I wouldn’t consider myself a movie buff at all, and I’m far from a movie snob. I’m incredibly forgiving of plot holes, bad acting, and overall bad execution. There are some truly bad movies I enjoy, and there are some inexcusable films I never seen. Godfather I & II, Casablanca, Gone With The Wind, The Shining, Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Citizen Kane are among the many I’ve yet to watch. There are others that have been labeled “classic” by most critics that I didn’t much care for. With that being said, I love movies and the culture that exists around The Cinema. I’ve been able to see some incredible films in my time that have worked perfectly for me and my tastes. Some movies on my list are perfect science fiction, dumb comedies or mundane love stories. Either way, here are the films that I think about instantly, I watch over and over, or have fond memories of. Here are my ten favorite movies of all-time.
(500) Days Of Summer
I’ve yet to find anyone that loves this movie more than me. It’s your classics romantic comedy plot. Guy falls hard for Girl. The Girl is only having fun. Girl breaks guys heart. Guy attempts to pick up the pieces. What makes this movie one of my favorites is the non-linear narrative, along with its witty writing and character moments. This is one of those movies I could leave on repeat. Joseph Gordon Lovitt and Zooey Deshancel are perfectly cast as Tom Hansen and Summer Finn respectively. Their chemistry is palpable, which makes their break-up all that more heartfelt. We go through the rise and fall of this situationship (yes I hate the word too). Anyone who has been with someone who wasn’t ready to commit will immediately relate with this movie.
I’ve already spoken ad nauseam about my love for this movie. The Wachowskis were heavily inspired by philosophers, other films, and religious beliefs. Obvious ones being The Brain In The Vat Theory and Simulacru and Simulation. Although the idea of taking a character from the world and reality they know, and showing them something new is far from original. The package and execution is what makes this movie so memorable in my mind. Neo goes from a unaware-everyman to “The One” and that transition is exciting to watch. The wire work done in the film was unparalleled at the time, and slow motion “bullet time” was not new, but it hadn’t been stylized so well before. The film works as a great summer blockbuster but allows you to think deeper if you wish. It all depends on how far you want to go down the rabbit hole.
Back To The Future
Film critics today are constantly looking for quiet, subtly and nuance in stories and performances. Movies need to say everything without actually saying anything. Actors have to emote every feeling without a word, and scripts need to get the point across without beating us over the head with exposition. All of these things are appreciated, but the most important thing about a movie is how much it entertains you. Back To The Future is the most fun I have watching any movie. The story is perfect. Marty McFly travels back in time accidentally and is forced to bring his parents together or risk nonexistence. If you try and find issues, you’ll see major plot holes, but that’s usually the case when dealing with time travel. Who cares when you have a mom with the hots for her son, a father to nerdy to function and a DeLorean out of commission? Michael J. Fox was perfectly cast as Marty and Christopher Lloyd embodies the wacky, goofy brilliance of Doc Brown. The movie is full of great moments. From the first time Marty meets his younger mother or Doc Brown yelling”1.21 Gigawatts!” All great scenes that make this the most fun I’ve had watching a movie.
The Dark Knight
Batman is one my favorite superhero characters, and The Dark Knight encompasses the best elements of the character and his story. A tortured man, who has put the fate of Gotham on his shoulders. Because of all the good he’s done, he creates the absolute worst sort of villain possible. Heath Ledger’s portrayal as The Joker has become a legendary performance because of the talented actors sudden death and his take one of the best villain in comic books. The character’s sole purpose is to disrupt and destroy the peace that Batman has created in Gotham and he does it in tremendous fashion. The story is a battle of power between Batman, Jim Gordon and The Joker as they try and form Harvey Dent into the symbol they want. He can either become a symbol of hope or he can send the city back into darkness. Christopher Nolan is one of the finest filmmakers of our time and this may not be his best film, but all the stars aligned to make this one of the best Batman stories in any medium.
Goodfellas is a perfect movie. From front to back this movie is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Despite some scenes being a bit longer than necessary and dialogue feeling very “loosey goosey” it all fits with the characters in this stereotypical Italian mob reality. The brilliant Martin Scorsese took the source material, a book called Wise Guys, and turned it into this fast-moving, slick talking, crime drama that shows the demise of Henry Hill. Although we see his fall from grace a mile it way its his family, his friends and his love of the mob lifestyle that kept us watching and cringing. The segment where he’s being chased by the helicopter, trying to sell off some guns, going grocery shopping, picking up his brother, getting the drug mule’s hat and making sure the pasta sauce doesn’t stick while high off coke, is so well done and so much fun to watch. This is just one of the great moments in this movie. How about the part when Tommy, played incredibly by Joe Pesci, kills Bill Batts? They go to Tommy’s house for shovels and end up having a late dinner with Tommy’s mom. It’s amazing. The acting is perfect, the dialogue feels natural and organic, and the plot is perfectly laid out for us to dive into. Martin will never make anything better than this.
