Let me start off by saying this is not an easy list for me to make. Movies are a huge passion in my life, and to not include some of my favorites on this list… it makes me feel like I’m abandoning them. As for the 15 that did make it, any order I could possibly put them in is too mercurial. I’d have a different list on any given day, it all depends on my mood. Therefore, I’ve decided to lay this out alphabetically (because really, do you care what order I put them in? No. You just want to see movies you like on this list, don’t you? Well now it’s easier to find them.). I’ll put my top 3 first, followed by my next 12.
As for the selection, this is by no means a list of what are–in my opinion–the “greatest” movies of all time. Rather, they are a list of my favorites. The difference is simply that a guilty pleasure like Roadhouse won’t be seen on a list alongside the likes of The Godfather or Casablanca, but you very well may see it on a list like this (SPOILER: sadly, you don’t).
Honorable mentions: Watchmen, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall may make the list one day, but I need to give them more time to settle. Clerks was the first non-mainstream film I ever saw, opening my eyes to a whole new world. Others I can’t forget are Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, The Princess Bride, The Rocky Series, most of the Star Trek series, Very Bad Things, and The Warriors. Onto the top three:
The Big Lebowski (1998 – 1 hour, 58 minutes)
IMDb summary: “Dude” Lebowski, mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, seeks restitution for his ruined rug and enlists his bowling buddies to help get it.
Why it’s on my list: Because it’s a fucking crime to make me pin one favorite character, one favorite scene, and one favorite quote from this movie. Every single thing about this movie is fucking gold, and I never ever ever tire of watching it. Disagree? Yeah, well…
Favorite Character: The Dude! ( “or uh, His Dudeness, or uh, Duder, or uh y’know, El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”)
Favorite Scene: Dude drops his roach while driving and listening to Creedence.
Favorite Quote: “We know that this is your homework. We know that you stole the car… and the fucking money… AND… we know that this is your homework!”
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004 – 1 hour, 48 minutes)
IMDb summary: A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.
Why it’s on my list: Is it enough to say “I just love this movie”? It’s a great abstract twist on a simple love story with great visual effects and 2 brilliant protagonists who balance eachother out perfectly. Any time the Virgo and I have a tiff, this movie will cheer me up.
Favorite Character: Joel
Favorite Scene: Joel says goodbye to Clementine.
Favorite Quote: “Okay.”
Mulholland Dr. (2001 – 2 hours, 27 minutes)
IMDb summary: After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesic, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.
Why it’s on my list: Because I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure it out, even though I know I never ever will. This movie is truly a work of art. David Lynch at his best.
Favorite Character: Diane Selwyn
Favorite Scene: The Club Silencio (BEST – SCENE – EVER)
Favorite Quote: “No! Hay! Banda!”
Well, those are my favorite three. As for the other 12 that I like only slightly less…
Back to the Future (1985 – 1 hour, 56 minutes)
IMDb summary: In 1985, Doc Brown invents time travel; in 1955, Marty McFly accidentally prevents his parents from meeting, putting his own existence at stake.
Why it’s on my list: Needs no explanation. It’s the only movie on both my list and Gord’s (could you tell we were fans?).
Favorite Character: George McFly
Favorite Scene: George and Lorraine kiss for the first time.
Favorite Quote: “What Lorraine?! What?!”
Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982 – 1 hour, 30 minutes)
IMDb summary: A story of a group of California teenagers who enjoy malls, sex and rock n’ roll.
Why it’s on my list: It’s an actual decent portrayal of high school with too many great characters and lines to count. After years of watching on basic cable, I was both stunned to see tits on the VHS and saddened to see the Brad Hamilton/college advisor scene not included. I’m still waiting for that scene to be released on a special edition DVD, or on youtube for that matter.
Favorite Character: Mike Damone
Favorite Scene: Spicoli driving Jefferson’s car.
Favorite Quote: “Hey, this is great iced tea!”
Fight Club (1999 – 2 hours, 19 minutes)
IMDb summary: An office employee and a soap salesman build a global organization to help vent male aggression. DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB
Why it’s on my list: It set a new standard of movie quality for me and held my #1 status for almost 10 years. Although I’ve played it out for myself, the philosophy behind this film still rings true to me. As a matter of fact, I went running for the dvd after suffering through the torturous pretentious hell that was Juno. You are not your hamburger phone, you smug bitch.
Favorite Character: Tyler Durden
Favorite Scene: The final scene.
Favorite Quote: “The question – RAYMOND – is what did you want to be?!”
Natural Born Killers: Director’s Cut (1994 – 2 hours, 1 minute)
IMDb summary: Two victims of traumatized childhoods become lovers and psychopathic serial murderers irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.
Why it’s on my list: Besides the fact that it screams “90′s!!!” (I’m one of the decade’s biggest fans), this movie is–IMO–the greatest love story of all time.
Favorite Character: Mallory Knox
Favorite Scene: Mickey and Mallory are reunited during the prison riot.
Favorite Quote: “Still like me now, Jack?”
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996 – 2 hours, 30 minutes)
IMDb summary: A horrific triple child murder leads to an indictment and trial of three nonconformist boys based on questionable evidence.
