A few years back, I wrote about what I thought were my Top Ten movies at the time. Lately, in discussing movies with a “classic” friend, I have often looked at my list and wondered if anything has changed about what movies I like. I mean, it has been a few years, and some movies have been released that I might like a little bit more than one of these ten, or perhaps some sheen has fallen off of a few movies on the list. And after looking at the list a bit, and thinking of some of the movies that I have watched recently, I think it is time to update my list, though I think I will be expanding it out to 20 movies so that I can fully encompass my tastes in movies. As the title suggests, this list is kind of in order, though I think when all is said and done it will be closer to being in order than not being in order… if that makes any sense. So enough with the filler and on with the show!
1) Dogma (1999) – This movie still stays at the top of the list, even though I have not seen it in a while. This list is a little bit about how great a movie is (though I think a LOT of people would not consider Dogma a great movie), but also a bit about the experience of watching the movie. I remember going to the movie as a kid, fresh out of high school. I don’t remember why I went and saw it. At the time, I was vaguely aware of Kevin Smith and his earlier movies, but something about the movie made me want to see it. After seeing the movie, I went back and watched Clerks, Mall Rats, and Chasing Amy, and found myself liking the characters and the way that Smith made movies. Even now as I enter phase two (three?) of my life, I am inspired by a lot of the things that Smith does away from movies, and I hope to find that kind of passion in whatever it is that I end up doing.
2) Shawshank Redemption (1994) – In a departure from the original list, I’m going to move “Shawshank” up a spot. The movie is still moving, even though you know exactly how it is going to end every time, much like others on this list. A great piece of film making, and almost (but not quite) tempts me to start reading Stephen King.
3) Pulp Fiction (1994) – After Inglourious Basterds came out, I was tempted to replace my requisite Tarantino film, but I still think that Pulp Fiction is the better movie. But with so many great ones to choose from, it makes it a bit hard to pick just one Tarantino flick. Maybe another one will sneak in later.
4) Se7en (1995) – Morgan Freeman sneaks into two of the top four, that sly old man. He’s a great actor, and he only helps make Brad Pitt better while on screen with him. Throw in a dash of Kevin Spacey (also in another movie on this list (spoiler!!)) and a pre-Shakespeare In Love Gwyneth, and you’ve died and gone to great actor heaven!
5) The Dark Knight (2008) – In yet another departure from my original list, I’m going to elevate this particular movie since I recently watched it again and was reminded how great the late Heath Ledger was in it. He more than makes up for Christian Bale growling out Batman’s lines and for recasting Rachel Dawes from Batman Begins. Truly haunting performance. Also, another very supportive performance by Mr. Freeman.
6) American History X (1998) – When discussing this movie with someone recently, she stated she has a hard time watching this movie because of the curbing scene right at the beginning. I don’t blame her for that, as much of the violence in this movie is raw. But by not watching this movie, you miss out on great performances by the two Eds, Edward Norton and Edward Furlong. They play brothers like they were born to, and this movie is another that stays just as powerful after multiple viewings, even if it does kind of drag a bit in the middle.
7) The Usual Suspects (1995) – When trying to select a Kevin Spacey movie, or at least one in which he is a principle actor (In Se7en, he was not in the movie that long), there are a few great choices. Usual Suspects is my pick, however, because it’s a good ol’ fashioned crime drama. And while I absolutely loved American Beauty, I don’t know if it will crack the top 20. We shall see.
8 ) Saving Private Ryan (1998) – What list of great movies is complete without a visit from Tom Hanks and/or Steven Spielberg? All sorts of great actors in this movie, and it is still something that I stop and watch if it is one as I am flipping through channels, at least until the first commercial.
9) Superbad (2007) – In yet another departure from the original Top Ten, though this is the first instance of a movie getting demoted. Superbad is yet another movie that I need to watch every time I see it flipping through the channels since it has so many great moments in it. Also features the lovely Emma Stone in it, whom I am not ashamed to admit I have been totally crushing on since I first saw her in this movie.
