Jan 26 2009
What makes a movie stay with you? It depends… and it changes. After creating a yearly movie award list (The WHITTY Awards) for the past 5 years, I decided to look back on my entire life of movies. It turns out I’ve seen a bunch of movies. Some I’ve enjoyed, some have impressed me and some were… well, not the best.
First, let’s talk criteria for inclusion. The eligible movies have release dates from 1971 through 2007. Only one of a series can appear on the list (one Star Wars, one Godfather, etc.). The movie had to be released in theaters at some point. Foreign films were eligible and a few do appear but I haven’t seen many of them. Obviously, I’ve seen many more American movies released since 1989 and this list reflects that (end of high school/beginning of college is typically when people’s movie intake begins to increase).
Second, let’s look at the ratings system. I wanted to try and utilize some “objective” method for determining where movies appear on this list. The categories I used, in addition to my own personal enjoyment, were originality, excellence in acting and directing (bonus points for award winners), impact on pop culture and quotability. Ultimately, the categories were scored according to how I feel they ranked and thus may not be completely “objective”. But, that’s what is great about movies… everyone sees them differently.
My personal tastes vary greatly. Every genre has its brilliant and stinky options. Romantic comedy is one where there is no middle ground. Most are pretty bad… probably because anyone thinks they can do it. For every When Harry Met Sally or pick your favorite John Cusack feature, you have about 50 where the script, directing and/or acting is borderline embarrassing. These movies rely so much on the chemistry of actors that you would think that would be the most time consuming part (usually, it seems they just throw two pretty people together). Ironically, cop dramas are somewhat similar.
I am a big fan of sci-fi but they have issues of their own. There seems to be a tendency to rely on special effects and not on story or proper direction. I believe many sci-fi haters get lost in the sea of heavy special effects, bad story and think everything in the genre is similar. Spielberg has shown numerous times what a good science-fiction story can do in the hands of a master director. In the case of a movie like Primer, you don’t even need special effects to tell a good sci-fi story.
Excellence in acting and writing doesn’t solely depend on winning awards. Many terrific acting performances were not even noted with nominations. Oscar has had times where they realized mistakes and made up for them later. Paul Newman and Denzel Washington won Oscars for movies that were nowhere near their best performance. Once you get in that conversation, you get offered the best scripts. Therefore, you hear the same names nominated as in recent years. Tom Hanks didn’t get his role in Cast Away because of his performance in Bachelor Party.
Quotability can be relative to your own tastes. I quote Zorro, The Gay Blade but very few people have ever heard of the George Hamilton vehicle (I think it’s funny but it is hard to find and won’t appear on this list. Not exactly politically correct in today’s world.). Movies such as Caddyshack and Airplane, that have many quotable lines, thus have higher positions than other movies that were just as funny. Also, a single iconic line (e.g. “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” from Network) is rewarded highly as well.
Certain themes run through great movies. Music helps define the mood of a film and create an instant memory of a film with just a few notes. The anticipation of an event (e.g. the appearance of the shark in Jaws) signified by a chosen piece of music often makes the event even more intense than the writing or acting alone. How many scary movies today employ the same idea ? Answer: most if not all of them. I believe Close Encounters is still the loudest movie ever recorded because of the musical give and take with the spaceship.
Also, the plot “twist” in movies has made the bar almost unreachable for mysteries and thrillers. Directors like M. Night Shyamalan are haunted by genius moves they made earlier in their career that audiences expect monumental surprises for every release. When you do get a stroke of genius, it is often stolen for later movies and loses its effectiveness. However, I guess stealing ideas from The Usual Suspects and Fight Club are better than borrowing from lesser movies.
What will you see? Directors you’d expect (Spielberg, Scott, Coppola, Howard, Scorsese) and some you may not hear as often (Van Sant, Aronofsky, Zaillian) are here. The Mt Rushmore of actors for the period (De Niro, Pacino, Nicholson, Hanks, Hoffman) as well as the lesser renowned (Turturro, Kline, Owen, Pearce) are also here. A number of Oscar winning films are on the list as well as some independent films (some were both). There are a number of movies that you would have expected on a list that don’t appear as well as some you may never have expected that are on the list.
Movies are a labor of love for me. I enjoyed a lot more movies than these. Just because a movie does not appear on this list doesn’t diminish my respect or admiration. This list should give you an idea of how I view movies and, in general, what I like. Many of you might find quite a few movies you feel are better than on my list in the Honorable Mention section. Hopefully, this list will spark a discussion of your own and allow you to reveal a little bit of yourself through your taste in movies. As a hint, the biggest box office movie of all time is not on my list. The list is the top 137 and the semi-finalists (Honorable Mention) are included.
Honorable Mention (grouped by year)
Dirty Harry (1971 – Clint Eastwood)
McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1972 – Warren Beatty, Julie Christie)
Snowball Express (1972 – Dean Jones)
Mean Streets (1973 – Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro)
Papillon (1973 – Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman)
The Exorcist (1973 – Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow)
Chinatown (1974 – Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway)
Nashville (1975 – David Arkin, Barbara Baxley)
Rooster Cogburn (1975 – John Wayne, Katharine Hepburn)
Three Days Of The Condor (1975 – Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway)
Tommy (1975 – Roger Daltrey, Oliver Reed, Ann-Margaret)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976 – Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George)
The Shootist (1976 – John Wayne, Ron Howard)
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977 – Richard Dreyfuss, Francois Truffaut)
Slap Shot (1977 – Paul Newman, Michael Ontkean)
Smokey And The Bandit (1977 – Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason)
Grease (1978 – John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John)
Heaven Can Wait (1978 – Warren Beatty, Julie Christie)
Midnight Express (1978 – Brad Davis, Randy Quaid)
The China Syndrome (1978 – Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon)
The Deer Hunter (1978 – Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken)
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979 – Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep)
Norma Rae (1979 – Sally Field, Beau Bridges)
The In-Laws (1979 – Peter Falk, Alan Arkin)
The Jerk (1979 – Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters)
The Warriors (1979 – Michael Beck, James Remar)
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980 - Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones)
Absence of Malice (1981 – Paul Newman, Sally Field)
Body Heat (1981 – William Hurt, Kathleen Turner)
Excalibur (1981 – Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren)
Gallipoli (1981 – Mark Lee, Mel Gibson)
Stripes (1981 – Bill Murray, Harold Ramis)
Time Bandits (1981 – John Cleese, Sean Connery)
Blade Runner (1982 – Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer)
Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982 – Sean Penn, Judge Reinhold)
My Favorite Year (1982 – Peter O’Toole, Mark Linn-Baker)
Sophie’s Choice (1982 – Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline)
The World According To Garp (1982 – Robin Williams, Glenn Close)
Tootsie (1982 – Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange)
A Christmas Story (1983 – Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin)
National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983 – Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo)
Sudden Impact (1983 – Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke)
The Big Chill (1983 – Tom Berenger, Glenn Close)
War Games (1983 – Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman)
Beverly Hills Cop (1984 – Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold)
Children Of The Corn (1984 – Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton)
Ghostbusters (1984 – Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd)
Johnny Dangerously (1984 – Michael Keaton, Marilu Henner)
Once Upon A Time In America (1984 – Robert De Niro, James Woods)
Places In The Heart (1984 – Sally Field, Ed Harris)
Purple Rain (1984 – Prince, Appolonia Kotero)
Red Dawn (1984 – Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen)
Revenge Of The Nerds (1984 – Robert Carradine, Anthony Edwards)
Romancing The Stone (1984 – Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner)
Sixteen Candles (1984 – Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall)
The Flamingo Kid (1984 – Matt Dillon, Hector Elizondo)
The Last Starfighter (1984 – Lance Guest, Robert Preston)
Brazil (1985 – Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro)
Cocoon (1985 – Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche)
Fletch (1985 – Chevy Chase)
Goonies (1985 – Sean Astin, Josh Brolin)
Mask (1985 – Eric Stoltz, Cher)
Ran (1985 – directed by Akira Kurosawa)
Real Genius (1985 – Val Kilmer, Gabriel Jarrett)
The Color Purple (1985 – Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey)
Stand By Me (1986 – Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix)
The Color Of Money (1986 – Paul Newman, Tom Cruise)
Top Gun (1986 – Tom Cruise, Anthony Edwards)
Broadcast News (1987 - William Hurt, Holly Hunter, Albert Brooks)
Full Metal Jacket (1987 – Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio)
