These are not necessarily all my favorite films nor would I say that I even consider all the films on this list to be some of my favorites, this is simply a list of films that will stay with me forever.
It should also be noted that I have tried to get a link to the original trailer for each one of these films, so enjoy those as well.
Not Spielberg’s best film technically, I’ll admit that. However I have vivid memories of watching ‘Jurassic Park’ at a very young age and thinking “I want to make movies”. I credit this film for getting me interested in making films and becoming a lifelong Spielberg fan.
The story’s a bit dated, and there are some moments I finch at just how dated it is however from a technical standpoint ‘Citizen Kane’ is one of the greatest if not the greatest films of all time. If your looking for story over style then I’d say by all means rent ‘Casablanca’ but ‘Citizen Kane’ will forever be stuck in my head as a technical masterpeace. Orson Wells did so much with a camera and effects that had never been done before he’s should almost be credited as more of an inventor then a director.
I watch a lot of films, a lot, this includes horror films and to be quite honest ‘Psycho’ is one of only a handful that actually gave me chills. It’s a masterpiece of film making and story telling and Anthony Perkins delivers one of the greatest performances of all time.
No Country For Old Men
This film will always stand out in my mind for it’s stark imagery and contrast of the beautifully cinematic Texas countryside and the brutal violence and bloodshed that splashes across the screen. The Cohen Brothers delivered a slow and meaningfully paced thriller keeping the frame wide, the camera locked down in true Roger Deakins fashion. Incredible performances from the large ensemble as well as a great original story by Cormac McCarthy also help.
The Sixth Sense
I leave a good film talking about it, I leave a great film wanting to go back and see it again the same night. Such was my experience with ‘The Sixth Sense’, the story is strong and the characters are compelling enough so that the film does not fall into the trap of just being one long set up for a 5 minute payoff at the end. I found this problem with a few of M. Night Shyamalan’s other films as well as ‘Matchstick Men’. The Sixth Sense has a killer ending that blows the viewer away the first time but it’s not all about the ending, the film is strong enough to carry it’s own on repeat viewings.
Back To The Future
Genius, absolute genius. Time travel has proven to be one of the hardest plot devices to pull off but Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale seem to have pulled it off as near perfect as any master peace. Of all the films on this list ‘Back to the Future’ (along with it’s inferior but still enjoyable sequels) is probably my most discussed. I have had endless debits about the implications of time travel whiten the reality of this film. Along with ‘Jurassic Park’ this is one of a few films I try to watch at least once a year if not more.
Saving Private Ryan
Truthfully when I think of this film I don’t even think about the beach scene, sure it’s graphic and incredibly violent but in the context of the film it’s not just violence for the sake of violence. There are a few scenes I will never forget; when a member of Waffen SS stabs a certain US soldier (name withed for spoilers) that scene is both brutal and tragic, one of a few times I have been almost moved to tears in a film. Another one of my favorite scenes is when the men are camped out in an abandoned church (I believe it’s a church) and there talking about their families back home one of the soldiers tells a story about his mother which is one of the most moving scenes I have ever watched. “Saving Private Ryan” is a master peace by every definition but be warned if you have not seen it: it is one the most realistically gory and violent films ever made.
Another film I have spent literally days of my life thinking about, the ethics of the DC pre-crime unit forcing one to ask the question “Is it right to arrest someone for a crime they will most likely commit even if they have not done so yet? And what if the system you trust turns on you? What if you are told you will kill someone you have never met in less then two days? These question make ‘Minority Report’ a great ethical debate, however it’s also a technical master peace as well. Janusz Kaminski’s brilliant use of light to create a modern sci-fi neo-noir. The bleach bypass of the film makes for beautiful almost black and white color. If I ever made a film half as thoughtful or half as beautiful as ‘Minority Report’ I’d be happy.
A Beautiful Mind
Perhaps it was because I did not know the story of John Nash or anything about the film when I first watched it, but I was absolutely riveted from start to finish. Great performances and amazing direction by Ron Howard (a director who in my opinion is severely underrated).
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
One could argue that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ was the last great western. Sergio Leone’s dollars trilogy had already come, and John Ford’s far less gritty westerns were long dead. The story of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ could almost be a metaphor for the dying western genre (if somebody could make a decent PG-13 western today I guarantee it would easily top $100 million domestically). It’s a fun and rowdy film that I consider to be something of a technical master peace as well.
