.....but why exclude the best?
Children of Men is Cuarón at his most gripping. Aside from being a uniquely bleak, completely believable vision of our near-future, this is a picture which digs deep into our inherent selfishness exemplified in Britain's self-imposed exile from the wide world, the knowledge that even the 'good guys' can be corrupted and that redemption is available to all. You know, an alternative retelling of the Christmas story!?
And the film's camera-based pyrotechnics are just stunning. Never before has handheld camerawork placed me into a story like this. From the blood-stained lenses, to Clive Owen's Theo running for his life, we never quite know what's going on as characters enter each bloody fray in which heroes and villains are indistinguishable from one another. Footage such as this would not be out of place in a documentary, depicting real-life warfare.
I love Alfonso Cuaron; he's one of our few filmmakers without a flaw in his filmography (though Gravity comes close).
If I made my own, "Questions I Have About the New Movie Year," it would have been, "Will Alfonso Cuaron's fifteen-year foray into science-fiction/fantasy filmmaking keep him from being able to return (through Roma) to the same level of powerfully personal and adventurous storytelling about growing up in Mexico that he offered filmgoers in Y Tu Mama Tambien?"
So I'm a big fan of Y Tu Mama Tambien, and it almost got my vote.
I'm also one of the few huge fans of Great Expectations, so much so that I was tempted to vote "Other."
And Children of Men was my favorite movie of its year, but even that didn't get my vote.
No, I submitted my vote for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. If you watch the Harry Potter movies in close succession, it's incredible to see the shift from the second Chris Columbus movie to the Cuaron entry. The franchise would have seen financial success no matter what happened, but Cuaron didn't settle for that. He helped his actors turn in performances that were emotionally involving, and he used the big budget that comes with a Harry Potter film to develop truly engaging and interesting visuals. It's a remarkable achievement, and I believe it has had a lasting impact on the artistic intent of (some) franchise films.
Gravity and Prisoner of Azkaban are really good and Children of Men is great, but none of them even come close to the brilliance of Y Tu Mamá También. Unfortunately, Cuarón's best film is also one of his least seen. Like adolescence itself, Y Tu Mamá También somehow manages to be sexy, funny, insightful, melancholic, heartwarming, endearing, tragic, and exciting all at the same time. Please please please don't vote in this poll until you've seen the film. (Hopefully it's inspired some to watch it already)
I really love what he did for the Harry Potter franchise. He turned Christopher Columbus's rigid plastic film creation into something darker and more real. Something that would make the film series into a respectable foray into YA fantasy.
He paved the way for something greater.
But, as much as I like his Harry Potter contribution , his coming of age love/sex triangle and his psuedo physics based Gravity, his masterpiece is Children of Men. I haven't seen Roma yet, but have high hopes. I may not love all of his films, but I like them an awful lot and am always interested in what he is doing next.
I'm sorry for all the flack you guys (just Sam?) seem to have gotten this year specifically for the poll questions. That said, this has the makings of one of the most lop-sided polls in the history of Filmspotting. I also voted for Gravity.
I think we need to add a sub poll; How many people has seen Y Tu Mama Tambien? because there can be no other reason that Children of Men is running away with this one. I personally didn't like Children of Men, but there is a enough people that like it, which means it probably deserves a re-watch. All the Harry Potter films blend into one, in my mind. Intellectually I know some are more equal than others, but I wouldn't be able to pull from the memory banks which they were. I saw Gravity on the biggest IMAX screen in the world at the time it was released and absolutely loved it. However watching the road trip movie about youth, love and regret that is Y Tu Mama Tambien on Criterion earlier this year in preparation for Filmspotting Madness 2019, was a transcending experience.
Children of Men and Gravity are the obvious choices.
But I was 7 when I went to the theaters to see Prisoner of Azkaban not only was I introduced to the talents of Gary Oldman and David Thewlis as Sirius Black and Professor Lupin but Cuaron completely changed the game for the Harry Potter Series.
