So lately I made a Youtube video, for the first time (I’ve made films before, and put them on Youtube, but I never made a video specifically to just say stuff on Youtube) in which I share my 101 Films That I Love the Most. You can see the video and read all about it here.
In addition to making this video, I thought I’d also share it in writing—for easy reference in case you or I don’t feel like listening to me talk about this over 40 minutes of real time.
To be clear, these aren’t necessarily the “best” movies. That’s very subjective and difficult to quantify. Rather, I’m calling it the movies that I love the most. Even that is pretty fluid—it’s based a lot on what I’ve seen recently or what I can remember.
I want to get this out pretty quickly so this will be a quick series of posts in which I won’t be saying much about each film, and mostly it’s what I said in the video. But I will also be including links to other posts that I’ve written where I discuss the films in more detail.
1987 – Directed by John McTiernan
Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.
Arguably the most important action film ever made based on the way it influenced other action films in the future (see here for some further comments along those lines). Certainly Alan Rickman is one of the best action movie villains we’ve ever had. I don’t consider it a Christmas movie. And full disclosure, the only reason there are 101 items on this list is because I couldn’t stand to have a list of movies I love the most and not include Die Hard.
Read some vaguely related comments here.
A Christmas Story
1983 – Directed by Bob Clark
You’ll shoot your eye out kid. Merry Christmas. Ho ho ho.
This is a movie about nostalgia that is now an exercise in nostalgia. If you weren’t a child in the 80’s when you saw this comedy about a kid and his Christmas dreams (for a BB gun!) for the first time, you might not love it so much and find it so funny–but I was and I did, so I do.
Read some additional comments here.
A Knight’s Tale
2001 – Directed by Brian Helgeland
In Greece he spent a year in silence just to better understand the sound of a whisper.
A quirky modernized look at one of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales but still set in the original period. It’s got a lot of laughs and some good performances by the likes of Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, Alan Tudyk and of course, Heath Ledger.
The Lady Vanishes
1938 – Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
– Can I help you?
– Only by going away.
It probably violates some film etiquette that I only include two Hitchcock films and one of them is The Lady Vanishes. It’s a light-hearted mystery caper about a woman who disappears on an extended train ride. It’s more adventure than suspense, but really enjoyable. I think this is the earliest sound film this list.
The Importance of Being Earnest
1952- Directed by Anthony Asquith
Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone.
Back to back Michael Redgrave! In a lot of ways this is like a filmed stage play, but Oscar Wilde’s comedic social satire is so funny that the filmmakers did the best thing they could by just getting out of its way and letting the words do their job. The performances are great and bring out the humor.
Toy Story 2
1999 – Directed by John Lasseter
You never forget kids like Emily, or Andy, but they forget you.
One of the best examples of Pixar’s work and one of the best sequels I’ve ever seen in terms of staying true the original, but going further and not just covering the same ground again.
Read about a great movie moment from Toy Story 2 here.
1926 – Directed by Buster Keaton
If you lose this war don’t blame me.
By one of the great silent masters of cinema, Buster Keaton. It features many of Keaton’s amazing stunts, and included what was to that point the most expensive shot ever put to film when the filmmakers burned down a bridge and destroyed a train for the sake of cinema.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1988 – Directed by Robert Zemeckis
A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have.
Another exercise in nostalgia because of all the cartoon characters they were brought “real world” of live action. Technically, it’s amazing, and it is very funny, and has an amazing performance by Bob Hoskins who was basically acting against nobody.
1992 – Directed by Robert Altman
I don’t WRITE POSTCARDS! I WRITE SCRIPTS!
An intelligent and biting satire of the Hollywood. It features lots of famous people playing themselves, all taking part in this commentary about the artificiality of the filmmaking process.
Read about a great movie moment from The Player here.
1996 – Directed by Rob Sitch
Dad, he reckons powerlines are a reminder of man’s ability to generate electricity.
I’ve heard it said that this movie is hard to appreciate if you are not Australian, but I disagree. It’s a film where you laugh at people for how silly they are, but it also makes those characters sweet and admirable.
Rome, Open City
1945 – Directed by Roberto Rossellini
It’s not hard to die well. The hard thing is to live well.
Italian neo-realism is a filmmaking movement that came out of the destruction of Italy’s studio system during World War II. Bicycle Thieves is maybe better known, but Rome, Open City is earlier and my first introduction. It’s a story about a variety of people in the Italian resistance in World War II—it’s harsh and painful, but also inspirational.
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
1984 – Directed by W.D. Richter
Wherever you go…there you are.
Buckaroo Banzai is a half Japanese (like me) scientist / inventor / rock star (not so much like me) featuring in a crazy science fiction action comedy which implies a huge amount of world building for a franchise that never really came to be.
