101 MOVIES YOU MUST WATCH BEFORE YOU DIE...
(Unless you get hit by a bus or some other random freak disaster...in that case, just watch what you can!)
(by Randy E. Halprin)
It seems that everyone on this planet is writing a book of things you “must do” or try “before you die”, and after recently reading a really neat graphic novel along similar lines, I thought, “Hey! Why don't I throw my two cents into the mix?” I began to write down titles of movies that over the course of my life, really impacted me. Not so much written as critique or cultural significance, but instead, what they meant to me at various stages in my life, and how they sit in my memory bank. They are in no particular order...
1. Superman: The Movie (starring Christopher Reeves. Arguably, the best Superman to date...Handsome, charming...down to earth, and ALL American)
Where to begin? Whilst the movie is extremely dated, and was one of the first to use (what it was known as at the time...) the “Blue Screen”, we finally got to see a person in flight, and it was actually believable! I watched it for the first time shortly after I was adopted, and it really captured my imagination. I'd wrap a beach towel around my neck, like a cape, and stick my fists out in front of me; then I'd “fly” around the place excitedly.
When my mom asked what I wanted to be for Hallowe'en (the very first Hallowe'en I can remember...) I was torn between being Luke Skywalker or Superman. My mom, being a bit of a seamstress as a hobby, made me a Superman costume. Blue sweatshirt, with a large red cape sewn to the back of the shirt, and a hand painted “S” on the front. All topped off with bright red underwear over the top of blue sweatpants...I was Superman, and ran around the house saving the world. Somewhere, there are photographs of this moment in my life...
Ultimately though, I decided on being Luke Skywalker for that Hallowe'en (by way of Princess Leia – a story to be told soon!) but why couldn't I be both of the coolest people in the universe at that time? In my six-year-old mind, I was.
2. E.T. : The Extraterrestrial
This movie kicked off my curiosity about life beyond earth. Since my very first viewing of Star Wars, I fell in love with the cosmos, and whilst Star Wars had aliens galore, none of them were as believable and relatable as E.T., and his relationship with Elliot. I can remember being in the movie theater, crying my little five-year-old eye balls out when I thought the alien had died. There were also themes in the movie that I think I could relate to even if I didn't fully understand them at the time...That feeling of being alone; wanting a complete family, wanting friends.
The way in which Spielberg easily put you into the mind of Elliot, and had you BELIEVE everything that was happening, is nothing short of brilliant. And, of course, it gave us that old and long running joke that kids still repeat today...“URANUS!” It's just a magical movie that still holds up today, and I often find myself humming the musical score to the movie – that's how deeply the movie has managed to penetrate my brain!
Another connection and fond memory I have of this movie is when my parents took my brother and I to Universal Studios in California - it was magical! As a kid, I was always picked out of the crowds at various shows...I don't know why, because being the shy kid I was (and still can be!) I loved it, and my inhibitions would soon go right out of the window! So, when I was picked to play the part of Elliot in a live action refilming of the famous flying bicycle scene, I threw my whole being into it. I sat on the bike as the “director” started yelling, “Pedal! Faster! Faster!”, and then “Cut!” They replayed the scene for the crowd...Me on the bike, E.T. in the basket, and the film played out with the bike lifting magically against the sky, and across the backdrop of a large moon. There I was, Randy as “Elliot”...Pretty freakin' cool!
3. Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark
What kid didn't want to be Indiana Jones? I think I actually saw “Temple Of Doom” first, but I didn't think it was as good, and honestly, the scene where that guy pulls the heart out of a sacrifice's chest, kind of freaked me out. But “Raiders Of The Lost Ark?” From the opening boulder chase scene to the melting Nazi faces at the end of the movie...this is what adventure was all about!
4. Indiana Jones And The Quest For The Holy Grail
The second best Indiana Jones movie, in my opinion. It had that same sense of puzzle solving and adventure as Raiders had. Plus, we were introduced to Sean Connery as Indiana's father, and the way he and Harrison Ford played off each other was just brilliant! Funny as shit stuff...Indiana was all business and his father had seen so much in life that he learned to take none of it too seriously anymore. That was the lesson he was trying to impart on Indiana: have your adventures, but enjoy yourself in the process. Life is too short to take it too seriously, and the quest for immortality? It's a fool's errand! Enjoy the life you have.
5. Disney's Pinnochio
In my first months of being adopted, I was thrown into the world of Disney. My parents loved all things Disney, and practically smothered my brother and I with it. I embraced it wholeheartedly, and became a Mickey Mouse guy over Bugs Bunny...Still am. And whilst I love all the things Disney do to this day, few resonate with me more than the story of Pinnochio...The wooden boy who wanted to be real; to have friends and to be loved by his “father”. In a lot of ways, even though Geppetto made Pinnochio, I could relate to him. That sense of being adopted and wondering if people really loved me or wanted to be my friend, when I was such an outsider. I might as well have been made of wood...There were other themes in the movie as well; some my dad would pound into my head as a young child. The most important, and one I wish I had really paid attention to, was the whole sequence of events when Pinnochio befriends the wolf (or was it a fox? Might've been a red fox) and is seduced by the fun of “Pleasure Island”. I, too, had been seduced by being popular and Pleasure Island, and just like Pinnochio I was turned into a jack-ass. I didn't really understand what it meant then, but I do now...
6. Star Man (starring Jeff Bridges)
Another “Alien Comes To Earth” story, but also a beautifully shot film. I remember first seeing it when I was young, and my mom loved this movie. I have to admit, my mom had GREAT taste in movies and really shaped my film mind. The main character – a woman who had lost her husband – is surprised when the alien takes on the shape of her late husband. At first it freaks her out, but as she's helping him hide from the government, I think she learns that even when we're most vulnerable and lonely, there is always someone out there for us. We're never truly “alone”. I've always wanted to visit the crater they run to (I think it's in Arizona or Nevada) to meet up with the alien space craft.
7. The Wizard of Oz
What more needs to be said about this film? State of the art in its use of technicolor, over 80 years ago. The music never gets old, and it is still a magical film. 'Nuff said.
8. Some Like It Hot (Starring Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis)
My mom always watched Turner Classic Movies while she was either folding laundry, or sewing. Sometimes I'd go into the sunroom and help my mom fold laundry; the sunroom was a sort of enclosed patio area that was supposed to be a place for relaxation, but with four kids and mountains of clothing, it soon became a de facto laundry room with freshly dried clothes piled up on the wicker couch and chairs! Mom often watched these old black and white movies, and I enjoyed watching them with her. When I first watched “Some Like It Hot”, I thought it was a bit strange...guys dressing as women to hide out. My mom used it as a chance to explore gender roles, and being gay, and we had many discussions. When I was young, my parents always told me there was nothing wrong with gay people - it was neither a choice, nor a lifestyle, and my dad even went as far as saying that if I ever “came out” they would fully accept me. I've always appreciated that in him...Of course, in my teens, I fell into the same homophobic traps and slurs that most teenage boys did, and said things I'm ashamed of to this day. But looking back...I'm really glad I had parents who said it was perfectly okay to be gay...We shouldn't judge people; we should respect human beings no matter what their sexuality, race or color.
