I found a file which said it was 100 best neo-noirs drawn from a book by Silver on neo-noirs. I don't know whether he ranked them or not, but it looks as if he did. I decided to go through his list and watch or re-watch these films if I felt in the mood.
After doing this for awhile, I realized that I could not possibly reconcile what I think are the best neo-noirs with his or any other list.
Consider, for example, the films of Quentin Tarentino. I recently watched Reservoir Dogs, #11 on his list. There's no question that Tarentino is a genius and very creative. This film is 3.5/4. I think Tarentino has navigated the Hollywood system in fine form and has found a way to make entertaining films while expressing his personal tastes and expression. His work has a highly personal creative stamp and, after reading interviews with him, it's apparent he knows exactly what he's after artistically and works to get it.
Now, among his comments was that he doesn't do neo-noir!! I believe him. I did not think that Reservoir Dogs was a neo-noir. I watched True Romance, which he wrote, and thought the same. Pulp Fiction, a third recent watch, left me with the same conclusion. Whatever these pictures are, they are not noir. In a way, Tarentino films are in a class of their own, like Hitchcock films. I have yet to sit down and watch Jackie Brown.
So, right away, if I exclude these 3 films that almost everyone says is neo-noir, how can I possibly reconcile my list with theirs?
I am also quite strongly inclined to omit genre and super-hero films from neo-noir. In the case of horror films and dystopias, it's easy to see how dark they are and how they import neo-noir lighting in many cases, but again that doesn't make them neo-noir. Blade Runner is so good and so early that I'd keep it in a best list, but maybe only it.
Here's the first 25 on Silver's list, along with my comments on the ones I've re-watched or otherwise remember strongly. It turns out that, so far, I'd allow that 8 of these 25 would be candidates for a top neo-noir list. And these are ones in the top 10 positions of his list.
1. Blade Runner (1982) 4/4 Identity; human nature
2. Chinatown (1974) 4/4 Corruption, personal and social; power. Absolutely first-rate film.
3. L.A. Confidential 3.5/4 Corruption. Not as convincing as Chinatown.
4. The Long Goodbye 4/4 Dissolution of moral codes; betrayal
5. The Border 3/4 Corruption; a good film, but not among the best
6. The Conversation 4/4 Surveillance and privacy. Not yet re-watched.
7. Dark City 2.5/4 Dystopia. I would not include this in neo-noir.
8. The Limey 4/4 Treatment of time; evaluation of life; corrupt Hollywood
9. No Country for Old Men 4/4 Frustrated aspirations. Superior film.
10. Point Blank 4/4 Identity; memory; organization men. Could top a list because of its early appearance
11. Reservoir Dogs Not a noir
12. Se7en to be watched
13. The Silence of the Lambs 3.2/4 Rejection of society; social acceptance
14. Taxi Driver to be re-watched
15. True Romance Not noir
16. Blood Simple to be re-watched
17. Fight Club re-watch
18. The Friends of Eddie Coyle 3.5/4 Betrayal Re-watch
19. Gattaca Exclude
20. The Grifters Re-watch, low expectations
21. Jackie Brown
22. The Killing of a Chinese Bookie 4/4 Great film. Moral choice. Can goodness win? But this film is really not a neo-noir.
23. The Last Seduction
24. Sin City 2.5/4. Fantasy-noir. Too exaggerated to be among the best noirs.
25. The Usual Suspects 2/4 Not a good movie. Deception.