Before I begin listing my favorite films of all time, here is an introduction that I encourage you to read:
[I have seen well over 5000 movies, and a common question I get is “Austin, what is your favorite movie?” Well, that’s the hardest question in the world to answer. I usually start by naming 3, then I name a few more, and then before I know it I have mentioned about 50 movies.
One thing I love, is lists! In particular, Top 100 lists. Every time a new “Top 100 best movie” list shows up somewhere (be it a magazine, a blog, a television special), I have to seek it out, and analyze it. For me, it doesn’t matter if I agree with it or not. That’s irrelevant. I just love to see what interests other people. That’s fascinating to me. I never get upset about anyone’s list (but I do come close if Boondock Saints is on there, lol). How can I get mad? It’s not MY list, but someone else’s personal list.
So, with saying that. Please don’t get upset about anything that’s on or not on my list. That’s just silly. And you don’t need to leave comments saying “How is Casablanca not on your list?”. ….because the answer is this simple: I like 100 movies more! (plus I can name at least 3 other Bogart films that I find to be better).
I just love movies and I love sharing with people my favorite films. This was an extremely hard list to make. I mean, since I’ve seen well over 5000 movies, I could have easily done a top 200, and still been frustrated that certain films didn’t make it.
And one more thing. These are my favorite films, not necessarily the best directed films, or the best made (while several of them certainly are though). No…. these are my FAVORITE films. Ones that I can watch over and over again. Movies that comfort me.
I also hope that this generates some good conversation, and opens you up to films you may have never seen or even heard about.
Oh yeah, “another” one more thing. Since this list is specific to my tastes, you will see lots of one type of movie or several films by a particular filmmaker, simply because they are my favorite. There will be movies you agree with on this list, there will be movies you think are overrated on this list , there will be movies that you are shocked that made the list, and probably some that will have you scratching your head. But this is definitely “my” list, and I’m proud of it. I hope that this inspires many of you to create your specific lists. I would sure love to see them!
Last thing, this list was extremely hard to rank, so take that with a grain of salt. My top 3 is pretty much interchangeable, and there may be some others in the list that you could switch spots with and I wouldn’t care. Just know, that if they are on this list, I LOVE THEM!!!!!!!!]
Alrighty, let’s begin!
Here are numbers 100-91:
100. THE GOONIES (1985) Starring Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Cory Feldman, Anne Ramsey; Directed by Richard Donner – Anyone who grew up in the 80s knows The Goonies (an adventure about a group of kids seeking a long-lost pirate treasure while trying to escape from a trio of convicts) and most likely can quote the hell out of it too). But I do think it’s more than just fun nostalgia (though it certainly does have that going for it). The direction by Richard Donner is rock solid, each kid does an authentic job, the score by Dave Grusin is iconic (and has been used in many, many film trailers since), has some genuine suspense and some pretty great comedic moments. Yes, it does get a little silly at times, but the movie is so much fun that I always end up just going with the flow. I love how the kids talk over one another, almost feeling like a Junior version of a Robert Altman film. And of course, the 1980s PG Rating, which allows just about every swear word except the F-word, not to mention children in peril (getting Chunk to talk by attempting to put his hand in a blender? Wow!) God bless the 80s! This is one of those comfort films that I can just watch anytime.
99. WAY OUT WEST (1937) Starring Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy; Directed by James W. Horne – Laurel & Hardy’s greatest feature film! What sets Laurel & Hardy films apart from movies made by other comedians from the golden age of cinema is that even the supporting cast is good. They’re not JUST there to serve the leads, they’re also doing great comedic work. Just look at James Finlayson as the film’s villain. This is best supporting actor work here. He’s fantastic. This one has the duo in the old west being swindled by a crook and his con artist wife. But the movie takes its time to throw in expertly-timed gags and charming musical numbers. It also features one of the funniest segments ever put on film (which involves Stan Laurel being tickled by the evil lady). If you only see one film by this legendary comedic duel (and that would be a huge mistake), it should be Way Out West.
