at #5. It is easy the best of the genre from the 2000's, and stands toe to toe with some of the best of all time. I couldn't in good conscience bump it any higher, as objectively it isn't a pure noir, and I feel my top 4 are all quintessential examples of the style and themes of noir.

Fincher is incredibly detail-oriented film maker, and this is a wonderful example of him doing almost everything perfectly. The casting, the sets, the vibe, and even his amazingly subtle use of CGI create an absolutely convincing period piece that I never get tired of watching.

As for Thief, I ran across the name as I perused lists of neos to watch on the run up, and it rang a bell, but I couldn't recall anything about the film. I watched it with my wife soon after the countdowns were announced, and we both loved it. I have since watched it two more times over the past couple of months, and it is an excellent example of the style. I love the city at night stuff, with the watery pavement and the shimmering lights and the minimal synth soundtrack totally works and locks it into its era nicely. The robbery with the thermite is a highlight, but overall, Thief is fantastic stuff. I had it at #18, but if I had submitted my ballot after the subsequent viewings, it might have made top 10.

My wife says that it may end up in her top 10 of all time with a couple more viewings. She loved it!

“It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” ― Thomas Sowell

Have seen so far: 22
Gone Girl - I thought this movie was alright, nothing special.

Collateral - Seen this movie a long time ago, only remember bits and pieces of it, tbh.

Heat - One of my favorite Crime/Action movies and It's #2 on my ballot list.

Zodiac - Decent thriller, too bad you already know the end results if you already know the true story about the zodiac killer stuff.

Thief - An alright 80's movie, didn't care much for it.

Have not seen so far: 48

My Ballot List
#2 - Heat
#3 - The Dark Knight
#4 - Dog Day Afternoon
#5 - Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Moviefan1988's Favorite Movies<br />

Welcome to the Dance: My Favorite 20 High School Movies

Do you think the "steep moral slide" from the past 30 years is any steeper than the "moral slide" between 1957 and 1987? I mean, I'm sure that the things that did make it into the final cut of this film, or many other 1980s film, would still be mighty scandalous to people that grew up in the 40s and 50s.
If I may say so, you're responding to a silly argument. A healthy society will have scandalous art, and it has nothing to do with morals. At least not in the sense of claiming a prudish, more repressed society is somehow more moral.
I may go back to hating you. It was more fun.

Geez what is this the Michael Mann Countdown? Thief is a great movie and fine example for this list. It didn't make mine but happy to see it here. Zodiac did make my list at #14. Fincher's best film I think...and it plays even better on rewatches.

4. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)
10. Alphaville (1965)
14. Zodiac (2007)
17. Fireworks (1997)
18. Pale Flower (1964)
19. The Grifters (1990)
20. Inherent Vice (2014)
22. The American Friend (1977)
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."


Zodiac received a lot of nominations and few awards. These are some of the most notable:
  • Six (6) Golden Schmoes Award nominations, including Best Director (David Fincher)
  • Three (3) Satellite Award nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay (James Vanderbilt)
  • Three (3) Empire Award nominations, including Best Diretor (Fincher)
  • Two (2) Saturn Award nominations, including Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film
  • One (1) nomination for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival
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Thief received a few nominations and awards. These are some of the most notable:
  • Six (6) Stinker Award nominations, including Worst Actor (James Caan)
  • One (1) Razzie Award nomination for Worst Musical Score (Tangerine Dream)
  • One (1) nomination for the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival

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I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
I have not seen Thief but probably ought to rectify that sooner or later. I have seen Zodiac , however I didn't much care for it.

Thief has been on my watchlist forever, but I've yet to manage to catch him. Okay, maybe it's only been on my watchlist for a few years.

Zodiac - I only watched this once about a decade ago, and it didn't strike me as the most memorable film. So I was surprised in the subsequent years to see people gushing over it. I liked Se7en and Fight Club back in the day. Not sure how they would play for me today, especially the latter. I only checked back in with Fincher for Mank! afterwards and was still underwhelmed.
I do want to revisit Alien 3 at some point.

Society ennobler, last seen in Medici's Florence
#29. Thief (1981) - I've seen it only once, about ten years ago. I love James Caan and I remember that this film was good but not fully satisfied my expectations. Considering how famous title it is, I've awaited a more exploding flick.
Anyway, it was briefly on my initial consideration list. I guess, it gonna make my top 40 in the scope after a rewatch.
"Population don't imitate art, population imitate bad television." W.A.
"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." M.T.

