I’ve actually been referring to certain movies as “masterpieces” lately, and I just want to set the record straight as to what that actually means. Disclaimer: this is completely arbitrary and subject to personal opinion.
I’ve seen thousands of movies, and I’ve loved many of those movies. There are a few that stand out to me. I’ve actually been referring to these movies as “masterpieces.” What I really mean by that is that, if you sit down, take in the entire movie, you feel as if it is a completely self-contained work. These movies, to me feel complete in things like plot, character development, exposition, and, to a certain degree music. I’m going to list a few movies that come to mind and explain what I mean; I’m not going to go too in depth because I’m sure you don’t want to sit here for 30 minutes and read my bullshit.
Although I hate Tom Hanks now, Forrest Gump is one of these movies. Granted, it’s a little longer than it needed to be, but the writers and directors did an amazing job creating a film in which you really feel as if you are in that world and experiencing the characters’ trials and tribulations. The use of music in this film further makes this movie stand out.
For what it is, Police Academy (the original only) is also a masterpiece. In order to agree with this, you have to realize that this movie was created to be a comedy. This movie has many characters, and they manage to dedicate time to developing each of them. The movie flows well, and doesn’t seem like a series of skits (like each of the later films in the series). Also realizing that this movie was made in the early-to-mid eighties, this movie is hardly dated; you can sit down and watch this film and totally not realize (for the most part) that it’s an eighties film. The music is great too; however, I would say that they use the main theme a little too much toward the end.
I also hold Full Metal Jacket in high regard as a masterpiece. I normally don’t like war movies, but this movie definitely stands out. In terms of plot, it can be argued that this is more like two movies, but looking at the movie in two phases instead, I’ll make the argument that there is a definite flow and that you really feel as if you are there with the soldiers experiencing everything they experience. Kubrick’s use of still camera shots and his signature “zoom shots” really create a suspense and unrest while you watch the film. Anyone who has seen the film knows that I don’t need to say anything about the use of music here.
So with those three examples, you can see that there is no real method to my determinations. It’s more of an overall impression, and it’s pretty difficult to break down.
Here’s a list of a few others without explanation: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Rushmore, and Taxi Driver. I’m sure there I have others, but I’m getting a bit tired.