It was not longer about witches hats and fun spells, it became a real story about a boy in over his head finally realizing that everything he feared was so very real and it was coming fast. It set the tone for the entire franchise - this is no longer a children's movie, this is a matter of life and death.
I should also point out that during the scene where professor lupin turns into a werewolf my father blocked my eyes and said you're too young for this.
Some Filmspotting polls are gut wrenching, mind bending Sophie’s Choice like ordeals.
This is not one of those polls. Children of Men is such a moving and shocking piece of cinema that it is easy to see why its reputation grows every year.
It is magnificently directed and has some of the best dystopian cinematography in recent memory. The ambush scene in the car is a classic that will be studied in film school for years to come.
The stakes (filmspotting bonus points?) could not be higher and they never feel false. There are a lot of films where the future of humanity is at stake but very few deliver that feeling in a meaningful way. Children of men does.
I'll defend Cuarón's Harry Potter, because I know no one else will--and it must be defended. Technical prowess, stunning cinematography, tight scripting, over-powering cinematic experience--all these are pointless if no one sees your film. Frankly, many great director can direct a film that wins a Golden Brick or gets Filmspotters to geek out about it. But to deliver a film that brings Cuarón's level of craftsmanship while appealing to a global audience is the superior accomplishment. (Gravity almost gets there, but for Harry Potter, Cuarón had the additional constraint of fan servicing--an adaptation of an uber-popular book, no less! Also, I'm sure the studio didn't give him complete artistic control when a billion-dollar franchise hangs in the balance.) There are many great filmmakers who have never made something they can be proud of that is beloved by kids, fanboys, and pretentious films snobs. Without Harry Potter in his filmography, I wouldn't mention Cuarón among the greats like Spielberg, Hitchcock, Nolan et. al.
Children of Men is one of my personal top 10 favorite films - maybe even top 5! Just thinking about it now is getting me emotional. I don't think I've ever had a more powerful theater experience. I remember sitting there while the credits rolled, totally speechless, trying to process what I had just seen. It is practically perfect in every way - the acting, writing, production design, music, editing, and of course, that indelible cinematography.
That being said, I want to give a shout out to A Little Princess, which is also one of my personal favorites and has been since I saw it in the theater at the tender age of 7. The cinematography, also shot by Lubezki, is some of the most enchanting in a children's film, and the vulnerable and heartfelt performances by Liesel Matthews and Liam Cunningham still bring me to tears. It's an absolutely beautiful film. Cuaron is a master.
Oh boy, what a resume of movies that is. Of course, 'Children of Men', has to win this poll. It's not only Cuarón's greatest to date (pre-'Roma', which I can't wait to see) but it's one of the great movies of this century purely for the iconic car attack/tracking shot scene alone which many have already commented on.
But this praise is in no way to detract from the others on this list. Every time I watch 'Prisoner of Azkaban' with my family, I’m endlessly amazed that this franchise was brave enough to hand this movie to Cuarón and his brilliant directorial flair (those beautiful scene fade-outs/fade-ins... the skill in so tightly telling the time-jumping last chapter...). If this were the current Disney Star Wars approach, he would’ve been fired before Sirius Black entered Hogwarts.
Not to discount 'Gravity' either, whose opening few minutes - when seen on the big screen - were simply stunning.
Oh, I guess I better get round to eventually seeing 'Y Tu Mama Tambien', hey?
A very challenging poll here. I love each of these films for different reasons (and Cuaron for making masterpieces within such different genres), but I'm going with Gravity.
Aside from being devil's advocate for a comment demoting it to "one-time-watch" status, I find the film stunning in its use of blocking and physical direction. The way Bullock moves across literal space, slowly and without control, is downright excruciating. And after several rewatches, knowing the literal paths she takes, the film becomes even more demanding of your attention. It's the best use of Cuaron's style of long takes and patient editing and is why I keep coming back to it.