Good Morning, Vietnam (1987 – Robin Williams, Forrest Whittaker)
Lethal Weapon (1987 – Mel Gibson, Danny Glover)
Spaceballs (1987 – Bill Pullman, Rick Moranis)
The Untouchables (1987 – Kevin Costner, Sean Connery)
A Cry In The Dark (1988 – Meryl Streep, Sam Neill)
A Fish Called Wanda (1988 – Kevin Kline, Jaime Lee Curtis)
Big (1988 – Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins)
Dangerous Liaisons (1988 – Glenn Close, John Malkovich)
Eight Men Out (1988 – John Cusack, Charlie Sheen)
Mississippi Burning (1988 – Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe)
Scrooged (1988 – Bill Murray, Karen Allen)
Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989 – Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter)
Glory (1989 – Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington)
Heathers (1989 – Winona Ryder, Christian Slater)
Say Anything (1989 – John Cusack, Ione Skye)
Awakenings (1990 – Robin Williams, Robert De Niro)
Edward Scissorhands (1990 – Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder)
Flatliners (1990 – Keifer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon)
Goodfellas (1990 – Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci)
Home Alone (1990 – McCauley Culkin, Joe Pesci)
Quick Change (1990 – Bill Murray, Geena Davis)
Total Recall (1990 – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone)
Backdraft (1991 – Kurt Russell, William Baldwin)
Barton Fink (1991 – John Turturro, John Goodman)
Bugsy (1991 – Warren Beatty, Annette Bening)
City Slickers (1991 – Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby)
Hook (1991 – Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman)
JFK (1991 – Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones)
L.A. Story (1991 – Steve Martin, Sarah Jessica Parker)
My Own Private Idaho (1991 – River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves)
Sleeping With The Enemy (1991 – Julia Roberts)
The Commitments (1991 – Robert Arkins, Michael Aherna)
The Fisher King (1991 – Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges)
The Rocketeer (1991 – Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly)
What About Bob? (1991 – Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfus)
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992 – Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon)
My Cousin Vinny (1992 – Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei)
Once Upon A Time In China II (1992 – Jet Li)
Patriot Games (1992 – Harrison Ford, Anne Archer)
The Player (1992 – Tim Robbins, Greta Scacchi)
Carlito’s Way (1993 – Al Pacino, Sean Penn)
Dave (1993 – Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver)
Dazed And Confused (1993 – Jason London, Joey Lauren Adams, many others)
Groundhog Day (1993 – Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell)
Iron Monkey (1993 – directed by Yuen Woo-Ping)
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993 – Robin Williams, Sally Field)
Rudy (1993 – Sean Astin, Jon Favreau)
Sleepless In Seattle (1993 – Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan)
So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993 – Mike Myers, Nancy Travis)
The Firm (1993 – Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1993 – Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993 – directed by Tim Burton)
The Sandlot (1993 – Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar)
The Three Musketeers (1993 – Chris O’Donnell, Keifer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen)
Tombstone (1993 – Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer)
True Romance (1993 – Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? (1993 – Johnny Depp, Leonardo, Di Caprio)
Clear and Present Danger (1994 – Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe)
Clerks (1994 – directed by Kevin Smith)
Dumb And Dumber (1994 – Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels)
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994 – directed by Ang Lee, in Chinese)
Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994 – Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell)
Interview With The Vampire (1994 – Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt)
Maverick (1994 – Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster)
Stargate (1994 – Kurt Russell, James Spader)
The Lion King (1994 – animated by Disney)
Babe (1995 – James Cromwell, Christine Cavanaugh (voice))
Braveheart (1995 – Mel Gibson, James Robinson)
Desperado (1995 – Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek)
Friday (1995 – Ice Cube, Chris Tucker)
Nixon (1995 – Anthony Hopkins, Joan Allen)
The American President (1995 – Michael Douglas, Annette Bening)
A Time To Kill (1996 – Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L Jackson)
Bottle Rocket (1996 – Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson)
Fargo (1996 – William H Macy, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand)
Jerry Maguire (1996 – Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr, Renee Zellweger)
Michael (1996 – John Travolta, Andie MacDowell, William Hurt)
Phenomenon (1996 – John Travolta, Kyra Sedgewick)
Primal Fear (1996 – Richard Gere, Ed Norton)
Sleepers (1996 – Kevin Bacon, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman)
That Thing You Do (1996 – Tom Hanks, Tom Everett Scott)
The Birdcage (1996 – Robin Williams, Nathan Lane)
The Chamber (1996 – Chris O’Donnell, Gene Hackman)
The Rock (1996 – Nicholas Cage, Sean Connery)
Waiting For Guffman (1996 – directed by Christopher Guest)
As Good As It Gets – (1997 – Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt)
Chasing Amy (1997 – Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck)
Conspiracy Theory (1997 – Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts)
Contact (1997 – Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey)
Gattaca (1997 – Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman)
Gross Pointe Blank (1997 – John Cusack, Minnie Driver)
Men In Black (1997 – Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith)
The Devil’s Advocate (1997 – Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino)
The Fifth Element (1997 – Bruce Willis, Milla Jovovich)
The Ice Storm (1997 – Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver)
The Rainmaker (1997 – Matt Damon, Danny DeVito)
American History X (1998 – Ed Norton, Edward Furlong)
Croupier (1998 – Clive Owen)
Elizabeth (1998 – Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush)
Rounders (1998 – Matt Damon, Ed Norton)
Rushmore (1998 – Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray)
The Mask Of Zorro (1998 – Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones)
The Wedding Singer (1998 – Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore)
There’s Something About Mary (1998 – Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz)
You’ve Got Mail (1998 – Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan)
10 Things I Hate About You (1999 – Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger)
American Pie (1999 – Jason Biggs, Chris Klein)
Arlington Road (1999 – Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins)
Big Daddy (1999 – Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams)
Dogma (1999 – directed by Kevin Smith)
Election (1999 – Reese Witherspoon, Matthew Broderick)
Galaxy Quest (1999 – Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver)
Office Space (1999 – Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston)
Payback (1999 – Mel Gibson, Maria Bello)
The Cider House Rules (1999 – Tobey Maguire, Michael Caine)
The Green Mile (1999 – Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan)
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999 – Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow)
28 Days (2000 – Sandra Bullock, Viggo Mortensen)
Best In Show (2000 – directed by Christopher Guest)
Frequency (2000 – Jim Caviezel, Dennis Quaid)
High Fidelity (2000 – John Cusack, Iben Hjejle)
Keeping The Faith (2000 – Ed Norton, Ben Stiller)
Meet The Parents (2000 – Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro)
O Brother Where Art Thou (2000 – George Clooney, John Turturro)
Remember The Titans (2000 – Denzel Washington, Will Patton)
Return To Me (2000 – David Duchovney, Minnie Driver)
Sexy Beast (2000 – Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley)
Snatch (2000 – directed by Guy Ritchie)
The Whole Nine Yards (2000 – Matthew Perry, Bruce Willis)
Traffic (2000 – Michael Douglas, Benicio Del Toro)
What Lies Beneath (2000 – Harrison Ford, Michelle Pfeiffer)
What Women Want (2000 – Mel Gibson. Helen Hunt)
Wonder Boys (2000 – Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire)
The Perfect Storm (2000 – George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg)
Heist (2001 – Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito)
Monsters Ball (2001 – Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry)
Serendipity (2001 – John Cusack, Kate Beckinsale)
Shrek (2001 – Mike Myers (voice), Cameron Diaz (voice))
Swordfish (2001 – John Travolta, Hugh Jackman)
The Others (2001 – Nicole Kidman, Christopher Eccleston)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001 – Gene Hackman, Anjelica Houston)
Training Day (2001 – Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke)
Winged Migration (2001 – documentary narrated by Phillipe Labro)
Adaptation (2002 – Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper)
Catch Me If You Can (2002 – Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks)
Chicago (2002 – Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones)
City Of God (2002 – directed by Fernando Meirelles)
Dirty Pretty Things (2002 – Chiwetel Ejiofor, Audrey Tatou)
In America (2002 – Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002 – Nia Vardalos, John Corbett)
Secretary (2002 – James Spader, Maggie Gyllenhaal)
Signs (2002 – Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix)
The 25th Hour (2002 – Ed Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman)
The Pianist (2002 – Adrien Brody)
The Ring (2002 – Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson)
The Road To Perdition (2002 – Tom Hanks, Paul Newman)
We Were Soldiers (2002 – Mel Gibson, Chris Klein)
Whale Rider (2002 – Keisha Castle-Hughes)
Big Fish (2003 – Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney)
Elf (2003 – Will Ferrell, James Caan)
Lost In Translation (2003 – Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen)
Love Actually (2003 – Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant)
