The five most innovative films of all-time


    It’s easy to say that cinema has changed a lot since the early 1900s. Heck, cinema has changed a lot since 2000. It’s weird to think that cinema has been around for less than 150 years, and I think the reason why that’s hard to believe is because of how innovative the film industry has been. Below are the five films that I think are the most innovative.


    Honorable Mentions:

    “Toy Story” (1995) – first feature length computer animated film

    “The Exorcist” (1973) – first horror film to be nominated for best picture

    “Superman: The Movie” (1978) – first superhero film to become a major hit

    “Star Wars” (1977) – advancements in green & blue screen, stop motion in live action films, and use of miniatures to portray much larger events

    “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) – first major film to be mass marketed through the internet

    “Citizen Kane” (1941) – advancements in cinematography

    “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968) – advancements in special effects


    1. “Jurassic Park” (1993) – Advancements in CGI


    While definitely not the first film to use CGI (computer graphic imagery), “Jurassic Park” was the first to fully create life-like dinosaurs. “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” also used CGI innovatively with the liquid metal T-1000, but those effects haven’t held up nearly as well as the film that launched everyone’s love and obsession with dinosaurs. CGI is definitely a source of controversy due to its strong misuse, resulting in less than stellar effects in films such as “Clash of the Titans.” However, films such as “The Avengers,” “Life of Pi,” “Avatar,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” and “The Lord of the Rings” would not be possible without it. While films like “Star Wars” and “Planet of the Apes” set the bar for what practical effects can do, not everything done in movies nowadays are as simple as a blue screen effect or a miniature model. Some things just need to be accomplished through CGI, and “Jurassic Park” was the first film to really push the envelope of what a computer can create for movies.


    1. “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937) – First feature length animated film


    Historically, some of the best films ever made (“Toy Story,” “The Incredibles,” “The Lion King,”) are animated. While I contemplated putting “Toy Story” here for being the first computer animated film, I think we need to give honor to the first animated film, because without “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and the rest of the Pixar gang never would have even gotten a chance to make it. Not only was “Snow White” the first feature length animated film (60 minutes or more), but it was also the first film by now corporate giant Walt Disney Pictures. Today, many people still consider it to be one of the greatest animated films of all time and it was even nominated for an Oscar. Not to mention, it still really holds up. This film deserves every bit of praise that it gets.


    1. “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) – Advancements in Technicolor


    Just two years after “Snow White,” “The Wizard of Oz” came out and changed cinema again. While “Oz” wasn’t the first colored film, the most widely accepted answer for that  would be the 1918 silent film “Cupid Angling,” it was a complete revolution of what is now used in almost every film. The film’s costumes and backgrounds were able to display all of what Technicolor was capable of. After the release of both “Oz” and “Gone With the Wind,” classic films such as “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Red Shoes,” and “The Quiet Man” would also be shot in the glorious format. About 99 percent of all Hollywood films today are shot in color, rendering black and white films almost extinct. Of course some films still are shot in black and white (“The Artist” in 2011 and “Nebraska” in 2013), most films just don’t work in that format. How would “Star Wars” look in black in white? What about “The Dark Knight” or “Inception”? Thanks to “The Wizard of Oz” making color a new standard in Hollywood, we never have to worry about that.


    1. “The Jazz Singer” (1927) – First feature length sound film


    The only thing more important than color, when it comes to the technical aspect of filmmaking, is sound. Before 1927, films were about ten minutes longer than how long they would be with sound because they would have to pause the footage to include a slide detailing what was said. Once “The Jazz Singer” came out, this problem vanished out of thin air. Not only were films shorter, but it allowed for more complex dialogue. Can you imagine “Pulp Fiction” being a silent film? It would probably be thirty minutes longer just to incorporate all the dialogue on the slides. Then again, can you imagine any Quentin Tarantino film being silent? Probably not. “The Artist” was the last mainstream silent film, and that was five years ago. Movies were still awesome in silent, but “The Jazz Singer” just made them that much better.


    1. “Birth of a Nation” (1915) – Creator of modern filmmaking


    So for number one, I have to go with D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation.” This was the first film to utilize title cards, an orchestral score originated for the film, still shots, panning camera angles, battle sequences with hundreds of extras, and many, many more. To say the least, “Birth of a Nation” really was birth of an industry, an industry still going strong today. Now, I do have to warn anybody who now considers watching the film that it is incredibly racist. The film is a white supremacist propaganda piece about the KKK, so it’s definitely not for everyone. On top of that, the film is rather long, clocking in at two hours and 45 minutes. Regardless, the innovations it gave to cinema seriously are insurmountable. It completely changed how films are made and the industry will forever be indebted to the racist 1915 propaganda piece. I never said filmmaking was nice, did I now?

    I hope everyone learned a little bit today about innovations in cinema and how important certain films are. I fully recommend checking out a couple of these if you want to learn more about cinema itself.