100 Greatest Movies (as judged by me)
Inspired by Beth, who had been inspired by Sheila and Alex, neither of whom are people I know, I decided to type up my own “Top 100 Films” list. It didn’t take me long to come up with the list, but coming up with reasons for my selections, as Beth did, has proven a bit more difficult.
I’m sure it goes without saying, but there is no rhyme or reason to the order in which these are presented. This was done stream-of-consciousness and I’m too lazy to try and rate them, one over another.
001. The Secret of My Success
Quintessential 80’s flick. Michael J. Fox stars as a nicer, more moderate version of his Alex P. Keaton character from Family Ties. He gets hired to work in the mailroom of his distant cousin/uncle’s company and begins to lead a double life when he sneaks into a vacant office and pretends to be a new executive. The sequence towards the end where all of the major players are chasing each other around, in and out of beds around the mansion, is just classic.
002. The Lion King
The best Disney film ever made, one of the only traditionally animated (if not the only) films they came up the story for all by themselves, and a film that still makes me cry to this day. It came out the summer before my grandfather passed away and the film’s “circle of life” theme really struck a chord.
003. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
There’s a small possibility I heard this film while I was in utero. It came out in May 1977, when I was a four or five month old fetus. This might explain my almost religious devotion to it, and it’s sequels and prequels.
005. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The one everyone I know says is the best one. Of the original films, I loved Jedi infinitely more when I was a kid, but Empire has grown on me over the years and I may soon join the cool kids in proclaiming this film the best of the first three.
006. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
My favorite Star Wars film for years, not only because of Leia in the bikini (though that has always helped) but because I am a big fan of endings in films, and particularly in trilogies. I like to see how it’s all going to come together.
007. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
The first new Star Wars film in 20 years. Everyone I knew thought it was cool when they first saw it and then they all gradually shifted over to the dark side, swearing up and down how much it blew. I still think it’s pretty fucking cool. Jar-Jar haters be damned.
008. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Clones is a great action flick with a somewhat clunky love story. It still works for me. Natalie Portman haters be damned.
009. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Easily the best film of the prequel trilogy, it’s a well-drawn tragedy. Seeing the mask descend onto Hayden’s face and then hearing James Earl Jones speak the name Padme—those moments gave me chills.
010. Police Academy
One of the first somewhat dirty movies I ever saw. There were at least two instances of full-on boobage in this film, which made my day as a kid. I still think it’s a funny movie today, though the spectre of it’s sequels looms large.
011. Howard the Duck
One of the best films George Lucas was ever involved in. C’mon! There’s a talking, walking duck… And he gets it on with Lea Thompson? What’s not to love?
Sweeping, tragic and historically inaccurate—that’s the way I love my epics. Gibson gives the performance of his life as William Wallace. The music in this film is amazing. And the visuals. And the acting. And the castrations…
013. Young Guns II
Much better than the original. Using the story of Brushy Bill Roberts as a framing device, it reimagines the story told in the first film. And that’s fine, because Brushy Bill, considered by many to be an outright fraud, tells a different story anyway. I especially love the changing dynamic between Billy and Pat Garrett. Love him or hate him, Emilio Estevez is great in this flick.
014. American Beauty
One of the first movies that all of my smarter friends said I should love that I actually did love. Spacey is magnificent, Benning is hilarious, and the rose petal motif is astonishing.
A movie about a writer marketed as a movie about wine. Paul Giamatti should have won every award in the business for this. His silent reactions to Virginia Madsen’s monologue about wine (which is, itself, a masterful performance) are heartbreaking and true.
A movie about a writer marketed as a movie featuring Michael Douglas as a kook. Probably one of my top three movies of all time. Tobey Maguire’s performance is genius, as is basically every performance in the film. And this is the film that made me realize I truly loved Curtis Hanson as a director, bridging the gap between his stunning work in L.A. Confidential, and, later, 8 Mile.
I fell asleep the first time I watched it over at KenMills’ house. It’s now one of my favorites.