Master and Commander (2003 – Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany)
Mystic River (2003 – Tim Robbins, Sean Penn)
Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003 – Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom)
Runaway Jury (2003 – John Cusack, Gene Hackman)
Seabiscuit (2003 – Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges)
The Cooler (2003 – William H. Macy, Maria Bello)
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004 – Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate)
Collateral (2004 – Tom Cruise, Jaime Foxx)
Crash (2004 – Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon)
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004 – Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller)
Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004 – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson)
Ladder 49 (2004 – Joaquin Phoenix, John Travolta)
Miracle (2004 – Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson)
Napoleon Dynamite (2004 – Jon Heder, Jon Gries)
Passion Of The Christ (2004 – Jim Caviezel, Monica Bellucci)
Ray (2004 – Jaime Foxx, Kerry Washington)
Saved! (2004 – Jena Malone, Mandy Moore)
Spiderman 2 (2004 – Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina)
The Aviator (2004 – Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett)
The Machinist (2004 – Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh)
The Woodsman (2004 – Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgewick)
40 Year Old Virgin (2005 – Steve Carrell, Catherine Keener)
A History Of Violence (2005 – Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello)
Batman Begins (2005 – Christian Bale, Michael Caine)
Brick (2005 – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lukas Haas)
Good Night And Good Luck (2005 – David Strathairn, George Clooney)
March Of The Penguins (2005 – documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman)
Must Love Dogs (2005 – Diane Lane, John Cusack)
Proof (2005 – Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins)
Sin City (2005 – Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke)
The Constant Gardener (2005 – Ralph Fiennes, Rachel Weisz)
The Interpreter (2005 – Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn)
Walk The Line (2005 – Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon)
Casino Royale (2006 – Daniel Craig, Eva Green)
Inside Man (2006 – Clive Owen, Denzel Washington)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006 – directed by Guillermo Del Toro)
Thank You For Smoking (2006 – Aaron Eckhart, Mario Bello)
The Departed (2006 – Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg)
The Prestige (2006 – Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman)
Into The Wild (2007 – Emile Hirsch, Catherine Keener)
Juno (2007 – Ellen Page, Michael Cera)
Lars And The Real Girl (2007 – Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer)
Michael Clayton (2007 – George Clooney, Tilda Swinton)
No Country For Old Men (2007 – Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem)
Superbad (2007 – Jonah Hill, Michael Cera)
Talk To Me (2007 – Don Cheadle, Chiwetel Ejiofor)
There Will Be Blood (2007 – Daniel Day-Lewis, Paul Dano)
Whitty’s Top Movie List (1971-2007)
137. Witness (1985 – Thriller – directed by Peter Weir – stars Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Danny Glover) – great idea of the only witness of a cop murder being an Amish child. Typical good action performances by Ford and Glover and great pacing by Weir.
136. Fight Club (1999 – Action/Thriller – directed by David Fincher – stars Ed Norton and Brad Pitt) – I know the first rule of Fight Club so I can’t say much about the movie. Solid cultural impact, referenced often.
135. Bad News Bears (1976 – Comedy/Drama – directed by Michael Ritchie – stars Walter Matthau and Tatum O’Neal) – Walter Matthau was a perfect casting choice. Rags to riches stories are always appealing especially when you can keep it believable.
134. Good Will Hunting (1997 – Drama – directed by Gus Van Sant – stars Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Ben Affleck) – Oscar for Williams and star maker for Damon. Van Sant as director kept an indie feel despite commercial success.
133. Primer (2004 – Indie/Sci-Fi – directed by Shane Carruth – stars Shane Carruth and David Sullivan) – how do you make an indie sci-fi film without special effects? These guys did and more people should know about it. A time machine made in your garage is a cool idea.
132. The Blues Brothers (1980 – Comedy – directed by John Landis – stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd) – this movie included so many great musicians that it should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I own an official painting of the boys in my office.
131. Jacob’s Ladder (1990 – Psychological Horror – directed by Adrian Lyne – stars Tim Robbins and Danny Aiello) – this one can be hard to follow at times. It flashes back and forth between reality, memories and hallucinations. One scene caused me to jump out of my chair (only time it has ever happened).
130. The Karate Kid (1984 – Drama – directed by John G. Avildsen – stars Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita) – big influence on pop culture and an Oscar performance from Morita. I think every kid tried the “Crane” after this film.
129. Beautiful Girls (1996 – Drama – directed by Ted Demme – stars Timothy Hutton, Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman) – touching performances everywhere. There is an underlying theme of the grass not always being greener on the other side. Sometimes you have it better than you think you do.
128. Le Pacte Des Loups/ Brotherhood Of The Wolf (2001 – Action/ Thriller – directed by Christophe Gans – stars Samuel Le Bihan, Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci) – great action and you don’t really notice there are subtitles. Monica is beautiful as always and the Iron Chef America commissioner (Mark Decascos) shows off his fighting skills.
127. Ghostbusters (1984 – Comedy/ Sci-Fi – directed by Ivan Reitman – stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver) – who you gonna call? Solid quotability and influence on culture carried this one. Bill Murray continued to cement himself as one of the great comedic actors of all time.
126. Little Miss Sunshine (2006 – Comedy – directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris – stars Steve Carrell, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin) – this had several scenes that made me laugh harder than I have ever laughed in my life. The togetherness of the dysfunctional dream family was inspiring and landed Arkin an Oscar.
125. Run Lola Run (1998 – Action/ Drama – directed by Tom Tykwer – stars Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu) – this movie needs to be watched by anyone that feels like they just don’t have enough time. Tons of originality and just when you think it is over… another run starts. I need to see this again. I believe this is why Franka got her part in the Bourne series.
124. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991 – Action – directed by James Cameron – stars Edward Furlong, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton) – maybe the best example of a big budget action movie that is the reason the summer movie season is what it is today (for better or worse).
123. Moonstruck (1987 – Drama/Comedy – directed by Norman Jewison – stars Cher and Nicholas Cage) – good chemistry between the two leads but also among side characters. The walk home with Olympia Dukakis and John Mahoney was one of my favorite conversation scenes.
122. The Last Picture Show (1971- Drama – directed by Peter Bogdonavich – stars Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd) – coming of age drama that seemed to be more objective in its portrayal of scenes that Hollywood nowadays would have forced a star on it’s audience instead of an even look at many characters. Four best supporting actor nominations (2 wins) prove that point.
121. Gremlins (1984 – Comedy/ Horror – directed by Joe Dante – stars Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates) – decent quotability and cultural impact. The good vs. evil concept and the spread of chaos are always interesting topics. Plus the Mogwai are cute… just don’t feed them after dark.
120. Manhattan (1979 – Comedy/ Romance – directed by Woody Allen – stars Woody Allen and Diane Keaton) – in my opinion, this is Woody’s best. A desperate search for love, sometimes involving switching partners, that was very well acted and very “real”.
119. Gladiator (2000 – Action/ Drama/ War – directed by Ridley Scott – stars Russell Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix) – incredible action sequences, great acting and 5 Oscars. This may deserve to be higher in time but for now this is about right.
118. Miller’s Crossing (1990 – Crime/ Drama – directed by The Coen Brothers – stars Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro) – a movie about the ethics of crime. Leave it to the Coen Brothers to bring character to the genre. Great dialogue (maybe the best ever by the Coens).
117. Elephant (2003 – Drama – directed by Gus Van Sant – stars Alex Frost and Eric Deulen) – haunting portrayal of a Columbine-esque situation. Filming scenes that show how each character’s day led him to each particular meeting was a genius idea. May be difficult to watch but was very well done.
116. Scent Of A Woman (1992 – Drama – directed by Martin Brest – stars Al Pacino and Chris O’Donnell) – hooahh! Al Pacino’s Oscar win of a dark, gloomy character that can’t seem to let go of his past. He orders Charlie around like he is still in the military but his blindness is something he was never able to take charge of.
115. The Transporter (2002 – Action/ Thriller – directed by Corey Yuen – stars Jason Statham and Qi Shu) – great, pure action movie. Sequels, that involved bigger budgets, seemed to lack the grittiness of the original. This is a guy’s movie that, as “unrealistic” as it is, never pretends to be anything more. Sit back, enjoy and don’t over think it.
114. The Verdict (1982 – Court/ Drama – directed by Sidney Lumet – stars Paul Nemwan and Charlotte Rampling) – this is one of many times that a great performance goes unrewarded (not that Ben Kingsley didn’t deserve his award). This film made it acceptable to show that all clients are not innocent. Very serious film.
