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Best Ambitious Films


This weekend, Upside Down hit theaters and if you haven’t heard of the film just know that it may have bitten off more than it can chew.  The film is centered around two lovers (Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst) that live on twin planets.  Every so often the two planets align and they are able visit each others’ worlds.

Thus far the film has not been getting the best reception, yet we have to cut this one some slack!  This is only director Juan Solanas’s second feature, and already he is going against the status quo and giving us something completely original.  In honor of Solanas’s ambitiousness, I am counting down some of the best ambitious films.  There have been many ballsy films over the years, but these are some that have stuck with me.  Let me know if you have a favorite that you think should be added.

Well, here we go:

The Tree of Life


Three hours long, minimal dialogue, and dinosaurs?! Yes, Terrence Malick’s epic featured all of this and it all meshed together swimmingly.  While some attacked the film for being too pretentious, you have to realize that this is one of the only films to examine the meaning of life so deeply.  Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain star in the film, with this being the role that introduced Chastain to moviegoers all around the world.  Definitely worth a gander if you like a philosophical film that may force you to think critically.

Groundhog Day


Can a movie be funny while replaying the same day over and over again?  Well many would fail to make people chuckle, with Bill Murray at the helm of Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day, this proved to be an exception.  Dissimilar to The Tree of Life, this film got zero Oscar love, but audiences flocked to it and made it a pretty big hit in 1993.  Ramis has had varying success as a director since this film, but he will always be remembered for giving us this brilliant, comedic classic.

2001: A Space Odyssey


All of Stanley Kubrick’s films could dominate this list, but in order to add some variety I will honor his most ambitious of all his ambitious films.  2001: A Space Odyssey focuses on a man in space and a computer named HAL.  As you can imagine there is sparse dialogue, and this could prove to be tiresome, however the visuals of the film are so captivating that your mouth may be open in awe for the entire time.  Then there is the ending (I will not give away any spoilers) which many people still discuss today, nearly 50 years after the 1968 release.  Needless to say, this film strongly lives on.

The Wizard of Oz


You may roll your eyes at this choice, but let us not forget that this one of the greatest films ever made, if not the greatest.  The Wizard of Oz may not be as cool or hip as other famous films, yet it came at a time when big budgets, special effects, and color film were dangerous territory.  This did not hold the film back and it shattered all expectations.  Let’s be real, the Wicked Witch of the West scared us all as kids….and still scares some of us.

Why this film is so magical:

Spirited Away


Hayao Miyazaki: the genius! He built up Studio Ghibli, which is one of the few animation studios in the world to rival Pixar’s greatness.  For many years he created wonderful films, but it was not until 2001 that he created his masterpiece.  Many may not see Spirited Away as an ambitious film, but it follows a young girl who stumbles into the spirit world where she must save her parents from being pigs and return to the human world.  This material is not Disney material, yet Miyazaki expanded the film globally and it definitely paid off.  It is beloved worldwide and is considered by some to be the greatest animated film of all time.

The Artist


The second film from 2011 on this list.  The Artist is a French film, yet it is an ode to Hollywood and the American film industry.  What makes it ambitious?  Well, as you should know, the film is silent!  Filled with dance scenes and fun music, you may not realize this, but Michel Hazanavicius took on the bold task of making a silent film in 2011.  Not only did this film get made, it was received wonderfully and did very at the Academy Awards winning five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.

All of these films are respectable, and still so fun to watch.  It seems that they can have their popcorn and eat it too.

Upside Down has a limited release this weekend, so get out there and check it out.  Supporting a mediocre original idea is definitely better than giving into the same sequels and remakes that are constantly thrown at us.

If you have any films you think I missed, let me know in the comments. Happy moviegoing!

Here is the Upside Down trailer if you’re interested:


2 comments on “Best Ambitious Films

  1. Zee
    March 30, 2013

    “All of Stanley Kubrick’s films could dominate this list, but in order to add some variety I will honor his most ambitious of all his ambitious films.”
    haha exactly my thought! i prob would add “Kynodontas (dogtooth) by Yorgos Lanthimos. I’m not sure if that is ambitious or rather one bizarre film.

    • kevinsmovies
      March 30, 2013

      Glad you agree 🙂 I have not seen Dogtooth but I have wanted to for quite some time. Thanks for reading!

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