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I like this idea from from D. H. Schleicher’s blog. It appears to be using your age as the number of movies you get for your list. I think that’s clever. So, I’m going to just rip it off (as we all know, blatantly ripping off other people’s good ideas is the sincerest form of flattery).

Please do keep in mind that these are selected from my personal favorite movies. Some might seem a bit out of place in a list of The Greatest Films of All Time, but if you don’t like it write your own list.

#24 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998, dir. Terry Gilliam): The film takes the viewer on a bizarre trip into what is arguably the true heart of America, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, the city of lights and spectacle with a sordid past. The city that makes some men kings and sends others to the poor house. The book is about America and I think this is one of those film adaptations that really does a great job of showing off why the book it’s based on is so well regarded.

#23 The Dreamers (2003, dir. Bernardo Bertolucci): Of all the coming of age movies I have ever seen, this one feels the most honest to me. Set in Paris in 1968 it doesn’t beat us over the head with the era, instead the political and social upheavals, and specifically Paris student riots serve as the backdrop to the story of young man on his own who finds friendship and love. He learns and grows and things don’t really turn out in the end. It’s a step on the way to the rest of his life. The movie is beautifully filmed, the characters are written very naturally and three lead actors seem very natural and comfortable in their roles, which I think is rather unique considering the degree of nudity and blatant sexuality in the film. With more time I think this movie will rise much much higher in my list.

#22 Superman: The Movie (1978, dir. Richard Donner): I love Superman, and I have loved this movie most of my life. There are plenty of flaws when you dive into the plot and there is an abundance of corny dialog, but that has a lot to do with the source material. The movie captures all the fun of the source material and takes you through the motions of the classic hero’s journey as you watch young Kal-el grow into the champion of truth, justice, and the American way that has been marveling children in the funny books for almost 70 years now. I would rank this movie higher, except I have to fast forward past the “Can you read my mind?” scene, as it makes me want to throw things at the TV.

#21 Hellraiser (1987, dir. Clive Barker): Hellraiser is the best horror film of the last 20 years. Some of you may scoff about that not saying much. Horror movies get a bad rap, yet they are arguably the most effective movies produced. Horror movies are designed to make you uncomfortable and great horror movies challenge the mind, there is a mythology to them, and the true horror comes not from monsters hiding behind the walls but from the person who seems to be harmless and normal. Helraiser has that. Yes, there are the monsters (Pinhead and his ilk), but unlike most of the sequels, they aren’t really the antagonists. Human lust and greed are the real threats, Pinhead is just there to take you to hell once you’ve given in. One of the reasons I love this movie is Andrew Robinson, he’s one of those character actors who is consistently a joy to watch. From the Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry to the Cardassian tailor Garak on Deep Space Nine.

#20 Layer Cake (2004, dir. Matthew Vaugh): I am convinced this movie will gain more appreciation with time. It’s a stylish noir story about a young man who might be too smart for his own good. If for no other reason I love watching this movie to watch Colm Meaney discuss the zen of handgun maintenance then later beat Daniel Craig’s head into an ice box. The script is well done. The plot isn’t perfect, but it works and nothing is really clean at the end, resolved, but not necessarily cleanly, which is exactly how it should be.

#19 Planet of the Apes (1968, dir. Franklin J. Schaffner): Planet of the Apes is the movie every other science fiction movie wishes it could be. It shows some of the best and worst aspects of what it means to be human through the lens of an alien culture as viewed by a man who had given up hope in humanity. It’s a grand adventure, a cautionary tale, and a thoughtful philosophical piece all rolled into one.

#18 The Dirty Dozen (1967, dir. Robert Aldrich): Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Telly Savalas and Donad Sutherland fight the Nazis. Well, they fight the Nazis at the end of the movie. What’s fun is watching these actors come together and the group of convicts slowly congealing into a cohesive team. As good as the climax of the film is I prefer the War Games scenes where the group really does come together in the way you’ve been hoping since Lee Marvin gathered them. While not a particularly deep movie it is a satisfying film with a solid plot and a great cast.

#17 Tombstone (1993, dir. George P. Cosmatos): Tombstone is my favorite western. The plot is solid, all of the cast are great, the script has the kind of spoken through gritting teeth lines that every great western should have, but the reason to love this movie is Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday. I’ve seen a few Doc Hollidays on screen but none of them ever made me feel for the man the way Kilmer’s did.

#16 Unforgiven (1992, Clint Eastwood): Unforgiven is the best western film ever made. Say what you will about The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, name any other western, it’s not as good as Unforgiven. “The West” as depicted in film is really America’s mythic age. The Ancient Greeks had stories of Troy and Odysseus’ journey home, in America we have the Alamo and colorful characters like Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. Unforgiven is a hard look at the mythology of America. Gene Hackman’s Little Bill relates the truth behind the tales English Bob has been helping popularize. He pulls the myth out from under the mythology and shows that these men being held in high esteem as great gunfighters of the frontier are, for the most part, a bunch of drunks and lucky shots. Then, there’s Eastwood’s Bill Munny the bad man who gave it all up to raise his family. A great story, well directed by Eastwood.