113. Mr. Mom (1983 – Comedy – directed by Stan Dragoti – stars Michael Keaton and Teri Garr) – I quote this movie as much as any on this list. It is odd, quirky, goofy and I laugh big every time I watch it. The kids were absolutely hilarious and Keaton was a perfect choice.
112. What About Bob? (1991 – Comedy – directed by Frank Oz – stars Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss) – how could this movie not be funny? Bill Murray (perfect choice) is so obnoxious that you don’t blame Dreyfuss for getting so angry. But when it is happening to someone else, it is really funny.
111. The Virgin Suicides (2000 – Drama/ Mystery – directed by Sofia Coppola – stars James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst) – interesting take on a story that is difficult to tell. Having groups of actors acting as almost one entity was perfect. But, what would I know… I’ve never been a 13 year-old girl.
110. K-PAX (2001 – Sci-Fi/ Drama – directed bi Iain Softley – stars Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges) – one of my personal choices that I’m sure many people wouldn’t agree with. This had two of my favorite actors dialoguing on screen about the differences between our society and an alien one. Also, there was a great ending… you are left wondering if Spacey was really who he claimed to be.
109. The Matrix (1999 – Sci-Fi/ Drama – directed by The Wachowski Brothers – stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne) – from an effects perspective, this movie was groundbreaking. An interesting story that was creatively filmed. Huge cultural impact.
108. Swingers (1996 – Comedy/ Drama – directed by Doug Liman – stars Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn) – this is a movie that exists solely on character interaction. Plot is almost immaterial. This movie was money.
107. Searching For Bobby Fischer (1993 – Drama – directed by Steve Zaillian – stars Max Pomeranc and Joe Mantegna) – tug at your heart stories usually aren’t this well-written. Intelligent and sweet… what a concept. Throw in Ben Kingsley and Laurence Fishburne as different types of chess mentors and you have a winner on all levels.
106. Back To The Future (1985 – Bit of all genres – directed by Robert Zemeckis – stars Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd) – the cultural impact is obvious. From the flux capacitor to Biff’s rants, it is a feel good classic on all levels. Plus, we finally know where Chuck Berry really got his sound.
105. Jui Kuen/ Drunken Master (1978 – Action/ Comedy – directed by Woo-ping Yuen – stars Jackie Chan, Siu Tien Yuen, Jang Lee Hwang) – combining kung-fu action with slapstick comedy has been done numerous times recently but none were as good as this one. Fight scenes are incredible.
104. Dead Poets Society (1989 – Drama – directed by Peter Weir – stars Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke) – one of the few movies I’ve seen multiple times in the theater. The effect of teaching students instead of just the material was the primary theme and presented beautifully and tragically.
103. Waitress (2007 – Comedy/ Drama/ Romance – directed by Adrienne Shelly – stars Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion) – there aren’t too many characters in recent memory that you root for harder than Jenna Hunterson. This movie packs a slew of hilarious characters around her. A quirky little picture that I defy you not to like. Plus, those pies looked delicious.
102. Poltergeist (1982 – Horror/ Thriller – directed by Tobe Hooper – stars Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) – big cultural impact and referenced often in other movies and TV shows. Quite scary at the time and really kept you engaged in the family’s struggle. “They’re here” still sends a few chills down the spine.
101. The Hurricane (1999 – Biography/ Drama – directed by Norman Jewison – stars Denzel Washington and Vicellous Reon Shannon) – one of the five greatest acting performances of the period of time that this list covers. The Oscar omission was made up for with Denzel’s Training Day win.
100. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007 – Action/ Thriller – directed by Paul Greengrass – stars Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Julia Stiles) – one reviewer said that all action movies should be directed by Greengrass after this one. I don’t care if these movies didn’t match the books other than the title character. This is a great action movie and best of the trilogy.
99. Pi (1998 – Sci-Fi/ Thriller – directed by Darren Aronofsky – stars Sean Gullette and Mark Margolis) – movies about edge of insanity geniuses usually don’t work out. There is a ton of originality in this story. Don’t worry if you aren’t big into numbers. This is more about the man than his work.
98. 12 Monkeys (1995 – Sci-Fi/ Thriller – directed by Terry Gilliam – stars Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt) – Gilliam is a freak of nature and his films don’t appeal to everyone. However, this one probably appeals to the masses more than most. Willis did one of his best “acting” performances and Pitt was nominated for an Oscar.
97. Children Of A Lesser God (1986 – Drama – directed by Randa Haines – stars William Hurt and Marlee Matlin) – Matlin wins the Oscar with a truly great performance. Hurt was really good and the screenplay was excellent. A love story that is simple at heart and the interplay between actors seemed real.
96. The Shining (1980 – Horror/ Thriller – directed by Stanley Kubrick – stars Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall) – some people consider this the scariest movie ever. Cultural impact and quotability are high. The shot of running with Danny through the snow maze as Jack followed was amazing.
95. American Graffiti (1973 – Comedy/ Drama – directed by George Lucas – stars Ron Howard and Richard Dreyfus) – this movie grew into much more than a nostalgia piece. Every emotion possible is involved with this cast of unknowns (who eventually were involved in other projects that amounted to well over several billions in sales). Its influence might never truly be measured.
94. A Bronx Tale (1993 – Crime/ Drama – directed by Robert De Niro – stars Robert De Niro and Chazz Palminteri) – guys, in general, love this film. De Niro showed he learned a lot from all those years with Scorsese. A battle of father figures for a boy is the main plot. Many great acting performances in this tale based on Chazz’s real life experiences.
93. Raising Arizona (1987 – Comedy – directed by The Coen Brothers – stars Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter) – this is a funny movie. The Coens have developed a patent on creating over-the-top humor that remains warm and touching. Holly Hunter had some incredibly funny lines and she delivered them perfectly.
92. Dog Day Afternoon (1975 – Crime/ Drama – directed by Sidney Lumet – stars Al Pacino and John Cazale) – there is cultural impact and strong acting by Pacino. Sonny is a robber so he is technically a bad guy but you feel for him very quickly. One location is all that’s needed. The role of the hostages evolves as well in an interesting manner.
91. The Incredibles (2004 – Animation/ Adventure – directed by Brad Bird – stars Craig T. Nelson (voice) and Holly Hunter (voice)) – Pixar outdid themselves with this one. A perfectly rounded story was added to the typical great animation that they usually put out. Voices were a perfect match. This is about as perfect as animation can be.
90. Se7en (1995 – Mystery/ Thriller – directed by David Fincher – stars Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey) – an uncompromising script mixed with some disturbing imagery powers this movie. Brilliant direction and acting lead to an impressive, poetic story.
89. Heat (1995 – Action/ Crime – directed by Michael Mann – stars Al Pacino, Robert De Niro) – A fascinating crime story powered by a cat and mouse game played out by two of the titans of American cinema. We only get a few minutes of their shared screen time, but it is powerful when it is there. It’s long but worth the time.
88. Starman (1984 – Sci-Fi/ Drama – directed by John Carpenter – stars Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen) – A really strong story about a stranger getting to know his new environment. This is a timeless sci-fi story that isn’t dominated by special effects. A bit of a savior angle is infused as well.
87. Caddyshack (1980 – Comedy/ Sport – directed by Harold Ramis – stars Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight) – This is easily one of the most quoted movies of all time. Funny doesn’t begin to fully describe this one. Brilliant one liners overwhelm an average script but it is a lot of fun.
86. Philadelphia (1993 – Drama – directed by Ted Demme – stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington) – another on my list of great performances of my life. Tom Hanks was so good it is almost scary. The scene of him listening to Opera while Denzel stands by is one of the most powerful scenes of all time. I cried… I admit it.
85. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000 – Action/ Adventure – directed by Ang Lee – stars Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi) – This is so good you completely forget there are subtitles. You understand everything. The beauty of the scenery makes you dumbstruck. One fight scene was almost like watching a ballet with its graceful execution.
84. The Breakfast Club (1985 – Drama – directed by John Hughes – stars Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Anthony Michael Hall) – a movie that everyone of my generation identifies with to some degree. Cultural impact is high and is referenced often.
83. Boyz N The Hood (1991 – Drama – directed by John Singleton – stars Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding Jr.) – the first movie to show the hardships of growing up in the ‘hood still may be the best. These people are like everyone else… just trying to get by. We all are just finding a way to keep going, no matter what the setting.
82. Diner (1982 – Drama – directed by Barry Levinson – stars Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke) – A film that works based on the interaction of characters and their ability to deliver some great dialogue. The cast is about as good as you’ll find. The cohesive unit of friends among guys is about as sacred as anything in life.