Besides the film being really progressive and waaaaaay ahead of its time, it's a damn funny movie! A classic.
There was something about '80s and early '90s teenage adventure movies that later movies just couldn't capture. Goonies was an example of that “lightening in a bottle”. A group of kids, all very different to each other, find a treasure map and embark on an adventure. There was an Asian kid, a fat kid, a nerdy kid, and a douche bag teen; but in the end, it was so cool to see how they all worked together to get themselves out of the mess they were in, relying on and trusting one another in order to survive. Even the mistreated/disfigured man who was abused by his own family, ends up saving the day for the group of kids. Another fantastic adventure movie!
Over the years there's been talk of remakes, or a sequel, but the general response is moans and groans from those who consider this movie to be an '80s classic – it is! In my mind, if a remake were ever made, I'd bring back the original cast, all doing their adult thing...A family member dies which brings them all together for a funeral, and after the funeral they're digging around an attic and going through past memories, and stumble upon another treasure map buried in junk. Sean Astin's character would light up, and Josh Brolin's older character would be like, “No...Hell, no!” But...then there's another adventure, and they're off! It could be really funny to see these middle aged people go on another adventure. It would be so cool to see what kind of inventions the Asian kid could come up with in the 21st century. Would it live up to the original? Of course not! But it would still be fun to see...I'm not too precious about a sequel if it's done well, although, if the remake of Red Dawn is any indication...maybe Hollywood should leave its paws off it!
10. Red Dawn (the original)
What kid in the '80s didn't daydream in their class room about Russians and Cubans invading the US, after seeing this movie? Another classic about a group of kids with different social/economic backgrounds coming together to resist an invading force. I'd sit, staring out the window, waiting for foreign paratroopers to drop out of the sky. How would I react? How would we fight back? Would I, along with my nerdy band of friends, have the muster to fight back? My best friend, Chad, and I, would often run through this scenario, and it never became more real in our imaginations until the first Gulf War...We had a plan in place! We'd hop on our bicycles and ride a few blocks to Target; then we'd start grabbing camping gear like tents, propane tanks (they'd make excellent bombs if we needed them) and then we'd go to the gas station near his house, and load up on snacks and food. Could I grab a gallon of milk? It might be the last milk I have in a long time, and I'll miss it...Chad said it would spoil, and plus, it's too heavy to carry around. Then I'd say, “I'll chug it on the spot. I'll miss milk!” I really loved milk!
The movie holds up...And it's great!
11. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
If you grew up knowing only the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp version of this movie (based on the Roald Dahl classic children's book, “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory”) you have been sadly deprived! Gene Wilder's take on Willy Wonka is superior in every way, whereas Johnny Depp's acting was just creepy and weird...I say this loving many of Depp's performances, but this just wasn't one of his best! I'm not really sure how Tim Burton got stuck in this rut of making Disney movies when obviously he doesn't have the artistic freedom he would have making one of his own movies. But forget all of that...Let's talk about the magnificent Gene Wilder! His performance was perfect: strange and aloof. But behind the facade of being only interested in the company, and caring about nothing else (including the well being of the children he allowed to visit the chocolate factory) we learn that he really DID care, and he wanted to make sure that his business fell into the hands of someone not motivated by profit or greed. The kids who won the golden tickets were spoiled brats. They could not have cared any less about meeting the reclusive Willy Wonka, and how his chocolate was made, and only cared about what they could gain from being invited. And then there was Charlie, and his working class family...A grandpa who would sacrifice the only money he had to try to get him an expensive bar of chocolate that may or may not have a golden ticket. Who was more deserving? From the production to the music numbers, this movie is perfect, and I often find myself singing or humming many of the songs in the movie. Who can make a rainbow...??? The candy man can! Oh and did I say that Gene Wilder's performance is magical? It really is!!
12. Silver Streak
Thanks to my mom, I grew up on a healthy dose of comedies – especially Gene Wilder and Richard Prior movies, and this, in my opinion, was the best they did together. Most of the movie takes place on a train, and how they could pack so much comedy into a small place was nothing short of a miracle! Only they could pull it off. A great comedy classic that I highly recommend, if you haven't already seen it. I don't know if some of the jokes and comedic mechanisms would work in today's PC environment, but even the overtly racist jokes (approved and written by Wilder and Prior) work, because Prior then flips it around on its head. Yeah, tell the racist joke, but then I'll hit you back over the head with the same joke, to show you what an idiot you are for being racist...It works! That's what Prior did best. Wilder is great, but Prior stole the movie.
13. Officer And A Gentleman
Crinkle those eyebrows if you must, but this movie is great! Sure, everyone remembers the classic romantic scene after Richard Gere becomes a Naval Officer, and carries the love of his life off in his arms to the song, “Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong”, but the movie is a great drama as well. From his friend who commits suicide, to Louis Gosset Junior's hard pushing instructor, “Why don't you just QUIT?!”, “'Cause I ain't got nowhere else to go!” This movie is about overcoming the obstacles in your life, and persevering. And...you may just get the girl in the end too!
14. The Three Amigos
Three Saturday Night Live legends all coming together for a screwball comedy with a heart = comedy gold! Starring Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Chevy Chase, as three silent movie stars in the early 1900s. They were best known for the film “The Three Amigos!” in which they played mariachi dressed heroes. A real life Mexican town is overrun by bandits, and a woman sees them being played in a church as she goes to pray. She believes these men (not knowing they are actors...) can save the town's money, and hires them to run the bandits out of town. The actors take the job, believing they've only been hired to put on a “performance”...Shennanigans ensue. In my opinion, one of the best sequences in the movie is the “My Little Buttercup” number they perform in front of a bunch of drunken outlaws, at a dusty old cantina. I remember seeing this movie with my best friend, Chad. We were probably about 10 years old, and we'd act out the entire movie...This movie is just perfect!
15. Flight Of The Navigator
An '80s Disney Classic! I was well into my obsession with outer space, and this was a movie that sent my imagination into over-drive! The movie starts out in the '70s, at a 4th of July party. The boy (who is the centre focus of the movie) goes out to look for his dog, when he falls down a ravine. He wakes up moments later, to the sound of a train rushing down the tracks, and he gets up, brushes himself off, and heads back home to find that nothing is the same...It's the year 1988. Oddly enough at the same time, a spaceship has crashed and NASA is hiding it at a base...The boy is questioned by NASA, and they want to run tests on him when the spaceship starts to “call” him. Sarah Jessica Parker in an early role, works as an aid at NASA, and helps the boy escape and get to the spaceship...
