My Top Ten Favorite Movies of All Time!
Other than music,writing, and comics books, there's no other guilty pleasure I have that's been able to truly draw me in and take me on so many different journeys other than movies. Although I like a lot of movies from different genres and many of them have been good and sometimes great, there are those movies that completely stand out and blow me away. Whether it's the story or superb acting or brilliant cinematography or a combination of everything, some movies have entered that pantheon of brilliance and spoke to me in a way that's truly hard to describe. I'll try my best.
Here's a list of my top ten favorite movies of all time, and in no particular order. You may or may not agree with me, but, whatever. It's all for fun anyways and always fun to geek out on movies.
This is the very first movie I've seen from director/writer Quentin Tarantino, and it's my absolute favorite. The way it's written and the dialogue is absolutely so simple, normal, and just brilliant.
Tarantino humanizes these criminals in a humorous way that was absolutely refreshing at the time. Talking about normal things from Madonna to tipping waitresses to trying to figure out what went wrong with the robbery made Reservoir Dogs comical but ironically realistic.
There are way too many amazing performances and classic scenes to list. Tim Roth was amazing, as was Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi. No one can deny that Michael Madison captured "cool" with Mr. Blonde.
The tension and suspense in this movie is just awesome. Often, at times, you didn't know who to root for. You wanted these crooks to get away, but at the same time, you also didn't want these crooks to find out Mr. Orange was an undercover cop.
Reservoir Dogs is great movie with a great script, and great story-telling that was amazingly shot on the cheap. It just goes to show you that you don't have a huge budget with a ka-zillion special effects to produce a great, great film.
This movie was an amazing surprise, and I can't stand those who just think this movie and story is about barbaric fighting. There's so many philosophical undertones within this movie, and I suppose those who didn't get it just write it off as a bunch of clowns beating each other to a pulp.
The script and the way the story was edited was awesome. Yes, I know this movie is based on the book by Charles Michael "Chuck" Palahniuk. I'm not going to get into which was better: the book or movie. Brad Pitt was great and Edward Norton's performance was absolutely tops.
Yes, this film is controversial. The whole subject matter is controversial, but a lot of what it talks about has a ring of truth, riddled with dark humor that's brilliant and challenges a consumer driven society that defines itself and it's happiness on material possessions and what "advertising has us chasing" to feel fulfilled and normal.
"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off"
It also addresses the fact that when the "people" get pissed off those who hold the illusion of power aren't so untouchable. One of my favorite scenes and Tyler Durden lines is, "Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not... fuck with us!"
Roger Ebert, reviewing for the Chicago Sun-Times, called Fight Club "visceral and hard-edged", and "a thrill ride masquerading as philosophy" that most audiences would not appreciate.
Jay Carr of The Boston Globe stated that the film began with an "invigoratingly nervy and imaginative buzz", but that it eventually became "explosively silly."
To all the critics who panned this movie as gibberish: Take a look on the news and see all the civil unrest going on towards sneaky "corporations" happening in our country. Doesn't seem so silly now, does it? All they need is one Tyler Durden.
To refute Ebert's statement of Fight Club being a "thrill ride masquerading as philosophy," take a look at the main character and everyone that follows him in the movie. Perhaps, the author is making a statement that we have always admired and followed "psychotic" and "mentally unstable" people throughout mankind's history while calling them brilliant or leaders.
If you didn't like this movie, I'm sorry you didn't get it. Well, actually, I'm not sorry you didn't get it.
Wuthering Heights 1992 Version
Wuthering Heights is one my absolute favorite books. Written by Emily Bronte, I think this story really captures the relationships between men and women, and it does it truthfully. Most would like to lie to make themselves feel better that it's just the relationship dynamic of the period, but it's timeless. If you like to be on the denial river that's cool. I won't throw you a paddle.
You want to talk about a classic romantic story? This is it, and it's not pretty whatsoever. I think this 1992 version captures the book's mood better than any of its predecessors.
There are many versions of this movie, but I still hold my ground that this is my absolute favorite out of all of them. There are several factors for this.
For one, this is the only movie that details both Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw's generation, as well as their children's generation with Hareton Earnshaw and Cathy Linton. The other versions don't do this.
Another reason is because of the amazing performances by Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche. I thin Ralph Fiennes truly captured Heathcliff's powerful passion and brooding bitterness as he becomes a man possessed to take revenge on those who have come between the love that he and Catherine share.