#15 Office Space (1999, dir. Mike Judge): I’m always surprised when I see the date on this movie. It feels a bit older. I’m not sure if that makes it “timeless” or dated, but this movie speaks to every person who has ever worked in an office. Herding people into small places to perform menial work and interact with people who they would much rather toss out the window seems unnatural. Office Space is a record of the shared experience of the insanity that is the modern workspace. Like Dilbert, it’s not really a comedy, it’s just the way things actually and it’s terrifying.

#14 Dirty Harry (1971, dir. Don Siegel): There are plenty of dirty cop or cop that does anything in the pursuit of justice movies, but none truly embodies the genre like Dirty Harry. Every bad ass cop in every movie since this one has just been shades of Harry Callahan. The movie’s solid, good characters, decent plot, and the aforementioned Andrew Robinson as the creepy Scorpio Killer.

#13 Serpico (1973, dir. Sidney Lumet): While we’re on cop movies let’s talk about Serpico, the model only honest cop in a dirty city movie. This is also the first of many Al Pacino movies that populate the top of this list. Based on a true story, Frank Serpico rises through the ranks of the New York police force, avoiding corruption and ultimately blowing the whistle on it. It’s the story of a man trying to do the right thing even if it means his job and maybe even his life. It’s a great gripping movie.

#12 Strangers on a Train (1951, dir. Alfred Hitchcock): Easily one of my favorite Hitchcock films Strangers on a Train is classic Hitchcock: an innocent man gets pulled into an impossible situation and ends up having to save himself and the ones he loves. The idea of the “perfect murder” in this movie is also clever. That two men who meet on a train could kill someone the other would like to see dead is interesting but what’s better is that one man takes the idle chatter on the train to be just that and the other takes it completely seriously, then expects reciprocation. The murder scene as shown in the reflection of a pair of glasses is a work of genius.

#11 Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, dir. Don Siegel): This is classic 50s sci-fi communist hysteria at it’s best. This is one of those movies I have watched so many times I couldn’t count off how many times I’ve seen it. It gets you with that fear that one day you’ll wake up and the whole world will be different and no one will believe you, then one day you’ll wake up and you won’t be you anymore. Okay, it’s possible I am the only one with that fear and that that comes from having seen this movie so many times. They have remade the movie twice already and we’ll be seeing a third remake this year starring Nicole Kidman.

#10 Payback (1999, dir. Brian Helgeland): I have a soft spot in my heart (or maybe it’s my head) for revenge movies. Movies in which those who’ve wronged others get their bloody comeuppance. This movie is my favorite of those kinds of movies. Mel Gibson ends up more or less shutting down an entire criminal syndicate over $70,000 he’s owed, his percentage from a payroll job. He just wants his cut and is exasperated in scene after scene as no one seems to get that all he wants is his $70,000 and he’ll just go away. Great performances from Gibson, Kris Kristofferson, Lucy Liu, Maria Bello, Gregg Henry, and James Coburn.

#9 Die Hard (1988, dir. John McTiernan): The first Die Hard movie is probably the best action movie ever made. At least, it’s the highest ranked action movie on this list. Die Hard had quality action sequences, a plethora of quotable lines, and a hero you can not help but root for. He’s running around a building filled with terrorists in bare feet and a wife beater. You want him to make it because it seems so impossible. On top of that you get Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, and it’s the back and forth between Willis and Rickman that makes the movie work in a way it probably never could have with different actors in the roles. In addition, the movie used some techniques not seen in America (according to the DVD commentary) that are now commonplace in American film.

#8 Star Wars (1977, dir. George Lucas): Star Wars helped define a generation of young geeks. I cannot list the number of people who have told me of the experience of seeing Star Wars in the theater for the first time. It had an impact on a generation and the movie continues to grab new fans. That aside Star Wars came at a time after most Studios shut down their special effects divisions. Star Wars changed the way motion pictures were made. For better or worse Star Wars ended the previous era of film making and made going to the movies what it is today.

#7 The Exorcist (1973, dir. William Friedkin): While Hellraiser is the best horror film of the last 20 years, The Exorcist is the best horror film ever made. No horror movie has managed to top this one for scares, for it’s solid plot and striking characters.

#6 Touch of Evil (1958, dir. Orson Welles): Orson Welles as a dirty cop in a U.S. border town framing a Mexican National for a car explosion while Charlton Heston as a Mexican narcotics cop tries to find out the truth. Putting aside that Heston really doesn’t seem remotely Mexican, this film is really quite incredible. It’s dark and sad and angry and everything a great noir picture should be. It’s got solid performances by Welles and Heston, who are quite fun to watch together on screen as they butt heads.