81. Apocalypse Now (1979 – War/ Drama – directed by Francis Ford Coppola – stars Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando) – This has huge cultural impact with some quotability (‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning”). Another impressive cast on this list, maybe the most impressive, strengthens a tremendous story.
80. Pulp Fiction (1994 – Crime/ Drama – directed by Quentin Tarantino – stars John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson) – Quentin brought a ton of originality to this picture. The dialogue was clever and is quoted quite often, especially by me. The heavy violence probably prevents this from being thought of as a “classic”.
79. Reds (1981 – Drama/ History – directed by Warren Beatty – stars Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton) – This is one impressive looking film… and long too. Oscar was all over this movie. This lands on most people’s list of all-timers and it is well deserved. If you like historical dramas, you will love this movie.
78. Wall Street (1987 – Crime/ Drama – directed by Oliver Stone – stars Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas) – “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good”. Who hasn’t heard that quote or know of someone similar to Gordon Gekko? This film further cemented Michael Douglas as the most versatile actor in Hollywood. Oscar recognized this as well.
77. L.A. Confidential (1997 – Mystery/ Thriller – directed by Curtis Hanson – stars Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe) – This was another Oscar oversight. The amount that this film is better than Titanic is huge. All 3 leads deserved recognition and none received it. This was as powerful and well written as any cop based movie.
76. Animal House (1978 – Comedy – directed by John Landis – stars John Belushi and Tim Matheson) – AFI lists this as their top comedy of all time, understandably. The cultural influence was immeasurable. The music was great and there is a high quotabiltry factor. Funny scene after funny scene permeate through this film. John Belushi deserves his place among the great comic actors of all time
75. Being John Malkovich (1999 – Comedy/ Drama/ Fantasy – directed by Spike Jonze – stars John Cusack and Cameron Diaz) – anything written by Charlie Kaufman will have a high level of originality. This film is no different. Finding a door into the head of a celebrity is fascinating. Amid the hilarity, there is an underlying theme of identity that sometimes gets lost.
74. Platoon (1986 – War/ Drama – directed by Oliver Stone – stars Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Charlie Sheen) – Some say that this Oscar winner is the best war movie of this era. For me, it falls just short of two other brilliant movies, but is still well thought of. The movie mixes the brutality of Full Metal Jacket and the life lessons of Apocalypse Now in one brilliant piece of film
73. Falling Down (1993 – Drama/ Thriller – directed by Joel Schumacher – stars Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall) – This is a multi-layered film that shows as just one layer. A truly disturbing look at what the everyday perils of life can drive us to do. You may be frightened of being able to identify with him, but you will.
72. All The Presidents Men (1976 – History/ Thriller – directed by Alan J. Pakula – stars Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford) – The two leads should be enough to want to see the film. Although the movie is dated, most historical pieces are, it still works as an investigative thriller.
71. 28 Days Later (2002 – Horror/ Thriller – directed by Danny Boyle – stars Cillian Murphy and Naomie Harris) – Many feel this is as good as horror movies get. I’d be hard to argue against it. The setting of London having completely barren streets is startling. Rage being a man-made disease is explored in an almost documentary fashion.
70. Stand And Deliver (1988 – Drama – directed by Ramon Menendez – stars Edward James Olmos and Mark Eliot) – This is perhaps the best “mentor/ teacher” movie. EJO was as good as anybody has ever been in this type of role. The movie is sad in its realism. “They learned that if you try really hard nothing changes.”
69. The Truman Show (1998 – Drama – directed by Peter Weir – stars Jim Carrey and Ed Harris) – This was a great idea. What if someone spent his entire life in a completely controlled environment? Then we showed each second on T.V? Would he yearn for the something more that we all hope for? I hope so.
68. Cinderella Man (2005 – Sports/ Drama – directed by Ron Howard – stars Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, Paul Giamatti) – This was my #1 movie of 2005. The acting and directing were top notch, as you would expect. The use of the press’s flashbulbs to accentuate each punch was a great addition. The scenes were brutal and bloody but, then again, this is boxing.
67. The Right Stuff (1983 – History/ Drama – directed by Philip Kaufman – stars Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris) – Many say this was the 2nd best of the 80s, behind another that has yet to be discussed on this list. The cast is impressive as well as their performances. This film was another miscue for Oscar, not giving this one the award.
66. Almost Famous (2000 – Drama/ Music – directed by Cameron Crowe – stars Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson) – Crowe’s early days were explored in this brilliant film. Sharing his experience of a genre of music that is a shared experience in its own right was perfect. “Rock stars have kidnapped my son” is a great line.
65. Unforgiven (1992 – Western/ Drama – directed by Clint Eastwood – stars Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman) – As you can tell by the three listed, this was a well-acted movie. There are no heroes and the differences between good and evil aren’t very pronounced. Clint wanted to bury the Western with this one. If so, it ended on a great note.
64. Airplane (1980 – Comedy – directed by Jim Abrahams and The Zucker Brothers – stars Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty) – I quote this movie more than any other. The dialogue is rapid fire and the placing of actors who you would never think would be in a movie like this was a brilliant choice. Leslie Nielsen completely changed his career with this movie.
63. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004 – Romance/ Drama – directed by Michel Gondry – stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett) – This is another original gem from Charlie Kaufman. Jim Carrey may have been born to say Kaufman’s words. Any other actor would not have fit as well. Carrey played a “real” three-dimensional character and excelled at it.
62. Sling Blade (1996 – Drama – directed by Billy Bob Thornton – stars Billy Bob Thornton and Dwight Yoakam) – Billy Bob is a genius and deserved his writing Oscar. The performances were all really good and I really enjoyed the performance of the late John Ritter. Just brilliant from beginning to end.
61. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982 – Adventure/ Sci-Fi – directed by Steven Spielberg – stars Henry Thomas and Dee Wallace) – the cultural impact is obvious. Everyone knows of E.T., even the dozen or so people that haven’t seen it. Spielberg’s ability to bring such emotion to a film is unparalleled. There is a reason he’s the greatest film maker in the world.
60. Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975 – Comedy/ Adventure – directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones – stars Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin) – Yes, this film is goofy and silly. I don’t care. I laugh every time I see it. How many of you have had some sort of injury and said it was “just a flesh wound”? Now, don’t argue with me or “I will be forced to taunt you a second time.”
59. Misery (1990 – Thriller/ Drama – directed by Rob Reiner – stars James Caan and Kathy Bates) – This is possibly the best female acting performance of my life. Kathy Bates is perfect. Who would have thought Meathead could have directed something this dark. Maybe, he should get away from the comedies and focus on drama like this and A Few Good Men. On the other hand…
58. This Is Spinal Tap (1984 – Comedy/ Music – directed by Rob Reiner – stars Michael McKean, Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer) – this film goes to 11. It is referenced and quoted often. The scenes, and music, are hilarious. I have watched this movie about 10 times and that is much fewer than many of my friends. A Yoko-esque turn is done quite well. This mockumentary is a must see if there ever was one.
57. Donnie Darko (2001 – Mystery/ Thriller – directed by Richard Kelly – stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Holmes Osborne) – “Yes, I’m scared and confused. And I think you are the f-ing antichrist!!!” Now that is what I call a quote. This movie continues my fascination with characters that are stuck somewhere between good and bad. Make no mistake, this is one weird movie. But, it is highly original and I really like it.
56. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971 – Family/ Fantasy – directed by Mel Stuart – stars Gene Wilder, Peter Ostrum, Jack Albertson) – This is highly original and the casting of Gene Wilder was brilliant and necessary (he appears 2 more times on this list). It is entertaining and has a moral undertone throughout. The set is one of the best ever created. I still am a little freaked out by the Oompa Loompas, though.
55. Alien (1979 – Horror/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – directed by Ridley Scott – stars Tom Skerritt and Sigourney Weaver) – How does a scary movie become a classic? Get Ridley Scott to make it, that’s how. The music in this movie is every bit as powerful as Sigourney or the Alien itself. There really isn’t anything I could add or change on this movie. “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
54. Ghandi (1982 – History/ Drama – directed by Richard Attenborough – stars Ben Kingsley and Candice Bergen) – The biggest list of extras in history. Ben Kingsley can morph himself to look like any ethnicity. The performance was worthy of the man himself. This is easily one of the most moving films in history… just on story alone. Praise is heaped on this epic movie from every corner of the globe.