Of course, the movie is an adventure movie, but the deeper themes of just wanting to get back home to the people you love, is the heart of the movie. Paul Reubens (AKA Pee-Wee Herman) does the voice of the artificial intelligence that programs/flies the ship, and is pretty funny. He and the kid have great chemistry together. There are two scenes that would send my imagination into over-drive...One, when the boy finally figures out how to fly the ship, and takes off to the music of the Beach Boys...I imagined myself flying around, just jamming out! Another, and probably the funniest scene in the movie was when the spaceship stops at a gas station...The boy jumps out of the ship, meanwhile, a fat gas station attendant freezes, jaw dropped to the ground as a family of tourists begins to take pictures. “Is this an attraction?” the dad asks, then the boy runs up to the fat guy and asks for a quarter to make a phone call. Still, jaw hanging down, the man reaches into his pocket and grabs some change, and absent mindedly hands it to the boy...The boy runs off to make his call as the ship's robot yells out, “Oink! Oink! Too many Twinkies!” The boy runs back to the ship, the door closes and off it goes...the family is stunned and the gas attendant says in disbelief, “He just wanted to call home...” ha ha.
I recently read that Disney was thinking of remaking this movie, and I thought, “No...Please leave this one alone.” I am way too precious about this movie!
16. Back To The Future Trilogy
If you haven't seen these movies, then I really, really feel sorry for you! The first two are perfect films...the way they intertwine together with the different timelines, is flawless. I love the third movie as well, and the wild west theme was cool, and done very well. I'd never suggest you watch the first two without also including the third, because it does wrap everything up nicely. I know whole chunks of dialogue from this movie, and it never gets old. My favourite line, however, has to be when Doc Brown tells Marty when they first test out the DeLorean, “By my calculations, Marty, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're going to see some serious shit.” Never gets old.
17. Ghostbusters (The original, and only one that really matters)
I don't even know where to begin with this movie! Another stellar (mostly) SNL cast. Ghosts, science, prick politicians...that fine balance of horror and comedy. There's a reason it still holds up and can't be touched. It's funny because I so relate to Dan Ackroyd's character when they're facing the literal apocalypse and are told that whatever they think of will manifest itself to destroy them. They all try to clear their minds when the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man comes stomping through New York, and Dan Ackroyd is like, “I couldn't help it...” Yeah, totally me, because I wouldn't have been able to clear my mind and suddenly a giant Yoda or Chewbacca would be destroying earth. What can I say?
I know this is a head scratcher, but I can make a strong argument that in terms of an entire action movie, it's pretty much damn near perfect. It doesn't get bogged down in myths (as later Predator movies do), and it doesn't have an overblown plot either...It's literally in and out. Arnold is on a mission for what he thought was to rescue some hostages, realises he and his buddies are being used for something else, everyone is slowly being picked off...They realise they're being hunted by something sinister, and they fight back. End of movie...It really is a great film – forget the rest!
Another classic...The slow build to terror, isolated in space. Evil corporations using a crew at their expense. It has that worn-in “dirty space” look, and one of the first female “action” stars in Sigourney Weaver. She wasn't dolled up; she didn't have a love interest, and she just wanted to survive.
20. Star Wars Trilogy (The original, of course!)
You were wondering when I was going to get to this, weren't you? Ha ha....Slow build! I don't even have to explain these films...If you don't know the movies, or haven't seen them, I really, really, feel sorry for your existence! There are so many reasons I love these movies, and how they affected me as a child, and every person who has loved and grown up with these movies has their own reasons for loving them. From a purely cinematic viewpoint, these movies changed everything. You can thank Spielberg (Jaws) and Lucas, for the blockbuster. This movie showed that you could use practical effects to build believable worlds. New cinematography was developed, and special FX were taken to another level. THX sound and Dolby sound were created so that movies no longer sounded like they were playing out of tin cans...It just made everything so much better.
In these films, George Lucas created characters that you actually cared about. He added elements of different religions (heavy on eastern religion, light on western practices) and he used the narrative structure of the “The Heroes Journey” for Luke Skywalker (and arguably Darth Vader as well). As a kid these movies captured my imagination like no other! I wanted to be Luke Skywalker...escape from my first five years of life, hop in an X-Wing and take on the bad guys. And Yoda...my all time favorite character. Wise, calm, compassionate...He is what we all strive for. His words of wisdom from, “Wars not make one great” to “Do. Or do not. There is no try”...I get goose bumps just thinking about the little green fella.
However, Return Of The Jedi is the one I always gravitate to the most...I think it was because it was released when I was 5 years old, and I was going through an adoption process, and my life became all things Jedi...After I was adopted, my very first remembered birthday party was at a place called Chuck E. Cheese, a pizza parlour, with games etc. I remember getting all of these cool Star Wars books and toys. For my first remembered Halloween, I decided I'd be Luke Skywalker...My dad went to K-Mart to buy me one of those disposable costumes, and he got me “Luke on Endor”. It was supposed to have a Luke mask, and the camouflage poncho they wore on the moon of Endor, but something looked “off” about the mask...It kind of looked more like Leia than Luke, but because those things were made so cheaply back then, I wasn't exactly sure until all the kids at school started to ask me why I dressed up like Leia! Shrug...Breaking the gender mold since 1983! (ha ha).
Just watch the movies and have your brain blown!
Okay, so you're seeing a theme here with my '80s movie choices and the kind I gravitated towards as a child. This is another movie that just set fire to my imagination...A group of kids begin to have strange dreams calling them to space...One of the kids – with an engineering mind – created a computer program that makes this controllable sphere that can safely envelope them. They build a “spaceship” out of an old amusement park ride, and other things, and take off to space to greet the aliens. It turns out the aliens are just kids who stole their dad's spaceship. A really fun movie with some young stars that went on to be big stars today.
22. Summer Rental
Starring the late, great, John Candy...This is a movie that was a big hit in our family. My parents took us to Florida quite often, so we could relate and laugh at the misfortunes of the family who were also on vacation to Florida. I can't remember when, but some time in the late '80s, my dad had the idea to buy a small colour TV and VCR, and rig it up in the back of our Chevy Suburban, and just let us watch a bunch of videos...This movie always came along with us. I think in a lot of ways it was so funny to us because my dad's personality so mirrored John Candy's in this movie...A really great movie!
23. The Right Stuff
A movie about the Space Program in the late '50s/early '60s, focusing on the Gemini missions...This movie was like a religion to me! I wanted to be John Glenn or Chuck Yeager...Even though Yeager never went on to be an astronaut, he's still remembered as one of the greatest test pilots in the history of aviation and space...Dude was the first to break the sound barrier for crying out loud! Beautifully shot, perfect acting, and nail biting sequences that made you feel as if you were one of the first in space as well. A must-see movie!