His performance was truly haunting as is the character who is the hero yet the villain of the story at the same time. Tough character to play, but Fiennes pulls this off remarkably, as if he was born to play the role.
I immediately fell in love with Juliette Binoche after seeing her performance in this movie. She captured Catherine Earnshaw, and to me she is Catherine Earnshaw. Juliette Binoche is truly an amazing actress, and she believably portrayed the tormented Catherine Earnshaw perfectly.
The scene where she tells Nelly her conflict in accepting Edgar Linton's marriage proposal and betraying, as well as revealing her undying love for Heathcliff, is astounding. Just after she delivers the famous lines, "Nelly, I am Heathcliff," a tear streams down her face, and the look of loss and pain she has wrenches at your heart.
This is another of my favorite movies that was widely panned by critics, especially British critics who widely criticized Juliette Binoche's French accent so harshly that Juliette Binoche distanced herself as far away from the movie as possible. Even to this day, she won't recognize the film, as is the same with the director, Peter Kosminsky.
Her accent did not bother me in the least, even though it infuriated uptight British film critics who believed the role would have been better served by a British actress. Hogwash and hypocritical!
Enemy at the Gates is about Russians during World War II, but none of the cast had Russian accents. I believe most of them had British accents. That movie should have been widely panned for English actors playing Russian characters, who are based off of real Russian war heroes, and not acquiring the language of the story's characters or even attempting to produce a Russian accent while speaking English.
I don't care what the critics say about this movie. I think the Wuthering Heights 1992 version is the best version, and the performances in this movie did honor to the classic book of the same title and Emily Bronte. Yes, I did read the book before seeing the movie also, but I can see those snobbish English critics saying, "Ah, what do you know? You're an American!"
Yes, I am and proud of it, and proud that this movie is one of my all time favorites!
The Usual Suspects
The funny thing about this movie is I refused to watch all of it the first time I saw it. I clearly wasn't in the mood at all, but the second time I watched it I was completely blown away. Talk about a movie that is just brilliant in everything from it's story, to it's cast, and how the film was shot and edited.
This movie had me completely guessing the whole way through who was Keyser Söze, and the end was a complete shocker. Kevin Spacey deserved the Oscar for his performance in this role, and so did Christopher McQuarrie for best screenplay. This movie is just plain good storytelling, and didn't rely on all these special effects and gimmicks. Just good ole fashioned story telling.
I love how most of the story is basically told from the view point of a crime's only survivor - Roger "Verbal" Kent (Kevin Spacey) while he's being interrogated by U.S. Customs special agent Dave Kujan, played by Chazz Palminteri. The movie shifts through a series of convoluted flashbacks to real time as Verbal retells the events that led up to the crime in San Pedro Bay that's being investigated.
The onscreen dynamic and chemistry between the actors was beautiful and it shows. All of the main characters - basically a band of career crooks - are extremely likable. After they are onfronted by a middle man of Keyser Söze, a lawyer named Kobayashi, and then blackmailed into doing a job for the mysterious Keyser Söze, I found myself rooting for this band of crooks to complete a dangerous heist that involved 91 million dollars in cocaine, Argentine mobsters and Hungarian buyers.
The Usual Suspects is absolutely a smart, witty mystery movie that's full of twists and turns and keeps you guessing. Just when you think you figured it out, the story throws you another curve ball. I love this film, and it's one of those films that the more you watch over and over, the more you'll pick up something that you missed the last time you saw it.
Can we say another film that just had an amazing story, funny and extremely likable characters, and amazing cinematography? The film critics gave this movie horrible reviews, but the people disagreed and rated this flick a score of 93 on Rotten Tomatoes.
The story of Irish immigrants and brothers, Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy MacManus (Norman Reedus) turning vigilantes and taking on the Russian and Italian mob in the streets of Boston is another movie that is riddled with a set of flashbacks that connect to present day. The flashback scenes are through the view point of William Dafoe's character, FBI Special Agent Paul Smecker, who pieces together each crime by visualizing how the crime occurred while narrating it to three clueless and funny Boston detectives assigned to help Smecker's investigations.
The character of Rocco, played by David Della Rocco, a low-level errand boy for the Italian Mob and idiotic but lovable close friend of the MacManus brothers, is absolutely hilarious. While the first act of vigilantism kinda of just fell into the brothers' laps, Rocco gives the vigilante brothers planned hits because of his Mob connections. As Rocco says to the brothers in a great scene while they try to figure out a system of which bad, evil men deserve their wrath:
"Me! Me! I'm the guy! I know everyone! Their habits, who they hang out with, who they talk to! I've got phone numbers, addresses! I know who they're fucking! I know where they live! We could kill everyone."
