20 of the most influential and innovative Hollywood films of all time (20 items)
This year marks the 75th anniversary of one of cinema's most enduring and influential classics: "The Wizard of Oz."
Known not only as a staple of childhood wonder, the 1939 film adaptation of L. Frank Baum's book is also in the history books for being the film that popularized the use of Technicolor in film. Even today, long after the normalization of color in film, critics such as Leonard Maltin marvel at the film's innovative use of the color palette. "The old-fashioned, old-school wizardry of MGM still looks impressive to me today," he said.
Here, we've compiled a list of 20 other innovative and influential films that will likely be remembered for their contributions to the ever-changing shape of modern cinema. Because many of the films are relatively recent, the long tail of their influence may not yet be fully realized, but the legacy of innovation, exemplified by "The Wizard of Oz" shines through them all the same.
1 of 20. Birth of a Nation (1915)
The grandiose nature of the film has lingered on in American epics such as the film adaptation of "Gone With the Wind" and even "Titanic." Director D.W. Griffith used his camera to tell a story that captured audiences with sweeping cinematography and grandiose storytelling. It was, essentially, the first great American epic.
2 of 20. Metropolis (1927)
Filmed in Germany during the years of the Weimar Republic, Metropolis helped set the standard for big-budget sci-fi with an overt political message (think "Avatar" but in a more silent and black and white form).
"Metropolis remains the benchmark of agenda-driven extravaganzas," Philadelphia Weekly's Matt Prigge wrote in a retrospective of the film. But beyond the film's heavy nature, Prigge also notes that it was "stirring and fun in the right spots."
3 of 20. King Kong (1933)
Peter Jackson, the director most famous for helming the Lord of the Rings films, has said on multiple occasions that the original "King Kong" is what got him interested in filmmaking.
4 of 20. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
It not only proved that it was possible to keep an audience entertained for more than an hour with animation, but that it could be done with the art and drama of the best live-action films.
5 of 20. The Maltese Falcon (1941)
“It's all style,” he continued, and that style has lingered on in subsequent masterpieces such as "Casablanca" and "Double Indemnity." Even this summer's ultra-violent comic book adaptation "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" owes much of its visual style and story ethos to "The Maltese Falcon."