24. The Little Mermaid
One of my favourite Disney animated movies/musicals...All of the songs still hold up (I can sing them still!) and it's just perfect in every way! I hold no embarrassment in loving this film soooo much, and I can still remember the first time we watched it. We were in Florida...it was raining, and the day we had planned to spend on the beach was ruined. The family decided to go and see a movie, and we picked this one...I came out singing and dancing in the rain!
25. The Secret Rats Of N.I.M.H.
Another '80s animated classic! I'm not sure which film company made this movie, but it was very much a statement against cruelty to animals and very much pro-environment. The “rats” were laboratory creatures with sentience, who escape from their confinement. It's about wanting to live normal lives, have family, and take care of their surroundings. There are a few tear jerker moments as well...I think this one flies under the radar a lot of the time, but it's golden in my eyes.
26. An American Tale
This movie...ugh! An animated tale produced by Steven Spielberg...A small family of Jewish mice escaping the pogroms in Russia, and headed to the promise that is America. The young Fievel is separated from his family and spends the whole time trying to survive in a foreign land that sees him as nothing more than an immigrant, and he wants to return to his family. Some parts of the movie are just sooooo heartbreaking, but the movie is beautiful, and something American kids should really be watching now because we need to know that at one point in our families' history, we were ALL immigrants, and people didn't want us here either.
27. Short Circuit
Agh! This is one of the coolest '80s movies there is! I can still remember the first time I watched this...Some of my friends in school were talking about it and it had been out for a while, but I hadn't seen it. One weekend afternoon, mom was having a baby shower for my little brother, Jimmy, just before he was adopted; he would soon be joining our family, and there was a lot of excitement. While my mom was with her friends, my dad took Wesley and I out for the afternoon, and he asked us what we would like to do. I said, “Let's go see Short Circuit!” We drove around looking for a theater that had it on, but we couldn't find one...I was crushed! Then dad said, “Well, there is a dollar movie...maybe they still have it on...Last shot, and then we'll give up”.
We drove out to the Dollar Theatre, and lo and behold, there it is! And it was just about to start! I went in feeling excited, and I left having had my mind blown...“Johnny 5 is alive!” The movie is about a military robot used for defence. In training, a mission/display is struck by lightening and gains sentience. Steve Guttenberg was at the height of his career in this movie, and this was one of his more “serious” acting roles after the Police Academy movies which I LOVE, but sadly won't make this list...Anyway, the movie is funny and delightful, but it also asks the questions: What is life? What is worthy of life, and to be treated as life? Just because we are humans, is “lesser” life less valuable? There was a sequel that was funny, but it doesn't hold up to the original movie...The ending of the movie is so cool, and unique. Another one of those “OMG...he's dead!” and you're crying over a freaking robot, but then...just watch it!
Another Steve Guttenberg movie. Directed by Ron Howard, strange cocoon like objects are in the swimming pool of a retirement home for safe keeping by mysterious people...Suddenly, the old folks begin to act younger and more wily. A movie about immortality and life, done in a really heartfelt way. I can't say much about it 'cause I don't want to spoilt it all, but it's one of Ron Howard's best, and a real tear jerker in the end. This movie is NOT what you expect it to be...
29. Mississippi Burning
Based on the true story of young civil rights activists who go missing in the deep south of Mississippi. Another movie that young people need to watch! FBI agents go looking for these young activists...The acting is superb, and it's a shame that this is another chapter in American history that is still going on 60 years later.
30. Blade Runner
I pretty much love anything sci-fi related, if done well. I also love Harrison Ford. Pair him up with Ridley Scott, and good things are bound to happen. The movie takes place with him in the not-so-distant-future where artificial intelligence has been created, but once the androids “life span” has been reached, Blade Runners, as they are called – a sort of police group – are sent to terminate them. They're not allowed to live as human beings. Questions of life and death and who is deserving of life, abound. A really deep movie based on Philip K Dick's “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” My friend, Jason Goldberg, told me about this movie as we were both really geeky. I hadn't seen it and honestly didn't make a big effort to watch it, but after a push scooter accident that sent me to the hospital with bruised ribs, I was out of school for over a week and just laid on the couch, barely able to move, watching movies. It's a time I remember well because my dad, working out of the house, would regularly check on me and bring me something to eat etc. We'd have conversations, and I felt really loved and cared for. So, when this movie is talked about, or I read about it, I'm always taken back to that memory. It came on one day, and I watched it, laying on the couch...Mind totally blown....!
31. Robo Cop
Honestly, I don't know why I like this movie so much...It's a political satire of sorts, and gets into the whole subject of privatisation and corporations running prisons, the police etc, but it's also just a cool flippin' movie. I think most of the effects still hold up, except maybe ED-209, a killer robot. That always looked a little wishy washy, but Robocop? It still holds up.
I always kind of giggle to myself when I think about this movie because one night we went to Blockbuster video to rent some movies – it was just me and mom, and she picked a few out, and I grabbed Robocop. At first she was like, “I don't know...I heard it was extremely violent...” but I made the argument to the effect of “C'mon! You let me watch Lethal Weapon, and that's violent!” and she relented. So, we're in the living room watching the movie, and violent is an understatement!! It's very graphic in nature, and even I was getting a little squeamish, and my mom is like, “Uhhhhh...” :)
32. Batman (1989)
There are only two '80s super hero movies that matter: the original Superman movie, and Tim Burton's take on the Dark Knight. I was obsessed with this movie! From the cool visuals/plot, to Jack Nicholson as the Joker...Danny Elfman's movie score (he'd become one of my favourite composers) to Prince's cool soundtrack...This movie is flawless! And while I've not seen it in over 20 years, I bet it still holds up. I loved the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, but this takes the cake! Who would've thought that Michael Keaton could play being so moody and serious? Who would've believed that Jack Nicholson could let loose and just not care? In 1989, Batman was the only thing that mattered to me.
Tim Burton directed Michael Keaton as the “ghost with the most”...a creepy, fun, and brilliant movie! Tim Burton really let loose in his imagination and world building in this. I think it also started an obsession for me with Wynona Ryder. Geeze...she was hot! Ha ha.
34. Mr Mom
Starring Michael Keaton in the early '80s, with Terry Garr. A real classic; and socially progressive in that it flipped the patriarchal role on its head. Terry Garr was the career driven “bread winner” of the family, whilst Michael Keaton was an out of work stay at home dad...It's really funny and heart warming, and very ahead of its time.
35. Ferris Beuller's Day Off
Another movie that if you haven't seen it, I feel really bad for your existense 'cause its perfect!