As much as this movie is riddled with bullets, it's also riddled with extremely, great and classic scenes that are either funny as hell or just plain cool. Often times both. One of my favorite scenes is the one where they kill Vincenzo Lipazzi, played by Ron Jeremy, at a porn shack while Vincenzo is masturbating in a porn booth.
The movie Boondock Saints does raise a pretty controversial question, and it's even brought up in the beginning scene in church when the monsignor says:
"And I am reminded, on this holy day, of the sad story of Kitty Genovese. As you all may remember, a long time ago, almost thirty years ago, this poor soul cried out for help time and time again, but no person answered her calls. Though many saw, no one so much as called the police. They all just watched as Kitty was being stabbed to death in broad daylight. They watched as her assailant walked away. Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men."
Another scene that illustrates this question is at Rocco's girlfriend's apartment when Rocco is trying to find out just why the brothers murdered the top Russian mobsters.
Rocco: Anybody you think is evil?
Rocco: Don't you think that's a little weird, a little psycho?
Connor: You know what I think is psycho, Roc? It's decent men with loving families. They come home every day after work and they turn on the news. You know what they see? They see rapists, and murderers and child molesters. They're all getting out of prison.
Murphy: Mafiosos. Getting caught with twenty kilos. Getting out on bail the same ****ing day.
Connor: And everywhere, everyone thinks the same thing: that someone should just go kill those mother****ers.
Murphy: Kill 'em all. Admit it. Even you've thought about it.
You don't have to agree with the question that's raised in Boondock Saints. That's not the movie's point. It's not just a mindless, bloody, violent movie for violence sakes that the critics simplified it as. It's just the premise of what would happen if normal, good people got sick and tired of all these criminals slipping through the cracks of the justice system. I thought a good story was to provoke and challenge a topic of debate? Well, this one definitely does.
You know that old saying, "If you want something done right, do it yourself." The movie even raises this question at the end where they have a pseudo journalist going around asking the citizens of Boston what they think about what the MacManus brothers are doing, who have been dubbed "The Saints" by the media.
Maybe it's a guy thing, but I love the Godfather. It's no doubt one of the most classic gangster films of all time, and this movie has entrenched American culture whether you like it or not.
The Godfather is one of the first gangster films that brought you into the mysterious underworld from their point of view. The Godfather was one of the first, if not the first, to humanize characters from the underworld. Sure they were suppose to be criminals, but they weren't totally "bad guys." In the film, you learned that it was actually the corrupt police and government officials who were the "bad guys."
It's really a story about family in a weird, twisted way, and how Michael Corleone is thrust into a role he vowed never to be in to protect his family. The performance by Al Pacino in this movie is what sky rocketed his career, and it's funny that studio didn't even want him to begin with. They wanted Robert Redford, but Coppola fought for Al.
The film questions the audience: What would you do if you had that kind of power? You felt empathetic and justified towards Micheal killing his own brother-in-law for setting up the murder of his brother, Sony. You cheered when Sony went and beat the living daylights out of his brother-in-law for abusing his sister. Even though you knew Michael wanted nothing to do with the "family business," you understood how he had no choice because his brother, Fredo, was too weak to protect the family.
This film was nominated for eight academy awards, and won three for best director Francis Ford Coppola, best adapted screen play, and best actor Marlon Brando. Brando was absolutely superb as Vito Corleone, who other actors in the movie admit that Brando didn't remember his lines. He had them taped everywhere on the set.
When tensions broke out between the movie studio and the director Francis Ford Coppola, Marlon Brando was heard saying, "What's the big deal? It's just a gangster film." Yet, Brando put out a great performance. Even though he is not of Italian descent, you believed every second of that movie that he was the most powerful Italian dons in New York city.
I love this film and the sequels, which really does follow the prime and fall of the Costra Nostra "Our Thing" in the United States. One of the best "period" movies of all time. I've heard people not liking the movie, because of it's racial slurs, mainly the use of the "N" word. However, uhmm, the film takes place in 1945 throughout 1955. Sorry, the film is just being realistic to the attitudes of the time period.