#5 Rear Window (1954, dir. Alfred Hitchcock): How can a movie where the majority of the story takes place in one small room be so interesting? I don’t know, it’s the magic of Hitchcock. A great thriller with Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly that even if you’ve never seen the movie you’ve seen the movie. It has been spoofed and the basic plot has been appropriated for sitcoms and movies for decades.

#4 The Godfather (1972, dir. Francis Ford Coppola): Okay, on the surface the Gofather is a great mob movie, but underneath that, it’s also a movie about family and obligations and about giving up what you want, giving up part of your soul for the obligations of family. The Godfather is about a man who doesn’t do what he wants to do and he doesn’t do the “right thing,” he does what he has to do. That is the beauty of the movie.

#3 The Godfather: Part II (1974, dir. Francis Ford Coppola): This is the best sequel ever made and one of the few sequels that is a true sequel and not just a rehash of the original film. In this movie Pacino’s Michael has given up so much to do what needed to be done, he’s brought peace for his family, and he’s embraced his role. In this movie he gives up his soul. He gives up all the things that made him who he was in order to preserve what his father built. It’s that last shot at the very end, after Fredo is dead and we see Michael sitting out in the snow, just staring. There’s nothing left of the man he was at the start of the first film. Unlike so many sequels it’s a true progression of the story and characters.

#2 …And Justice for All (1979, dir. Norman Jewison): The last Pacino movie on this list and probably my favorite movie. Pacino as a defense lawyer having to defend a judge he hates from rape and assault charges. The movie criticizes the justice system and emphasizes something you don’t get to see as often, the humanity of defense attorneys. Attorneys who have to watch innocent people go to jail over technicalities while the rich are able to walk in and out of the court house. Attorneys who have to deal with having won a case on the behalf of someone who is later caught with irrefutable evidence that they committed the same crime again and the reason they were out to do it again in the first place is because the attorney did his job. It is an incredible film.

#1 Casablanca (1942, dir. Michael Curtiz): I grew up watching Casablanca. I have seen the movie so many times I could probably quote the entire film. My selection of it is partly sentimental. Still, it is a great film a film with a lot of subtlety a great cast and a great plot. It’s got everything a great movie should have: comedy, suspense, romance, and Nazis. Okay, that last one was a joke. You don’t need Nazis for a great film, but it helps, they make such good villains. Still, when I started thinking about this list this was the first movie that came to mind and the only movie I saw as number one.

Honorable Mentions: Sin City, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, Desperado, Back to the Future, Lethal Weapon, Fight Club, Scanners, The Untouchables, Dog Day Afternoon, Midnight Cowboy, The Hunt for Red October, Rain Man, The Empire Strikes Back, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Blade Runner, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Pulp Fiction.

Now, you go do your own list and link back here, because damn it I want to see your list now.

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2 Comments

  1. Consider me flattered. You have quite a list here. Office Space was sooooo close to being my cult comedy pick, but somehow Wet Hot American Summer won out because I felt not as many people knew of that film and it would seem more off-the-wall than Office Space. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and The Dreamers are very interesting picks…very strong, very uinque films, and two films that I didn’t expect to like but ended up being enthralled by.

  2. Sean…you’re insane. That’s all there is to it. You are out of you’re mind batshit insane, you crazy fuck. A proper list would have told me you were sane, a little more inappropriate list would have told me you were joking or just not trying, but with the inclusion of movies like Casablanca and The Godfather I know you are serious…serious about being insane!

    Superman? I don’t care how good the rest of it is, any movie that makes you want to throw things at the screen can’t be better than all but 21 movies ever made. The Dreamers? Layer Cake? Payback? All good movies, sure (actually, I’m not too wild about Layer Cake, much as I like Daniel Craig) but come on! There are better coming of age stories than The Dreamers, better crime saga’s than Layer Cake, and better revenge movies than Payback. I’d love to ridicule you for office space, but apparently it really appeals to a certain portion of the population who “get it”, and I love a lot of movies that only appeal to certain people who “get it” so it would be hypocritical of me to bash that choice.

    Okay…okay, I’m totally sounding like a jerk right now. I apologize. I just can’t get on board with your list. I’ll make my own, that will soothe my raging spirit.

    While I’m still here though, what about a list of the 24 worst/overrated movies of all time?


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By 24 Years 24 Christmas Movies « Uncle-Sean.com on 14 Dec 2007 at 3:54 pm

    […] Christmas, favorite, list, movies A few months back I did a post listing what I felt were the 24 best movies. I kind of borrowed the idea from this fella, who I think had much better reasons for his movies. […]

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