My Old Favorite Movie List

Not long ago, I made a list of the 101 movies that I love the most, which I shared both via a series of blogposts and a Youtube video. This list was a revision of a previous list that I had made quite some time ago (I’m not quite sure how many years ago).  A lot of that list was the same, but a lot was quite different. 

I thought I’d have a look at how the list has changed in this in-between period, and especially what films got bumped.

Now, my previous list was 100 films, which I never put fully into order, although there were some rough breakdowns.

The Top 8 films

Dark City
1998 – Directed by Alex Proyas
Position on the new list:  #9

The Great Escape
1963 – Directed by John Sturges
Position on the new list:  #5

The General
1927 – Directed by Buster Keaton
Position on the new list:  #95

His Girl Friday
1940 – Directed by Howard Hawkes
Position on the new list:  #13

In the Heat of the Night
1967 – Directed by Norm Jewison
Position on the new list:  #8

LA Confidential
1997 – Directed by Curtis Hanson
Position on the new list:  #3

Singin’ in the Rain
1952 – Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
Position on the new list:  #1

Some Like It Hot
1959 – Directed by Billy Wilder
Position on the new list:  #14

In my file, I didn’t have these listed in any order, but I remember that the top three were Singin’ in the Rain, LA Confidential, and Some Like it Hot, in that order.

All eight of these movies are still on my current list, but only four were in the top eight (although Dark City just missed out with #9, and all but one were in the top 20.)

Numbers 9-12

Apollo 13
1995 – Directed by Ron Howard
Position on the new list:  #18

Jaws
1975 – Directed by Steven Spielberg
Position on the new list:  #7

Quiz Show
1994 – Directed by Robert Redford
Position on the new list:  #21

Raiders of the Lost Ark
1981 – Directed by Steven Spielberg
Position on the new list:  #26

Again, all of these movies are still on my list, though none of them were numbered between 9-12.  Jaws actually went up on my current list to #7, while all of the others are still pretty high up.

Numbers 13-25

The Apartment
1960 – Directed by Billy Wilder
Position on the new list:  #11

Batman Begins
2005 – Directed by Christopher Nolan
Position on the new list:  #47

Emma
1996 – Directed by Douglas McGrath
Position on the new list:  #33

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2004 – Directed by Michel Gondry
Position on the new list:  #16

Fargo
1996 – Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

This is the first film to show up here that isn’t on my list anymore.  I saw Fargo in the theatres back in the day and I loved it—Frances McDormand creates one of cinema’s great heroines with Marge Gunderson, and William H. Macy is amazing as the blindly selfish and self-pitying Jerry Lundegard.  However, the film is also chock-full of sex, nudity, foul language and brutal violence.  My tastes, boundaries and sensibilities have changed quite a bit as I’ve grown older and presumably more mature, so that even though it is all very stylish (and the sex is more ugly than sensual), I’ve gone off the movie, and left it behind.  

The Fugitive
1993 – Directed by Andrew Davis
Position on the new list:  #24

The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring
2001 – Directed by Peter Jackson
Position on the new list:  #39

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
2000 – Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Position on the new list:  #2

Seven Chances
1925 – Directed by Buster Keaton
Position on the new list:  #25

Shall We Dance?
1996 – Directed by Masayuki Suo
Position on the new list:  #30

Summer Time Machine Blues
2005 – Directed by Katsuyuki Motohiro
Position on the new list:  #19

2001: A Space Odyssey
1968 – Directed by Peter Jackson
Position on the new list:  #39

Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1988 – Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Position on the new list:  #94

Other than Fargo, all the movies in this section are still on my list, and five of them are in the same numbering.  O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Apartment have gone up, while the others have gone down (but some, just a little). 

Numbers 26-50

The Adventures of Buckaroo Bansai Across the Eighth Dimension
1984 – Directed by W.D. Richter
Position on the new list: #90

The Castle
1996 – Directed by Rob Sitch
Position on the new list:  #92

A Christmas Story
1983 – Directed by Bob Clark
Position on the new list:  #100

The Empire Strikes Back
1980 – Directed by Irvin Kershner
Position on the new list:  #65

A Few Good Men
1992 – Directed by Rob Reiner
Position on the new list: #78

A Fish Called Wanda
1988 – Directed by Charles Crichton
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

This is very “grown up” and extremely funny comedy with strong performances from John Cleese, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, and Jamie Lee Curtis.   However, as my kids have been growing up I’ve been introducing them to different films that I really like—but this one is just waaaay too “adult” to be part of that process, at least so far.  As a result, it’s sort of fallen of my radar. 

Hitch
2005 – Directed by Andy Tennant
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

I really liked this film when I first saw it in the theatres with my wife, but I’m not sure how well it would hold up for me now.  And even so, there are just so many other good films that I’ve seen then, Hitch just doesn’t make the cut anymore. 

