MCU fans were recently left relieved following the news that a four-hour cut of Avengers: Endgame would not be released. Following this, movie fans on Reddit have also begun to discuss which famous movies with perfect pacing would also be ruined by extended cuts like this. Whilst they can often be fun, the best movies are those whose runtimes are justified by their quick pacing.
Reddit’s cinephile community is extremely vocal about which movies they believe have justified their long/short runtimes, and there are plenty of films on this list that might not initially come to mind when considering this topic. Pacing is one of a good movie’s strongest assets, and equally one of a bad film’s most common pitfalls.
The Social Network (2010)
Reddit user simpleol names David Fincher’s The Social Network as one of the best-paced movies of all time, and whilst this is an overwhelmingly popular opinion, it doesn’t make it any less true. Sorkin’s screenplay moves at a breakneck pace, whilst still hitting all the important narrative and emotional beats.
They write, “The tempo and pacing in that movie is amazing. Fincher took something as dull as college kids making a website application, and turned it into a legit character drama with multiple timelines and amazing pacing” – clearly praising the film’s snappy editing and ability to juggle multiple storylines at once.
The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
Jonathan Demme’s Classic Psychological Thriller, The Silence of the Lambs, is a film whose name is often dropped in discussions regarding perfect pacing and storytelling, but it remains one of the most noteworthy examples even today. There’s a reason so many people consider The Silence of the Lambs to be one of the best thrillers of all time, and pacing has a lot to do with that.
Reddit user maikeruneko references the opening scene of The Silence of the Lambs in order to back up their point, writing that “just from the soundtrack alone, [the opening scene] puts you in an unsettled place, and it doesn’t let you out until the credits roll. Maybe not even then.”
Martin Scorsese’s Gangster Epic Goodfellas is often praised as one of the gangster genre’s best films thanks to its witty screenplay. eccentric characters, and above all, rollercoaster pacing. Whilst the action scenes come quick and fast, the film’s more emotional moments are allowed to play out in their entirety – which results in a long (yet rewarding) two-hour and 26-minute runtime.
Redditor victorblimpmuscle cites Goodfellas as a “perfectly paced film,” praising it as one of their favorite films of all time. They write: “The pacing of that film perfectly matched the story as it told its tale and built to a spectacular finish – one of many reasons I consider it to be one of the greatest American films ever made.”
The Departed (2006)
Another one of Martin Scorsese’s acclaimed gangster movies, The Department was so popular at the time of its release that it even went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson in some of their most impressive roles, with both DiCaprio and Damon playing undercover cops and undercover gangsters, respectively.
Reddit user bryguyb cites The Department as one of the best-paced films ever made, praising its editing as the reason that it’s so successful. They write, “You’re 20 minutes into that movie before you’ve even realized it’s started yet. Among the best editing I’ve seen.”
Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
Calling one of the most popular movies of all time “perfectly paced” isn’t really a controversial opinion, but it’s still one that remains true today. Raiders of the Lost Ark, which first introduced audiences to the iconic character of Indiana Jones, was one of the first mainstream adventure films to reach this level of popularity.
According to Redditor snarpy, Raiders of the Lost Ark “has two or three massive action sequences and a whole bunch of character-building stuff in between, but never feels slow or tedious,” which is a pretty successful way of measuring the pacing of a film.
Although the way that it tells its story is highly unconventional, Sam Mendes’ war epic, 1917, is arguably one of the most well-paced movies in the entire genre. The film tells its story through one continuous shot, following its central character in real-time through a dangerous journey on the battlefield.
Although a lot of people criticized the film for its use of the one-shot, others found it extremely effective. Reddit user straightfromholyland says that 1917 has “excellent pacing,” writing that “the one-take approach and the setup of the plot feels like a progress bar that lets plot events flow naturally without rushing or dragging.”
In an overwhelming appraisal of the Coen Brothers as screenwriters, Redditor bryalb writes that their “slow” movies such as fargo have excellent pace. They manage to balance comedy with tragedy in a really effective way, which keeps the story flowing naturally and engagingly.
They write, “The Coen Brothers are masters at [pacing]… [Fargo] is barely 1hr 40 and has so much movement”. The film works so effectively because of its eccentric characters, rollercoaster narrative, and engaging mystery that keeps the story moving at every turn.
Hot Fuzz (2007)
Edgar Wright’s Iconic Comedy, hot fuzz, is not only one of the funniest movies of the 2000s but also one of the snappiest and most effectively edited. This results in a story with incredible pacing and completely devoid of boring moments, which is exactly what you’d expect in a good comedy.
Redditor darthplagueis writes that “nothing drags – even the seemingly dull moments are edited in a way that they are made interesting.” This is a trademark of Edgar Wright’s work throughout the Cornetto Trilogy, explaining why he remains so popular today.
Ridley Scott’s successful sci-fi horror, alien, is often cited as one of the greatest horrors ever made, and a lot of this is owed to its effective pacing and mesmerizing editing. The film moves extremely quickly, and Scott’s intense directorial skill makes the audience truly feel as though they’re a part of the film.
Reddit user fugdish cites alien as one of the best-paced films ever made, writing that “This film has brilliant pacing. Incredible visuals and mysterious music which build up to a heart-racing thrill-ride. The build-up seems to last a majority of the movie until Ripley is the last one left and you realize she was the main character the entire time.”
Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring (2001)
Undoubtedly one of the most popular films of this generation, The Fellowship of the Ring is one of the very few movies that manages to justify its three hour runtime by keeping its story engaging and unpredictable throughout. It’s an epic story about power, conflict, and revenge that features plenty of exciting characters and locations.
Reddit user dylanncuz describes the film as “a masterpiece,” noting that “even the extended version keeps you hooked to the screen and it’s 3 hours.” And although the extended editions of Lord of the Rings feature plenty of Easter eggs for the book fans, they still make sense to those who’ve never encountered Tolkien’s works before.
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