36. The Breakfast Club
My mom had this on VHS in the late '80s, and I remember thinking it was just a chick flick and I was really dismissive of it. Sure, it was always brought up in critic circles, and by fans, but for whatever reason, I was dismissive of it. I didn't want to see it! Didn't care to see it! Then, in 1994, some friends were talking about it and its social commentary, and how they applied it to themselves, and the whole “clique” culture in schools and how we separated and divided ourselves...It piqued my curiosity, so after returning home on a school break, I dug out the copy of the movie we had, put it in the VCR in the games room and watched it! I was late seeing it, but man...did I ever get it! I wish I had seen it sooner, and maybe I would've understood my own school years a little better. And it has an amazing soundtrack!! Never mind that John Hughes knew how to make a movie; that man knew how to put together a movie soundtrack!
37. Killer Klowns From Outer Space
I had to add a B-movie to the list, only because this movie is so bonkers, and so freakin' funny, that it has always been a favourite of mine. The title says it all: Killer Clowns From Outer Space! (ha ha). That is all you need to know about this movie. My best friend and I watched this one late night on Cinemax, when I was spending the night at his house. We loved it instantly...The next time it came on, we recorded it. I've easily watched it over a hundred times.
38. Adventures in Babysitting
This was a household favourite, and another that we always took with us on vacations. There are so many lines that I still remember from this film...some I still repeat like, “Get outta my house!” or, “Ain't nobody leavin' 'til they sing the blues...”. And the most famous from the movie: “Don't fuck with the babysitter!” Another movie they talked about remaking (or may have already remade!) but you'll never be able to match the original. It was lightening in a bottle.
39. Coming to America
An Eddie Murphy classic about an African Prince that comes to the US and tries to pass himself off as a regular guy. Chad and I would watch this one over and over. It was a favourite for us, and made us laugh every time. It was also one of the first movies that really showed how broad Eddie Murphy's acting skills were. He played numerous (disguised) characters in that movie!
40. Hell Raiser (Parts 1 and 2)
I didn't first see these movies until about 1993 in boarding school...My friend Wayne and I were spending a night in Mr Gibson's apartment, and he let us rent some movies. He was a Christian, but not fundamental like so many other staff and teachers at OBI, and he let us pick out the movies. Quite honestly, I'm not easy to scare, but these movies were...pretty frightening. Pin Head never really scared me, but some of the other sequences in the movie were just too...gross?...graphic? Still, I ended up loving them, and Clive Barker in general, and many of his books. He had a way of world building that not even Stephen King could touch, and he was just much more cerebral with it. Only see these two movies because the rest are rubbish! I mean, c'mon...Pin Head in space? PLEASE STOP, HOLLYWOOD...!
Cher, Sam Elliott, and a young Eric Stolz...if anyone has read the book “Wonder”, this movie predates that story. A young teen with the same disease, and Cher playing his junkie mother, with Sam Elliott, the motor cycle gang step-father. It's a really good drama, and a tear jerker at the end, but I think I could relate to it growing up, feeling like the outsider, and just wanting to fit in with everyone. It also taught me early on to not judge someone by their appearance, but by their heart.
And now...for the '90s...I think I could keep going on with movies of earlier eras, but there was just so many good movies in the 1990s, and I spent so much time in the theaters...These movies bring back so many memories!
A Scorsese classic, and just an all round great “mobster” movie. This is probably heresy, but movies like the Godfather, or even Scarface, never did it for me. Sure, there were memorable scenes and great acting...a good story even, but I find them terribly dated for some reason. For me, they just don't hold up. But movies like Goodfellas, or even Casino? They're just different. Maybe it's because they are based on true events, and are narrated...The story-telling, and the way you follow the characters as they grow up in the mob...Such a great movie!
See #42...Same kind of movie, but Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone are phenomenal in this!
44. Disney's Aladdin
I was debating on whether or not The Lion King should make the list, but I ultimately decided this was just a better, funnier movie. Yes, it's true, the music numbers in The Lion King are better than in Aladdin, but Aladdin, along with Robin Williams's Genie, is so strong, and so funny! Disney was on a creative roll in animation until PIXAR's Toy Story CHANGED EVERYTHING! This movie was Disney's high point.
45. Toy Story
Fun fact: A lot of people thought this was originally a Disney movie, but it's not. It was created by Steve Jobs' (yes, THAT Steve Jobs!) budding computer animation company, PIXAR. They are partnered with Disney for distribution rights, but Disney wasn't ready to take the gamble with computer animation, and were still having relative, although waning, success with traditional animation. Toy Story was the first full length computer animated movie. Like Star Wars, and Jurassic Park, Toy Story was a game changer. I remember being in Kentucky and talking to my mom on the phone in 1995, when I asked if she'd seen any good movies recently with my little brothers, Kevin and Jimmy. My mom was always telling me which movies I should see or weren't worth my time, and she said Toy Story was an amazing movie. I was eager to see it, and when I did see it, my jaw was on the floor the whole way through! The animation was beautiful, the story was powerful, and it was made all the more brilliant with Tom Hanks as Woody, and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear...They were the perfect duo! This movie forever changed animation, and Disney would ultimately end up buying PIXAR.
46. Edward Scissorhands
Man...this is another all time favourite. Wynona Ryder was as gorgeous as ever – even /with her blonde hair! Johnny Depp was freakish and naïve as Edward, the created “boy”. A kind of bizarre retelling of Pinnochio in a way, but beautiful all the way around. From the cinematography, to the beautifully haunting Danny Elfman score....A classic!
47. Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas
If Tim Burton's name was attached to a movie, you could bet anything that I was going to see it. His later Disney movies turned out to be a bit iffy, but Disney really allowed his freak flag to fly with this movie! Visually stunning, creepy, and funny. The music numbers – all written by Danny Elfman – were brilliant, and this is all round jaw dropping animation at its best! This movie always brings back a particular memory of when I first saw it...I was staying with my friend Wayne and his family for Thanksgiving 1993, in Englewood, Ohio. My girlfriend at the time lived in Huberheights, not far from Wayne, but we were doing our own thing. Wayne's mom decided to take us to the movies and we picked Nightmare. I jokingly said to Wayne...
“Wouldn't it be crazy if Amy popped up?”
And he said, “No, she's here...”
“Get off it, dude...” I said
“No, really, she's right over there!”
I turned, and sure enough, there she was with her mom, who I'd never met before. Wayne's mom was upset because she thought we set this whole thing up, and I was like, “This really is a coincidence!” I ran over to her, hugged her, and we sat down. Her mom said, “You look better in person than your pictures”, and I thought, “Ouch...”, and then she said, “Go get me some napkins”. Ooooookay. Nice to meet you too!
So, every time I see an advertisement for the movie, I think of that moment.
48. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
So, I'm going to be honest here...I've never been a fan of the first Terminator. I thought it was cheaply made, and bit “meh”...The concept was cool, but the delivery just fell flat with me. It feels terribly dated as well. When the movie was first advertised, I really didn't have any interest in seeing it, but Chad insisted we go and watch it. I was glad he dragged me to see it 'cause it was amazing! Better yet? Several decades later I believe it still holds up. The plot is brilliant, the film is gorgeously shot, and the action sequences are top notch...The writing was just so good too. James Cameron actually fleshed out the mythos and world building. This is a movie that makes you think...I love this movie, and I've seen it a billion times...It just never gets old.
49. Forrest Gump
I don't think I've ever met a single soul who has seen this movie and who doesn't love it. It gets me every time...But it's a movie I almost didn't see...
I was home on a break, and Chad and I were going to see the movie True Lies – another Cameron directed film, and my mom said it was really funny. We were both 16 at the time, and so we went to the theater, but True Lies was rated “R” and the girl at the ticket booth said we needed an adult to accompany us. We were both like, “C'mon! We look 17...Let us in!” She just said she couldn't, but told us Forrest Gump was about to start...sure why not...and in we went. And while we both did eventually see True Lies, and thought it was a cool movie, I think we both agreed we were really glad it ended up being Forrest Gump that night 'cause life is truly like a box of chocolates...
50. True Romance
Quentin Tarantino wrote the script...A really cool movie starring Patricia Arquette and Christian Slater, and some really cool cameos by Christopher Walken and Gary Oldman (easily one of my favourite actors) as a drug dealer/pimp...you won't recognise him.
51. Pulp Fiction
My love of Tarantino movies began with this one...I didn't see it until a year after it came out, and then I back tracked through his movies (Resevoir Dogs, True Romance, Natural Born Killers – a movie he hates and disavows even though he wrote the script, and Oliver Stone directed it...) and it blew my mind. The disjointed story telling, the different “chapters” that stood alone as individual acts, but with a running plot thread that connected everything together...Just a perfect movie. I fell in love with the way he wrote dialogue – few have been able to come close.
52. The Professional (aka Leon The Professional)
This is art house stuff disguised as an assassin's tale. A beautifully shot film, starring a young Natalie Portman, and Gary Oldman, whose brilliance shines as the crooked cop...Definitely a favourite.
53. 12 Monkeys
I've always loved Terry Gillam's otherworldly and bizarre way of making movies. They can be disorienting, but equally mind blowing. Just see Brazil, and you'll understand what I mean. But 12 Monkeys? I knew nothing of this movie but what I had to go on from a cool poster, which gave nothing away. What the hell was “12 Monkeys?” So, on a Saturday evening in January 1996, braving a blizzard in Louisville, Kentucky, because I couldn't spend any time with my girlfriend (well, actually a sort of ex, but we were still seeing each other...typical teenage confusion) I decided to go and see a movie. I saw the poster and thought, what the hell...I sat through the movie and it was like the top of my head had been blown right off! Mankind being eradicated, a virus, crazy people, future prison, and time travel...It was too much to process in one sitting, and yet I was in total love with it! It gave me goosebumps! I left the theater, went outside, bought another ticket, and watched it again...Pay attention to the ending, I'm always surprised when people don't catch it or put the pieces together, but it's worth focusing on...
54. Dumb And Dumber
Comedy classic! That's really all I can say. I was never a big fan of Jim Carrey; I always thought he relied too heavily on shtick and slap stick, but this movie has me in stitches every time. It's perfect!
I grew up with the Coen Brothers' movies because my mom was a fan. Dark comedy at its best, and this movie...It's dark, it's funny, it makes you feel cold in your bones...But every actor is 100% perfect in this movie.
56. The Crow
I realise that this movie may not be to everyone's taste...I'm kind of laughing now, because as I write this, I am remembering when I asked my girlfriend to watch it, and she initially thought it was a horror movie, and was scared (ha ha)...It's not! Yes, the movie is dark. Yes, it's a revenge tale...but it's a piece of art in my opinion. Beautifully shot, and if you love music, there are few films that so beautifully pair music with the scenes of a movie. Just watch as Eric Draven transforms himself as The Cure's “Burn” plays in the background, or as he runs across roof tops, as NIN covers Joy Division's “Lost Souls”...The soundtrack is amazing! The film is amazing! Sadly, Brandon Lee, the star of the movie, was killed in a freak accident on set as they were filming the movie, but he'll go down in memory as playing one of the most iconic characters in film, in my opinion.
57. From Dusk 'Til Dawn
Written by Tarantino (as well as starring in the lead roles with George Clooney) and directed by Robert Rodriguez. What more can I say? It's funny. It's dark. It's bloody good!
58. Home Alone
I can repeat every line of this movie! At home, we watched it incessantly. Not only a Christmas classic, but just a classic in general. Keep the change you filthy animal!
59. Apollo 13
I saw this movie the summer of 1995, and loved it. Tom Hanks really never looked back in terms of brilliant acting after Forrest Gump, plus it was about the space program. Something that has always been near and dear to my heart.
60. The Burbs
Considered a cult classic, and starring Tom Hanks (before Forrest Gump) as a middle aged man, along with his buddies, who think there's something fishy about the creepy family next door...Dark comedy at its best.
61. Jurassic Park
This was another movie that was recommended by my mom when I was away in Kentucky. There was a lot of hype around the movie, and I remember asking my mom if it was just another stupid dinosaur movie, or worth the time...She said it was amazing, and my little brothers were going crazy over it – especially Kevin. I was excited for summer break in between summer school at OBI, as I was busy taking extra classes to make up for the year of the 7th grade I failed. The school I went to was very fundamentally Christian, and I remember before even seeing the film, attending a mandatory Sunday school, and the farm manager “Poppa T” was teaching class that morning...He said, “Some of you fellas might have heard of that movie that just came out “Jurassic Park”, and it might be cool...but be careful! It's Satan's tool to deceive you guys...Dinosaurs never existed.” We were all like, huh? So, this guy, one of my friends, “Digger” asks, “Then where did the bones, you know, the fossils come from?” To which Poppa T replied, “Satan planted them to deceive man.” Ooooookay!
Anyway, so I finally get home for a school break, and the family goes to see the film again so I can watch it and...wow! Not only were the FX fantastic, but it was just a cool story. Steven Spielberg had done it again! How many times has that dude captured lightening in a bottle? Seriously!
62. Schindler's List
Spielberg again....this time with the heaviest topic he could possibly film: The Holocaust...I remember crying throughout this movie. There are two films that I think should be mandatory viewing in schools... “Roots” and “Schindler's List”. Sadly, I don't think there has been a movie made yet that properly addresses the genocide of Native Americans...it's about time someone made that movie! Until then, however, kids should be watching this movie.
