My 10 Best Movies

We did the movies-you-have-to-watch exercise, now it’s time to list your 10 best.  Here are mine:

1) Dr. Strangelove (1964)

2) Manhattan (1979)

3) All the President’s Men (1976)

4) Young Frankenstein (1974)

5) The Godfather (1972)

6) The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)

7) Three Days of the Condor (1975)

8) The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming (1966)

9) Empire Strikes Back (1980)

10) Hunt for Red October (1990)


In no particular order:

Blade Runner and The Matrix – realized a vision I knew was out there.

Casino, Goodfellas – corruption as success, great American stories

Red Dawn -W0lverines! Hecho en Nuevo Mexico

A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica – inside the studio during the making of the biggest selling metal album of all time and subsequent tour.

THEM! – giant ants. I love the still of a young James Whitmore as a New Mexico State Police officer firing his .38 cal. service revolver at an ant the size of a truck

Godzilla/Gojira- both the Americanized version with Raymond Burr and the original Japanese version that was an allegory for their experience of the horror of nuclear warfare they experienced are awesome in their own right

2001 – must be included on any top ten list as a matter of federal law

Independence Day/ID4 – aliens, blowing shit up. Fuck yeah.

@redmanlaw: The first time I saw The Matrix — courtesy of Silent Creative Partner — my immediate thought was, That’s the movie I would show to an Intro Philosophy class. I’ve got yer Descartes right here, pal.

Later, I studied it closely for a different reason: It’s the perfect example of a three-act movie…

Act One: The Beginning, of course.

Act Two: Keanu on the table.

Act Three: Our Gang walks out the door to meet their fate.

The construction’s so tight, you could bounce a dime off it.

1. Dr. Strangelove – I’m with you there.

2. The Third Man.

3. Love and Death – cream of wheat.

4. Casablanca

5. Apocalypse Now

6. The Last Seduction

7. Brazil (probably should rank higher)

8. The Player – for the opening shot if nothing else.

9. Godfather (Part 2 if I have to pick one)

10. Duck Soup – Hail Fredonia!

@Walking Still: “Welcome Idiots” still makes me smile.

No too much in the way of highbrow here:

1. Shawshank Redemption

2. Sense and Sensibility (the Ang Lee/Emma Thompson version)

3. Fried Green Tomatoes

4. This is Spinal Tap

5. Raiders of the Lost Ark

6. The Jerk

7. The Empire Strikes Back

8. Antonia’s Line

9. Best in Show

10. Schindler’s List (should probably be higher)


TJ/ Thoughts on chapbooks? Do you need an imprint?

This is really a tough call. Here’s my top ten, in no order, for today. Tomorrow’s list would probably be different because I’d think of other films I am sure I’m forgetting even though I cheated and looked at Ebert’s Great Movies.

2001: A Space Odyssey
Seven Samurai
The Day the Earth Stood Still – the original
Dr. Strangelove
A Night at the Opera
Once Upon a Time in the West
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp – just discovered it recently and it is fantastic

Okay, I’m turning my list up to eleven and adding Michael Clayton.

@SanFranLefty: The Jerk is an underappreciated gem – as is My Blue Heaven.

Love Shawshank as well.

@Dave H: Contact is overlooked – Jodie Foster looked good, but the Chevy convertible looked better.

Have to think.

Just been watching The Music Man a very under appreciated musical with what could be one of the best scores ever written for the musical stage. Great sophistication that seems artless. The movie isn’t perfect but has much to recommend it, not least Onna White’s exuberant choreography brilliantly danced: a celebration of white America as it wishes it had been. A genuinely interesting exploration of the Pied Piper theme and the transformative power of the imagination.

@blogenfreude: Contact was too woo. I like some woo like Let the Right One In, but I dunno.

What is the movie where the protagonist sees her dead family members waiting on the shore?

