The MoFo Top 100 Neo-noir Countdown

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L.A. Confidential was my #15 pick. I think it's about as perfect a movie as there is. Two picks left but I didn't include one of the two likeliest on my list. Tomorrow I'll fill in my #11 so I guess I'll finish up with 16. Comme ci, comme ça.

When all is said and done I assume we'll all be revealing our lists in their entirety. I had some picks that in hindsight didn't stand much of a chance. And then there were two that I was surprised didn't at least place (#6 & 22).

70 of 98 seen so far.

1. The French Connection (#58)
2. You Were Never Really Here (#50)
3. Get Carter (#49)
4. In the Heat of the Night (#98)
5. Blast of Silence (#48)
6. Won't make it
7. Definitely won't
8. Taxi Driver (#4)
9. Thief (#29)
10. Nope
11. Maybe?
12. Blood Simple (#9)
13. Badlands (#103)
14. No. Excellent movie, but no
15. L.A. Confidential (#3)
16. Harper (#101)
17. Dark City (#24)
18. One False Move (#73)
19. No Country for Old Men (#12)
20. Nope, no giallo
21. Another good one but no
22. It'd be nice but ...
23. Drive (#14)
24. Point Blank (#72)
25. Collateral (#33)

It’s A Classic Rope-A-Dope
LA Confidential is one of the best modern crime films out there. I had it at 8. I watched it a few times within a few years of its release, so it’s not one I have been dying to go back to. Just seeing the comments here makes me want to crack open that blu ray though.

L.A. Confidential is a great film with great performances, and was #9 on my list. When I rewatched it for the 3rd Noir HoF, I wrote this:

L.A. Confidential (1997)
Directed by: Curtis Hanson
Starring: Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey

L.A. Confidential is a film packed with talent and great production design. Despite the costumes and sets perfectly recreating the 1950s, the film itself looks incredibly modern, with natural lighting replacing the stylized use of contrast typically found in classic noirs. Without a nostalgic view of the era colouring perceptions, the focus can remain on the story and its characters. This more contemporary framing also allows audiences to more easily imagine these events taking place today, allowing the film's plot to transcend the decade it was set in.

The script is incredibly smart, and in true noir fashion nothing is really black or white, especially when it comes to its protagonists. Ed Exley appears at first to be a real “by the books” cop who isn't afraid to ruffle the feathers of his fellow officers if it means following protocol, however while he does clearly believe in justice, he is motivated by status within the department, and isn't afraid to play politics to get what he wants. Bud White does what it takes to get a confession, bending the rules to get results, but has a soft heart under that tough exterior. Their different approaches to police work cause them to clash, but they're ultimately more similar than they care to admit.

Rounding out the trio is Jack Vincennes, whose ego and lust for fame has him dealing under the table to score easy busts that will garner a lot of publicity. However he is by no means a lazy detective, and it's his sharp mind that becomes integral to connecting the film's seemingly unrelated story threads. It's the combination of those intertwining narratives and how its characters play off each other that make L.A. Confidential's story so satisfying. I may have mourned the lack of that classic noir aesthetic, but the script and its stellar performances more than made up for the loss.
The fact that I focused more on the characters there rather than anything else about the film is proof of how engaged I was with their stories, and the writing and performances that brought those characters to life. Glad it placed so high on the Countdown!

Seen: 56/98

My List: 19
02. Blade Runner 2049 (2017) - #44
03. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) - #42
04. John Wick (2014) - DNP
05. Blue Ruin (2013) - #82
06. Mother (2009) - #67
07. Dark City (1998) - #24
08. Strange Days (1995) - #65
09. L.A. Confidential (1997) - #3
10. The Man from Nowhere (2010) - #87
11. Se7en (1995) - #6
12. Reservoir Dogs (1992) - #16
13. The Long Goodbye (1973) - #5
14. Angel Heart (1987) - #31
15. Infernal Affairs (2002) - #91
16. Memento (2000) - #8
17. Memories of Murder (2003) - #25
Le Samouraï (1967) - #7
20. The Usual Suspects (1995) - #20
21. Oldboy (2003) - #52
23. Nightcrawler (2014) - #21
25. The Chaser (2008) - DNP 1-pointer

I am normally very much on top of my ballot, and not one to later say I forgot about that one. The only time was when I left Pet Sematary off the female directors list, but that's understandable considering I don't usually pay attention to directors at all much less their gender. I've done it again, and I don't know how I left off L.A. Confidential because I was well aware of it while putting my ballot together. Maybe I just accidentally deleted it. It would've been high on my ballot, and now I just hope stinkin Blade Runner is not within 20 points or so because then my omission would have cost L.A.C. the #2 slot.