63. Mrs Doubtfire
Some people are thinking, “C'mon! Really?” But I love this movie! Robin Williams playing a guy going through divorce and a custody battle...and all he wants is to spend more time with his kids, so he dresses up as an older nanny named “Mrs Doubtfire”. It really is a funny movie, and showed how talented and funny he really was. We lost one of the greats when he took his life...
64. Silence of the Lambs
A genuinely scary thriller. A perfect cast too...It forever changed the thriller genre, and it showed you could use psychological scares to greater effect than just showing a bunch of blood gore scenes. The scenes that had the gore were not gratuitous either...it was just enough to scare you, but the majority of the scares came from Anthony Hopkins' performance, and the guy who played “Buffalo Bill” - I don't think he got the credit he deserved because it was a masterful performance! No doubt this movie still scares and holds up. I mean, really, it's still popular all these years later.
65. Saving Private Ryan
Growing up, I wasn't that big a fan of war movies. I'd seen some decent ones but I didn't get too excited about them. Hell, I didn't even see Full Metal Jacket until the 21st Century, but this movie – another directed by Spielberg, is sooooo good. The first 45 minutes and the storming of the beaches in Normandy, are numbing, but the movie itself is just a heartbreaking movie. It really opened my eyes and gave me a greater respect for what we call our “Greatest Generation”. Tom Hanks was fantastic as the captain! It's a difficult movie, but a perfect one nonetheless.
This movie came out at the height of the Seattle music scene, and the music is a heavy presence throughout the film. The soundtrack is phenomenal, and the movie is just the most perfect Generation X movie!
67. Reality Bites
68. Empire Records
I consider this a cult classic! It bombed in the theaters, but I freakin' loved this movie and soundtrack.
69. Mall Rats
I know a lot of people refer to Clerks as being the greatest film by Kevin Smith, and I love it. However, for me, Mall Rats was funnier, and better.
I'll be honest with you...My first time seeing this movie, I didn't like it. Not that it wasn't well done, it was. But it took a couple of viewings to really appreciate and respect it, and I think it really is one of the better psychological thrillers out there. Kevin Spacey was genuinely creepy, and Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt had great chemistry. It's a movie worthy of respect, for sure.
Another great psychological thriller that doesn't get the respect it deserves. Brad Pitt as a sociopathic hill-billy is one of his best performances on film. If you haven't seen it, it's definitely worth your time.
72. Mortal Kombat
Wait! Before you judge me, let me explain why I picked this movie...As a Generation X-er, we had to suffer through horrible attempt after horrible attempt to turn video games into movies (Super Mario Brothers, anyone?). Hollywood just couldn't get it right. They were awwwwwful! And then, this movie came out and changed everything! It showed that you could faithfully adapt a video game to the big screen, and it was fun! The soundtrack was awesome with its techno tracks, and the fight scenes were very faithful – and tasteful – to the video game. It's a fun movie and I've always had a soft spot for it.
73. The Original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie
Another head scratcher right? However, being a huge fan of the cartoon, and the fact that cartoons were extremely hard to adapt to the big screen, this movie was the best! It captured the Turtles' personalities perfectly. It was well produced, and not at all cheesy (unlike the sequel...Really, Vanilla Ice???) and just a damn good movie. It was a favourite around the Halprin household, and in my mind, nothing can touch it.
74. The Matrix
When I first saw the preview for this movie, I honestly didn't think it was going to be that good. I was never a big fan of Keanu Reeves outside of the Bill and Ted movies...but I was wrong to judge it. Another movie that just blew the top right off of my head. Sure, the groundbreaking special effects were amazing, but the existential questions throughout are what really spoke to me in the film.
75. Chicken Run
A British stop motion film about chickens being raised to go into “chicken pies”...When the chickens discover the awful truth about their existence, they decide (with the help of a cocky American Rooster) to break out of their pen...A very funny movie.
I've always been a fan of historical dramas, and this one is top notch! The story of William Wallace is fascinating, and the Scottish fighting against British Colonialism is a very interesting part of history. The battle scenes are exciting, and the story of the fight for “Freedom!” is epic...Mel Gibson really did a good job in both directing the film, and playing the lead role.
77. Rob Roy
Another Scottish story. Not heavy on the fight against colonialism, but a true tale of Rob Roy reclaiming honour for his clan, after being subjugated and humiliated by a British Nobleman (played by the great Tim Roth) with Liam Neeson as Rob Roy. There's much more story and drama to this movie, and a lot of people don't know about it, but it's great! The ending, when Rob Roy reclaims his “Honor”, is one of the finest climaxes there is in cinematic history...
78. Monty Python And The Quest For The Holy Grail
Okay...technically it's an early '80s movie, but I didn't see it until about was about 15 years old, along with my friend, Chad. We'd been hearing about its status as a “cult classic”, and its being super funny. Chad and I grew up on a healthy dose of British programming because our local PBS station spent most of its weekend airing British comedies and dramas...We were big fans of Doctor Who as well as other shows - Monty Python's Flying Circus being one of them – but we'd never seen any of the movies! So, we rented the video, and spent the entire time laughing our asses off! It really is an absurd movie, with each act getting a bit crazier on the quest for the Holy Grail. Chad and I would re-enact certain scenes, and our parents would look at us like we were crazy. This may not be to everyone's taste, but it was to ours. Bring out the holy hand grenade!
79. There's Something About Mary
This movie came out at the tail end of the '90s, and it was probably the last great Farely Brothers' (the makers of Dumb & Dumber) film. It is ridiculously funny and absurd, but it also has a lot of heart. If you want to laugh and piss your pants, this is the movie for you! If you subscribe to any political correctness, it probably ISN'T the movie for you...Franks and Beans!
80. The Last Of The Mohicans
I don't just love this movie...I freakin' love this movie! It's one of my all time favourites. It stars Daniel Day Lewis, and Madeline Stowe (in the '90s she was my other crush besides Wynona Ryder). It takes place during the French/Indian war against the British. Daniel Day Lewis plays an adopted “Indian” scout who is tasked with escorting Madeline Stowe, and her sister, into safe “British” territory. Beautifully shot in the mountains of Appalachia, with great writing, and a heart-sweeping score...This is a movie for the ages!
81. School Ties
This movie is about a Jewish high school football player who is given a scholarship to a prestigious Prep school. He initially hides his identity, but when it's discovered that he's Jewish, he begins to get harassed by some of the other students. Matt Damon plays a great douche bag, and when he's expelled for his anti-Semitism, there's a great exchange between his character and Brendan Frasier who plays the Jewish kid. A car pulls up to Brendan Frasier, and the window rolls down...Matt Damon stares him down, and says something to which the Jewish kid says, “You'll always be a loser...” Matt Damon replies with pure disgust, “And you'll always be a Jew...”