Steven Speilberg is a master filmmaker. I’m not the first to say that, but its astounding how true it is. He’s made some of the best movies of the 20th century. Jaws, Indian Jones, Schindler’s List, E.T, and Saving Private Ryan are some of the most critically and commercially successful films ever. 1993 might’ve been the peak of his abilities when he released Jurassic Park. Based on the novel of the same name, Jurassic Park told the story of a fictional island full of actual dinosaurs. You add in a few kids, a couple archeologists, Jeff Goldblum and Newman and you have one of the biggest movies of all-time. Stuffed full of iconic moments. The first time they see the Brachiosaurus, or T Rex’s perfect ending, the shaking cup of water, the car falling out of the tree, the kitchen scene. All great movie moments. The CG combined so well with the practical effects that the visuals still hold up 22 years later. A landmark film and one of my personal favorites.
Quentin Tarantino is one of the great directors of all-time. He has a style uniquely his own and his movies have a flare and creativity that I love. All of his movies are special in one way or another. KillBill is probably #11 and #12 on my list of favorite movies of all-time, but what makes Pulp Fiction so great is that Quentin is firing on all cylinders throughout the entire movie. All of his movies have weird and fleshed-out characters, but some of his films might not have the greatest story, or they might run a bit too long, or they might be unnecessarily gory. Pulp Fiction is perfect, aside from the problematic scene with Ving Rhames. It has a flawless plot that chops up a linear story and delivers it in random bites that make them more meaningful and effective. Samuel L. Jackson delivers one of the greatest monologs on camera, and John Travolta gives his best performance as Vincent Vega. I watched this movie years after it was released and I instantly understood the hype. On a technical level, I may love this movie more than any other, and I hope I can make something half this great in my life.
Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy
Many of the movies on my list have been significant to my life. They have changed the way I look at the world, some have inspired me to write my own stories, and others and just enjoyable experiences I hold dear. Anchorman is is all of those things. This movie is the funniest I’ve watched in my life and despite the movie’s many weaknesses I stand behind it more than any other comedy. I’ll never forget renting the movie from Blockbuster and watching it with my dad for the first time. We laughed like idiots as we ate pizza and it was glorious. Baxter being punted off the bridge is still the funniest thing I’ve seen, and there are quotes from the movie I’ll be saying on my deathbed. Yes, I take this movie very seriously. I know it’s not for everyone, but I watched it at the right time and it had a huge impact on me.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring
I already wrote about this series being the greatest trilogy of all-time. Any three of the movies could go here. I’ll stick with the first because of how well it establishes the Tolkien’s universe while introducing our heroes. We meet the entire Fellowship and by the time the credits roll you know and love all of them… even those that don’t make it to the end. There are emotional moments, great tension and thrilling action. All set in a well-realized fantasy world. Also is there anything better than Galdolf sacrificing himself at the end? “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
Lost In Translation
This movie is strange because it isn’t laugh-out-loud funny, and it isn’t trying to grab your attention. What’s so good about it is the two leads. Their performance takes this very simple movie, where not much happens, and turns it into something subtle, charming and wonderful. Lost In Translation is about Bob Hill, an over-the-hill actor, who flies out to Tokyo to shot a commercial. The movie is all about his experience as a middle-aged white man in an environment completely different from what he knows. He deals with loneliness, isolation, culture shock and pure embarrassment. His counterpart is Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson (in her best role), who is a recent college graduate in Tokyo with her sleezy boyfriend. She’s feeling the same loneliness as Bob and is questioning her entire life, as most college graduates do. The two of them are in the same hotel and eventually meet at a bar and spend the rest of the trip together. Experiencing this new world with one another, and ultimately making the trip rewarding for the both of them. They’re are a few other noticeable actors here, but it’s really the Bill & Scarlett show and they deliver stellar performances. The bond they build is so strange because of its less romantic and more based on necessity. There both at a moment and in a place where they desperately need someone and they ultimately find each other. It’s beautiful and funny all at the same time. An amazing piece of work that I can leave on repeat forever.