And to Marlon, (R.i.P and with much respect) it's not "just a gangster" film...it's "the gangster film" of all time, and you helped make it so. As a fan, I'm ever-so-grateful!
Everyone rolls their eyes when I say that this one of my top favorite movies of all time, but here's the deal. I like movies and characters with heart. Rocky is brilliantly written by Sylvester Stallone, whom also plays the main character, and a wonderfully directed film by John G. Avildsen. I cannot stand it when others undervalue this movie by saying it's just a "dumb boxing movie."
The movie isn't just about boxing. Boxing is the background. There's only two real boxing scenes in the movie. One is at the very beginning and the second is the climatic fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed.
The story is really about someone trying to find self worth and value in himself, living in an environment that has little opportunity to find that. But what happens when you do get that opportunity to prove yourself? Do you back down or do you give it your best shot and try to overcome the odds?
I loved the character of Rocky when I first saw the movie. He was surrounded by all these creeps and even looked like one himself, but he was the classic cliche of "don't judge a book by it's cover." He had an extremely good heart towards others. He truly defined, at least for me, what it really meant to be a classy person by the way he treated people.
At the core of Rocky is truly a love story between him and Adrianne, and I find it to be one of the most charming love stories in film. It's not about these two glamorous people who find love, or about two people who have all this potential to be successful and find love. It's about two people who are down on their luck and never given a chance by anyone else until they find each other.
Rocky is more than boxing movie, a love story, and a feel good movie. No one can deny that the movie Rocky was and still is such an inspirational movie. There are so many classic scenes in Rocky, but my favorite is when Mickey goes to Rocky's apartment to try to talk Rocky into letting him be his manager. In that scene you really see the desperation in the characters. Mick pleading to a bathroom door, because Rocky doesn't want to face him, and then Rocky finally showing his vulnerability and frustration by yelling to an empty room after Mick leaves.
The supporting cast gave such phenomenal performances in Rocky. Burt Young, Burges Merideth, Talia Shire, and Carl Weathers, who played one of the most revered and iconic antagonists on film. To even try to describe all these actors performances in Rocky would do them no justice. Stallone truly wrote characters that you could empathize with and feel for, and these actors just brought a realistic purity to them.
For a such a low budget film that was shot in 28 days, Rocky just nailed it with a sincerity that was truly genuine and heartfelt. Yes, it struck a chord with me and the world. Rocky still does and I never tire of watching the movie.
Most people believe that E.T. was the movie that really catapulted director Steven Spielberg's success, but it wasn't. It was actually Jaws. After he made this classic, blockbuster hit, Steven Spielberg was pretty much allowed to do any movie he wanted.
Why is this even on my top ten favorite movies of all time? Hey, I know the shark looks fake now, but for the technology they had back then in 1975, the year of my birth, I thought it was amazing.
Still, that's not the reason why it's one of my all time favorites. The reason why it's one of my favorites is because it freaking traumatized me. I saw this movie when I was three or four, and after that, I was afraid to go into the water. Even in the pool, I could hear that damn impending theme song and it would freak me out.
The movie Jaws also gave me my fascination with sharks, especially Great White sharks. Shark Week on the Discovery Channel? I'm there! I don't care what most shark researchers say about it being highly unlikely to be attacked by a shark, the simple question, What if you were attacked by one, still freaks me out.
Also, it's not some made up, fictional monster. This creature actually exists with all it's razor sharp teeth glory. Okay, so why aren't I amazingly terrified by lyons or tigers. Well, here's the thing. They're land creatures, which is my natural habitat. In the water, you are greatly stifled in your abilities to maneuver. Also you can't even see a damn shark coming at you from below.
The great thing about this movie was that you didn't see the shark until the end. At first, you saw what was happening to it's poor victims, like the very first scene with the girl skinny dipping at night. That scene was more terrifying than actually seeing the shark.
Then you started to get glimpses of that famously huge fin protruding out of the water. The build up of actually seeing the shark was just perfect.
Of course, the movie also had an amazing cast with Roy Scheider as police chief Martin Brody, Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper, and Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint. The scene where Quint tells the tale of the warship USS Indianapolis during the War in the Pacific in 1945 and how the crew hit the shark infested waters after it sunk is still one of the best and creepiest scenes ever!
"Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you're in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail fin. What we didn't know, was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us overdue for a week.
Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin', so we formed ourselves into tight groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like you see in the calendar named "The Battle of Waterloo" and the idea was: shark comes to the nearest man, that man he starts poundin' and hollerin' and screamin' and sometimes the shark will go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a shark... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes.
