Trash-talking movies isn’t nearly as enjoyable as playing them up. I made a list of favorites before, but that was back in 2007. There’ve been plenty of times since then that I’ve seen or been reminded of a movie and almost called it “one of my favorites,” but BAM. The list is already out there, on the internet for God and everyone to see.
So here’s the absolutely up-to-date version (until I hit post and remember four or five that I’d forgotten). Plus I’m rescinding my rule about not putting in too many movies by the same people.
The best screenplay ever filmed. I can still remember just about every second of the first time I saw this movie, almost 20 years ago now.
The Empire Strikes Back
I can remember every moment of the first time I saw this one, too. Premiere night at Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, waited in line for at least two hours, and the crowd went nuts every time a character came on screen, not to mention at the big reveal.
I liked this movie enough to abandon my friends and family to move across the country to a strange city just so I could (indirectly) work for the company that made it. And I still never worked on a Star Wars game.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The people making this movie were so committed to it that they’d eat bugs just to keep the cameras rolling.
Everybody knows what a great science fiction movie it is that it’s easy to forget what a perfect suspense movie it is, even without going the horror route like the original. The fact that it’s one of the strongest female characters in any movie is a bonus.
You can appreciate what a great movie it is the first time you watch it, and then the more you learn about it, you appreciate it even more. The weird thing is that with Grace Kelly in it, you didn’t really need it to be such a good movie.
The first Coen Brothers movie I ever saw, and like thousands of other devotees, I spent most of the 90s quoting it.
His Girl Friday
Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant are amazing, and it’s one of the only movies that feels contemporary no matter when you see it.
The Silence of the Lambs
Everybody in it is giving the best performance of their careers, especially Ted Levine. It knows exactly how to be horrifying without turning into cheap scares.
The Return of the King
The most epic of movie epics.
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The crest of the Wes Anderson wave — after he had enough money to do everything he wanted, but before all the self-conscious quirkiness collapsed in on itself. “I wonder if it remembers me” still makes me cry every damn time.
The best Pixar movie to date; it’s just a shame about the villain. I’ve seen it about a dozen times now, but I’ve only been able to watch the first 15 minutes twice. And still, it gets me at “I was waiting under the porch because you are my master and I love you!”
I’ve already written loads about Adaptation on here, but the brief version: it’s the perfect example of how to do meta-storytelling without falling apart or ending up so slight as to be meaningless. And it actually manages to be a reasonably good adaptation of the book, too.
I admire all of Akira Kurosawa’s movies I’ve seen, but this and the sequel Sanjuro are the only ones I actually enjoy watching.
Big Trouble in Little China
The best of John Carpenter. I can’t believe I spent so much of the 80s and early 90s feeling ashamed for loving this movie so much. So much wasted time.
I think Top Secret! is actually more clever, but Airplane! wins on joke density alone.
I can tell what a great movie this is because I loved it for years before seeing The Bride of Frankenstein and realizing that it was also a great parody. Another one where everybody involved is doing the best of work of their careers.
Singin’ in the Rain
The best movie musical ever made, mostly because it’s more fun than other Gene Kelly movies, and because Debbie Reynolds is kind of awesome.
You’ll come for the river of blood pouring out of an elevator, you’ll stay for the guy giving fellatio while wearing a bear mask.
Has anybody ever put as much effort into a comedy as they did for Ghostbusters? Also: it seems odd to me that the most memorable moments now are the ones with Harold Ramis.
The Big Lebowski
I can never remember that this is one of my favorite movies, until I remember a brilliant moment like “obviously you’re not a golfer.” Also, it’s easily Julianne Moore’s finest performance (and best entrance). Also: phenomenal soundtrack.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
I was one of those people who couldn’t stop quoting this movie, before I discovered Raising Arizona.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
This is the one I’m probably going to regret, but dammit, I’ve seen it twice now and loved it each time. It is directly targeted at a relatively small audience (and I’m still not exactly sure I’m included in that audience), but in terms of what it sets out to do, it’s practically flawless.
Would Be On the List If It Didn’t Stop At 25 Because Really, Having More Than 10 Things on a List of Favorites Is Kind of Silly
The Night of the Hunter
Kill Bill: Volume 1
Lilo & Stitch
Toy Story 2
Casino Royale (2006)
Children of Men
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Man Who Would Be King