98. A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1967; U.S. Release) Starring Cline Eastwood; Directed by Sergio Leone – This film put both Clint Eastwood and Director Sergio Leone on the map. Eastwood plays Joe, a drifter who gets mixed up in a war between 2 feuding families in the old west, profiting from both. This is a reworking of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, but I prefer this one. It’s as if you are actually watching a genre being invented while this movie unfolds. The zooms, the long takes, the fast and violent shoot outs, great widescreen shots, and of course Ennio Morricone’s unforgettable score. Every time I watch this, I marvel at just how well this movie holds up to today’s standards. Brutally violent (especially for being shot in 1964), groundbreaking visuals, and a soundtrack to die for. Only two words can do this film justice: Bad ass!
97. BATMAN (1989) Starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson; Directed by Tim Burton – I’ll be the first to admit that this film does have a few flaws….. so why can’t I stop watching it?!? This movie is just too damn entertaining for me to keep it off this list! I think people have forgotten just how HUGE this movie was when it was released on June 23rd, 1989. I was there for the first show on opening day. The hype leading up to this was almost unheard of at the time. Now every movie seems to be overhyped, but I feel like this was the first one to be ridiculously overhyped. Michael Keaton, in my opinion, is still the best Batman. I remember all the controversy this movie had surrounding it, due to its dark nature. You see, besides the comic, people only knew Batman from the cheesy 60’s TV Show (which I love). So when this “dark” comic book movie came out, it was a big deal. Now, it’s pretty tame, but people need to remember that THIS was the first dark comic book movie! Tim Burton creates a wonderfully gothic atmosphere here. There’s also a number of well executed action set pieces. But the main attraction here is Jack Nicholson as The Joker. This is probably one of the best, over-the-top villainous performances in film history. It is simply, a treat to watch Nicholson work. Every time he’s on-screen, you can’t take your eyes off of him. And then add Danny Elfman’s music into the mix (which is easily one of the best superhero scores of all time), and you have an essential superhero film.
96. TOOTSIE (1982) Starring Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr; Directed by Sydney Pollack – I was a little late to the party with Tootsie. I didn’t see it when I was a kid. I saw it in my late 20’s. I thought it was really good. But, the more I watch it, the more I see just how great it really is. Dustin Hoffman gives a tremendous performance as an out of work actor who goes to desperate measures in order to work. He dresses as a woman and ends up getting a role on a soap opera. It sounds like that it would be a straight comedy, but there is so much more to this movie than that. I love how it shows how difficult it is being an actor, and what actors go through during auditions. There’s a sweet romance between Jessica Lange (who won the Oscar for Supporting Actress) and Hoffman. Teri Garr gives a wonderful, hilarious performance as Hoffman’s unstable “friend with benefits”. Dabney Coleman is deliciously sleazy and even Bill Murray has some shining moments. Every time I watch this it impresses me just how well the dramatic themes and the comedy mesh perfectly together. Not many other films can pull that off. When it comes to crossdressing comedies, I am always a little annoyed that Mrs. Doubtfire (which is perfectly fine) gets more recognition these days than Tootsie, and that’s a shame. Because this is easily the better film.
95. THE FRESHMAN (1925) Starring Harold Lloyd; Directed by Sam Taylor & Fred Newmeyer – The ultimate underdog movie. Legendary silent film star Harold Lloyd plays an over eager College Freshman, who just wants to be popular. But the rest of the students think he’s a loser, but they pretend that they like him. He becomes a big joke. He also thinks he’s on the roster of the football team, but he’s only the water boy. But Lloyd’s character has enough determination to prove everyone wrong. This film has a big heart, and it’s mainly due to Lloyd’s incredible likability. He’s also easy identifiable (unlike Chaplin and Keaton). The audience can relate to him, which make them cheer for him all the more. There’s also a subtle, tender love story at the core of the film between Lloyd and his landlord’s daughter, who has always believed in him. There’s a certain innocence in this movie that is absolutely infectious. On top of all that, Lloyd’s expert comic timing leads to some brilliant and clever gags. But mostly, I love how the story drives this movie, not the comedy. Sure, the comedy is definitely there, but it never gets in the way of the story, it services it, which is what all great comedies should do. This is a wonderful, feel-good movie that deserves to be rediscovered.