@nojo: Yeah. That one blew me away. I saw it way after is was released on some Pay-per-View thing in a hotel. Jr and I were like, “Whoa.” The sequels. Meh. Only comic books should be serialized.

@blogenfreude: Actually I wish the movie Contact had followed the book more closely. Having Jodie Foster make the journey solo instead of as a member of the team as Carl Sagan wrote it was a drastic change leading to the near deification of her character at the end of the film. At the conclusion of the book Ellie found solid mathematical proof of the existence of Others in a most unlikely place.

Speaking of Jodie Foster, how about The Accused?

Not Jodie…

Boys Don’t Cry
Sunset Blvd.
Dear Zachary
Capturing the Friedmans
Man on Wire
This Is England
James and the Giant Peace
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Marwencol or Born into Brothels
No Country for Old Men
Rabbit Proof Fence
Raising Arizona
Run Lola Run
Leaving Las Vegas

@JNOV is like, Peace?: The Accused is amazing, and I can’t believe I left Silence of the Lambs off my list.

And thank you for reminding me of Raising Arizona which then makes me ask myself how in the world did I leave The Big Lebowski off that list. Another movie that I love and can’t believe I left off my top ten list is Lone Star – excellent yet low-key acting in that flick, and it doesn’t hit a false note in its portrayal of south Texas border towns.

@flypaper: And another Steve Martin gem – All of Me with Lily Tomlin. I seem to remember that it’s baked’s favorite movie.

Movies not listed that found their way on my top 10 list:

Children of Men
The Magnificent Seven
District 9

1. 9 to 5

2. The Hudsucker Proxy

3. The Last Seduction

4. Mildred Pierce

5. Gone with the Wind

6. Velvet Goldmine

7. Airplane!

8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

9. Network

10. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

11. Heathers

@¡Andrew!: OMFG!! 9 to 5!! Yes!

And Heathers, how could I forget? or the other awesome ’80s angst movies:

Pretty in Pink
Say Anything

@SanFranLefty: 9 to 5 is without question my favorite of all time–it’s a flawless diamond of a film. In college, my friends and I recorded the movie on audio tape and would drive around listening to lines like “I shot a hole clean through my purse!” You can’t imagine how stoked I was to buy the Sexist-Egotistical-Lying-Hypocritical-Bigot Edition DVD with the Spanish subtitles: “¡Me dispare* al dentro de mi bolsa!”

*Fixed, but works both ways : )

@¡Andrew!: Me dispar‚e (sorry, no access to accents on el teclado aqui en Siam), unless you wanted to say “I said goodbye to myself inside my bag”!

@¡Andrew!: “Heathers” kicked butt.

Can I get some love for:

School of Rock
Eight Men Out
The Decline of Western Civilization (Part I – I’ll leave Part Deux to RML)
Rock and Roll High School (doesn’t everybody wish their high school was all Ramones, all the time?)

Yes to

Children of Men
12 Angry Men
Eternal Sunshine…
Little Miss Sunshine
The Croupier
The Machinist
Khan! Khaaaaaan! Gimme back Spock, you Bastid!
Mos def 9 to 5
Jr. Loved School of Rock (that led to a temporary and horrific love of Jack Black and his stupid musical act)
Boys n tha Hood
Do the Right Thing
The King and I

I’m grouping. Ten is too little. And not in order.

Musicals: Alexander’s Ragtime Band. My favorite musical film. Epic, silly, thrilling. Directed by the great Henry King. The men marching off to war is that rare mix of preposterous and sublime.

Other notables: Maytime; a piece of nonsense that has been drenched in top-flight talent, ditto The Great Waltz, smaltz mitt schlag; the waltz around the pergola; Louise Rainer’s entrance into the theatre. A Star is Born (yes, one is gay, thanks for asking) with Garland, of course. when it’s good it’s very good indeed. 7 Brides for 7 Brothers, it’s all about the dancing and Jane Powell’s vibrato. Which bro is your fave? Mine’s the one with the bad dye job. The Irving Berlin – Astaire Rogers musicals: pick your own fave. In the Good Old Summertime, charm doesn’t get more charming; Garland at her zenith. Chicago, from the Snap! Crackle! Pop! school of filmmaking but oh, that score! Oliver! wonderfully well directed with musical staging by Onna White. The King and I, why God made VistaVision. Love Me or Leave Me, sing it, Doris! The Sound of Music, not one wrong note. The Music Man we were all young once.

Limelight. Chaplin. Quite often he scares me but not here. I’m not allowed to watch it often as I start to cry half an hour in and usually end up sobbing and unable to stand.

The Lady Eve, swank meets wit and all hell breaks loose. Everything about it is heaven (excepting the awkward casting of Eugene Pallette). How many times can Henry Fonda fall down? You do the math.

Other notable comedies: Midnight, what happens to Cinderella after the ball? For one thing, she acquires a hell of a wardrobe. 20th Century, Barrymore is hilarious. Pygmalion, arguably one of the 5 best English comedies ever written made into a very fine film written by Shaw and packed with goodies. (In his younger days the actor playing Zoltan Karpathy was one of Herbert Beerbohm-Tree’s boyfriends. He liked to introduce them to his wife before taking them upstairs. She was resigned though insisted it was still adultery.) Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, come for Cary, stay for Myrna. The Women (see above re gay) my favorite Rosalind Russell film. Ninotchka for Lubitsch. Sullivan’s Travels, yes, it’s Hollywood lefty-lite but tons of fun. Postcards From the Edge, the ladies show us how it’s done.

Noiresque: Gilda, Glen Ford is obsessed with Rita Hayworth and can anybody blame him? Double Indemnity, the real thing. Sunset Boulevard, though almost anything written and directed by Billy Wilder is going to be worth watching – apart from the tiresome Some Like it Hot. The Killers, early Kubrick. Roadhouse, if you don’t know Ida Lupino can you really call yourself queer? Humoresque Crawford meets Garfield meet Odets. The hands are Isaac Stern’s. Miss Crawford shows us how it’s done. Third Man, Carol Reed in post-war Vienna. Casablanca, gets better every time you see it. Also, Now, Voyager!, Miss Davis shows us how it’s done. Also in Jezebel and The Letter, and Dark Victory, “I’ll have an order of prognosis negative!” And All About Eve, (don’t judge me). And somebody has to explain to me about going up and down stairs. In so many movies of the 30s and 40s, at a critical point the heroine will either climb a flight of stairs (resolve, defeat?) or come down a flight of stairs. Clearly there’s a reason for it but I have no clue what that reason might be.

Bicycle Thief. That is all.
Virgin Spring Ditto.
Fanny and Alexander. Et in Arcadia Ego.
Hobson’s Choice.

Big Stories: The Big Country, wow! Plus that score! How Green Was My Valley my fave John Ford movie. They Were Expendable: yes, you will cry. Unless, like Catt, you have heart of stone. Of Gods and Men, contains what I guess to be one of the most original and surprising scenes ever filmed. Les Miserables, Claude Lelouch and Belmondo and Annie Girardot: see also, Les un and Les Autres, also A Man and a Woman. Days of Heaven. A Nun’s Story, very well directed by Fred Zinneman. Farewell My Concubine. Anything with Gong Li. Why yes, I am a fan (see above re gay).

Others: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. Stunning achievement made even more remarkable when one considers the war was on. Also from same director, Vacation from Marriage, building a new world from the rubble. And The Red Shoes, for all you fans of the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo. Charade.
Brokeback Mountain.
Touch of Evil.
A Place in the Sun.
National Velvet.
That Hamilton Woman, Vivien Leigh at her peak.
In Which We Serve, wartime heroics plus Celia Johnson, arguably one of British cinema’s best actors.
Brief Encounter. “Don’t be beastly, darling.”
Goodbye Mr. Chips, anything with Robert Donat.

2001. Duh. Also –
Barry Lyndon.

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World. Embrace the bloat. A Warner’s cartoon in Cinerama. See Durante kick the bucket! See Paul Ford talk them down! See Phil Silvers punch out Terry-Thomas! See Merman acting only on her lines!

Someone has to explain Dick Shawn to me. Srsly.

The Exorcist.

Hitchcock: my fave is Notorious smartly re-imagined as North by Northwest. In medias res, dude. I have a weakness for Suspicion and Rebecca.

Recent movies? Weekend. Best thing I’ve seen in a long time. Topsy-Turvy, best film about the theatre that I know. Silliness? Soapdish. Beat the Devil, who can forget Lollabridgida wading through the surf in a cocktail dress and stilettos?

This, you see, is why I should never be asked questions like this. I have to go and lie down.

@Benedick: I was too afeared to list All About Eve. Thank you.

Agree with Bicycle Theif
North by Northwest

and add the one where they’re stuck in a windmill looking for some kidnapped dude

@JNOV is like, Peace?: Foreign Correspondent. As to AAE, I’m beyond shame.

Bugger! I forgot Kind Hearts and Coronets. Come for Guinness stay for Dennis Pice and the brilliant script.

Army of Shadows, Melville on the Resistance.
Rules of the Game.

@¡Andrew!: Glad to see another Last Seduction fan. Eternal Sunshine was a serious candidate for my list.

@JNOV is like, Peace?: All About Eve would have been my #11.

@Benedick: I’m ashamed to have forgotten Touch of Evil. My only excuse was that I was working in an airport under time pressure. BTW, my all-noir list would closely resemble yours. I would add Laura.

@Walking Still: Cool cool.

It’s not the last seduction of Christ is it?

@JNOV is like, Peace?: Last Seduction is a very classy modern film noir with a truly glorious femme fatale – Linda Fiorentino’s role of a lifetime.

@Walking Still: Ah. Okay. I will check it out.

@blogenfreude: Please, please find a way to organize our lists? (With great power comes great responsibility.)

And then we can vote!

I’m going to write it:

Army of Darkness!

I’d like to add any movie where I can watch the incredible Eleanor Powell tap dance. I read that she was so good she even intimidated Fred Astaire. She makes the impossible look so easy and effortless. I sometimes suspect I have a big crush on her. What she ever saw in Glenn Ford is beyond me.

@JNOV: Adding to what WS said, The Last Seduction is easily the best neo-noir of the modern era, and Linda Fiorentino’s performance is amazing. It’s a total crime that she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. “Breathtaking and ball-breaking” is how one of the critics described the film, if I recall.

Holy crap. Doesn’t anyone do anything but sit a round watching movies?

I was happy to see the Marx Brothers pop up. Night at the Opera, 2 scenes: the stateroom and the chase scene.

I do not see any W.C. Fields. He wrote and directed one following different people after they all recieved a large sum of money and how they chose to spend it.

No vote for the Wizard of Oz?

@Nabisco: Necessito encontrar alguien con practicar mi español por que se chupa, unfortunamente.

@Walking Still: When I first watched Eternal Sunshine, I was prepared to hate it, but Jim Carrey (!) and Kate Winslet blew me away with their performances, the script and direction were incredible, and the theme song Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime still gives me chills. Probably some of the best movie music ever, in my humble opinion. I cried like a four-year-old at the ending.

@¡Andrew!: Eternal Sunshine is the only Jim Carrey movie I can suffer. And I suffer it very well.

@DElurker: First time I saw Wizard of Oz on a color TV, I thought they had lost the original first reel when the house landed, and used a backup black & white print instead.

These are all great (esp. The Russians are Coming – god i even bought the soundtrack; & Contact, whew). May i add a few more that have stuck with me over the years in no particular order:


Heaven Can Wait

Big Trouble in Little China

The Mission (DiNero at his best)


Dr. Zhivago

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Field of Dreams

i’m sure there are others, but this is a good start

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