Candy Minx challenged me to make a movie list. I love movies, but I’ve never been a fan of “best of” lists. Who am I to say what’s best? There are so many films and there is so much variety. What I can do is try to assemble a list of films which at this point in my life, resonate with me in some kind of special way. Some might be movies that haunt me. Some might trigger a memory. Some may have been loads of fun. Today’s list may not be tomorrow’s list. Some films which I would like to include won’t be included because they have simply slipped my mind. Others may be important to me for some kind of personal reason, but may not be so important to others. There will be glaring omissions, lots of them.
I don’t know how long my list will be. I do know it won’t be in any particular order – I don’t mean to suggest the first films on the list are the best. I’ll add some brief notes about the films along the way. Please enjoy the list and feel free to add to it in the comments.
Anatomy of a Murder
Jimmy Stewart is fabulous in this adaptation of one of my fave books by lawyer and fly fisherman Robert Traver. His real name was John D. Voelker, a lawyer once appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court. He also wrote a book of stories about fly fishing called Trout Madness, which I adore. The fabulous score for Anatomy of a Murder was done by Duke Ellington. Anatomy of a Murder is my favourite courtroom drama ever.
There’s an alien in the trunk of a Chevy Malibu. A very strange and strangely entertaining film.
I love both versions, the 1962 Noir with Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck and Scorsese’s remake 29 years later with the incredible performance by Robert de Niro with Nick Nolte and a fab supporting cast. Watch them both in one day!
It’s not that I loved this oddball Cronenberg film; it’s that it is so memorable.
First Cow is the last film we went out to see before the pandemic closed down the theatres. Director Kelly Reichart has made a beautiful film about friendship and America.
Boudu Saved From Drowning
1932. Joy and anarchy by Jean Renoir
A River Runs Through It
This lovely 1992 adaptation of the Norman Maclean story sparked renewed interest in fly fishing and in that community became known simply as The Movie.
Five Easy Pieces
My fave Jack Nicholson movie
Eyes Wide Shut
Kubrick’s last masterpiece
The Treasure of Sierra Madre
How could a Kubrick black comedy about the Cold War not be great?
Down By Law
A prison break buddy film by Jim Jarmusch.
This one has become part of our DNA, hasn’t it?
A heartbreaking documentary about Amy Winehouse. The star-maker machinery at work, crushing the young singer.
Cronenberg explores the eroticism around danger, the lure of the car crash. OK this is a weird film, strangely compelling.
Night of the Hunter
If there is a defining film in the Noir genre, it’s this one. Robert Mitchum is outstanding and the lighting is almost a character in itself
Bong June Ho’s 2019 masterpiece about class warfare.
The Decline of the American Empire
A Canadian film from Denys Arcand
The Maltese Falcon
John Huston took this Dashiell Hammett story and made a perfect film.
Don’t Look Back
Pennebaker’s Bob Dylan doc.
Fab 1999 Irish R&B movie based on the Roddy Doyle novel. Delightful.
The American Friend
This 1977 film was Wim Wenders’ take on the Patricia Highsmith novel, Ripley’s Game. The best and weirdest of the Ripley movies. Dennis Hopper and Bruno Ganz.
To Have and Have Not
Bogart and Bacall do Hemingway and do it up right in this Howard Hawks classic.
Dexter Gordon is so good in this film about an alcoholic jazzman in Paris.
310 to Yuma
Set yourself up with a pizza and some cold beer and watch both versions.
Best in Show
Directed by Christopher Guest with Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara and the wonderful Fred Willard.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Jamie Lee Curtis with hot dog fingers and so much more.
The Grapes of Wrath
Henry Fonda leads a great cast in this 1940 adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel. OK, this one is perfect.
There Will Be Blood
An American tale
Let’s go swimming. Such a lovely beach.
Mad Max: Fury Road
A crazy beautiful race after the apocalypse. Breathtaking!
A Touch of Evil
Orson Welles, Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh. Made in 1958, this masterwork was Welles’ last Hollywood film.
Is it the best scifi film ever? You know it is.
School of Rock
Stick it to the man, Jack!
Bruce Willis at his best in everyone’s fave Christmas movie.
All the President’s Men
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. Everything is right in this outstanding film about journalism and politics. Oh, and it’s all true.
The Silence of the Lambs
Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. Scary.
Oh no, I forget which pill is which.
Ed Norton and Brad Pitt, directed by David Fincher. Over the top and brilliant every second of the way.
The Blues Brothers
Appearances by James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and Matt Guitar Murphy elevate this super-fun film.
The French Connection
Gritty and exciting and it’s got Gene Hackman!
Gene Hackman may be my favourite actor. Watch this one and you’ll see why.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Sergio Leone’s masterpiece “spaghetti western” is helped tremendously by the brilliant score from Ennio Morricone
If you’ve ever worked in the Hell that is a cubicle farm, this film by Mike Judge will resonate with you.
Flawed, but still….
This film reduces me to tears because Albert Finney reminds me of my dad.
The King of Comedy
A twisted look at celebrity worship from Scorcese. Robert de Nero, Sandra Bernhard and yes, Jerry Lewis, all shine.
I mean 1 and 2. Epic.
Directed by Danny Boyle. Funny. Horrible. Fabulous.
The perfect gangster flick.
I love this Kurosawa epic ode to the resilience of the human spirit. Take an afternoon and watch it together with the Americanized version, The Magnificent Seven.
North by Northwest
Stylized and cheesy, and Hitchcock at his best.
I could watch this one two or three times in a row. It’s just a bonus that Raymond Burr is the villain.
Train to Busan presents: Penninsula
This is the sequel to the Korean zombie flick, Train to Busan, and it’s even better, if that is possible. For zombie lovers everywhere.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
While it is true that Alec Guinness embodied the character of George Smiley perfectly, Gary Oldman does a stand-up job in this 2011 film. I love the grayness and the atmosphere in this take on the John Le Carre spy novel.
My Neighbor Totoro
Sure, it’s sentimental, but in a good way. If you can’t love that weirdo forest creature Totoro, you’re a mighty cold individual.
I mean the 2010 remake, not the mediocre John Wayne flick. Watch this then read the Charles Portis novel while you’re at it.
The Bourne Identity
This one reminds me of Mad Max: Fury Road, in that it’s all about the chase. Forget about the sequels and just watch this one a couple times.
Who doesn’t love a good submarine film?
The Hunt for Red October
Another superb submarine film. I love the moment when they switch from Russian to English.
Coen Brothers. Great cast, great script, great everything.
Is it the best Western ever made? Fight me.
The Wild Bunch
Um, is it the best Western every made?
The Outlaw Josie Wales
This one, featuring Clint Eastwood and John Vernon is not the best Western ever made…..but it’s up there.
It is THE pool shark grifter movie, and as a bonus it features Jackie Gleason. Gritty and gripping and sad.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Brilliant, hard to watch. Always be Closing. And Jack Lemmon.
The Boston Strangler
Henry Fonda with Tony Curtis in a dramatic role.
The Taking of Pelham 123
This is another case of 2 fab versions. The 2009 film by Tony Scott with Denzel Washington and John Travolta is the better of the two but don’t discount the 1974 Joseph Sargent film featuring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw. This would make another great double-header.
Yikes, I was trying to keep this list to about 20 but already I’m closing in on 70. My difficulty in making a smaller list lies in the fact that art is not a competition. There are just so many films that have captured my imagination in a big way. I know that as soon as I click publish I’ll remember a dozen films I neglected. Maybe I’ll need a second list down the road. This is just today’s list.
What films would you add? Which ones on my list would never make yours?