FAVORITE MOVIES, ALL TIME
I would think more highly of myself if Rashomon and Potemkin made this list.
- •Back to the FutureWithout question my favorite film. It feeds my obsession with music (Chuck Berry! Huey Lewis?!) hits all the high notes of time-travel and mad scientist gadgetry, and rings a bunch of random pop culture bells as it whizzes by. It's graced with Silvestri's finest score, it's packed with laughs, and when the good guys finally win it feels well-deserved.
- •CasablancaMy father's name is Rick and he once tended bar, I think part of me dreamt that this was his origin story. It's got my mid-century crush (Ingrid Bergman) and top-shelf support from Lorre and Greenstreet, who as far as I can tell were only allowed to appear in Bogart films. The use of "As Time Goes By" (and its incorporation into Steiner's score) is about as potent as film music gets.
- •Die HardThe number of one-liners from this movie that continue to circulate as nerd currency has no equal. Every character gets their moment, from the FBI guys to the limo driver to the convenience store clerk. Everyone's armed with a joke and a gun and somehow you forget that you're watching a holiday movie. Damn near perfect.
- •City of GodBit of an outlier on this list... and not something that can be enjoyed casually. The first time I watched this I was terrified, and I had to see it again immediately. Not many films wield that kind of power.
- •Citizen KaneSeems like a pretentious one to include except for the fact that it's 75 years old and still FUN AS HELL to watch. I'm an Orson Welles apologist but I'd rather just acknowledge the crown jewel than prop up The Magnificent Ambersons or The Lady From Shanghai. Exuberant, genius-in-a-candy-store filmmaking.
- •The Godfather (I & II)Don't tell me I have to pick one, I watch them together. I need my Brando, De Niro, and Pacino served at a single sitting. Another classic score from Nino Rota. The whole thing feels biblical and effortless.
- •Miller's CrossingThe first VHS I ever owned, and still my favorite Coen Brothers movie (these facts are probably related). Not a whole lot of people die in this gangster film, but each death HURTS. I hate to invoke the Bard, but this always felt like a cool, noir update on Shakespeare to me. Awesome score from Carter Burwell and the best use of "Danny Boy" ever, courtesy of Ireland's Golden Tenor, Frank Patterson.
- •Pulp FictionThis film went off like a hydrogen bomb in my small-town teenage universe. The drugs, the violence, the humor, the music... this movie is what your first black leather jacket is made from. No joke: I created a program for my TI-85 graphing calculator which basically recited all of the best dialogues from the film, it was essentially a Tarantino app for your calculator. Soundtrack is on a very short list for g.o.a.t.
- •The Empire Strikes BackFor my money the best film in the series. Marks the arrival of one of most iconic pieces of film music ever composed, The Imperial March.
- •Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeThe original is great but it doesn't have Sean Connery or River Phoenix, I give this third installment a slight edge in the series. For an action/adventure popcorn movie, it's got an awfully big heart, and a ton of laughs. Fun fact: an uncredited Tom Stoppard wrote "almost every line of dialogue" (Spielberg) which lends it some bonus cred.
- •Trading PlacesThere are a ton of classic comedies from this era, but I always end up coming back to this one. Murphy and Aykroyd in their prime, an amazing supporting cast (including Denholm Elliot aka Marcus Brody from the Indiana Jones films) and a great score from Elmer Bernstein (some of it borrowed from Mozart). If I catch one second of this film out of the corner of my eye, I'm sitting down and finishing it.
- •How does one end a list like this?@bjnovak didn't give me a helpful "top 10" cutoff, so for now I'm calling it. I didn't even get to Hitchcock, Scorsese, Kubrick, Wilder, Melville, Renoir, Malick... or Wet Hot American Summer, for that matter. Nevertheless, you are all beloved.