Repo Man Poll Results Analysis

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Analysis of the top 20 films as selected by people who like Repo Man.

Let me first point out that the top 20 analysis actually includes 22 movies. This is because I haven't been including Repo Man in my list (it being the obvious favorite) and when I made this list there was a tie for the 20th spot. So the top 10 is actually 11 and so is the second 10. Realize also that the list may have changed since I made this analysis, which was done when approximately 520 people had responded and 859 movies had received at least one mention.

Directors - let's take a look at the directors with more than one film in the top 20:
Top 10 Second 10
Stanley Kubrick 3  
Quentin Tarantino 2  
Francis Ford Coppola 1 1
Martin Scorsese 1 1
Joel Coen   2

Other directors, top 10: Alex Cox, Ridley Scott, David Fincher, Terry Gilliam

Other directors, second 10: Rob Reiner, George Miller, David Lynch, George Lucas, Sam Raimi, W. D. Richter, Richard Linklater

Actors - and here are the actors:
Robert De Niro: Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, small but important part in Brazil
Harrison Ford: Blade Runner, Star Wars, very small part in Apocalypse Now
Harvey Keitel: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Taxi Driver
Marlon Brando: The Godfather, Apocalypse Now
Sterling Hayden: Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather
Robert Duvall: The Godfather, Apocalypse Now
John Goodman: Raising Arizona, The Big Lebowski
Tim Roth: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction
Dennis Hopper: Blue Velvet, small part in Apocalypse Now
Steve Buscemi: Reservoir Dogs, The Big Lebowski, tiny part in Pulp Fiction
James Earl Jones: voice in Star Wars, tiny role in Dr. Strangelove

Personally, I think this selection of actors has more to do with a combination of luck and who is directing than anything else (with the exception of De Niro in Taxi Driver).

And did anybody notice that the top 2 films - Repo Man and Apocalypse Now - feature father and son as the leading actors?


Writers & Producers - As it turns out, the only reason a writer or producer is involved with more than one project is because they happen to also be the director, or the brother of the director. The one exception is Lawrence Bender, who is producer of both Tarantino films.

In 17 out of 22 films, the director had or shared screenplay credits. Lynch, Cox, Tarantino, Lucas, Kubrick, and the Coen brothers got to have sole screenplay credit. Kubrick, Coppola and the Coens have had sole credit as producer.

Cinematography, Editing, and Production Design - 6 of these important professionals are involved with more than one film, but only one of them did it with a different director: John Barry (production design for A Clockwork Orange and Star Wars). Don Trumbull was special photographic effects supervisor for both 2001 and Blade Runner.

Cinematographers Jordan (Blade Runner) and Jeff (Fight Club) Cronenweth are father and son.

Tarantino's 2 films used the exact same team of director, producer, cinematography, editing, and production design.


Genres - Listing the genres is a bit trickier, but here we go:
  Primary genre Secondary genre
Drama 5 4
Crime/Gangsters 4 0
Comedy 3 2
Dystopia 3 1
Satire 3 0
Science fiction 2 6
Action/Adventure 1 1
Horror 1 0


I'll admit that some of my categorizations may be controversial (is Star Wars primarily Sci-Fi or Action/Adventure?). Note that the numbers don't add up because I didn't assign a secondary genre to every movie. For those who are wondering, Dystopia refers to a world which seems to have gone terribly wrong (I include post-apocalyptic visions in this category also).

This is when the movies were made:
Decade Top 10 Second 10
1990 3 3
1980 3 6
1970 3 2
1960 2 0


Given the preference to recent films, I think it's a real credit to Stanley Kubrick that he made the 3 oldest films in the top 20. In my own personal top 10, half of the movies are older than the oldest ones in this list.

I know they don't add up to 10. See the comment at the top of this essay.


Here's how the top 20 did with awards:
Award Won Nominated
Oscar: Best Picture 1 7
Oscar: Best Director   9
Oscar: Best Screenplay 2 7
Oscar: Best Visual Effects 2 1
Oscar: Best Cinematography 1  
Oscar: Best Actor/Actress 1 5
Oscar: Supporting Actor/Actress 1 7
 
Cannes: The Golden Palm 3  
 
Golden Globes: Best Picture 1 5
Golden Globes: Best Director 2 4
Golden Globes: Best Screenplay 1 4


Not one of these films won the Oscar for Best Director. What were those people thinking?

