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5 of the Most Artistic Movies of All Time

If we define art as the “expression of human creative skill and imagination,” then there is no more collaborative art form than film, which encompasses the imaginations of so many.

Next time you’re looking to satisfy that artistic eye, skip the museum. Here are five movies that will give you an artistic experience without you ever having to leave your couch.

1. Citizen Kane

This one regularly makes “best movies of all time” lists, perhaps because it was so outrageous for its time. It was a movie that had the potential to revolutionize how movies should be made.

“There are simply no boundaries to what the mind can inspire,” claims The great minds behind this films served to inspire an ever-changing artistic industry.

So many things about Citizen Kane made it revolutionary: its non-linear story telling, its gradual transformation of Welles into an old man, and its work with lenses, sound, structure and darkness. The film was truly was a work of art like nothing ever done before.

The making of Citizen Kane was bent on self-expression, not on the expectations of the industry, and its “don’t expect to understand this on one viewing” attitude was innovative and artistic in and of itself.

2. The Artist

This contemporary silent film was shot in black and white and asked its viewers to be concerned with essence, not details.

The lack of dialogue transports the viewer out of time altogether, and the black and white picture gives it a dreamlike quality.

What makes The Artist different from its roots? The film knows its viewer is aware of its silence, and it teases him with it.

Of course, it’s not entirely silent (music runs throughout), and its few strategic moments of sound are delightfully surprising. The use of sound in this silent film tells a story all of its own. (If you are interested in reading more about sound, here’s a pretty cool article about video game soundtrackss.)

Fun fact: many of the film’s actors speak different languages. When the film has no dialogue, why not?

3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a collaborative creation. Over 800 people in the cast and crew mean that the film broke the record for longest running credits.

It makes our list of most artistic movies largely due to its intelligent creativity and innovation.

There was an old maxim about cartoon characters never dying. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, however, subverts this maxim by introducing a liquid concotion known as “dip,” whose ingredients are all paint thinners, commonly used in real life to erase animation cells. What a perfect way to kill – or erase – cartoons.

This film’s attention to detail is another reason it lands on our list. In fact, here we have the birthing place of the phrase “bumping the lamp” (meaning putting tremendous effort towards a particular aesthetic feature that audiences most likely will never notice).

This saying entered the movie industry lexicon thanks to a scene in this movie in which a character repeatedly bangs his head on a ceiling lamp, causing it to spin around the room. The animators had to draw and redraw Roger Rabbit to match the rapidly changing lighting of the scene.

4. Moulin Rouge

This Baz Luhrmann contemporary musical movie makes this list thanks to its explosive use of color.

The film starts in black and white, reminiscent of French films of the 1930s and 40s. Then, it moves to color.

And when we say color, we mean color. The film boasts so many shades of red that the reds tell a story all on their own, with emotional range that out-acts the film’s big-name actors. Few – if any – films have used so much of a single color so effectively, making it certainly one of the most artistic movies ever created.

Almost as noteworthy as the film’s use of color are the film’s shots themselves. The movie is a master-class in cinematography, with shots you might even call acrobatic.

5. Carol

Carol, based on a novel first published as The Price of Salt, is the brain-child of screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, who fought to have the movie made since she wrote her first draft 19 years before the film’s release.

The script is a large part of what makes this movie such a notable work of art. It has limited dialogue, but its few lines often have two meanings and are said and left just hanging there, for the viewer to take whatever he does from them.

Carol is a period film, so precise in its recreation of the look and sound of the past that the cinematographer shot in Super 16mm to get the grain that film of the period would have offered.

What’s more, many shots are done through car windows and rain-stained glass, reflecting the voyeuristic nature of the tale.

Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post says, “Carol possesses the same quiet, catlike powers of its magnetic title character: it swirls around to ambush you … and make you swoon.”

This complex human story with one of cinema’s most intriguing couples certainly does just that.

What Makes These The 5 Most Artistic Movies?

Their originality and innovation certainly contribute, but what makes these films really tick is their potential to inspire, to change how Hollywood both makes and watches movies.

Seen these five and need something new for movie night? Check out these options.