So awhile back my friend @thecheesefry turned me on to Flickchart, and I promised after I ranked 1000 films (a solid number I think for anyone who calls himself a film geek) that I would post what my favorites are. The question I used when ranking was this, “It’s Sunday afternoon, there is nothing on but these two films, which one am I watching?” Before I get to my top 20, here are a few things I learned.
1. 1000 films…that’s a lot of movies. But I give you my word I really have seen all 1000 films I’ve ranked (to this point).
2. A lot of the ‘classic’ films? You really only need to see them once. (A somewhat surprising revelation to me.)
3. Depending on what your ‘question’ or criteria is for choosing one film over the other, you can learn a lot about someone’s personal tastes with a time killer like this list.
4. I knew I was a big Gary Oldman fan, but even I didn’t realize how big of a Gary Oldman fan I was.
So enough chatter, here is my top 20, with a little comment about each one.
20. Bram Stoker’s Dracula - my favorite ‘bad’ movie of all time. Gary Oldman chews up the scenery, but Winona and especially Keanu in a historical period piece. Alrighty. And I know it fits the over the top mood of the whole film, but Beast Dracula having his way with Lucy in the second act can still get a ‘What the Hell?!?’ out of me. Good Times.
19. Vertigo - I also have soft spots for ‘Psycho’ and ‘North and Northwest’, but this is the Hitchcock film that rose the highest. One of my favorite endings definitely; I think the first time I saw it, my feeling was ‘Now THAT was a movie!”
18. The Shawshank Redemption – Like a lot of people, this one was under my radar until it came out on video. Also on the short list of films me and my father enjoy equally.
17. Ocean’s Eleven (2001) - Granted the deck was stacked in terms of cast (pun intended) but this is a great Hollywood movie. Clooney at his peak, Vegas looks fantastic, great use of Clair de Lune at the end. Easily a personal favorite of the past ten years.
16. Coming to America – I talked about how great this movie is in the ’25 Most Important Black Films’ section (cross site plug). I’m not the first person to say this but it’s true, it’s by far the most quotable black film ever. One of my few regrets in life is not walking off the stage like Randy Watson after my last step show.
15. Batman Begins – As a pair of my friends can attest to, the last time I came out of a movie theater jumping up and down and pumping my fist. And I was well into manhood when this film came out.
14. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – Everyone knows this film is underrated, they’ve remade it with Denzel, and I still feel like it doesn’t get its just respect. The assassination of the real president a year after the film was made will always hold the original down. And I just recognized the irony that next I have…
13. JFK - Whatever you choose to believe about what happened that day in Dallas, strictly as a film ‘JFK’ is phenomenal. In my lifetime, maybe no other film has demonstrated how powerful the medium can be in terms of making people think about the world around them.
12. Return of the Jedi – I’m old enough to remember when people trashed this as ‘the weakest Star Wars film’. Those were the days right?
11. City of God – Best non-Italian gangster movie ever? Maybe. I have fond memories of ‘City of God’ being to film what ‘the Wire’ was to television. Out of nowhere, people were telling me, ‘YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!’, setting my expectations low so I wasn’t disappointed, then telling five other people ‘YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS!’
10. The Empire Strikes Back - The Dark Side never had, or never will look this damn cool and bad ass ever again. “Luke, Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father…”
9. A Streetcar Named Desire – Young Brando at his physical peak, when he was clearly passionate about acting. Nuff said.
8. Eddie Murphy: Raw - I’ll be the first to admit that some of the jokes here are extremely overboard (and especially ironic given the rumors and run-ins with the law Eddie has had since then), but I’ll take this over ‘Delirious’ every time. Eddie was still the kid from Saturday Night Live on Delirious, here is when he is ‘Eddie Murphy: Movie Star’.
7. Airplane – Now the ‘joke a minute’ genre has been watered down to the point that the films are usually not funny at all, but the originator is still the best of the bunch in my opinion. ‘Stewardess, I speak jive…’
6. Once Upon a Time in America – It’s not a perfect movie, but I still love the ambition of it. I think everyone has or will have at least one non romantic relationship that will end badly. And in the end, did Noodles just get high and imagine what could have been?
5. Superman II – Christopher Reeve will always be the perfect Clark Kent/Superman, and Terrence Stamp gave the Gary Oldman performance before we knew of Gary Oldman. ”Kneel before Zod! ZOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
4. The Dark Knight – the Prince of Gotham lost this round and I couldn’t have been happier.
3. The Godfather Part II – Best sequel ever.
2. Roots - Technically not a ‘film’ in the way the others are, but Flickchart put it on the list, so here it is. Still debating at what age this will be mandatory viewing in the Aziz household. Five seems too young…
1. Malcolm X - What did you expect?