10) Big Fish (2003) – A movie that, in retrospect, should have been on the original list. Great visuals in this quirky movie from the quirky Tim Burton, and wonderful performances from the entire cast, especially Ewan McGregor in the lead role as Young Ed Bloom.
11) Office Space (1999) – Another movie that probably should have been included on the initial list. A great comedy with a lot of subdued jokes, not really the laugh out loud variety, though I do find myself laughing at some of the ridiculousness in the movie, even though I have seen it many times.
12) Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) – Like many people of my generation, September 11th had a profound impact on me, mostly because it changed my service in the military nearly overnight (to be fair, I didn’t deploy for about 8 1/2 years after, but still). This documentary, in Michael Moore’s in your face style, was really the first thing to point out that invading Iraq in response to 9/11 was really poor intelligence. Recent Moore movies, like Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story, are also great, but this is truly the movie that made all the conservatives hate him.
13) Gladiator (2000) – Gladiator gets bumped down a bit, along with Seven Samurai, but only because of other movies that I have decided I like better. Russell Crowe used this movie to launch him to super stardom, and it still is a pretty decent movie if you like sword fighting and brothers that hate you.
14) South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (1999) – While I am not a huge fan of South Park, you have to appreciate a musical version of the show in movie format. It was nominated for Best Original Song after all, and probably should have won instead of Phil Collins for a song from Tarzan. Either way, the movie is hilarious and, unlike another movie made from a cartoon series, actually helped keep the momentum of the television series going forward.
15) Seven Samurai (1954) – The first, and probably only, movie on this list not made during my lifetime, it is still super great, if not a tad long. Been a while since I watched this, but it might be something I undertake again in the next few weeks.
16) Forrest Gump (1994) – Another Tom Hanks driven movie on the list, but it’s freakin’ Forrest Gump! I actually just caught the end of this movie again today, and even after over what I am sure is 20 viewings, the movie is still super great. In a way, I am glad they didn’t continue on with the planned sequel. That could have really ruined the magic that is Forrest Gump. A great movie for nearly all ages, except for Vietnam and the Jenny-Dying-of-AIDS-Things.
17) The Boondock Saints (1999) – A super creepy Willem Dafoe really makes this movie in my opinion, but the brother angle, the Billy Connelly with a crazy beard thing, and just shooting a lot of bad people makes it an awesome movie. Another movie kind of like it with a bit more star power is Smokin’ Aces, but Boondock Saints is still just a little bit better.
18) So I Married an Axe Murderer (1993) – Watch this movie, and maybe Wayne’s World, to see Mike Myers when he was funny, before he had to play a green cartoon ogre or put in fake British teeth. He was also very good in 54, which almost makes up for this crap.
19) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) – Another visually beautiful movie, it really made me take a look at Jim Carrey’s movie career. If you take a look at his IMDB, in my opinion, there are a lot of good movies, leaving me to believe that Carrey is slightly underrated as an actor, especially in his more dramatic roles. Other Carrey favorites of mine are: The Cable Guy, The Truman Show, The Majestic, Man on the Moon, Bruce Almighty, and The Number 23. I also loved his guest appearance on The Office as “The Fingerlakes Guy.” Dumb & Dumber is also a guilty pleasure movie.
Before I get to the last of my Top 20, I would like to mention some honorable mentions, or movies that would be in my top 30ish movies (in no particular order): American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, Billy Madison, Crash, Fight Club, Juno, Memento, Bring It On, Mean Girls, Napoleon Dynamite, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and The Big Lebowski.
20) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) – No list would be complete without this particularly great comedy. Many an hour was wasted in Iraq watching this movie for the umpteenth time, quoting the entire thing word for word. This is probably the best of Will Ferrell’s post-Saturday Night Live movies, but his others are pretty good too… except maybe Semi-Pro.
There you have it, readers. Until next time… Stay Classy!