I went to a Baptist boarding school, and I could totally identify with this movie. I don't remember being exposed to the same vitriol and hatred, but I could definitely tell that I was not liked by some students and teachers, and I was quite often asked, “Why did you kill Jesus?”, or, “You know you're going to hell, right?” I remember coming home one fall on a school break, and attending High Holiday services at our synagogue; I was talking to my friend, Mindi, and she asked me, “So...is going to school there like that movie School Ties?”...
Another movie that might not be to everyone's taste...It's a stoner movie, and just...funny! It's hard to explain it because there's so much going on, but it is really funny. Another movie I kind of stumbled upon at the Midnight Movies in Lexington, Kentucky; they played these movies in this old beautifully renovated theater from the '20s or '30s, and I'd go and see the late night Friday movies, if I could make it.
Another great movie that came out at the tail end of the '90s, and it's just beautifully filmed, with amazing acting all the way through!
And now into the 2000s...Because I've not seen TV since 2001, due to my current predicament, I've been forced to listen to movies on my radio...In a lot of ways, the strength of a movie lives or dies on the plot and dialogue, the nuances of a performance, and sound design. I have to be able to focus intently on the movie, and let my imagination fill in the blanks to “see” it in my mind's eye. Only a good movie could allow this to happen, and so these movies have made my favourites list. I could be wrong...the cinematography could be crap, but for me, these movies have made the list!
84. American Beauty
A mid-life crisis and a fantastic Annette Benning and Kevin Spacey...I really enjoyed it.
85. Pay It Forward
I had read the novel of the same title, and thought it was a great story, but the movie added even more emotional punch, and I admit...I was in tears by the end of it. Get the Kleenex box ready!
86. Darkness Falls
This is a horror movie, and normally I wouldn't know what was going on because of all of the screaming, but I thought the plot was very original! The dialogue was more than enough to know what was going on, and the sound design was excellent! My imagination totally took over.
87. Blood And Chocolate
Another horror movie, but not really?? It's hard to explain, but I really thought it was original, and the acting was great. I've seen it get bad reviews in various magazines, but I've always said this about critics: what the hell do they know? Art is subjective...Plus, the soundtrack is amazing. Great bands throughout!
88. True Grit (the remake by the Coen Brothers)
I'm not a big fan of Westerns. There are a few that are fantastic, even if they didn't make the list (Unforgiven, Tombstone) but this one with Jeff Bridges and a young Haylee Steinfeld? Unbelieavable! The dialogue is just top notch! Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn was amazing, but it was also the sound design that took me back to the “old west”. From the howling cold winds of the plains, the horses, and footsteps that crunch on cold grass...I was there. This is one for the ages...It really, really is.
89. Inglorious Basterds
Yes, there are long parts of dialogue that are in German and French, and I was lost until I got to see the translation. But the movie is fantastic, and the (English) dialogue is perfect Tarantino! Loved it!
90. The Hateful Eight
Another Tarantino instant classic. Funny, irreverent, isolated, and bloody good! Definitely one of Samuel L. Jackson's better performances, as well as Kurt Russell's.
91. Wonder Woman
Yep, made the cut! One of the best “superhero” movies made in years...Fantastic in every way!
92. The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger as the Joker...Nobody thought he could be better than Jack Nicholson, but he was! I still think Batman 1989 is a better movie, but this is a favourite in the Batman movies, for sure!
93. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I've heard The Last Jedi as well, and I really liked it, but after listening to The Force Awakens numerous times, this is up there with the original trilogy! This is the movie that Star Wars fans both needed and wanted after 40 years, and to focus on a woman as a potential Jedi that saves the galaxy??? Pretty awesome!
94. Zero Dark Thirty
I didn't think I was going to like this movie, but Jessica Chastain does give a masterful performance. I kind of have a problem when we celebrate military actions post 9-11, but it's a harrowing story...the hunt for Bin Laden.
I actually read the short story this was based on by Tim Chiang, and so I had an idea of what it was going to be like, but man...the movie? Amy Adams gives a great subtle performance, the writing is excellent, and it's a tear jerker when you put the pieces together. Don't be fooled by the sci-fi premise. It's not a science fiction movie in the sense of what you would expect out of a Hollywood movie. It's smart, it's heartbreaking.
Man...A heart-pounding movie!
97. Hell Or High Water
Poor Rural Texas has never been better portrayed. Great acting all the way around, great dialogue – funny at times, and heart-breaking as well. The ending is one of the best endings in a movie.
98. Baby Driver
For the life of me, I don't get the popularity of the Fast And The Furious movies...Maybe they're cool to see, but the acting is horrible, and the dialogue is cheesy! Just not good at all, in my opinion. But then a movie like Baby Driver comes around and makes a “smart” fast and furious, with Tarantino-style-dialogue...(I'm not sure who wrote the film) and an amazing soundtrack that syncs up perfectly to each scene. I loved it!! It's just a hip movie! (ha ha).
99. Ex Machina
Another really smart sci-fi movie about artificial intelligence. I really enjoyed this movie.
100. Jungle Book (Live action version)
I've heard the CGI in this movie is amazing, but I found it to be just a wonderful and faithfully done version of the Disney animated classic. The movie made me giddy – if that's possible. The voice acting was great, and the kid who played Mowgli was a heart stealer! Disney has really been on a roll with it's live action “remakes” of their animated classics, but whilst I've liked every one that I've heard so far, this one was the bees knees.
101. It's A Wonderful Life
The Christmas classic! I've always enjoyed this movie growing up, but it didn't carry the emotional weight for me back then that it does now...When I first came to death row, there was a part of me that just wanted to die...Not willingly, obviously, and definitely not any kind of suicidal idealisation either, but more of a resignation and concession that this was my fate, and I had no one to blame but myself. The thought of possibly winning my appeal wasn't a thought I entertained, and I sure as hell didn't want to live the rest of my life under a life sentence, stuck in a cell for 23 hours per day. That seemed worse than death by execution!
NBC broadcasts this movie each year around Christmas, and it's an annual tradition now...I listen to it every year and each year becomes more significant to me as I've come to recognise the value of my own life. Yes, I've made mistakes, and should be held accountable for those mistakes; I no longer am willing to concede or accept that any mistake is worth death - to willfully hand over my own life...I feel like I have a life to live and many ideas to help others and effect change in a positive way...I have goals and dreams. I want to keep people - especially young and at risk teens - from making the same mistakes as I have made, and to encourage families to never give up on their children no matter how difficult they become, or how many mistakes they make. I'll happily live a life in prison if it means that I can save a life or lives, in turn. I no longer want to be George Bailey standing on the bridge, ready to jump...After all, it really IS a wonderful life...
Well, I could go on talking about movies forever...Movies, like music, have always been dear to my heart. They've been a driving force in my creativity and imagination, and they've kept me sane for most of my life...They've been a place of refuge. I hope you've enjoyed this “journey” as much as I've enjoyed sharing it.