94. THE BLUES BROTHERS (1980) Starring John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd; Directed by John Landis – This movie is about as epic a comedy can get! Aykroyd and Belushi take what was a SNL sketch, and turn it into a grand scale musical/action/comedy. The Blues Brothers are reunited after a few years of Jake Blues being in prison. They are on a mission from God. To put their band back together to save their childhood orphanage. That wafer thin plot is just the backdrop for several car chases, goofy characters and elaborate musical numbers. What I love so much about this film is just how HUGE the scope of this film is. I can’t think of any other comedy (with the exception of maybe It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World) being this big. The laughs come from these giant car chases that are elegantly choreographed. A car landing on a semi-truck is a punchline in the movie. But then the movie has all these ridiculous things going on, like Carrie Fisher constantly attacking the Blues Brothers with ludicrous weapons (like flame throwers and detonators), Illinois Nazi’s, John Candy’s orange whip loving cop, a redneck musical group, and a crap ton of Chicago police…… all going after our lovable heroes. And then you have the music! Wow! Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, John Lee Hooker, James Brown…. you name it. It’s pretty amazing how Landis was able to pull all of this off. With how the way Hollywood works now, with logistics and everything, I don’t think there is a way in hell you could make this movie today, being how they made it, with no CGI, and on real Chicago streets. I don’t think anyone could do that today. I love how epic this movie feels, from the opening pre-title sequence of Jake being released from prison (which seems like it’s from an Oscar winning drama) to the 25-minute chase finale, no other comedy has come close to the scale this films has. And it’s infectiously entertaining on top of that!
93. THE ABYSS (1989) Starring Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Masrantonio, Michael Biehn; Directed by James Cameron – When I saw this back in the summer of 1989, I was completely blown away, but the public wasn’t. It was a box office disappointment. But then the director’s cut came out revealing the ACTUAL PLOT of the film (an alien underwater race that decides to wipe out humanity) , and it made this solid underwater sci-fi adventure into a modern classic. Ed Harris is super intense, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio has never been better, and Michael Biehn is at his crazy best. The story itself almost sounds like one of those terrible Roland Emmerich movies, but writer/director James Cameron creates an unforgettable movie with terrific characters, a unique script, and expertly directed action sequences. Not only that, but there are several heavily dramatic scenes that bring me to tears. The drowning scene gets me every time. And within all of the visual effects and intense situations, Cameron finds time for humor within the characters’ interactions to emerge. It really felt like I knew everyone by the end of the film. Alan Silvestri’s score is also fantastic! A movie that has kind of been forgotten about among Hollywood’s latest special effects extravaganzas, but I dare to say that those movies can’t compare to this one, even if special effects have improved, the stories really haven’t at all. In fact, Hollywood should take a look back at The Abyss to see how a blockbuster should be.
92. A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983) Starring Peter Billingsley, Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon; Directed by Bob Clark – I am of the generation that grew up with this wonderful comedy about Christmas time in the 50’s. Kind of like looking into someone’s journal or scrapbook, the movie follows the misadventures of a young boy as he wishes for a pellet gun for Christmas. According to my dad, this is an excellent representation of what times where like back in the 50’s. Bob Clark has done a marvelous job recreating this time period. It’s very funny, but also has some bittersweet moments as well. This one works extremely well as both a Christmas film AND a coming-of-age story. I know a lot of people who get burnt out of this movie around the holidays, but I’m not one of them. I have to watch this every year, and I still have yet to be sick of it. Oh yeah, and P.S., you’ll shoot your eye out!
91. GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM (1987) Starring Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker; Directed by Barry Levinson – My first R-rated movie that I saw in the theater (my first one at home was about 4 years before this, and that was First Blood). My dad felt that this one had an important message and that me and my little brother should see it. He certainly was right. This really got to me. Sure, Robin Williams generates some laughs as the funny disc jockey hired at a Saigon radio station during the Vietnam War, but this movie isn’t really a comedy. It’s about the horrors of war, and also how pointless it really is. Robin Williams gives, in my opinion, his personal best performance. We know he can make with the funny, but it’s the dramatic scenes (and there are quite a few) that impressed me here. At the time, who would have known he was capable. No wonder he was nominated for an Oscar here. The film is also loaded with wonderful character actors, a rockin’ 60’s soundtrack and powerful direction from Barry Levinson. A great example of how you can mix comedy into a heavy drama, but without it seeming inappropriate.
That’s it for now! Stay tuned for numbers 90-81, coming soon!