Read some additional comments here.
The Big Sleep
1946 – Directed by Howard Hawks
You ought to wean her. She’s old enough.
Pretty much everything we imagine when it comes to film noir detective stories comes from this movie and maybe also The Maltese Falcon, which also stars Humphrey Bogart. It’s is a great example of the genre.
1995 – Directed by Chris Noonan
This is a tale about an unprejudiced heart, and how it changed our valley forever.
Probably the best movie ever to feature a talking pig. It’s a sweet fable of a movie, and features a good performance by James Cromwell as the owner of this “sheep-pig”.
Read some about a great movie moment from Babe here.
Monty Python & the Holy Grail
1974 – Directed by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones
Well she turned me into a newt!…I got better
My favorite Monty Python work is their TV series, but this movie is good too, with the Python’s intellectual and irreverent take on King Arthur, and all sorts of great bits which we won’t repeat here because we’ve all heard them repeated ad naseum…but if you actually watch the movie it’s a good time.
1977 – Directed by George Lucas
What an incredible smell you’ve discovered!
Also known as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but for those of us who were in the theatre in 1977, it’ll always be Star Wars. It’s hard to describe how influential this movie has been on just about everything. Much of what it did has been done better now, including in other Star Wars movies, but it’s where a lot of that started and it’s still a good time.
2017 – Directed by Taika Waititi
I lost my hammer, like yesterday, so that’s still fresh. Then I went on a journey of self-discovery. Then I met you.
Before Ragnarok, the Thor movies were amongst those I looked forward to least in the MCU. Some people didn’t appreciate the way Taika Waititi turned the movie into an adventuresome goof-fest it but for my money it helped the character find his feet.
1986 – Directed by James Cameron
How could they cut the power, man? They’re animals!
I appreciate Alien but I can’t say I love it—it’s just too much of a straight horror film for me. Aliens is still horrifying and scary but it’s also this high-energy science fiction war movie, and gave us one of the best action characters we’ve ever had in Ellen Ripley.
2008 – Directed by Jon Favreau
Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!
2008 is the year that the origin story of the modern superhero blockbuster was finally complete, with this movie and The Dark Knight. Robert Downey jr obviously created a memorable character, and gave the MCU a strong start. It’s not perfect, the climax is a bit underwhelming, but it’s forgivable for all the fun the movie had given us up to that point.
Read about a great movie moment from Iron Man here.
2009 – Directed by Pete Docter
Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, “I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.” Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.
We all remember the opening few minutes of Up where we had that amazing montage that captured so well the emotions related to all that Karl had lost. But I also remember a moment in the middle where I suddenly realized that the story had brought me to a place where we had a man with a house tied to balloons with a cub scout kid, a talking dog and this weird bird on a journey together, and it all made sense. It was like waking up from a dream, in a good way.
Citizen Kane – 1941
Directed by Orson Welles
Love. That’s why he did everything. That’s why he went into politics. It seems we weren’t enough, he wanted all the voters to love him too.
For many years this movie was considered the best American film ever made. Orson Welles created this look at how impossible it is to every truly know a person when he was only 25—I’m 50 and I’ve never come close. If you understand it a little—and I only understand it a little—it’s like a masterclass in filmmaking.
2003 – Directed by Billy Ray
Are you mad at me?
Hayden Christensen, aka Anakin Skywalker at his most annoying, is decent as Stephen Glass, a journalist who managed to take absolute fantasy and peddle it as fact. It’s an interesting little character study.
1982 – Directed by Steven Lisberger
That’s Tron. He fights for the Users.
This is one of those movies that I know is flawed but still love. I love its nifty science fiction ideas and its interesting religious and political allegory. The sequel wasn’t my favorite, but frankly, I’d trade all future Star Wars movies and several of the past ones if I was just able to get a Tron 3.
Read some additional comments here.
A Few Good Men
1992 – Directed by Rob Reiner
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You?
Tom Cruise plays his classic “jerk who learns to care” role and Jack Nicholson has a great supporting roles in this military legal drama from one of my favorite writers, Aaron Sorkin.
The Princess Bride
1987 – Directed by Rob Reiner
Is this a kissing book?
Back to back Rob Reiner! The Princess Bride is one of cinema’s most quotable offerings, and while listening to people quoting it can be a little bit annoying, it’s quite a funny and enjoyable film.
2009 – Directed by Yoshihiro Nakamura
If my solitude was a fish
It’d be so enormous, so militant
A whale would get out of there
I know it would,I’m sure it would
Chances are you’ve never heard of this Japanese film about a comet about to destroy the earth, but a guy in a record store is convinced that a little-known punk rock song from the 1970’s proves that humanity will be saved. The movie flashes back to show us how…he is right. Interesting stuff.
Read some additional comments here.