Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My Top 50 Favorite Movies Part 1

Inspired by a series my brother has been posting on his blog, I've decided to copy him and post a list of my 50 favorite films of all time. Also like him, I'm going to post them 10 at a time. So this, the first installment, will cover numbers 41-50. I'd also like to briefly list off the names that I honestly thought would make the list (or that I really wanted to include) but which just didn't make the cut.

Honorable Mentions:

Cloverfield - Annie Hall - The Trip - Napolean Dynamite - Fantastic Mr. Fox - Until the Light Takes Us -
Midnight in Paris - Jaws - Training Day - Hannah and Her Sisters - The Avengers - Finding Nemo -
Scream - Bronson - The Graduate - The Swimmer - City Lights - It's a Wonderful Life - Ink -
Gangs of New York - The Truman Show - Evil Dead II - A Clockwork Orange - American Beauty

I would also like to give extra special mention to Citizen Kane and The Godfather, because while both are great movies that I genuinely enjoy, I decided to leave them off the list. This isn't a "greatest movies of all time" post, and those two don't need me to help promote them.

Okay, with those names out of the way, it's time for the actual list.


#50. Once (2007)

I'm not generally a big one for musicals, but I loved this movie. It's a low-budget Irish film starring the excellent folk musician Glen Hansard and Czech singer-songwriter Marketa Irglova as a pair of random people who meet on the street and form an odd short-term friendship built around his work as a street musician. It's shot in a sort of fly-on-the-wall documentary style, and it features some really compelling music and honest performances that make it a genuinely touching, compelling film.


#49. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

The Blood and Ice-Cream Trilogy started off with a bang in 2004 with one of the greatest horror spoofs ever made. The zombie craze has grown tiresome in the past few years, but when it's done right a zombie movie can really be a lot of fun. With good sequels, creative origins in the excellent series Spaced, and a name that puns off of one of the most iconic zombie films of all time, Shaun of the Dead is surrounded by success on all fronts yet it still manages to stand out as brilliant in its own right.


#48. Memento (2000)

If I never judged a movie by its cover, I probably never would have seen this. One day in Wal-Mart I saw a movie in a blue cardboard box that looked like the file for a mental patient. It said nothing about the movie other than the name, and I was so intrigued that I bought it purely to satisfy my own curiosity. The result was exposure to what I still think is Christopher Nolan's best movie. The odd reverse-time structure and the very original handling of memory loss make this a very unique viewing experience that I always enjoy.


#47. The Thing (1982)

Not too long ago, we were treated to a horribly unnecessary remake of John Carpenter's classic Lovecraftian horror masterpiece. I went directly from the theater and bought a copy of the real thing just to scrub that monstrosity out of my brain. Carpenter's film has its flaws, sure, but the atmosphere it creates is deeply true to the bleak Antarctic setting and the terrors of the unknown. Isolation, desperation, and bleak environment all work together here to create a one of the most lastingly effective horror films of all time. It's also the closest thing we have to a top-quality cinematic Lovecraft production, which really enhances its appeal for me.


#46. Capote (2005)

Many people have complained that Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning turn as Truman Capote is too slow and boring. Well screw them, I liked it. This is definitely a quiet movie, but it's a character study that's driven by an interesting character who is brilliantly portrayed. And that's all I have to say about that.


#45. 13 Assassins (2010)

When goremaster Takashi Miike decided to do try to remake an old samurai epic with modern filmmaking equipment, he made a statement that immediately grabbed my attention. He said that he liked how real the old movies had felt with destructible sets and actual props instead of excessive CGI. I've always felt the same way, so I was excited to see the result of his efforts. As it turned out, the final product was a marvelous throwback to the 1950s and 1960s samurai films that I love so much. Truly worth watching if you like action that feels real. As a side note, I've seen one of my brothers drunkenly attempt to convince numerous strangers that this was one of the greatest films ever made. So there's that.


#44. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

This one is widely considered a classic, so I don't think it requires much explanation. It's a great movie, I really like it, the end.


#43.Thank You for Smoking (2005)

Since the first time I saw this movie, I've loved it. Aaron Eckhart's morally bankrupt big-tobacco apologist is one of the most genuinely entertaining characters ever put on screen in my opinion. The movie around him is solidly enjoyable, but he really is the towering centerpiece that makes the whole thing work. His peculiar mentoring relationship with his son, who lives with his ex-wife, offers an excellent vehicle for exploring his character's inner-workings, and by the end of the film that relationship has transformed his son into a terrific sort of Mini-Me.


#42. Ballad of a Soldier (1959)

I'm not an expert on Russian filmmaking or anything, but I do know this one is considered a classic of Russian cinema. In any case, it's a sweet, touching story that I immediately fell in love with the first time I saw it. I have since made every effort to introduce it to anybody I meet who seems to have an interest in film criticism or analysis. I know more of these people than you might expect, so that's actually a fair amount of introducing.


#41. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

This is not only one of the greatest westerns ever made, it's also a movie I've liked since I was a kid. With iconic styling, memorable characters, a solid plot, and an incredibly memorable musical score The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is everything a western should be. Unfortunately it's one of those movies that seems to pop up in a lot of extended forms that ambush you with unnecessary extra scenes added to its already robust run time, but that's a minor quibble with an otherwise excellent film.


That's it for Part 1. See you later (probably tomorrow) for Part 2.


  1. Your #47 is my #1. Memento is also fantastic, but Shaun of the Dead is the only other one of these I've seen all the way through. I think you've seen way more movies than I have.

    1. Oh, and Shawshank. Sorry, missed that one when I was reviewing the list. That's my mom's favorite movie, and I can't fault it.

  2. I probably have seen more movies than most people. I've spent a lot of time around some really next-level film fanatics so just through incidental exposure I pick up a lot of stuff that's a little off the beaten path. Still, I don't think I have too many movies on the list that are terribly obscure.

    And I seem to recall you mentioning The Thing as a favorite once or twice. Not a bad choice at all.

  3. Re-reviewing this I have one more thing to add . . . I really hated Cloverfield. Really, really hated it. If it's not the worst movie ever made, it's got to be close. FAIR WARNING: If you read the next paragraph, there might be one to five things that will completely ruin it for you, and I don't want to ruin something you enjoy.

    Firstly, I hated the characters and wanted them to die. Secondly, I didn't understand the motivation for going to find the girlfriend or whatever. Thirdly, why the hell was that guy still carrying around his camera and recording it, and why was he tagging along in the first place? Fourthly, I simply did not find the scene where they were effectively fighting the small monsters to be believable in the slightest. Fifthly, what was the deal with the exploding girl, and why did they think it was a good idea to throw that into the movie in one isolated instance without ever using it again? The only positive thing is how it ended . . . but it could have happened a lot sooner. Did I mention that I hated that movie?

    Otherwise, I've seen several of the honorable mentions and I like the rest of them.

  4. Fair enough. Cloverfield seems to be a movie that bothers a lot of people, because you're far from the first person to tell me you hated it. I won't deny that it has its problems, but for whatever reason I have always enjoyed it. Perhaps it's due to my almost fetishistic love of found footage horror.