In honour of Carnival going on right now, I thought I'd post a list of memorable movie masks. I'm going to try to avoid obvious ones like Eyes Wide Shut and Labyrinth, but those are great, too, and also I'm avoiding superhero films, though I have nothing against those. Just going for a specific vibe, I guess. Feel free to suggest some to me--I feel like there's probably a bunch of good ones I haven't seen.
Kingdom of Heaven
Not a great film, a bit too morally simplistic like a lot of Ridley Scott's recent films, but visually wonderful and the highlight of the movie is Edward Norton here as King Baldwin. He wears a mask throughout the whole film due to his leprosy and Norton gives an incredibly interesting performance. I didn't realise it was Edward Norton until I looked at the cast after the movie and he reminded me here of why I thought he was such an interesting actor. He's so expressive through this huge iron mask without ever resorting to unnaturally broad gestures and movements.
The Wicker Man (1973)
A movie that uses the instinctive disorientation reflexively repressed by bizarre festival practices to great effect. I love when Christopher Lee barks at disguised Howie here to get between the swords, "Remember, it's a game of chance!" as though that's supposed to be a comfort.
To Catch a Thief
It's not a huge part of the film, but this weird, possibly racist getup Cary Grant wears at the end as the only masked person at the masquerade ball seemed worth mentioning. It's one of Hitchcock's great films about subtly and blatantly dangerous flirtation.
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me
I could've picked a few David Lynch films for this list, but this one has the lines, "The man behind the mask is looking for the book with the pages torn out. He's under the fan now." Probably not a good idea to watch this if you haven't watched through the series yet, though maybe it wouldn't matter as much if you've already had the identity of Laura Palmer's killer spoiled for you. Which I've heard about happening plenty of times with plenty of films and shows. It's too bad, but I guess information is just unavoidable sometimes these days.
Shall We Dance (1937)
Not one of the best Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, but definitely not a bad one. It doesn't have any truly bad qualities like Follow the Fleet. It's a nice enough little screwball plot, and the movie introduces the great Gershwin song "They Can't Take That Away from Me". And, of course, there are the masks, the creepy realistic Ginger Rogers masks worn by the women Fred Astaire dances with at the end.
This kid showing up in a golden mask, giggling amongst a bunch of rotting, hanging corpses is one of the most satisfyingly creepy memories from my childhood, as I first saw the movie at a young age. There are a lot of other mask-like helmets and veils in this movie, too. And, of course, it has Wagner.
I have this movie on DVD but for some reason I haven't watched it since I saw it in theatre. But it has some wonderfully strange mask designs by Dave McKean and a fun screenplay by Neil Gaiman.