53. Leon: The Professional (1994 – Action/ Crime/ Thriller – directed by Luc Besson – stars Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman) – I hear that the European cut of this movie has an extra 24 minutes that greatly enhances the story. Even without it, though, this movie exists as a great action movie. Gary Oldman plays psychos brilliantly and this is no exception. Reno can display every emotion with just an expression on his face.
52. The Big Lebowski (1998 – Comedy/ Crime/ Mystery – directed by The Coen Brothers – stars Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore) – how many movies can create their own yearly festival… in 2 states… 2000 miles apart. This is very quotable and I already mentioned one of the cultural impacts. Jeff Bridges is “The Dude” and one of the greatest actors of this era. The script is hilarious, a Coen staple, and has great narration by Sam “it’s what’s for dinner” Elliot.
51. The Princess Bride (1987 – Comedy/ Adventure/ Fantasy – directed by Rob Reiner – stars Cary Elwes and Mandy Patinkin) – This gets better every time you watch it. There is a little something for everyone. Mandy Patinkin has never been better. There are quotable lines and a hilarious performance from Andre the Giant. Tons of innuendos fill the script that your kids won’t get but will still enjoy because of the fairy tale aspect.
50. Enchanted (2007 – Family/ Romance – directed by Kevin Lima – stars Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey) – I told people after watching this that a man in his middle 30s should not have enjoyed this as much as I did. Amy Adams was brilliant and made this movie what it was. I applaud Disney for taking its Princess formula and turning on its ear. A princess that saves her prince is a novel concept.
49. American Splendor (2003 – Drama/ Comedy – directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini – stars Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis) – This is one of the most original filming styles I have ever seen. Mixing the actors with the real people they portray in off screen interaction is brilliant. Paul and Hope were about as good a tandem as you could hope for in an indie. Working in real Letterman footage was a good addition as well.
48. Jurassic Park (1993 – Sci-Fi/ Thriller – directed by Steven Spielberg – stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum) – Millions of parents have this film to blame for their children going dinosaur crazy. And for having to watch it a few dozen times… at least. Leave it to Spielberg to infuse a message as well. Human interference sometimes causes a lot of damage. This was also the first to use CGI on a large scale.
47. A Beautiful Mind (2001 – Drama – directed by Ron Howard – stars Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly) – The journey from genius to insanity in 2 hours. 4 Oscars were well deserved. The best directors seem to have no problem getting the best actors. The dangers in the probe of a mind is that there is always some unpleasantness. The movie is more about the heart than the mind. Connelly and Crowe were perfect together.
46. The Natural (1984 – Sports/ Drama – directed by Barry Levinson – stars Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Kim Basinger) – this has maybe my favorite scene. Roy Hobbs rounding the bases with sparks raining down as teammates jump for joy; then, a morph into a baseball traveling through the air as Roy and his newfound son play catch in the field. The placement in this list is worthy for that scene alone.
45. Network (1976 – Drama/ Satire – directed by Sidney Lumet – stars Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch) – I love satire and I love T.V. How could I not love this movie? 4 Oscar wins (3 for acting) show its brilliant acting was rewarded. The plight of Howard Beale reflects many “personalities” of today and gives confirmation of what we all think is going on behind the scenes. Masterful.
44. When Harry Met Sally (1989 – Comedy/ Romance – directed by Rob Reiner – stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan) – another quote heavy gem and an infamous diner scene that caused women around the world to proclaim “I’ll have what she’s having.” My earlier point about the importance of chemistry is proven here. I could completely see these two together. I have a copy if you need to borrow it.
43. Forrest Gump (1994 – Drama/ Adventure – directed by Robert Zemeckis – stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, Gary Sinise) – was there any doubt? 6 Oscars and the second of back-to-back wins for Hanks. Quotable to the n-th degree (be honest, how many times have you said life is like a box of chocolates?). The beauty of innocence and its effect on, initially, not-so nice characters is reflected in “stupid is as stupid does.”
42. Sideways (2004 – Comedy/ Drama – directed by Alexander Payne – stars Paul Giamatti and Virginia Madsen) – movies like this one survive or fail on the actors. All four main characters were acted superbly on the backdrop of California’s wine country. The dialogue perfectly reflects the state of being that the characters are in. A perfect marriage if there ever was one.
41. The Elephant Man (1980 – Drama – directed by David Lynch – stars Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt) – 8 Oscar nominations but no wins, thanks to a movie that is not mentioned on this list and one that is. This is a true story that doesn’t seem possible to be true. Lynch created an amazing piece of film expertly executed by Hopkins and Hurt. The world twisted his life more than any deformity could. A must see.
40. Gangs Of New York (2002 – Drama/ Action – directed by Martin Scorsese – stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis) – I don’t think Day-Lewis can give a bad performance. This film is violent and brutal but true to its source. We also found that DiCaprio can deliver when given good material. Hence, he has taken over as Scorsese’s personal lead over…
39. Raging Bull (1980 – Sports/ Drama – directed by Martin Scorsese – stars Robert De Niro and Cathy Moriarty) – Fight scenes are supposed to be brutal, right? This one delivers. This is about much more than boxing, as any good sports movie is. Some say, this was the best of the 80s. I don’t completely agree, but it was a great one. This began the trend of an actor’s personal physical transformation for a role. Very influential.
38. Rain Man (1988 – Drama – directed by Barry Levinson – stars Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman) – 4 Oscars were heaped upon this picture that may have dealt a near-death blow to K-mart. Two characters with one doing the majority of talking for the both of them. Hoffman was perfect and many of us quote him, regularly. The ending is as emotional as any in recent memory. Try not to cry.
37. Jaws (1975 – Thriller/ Drama – directed by Steven Spielberg – stars Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss) – “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” The plot isn’t very intricate: a big shark terrorizes a local beach. Bring in Mr. Spielberg and you have an iconic, classic movie that holds up 30 years later. The action doesn’t wait to happen either. Someone is fish food inside of 5 minutes. Just terrific.
36. The Conversation (1974 – Thriller/ Drama – directed by Francis Ford Coppola – stars Gene Hackman and John Cazale) – I have heard more than a few people mention this as Coppola’s best work. I still favor The Godfather but this is a great movie. This is a head trip that deserves viewing several times to really see the brilliance. A cerebral thriller that needs to be talked about more than it is. Let me know if you find the DVD anywhere.
35. Quiz Show (1994 – Drama – directed by Robert Redford – stars John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Ralph Fiennes) – this is another true story that doesn’t seem real but we all have wondered at a time or two. Is there any fix to keep a popular contestant on a show to improve ratings? This movie was seen by too few people. An indictment on how the men behind the scenes never seem to get tagged as “bad guys” in the public. Turturro, Morrow and Fiennes were all terrific. The best directing job Redford ever did as well.
34. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986 – Comedy – directed by John Hughes – stars Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara) – just like in the movie, everyone wanted to be Ferris. “Bueller, Bueller… no” was said in many a classroom when someone was absent. Alan Ruck was perfect as me… I mean as Cameron. He, and his neurosis, was always pulled into any shenanigan that Ferris wanted to get into. Fight the power, Cameron. He did have a good time, though.
33. The French Connection (1971 – Drama/ Crime – directed by William Friedkin – Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider) – 5 Oscars went to this cop drama that was released less than 2 months after the world was graced with my presence. This is a fast-paced, unapologetic look into the unfairness of our justice system. Once again, my point about chemistry is proven here. At the time, this film was considered shockingly violent. But, with that violence, you were able to dive deep into the psyche of the characters.
32. Apollo 13 (1995 – Drama/ History/ Thriller – directed by Ron Howard – stars Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Kevin Bacon) – another Tom Hanks movie? Yes, and don’t use that tone of voice with me. I love Tom and I love space… how could this not be high? A perfect use of effects punctuated a truly heroic story. The entire cast meshed together as a unit you could see coming through a situation as dire as this one. Howard has earned massive points with me over the years and this just furthers my admiration.
31. Breaking Away (1979 – Drama/ Sports – directed by Peter Yates – stars Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern) – Oscar winning screenplay that defines a great underdog story set in my neighbor to the north. Once again, a sports film that surpasses sport and delves into the heart of family and friendship… and desire for something greater than oneself. The chasing of dreams may not end as you originally thought, but dreams keep coming. Keep chasing.
30. Cast Away (2000 – Drama/ Adventure – directed by Robert Zemeckis – stars Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt) – relax, there’s only a few more Hanks movies. One actor solely carrying a movie has only been done a few times. Well, I guess you can credit the volleyball a little. The scene where Tom and Helen meet again after everyone thought he was dead was amazing. You want realism… she has moved on and is now face-to-face with the love of her life. Great use of silence here… what could you say? Hey, nice tan?
