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.
This is Part 4, the last part! Read Part 3 here.
1925 – Directed by Buster Keaton
How many of these girls do you know? You have seven chances.
This is the oldest film on this list. An absurdly contrived plot, paper-thin characters, and simplistic dialog… and yet it’s still one of the best films every made. Another silent masterpiece by Buster Keaton. It’s got lot of great moments but the highlight is the image of a hundred disgruntled brides chasing our hero down the street.
1993 – Directed by Andrew Davis
– I didn’t kill my wife!
– I don’t care.
Probably one of the best ever remakes of a TV series for the big screen, with Harrison Ford anchoring the story, and a deservedly Oscar winning Tommy Lee Jones adding lots of color. It’s a good, solid action-adventure movie.
Read about a great movie moment from The Fugitive here.
2013 – Directed by James Ward Byrkit
What if we’re the dark version?
The story behind Coherence is almost as interesting as the story of Coherence…it was shot over something like five nights at the director’s house, with actors who improvised all their dialogue, not knowing where the story was going. The end result is really good—I loved watching the story unfold—every time I thought I understood what was happening the movie would pull back another layer that would make me go “whoa…”
Read more here.
2014 – Directed by Damien Chazelle
There are no two words in the English language more harmful than “good job”.
This is an emotionally intense story about what happens when a young jazz student who is driven to greatness meets a teacher who will do anything to push him there. It’s a fascinating character study that doesn’t provide any easy answers, and has one of the most mind blowing final scenes I’ve ever seen.
1994 – Directed by Robert Redford
Charlie, you wanna insult me, fine, but you can’t envy me at the same time.
This drama is about a scandal related to game shows in the early days of US TV, but it also does a great job bringing out socio-political and interpersonal undercurrents running through it all. Everyone is good, but Ralph Fiennes and John Turtorro are exceptional.
Read more about it here.
Isle of Dogs
2018 – Directed by Wes Anderson
You hungry? Kill something and eat it. You sick? Take a long nap. You cold? Dig a hole in the ground, crawl into it, and bury yourself. But nobody’s giving up around here, and don’t you forget it, ever.
In a near-future dystopian Japan, dogs are banished to a garbage-ridden island for fear of spreading a deadly disease. It’s clever, it’s quirky, it’s my highest ranked animated film, and it’s extremely Wes Anderson.
Summer Time Machine Blues
2005 – Directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro
I’ve studied it and studied it, and suddenly I’m over 40. I’m riding my own time machine, but it won’t go into the past.
Even though this isn’t my number 1 movie, it is the one I talk up the most because people probably haven’t seen it and I think they should. It’s about people who use a time machine to prevent a remote control from being broken so they can use their air-conditioner on a hot summer day…but then get worried about potential paradoxes. It is one of the best time travel stories I’ve ever seen, it’s without a doubt my favorite Japanese time-travel slapstick comedy and if you want to watch it, I’d be happy to loan you the DVD.
1995 – Directed by Ron Howard
Failure is not an option!
This epic look at a real-life space disaster is perhaps a little too structured to feel completely authentic, but it makes up for it with lots of immersive detail about the mission and the people in mission control. Tom Hanks stars but ultimately it’s about the hundreds of people working together to bring three astronauts home safely.
Read about a great movie moment from Apollo 13 here.
2001: A Space Odyssey
1968 – Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Open the pod bay doors, Hal.
This might be the movie that woke me up to the fact that filmmaking is a thing. It’s not for everyone, but that’s too bad, because it’s a unique film-watching experience that features one of film’s best villains and one of film’s most epic moments of courageous triumph in the midst of its slow and deliberate and self-indulgent storytelling.
Read about a great movie moment from 2001: A Space Odyssey here.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2004 – Directed by Michel Gondry
Look man, I’m telling you right off the bat, I’m high-maintainance,
If Citizen Kane is the granddaddy of the non-linear story, this is the crown prince. Jim Carrey is a guy who learns that his ex-girlfriend has had a procedure to erase her mind of his existence. Heart-broken, he does the same, but at the last minute changes his mind. The film is largely a race through his memories as they disappear around him and he attempts to find a way to hold onto the relationship. What makes it even better is how the story continues after this, and shows some of the painful aftermath.
2019 – Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo
Hey, you said one out of fourteen million, we win, right? Tell me this is it.
I’m a bit embarrassed to say it, but right now Endgame is my favorite Marvel movie and absurdly high on my list. It does something no other movie ever has, which is finish a story that was set up by a previous film, conclude or continue multiple movie-series, and be a culmination of an overall meta-story that had been told over a 21 previous feature length chapters. It’s not perfect, but it came close to being a perfect conclusion.
Some Like It Hot
1959 – Directed by Billy Wilder
I don’t care how rich he is, as long as he has a yacht, his own private railroad car, and his own toothpaste.
Two guys go on the run from the mob by pretending to be women and joining and all-female orchestra. The lead singer is Marilyn Monroe, so romantic interest ensues. It’s a very funny film.
His Girl Friday
1940 – Directed by Howard Hawks
Just stall him along ’til the Extra’s out. Then tell him his poetry smells and kick him down the stairs.
The dialogue is a treat to listen to in this early screwball comedy about the relationship between a hotshot reporter and the newspaper editor she used to be married to. I feel like the conclusion of the film is not perfect, but just about everything else is.
