Not the greatest films ever made necessarily- the ones I enjoy watching the most.
All talkies, I will do a separate list for silents later.
And not in order.
What are some of you faves? Leave a comment!
1) A four-way tie for the Coen Bros: No Country For Old Me, Barton Fink, The Big Lebowski and O Brother Where Art Thou. Sorry too hard to pick one!
“I’ll show YOU the life of the mind!” Mad Mutt
“If the rule you followed led you to this, of what use was the rule?” Chigur
2) North By Northwest 1958
Hitch’s masterpiece of intrigue and geography. With equal bits of dry wit and terror thrown in.
3) The Big Sleep 1946
No one really knows what this was about. And no one needs to. The greatest noir ever, spawned a pile of imitators. Mind crumbling witty dialog, seedy CA locations and of course, Betty Bacall!
“Vivian: Why did you have to go on?
Marlowe: Too many people told me to stop.”
4) Midnight Cowboy 1969
One of the most touching films ever, set amongst the sleaze of a degenerate late 60s NYC social scene.Ratzo Rizzo lives on in Hollywood folklore.
5) Blazing Saddles 1974
Side-splitting un-PC hilarity, and a star studded cast. Brooks at his best- and beans beans beans!
6) True Grit 1969
One of Wayne’s best, and a film so good it could be remade 40 years later almost as good as the original.
By this time the classic western had nearly worn out its welcome but Henry Hathaway takes it out for one more worthy spin. Kim Darby is a scene stealer as Mattie, the young girl who hires Wayne to find her parents’ killers.
“Mattie Ross: I won’t rest until Tom Chaney’s barking in hell.”
7) The Good The Bad and The Ugly 1966
Wallach nearly steals the show, as does Morricone’s ear-worm inducing soundtrack. The best of the Spaghettis, and thats saying a mouthful!
8) To Kill A Mockingbird 1962
“Well there he is Mr. Tate, he can tell you his name.”
I was about Scout’s age when I first say this and it affected me in a way no movie ever had or has since. From Boo to Atticus, all classic performances with a wallop of a message.
9) Mary Poppins 1965
Disney at his best, and the technology doesn’t get in the way at all of a great message, for all ages. Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.
10) The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button 2008
Fitzgerald’s short story expanded into a parable of how and what we take for granted in life. Movingly told and brilliantly directed, a must-see.
11) Sunset Blvd 1950
Billy Wilder pays hommage and parodies early Hollywood at the same time. The viewer’s emotions go from humor to pathos in a split second. Swanson and Wilder create a compelling and meaningful character designed to move and entertain, but never at the expensive of the dignity of the protagonist.
12) Great Expectations 1934
Many great versions of this but the on with Jane Wyman is my favorite. A great story of intrigue and Dickensian human character study. Lady Havisham will haunt you for life after viewing this.
13) Portrait Of Jennie 1948
A different type of Noir, one that tugs at your heart and begs you to believe in its fantastical story line. Great performances all around and Jennifer Jones and Cotten at their best.
“Where I come from nobody knows and where I am going everything goes. The wind blows, the sea flows, nobody knows. And where I am going, nobody knows.”
14) Laura 1944
Preminger’s archetypical noir about a detective who may or may not be in love with a fantasy. You decide, but that’s not the point of this haunting story of a woman whose beauty and appeal draws a range of reactions from those around her
15) A Streetcar Named Desire 1951
Tennessee William’s game-changer. Desire and Death, two opposite destinations, in life and in New Orleans.
16) Duck Soup 1933
The Marx Bros at their Nihilist, subversive best. A few years later their humor would be toned down but at this time they were at the most unrestrained peak of their power.
“Rufus T. Firefly: Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you: he really is an idiot. I implore you, send him back to his father and brothers, who are waiting for him with open arms in the penitentiary. I suggest that we give him ten years in Leavenworth, or eleven years in Twelveworth.
Chicolini: I’ll tell you what I’ll do: I’ll take five and ten in Woolworth.”
17) Fra Diavolo (Laurel and Hardy) 1933
80+ years later you can almost still hear the laughter from depression era movie goers when Stanio and Ollio first make their appearance. Not considered one of their best, but it is one of my faves, with a lot of their best gags.
18) Caddilac Records 2008
Famed bluesman and song writer Willie Dixon narrates this thinly veiled tale of Chess Records. Some of the best performances ever of blues performers, including Howlin’ Wolf “Its paid for.” portrayed by an almost terrifying Eaemonn Walker.
19) Pulp Fiction 1994
Dark humor and camp abound in this celebration of gangsterism, early rock and roll and LA culture of the early 90s. One of the most inspired films ever about pop culture- and Uma!
20) Closer 2004
A film which creeps along with some of the most unlikable characters in film history. Until you get to the surprise ending and find out who the biggest creep is. Compelling and mind-numbingly brutal in its distillation of the mind games lovers and potential lovers play.
Sometimes you think you want to get a closer look- but be very careful of what you might see!
21) Its a Mad Mad World 1962
This film has been maligned over the years as being too much- too many. Too much plot, too many characters, too long.
But I have always loved it and I never thought any of it too much. Bringing together the biggest names in comedy of the mid-20th century, its 2+ hours of hilarious scene after scene as each character goes thru their own struggle to screw the other out of the “Maguffin” (look that up). Dick Shawn, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney and Phil Silvers are just some of the standouts.
22) The Blues Brothers 1980
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that, no matter how depressed you are, this film is sure to make you laugh at least once!
Ironically, a story about the blues ends up as one of the most joyous celebrations of madness, anarchy and Belushi’s genius.
Illinois Nazis, indeed!
23) Finding Nemo 2003
The only fully animated feature to make this list, and one of the most touching films on it. And screamingly funny.
Ellen Degeneres nearly steals the show with her performance as Dory but the others as nearly as good. A classic tale of persistence and faith.
24) The Public Enemy 1931
Cagney’s turn as the mama’s boy gone wrong set the prototype that continues to this day. A taught, still powerful tale of good vs evil, where evil wins.
25) The Longest Day 1962
Classic tale of D-Day based on Cornelius Ryan’s book, and one of the most realistic war movies ever made. Some of the performances are a bit over the top but all are memorable, including Burton and Robert Ryan, in one of his greatest roles.