When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah, then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin' and the hollerin', they all come in and they... rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred men. I don't know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I know how many men, they averaged six an hour.
On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Baseball player. Boatswain's mate. I thought he was asleep. I reached over to wake him up. He bobbed up, down in the water just like a kinda top. Upended. Well, he'd been bitten in half below the waist.
Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us... he was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat PBY comes down and starts to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened... waitin' for my turn. I'll never put on a lifejacket again. So, eleven hundred men went in the water; 316 men come out and the sharks took the rest, June the 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb."
I love that scene, and that story. However, it's the way he tells that story that's just eerie.
Yes, Jaws is one of my favorites because it traumatized me and gave me a fascination of sharks. Even though I own this movie, I'll still watch it if I see it on T.V. I know weird.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
There's not too many sequels that I think are better than the original, but The Empire Strikes Back is one of the few that I do.
To say that the first Star Wars movies did not capture my imagination or influence me in any way at all while growing up would be a hideous lie. What boy growing up during the late seventies and eighties wasn't affected by this movie?
The special effects were groundbreaking for the time and spectacular, and what boy didn't think Darth Vader was a badass while growing up. It's too bad they ruined that character in the new trilogies...especially in Revenge of the Sith.
Dude, Obi Wan said Darth Vader tracked down the Jedi and killed them. In Revenge of the Sith, he just slaughtered a bunch of Jedi kids. Oh, they messed up Darth Vader big time in the new trilogy. Okay, it's apparent I still haven't gotten over it yet.
Anyways, back to the topic on hand. Star Wars isn't my favorite out of the first trilogy. Nor is Return of the Jedi. It's Empire! Yes, indeed! Why?
Empire was the movie when things started coming together, and I mean coming together. The acting in the first Star Wars movie is really terrible, and to be honest, Luke was really annoying and whiny in Star Wars. In The Empire Strikes Back, the acting became more solid, and so did The Imperial threat.
Like with Rocky, great heroes need great antagonists, and the Empire just kick much butt in this film, putting all our heroes to the test. Also, it has the famous light saber duel between Luke and Darth Vader, in which he reveals to poor Luke that he is his father and Lea is his sister. Talk about anteing up the stakes!
I also loved the scene where Han Solo, played by none other than Harrison Ford, is about to be frozen and Lea says to him, "I love you." His reply? "I know." I actually used that line on my girlfriend and she gave me a funny look, but it was worth it. She didn't know it was from Empire Strikes Back, but it was worth it. I always wanted to say that, and, yes, I always did have a secret crush on Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fischer.
Goerge Lucas went bigger and better with this sequel, and sometimes, especially in films today, bigger isn't always better. In Empire Strikes Back this isn't the case. The AT-ATs where just awesome, and everything seemed so realistic. Even to this day, I can admire and enjoy the special effects in this movie.
Everything fit in this movie, the iconic characters, the story, the special effects, and the performances, though still rough around the edges and a bit weak, was still a lot better than the first.
The Star Wars universe is an amazing one, and this particular sequel still somehow finds a way to that inner boy who wanted to be a Jedi and fly around in a Tie-Fighter. Yeah, I know that's a contradiction there, but I did think the Tie-Fighters looked cooler than the X-Wings.
Who captured the disenfranchised youth of America back in the 90s better than Kevin Smith? To me, nobody! I loved this movie and how it was shot in black and white, guerrilla-style, and nobody dared to make a movie about a day in the life of two convenient store clerks back then. How would you even make that interesting? Well, Kevin Smith did exactly that, and not only made it interesting and funny, he made it brilliant.
This was his first movie too, and shot for less than $30,000 dollars. Whoa!
The story and premise was hilarious, and there's no character that's ever come close to Randal Graves. Talk about a character who is a character. The dialogue in this movie was dirty, vulgar, yet brilliant, and the scenes just filled with hilarity. The movie was actually filmed in the store Kevin Smith worked at the time.
Though the acting really isn't much to write home about by certain actors and actresses, I think Brian O'Halloran as Dante Hicks and Jeff Anderson as the one and only Randal Graves gave great performances.
Clerks was something new and fresh when it came out, but the story, dialogue, and movie still resonates for so many, including myself. Especially if you've ever worked in retail and had to deal with customers. If you did, you'd understand this movie perfectly.
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