2019 – Directed by Taika Waititi
There are no weak Jews. I am descended from those who wrestle angels and kill giants. We were chosen by God
There is much to love in this bittersweet comedy. Lots of farce, but so much serious material as well. The whole thing is about a young boy in Nazi Germany learning to see the world as it really is, without losing hope. Scarlet Johansen is amazing, and so is everyone else.
Read my thoughts here.
1960 – Directed by Billy Wilder
That’s the way it crumbles… cookie-wise.
Jack Lemmon plays a schmoe who allows his bosses to use his apartment to carry on their extra-marital shenanigans. Things take a dark turn when the woman he’s interested in is crumbles under the emotional abuse of one of these guys, leading to an amazing blend of hilarious and painful situations.
The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek
1944 – Directed by Preston Sturges
Of course he has to have a first name. Everybody has a first name. Even dogs have first names, even if they don’t have any last names.
Preston Sturges did a bunch of great screwball comedies back in the day, with rapid-fire dialogue and crazy characters, but this is my favorite. Trudy Kockenlocker is a woman who goes out partying with some soldiers who are about to ship overseas, only to wake up and learn she’s gotten married and pregnant with a man she cannot remember. Hilarity ensues.
1998 – Directed by Alex Proyas
That’s it John—practice makes perfect. Now remember what I told you…never talk to strangers.
Dark City has a plot similar to The Matrix–a guy realizes he has special abilities in a world which is artificial. It came out a year earlier than The Matrix but was never as popular, but in my opinion is a more intelligent movie with an interesting expressionistic style, and a great climax. Also, to be aware, there are several different versions of this movie floating around out there–the one edited to better preserve the suspense is also the more explicit one, so be aware of what you are getting into.
Read about a great movie moment from Dark City here.
In the Heat of the Night
1967 – Directed by Norman Jewison
They call me Mr. Tibbs.
Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger are riveting in this atmospheric film about race relations, prejudice and murder in a southern town in America. It’s amazing, and if you haven’t seen it, you should.
1975 – Directed by Steven Spielberg
Well this is not a boat accident!
My favourite monster movie, my favourite Spielberg movie, and based on this list, my favourite film which came out between 1964 and 1996. Three great performances in a near perfect film in which the people are not just a colourful array of victims, but genuinely interesting characters in a story that is provoked by the monster, but does not star a monster.
La La Land
2016 – Directed by Damien Chazelle
So you’re a barista? And I can see how you could then look down on me from all the way up there.
I watched this movie on a plane almost missed the end because we were landing and I had to watch a Welcome to Perth travel video. Fortunately, I was able to finish the movie as we were taxiing to the airport because the last sequence of this romantic musical comedy-drama is one of the most best things I’ve ever seen, and beautifully wrapped up the movie’s themes about the cost of chasing your dreams.
Read about a great movie moment from La La Land here.
The Great Escape
1963 – Directed by John Sturges
It looks, after all, as if you will see Berlin before I do.
Based on a true story, the Great Escape is about the attempt to break over 200 prisoners out of a German wartime prison out in a single night. It’s got a fantastic cast and though it is quite tragic in some regards, it is also hugely fun.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
2016 – Directed by Taika Waititi
You know, sometimes in life it seems like there’s no way out. Like a sheep trapped in a maze designed by wolves.
Without a doubt, this is the movie I’ve revisited the most recently. There are so many classic lines I could have chosen for the quote. It’s a fantastic adventure comedy that takes full advantage of its New Zealand physical and cultural setting to tell a hilarious and joyful story.
1997 – Directed by Curtis Hanson
Rollo Tamasi is the reason I became a cop. I wanted to catch the guys who thought they could get away with it.
This movie is intense and graphic enough that I’m not so likely to revisit it anymore, but it’s still one of the most satisfying cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. It’s a richly plotted police-crime action thriller with some fantastic characters and one of the cleverest plot twists I have seen.
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
2000 – Directed by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
– Do not seek the treasure.
– We thought you was a toad.
One of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, which includes all the stuff I like about the Coen brothers and leaves out all the stuff I don’t. It’s about three prisoners who escape from the chain gang in 1930’s. It takes a lot of its story from the Odyssey but what I think is even more interesting is the way it draws from the work of another filmmaker, Preston Sturges. He did a movie called Sullivan’s Travels about a guy who wants to make a serious film about the plight of his fellow man called O Brother Where Art Thou, but ends up as part of a prisoner chain gang in a movie theatre where he learns that the best thing he can offer his fellow man is the opportunity to laugh. Anyway, O Brother Where Art Thou? gave me plenty of opportunity to laugh, a lot.
Read about a great movie moment from O Brother, Where Art Thou? here.
Singin’ in the Rain
1952 – Directed by Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen
I make more money than Calvin Coolidge…put together!
I tuned into this film for the first time on TV when I was a kid and I thought, well this is going to be boring—just a bunch of singing and dancing. Boy was I wrong–it turns out to be a funny movie with a witty script and good characters, and an interesting story about a guy learning to be more authentic in his relationships, all set on the backdrop of Hollywood as it transitions from the silent to the sound era.
But if I’d been correct and it had been all singing and dancing, it still would have been a good movie because the singing and especially the singing and dancing in this film are outstanding. There is tons of amazing talent on display on screen from Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and others. It’s a joy to watch and it remains, after all these years, my all-time favorite movie.
And that is it! We got to the end of this.
Anything on their you hate? Anything on there you’ve never seen but now want to check out? Hopefully you won’t be disappointed.
Next up is some quick analysis of my list. Check out here.