1. Le Samourai
3. L.A. Confidential
6. Miller's Crossing
7. The Big Lebowski
8. Pulp Fiction
9. Taxi Driver
10. Le Circle Rouge
12. Memento
13. No Country for Old Men
16. Mulholland Drive
17. The Silence of the Lambs
18. Blow Out
22. Point Blank
23. Alphaville
25. Blood Simple

Society ennobler, last seen in Medici's Florence
Couldn't do it without something by Michael Haneke, so Caché [Hidden] (2005) landed at the upper half of my ballot at #12.

That's an unique movie. Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche present a master-class of acting superbly directed by Haneke in this heavy psychological game. (what about the term: modern neo-noir)

I discovered Haneke thanks to his highly acclaimed Amour (2012). Since then, I've deeply examined most of his works, watching Caché three or four times in the last decade.

"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.


RT – 99%, IMDb – 8.2

Roger Ebert said:

"One of the reasons L.A. Confidential is so good, why is deserves to be mentioned with Chinatown, is that it's not just plot and atmosphere. There are convincing characters here, not least Kim Basinger's hooker, whose quiet line, 'I thought I was helping you', is one of the movie's most revealing moments [...] L.A. Confidential is seductive and beautiful, cynical and twisted, and one of the best films of the year." (read full review here)
Catherine Springer, from, said:

"Soaked in crime-noir atmosphere, the film also pays homage to the cultural, social and political moods of the time, as well as offering a less-than-glamorous perspective of Hollywood’s heyday, with starlets and scandals as cheaply and readily available as hookers and drugs." (read full review here)
@JayDee said:

"Impeccably acted. Terrifically scripted. And handsomely lensed by Hanson. This is a great piece of film-making, and certainly deserving of its reputation as one of the finest films the 90s had to offer. Also deserving of its reputation as a film that you really should see." (read full review here)
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Not on my list. I saw it, lo these many years ago. I remember I enjoyed it. But all I remember is Kim Basinger had Veronica Lake's hairdo. Other than that, I do not remember it.

Couldn't do it without something by Michael Haneke, so Caché [Hidden] (2005) landed at the upper half of my ballot at #12.

That's an unique movie. Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche present a master-class of acting superbly directed by Haneke in this heavy psychological game. (what about the term: modern neo-noir)

I discovered Haneke thanks to his highly acclaimed Amour (2012). Since then, I've deeply examined most of his works, watching Caché three or four times in the last decade.

I think I'll check this out tonight. I've always meant to see it and it's available on Tubi.

Welcome to the human race...
watched it once, liked it well enough, but have never felt like i had to revisit it.
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.
Iro's Top 100 Movies v3.0

L.A. Confidential(1997)

This is an unusual film
noir because it was not a film from the vintage 1940s-1950s, nor a modern noir representing the classic style, but a film set in the traditional noir era filmed in a modern fashion. Although the L.A. of the early 1950s was perfectly captured, something was missing from the feel of the story in terms of typical noir. And that was the photography. Evidently director Curtis Hanson had tasked the cinematographer Dante Spinotti to film it in a contemporary manner, sans the classic noir shadowy lighting and sets. The lack of shadows and murkiness did not harm the production however. In fact this is a fine film in almost every aspect.

A new police sergeant Exley is trying to live up to his father who had been a legendary L.A. police detective. At first he's determined to be a clean cop, eschewing tawdry or not-by-the-book behavior. But when he's sent to investigate a multiple murder at a Hollywood diner, The Night Owl, he does not believe
the official story in which a disgraced detective is killed with the other patrons-- all of it blamed on 3 black thugs. As he investigates the true story Exley interacts with narcotics officer Jack Vincennes, officer Bud White, Captain Dudley Smith, "Hush-Hush" tabloid (fashioned after the magazine "Confidential" owner Sid Hudgens , prostitute Lynne Bracken, and escort service owner Pierce Patchett.

What follows is a twisted plot involving all characters, which slowly unwinds exposing the involvement and culpability of several high police and city officials. In the end Exley and White work together to bring down the officials, solve the complex crime, and move into a gratifying Hollywood ending.

The acting in this picture was superb. Hanson took a chance on U.S. newcomers Guy Pearce and Russell Crowe. He perfectly cast Kevin Spacey as the suave publicity seeking narcotics agent, and James Cromwell as the Irish corrupt police Captain. Kim Bassinger sizzles as a Veronica Lake type character, along with Amber Smith as an escort whose luck runs out. Danny DeVito is well cast as a sleezeball tabloid owner, and David Strathairn is convincing as the wealthy prostitute ring owner.

The picture requires its full 138 minutes to unravel the complicated plot. Reportedly the James Ellroy novel of the same name is even more complex, but Ellroy gave his blessing to the screenwriters Brian Helgeland and Curtis Hanson to reduce the story layers in order to contain it in a more standard movie length. The result is a memorable and solidly produced neo-noir which garnered Oscars that year dominated by

Raymond Chandler provided a palpable dramatic representation of the 1940s Hollywood in his novels, as was the 1930s vibrancy in John Huston's
Chinatown. L.A. Confidential stands tall among them in its portrayal of a 1950s Los Angeles that may very likely have existed, and which certainly comes alive in this picture.

