I am a movie buff, but as it was recently pointed out, I have never attempted a list of my favorite movies. Perhaps the reason is because it is HARD! Some were obvious, some were on the edge, but I did go through the process and come up with a list.
What I did learn, and hope you all appreciate, is that this is a very SUBJECTIVE process. Meaning “based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.” The beauty of such a process is that subjective lists can’t be judged as wrong or right – they just “are.” Of course you can always argue that my choices are stupid, and I am OK with that. Chances are, my blog post about my favorite movies is better than yours. 😉
One thing resonated during the selection process: A movie which might be a favorite to me might not even be good to someone else – partly because of things that are not even on the screen. One movie might have really reached me because of what was going on in my life at the time, my age, or even how it impacted what I thought or believed.
Without further ado, (Ooh – I liked “Much Ado About Nothing,” but it didn’t make the list) here are my lists: A Top 20 list, an Honorable Mention List of 5, and a list of some “extras.” The lists are not ranked – they are listed by date. I tried to rank them, but failed.
Gunga Din (1939) I knew from a young age that Cary Grant was cool, and I liked Rudyard Kipling (Simply for The Jungle Book.). I loved this old adventure set in India, an the heroism displayed. Imagine my surprise when parts of the movie showed up in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Philadelphia Story (1940) If you have an ear for banter, this movie is perfection. Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant pack three-movies-worth of dialogue into this great movie. The drunk Jimmy Stewart scene is like the rest of the movie – yar.
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) One of the greats. Also one of the few movies I actually wrote about already (link here). Wonderful message, wonderful acting, wonderful phone scene, etc. Lots of “wonderful.”
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) I saw this when I was a teenager and immediately felt of its importance. Gregory Peck is impeccable. As an adult, this movie rings even more important to me. The world needs more Atticus Finches.
Fiddler on the Roof (1971) I saw this with my family at the Century 21 theater in Salt Lake when I was 10. It was long – there was even an intermission. As it was sailing over my head, it must have imbedded in there because I still think it is the finest film adaptation of a musical. You can’t help but love Tevye’s constant chatting with God, and the weightier family and religious messages.
What’s Up Doc (1972) Another film I saw with my family when I was young. I thought it was hysterical because of the slapstick comedy and stunts. I still do, but now I appreciate how great Ryan O’Neal was in his deadpan role. A highly quotable movie. Made me want to visit San Francisco.
Jaws (1975) I was looking through scary movies to make sure I included one. I chose this one for how it actually impacted society, and launched Spielberg into orbit. Some people actually stopped swimming in the ocean after seeing this movie. The drinking scene in the boat where Quint describes the sinking of the USS Indianapolis is perfect film-making.
Rocky (1976) Audiences really did stand up and cheer. I promise. It was amazing. The timing couldn’t have been better than during America’s bi-centennial. What people sometimes forget is that there was very little boxing in the movie. More importantly, it was a sensitive character study about a gentle soul trying to be something more.
Airplane (1980) One of the most ridiculous movies ever made. I had to include it because it altered my perception of what “funny” is. So many quotable lines. Just the other day I heard someone make the ‘And stop calling me Shirley” joke. Not bad for 37 years.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) This movie came out when I was on my mission – luckily it was re-released soon after I got home. Even though one of my junior companions had been obsessed with it and told me everything that was going to happen, I still loved it. Still do.
Amadeus (1984) If you didn’t love Mozart’s music before seeing this movie, you probably did after. It came out when I was in college, and it played at a theater where I worked, so I saw/heard parts of it hundreds of times. It won a bunch of Oscars including Best Picture, and Best Actor. F. Murray Abraham’s “Salieri” is brilliant.
Hamlet (1986) Shakespeare is Shakespeare. Kenneth Branagh can interpret him for the screen better than anyone. His Hamlet is intense, beautiful and actually understandable. And tragic. Yes, it clocks in at over 4 hours, but it is worth the investment. For a stretch of years, my daughter and I would watch it every Christmas break. We are due.
Groundhog Day (1993) Sure it is funny, but sometimes its comedy status gets in the way of appreciating the depth of this film. There is so much to ponder about personal growth, charity etc. that it should be a Church movie.