Gettysburg
1993 – Directed by Ronald F. Maxwell
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

I still like Gettysburg, but I realize that most of my affection is directed toward the sections of the movie that deal with Jeff Daniels as Col. Joshua Chamberlain at Little Round Top.  It’s a big part of the movie, but only part of it.  The rest of it is kind of forgettable for me. 

It Happened One Night
1934– Directed by Frank Capra
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

This is a classic early screwball romantic comedy with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert.  It’s a great movie, but limited in certain ways due to the time period it’s from.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, and it’s possible that it could find a place on my list once more if I were to check it out again.

The Hudsucker Proxy
1994 – Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen
Position on the new list:  #53

Jesus Christ Superstar
1973 – Directed by Norman Jewison
Position on the new list:  #60

The Lady Vanishes
1938 – Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Position on the new list:  #98

The Milagro Beanfield War
1988 – Directed by Robert Redford
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

This movie came close to being on the list this year, but when I thought about it I realized it’d been a while since I’d seen it, I only saw it once, and I didn’t really remember it very well.  I recall thinking it was an interesting semi-fantasy story about the conflict between big business and local farmers in New Mexico.  It’s a movie to check out again at some point.

Monty Python & the Holy Grail
1974 – Directed by Terry Gilliam & Terry Jones
Position on the new list:  #87

Return of the Jedi
1983 – Directed by Richard Marquand
Position on the new list:  #51

Shadowlands
1993 – Directed by Richard Attenborough
Position on the new list:  #32

Shooting Fish
1997– Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

This was another film that came close to finding its way on the list—it’s a fun film about a couple of lovable young con-men and their efforts to make money for orphans (ie themselves), and it’s got some surprising twists and turns along the way.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
1982 – Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Position on the new list:  #55

Star Wars
1977 – Directed by George Lucas
Position on the new list:  #86

Superman, the Movie
1978 – Directed by Richard Donner
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

This is still a favorite of mine, and when it came out it was a superhero blockbuster the likes of which the world had never seen.  But now the world has seen it, like so many times, and in many ways, the world has seen it much better.  But there’s still something about the heart of this film that is frequently missed in these days of crazy CGI and high-octane action sequences.

Tootsie
1982 – Directed by Sydney Pollack
Position on the new list:  #28

Twelve Monkeys
1996 – Directed by Terry Gilliam
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

I used to think this film was the bee’s knees of high concept science fiction.  Now?  Well, it’s still good, but a lot less memorable than it used to be.

Unbreakable
2000 – Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Position on the new list:  #50

Untouchables
1987 – Directed by Brian De Palma
Position on the new list:  #42

Young Frankenstein
1974 – Directed by Mel Brooks
Position on the new list:  #69

Numbers 51-100

About A Boy
2002 – Directed by Chris Weitz & Paul Weitz
Position on the new list:  #Not Listed

I remember at the time thinking this was a pretty good movie, but it hasn’t stuck with me.  I’d watch it again, I guess, but I’m not in any hurry to.

The Accidental Tourist
1987 – Directed by Lawrence Kasdan
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Once upon a time, this wasn’t just on my list, but quite high up there—I’d have called it one of my favorite films.  It’s fallen by the wayside a bit, but I still appreciate its low-key drama and humor. 

Adam’s Rib
1949 – Directed by George Cukor
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Adam’s Rib is high on my list of films that I think I really like, but I actually can’t remember all that well.  So, definitely one I want to watch again.

Amistad
1997 – Directed by Steven Spielberg
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Back in the day, I thought Amistad was a pretty gripping drama, but really it probably made it’s way onto this list because I was looking to fill it up and thought this was a worthy entry.  It is probably is, but it’s sort of slipped out of my memory now, and is not a film I’m in a hurry to revisit.

Back to the Future
1985 – Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Position on the new list: #66

Billy Elliot
2000 – Directed by Stephen Warbeck
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Even more than Amistad, this would have been a movie I would have selected beforehand because I was trying to top off a list of 100.  Now, it’s way out in the distance.  I wouldn’t even necessarily say that I even like the movie. 

City Lights
1931 – Directed by Charlie Chaplin
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

I had the opportunity to see this classic in a movie theatre accompanied by live music, so it was a pretty cool experience.  In general I prefer Buster Keaton over Chaplin, but I have to acknowledge this is a classic– both extremely funny and sweetly sentimental.  Maybe if I saw it again it’d make it’s way back on my list of 100.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
2000 – Directed by Ang Lee
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

This movie, basically, is what the Star Wars prequel trilogy should have been.  I’m not much of an aficionado of martial arts films, but I have no problem recognizing this as a poetically beautiful ballet of a film.  It’s just fallen off my radar in recent years.

