Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sidney Lumet: My Personal Top-Ten

When I heard the sad news yesterday morning that Sidney Lumet had passed away I spent much of the day reflecting on his films and how much they had meant to me. I remembered being a teenager in the eighties and discovering Lumet classics on TV and VHS like 12 Angry Men, The Fugitive Kind, Equus, Network and The Verdict. I specifically remember my first life-altering viewings of Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon, two films that shaped me in a way that just a handful have.
The sheer volume of great films, and television works, in Lumet’s filmography is quite staggering. He’s one of the few American filmmakers I can think of that managed to deliver truly great works in a whopping six different decades and he never lost his power, a fact which can be seen in his great final film Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. While many of the films in Lumet’s canon are rightfully considered classics, there are quite a few really splendid works that are in need of rediscovery and reevaluation such as The Appointment, Prince of the City, Daniel, Power, Running on Empty and Night Falls on Manhattan.
Lumet was a truly great American filmmaker who directed some of the best films in all of modern cinema, and helped guide many of our finest actors to some of their greatest performances. He was an innovator and a risk-taker and even his misfires remain compelling works of art. Here is a list of the ten films from Sidney Lumet that meant the most to me. Please feel free to share your own choices in the comments section.

1. Serpico (1973)

2. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

3. Network (1976)

4. Running on Empty (1988)

5. The Verdict (1982)

6. The Appointment (1969)

7. Prince of the City (1981)

8. Equus (1977)

9. Power (1986)

10. 12 Angry Men (1957)


J.D. said...

Wow, I'm impressed that you added POWER - such an underrated, underappreciated film that has become more and more relevant.

FredMJG said...

Where is The Offence ? Great movie and powerful performance from Sean Connery

MovieMan0283 said...

He was definitely one of the most consistently watchable directors. I had a feeling you'd include Running on Empty on your list, and am glad you did so, to me it's the perfect example of Lumet's skill - a compelling, well-crafted, entertaining movie that, without attempting to be a masterpiece of some sort (though he created those to) holds you spellbound from start to finish. He made it look so easy you would forget that few directors could achieve what he could.