O Brother Where Art Thou (2000) The funniest and most decent Cohen brothers movie. It cracks me up. Terrific comedic timing and sharp dialogue. It is also really beautifully shot. Helps make the Odyssey more understandable, and gives you lots of funny new quotes. I have this movie on my phone.
Emperor’s New Groove (2000) Yeah, maybe this doesn’t belong on here, but it is just so funny that I needed to include it. David Spade’s snarky wit kills me. This movie was a disaster in the making, but I love how it turned out. I have it on my phone for boring waiting rooms.
Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003) My EC and I watched Fellowship of the Ring last Saturday. It is still spectacular. The thing that impressed me most is that I have never seen a movie based on a book that so accurately captured what was already in my head. It was uncanny. Gandalf and Aragorn are flawless. All three films are fabulous. If you watch the three director’s cuts straight through, it would take about 13 hours.
Big Fish (2003) I fell in love with this movie shortly after my Dad died. I cried ugly in the theater – not knowing I would need tissues. Holds a special place in my heart. As an aging “storyteller” myself, watching it now brings a whole additional set of emotions.
The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012) Dark is right. These Christopher Nolan superhero movies set a high bar which none of the recent attempts have even touched. My EC hates the second one because Heath Ledger is so dang creepy. (In a related note: Go see the Lego Batman movie.)
The Impossible (2011) Powerful, and at times hard to watch. A family facing an impossible disaster and an impossible situation. (Asian tsunami in 2004) The effects were amazing – and not as much CGI as you would expect, given the story. Performances were terrific. I adore Naomi Watts anyway, but the kids and Ewan MacGregor were so good, too. Most staggering part is that it was based on real events.
Evil Roy Slade (1972) An incredibly dumb TV movie cobbled together from an abandoned TV series. Really lame jokes. Poor quality production. Over-the-top acting. I love it. Extremely quotable. (Yes, I did include it in a Bonafide Box.)
The Sixth Sense (1999) What a cool movie. One of the best things is that nobody spilled the beans about it! Haley Joel Osment gave one of the all-time great performances by a child actor. Bruce Willis was his cool self. Creepy and utterly surprising. Still the best thing M. Knight Shymalan has done.
Up (2009) Yeah, I was bawling in the opening sequence. That first 10 minutes should be studied in film schools. I loved everything about this, with the exception of the stupid airplane flying dogs. Pixar at its best – beautiful animation, lots of laughs, and lots of heart.
Movies That I Either Discovered on TV or Saw Before I Stopped Watching R-rated Movies.
(I recommend you look for the edited versions, because some of these would have definitely made my Top 20 list. I don’t recommend seeing them the R-rated format.)
Ran (Japanese) (1985) One of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. We loved it so much we went back and saw it a second time the next day. Ran is the telling of King Lear set in fuedal Japan. Directed by the great Akira Kirosawa. This is the only foreign film on the list, which is odd because I love foreign films.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Based on a Stephen King novella, Shawshank has climbed into a top spot as a widely loved movie. It is on TV all the time, so you can find it edited. It is so good – I just don’t know what else to say. This is one of the great “stop and watch” movies when you are surfing through channels.
Braveheart (1995) Epic, exciting, beautiful. I loved everything about it. It deserved all the accolades and Oscars. (Even though it did play fast and loose with history.) It also changed how battle sequences are filmed. It made me proud of my Scottish Heritage, and glad I live when, and where I do.
The Green Mile (1999) Another Stephen King novel. Tom Hanks makes everything better, but in this movie he is surrounded by amazing performances – good guys and bad guys. (I read that it is Stephen King’s favorite book-to-film.)
Tin Cup (1996) Sure, this movie probably doesn’t belong on the list. I don’t play golf. I hate watching golf. I don’t care about golf. But I love this movie. It cracks me up, but more importantly, the last 10 minutes of the movie are exquisite torture. It is on TV all the time, so watch for an edited version. It is one of those movies that I must stop and watch – drives my wife nuts.
There you go. Your mileage may vary, but now you have a peek into my movie brain. Please be aware that if I were to make this list next week, or next year, it could be quite different.
What do you agree with?
What do you disagree with?