The Francis Ford Coppola films accounted for half of the listed Oscars which were won. Three of those were from The Godfather, which was the only one to win best picture for the Oscars and Golden Globes. It was Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction, and Apocalypse Now which won the Golden Palm awards.

Stanley Kubrick's 3 films in the top 20 got the following Oscar nominations: 3 best director, 3 best screenplay, 2 best picture, and 1 best actor. The only award any of them won was best visual effects.

Personal Observations

One of the advantages of having your own web site is the chance to fill it up with your own opinions. So here's a few of my own comments about the movies selected here.

I was a bit surprised to see Apocalypse Now not only top the list, but do so with a comfortable margin (after Repo Man, of course). It's an amazing film, but I had really expected something like Blade Runner or Pulp Fiction to be the best vote getters.

It isn't that I wanted those films to be on top, though. Personally, I think they're both excellent but overrated. Blade Runner, as good as it is (and the director's cut is of course much better than the original), still turns into a pretty ordinary action adventure sci-fi flick for most of the second half of the movie. The Tarantino films, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, pack a lot of wallop on first viewing, but they start to seem a bit mundane the second time around.

I'm very happy to see Dr. Strangelove right up at the top. That's my own personal favorite, after Repo Man of course. A Clockwork Orange may actually be a bit overranked here, but as much as I like Kubrick, I'm not going to complain, particularly since it doesn't knock the outstanding 2001 out of the top 10.

With the movie Fight Club, one of 2 things must be happening. Either it's going to take me some time to realize how good this movie is, or else people are way too easily influenced by the last good movie they saw which was a bit out of the ordinary. It's an excellent movie, but I don't think it's anywhere close to top 20 material.

Brazil is a really interesting film. I expected it to score well and I'm glad it did. Taxi Driver is even better and it's good to see a serious drama like that making the top 10. If I were to put another Scorsese film in the next 10, it would have been Raging Bull, but Goodfellas is also a good choice.

I enjoy seeing the Coen brothers well represented on this list. They may have a better batting average than any other film makers in the history of cinema. Any one of their films could have been a candidate. Still, I'm a bit perplexed why my own favorite - Barton Fink - only got 2 mentions while a relatively lightweight The Big Lebowski makes it into the top 20. And I was a bit surprised to see Raising Arizona score higher than some other Coen favorites.

I was also surprised that The Road Warrior scored so much better than the original Mad Max. But then I read that the director, George Miller, has said that with the sequel he finally had the budget to do it the way he had wanted to in the first place. So maybe I'm the only one who liked the original better.

The Godfather is probably the second most mainstream movie in the list and it's well deserving of being there. And I don't think anyone can argue with Star Wars, no matter how gratuitous it may have been. But what about all of the other outstanding mainstream movies which have been made? As I indicated earlier, my own personal favorites list tends to favor older movies. How can Citizen Kane and Casablanca not only fail to make the top 20, but not even come close? I don't even have a movie from the 1990s in my top ten list. If I were to put one in, the top candidates right now would be Quiz Show and Barton Fink (for the record, Quiz Show still hasn't gotten a single mention).

Most of the rest of the top 20 I would take issue with, but I can understand how they got there. Blue Velvet, This is Spinal Tap, Evil Dead II, and Buckaroo Banzai are all very creative, one-of-a-kind films. Except for SubUrbia. See my discussion of Fight Club above and multiply by four.

As far as the off-beat selections go, I simply shake my head at the dominance of Slacker. I guess I just don't get it - I thought it was really boring. The rest of the selections seem to make sense, though.

You'll notice every film in the top 20 is an English language film and that I don't even complain about this remarkable fact. Well, you'll just have to remember that this is about our favorite films, not the best films. I don't know about you, but having to read the sub-titles (or worse yet, listening to dubbing) is just too much of a hurdle for a film to overcome to be in my favorites list. Pretty much the same thing goes for silent films.

One last comment: I will say that I never expected the number of different films mentioned. 859 right now, not including several which I couldn't verify and quite a few more listed in the "strange and unusual" section. It's going to take me forever to eventually see every movie on the list, but I'm going to try!


You were late again this morning. Now normally I'd let it go, but it's been brought to my attention that you're not paying attention to the way you space the cans. - Mr. Humphries

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Copyright 2002 by Robert Cantor