David & Lisa
1962 – Directed by Frank Perry
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

David & Lisa is based on a play about young people in a mental institution.  It’s a bit stagey and dated, but tells a story that I found emotionally engaging, and it features a great performance by Kier Dullea (the main guy from 2001: A Space Odyssey).  It’s an example of a film I really like even though I know it’s got flaws, and just didn’t make it into the top 100 this time around.

Dead Man Walking
1996 – Directed by Tim Robbins
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

This is a film that moved me greatly when I first saw it, but is now more of just a distant memory.  I mainly recall it for its strong performances from Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon. 

The Defiant Ones
1958 – Directed by Stanley Kramer
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

It’s been years since I saw this prison / fugitive/ buddy drama, featuring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier.  I don’t remember it extremely well except that it was a quite gripping story about two escaped prisoners, chained together and dealing with their racial prejudices as they attempt to learn to work together to escape.  And I remember that it has a cool ending, where Poitier passionately sings a spiritual as they are being re-caught.

The Dish
2000 – Directed by Rob Sitch
Position on the new list: #73

Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
1964 – Directed by Stanley Kubrick
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy his only film aside from 2001: A Space Odyssey that I have seriously considered for my list, even though I acknowledge that the guy’s work was pretty consistently genius.  Most of it is just so unpleasant or inappropriatethat I can’t wholeheartedly love it.  Dr. Strangelove does come close though.  It’s just been off my radar long enough to miss out this time around.

Duck Soup
1933 – Directed by Leo McCarey
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

My favorite Marx Brothers movie, with so many fun sequences.  I seriously considered this time around, but it just didn’t make it on.

Dumb and Dumber
1994 – Directed by Peter Farrelly
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Dumb and Dumber was actually on my recent list of 101 when I first drafted it up, but it got pushed off.  It’s a low-brow movie, but very funny.

Fearless
1993 – Directed by Peer Weir
Position on the new list: #54

The Fifth Element
1997 – Directed by Luc Besson
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

I loved The Fifth Element when I first saw it, and I wish it’s fight choreography had been as influential as The Matrix’s turned out to be a few years later.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, though, and in my memory its flaws are a lot more obvious now.

Forget Paris
1995 – Directed by Billy Crystal
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

This was another one that I loved on first viewing.  There are some very funny scenes, which is a key element for a good romantic comedy, but an ending which is not completely satisfying, given the depth of what the film was addressing.  

The Forgotten
2004 – Directed by Joseph Ruben
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

I think my love for this movie was based largely around my experience watching it in the cinema.  I went into it knowing it was a thriller of some sort, but not knowing if it was a science fiction movie or a conspiracy movie or what.  Then, when these certain shocking moments came up, the cinema audience loved it.  People leapt out of their seats, strangers clutched each other for comfort during the jump scares.  I also liked the fact that the ultimate victory of the film comes with the recognition that a pregnant mother has life within her.  But I haven’t seen it since, and I think I’d find it a bit more pedestrian now. 

From Russia With Love
1963 – Directed by Terence Young
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

The second James Bond film is the first one to show up on my old list.  You’ve got Sean Connery in his prime, and Robert Shaw as a great “heavy”.  But the “Bond girl” is quite stereotypical, and James Bond is less exciting for me than he used to be, although I’m sure I’d still think this is a good film.

The Game
1997 – Directed by David Fincher
Position on the new list: #69

Ghostbusters
1984 – Directed by Ivan Reitman
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Classic 1980’s comedy.  Still in the top 100 though?  There are more movies than there used to be, so it’s harder to make it into those top spots.  Ghostbusters just had to get out of the way so that The Martian could have a place, I guess.  

Goldfinger
1964 – Directed by Guy Hamilton
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

The second and last James Bond film that I put on this last last time around.  It’s a bit more colourful than From Russia With Love, and with a better “Bond girl”.  But there’s something about James Bond’s immoral and amoral nature that I find less appealing than I used to.

The Insider
1999 – Directed by Michael Mann
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

This Michael Mann industrial and social thriller was cool to watch the first time around in 1999, but it’s faded to a distant memory now. 

It’s a Wonderful Life
1946 – Directed by Frank Capra
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

My appreciation for this Christmas classic has increased over the years, but it just didn’t make it into the Top 101 this time around. 

A Knight’s Tale
2001 – Directed by Brian Helgeland
Position on the new list: #99

Lifeboat
1944 – Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

I have only seen this movie once, but I found it to be a pretty gripping and claustrophobic thriller on that occasion.  I wouldn’t mind digging down into it again someday, but for now, it doesn’t make the top 101. 

Meet the Parents
2000 – Directed by Jay Roach
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

No doubt this is a funny film, at times painfully so (that bit where he spikes the volleyball into the bride’s face…oh my goodness), but doesn’t have quite enough depth to sustain a place on the top 101. 

