The countdown to my number 1 favorite movie of all time continues with the next 10 films on my top 50 list. Here are numbers 30 through 21.
#30. The Shining
Why? It may not be anything like Stephen King’s novel, but I think that’s a good thing. Stanley Kubrick made it his “own” and The Shining will forever belong to him and Jack Nicholson. Both of those dudes brought to the table a perfection for their respective arts and turned a great early King novel into a pulse pounding exploration of the descent of the human mind into madness. From the opening shot of this movie there is a noticeable build up in tension that finally explodes when Jack comes smashing through the bathroom door with that ax, looking for Wendy. Like bricks, each scene builds on the last, and each one holds more and more DREAD until it all comes crashing down.
Best Scene? When Wendy interrupts Jack at work and we see just how much the Overlook Hotel is affecting him. (see quote below)
“Now, we’re going to make a new rule. When you come in here and you hear me typing [types] or whether you DON’T hear me typing, or whatever the FUCK you hear me doing; when I’m in here, it means that I am working, THAT means don’t come in. Now, do you think you can handle that?” – Jack Torrance
“Yeah.” – Wendy Torrance
“Good. Now why don’t you start right now and get the fuck out of here? Hm?” – Jack Torrance
29. Boogie Nights (1997)
Why? You can tell Paul Thomas Anderson is in love with movies. His first film Hard 8 (or Sydney) showed promise but it no way prepared you for the awesomeness that is Boogie Nights. It is clear from the opening crane shot and “long take” inside the disco club that you are now in the hands of a master filmmaker – and Anderson would only get better from here. This movie is filled to the brim with great camera moves and editing. It never seems to stay still for long – just the like characters whose story we are being told. Who knew a movie about a 13″ cock would be this great?
Best Scene? When Dirk, Chest, and Todd head over to the local drug dealer’s house to rob him of his shit. Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” would never be the same after this scene.
“What can you expect when you’re on top? You know? It’s like Napoleon. When he was the king, you know, people were just constantly trying to conquer him, you know, in the Roman Empire. So, it’s history repeating itself all over again.” – Dirk
28. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Why? One of the best bank robbery movies of all time, based on a real life event. I still think it’s so awesome that one of Al Pacino”s best roles, and also one of the coolest he’s ever looked in, is one where he plays a homosexual that is robbing a bank so he can pay for his lover’s sex change operation. That’s the 70’s for you. Taking place in only one location for the whole film, Dog Day in lesser hands could have felt too much like a play and claustrophobic, but Sidney Lumet knew what he was doing in casting the dynamic Pacino in this role. He is so completely magnetic in this movie that to us he is the only thing that matters.
Best Scene? “Attica! Attica! Attica!”
“It’s your job, right? The guy who kills me… I hope he does it because he hates my guts, not because it’s his job.” – Sonny
27. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Why? M. Night Shyamalan’s first film is still his best – too bad because I think the dude has a lot of great ideas and pretty talented with the camera. The Sixth Sense was a sensation because of the twist ending for sure, but it was Night’s dedication and respect for the horror/suspense genre that makes this movie shine and hold up with repeated viewings – even after we know the surprise at the end (and anyone that tells you they saw it coming is lying to you). Perfectly edited and shot, Night exploited our knowledge of horror movies and built on that and threw us a curve ball that still resonates in cinema today. One of the best horror films ever made. Period.
Best Scene? The scene at the end with Cole and his mom in the car stuck in traffic. The acting on display in this scene is mind blowing and gets me crying EVERYTIME!
“You said the “s” word.” – Cole Sear
“Yeah… I know. Sorry” – Malcolm Crowe
26. Schindler’s List (1993)
Why? The film that gave Spielberg his first Oscar for Directing and well deserved not only for his stunning back catalog and snubs from years past, but because this film just might be his most personal and grueling one he’s ever made. Schindler’s List is an onslaught of death that never flinches or turns away or glosses the act over – and by the end of the film you are happy to be alive.
Best Scene? “Best” may not be the right word, but the scene where Amon Gothe randomly murders imprisoned Jews with his rifle from his balcony is so completely evil we are left almost in a state of shock.
“This list… is an absolute good. The list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.” – Itzhak Stern
25. Rocky (1976)
Why? This is probably one of my favorite “boy meets girl” films. But wait, isn’t this film about boxing and shit? Oh sure, there are some nicely shot boxing scenes that have a grime about them that you can almost smell through the television, and also an awesome scene where Rocky runs across town training for his big day – but to me, it’s the love story between Rocky and Adrian that makes this movie special. Delicately acted and filmed, their romance is a beautiful one to watch and why this movie is my 25th favorite one of all time. Nice work Stallone.
Best Scene? Rocky and Adrian’s first date at the ice skating rink.
“It’s Thanksgiving.” – Adrian
“Yea, to you it’s Thanksgiving; to me it’s Thursday.” – Rocky
24. The Exorcist (1973)
Why? If you can look past the pea soup and spinning heads, there is a well crafted story about faith: The loss of it. The power of it. No matter what religion you are or aren’t, when it comes down to it, you gotta put your faith in something. The Exorcist puts its faith in the audience – that they will suspend their disbelief in the supernatural for 2 hours and let this frightening story scare the shit out of them.
Best Scene? After finishing her movie shoot, Chris McNeil walks home down the Georgetown streets as leafs and trick or treaters scamper by, while Tubular Bells plays. Haunting.
“How do you go about getting an exorcism?” – Chris MacNeil
“I Beg your pardon?” – Father Damien Karras
23. Chinatown (1974)
Why? When Roman Polanski wasn’t busy romancing 13 year old girls, he was busy making his best film – Chinatown. This film noir masterpiece was Polanski’s last he made in America before fleeing to Europe. The entire movie is told through P.I Jake Gittes point of view and we are with him every step of the way as he keeps digging deeper and deeper, uncovering a dark L.A murder mystery – sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong. Jack Nicholson, along with Al Pacino, was batting a 1.000 in the 70’s and this movie is my favorite Nicholson performance and Polanski’s finest hour.
Best Scene? When Jake is confronted by some henchmen (Polanski in a cameo role) and gets his “nosey” nose slashed. Ouch.
“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” – Walsh
22. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Why? Do I even need to write a reason this movie is on my favorite films list of all time? Dudes, come on it’s Spielberg back when he was young and reckless and made awesome shit. It’s Harrison Ford back when he was young and dashing and cool as hell. It’s George Lucas back when he was young and had a neck! It’s fucking Raiders of the Lost Ark! Nuff said. (and for the record, Temple of Doom was alright, Last Crusade was great, Crystal Skull was a joke and should be avoided at all costs!)
Best Scene? The opening sequence will go down, if it hasn’t already, as the best action scene in the history of film.
“Truck? What truck?” – Indy
Why? A truly haunting film. Saturated in a hue of ghosts, Vertigo looks and moves like a dream. There are extended sequences in this movie where nothing is spoken on the screen and we just watch Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) follow Judy (Kim Novak) around, for what seems like forever. Scottie’s obsession with Judy “becoming” his dead lover Madeline is creepy but Hitchcock had a way of making “creepy” seem perfectly normal. Hitchcock’s most remarkable talent though was his gift for composing pictures in 35mm. That talent shines brightest here and we sit in awe as his celluloid canvas unfolds before our eyes . This movie is amazing to watch. There are not many like it
Best Scene? The scene in the hotel room where after a day of shopping for the kind of clothes that Madeline wore, Judy comes “into focus” – doused in green light – as Scottie looks on. Madeline has returned from the dead.
“One final thing I have to do… and then I’ll be free of the past.” – Scottie