Slide show: From "Before Sunset" to "Dawn of the Dead," the follow-ups that were true originals
Does this piece count as a sequel about sequels? You bet. Last week I offered my list of the worst sequels of all time; today I’m highlighting what are, in my highly subjective opinion, the 10 greatest sequels ever made. The list includes a western, science fiction, horror, a swashbuckler, a romance, an epic drama, a cartoon and other pleasures. Since sequels have been with us as long as movies, this is a rich subject, and since I limited myself to just 10 choices, that means there’s a lot of room for second-guessing and “Where the hell is ‘X’?” complaints.
A note about methodology: I deliberately excluded films that could be considered “reboots” rather than direct follow-ups, which explains the absence of, for instance, “Casino Royale,” the greatest of all James Bond films. And as you’ll see, this list is weighted toward movies that directly continue story lines or situations established in earlier pictures.
As I look over my choices, it also occurs to me that every one of the titles on this list is a second installment. Does this reflect my own criteria for a good follow-up, or some innate property of second films in a series? Or is there something about the sequel tradition (and the mentality of directors and producers) that makes second installments at least somewhat likely to be good? And since we’re getting geeky here, is there a quantifiable difference between a “sequel” and a movie that just happens to feature a certain character in a new adventure? (Charlie Chan, Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Clouseau.) Meet me in the Letters section and we’ll argue about it.
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Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
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Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
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Every Friday, Salon writer Matt Zoller Seitz sifts through beloved classics and obscure indies for a slide show that sheds light on the hidden connections and most fascinating moments in film and TV history.