018. Chasing Amy
Raw and melodramatic, Kevin Smith’s masterpiece features far too many long monologues, but rings so damn true that you can forgive any missteps.
An admittedly awful movie that I love regardless.
A film that could have been amazing with better effects and someone other than Linda Fiorentino in the lead. Still, a great flick.
021. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Probably a worthless piece of garbage to anyone without a clue about Kevin Smith’s films. But, to those of us who know the Jersey films, this movie is an absolute hoot. It’s like the Laff-A-Lympics of the Kevin Smith universe.
022. Jersey Girl
Suffered tremendously from the Gigli and Bennifer fallout. A sweet picture about fatherhood with a great debut performance by Raquel Castro. The Will Smith cameo is classic.
023. Ocean’s Eleven
Hollywood tries these all-star type films all too often, and all too often they fail. This one was brilliant. The first film I’ve seen Brad Pitt in where I didn’t want to beat the living shit out of him.
024. Good Will Hunting
Ben and Matt got a free pass for years, just for writing this script. It’s a great script, and it’s brought to life by a tremendous ensemble. The first film I saw Matt Damon in where I actually liked him.
025. The Matrix
A film I didn’t see for a very long time after everyone else in the world had seen it. I watched it for the first time in the basement of Stephanie’s great grandparents house and I was completely blown away. Ushered in an entirely new era of special effects movies. The long run of good comic book movies we’ve seen in the last few years could not have happened without this film.
026. Shakespeare in Love
Great because it is at once accessible to the general public, but also riddled with in-jokes and references meant for the somewhat more knowledgeable Shakespearean scholar.
027. Pulp Fiction
Blew my mind the first time I saw it, which was long after everyone else on the planet had seen it and told me how it would blow my mind. The fractured storytelling and leaps in P.O.V. and time remind me of what a great short story can be.
028. Schindler’s List
First saw it when NBC did an unedited, commercial-free broadcast of the whole film during primetime. Broke my heart.
029. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The best of the Indy films. Sean Connery and Harrison Ford play off of each other so well, you really could imagine them as father and son.
030. Toy Story
I remember being stunned by how emotionally captivating computer graphics could be.
031. The Sixth Sense
Stunningly, I went into the movie without a clue of how it ended. One of the few times I’ve been really happy I didn’t spoil a film for myself.
032. The Breakfast Club
Dude, Molly Ringwald is hot!
033. Weird Science
Dude, Kelly LeBrock is hot!
034. Animal House
Dude, John Belushi is hot!
The most epic film I’d ever seen when I saw it. It was on cable all the damn time at one point, and I’d always come in at different moments. Experiencing it in that fractured way ended up being far more entertaining than watching it the whole way through, though.
036. Basic Instinct
Sharon Stone fucking the shit out of guys and then killing them with an icepick? What’s not to like?
Scary, scary movie for a guy scared to death of death. This movie is downright creepy.
038. Pretty Woman
No hooker has ever or will ever look like Julia Roberts, but it’s still a damn good movie.
039. Dirty Dancing
Great soundtrack. Probably one of the best ever. And the movie ain’t bad either.
040. Life As A House
Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker in modern-day California. Kevin Kline is great in this, and the house is amazing looking.
041. The Firm
Tom Cruise is in his element. It’s a bit psychological, a bit action, and all good.
042. A Few Good Men
Some awkward moments, but the courtroom stuff is brilliant.
043. Back to the Future, Part II
The best of the series, it gives you two versions of the 80s, plus generous time spent in 2015 as well as the 50s. Too bad we’re never getting flying cars, though.
044. Office Space
If you don’t like this movie, you’re not human.
I had a friend in middle school who hated this movie because his younger brothers watched it morning, noon, and night. I was on the younger brothers’ side—if I had the time, I would’ve watched this movie that often, too.
046. Can’t Hardly Wait
This was what high school was like for just about everyone I knew in high school except for me.