29. Hoosiers (1986 – Sports/ Drama – directed by – stars Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper) – this is so far above any other basket ball movie it isn’t funny. Lost in my love for Hanks and respect of De Niro, Hackman may be in more good movies than both. Hopper was tremendous as the alcoholic, loser father who knows a little b-ball himself. This is a truly inspiring film that loses nothing after the 20th or 30th time viewing. Despite what the scoreboard says, in my eyes we’re going to be winners. Words to live by.
28. Young Frankenstein (1974 – Comedy – directed by Mel Brooks – stars Gene Wilder, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle) – Mel Brooks is a comic genius, we all knew that. But he was also inspiration for Aerosmith, Walk This Way. Peter Boyle was a perfect choice for the monster and “Putting on the Ritz.” Highly quotable, as most Brooks movies are, with the addition of Wilder, who also co-wrote the movie, makes a masterpiece of Dr. Fraunckuhnsteen. And try saying Frau Blucher around a horse and see what happens.
27. Taxi Driver (1976 – Drama – directed by Martin Scorsese – stars Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster) – another on my list of 5 greatest acting performances. Just as Hanks was able to brilliantly play off a volleyball, De Niro’s performance with just a mirror is as disturbing as any on film. “Are you talking to me?” Craving human contact but wrapped in phobias so tightly, his sanity is constantly threatened. Once again, the music adds heavily to the overall mood. This isn’t the last time we’ll see the De Niro/ Scorsese combo, though one could argue this is the best.
26. Field Of Dreams (1989 – Drama/ Fantasy – directed by Phil Alden Robinson – stars Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan) – “If you build it, he will come.” This movie has so much heart it is almost staggering. Any boy who played catch with his dad or wished he could have has a great fondness for this movie. It defies scrutiny and rises above the majesty of just a passion for baseball. Does it have holes? Sure, the essence of love is like that. It defies logic and reason and relies on faith that our deepest desire, despite a high improbability, can still be fulfilled. “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa.” “I could have sworn it was heaven.”
25. American Beauty (1999 – Drama – directed by Sam Mendes – stars Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora birch) – This 5-time Oscar winner is a movie packed with stunning visuals and thought provoking dialogue. The acting is top notch, highlighted by Spacey and Birch, and the direction and pacing were perfect. The film hits close to home for many who would prefer to think otherwise. This is no lighthearted affair. It reminds us that sometimes we are unsure of what we really want, even when we insist on the contrary. When you want to wrap yourself in a film, try this on for size.
24. Die Hard (1988 – Action/ Thriller – directed by John McTiernan – stars Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman) – I cannot pass this movie up if I see it on cable. I have to watch through to the end. John McClane is an everyman hero, which came along in the sea of muscle-bound action flicks, which really connected with the movie-going public. Non-stop action keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end. Rickman is a blissfully bad villain, playing the perfect foil to Willis. Just sit back and enjoy. “Yippee-kay-yay mother @#%$!@.”
23. Children Of Men (2006 – Action/ Thriller – directed by Alfonso Cuaran – stars Clive Owen and Julianne Moore) – I wrote 2 years ago that it would not surprise me if this ended up as my favorite of 2006. I have one listed higher but it continues to make a strong push. Clive Owen is turning into one of the best around and this was his movie. The film had a strong Christ-like theme complete with an immaculate conception and people stopping their warring ways just on the sound of a baby’s whimper. The journey of guiding the mother and child to safety is both epic and exhausting. A truly incredible movie.
22. Toy Story (1995 – Animated/ Adventure – directed by John Lasseter – stars Tom Hanks (voice), Tim Allen (voice)) – The “original” PIXAR movie had a monster influence and changed the face of animation in movies forever. This was another parental nightmare: namely, the glut of toys that every kid had to have from this movie. You have conflict between your two main characters, which were much more developed than many previous animated features, which created some genuine drama. This is a classic kid film that has a rare adult appeal which has much to do with the expertly crafted voices of the supporting cast. “To infinity and beyond.”
21. The Fugitive (1993 – Action/ Drama – directed by Andrew Davis – stars Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones) – I know people who claim to not like action movies that love The Fugitive. Ford is the biggest box office star of all time (it isn’t close) and TLJ won an Oscar for this. Ford is understated and obviously shaken despite his resilience, as anyone would be witnessing the murder of the woman they love. Dr Kimble was not always well thought out in his pursuit of his wife’s killer but rather was quick trigger and desperate. All-in-all, the best pure action movie of my life.
20. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975 – Comedy/ Drama – directed by Milos Forman – stars Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher ) – the first movie since 1934 to win the 5 biggies at Oscar (though not the last as you will see a little later). There were so many people who passed on this movie that they must have a support group. A young Michael Douglas may not have inspired enough as producer (whoops!). This was an absolute brilliant performance by Nicholson (first of 3 Oscars on his mantle). A criminal moved to an insane asylum and craziness ensues… how could you go wrong?
19. The Insider (1999 – Drama/ Thriller – directed by Miguel Enciso and Robin Radin – stars Russell Crowe and Al Pacino) – set in my hometown… but that isn’t the reason. Russell Crowe gave possibly his best performance, though unrewarded. The question of whether the “real” footage exposing big tobacco was going to be aired or a much less incriminating piece. The anguish of Wigand and whether he should risk everything and the sleepless nights of Bergmann and whether he should believe him and possibly risk his journalistic reputation collide in one of the most intense “true” stories ever put on film.
18. Fatal Attraction (1987 – Drama/ Thriller – directed by Adrian Lyne – stars Michael Douglas and Glenn Close) – many men of the world were scared to death of this scenario. If Kathy Bates wasn’t in the best female role during my life, then Glenn Close was. She was a psycho that would make Norman Bates proud. Women of the world shouted in unison, “you go girl.” She obviously would not be ignored. This film shook the world and we all are still trying to recover. Do you think some men will think twice before cheating on their wives after this? Probably not. But if you see a light flicking on and off in regular intervals while the rest of the house is dark, run fast the other way and beg for forgiveness.
17. Saving Private Ryan (1998 – War/ Drama – directed by Steven Spielberg – stars Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Edward Burns) – Some say that this is the best war drama during my lifetime. I think that depends on your definition (and arguments can be made for Platoon and Apocalypse Now). The early scene of storming the beach feels like there are actually bullets speeding by your head. I think I even ducked a few times. A cast like this works if you feel they gel as a unit. The 6 rangers went through boot camp together and it showed. Plus, you see who heads the cast, don’t you? I’m just saying.
16. Blazing Saddles (1974 – Western/ Comedy – directed by Mel Brooks – stars Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little) –Aside from being really funny, it doesn’t pretend to be politically correct. The scene around the campfire may be the funniest unspoken scene ever. A top notch cast powers this movie with each actor knowing their role and delivering beautifully. A string of great one-liners makes this a very quotable movie. “What in the wide, wide world of sports is a-goin’ on here” “It’s twoo, it’s twoo” and “Excuse me while I whip this out”. I’m laughing uncontrollably even as I am writing this.
15. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981 – Adventure/ Thriller – directed by Steven Spielberg – stars Harrison Ford and Karen Allen) – 4 Oscars bestowed upon an iconic hero that changed the action genre and big budget movies forever. Mix Lucas, Spielberg and Ford and you have gold baby. All these stunts were really done. Take a deep breath before you watch this because it may be your last for a few hours. It is the pinnacle of pure entertainment. Does it have plot holes? Sure, but who cares. It’s Indy. It brings out the young in all of us and we could not praise it enough.
14. Bull Durham (1988 – Sports/ Comedy – directed by Ron Shelton – stars Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon) – you want quotable… I can just about recite this entire movie. There’s something for everyone. Romance, sports, humor, conflict, wedding gift ideas… it’s all here. You learn to breathe out of your eyelids like the turtles of the Galapagos Islands. Robbins is brilliant as the all talent, no head pitcher. “You don’t respect yourself. That’s your problem. You don’t respect the game. That’s my problem.” I also hate when people get the words to songs wrong. Funny is not enough of a desciption.
13. The Shawshank Redemption (1994 – Drama/ Prison – directed by Frank Darabont – stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman) – back-to-back for Robbins. You will hear as many guys say this is their favorite as any around, as IMDB shows. No action, no effects… no matter. The dialogue and interaction of the characters is so compelling that you don’t really need anything else. The influence on pop culture is profound. This started a barrage of Freeman narrated films to come after it. The focus on hope and freedom resonated with everyone. This is a timeless masterpiece that took some time to catch on but it is fully integrated with us now.