Neither Zodiac nor Thief are on my list. In fact, I have never seen Thief. But I recently saw a strange movie called Small Apartments. James Caan has a small part as a disgruntled neighbor. The depth and nuance of his performance in this kooky movie was amazing. So I will definitely be checking out Thief.

Do you think the "steep moral slide" from the past 30 years is any steeper than the "moral slide" between 1957 and 1987? I mean, I'm sure that the things that did make it into the final cut of this film, or many other 1980s film, would still be mighty scandalous to people that grew up in the 40s and 50s.
That's a good question. My 30 year reference was arbitrary. As you know the Hays Code and Joseph Breen enforced the unacceptable material until the late '50s, then by the Hippie era of the '60s the code was finished, replaced by movie ratings. Some of the previous censorship, like not being able to use the word "pregnant" was ridiculous.

Since then there's been a steady degeneration of what is shown on screen. In some cases it's tough to imagine how it could get any more rank. Regardless, one could say that the decay has been steady since the Hippie movement.

I forgot the opening line.
32. Heat - Pretty close to making my ballot - Heat is a great film, and should have really remained the only other time Robert De Niro and Al Pacino featured together in a film aside from The Godfather Part II, because it stands as a perfect example of the kind of balance these two great performers can give to a movie when done right. It couldn't be bettered. Both Pacino and De Niro do their thing, but take nothing away from each other. We normally expect the cop to be calm and rational, and the crook to be crazy and chaotic - but here Pacino, as a detective, is the wild one with a fracturing marriage while De Niro's big-time thief is calm, assured and starting a serious relationship. Keep your eye out for Bud Cort's cameo by the way. I can't help it, I always keep an eye out for that guy. Just a great Michael Mann crime film which I do like a great deal.

31. Angel Heart - I'm pretty sure I've seen this, but my memory of it is really hazy.

30. Zodiac - An obsession, and who can blame all of the characters who have their lives thrown into turmoil because they're desperate to solve this real-life crime mystery. A newspaper cartoonist (Jake Gyllenhaal), reporter (Robert Downey Jnr.) and detective (Mark Ruffalo) try to uncover who the Zodiac killer's real identity is. The Zodiac terrorized San Francisco during the late 1960s, becoming the Jack the Ripper of the 20th Century in that his real identity will most probably never be known. A real murderer who was never caught, he sent letters to newspapers with ciphers in them, and goaded the media - one long-time mystery was solved when one of the Zodiac's messages was finally decoded in late 2021. Such a haunting film from David Fincher, which uses the eerie mystery and awful murders to expound on what obsession does to a person, and what it does to their life. I had it on my ballot at #23.

29. Thief - Another film I've been looking forward to finally getting around to seeing.

Seen : 47/72
I'd never even heard of : 9/72
Movies that had been on my radar, but I haven't seen yet : 16/72
Films from my list : 5

#30 - My #23 - Zodiac (2007)
#42 - My #19 - Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
#44 - My #21 - Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
#52 - My #11 - Oldboy (2003)
#81 - My #17 - Brick (2005)
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.
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I forgot the opening line.
My ballot still has quite a few good opportunities for hits, a couple that I know all hope for is gone, and some questionable neo noir choices...

1. 99% sure this'll be here
2. Might not be neo noir
3. Nope, 0%
4. 100%
5. 98%
6. 90%
7. 75%
8. 99%
9. 100%
10. Might not be neo noir
11. Oldboy (2003)
12. 99%
13. 35%
14. Might not be neo noir
15. 50%
16. Might not be neo noir
17. Brick (2006)
18. 100%
19. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
20. 80%
21. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
22. 70%
23. Zodiac (2007)
24. 50%
25. Nope, 0%

The Conversation

Francis Ford Coppola, 1974


Gene Hackman, John Cazale, Allen Garfield, Frederic Forrest

The Man Who Wasn't There

Joel Coen, 2001


Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini


The Conversation - A paranoid surveillance expert is hired by a mysterious client to spy on a young couple, which triggers memories of a past case that ended badly.

The Man Who Wasn't There - Set in the late 40s, a middle-aged barber disappointed with his life decides to blackmail his wife's boss. But his scheme goes terribly wrong uncovering even darker secrets.

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