These are my top twenty favorite movies of all time, because I just couldn’t narrow it down to ten. As usual, my only criterion is “How much I thought it kicked ass.” Notice I am not calling this “The BEST Movies of All Time,” because that’s more objective. This is a subjective list that reflects not only how I felt about the film at the time I watched it, but what kind of lasting impression it left on me.
I know for a fact I’m forgetting some, but then, if I’m forgetting it, does it deserve to be here?
1. Blade Runner – This movie is a combination of my favorite genres (sci-fi, noir, thriller, action, suspense) with the type of darkness I like in films, based on one of my favorite books and starring one of my favorite actors.
2. Star Wars (The Original/Episode IV: A New Hope) – I saw this movie eleven times during its first run in the theaters. Those of you who aren’t too young to remember NO DVDs, NO VHS, and waiting three years for a movie to come on premium cable understand why I would do something like that. Plus, it’s just so much cooler on the big screen, and for back then, those were brain-melting special effects.
3. Raiders of the Lost Ark – Hmmm…no, I don’t have a Harrison Ford fetish, but have you ever noticed how many kickass movies that guy has been in? For pure, old-fashioned, action-adventure it just doesn’t get any better than this.
4. Pulp Fiction – This movie made my brain hurt. In a good way. I knew it would be good after seeing Resevoir Dogs, I just didn’t know how good.
5. Batman Begins/The Dark Knight – This spot used to be taken by Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, but this one kicked its ass off the list. Batman fanatic that I am, I just can’t choose between them, so I’m going to pretend they’re one movie in two parts. Hey, it’s my blog! If you don’t like it, go make your own top 20 kickass movie list!
6. Back to the Future – This movie is perfect in practically every way. And the mall where the time travel happened is right down the street from me!
7. The Big Lebowski – This is the film I choose to represent the brilliant Coen Brothers in my top ten. It could have been Fargo, O, Brother, Where Art Thou?, or even The Hudsucker Proxy, but The Dude abides.
8. The Terminator – Most people prefer the fancy, big-budget sequel, but they’re wrong. Special effects can never replace one of the coolest ideas in film history, including a cyborg assassin sent from the future to destroy the future of mankind and a temporal paradox that actually makes sense. Well, sort of.
9. Highlander – “There can be only one!” And there should have been. This was a great movie that should have ended when it ended, ‘cause the sequels suck. I do cringe a little when I watch it now, but when I saw it originally it blew my mind.
10. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – Since I’m such a huge Trekkie, I had to include one in my top ten, and it doesn’t get any better than this.
11. Desperado – The opening scene is one of the best sequences in film history. EVER!
12. Memento – I cannot believe how brilliant this story is. A guy who can’t keep any new memories in a story that takes place backwards until we discover what the hell is really going on. Wow.
13. Donnie Darko – I prefer the director’s cut, but either way this was another mind-blowing film.
14. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl – So incredibly well written by Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot, lots of fun, and Johnny Depp takes it over the top.
15. The Incredibles – A nearly-perfect movie, and a family film. The only animated feature on my list.
16. Sin City – How often do you just sit in a movie and go, “Holy crap, this is just so cool!”?
17. Reservoir Dogs – Could have made the top ten if Pulp Fiction didn’t exist, but, like Batman films, there just isn’t room for two Tarentino films.
18. 300 – This was one of my favorite stories from history, and I couldn’t believe how good of a job Frank Miller did making into a comic. Then I REALLY couldn’t believe how good of a job Zack Snyder did making the comic into a film. Unreal.
19. The Usual Suspects – I couldn’t figure out who Keyser Soze was, and just for that, it makes the list. Great writing, great directing, great performances.
20. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – Oddly enough, when I look at the Star Wars films as a group, this one is my favorite (V, IV, III, VI, II, I is the order), but as a stand-alone movie it doesn’t really work. Does that make any sense? Ah, who cares.
Runners-Up (or: Look! I’m not completely ignorant of film history!)
1. Casablanca – This movie sounds like it’s full of clichés when you see it, until you realize this movie is where so many cliché’s came from.
2. V for Vendetta – I just enjoyed the hell out of this movie, which is based on a fantastic comic series.
3. Citizen Kane – See Casablanca above. Unless you know the background and understand the fact that movies just didn’t jump around in a non-linear way or have camera shots that weren’t straight on until this film, it may be difficult to understand why it’s so great.
4. Chinatown – Screenwriting just doesn’t get any better than this. And the acting ain’t bad, either. “My daughter! My sister! My daughter! My sister!”
5. Batman (1989) – This movie used to be in my top ten until Batman Begins showed me how it could be done even better.
6. Touch of Evil (Special Edition) – I’m talking about the version re-cut to match what Orson Welles wanted, not the one butchered by the studio in 1958 because the suits there were too stupid to recognize genius when they saw it
7. Groundhog Day – In the same vein as Back to the Future, but not quite as good.
8. Twelve Monkeys – Terry Gilliam deserves to be on my list, if not for this, then for Brazil. I just couldn’t figure out where to fit him.
9. Fight Club – “The first rule of Fight Club…”
10. Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – Brilliant. Just brilliant.