How would you define a perfect film? I would argue there’s something worth remembering about every film if you focus on its parts. When I size up a film, I concentrate on thirteen aspects. Some films have several qualifiers; however, it is rare that a film consists of the following thirteen factors:
1. The line. Here’s Looking at You Kid.
2. The scene. Ada gets her finger chopped off in The Piano.
3. A smart script. Dogma
4. A satisfying ending. Papillon
5. The character transcends the actor. Lincoln
6. Sound effects affect or the score inspires. The Birds. The Magnificent Seven
7. The production design/setting transports. Lord of the Rings. Out of Africa
8. The cinematography is innovative or artistic. Inception. Citizen Kane
9. Costumes are exquisite or perfectly show the culture. The Aviator
10. Suspension of disbelief. I am “in” the movie. The Science of the Lambs
11. The climax is clearly evident and startling. Psycho
12. The ensemble cast around the major character is a blended microcosm. The Deer Hunter
13. The opening and ending shot. The Searchers
There are many good films to choose from, but are they perfect? In no particular order, here are my dozen:
Apocalypse Now, “The horror, the horror.”
Black Swan, Natalie Portman’s performance was supreme.
Alicia: There’s nothing like a love song to give you a good laugh.
On the Waterfront, Father Barry’s homily as he rises up out of the ship.
Survival story bar none. The sound of the water becomes an adversary. Who can forget the dueling banjos?
Cold Mountain, a great example of an ensemble cast.
Elizabeth, a perfect period film with breathtaking costumes.
The Matrix is still a fun mind-bender.
Impressive set design and Brad Pitt’s best performance.
Joel Gray. Liza Minnelli. Great opening and closing sequence.
My favorite Film Noir.
Is your definition of perfection different from mine? Maybe you would have added editing? If scores aren’t important to you, your list will be quite different. Also, Pixar’s Finding Nemo is a perfect film even though they aren’t wearing costumes, their animated scales and skin are exquisite.