Once Upon a Time in The West
If I had to pick what I would consider to be the ‘coolest’ film on my list it might be this one. Praised and remembered for a man with no name in a dollars trilogy people tend to over look this Sergio Leone gem. Amazing performances from Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, and the gorgeous Claudia Cardinale, shot with all the extreme close ups, huge wide shots and awesome gun slinging action that made the dollars trilogy epic.
The Good The Bad and The Ugly
It’s an argument near as old as the chicken and the egg: Eastwood or Wayne, I’ll weigh in for Eastwood 100% all the way. Clint Eastwood is the toughest cowboy to ever don spurs. The iconic images, wide barren landscapes, extreme closeups on the eyes and trigger fingers, and the awesome final showdown in the grave yard have made ‘The Good the Bad and The Ugly’ you don’t need me to explain it, just listen to Ennio Morricone’s score.
12 Angry Men
If you ever doubt that you can shoot an entire film in one room and still have it be a compelling master peace just watch ’12 Angry Men’.
Striking, terrifying, beautiful, violent and awesome. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is quite the trip, blurring the lines between this world and several others, it’s a dark and twisted fairy tale with beautiful sets, props, lighting, and costumes. This film is worthy of being hung on a wall in an art museum.
In my mind Pixar is the best animation house currently in existence, and yes, it gives Disney in the 30’s and 40’s a run for it’s money. Pixar makes films with a formula but it’s not the same formula that say Warner Brothers uses to make summer blockbusters. It’s a formula of collaboration and perfecting a story before they ever begin working on the film, it’s a formula of what John Lassiter calls ‘sanding the underside of the drawers’. The dedication to art and story ensures that everything that comes out of Pixar Animation will be an enjoyable and heart warming film that will enthrall young and old alike without stooping to cheep humor. There all good films, but ‘The Incredibles’ is one of my favorites.
Often overlooked in the Humphrey Bogart, I’m not sure why I like this film so much more then say ‘The Maltese Falcon’ but I do. I like the claustrophobia that’s created by the hurricane outside the resort, I like the tropical setting and the idea of a vacation gone horribly awry.
Some Like It Hot
Hilarious, one of the funniest films of all time even if it is a bit dated in terms of content. The first time I watched I was even a bit surprised at what Billy Wilder and the writers were able to get away with in terms of content (lets just say the censors had larger snippers back then, heck back then censors still had snippers). Content aside, this is a hilarious comedy/gangster/musical.
Ever hear of ‘The Departed’ Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning 2006 film? It’s actually an English remake of a 2002 film from Hong Kong, the film; ‘Infernal Affairs’. I’ll admit I’ve never seen ‘The Departed’ so that in no way colors my review. ‘Infernal Affairs’ is a master peace of cinema and an classic cat and mouse thriller. Thoughtful and action packed.
With ‘Memento’, ‘Batman Begins’, ‘The Dark Knight’ Christopher Nolan has proved himself to be one of the greatest living directors who’s capable of artistic integrity as well as delivering a commercially successful film. Of all his films I think ‘The Prestige’ is my favorite. It’s on that list of films I try to see at least once a year.
As Danny Boyle will tell you; when you shoot in India you can’t work the same way as you would in the States, Canada or England. You have to adapt to an ever changing environment. You can’t close a street, so you have to shoot with people on it, a crew members brother will show up one day, it’s absolute chaos. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ embraces this. The Si 2k made for a very light and portable cameras in the tight environment which allowed Boyle to shoot fast and dirty this comes across in the frenzied pace of the film. Technical aspects aside, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is a brilliant, thoughtful and ultimately heart warming story.
All The Presidents Men
I had something of a toss up between this, ‘Michael Clayton’ and ‘The Insider’ but ultimately I chose ‘All the Presidents Men’ because it paved the way for the other two as well as dozens of conspiracy thrillers. The true story of the two young reporters who unraveled the Watergate Scandal. The tension builds slowly as the two reporters become and more and more paranoid reacting to the real threats all around them and they dig deeper and deeper.
Tell me what you think, agree, disagree, rant, enjoy. If you haven’t seen one get in touch and we’ll watch it together heh.
And now that I am out of adjectives I bid you adieu.