The Miracle Worker
1962 – Directed by Arthur Penn
Position on the new list: #38

The Muppet Movie
1979 – Directed by James Frawley
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

This is one of my childhood favorites—I love the Muppets.  This was a highly innovative movie that did a great job getting the Muppets outside of their TV studio.  But I already had A Christmas Story and Tron on my list—I couldn’t have too many nostalgia picks on my list.

My Father’s Glory
1990 – Directed by Yves Robert
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Along with a companion piece called My Mother’s Castle, this was a delightful examination of childhood and society in pre-World War II France.  I loved it when I saw it back in my more artsy days (when I was doing my film degree), but that was a long time ago, and now it’s a really pleasant but hazy memory.

Mystery Men
1999 – Directed by Kinka Usher
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

This is similar to Meet the Parents for me, and not just because of Ben Stiller.  It’s a funny comedy that I quite enjoy, but just not deep enough to qualify on the all-time favorites list. 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1975 – Directed by Miloš Forman
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

I saw this in the movie theatre when it first came out, when I was like…five years old?  Every once in a while my parents made some odd choices.  I didn’t have much of an opinion about it then, but later I decided this was one of my favorite films.  Now, it’s fallen by the wayside a bit.

Palm Beach Story
1942 – Directed by Preston Sturges
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

I love Preston Sturges, and for a while, this was the film of his I remembered the best.  Since then, it’s been sort of replaced by The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, which I think holds together more rightly than Palm Beach Story.

The Player
1992 – Directed by Robert Altman
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

This wasn’t on my list of 101 this year?  It’s a dark film, but extremely clever cinematically.  It features maybe 50 of the 100 best celebrity cameos ever put to film, and is as funny as it is serious.  But I guess it was just a bit too bleak for me to put it on my list of 101.

Prince of Egypt
1998 – Directed by Brenda Chapman, Simon Wells & Steve Hickner
Position on the new list: #37

The Princess Bride
1987 – Directed by Rob Reiner
Position on the new list: #77

The Purple Rose of Cairo
1985 – Directed by Woody Allen
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Woody Allen’s homage to Buster Keaton is quirky and bittersweet.  I still quite like it, but not quite enough to make it top tier.

Right Stuff
1983 – Directed by Philip Kaufman
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this film, an historical epic about the beginning of America’s space program.  I loved it back in 1983, but now it’s sort of been supplanted by Apollo 13 in my memory and appreciation.  I’d like to check it out again at some point. 

Romancing the Stone
1984 – Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

A dizzyingly fun adventure-romance with good performances by Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito.  I still like it, but it will probably never be on the Top 100 again. 

Rome, Open City
1945 – Directed by Roberto Rossellini
Position on the new list: #91

Rumble in the Bronx
1995 – Directed by Stanley Tong
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

This film has one of the more ludicrously under-developed plots that I have ever seen, but thanks to Jackie Chan’s signature agility and showmanship, it’s completely worth a watch.  I need to have a look at it again.

Spider-Man 2
2004 – Directed by Sam Raimi
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

In today’s super-hero-saturated movie market, Spider-Man 2 doesn’t stand out as much as it used to.  It’s still got a villain who is better than 90% of the MCU, but it’s more flawed than we thought back then.

Taking of Pelham One Two Three
1974 – Directed by Joseph Sargent
Position on the new list: #59

To Have and Have Not
1944 – Directed by Howard Hawks
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are screen legends, and I love and remember The Big Sleep.  I remember loving To Have and Have Not, but truthfully, I barely remember anything about the film itself.

To Kill a Mockingbird
1962 – Directed by Robert Mulligan
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

I think I like the story of To Kill a Mockingbird more than I love the film itself.  Nothing against it, but it just doesn’t stand out all that strongly to me.

Tremors
1990 – Directed by Ron Underwood
Position on the new list: #46

Tron
1982 – Directed by Steven Lisberger
Position on the new list: #79

Twelve Angry Men
1957 – Directed by Sidney Lumet
Position on the new list: #34

The Usual Suspects
1995 – Directed by Bryan Singer
Position on the new list: #Not Listed

Back in the day, this movie was a much bigger deal than it feels like now.  Back then, the twist seemed a lot more ground-breaking, but now, it’s a bit ho-hum.  Add to that that some of the key creative of the movie have fallen from Hollywood grace, and it no longer feels all that notable.

And that’s that!

So all told, out of the 100 movies that I listed then, 54 made it onto my list of 101  Movies I Love the Most from this year.  That’s a change of 46%!  That’s pretty huge.  29 of those movies have come out since 2006 (around the time I made this list). 

There are certainly notable and worthy movies that have fallen off, while others have lost their lustre as the years have gone by.   It’ll be interesting to see how things continue to change as the years go by. 

After all, there’s a good chance that Won’t You Be My Neighbour and The Farewell would make it onto my list if I were making it now, even just a few months later. 

One thought on “My Old Favorite Movie List

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