In yesterday’s comment thread for “Madoff Moment Approaching,” I said that “in the dramatic realm I’ve come to associate longer running times (i.e., between two and three hours) with richer degrees of intrigue and complexity…they suggest an extra level of conviction and commitment, or at least ambition.”

In other words, dramas that run between 90 and 120 minutes are lean and economical but they’re also playing the game that distributors and exhibitors have urged them to play, but films between 120 to 180 minutes are about their own game. You know going in that the filmmakers haven’t made a sprawling epic, but have definitely swung for the fences.

The following all-time favorites fit the 120-to-180 paradigm:

Michael Mann‘s The Insider (157 minutes), Alfred Hitchcock‘s North by Northwest (136 minutes), Hitchcock’s Vertigo (128 minutes), Michael Mann‘s Heat (170 minutes), Sydney Pollack‘s The Firm (154 minutes), Ken Russell‘s Women in Love (131 minutes), Peter Glenville‘s Becket (148 minutes), Kenneth Lonergan‘s Manchester By The Sea (137 minutes), Alejandro G. Inarritu‘s The Revenant (156 minutes), Sidney Lumet‘s Prince of the City (167 minutes), John Frankenheimer‘s The Manchurian Candidate (126 minutes) and The Train (133 minutes), J. Lee Thompson’s The Guns of Navarone (158 minutes), Stanley Kubrick‘s Lolita (154 minutes), Bennett Miller‘s Moneyball (133 minutes), Alan Pakula‘s All The President’s Men (138 minutes), etc.

I could go on and on but I think the point’s been made.