Why it’s on my list: This documentary stirs up my emotions more than any other film. If you haven’t seen it, then sadly you should. Be ready to be fucking angry when it’s over. Learn more (and believe me, there’s a LOT more) at wm3.org (currently under renovation).
Favorite Character: n/a
Favorite Scene: Everyone’s reaction to the Echols/Baldwin verdict.
Favorite Quote: “I do know that my Youth Director had talked to Damien extensively at the Revival that we had, and he told him that he could not be saved; that he could not give his heart to Jesus.”
Robocop (1987 – 1 hour, 43 minutes)
IMDb summary: In a dystopic & crime ridden Detroit, a terminally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg with submerged memories haunting him.
Why it’s on my list: There was a stretch of time as a child when I watched this movie every day. I loved it then, and I still love it now. I’m not ashamed, nor should I be. It’s a solid movie that doubles as a good satire of 1980′s excess. IMO, the over-the-top violence just makes it charming.
Favorite Character: Clarence Boddicker
Favorite Scene: Emil takes a bath.
Favorite Quote: “Nice shootin’ son, what’s your name?” – “Murphy.”
Seven (1995 – 2 hours, 7 minutes)
IMDb summary: Police drama about two cops, one new and one about to retire, after a serial killer using the seven deadly sins as his MO.
Why it’s on my list: Best. Ending. Ever. (spoiler!) It’s Seven for fucks sake, it’s awesome. No explanation necessary.
Favorite Character: John Doe
Favorite Scene: Mills finds out “what’s in the fucking box”
Favorite Quote: “detectiiiIIIIIIIVE! You’re looking for me.”
Stand By Me (1986 – 1 hour, 27 minutes)
IMDb summary: After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find a body of a missing boy.
Why it’s on my list: It’s a classic, and one of my earliest favorites. Of the 4 main boys, there’s a little of each in all of us, so it’s easy to connect with them. Not to mention, Kiefer Sutherland’s Ace Merill gets no credit as an awesome antagonist.
Favorite Character: Vern
Favorite Scene: Lard Ass’ revenge
Favorite Quote: “Why don’t you go home and fuck your mother some more?”
Superman II (1980 – 2 hours, 7 minutes)
IMDb summary: Superman agrees to sacrifice his powers to marry Lois, unaware that three Kryptonian criminals he inadvertently released are conquering Earth.
Why it’s on my list: I’m a huge fan of the Christopher Reeve Superman series, and this one sits at the top. It’s got everything: great humor (something missing in the bullshit “Richard Donner Cut”), great story, great twists, great cast, great protagonist, great antagonists, great romance–great everything!
Favorite Character: Clark Kent
Favorite Scene: Clark gets the shit kicked out of him in the diner.
Favorite Quote: “General, would you care to step outside?”
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991 – 2 hours, 32 minutes)
IMDb summary: The cyborg who once tried to kill Sarah Connor must now protect her teenager son, John Connor, from an even more powerful and advanced cyborg.
Why it’s on my list: Do you remember seeing this in the theater for the first time? Do you remember your reaction to the T-1000 special effects? Holy FUCK! It was the greatest thing you’d ever seen! T2 is probably the greatest action movie ever made. It’s certainly on the list of greatest sequels in history. Again, great story, great effects, great protagonists, FANTASTIC antagonist, stunning action and chase sequences.
Favorite Character: T-1000
Favorite Scene: Sarah shakes hands with the Terminator before lowering him into the steel.
Favorite Quote: “Your foster parents are kinda dicks, huh?”
V for Vendetta (2005 – 2 hours, 13 minutes)
IMDb summary: A shadowy freedom fighter known only as “V” uses terrorist tactics to fight against his totalitarian society. Upon rescuing a girl from the secret police, he also finds his best chance at having an ally.
Why it’s on my list: Being a big fan of Orson Wells’ “1984″, I’m an easy sucker for this movie. It’s frighteningly not that far fetched, which in turn makes V one of my all-time favorite protagonists.
Favorite Character: V
Favorite Scene: V addresses the masses.
Favorite Quote: “People should not be afraid of their governments, the governments should be afraid of their people.”
Wet Hot American Summer (2001 – 1 hour, 37 minutes)
IMDb summary: Summer camp hijinks, set in 1981.
Why it’s on my list: This growing cult classic is certainly not for everyone, but if you’re into “out-there” comedy and random-ass humor, then this spoof of 80′s camp movies is definately for you. It features numerous sketch-comedy vets (including multiple members of my beloved The State) alongside Emmy-level actors, and it gets funnier with each viewing.
Favorite Character: Gene
Favorite Scene: Victor driving back to Abby Bernstein.
Favorite Quote: “You taste like a burger. I don’t like you anymore.”
Hopefully I’ve aroused some curiosity in movies you haven’t seen and maybe added a flick or two to a Netflix queue. If you disagree with my selections, that’s because it’s not a list of your favorite movies. It’s a list of mine. Feel free to criticize, but please keep this in mind. As always, I’m up for any suggestions.