This is one of the great neo-noirs. I have it at #4 on my list.


L.A. Confidential received a boatload of nominations and awards. These are some of the most notable:
  • Twelve (12) BAFTA Film Award nominations, including a win for Best Editing (Peter Honess)
  • Eight (8) Satellite Award nominations, including a win for Best Adapted Screenplay (Brian Helgeland)
  • Nine (9) Academy Award nominations, including a win for Best Supporting Actress (Kim Basinger)
  • Five (5) Golden Globe Award nominations, including a win for Best Supporting Actress (Basinger)
  • One (1) nomination to the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival

Here are the films I voted for which won't make the list:

2. Carlito's Way
4. Raging Bull
5. The Killer
11. The Servant
14. Hard Boiled
15. Shock Corridor
19. The Player
20. Good Time
21. Ghost Dog : The Way of the Samurai
24. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Here are the films I voted for which won't make the list:

2. Carlito's Way
4. Raging Bull
5. The Killer
11. The Servant
14. Hard Boiled
15. Shock Corridor
19. The Player
20. Good Time
21. Ghost Dog : The Way of the Samurai
24. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Hard Boiled! That's a good one I didn't think of.

Aside from Harper, which was the official list's #101, the only movie on my list that didn't make it was "Ruthless: An Experiment in Terror".

My list:

1. Blade Runner (1982)
2. Mulholland Drive (2001)
3. Brick (2006)
4. Heat (1995)
5. Taxi Driver (1976)
6. Drive (2011)
7. Blue Velvet (1986)
8. Point Blank (1969)
9. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
10. Chinatown (1974)
11. Lost Highway (1997)
12. Memento (2000)
13. Blood Simple (1984)
14. Fargo (1996)
15. Oldboy (2003)
16. Basic Instinct (1992)
17. No Country for Old Men (2007)
18. Ruthless: An Experiment In Terror (1969)
19. Gone Girl (2014)
20. A Simple Plan (1998)
21. Blow Out (1981)
22. Sin City (2005)
23. Harper (1966)
24. Under the Silver Lake (2018)
25. Dark City (1998)

I forgot the opening line.
4. Taxi Driver - A classic that I've seen over and over again - one of those that always seems to be playing on television, or being watched by somebody when I happen to be around. I catch scenes every so often - so regularly that the entire film has been imprinted into my brain. The score is there. The performances, and every line. One of the most influential films of all time - there are so many other movies where I'm sat there thinking, "the director is paying some kind of homage to Taxi Driver here." It was always going to be on my ballot, and I ended up putting it in the #18 slot.

3. L.A. Confidential - A really solid neo noir - a real performance piece with the likes of Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito - and yeah, Kevin Spacey - all getting a chance to shine. Police corruption and Hollywood culture mix together really well when it comes to this genre, and the fact that the novel was written in 1990 goes to show that neo noir isn't only confined to the big screen. As far as fiction is concerned, the style is still being adopted by various writers - as it will perhaps forever be. I don't know. I do know that I like this film however, It ended up at #20 on my ballot.

Seen : 73/98
I'd never even heard of : 9/98
Movies that had been on my radar, but I haven't seen yet : 16/98
Films from my list : 19 + 1

#3 - My #20 - L.A. Confidential (1997)
#4 - My #18 - Taxi Driver (1976)
#5 - My #8 - The Long Goodbye (1973)
#6 - My #5 - Se7en (1995)
#8 - My #4 - Memento (2000)
#12 - My #10 - No Country For Old Men (2007)
#13 - My #7 - Blue Velvet (1986)
#14 - My #15 - Drive (2011)
#15 - My #6 - Miller's Crossing (1990)
#16 - My #2 - Reservoir Dogs (1992)
#17 - My #22 - Blow Out (1981)
#21 - My #13 - Nightcrawler (2014)
#27 - My #24 - The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)
#28 - My #1 - The Conversation (1974)
#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)
#106 - My #16 - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)
Remember - everything has an ending except hope, and sausages - they have two.

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I forgot the opening line.

Gloria - My #3

You might see an annoying kid, but I see Gena Rowlands giving the greatest performance of her entire career, and another John Cassavetes classic in Gloria. People talk about breaking gender rules today, but go back and watch this tough lady take on the Mafia and make them look like incompetent fools, faltering before her wrath. This is a character who has learned her skills, and has honed her abilities - growing up in a world filled with crime and dark goings on. When a small boy needs her help - when he's a target for liquidation - the only thing preventing his death is the bond he makes with Gloria Swenson (Rowlands) - the roughest, grittiest lady you could imagine. She's an ace with a pistol, and savvy - the gangster scene in New York City nothing new to her. One of my favourite characters full stop, and this is one of my favourite films. Gloria roars like a lion, and the mighty falter.

The two I was surprised didn't make the countdown.

My #6

And #22