The List: 10 best modern black-and-white movies

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From the August 21, 2014 edition

The Robert Rodriquez/Frank Miller-directed sequel to “Sin City” is hitting theaters this weekend, so I’m ranking my favorite black-and-white movies of the modern era. Note: These are movies shot in black and white after color became the norm. Otherwise, my favorite movie ever, “Dr. Strangelove,” would top this list.

10. “Clerks” (1994)

Writer-director Kevin Smith was shooting black and white because it was cheaper, but it adds to the charm of the raw workday comedy that remains one of his best.

9. “Persepolis” (2007)

Modern animation in black and white is even more rare — special mention for Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” for its throwback look — but I’ll give the edge to this punk rock coming-of-age story set in the Islamic Revolution in Iran that brought the original graphic novel to life.

8. “Frances Ha” (2012)

Noah Baumbach’s lively collaboration with star and co-writer Greta Gerwig is a love letter to being underemployed in New York City.

7. “The Artist” (2011)

Director Michel Hazanavicius drew inspiration from the advent of the talkies for this unabashedly joyful ode to silent films. Shot, obviously, in black and white.

6. “Pleasantville” (1998)

It has its detractors, but I love director Gary Ross’ blend of black and white and color as representation of decades of culture change. Its social commentary was sharp without hitting you over the head.

5. “Sin City” (2005)

The first “Sin City” was an amazing live-action realization of Miller’s graphic novels. It’s easy to forget what a rush this violent bit of old-school noir was at the time.

4. “The White Ribbon” (2009)

German director Michael Haneke’s tale of a small German village in the days leading up to World War I is deeply unsettling, but when you realize what he’s really addressing years down the road, it’s absolutely haunting.

3. “Ed Wood” (1994)

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were frequent collaborators, but they never came together better than in this loving ode to the world’s worst director.

2. “Schindler’s List” (1993)

Steven Spielberg’s opus became the defining film about the Holocaust. It was a powerful reminder for those who lived it and an indelible introduction for generations who came after.

1. “Raging Bull” (1980)

It may be the high point of the careers of both Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. That’s about all you need to say about that.