10 comedies from 100 years of cinema
In times of social distancing, streaming series and watching videos is a good way to pass the time. How about these 10 classic comedies to lift your spirits in tough times?
2010s: 'Toni Erdmann' (2016, Germany)
When director Maren Ade presented "Toni Erdmann" in Cannes in 2016, it was nothing less than a sensation — and proof that Germans can most certainly "do comedy." The story about Winfried Conradi and his daughter Ines (Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller), a most bizarre comedy duo, took the cinema world by storm. "Toni Erdmann" is surreal, crazy and full of surprises.
2000s: Borat (2006, USA)
British multi-talent Sacha Noam Baron Cohen's wild comedy "Borat" hit the movie theaters a decade earlier. "Borat" is a brilliant mockumentary featuring Cohen's adventures as an alleged Kazakh TV star in the US. It mixes different cinematic forms to create a mercilessly scathing game revealing prejudices and deep truths.
1990s: 'Groundhog Day' (1993, USA)
Harold Ramis' idea to send TV weatherman Phil Connors (Bill Murray) into an endless time loop was simply brilliant. The film has some fabulously funny scenes, but it also gets you thinking: What if world events were nothing but one big déjà-vu? But such musings are easily forgotten as we watch Phil wake to yet another Groundhog Day of festivities...
1980s: 'Tootsie' (1982, USA)
The best comedies always have a touch of melancholy. "Tootsie," starring Dustin Hoffman, has as many funny scenes as touching ones. But Hoffman mainly has the laughs on his side in his role of Michael, an ambitious but unsuccessful actor who impersonates a woman to get a role on a soap opera — and wows everyone.
1970s: 'Annie Hall' (1977, USA)
Of course, melancholy is a constant in Woody Allen films. The born and bred New York director and actor made the city the center of intellectual cinematic humor — and in "Annie Hall" he was completely centered. No one since has captured such razor-sharp punch lines, subtle humor and desperate comedy as skillfully and to the point in a 90- minute film as Woody Allen did during those years.
1960s: 'The Party' (1968, USA)
The story of a film within a film: The Indian extra Hrundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers) is fired for creating havoc on set, but ends up on a guest list for a dinner party the film producer is hosting. "The Party" is an anarcho-comedy, full of magnificent slapstick, colorful, fast-moving and entirely crazy.
1950s: 'Monsieur Hulot's Holiday' (1953, France)
Just like Bakshi, the extra, disrupts the dinner party, Monsieur Hulot (unintentionally) disturbs seaside holidaymakers in a holiday resort in Brittany. "Monsieur Hulot's Holiday" is practically a silent movie, with quiet, cheerful and funny nuances. Eight years after the end of the Second World War, the French comedian Jacques Tati enchanted the movie world with this subtle and fun comedy.
1940s: 'To be or not to be' (1942, USA)
Right in the middle of World War II, Jewish German-American film director, producer, and writer Ernst Lubitsch made this black comedy about a theater troupe in Nazi-occupied Warsaw. It was initially not well received by the public, but today, the film is celebrated for its subtle wit and absurd comedy — and as one of the first demonstrations that it's actually possible to laugh about the Nazis.
1930s: 'Modern Times' (1936, USA)
This classic Charlie Chaplin movie from the 1930s is still fresh today. Watching the tramp in the Trump era is a cinematic delight, and makes you wonder, what has changed in the working environment? Today, it's no longer the gears that set the pace, but the excesses of the digital working world. "Modern Times" is a comedy that is silent during long stretches but always has tons to say.
1920s: 'The General' (1926, USA)
A decade before Chaplin's "Modern Times" hit movie theaters, audiences were enthralled by this masterpiece by another comedy genius, Buster Keaton. "The General" is considered one of the best comedies in film history. The charm and comedy structure — as always in Keaton films, threaded through with a deep sense of melancholy — still feels fresh almost 100 years later.