047. Forrest Gump
For a pop-culture whore like me, this movie is about as good as it gets. The whole film is really grounded by it’s constant winks and nods to what was going on in the American world at the time.
048. The Truman Show
Frighteningly clairvoyant, this film came out years before the reality-tv craze. How far are we away from this actually happening? Not far, I’m afraid.
049. The Great Outdoors
Lips and assholes, my friend. Lips and assholes. Oh, and I had a huge crush on Cammie (Lucy Deakins), the girl who Buck is after in the film. She was hot!
050. Jerry Maguire
I’m in love with Cameron Crowe’s films and this is one of his finest. Tom Cruise is on in this film. And how can I not mention the sex scene between he and Kelly Preston… Hot doesn’t even begin to describe her, man.
051. Almost Famous
The “Tiny Dancer” scene is one of the most honest, original, and lovely pieces of filmmaking I’ve ever seen.
052. The Perfect Storm
Maybe stretches the facts a bit, from what I’ve heard, but paints a pretty convincing picture of the last days in the lives of a bunch of Massholes and transplants working the unforgiving Atlantic ocean.
The best superhero flick ever made until…
054. X2: X-Men United
The best superhero flick ever. Captures the look and feel and emotional reality of the comics near perfectly.
055. The Crow
Great, great soundtrack, featuring Nine Inch Nails cover of “Dead Souls” and an amazing opening sequence featuring the sounds of The Cure. Brandon Lee’s best and last film.
056. Jurassic Park
That they made this film in 1993/4/whatever still astounds me. The dinosaurs are so convincing, and so frightening, not only because of the advancements in computer graphics, but because Spielberg knew not to make his entire film reliant upon them. Or something.
057. The Incredibles
One of the best Pixar films to date. The voice talent in this one was just superbly cast. Jason Lee as the wannabe-sidekick turned supervillain is fabulous.
058. Finding Nemo
Heartwarming, and one I definitely look forward to watching with my kids someday.
059. Monster’s Inc.
Also heartwarming, also one I look forward to watching with children.
060. Beauty and the Beast
Probably the best traditionally animated Disney film ever made, outside of The Lion King. Except for the clunky computer-animated ballroom scene, this film is flawless.
061. The Little Mermaid
Okay, I admit it: I had a thing for Ariel when I was younger. I’m a sucker for redheads.
A little long, but well-made and well-acted. I love the moment where they paused the action right after the bell went off in the Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral race, where we are suddenly given a montage of black & white still photographs along with audio from the call of the race as it was heard on radio.
063. Star Trek: First Contact
The best of the Next Generation Trek movies, as far as I’m concerned.
I love that they focus so much on character here, that they draw out the origin story for a decent part of the movie. In short, I love that they took their time with it, allowing the character time to build up the demons that so define him.
065. Spider-Man 2
A great follow-up story. I love that Mary Jane is acting in The Importance of Being Earnest and I love the Raimi saw fit to slip Bruce Campbell in there again.
066. The Cider House Rules
I was doing this list by stream of consciousness association, which is why you’ve got a few Tobey movies in a row here. This one is a great period piece and I love the dynamic between Tobey’s character and Charlize Theron’s.
067. Empire Records
Ren?e Zellweger singing on the rooftop is the best scene in this flick and I was mortified to find that her vocals were absent on the version of “Sugar High” found on the soundtrack.
068. Boogie Nights
Nina Hartley’s cameos are hilarious, as are William H. Macy’s reactions to them. Oh, and Markie Mark has a big cock in it.
069. Top Gun
Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in one movie? C’mon! What’s not to love?
070. The Transformers: The Movie
We were on a waiting list forever when this came out on video back in the day. I hadn’t gotten a chance to see it in the theater and I was dying for it. Still an awesome movie today, with one of the best soundtracks ever.
A silly little movie about a guy impersonating the president. Kevin Klein is fabulous.
072. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Johnny Depp absolutely steals the show, but you forget he’s Johnny Depp in about thirty seconds because he so becomes Jack Sparrow.
073. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The best of the series, I remember thinking that computer graphics would never get cooler than this. They did, of course, but this one still holds up.
074. Finding Neverland
I’m a sucker for movies about writers and this one is one of the best.
075. Beverly Hills Cop II
Better than the first, it’s got Brigitte Nielsen and the Playboy Mansion. What’s not to like?
076. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
How many endings does this movie have? I don’t know, but I’d have gladly sat through another one or two, such was the power of Peter Jackson’s masterpiece.
077. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Great middle part of the saga. Everything’s fucked at the beginning and everything is more fucked at the end. That’s my kind of movie.
076. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Perfectly captures a world both familiar and extraordinary. Almost feels like two movies to me, the scenes at Rivendell a logical breaking point.
078. School Ties
Partially made in the Merrimack Valley, it features great performances by a Brendan Fraser and Matt Damon and a cameo by someone I went to high school with.
Who knew that animated films could weave decidedly adult humor into a story still palatable to young kids? Dreamworks did, apparently.
I once had to write an essay on whether this film adhered to the old gothic or new gothic literary traditions. I was too busy enjoying the film to come up with a solid thesis.
A masterpiece, pure and simple, that suffered from overexposure, both of the film itself and it’s accompanying soundtrack.
082. Apollo 13
I love movies based on historical events and this is one of the best I’ve seen. Great performances by the entire ensemble, but by Gary Sinise in particular.
I’m funny how? I mean, funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh… I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?
Technically a miniseries and not a film, I still count this among my favorite moving picture experiences. The struggle of Kunta Kinte’s family over hundreds of years is too powerful to be missed.
085. Roots: The Next Generations
A bit more uneven than the first miniseries based on the genealogical research of Alex Haley, this one still packs a punch. James Earl Jones is particularly effective as Haley in the last segment and the embrace he shares with a young African cousin towards the end of the film is heartbreaking. As is the scene he shares with his father, who beams with pride when Alex presents him with a copy of his book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X and tells an airline attendant, “That’s my son. He wrote this book.”
Okay, I’m obsessed with films based on Alex Haley’s writings. But this one features a performance by Halle Berry that is not to be denied.
087. The Wizard of Oz
Doesn’t quite stand up to repeated viewings the way it used to, but I loved this movie as a kid and watched it every year when it came on TV.
088. Can’t Buy Me Love
Quintessential 80s teen comedy. Patrick Dempsey is hilarious as a kid who buys his way into the popular crowd. The girls were hot, too.
089. Father of the Bride
I really dig the Steve Martin remake of the old film. It’s saccharine sweet, but that’s how I like ‘em sometimes.
090. The Fugitive
High drama throughout. I love the interplay between Ford and Jones.
091. Independence Day
Disaster movie to top all disaster movies. Every disaster movie since has been trying to do a unique take on the “destroy all the landmarks” sequence this film revolutionized and none of them have yet succeeded. A silly, insignificant yarn, but a good one.
092. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
So, he doesn’t have an accent. So, it’s probably not historically accurate in the least. So this, and so that. I still love this movie.
Made me reconsider wanting to become famous for my writing.
094. Superman 2
Has the best villains of the series, and the best concept. What would Supes be like if he gave up his powers?
095. 8 Mile
I’m a sucker for Curtis Hanson flicks and Eminem ain’t bad in this either.
096. Lost in Translation
One of the most unique friendship/relationship dynamics I’ve yet seen committed to film.
097. Stand By Me
One of the first films about writers that I encountered. I loved the story within the story element and how entranced the other kids were by Gordie’s tale. That’s what I wanted to do.
Too focused on Jack Nicholson, but a cool superhero flick nevertheless. The only truly good film of the Burton series.
099. Batman Begins
The way Batman was supposed to be done. Utterly unbelievable in its scope and its realism. I can’t wait to see what they do next with this franchise.
100. As Good As It Gets
I can’t believe I’m ending with this one, which is one of my favorites, but not one that I have anything profound to say about.