12. The Sixth Sense (1999 – Mystery/ Drama – directed by M. Night Shyamalan – stars Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment) – the story of a frightened boy is one that haunts us for a while after viewing it. People who don’t analyze movies for a living probably won’t see what’s coming. Although, this movie has been discussed a lot so everyone probably knows the “twist” already. Either way, this movie was an absolute treat to watch. It relies on imagination and makes you think a little. This movie is almost guaranteed to strike up conversations whenever it is brought up. “I see dead people”
11. United 93 (2006 – Drama – directed by Paul Greengrass – stars a true ensemble cast) – I do not blame people who think they won’t be able to get through it. But make no mistake, this is an incredible, powerful film. The unique way of shooting the scenes was almost as if there is no movie and you are just watching as the events unfold. The sound isn’t typical Hollywood sound which makes things even creepier. This is ordinary folks in an extraordinary situation which need to have their story told. Greengrass kept this movie concentrating on the confusion and pain and never let if fall into a melodrama. This is brilliant.
10. Rocky (1976 – Sports/ Drama – directed by John G. Avildsen – stars Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith) – this is another one I quote frequently. 3 Oscars including Picture rewarded this gritty character study of a down-on-his-luck tough guy. The entire city rallies behind him after he gets a “surprise” shot at the boxing title. Terrific characters surround Rocky and provide a lot of depth to the film. The sequels got progressively worse but the original stands tall. The musical theme is as significant to the story as any has ever been. And the ending was completely appropriate.
9. Schindler’s List (1993 – Drama – directed by Steven Spielberg – stars Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Ralph Fiennes) – AFI and I agree on this one (#9 on both lists). An Oscar win was a given. All 3 listed actors were brilliant and if I haven’t mentioned it, Spielberg is the best ever. That is not a debatable issue. The use of black and white, save one little girl’s coat that is in red, was a perfect choice. Several well known actors also expressed interest in playing Schindler but I can’t see anyone else bringing the passion that Neeson did. Spielberg shot the film like a documentary with a good chunk being shot with handhelds. Every choice was perfect.
8. The Usual Suspects (1995 – Crime/ Drama – directed by Bryan Singer – stars Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Benecio Del Toro) – a masterful, and Oscar winning performance by Spacey powers this thrilling movie. A big time movie shot on an indie budget is always intriguing. The mystery behind Keyser Soze and the interrogation of Verbal intertwined in an almost magical dance of misdirection. When you see it a second time, you find a bunch of moments that you didn’t notice the first time. An audience’s collective ‘doh’ was uttered when the truth is revealed. The name, which came from Casablanca, ironically titles a movie which is anything but usual. This is one of AFI’s top ten mystery films of all time.
7. Cape Fear (1991 – Drama/ Thriller – directed by Martin Scorsese – stars Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte) – when something works, you don’t mess with it. The combination of Scorsese and De Niro is the single greatest director/actor combo in movie history and this film was my favorite of their history. The sadistic look of Cady from the first time we see him, post prison release, is frightening. The torment endured by the Bowden family is at times excruciating to watch. The ending scene on the boat is straight out of Hitchcock and is filmed to perfection. The increasing strength of the storm mirroring the escalating danger inside of the boat causes the edge of your seat to shrink and you find yourself on the floor. And just when you think it is over, a hand emerges from the water and the action continues. I need to stop writing… the sweat is falling into my eyes.
6. Empire Strikes Back (1980 – Sci-Fi/ Fantasy – directed by Irvin Kershner – stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher) – Most special effects films owe their life to this series. This one happens to be my favorite of the original three but I could just as easily have included any of them. This one was darker. The scenes with Yoda, though much more restrained, show depth that many sci-fi films fail to achieve. Vader claims the top of the bad guy heap for himself, at least for the moment. John Williams score is both haunting and mesmerizing. This series’ impact on pop culture might be immeasurable. Complete with its own twist, that everyone now knows, this film, and its brothers in the series, will go down in movie history as one of the most important in history. The game really did change and George Lucas was the one who changed it.
5. Memento (2000 – Drama/ Mystery – directed by Christopher Nolan – stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, Joe Pantoliano) – how do you get the keys to the rebirth of the Batman series as your third film… make your first one be this good. Nolan was also acknowledged as screenwriter of the year for this brilliance. This film manages to stay fresh and exciting from beginning to end, or end to beginning. The movie was shown from the perspective of a man who has lost any long term memory and must tattoo himself with clues to discover the truth behind his wife’s murder. The movie is edited with the scenes chronologically backward and oozes originality. If you want a movie that keeps you engaged and interested, there is no better choice during my life than Memento. Pearce was scary good and deserved at least a nomination but he was shunned by Oscar.
4. The Godfather (1972 – Crime/ Drama – directed by Francis Ford Coppola – stars Al Pacino and Marlon Brando) – a classic in every sense of the word. Some argue that this is the best film ever; a good argument can be made. The cast is top notch and led by Brando’s Oscar winning performance. How many of us have an impression of Don Vito Corleone? There isn’t much to complain about with this one. The gangster genre was redefined with this but went well beyond just that. The cinematography is rather dark and gives a true feel for being in that era. There is a lot of violence but hey, it’s the mafia; what do you expect? The violence actually is what moves the plot along. Quotablity was also very high. “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse” “Leave the gun. Take the cannoli” This is almost like a soap opera for guys. Coppola actually makes this family, as dysfunctional as it is, try to appear normal. If anybody can, FFC can. One recent movie said: “what is the answer to every question in life…? The Godfather.” Of course those words were said by the man, the myth, the legend – Tom Hanks.
3. Lord Of The Rings : Return Of The King (2003 – Fantasy/ Drama – directed by Peter Jackson – stars Elijah Wood, Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellan) – the word epic should be retired after these films. Once again, I simply chose my favorite. Outside of the acting awards, the Oscars were swept by this one (11 in total). The next time I’m stuck in my house, I may watch the trilogy back-to-back-to-back. The sheer visual experience that Jackson presented to us was beyond amazing. The books were considered sacred and the idea of tackling Tolkien’s masterpiece was a daunting task. Minor tweaks for the film versions proved to be the perfect supplement to the already brilliant story. Is it long, as well as its predecessors? Yes. Go to the restroom and make popcorn or whatever ahead of time. You won’t want to move. Peter Jackson has created an absolute masterpiece and we are all the better for it. The foresight to shoot all 3 films together proved necessary and greatly helped in the cohesion from each film to the next. Bravo, Nr. Jackson.
2. The Sting (1973 – Drama/ Thriller – directed by George Roy Hill – stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford) – being a movie guy, I’ve been asked numerous times what has been my favorite movie. This is usually my answer. 7 Oscars prove I’m not the only one who loves this movie. I love the whole idea of “con” movies. The feel of 1930s Chicago is recreated to perfection. The script keeps you wondering until the end if everything is as it seems. The chemistry between Redford and Newman is the stuff of legend and if I had been born a few years earlier, you would see another of their collaboration appear high on this list. Usually, this type of movie is done in a noir style but Hill seemingly goes in the opposite direction. The movie is divided into titled sections, similar to what Tarantino has done in several of his films. You feel satisfied by the ending because there isn’t a slew of death that has been exacted in the revenge. A corrupt police force requires the criminals to exact justice. Brilliant.
1. The Silence Of The Lambs (1991 – Mystery/ Drama/ Thriller – directed by Jonathan Demme – stars Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins) – the second movie to win the 5 biggies at Oscar during my life. And, it did it almost a year after being released… amazing considering voters usually have a 3 month, or less, window of attention these days. Hopkins portrayal of the ruthless Hannibal the Cannibal was not only worthy to go down as one of the greatest performances in history, it was the shortest amount of screen time to be awarded with a lead Oscar… about 20 minutes. I know… it seems like he was on screen for a lot longer. Even though he was a bad guy, Hopkins made him into a film icon alongside Indiana Jones and Don Corleone. Let’s don’t lose sight of Foster’s performance, either. Clarice holds the story together. The fear she showed in her eyes behind the outward courage she put forth was nothing short of incredible. What would make Lecter more interested in her? “Listen to the lambs, Clarice.” A brilliant use of misdirection in a pivotal scene that leads to an incredible, frightening scene shot through a night-vision lens. Hold on to your seat, and your pacemaker, this is one that will get to you. Silence ranks really high in each of my categories and thus has earned its spot as my #1 movie of my life. “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”