Michael - Ann Arbor, MI
Before I saw Roma, I would say Children of Men. It gets all the praise it has gotten since it came out. But Roma is something special, at least to me. I got completely lost in it in a way that I didn't expect.
I love Children of Men. It is in my own personal pantheon and is watched annually for its humanity and its horrific near future vision of life devoid of meaning without new life and the hope it brings. Not to mention the really fantastic central performance from Clive Owen and the masterful cinematography. For me, it is a perfect movie.
Gravity was a fantastic film. I literally found myself on the edge of my seat during some parts of the film. It has great effects and great visuals. And Yes, it won some Oscars.
However, it’s a “one-time film.” I saw it again a week later in the same theater and it just didn’t impress me as much the second time. And it certainly does not hold up on the small screen (and my small screen is not really that small). Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban survives several viewings and is much more interesting to watch again every once in a while.
Children of Men is by far my favorite Cuaron film – and I usually don’t like post-apocalyptic or eschatological films. But this one is different. It has a hopeful ending – not just a “things might get better ending” that so many films of this nature conclude with. Toward the end of the film, when people see the child, the fighting stops, some people even stop and then pray. This is a hopeful sign, along with the sound of children laughing as the film ends.
Personally I'd go with Y Tu Mama, but would be happy with Children of Men as well. Both are masterpieces, would be hard to be upset with either winning.
This isn’t even close for me. CHILDREN OF MEN is film that will still be talked about in 100 years as one of the best of the first 20 years of this century. The world building, the aggressively ambitious camera work, the cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki that ranks among the best of his staggeringly great career. This is easily my pick for the Filmspotting Maddness Best of the Aughts edition.
If I were going to make a list of most moving movie moments, the scene from "Children of Men" where — spoiler alert — soldiers put down their weapons as Theo and Kee carry the newborn baby out of the building would be at or near the top. Not only is it beautiful in its own right, but it's the perfect marriage of style and substance, of Cuaron's virtuoso visual style in the service of a great story. "Children of Men" is full of scenes like this — the single-take shootout in the car is another, albeit for a completely different effect — and somehow the whole manages to be greater than the sum total of its parts. For my money, nothing else in Cuaron's filmography strikes this balance quite so perfectly. It's why it gets my vote in this poll, and why I can't wait to see "Roma."
All of these are great options, but nothing beats Children of Men's combination of gritty world-building and long takes. I had never really seen action in a long take the first time I saw this, and the car attack scene blew me away. Plus, the themes around globalization and refugee crisis still resonate today, maybe even more strongly.
- Andrew from Cabot, AR
Children of Men is a dystopian action picture that ranks right up there with Blade Runner in my book. Both films have excellent production design. The world of Children of Men is so lived in. (The tattered London 2012 Olympic posters are a nice touch) And any movie that can send an inflatable pig past the Battersea Power Station recreating the Pink Floyd Album cover is all right in my book. And that's just the style of the thing. The substance is outstanding. The future of mankind is literally at stake. And world weary anti-hero Clive Owen needs to step up. Breathtaking movie.
Gravity is incredible and features some of the scariest sequences ever made. I loved the emotional rollercoaster that Sandra Bullock goes through in a complicated performance. I voted for Children of Men though. It’s a masterpiece and truly a haunting tale. The dialogue and concepts alone are forever etched in my mind. ‘I don’t think about it’ is a perfect line to sum up living in end times. The most powerful moment is the sudden silence that occurs during the battle when the sound of hope echoes and the tears of joy and desperation is seen of all of the harden fighters. This film is required viewing for everyone. I wish Trump’s supporters would see this film, maybe it would awaken them.
The source material is superior, the acting is fine...in just about every way Children is, on the whole, the best choice. What puts it over the top as Cuaron's best is the ambitious single-shot ambush in the country road.
I loved Children of Men, and really liked Gravity. Starting with a great script is the key, and these are stellar.