Monday, February 20, 2012

My 100 Favorite Movies

People ask me all the time what my favorite movies are. The question used to be easy. When I was in high school and college, I had a ready-made Top 3 that I could rattle off at a moment’s notice. But as my understanding of film history has significantly deepened over the last 5-6 years, and the gaps in my viewing have become sparser, the question has gotten far more difficult. Now listing only a few movies seems akin to cheating on the rest. There’s too much out there I love to just name five.

Not to mention that what I look for and respond to in movies has become infinitely more complex. Now I have a constantly growing list of sub-categories for “favorite.” Are we talking about the movies that made me interested in film? The ones that emotionally resonate with me the deepest? The ones that make me laugh the hardest or come the closest to sobbing uncontrollably? The ones where the artistry and influence most dazzle me? The ones with the best cinematography, score, soundtrack, or chase scene? Et cetera, et cetera.

So I made a Top 100 list. Yes, I am that nerd.

I make no claim that I think these are the “100 Greatest Movies Ever Made.” The absence of Citizen Kane does not indicate that I think it’s an objectively inferior film to Superbad. But I like Superbad better. Sometimes I can be a bit of a philistine. On the other hand, Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim made my list over The Hangover, so I’m not a complete embarrassment. And I certainly do believe that many of these are some of the greatest movies ever made.

It should be noted that this list is, and always will be, a work in progress. Some movies, like Vertigo, will almost certainly be here until the day I die. Others may fall off next week. I declined to put anything on the list that I’ve only seen once, which knocked Lawrence of Arabia, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Great Dictator, Amadeus, The Hustler, and several others out of consideration. As I get the chance to further appreciate those films in the future, they may well work their way on here. And, of course, there’s a lot out there that I haven’t seen at all. But I’ve seen everything here at least twice, and most of them significantly more than that. I’ve probably seen The Shawshank Redemption once a year since I first saw it in theaters in late 1994. When Kill Bill came out on DVD in the spring of 2004, my roommate and I watched it every night for a week. We couldn’t get enough.

Having just turned 30, and hopefully facing a long life as an avid movie lover, I wanted to start a tradition of keeping track of the development of my taste and ideas. I’ll probably revisit this every five years. But right now, this is what a distillation of my movie brain looks like.

The titles are listed alphabetically, as the thought of ranking them is too daunting, and really kind of pointless. However, the titles with asterisks are my 25 favorites.

About a Boy (Chris & Paul Weitz, 2002)

Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)

Almost Famous (Cameron Crowe, 2000)*

American Beauty (Sam Mendes, 1999)*

Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)

Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

Atonement (Joe Wright, 2007)

Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005)

Before Sunset (Richard Linklater, 2004)

Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)*

Beverly Hills Cop (Martin Brest, 1984)

The Big Lebowski (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1998)

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)*

Bonnie & Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967)

Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

The Bridge on The River Kwai (David Lean, 1957)

Bull Durham (Ron Shelton, 1988)

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)

Casino Royale (Martin Campbell, 2006)

Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)

Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)

City of God (Fernando Meirelles, 2002)

City Slickers (Ron Underwood, 1991)*

Closer (Mike Nichols, 2004)

The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

The Departed (Martin Scorsese, 2006)

Die Hard (John McTiernan, 1988)*

Dog Day Afternoon (Sidney Lumet, 1975)

Dr. Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)*

The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)*

Fargo (Joel & Ethan Coen, 1996)

Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton, 2003)

Five Easy Pieces (Bob Rafelson, 1970)

The French Connection (William Friedkin, 1971)

From Russia With Love (Terence Young, 1963)

The Game (David Fincher, 1997)

Get Shorty (Barry Sonenfeld, 1995)

The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)*

The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)*

Gone Baby Gone (Ben Affleck, 2007)

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966)

The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)

Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)*

Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)

High Fidelity (Stephen Frears, 2000)

A History of Violence (David Cronenberg, 2005)

Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg, 1989)

Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)*

Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut, 1962)

Kill Bill (Quentin Tarantino, 2003)*

Kill Bill 2 (Quentin Tarantino, 2004)*

King Kong (Peter Jackson, 2005)

L.A. Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997)

Last of the Mohicans (Michael Mann, 1992)*

Le Samourai (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)

Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels (Guy Ritchie, 1998)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Peter Jackson, 2002)

Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola, 2003)

The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941)

Manhattan (Woody Allen, 1979)*

Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)

Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2001)

Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)

No Country For Old Men (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2007)*

Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)

No Way Out (Roger Donaldson, 1987)

Office Space (Mike Judge, 1999)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman, 1975)

On the Waterfront (Elia Kazan, 1954)

Platoon (Oliver Stone, 1986)

Primal Fear (Gregory Hoblit, 1996)

Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)*

Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)*

Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)

Return of the Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983)

The Road Warrior (George Miller, 1981)

The Royal Tenenbaums (Wes Anderson, 2001)*

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)

The Shawshank Redemption (Frank Darabont, 1994)*

Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924)

The Silence of the Lambs (Jonathan Demme, 1991)

The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010)*

Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)

The Spy Who Loved Me (Lewis Gilbert, 1977)

Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)

Superbad (Greg Mottola, 2007)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (James Cameron, 1991)

The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)*

This Is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984)

The Thomas Crown Affair (John McTiernan, 1999)

To Catch a Thief (Alfred Hitchcock, 1955)

Tootsie (Sydney Pollack, 1982)

Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996)

The Truman Show (Peter Weir, 1998)

Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)

The Usual Suspects (Bryan Singer, 1995)

Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)*

Wall-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008)*

1 comment:

  1. I love About a Boy! I watch it again every time it's on TV. You gotta love the scene where Hugh Grant joins the boy on stage at his school's talent show to sing Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly."