Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Favorite Movies

I find this list quite hard to write. TV and comics are manageable because there are a limited number of great creators who do long runs on single titles; books I have kept track of over the years quite well; music for me is a newer interest and thus quite small. But I do not know how to make a list of favorite movies without leaving off huge chunks of things, because there just seem to be so many. This list will need the most help from you to remind me of what I have forgotten.

Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds
Oceans Eleven and Twelve
David Mamet's Spartan, The Edge, the Spanish Prisoner, and State and Main, Redbelt
The Bourne Movies
Grosse Pointe Blank
Dark City
A Few Good Men and the American President
Mystery Science Theatre 3000
Royal Tennenbaums
Groundhog Day
From Dusk Till Dawn
Eyes Wide Shut and 2001
David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway and Blue Velvet
Romeo and Juliet
A History of Violence
Mission Impossible 3
Scott Pilgrim vs the World
The Prestige
Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, No Country for Old Men
Brain Candy
Galaxy Quest
Dead Man
Alien: Resurrection and City of Lost Children
The Double Life of Veronique
Punch Drunk Love
Synechdoche, NY
Bringing up Baby
The Third Man
The Birds, Vertigo, and North by Northwest
Don't Look Now
Back to the Future
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Once Upon A Time in the West
Chicken Run
Emperor's New Groove
Triplets of Belleville
Toy Story, Bug's Life, Wall-E
The Iron Giant
Center Stage

My favorite Superhero movies (not to be confused with my favorite movies of all time; I add this one only because I get asked about it all the time):

Spiderman 2
Iron Man


scott91777 said...

The problem with doing movies is that it's really hard to do them in categories because A. What category is Kill Bill under? You could call it 'action' but that would hardly be accurate B. Is it really fair to rank both Anchorman and Annie Hall in the same catergory as The Princess Bride?

So, here is a category-less list of my favorite movies, arranged (probably) in no (conscious) order.

The Empire Strikes Back
Annie Hall (Woody Allen in general)
Raiders of the Lost Ark
American Beauty
Star Wars
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The Princess Bride
Superman: The Movie
Superman II (The Richard Donner Cut)
The Godfather parts I & II
Spider-man 1 & 2
X-men 1 & 2
The Graduate
The Sixth Sense
Sin City
Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2
Grindhouse (Planet Terror and Death Proof, most of you know I see the two as one entity)
Better Off Dead
This Is... Spinal Tap
Chasing Amy
Young Frankenstein
History of the World Part I
High Fidelity
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Almost Famous
Fight Club
Revenge of the Sith
Attack of the Clones
Donnie Darko
Garden State
Return of the Jedi
Star Trek II: The Wrath of KHAAAAAAAAAAAAN!
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
That Thing You Do!
Pulp Fiction
No Country For Old Men
There Will Be Blood...
(AKA I Drink Your Milkshake... within my circle of friends)
Wayne's World
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Transformers: The Movie (the animated one... not the horrible Michael Bay concoction)
Superman III (I can explain)
Road To Perdition
Napolean Dynamite

Marc Caputo said...

Top 5 of all time:

Do the Right Thing
The Godfather, part II
Almost Famous (director’s cut)
Mystery Train

The Ocean’s __ trilogy
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
The Back to the Future trilogy
The Indiana Jones trilogy
The Empire Strikes Back
The Godfather, I and II
The Exorcist
The Silence of the Lambs
The Shining
The Blair Witch Project
All Tarantino-directed films (except Grindhouse)
Mulholland Drive
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Firm
Donnie Darko
All Coen brothers up to ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou’ and then ‘No Country for Old Men’
The Color of Money
Point Break
Out of Sight
The Spanish Prisoner

Anagramsci said...

my list would have a lot more movies from the '30s and '40s does--but I can't resist applauding your choice of Alien Resurrection as the cream of that particular franchise!


Jason said...

Cool list, man. Good to see Ang Lee's Hulk and Back to the Future and -- of course -- Chicken Run on there. Oh, and Dark City, awesome choice; such an underrated film. (Although Ebert named it his favorite movie of 1998, which I thought was pretty cool.)

I prefer X-Men to X2. Anyone want to discuss? It seems like most people prefer X2 (which does have some really awesome scenes), but I don't think it hangs together as a film at all. The pacing is all goofed up, and the plotting not very tight. The first film, though, I'd argue is paced perfectly, and the plot -- though flawed -- is still coherent and consistent.

scott91777 said...

My problem with X-men was the main plot device of the 'mutant making machine'(Dr. Evil style quotes there). It just seemed kinda... well, dumb.

Troy Wilson said...

My biggest problem with X2 was that Jean had no compelling reason to step out of the plane. Why couldn't she have just stayed inside the damn thing and lifted it up? Maybe she was worried she wouldn't be able to control her powers, and wanted to get far enough away from everyone else, just in case. Or maybe, in addition to saving her friends, it was her way of commiting suicide, sorta combining the shuttle crash and moon suicide sequences from the comics. Or [insert your explanation here]. But the movie leaves too much of the heavy lifting to us. It doesn't bother to sell - or really even offer - a compelling explanation. Someone (Scott, I think) asks Prof X why she left the plane. Charles answers that she made a choice. Yeah, a damn stupid one, it seems. Or maybe I'm missing something.

Despite the above rant, I adore X2, and wouldn't hesitate to include it as one of my faves. There's just so much to love, from the big stuff (Nightcrawler in the White House, Magneto's prison break, the attack on the mansion) to the little touches (Mystique flipping Stryker's men the bird, Magneto pointing to his telepathy-proof helmet, Pyro's willingness to leave Logan behind in the mansion long before we suspect he'll switch sides).

James said...

Jason! Yes, this is exactly my feeling on X-Men vs. X-Men 2. I might need to re-watch them both to be sure, but it was certainly my first impression.

Favourite movies but nothing definitive mind you:
Miller's Crossing (Usurped by No Country For Old Men? Could be!)
Princess Mononoke
The Matrix
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Thing
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Empire Strikes Back maybe (or has Lucas removed all joy from Star Wars forever? Release the unmolested originals in panoramic widescreen and this gets in).

Marco Lazzarotto said...

Somehow I was expecting Adaptation and Delicatessen in that list.

No Magnolia?

Mikey said...

Predictably, lots of people here like lots of great movies.

My three favourite movies of ever:

Spider-Man 2
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai

Often interchanged with:
Back to the Future

The trilogies:
Back to the Future
Indiana Jones (I know Raiders is the better movie, but Crusade is my favourite)
Star Wars (I even like Jedi, F-You Kevin Smith)

Everything, but particularly:
Miller’s Crossing
The Big Lebowski
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The Man Who Wasn’t There
No Country For Old Men

The Spanish Prisoner
State and Main
Glengarry Glen Ross

The Thing
They Live!
At the Mouth of Madness (I don’t know why – maybe because it’s Carpenter’s last good movie. Plus: Sam Neil)

Kill Bill
Death Proof
I got love for all, but these two stand out (because still the freshest?)

Kiki’s Delivery Service
Spirited Away

The rest:
Ghostbusters 1 and 2 (my favourite movies about New York)
South Park
Night of the Living Dead
The Incredibles
Die Hard
The 39 Steps
Home Alone 2 (don’t ask me why, but whenever it’s on I have to watch it)
Police Academies 1, 5 and 6 (I suck)
Miami Vice
The Terminator
Pale Rider
The Dirty Dozen
The Usual Suspects
Transformers: The Movie
This Is…Spinal Tap
American Beauty
Taxi (French version)
Grosse Point Blank
High Fidelity
School of Rock
Napoleon Dynamite

It's safe to assume you can add The Dark Knight and Wall-E when I get around to seeing them.

David said...

Good list! I might try to write one at some point, but I'd have a hard time seperating my favourite films from the ones that were just better than most of the junk I see at the cinema.

Like Dave Fiore, I admire the controversial choice of Alien: Resurrection -- I know a few die-hard Alien fiends who'd try to start a scuffle over that one!

The only film on the list that makes me want to headbutt a wall till oblivion comes is Beowulf. I'll give the movie props for some of its more rediculous flourishes, but almost every line of dialogue felt like a barbed-wire lance being jammed into my ear.

With regards to the X-Men films, I like most of the performances in the first two, and there are several compelling sequences (the aforementioned Nightcrawler stuff at the start of X2 being a personal favourite!), but I'd say that they both suffer from plots that never really cohere. So, much as I like them both, I don't know if I can really get behind either movie 100%.

Weirdly, I think there might have been a good plot trying to escape from the mess that was X3, but... well, that didn't happen. What a waste!

scott91777 said...


I just gotta ask... Police Academy 5 and 6 but NOT 2,3 and 4? Have you something against Bobcat Goldwaith? Or did you just really like the Mahoney stand in in those last two?

Paul said...

One of the things I found great about the end of X2 was that it mirrors the end of Wrath of Khan (one of my favorite movies of all time).

1. Spock locks himself in the radiation room, saves the crew from a wave of destruction, dies / Jean locks everyone in the plane, saves the team from a wave of destruction, dies.

2. At the end of Khan, sweeping shot of the Genesis landscape and Spock's coffin, followed by Spock's voice over of Kirk's "Space, the final frontier" speech, and then a racing star field. / At the end of X2, sweeping shot of the lake, Jean's voice over of Xavier's "Mutation" speech, and a racing shot of the Phoenix Force under the water.

Great list of movies, BTW. A Few Good Men is one of my favorite "quotable" movies. Great lines.

James said...

Was Bryan Singer supposed to reboot Star Trek at some point or did I just make that up?

Mikey said...


My reasons are many, and not entirely expressable (everyone else, please feel free to go around this post - nothing to see here).

Police Academies 2 and 3 are immediately disqualified because, though Guttenberg is present and correct, they do not feature G.W. Bailey as Captain Harris and are therefore artistically worthless.

The 4th depends too much on introducing new, tepid characters (the "Citizens On Patrol") that even an amazing 80s skateboard sequence cannot salvage.

I feel that 5 finally took the series off in a bold new direction (while remaining true to the ethos, if not nudity, of the original). Plus Captain Harris is back. In Miami. And 6 satisfyingly capped the series with a showdown between three of the key original characters and their evil criminal opposites. When you are 10 years old this is totally rugged. Of the Charlie Schlatter-starring Moscow movie we will not speak here.

Incidentally - Matt McCoy - the Mahoney stand-in - was in LA Confidential, which I would add to my list of favourite films.

That X2/Star Trek parallel is so neat. Do any other movies do this I wonder? Or have similar intertextual gymnastics? (Terminator 2 actually perfectly mirrors the first movie literally beat-for-beat, but everything is bigger and more rad).

scott91777 said...


You're right, Harris was far superior to Mauser... but I do so enjoy Zed!

Here's something interesting about Police Academy 6, the first time I saw this movie... at the tender age of 11... I suspected that Matt McCoy's character was somehow connected to the Bad Guys and, quite possibly, their mysterious leader. Did you notice how he always seemed to know 'exactly' what the bad guys had planned?

Also, there are a tone of movies with these sorts of paralells and we could probably do a whole list just pairings of movies... in fact, I have an assignment in my comp classes that depends on it.

However, I have always felt that Spider-man 3 totally ripped off Superman III :)

Geoff Klock said...

Scott: I wanted to do categories, but did run into trouble for just that reason. I cannot believe you are one of those late Star Wars defenders. :)

Marc: There is this great moment of Newsradio where Beth says that her favorite book is the Firm and when Dave looks skeptical says "it was better than the movie." His lightning fast reply is "it would pretty much have to be."

Anagramsci, David: Jenet and Whedon should have been my first clue that something smarter was going on in that movie than it initially looked like. Like Ang Lees Hulk is is a secret masterpiece, and a surprisingly kind of weird French parody (though parody is too strong a word).

Jason, Troy: This discussion made me reevaluate the place of X2. It is not a favorite movie of mine, it is just as favorite superhero movie; I just confuse that because people ask me about superhero movies all the time. It has been moved. But the line where Magneto says "we love what you've done with your hair" is one of my favorite moments in cinema period.

James: How could I have forgotten Royal Tennenbaums? It has been added now. Thanks.

Marco: Adaptation is good about I did not go crazy for it. Delicatessen just got propably unfairly eclipsed by City of Lost Children. As for Magnolia this has been a sticking point with me for years: PT Anderson is a major American Director and absurdly talented. But his movies -- outside of Punch-Drunk Love which is a daring experimental version of a very safe movie genre -- are just not for me. Not bad, but not for me.

Jason said...

Is Alien Resurrection the one by the director of Amelie?

(Amelie would be on my list.)

Geoff Klock said...

yes it is. thats why it is paired with another of Jenet's movies, City of Lost Children. I enjoyed Amelie, but not as much as City.

scott91777 said...


May I remind you of another one of your favorite movie moments from the X-men movies:

"You're a dick"


... as for me being a Star Wars defender... I mean, what did you expect, I also like Superman III and have seen Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 3 times this summer (and liked it better each time)



Since you listed the Indy movies. What did you think of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?

Jason said...

Man, I hate that 'You're a dick" line. Who wrote that, anyway? (Just kidding.)

I love that story about how the director of Amelie once pissed off Joss Whedon so much that Whedon punched a wall.

Mikey said...

Funny - That line sticks out like a sore thumb and I'm glad it's there. I remember X-Men and X2 being almost totally humourless (with the exception of McKellan, who is a joy throughout). Their house and costumes just screamed prophylaxis to me.

Geoff - I wanted to ask: Lots of these I can see as in tune with your interests or simply good films. Except - The American President?? I don't remember it being much more than an ok movie. (Yes I am aware that my list includes some awful movies). Sometimes a decent, well made film is all you want - but is there something else for it to make the list? Have you talked about this before and I've missed it?

Scott - without wanting to take up too much space, I think the first hour of Indy 4 rose to the challenge nicely before collapsing. Indiana Jones: harder than a nuclear explosion is pretty awesome, and I liked Shia Lebeouf's character just appearing from out of a different movie. But the potentially amazing "Saucer Men from Mars" angle turned out to be completely weak (and nothing of the sort). None of the characters were done justice, Indy becomes a spectator, CGI creeps in around the edges of the physical stunts and screws everything up. There was just no dignity to it.

The highlight of the whole movie was the look on Ford's face when he sees Marion again for the first time. Kind of dopey surprise, elation all at once. It's one of the most extraordinary, genuine expressions I remember seeing on film that makes me happy just thinking about it. But really, at the risk of sounding like a grumpy nostalgic, on the whole I just wish they hadn't bothered.

Geoff Klock said...

Mikey: yeah, my friend Erin gave me shit about that too. I just like me some Aaron Sorkin stuff, and I think it is a great romantic comedy, which is kind of a hard thing to do persuasively. It is cute, and mature, and the dialogue is really snappy. I am also going on a memory here, and it may not be as good as I remember it.

David Golding said...

(better late than never, right? e.g. the music thread)

This isn't a complete list---my feelings change from moment to moment. The first three are rock solid favourites, the rest are representative:

Ashes of Time
Three Colours: Red
Dancer in the Dark

Kiki's Delivery Service
The Phantom Menace

50 First Dates
Tokyo Story
Monsters Inc
Before Sunset
I'm Not There

Geoff Klock said...

DG: Dancer in the Dark, Phantom Menace, and Salo? If I was making a "bottom 5 list" there is a good chance these would be on it, right next to Johnny English and Matrix Revolutions. Yikes.

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Kyle said...

best comic movies:

American Splendor
A History of Violence

best vigilante hero stuff:

The Incredibles, then Batman Begins, Spider-Man 1&2, and Mystery Men in no order

I'm expecting Dark Knight to knock the previous incarnation out of the water.

David Golding said...

Geoff: well, you can read Star Wars for Phantom Menace, and The Passion of Jean of Arc for Salo, but Dancer in the Dark stands for nothing but itself. I've only ever seen it at the cinema. I don't want to reduce the aesthetic experience to DVD (and, in this case, corrupt it, because there are changes). It should be screening again soon. I don't need to see it regularly, because it's just so horrible. But beautiful too.

But hey, you start out with Kill Bill, a movie I find unwatchable, so, you know. :-)