Below you will find #20-11 of my Top 50 Favorite Films of all time. Click here for #30-21, here for #40-31, and here for #50-41. Be sure to check back in tomorrow for the finally, which is the Top 10!
20. The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)
I was very adamant on NOT watching this trilogy ever in my life. I was a firm believer that you were either a Star Wars fan, or a LOTR fan and that one couldn’t affiliate with the other. I was reluctant, but one day I decided to sit down and watch the first one. Then I watched the second the next day, and the third the day after. Despite it being time consuming (The movies being 3.5, 4, and 4.5 hours, respectively), It was one of the most well written, well filmed, and well thought out stories I had seen on screen. Each part certainly adds to a whole story, and that is what is most important trilogy – that when you put it together it acts as one story. Peter Jackson’s artistic vision is beautiful to look at, and doesn’t even use half as much CGI as his garbage Hobbit trilogy uses. Even if you aren’t a fan of middle earth stuff with dragons and wizards, it’s a fantastic story and the fastest 12 hours of your life.
19. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
One of the greatest independent heist movies of all time, Quentin Tarantino’s first commercial success is a movie that’s only 90 minutes long and takes place in probably three locations. Yet through cross cutting between before and after a heist, the audience doesn’t even need to see the crime to be entertained. Yes, it’s a heist movie that doesn’t even show the heist. But through the characters’ interactions, we can paint a vivid picture of what happened, which shows great screenwriting. Not to mention the diner scene at the beginning, plus the opening credits, are just some of the coolest things in cinema
18. The Matrix (1999)
Ten years ago this was my favorite movie of all time. Probably because it was one of the only R-rated movies my father let me watch at that age, so I felt really cool for telling my friends I’d seen it. But as time goes on, I grew to love other movies; still, this movie is still something that I hold near and dear. The visual effects for its time are outstanding, and the plot, while taking influence from the Japanese anime film, Ghost in the Shell (1995), it still stands out on its own as a defining film of the 20th century. While Keanu Reeves’ acting is still suspect, just as his whole career is, we can get past it once we see him fight the likes of Lawrence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving in some of the coolest fight sequences in Hollywood to date.
17. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Stanley Kubrick’s penultimate film about the duality of man during the War in Vietnam, this movie is more like two movies in one. The first half takes place at a training camp for marines and the second half in the heart of Vietman. While there are many laughs from the drill sergeant as he runs his mouth about racism, obesity, and incompetence, there are also some serious moments in this movie that make viewers question their morality. I even wrote a paper on this film in regards to the gender roles in Full Metal Jacket. This movie is indeed for a more mature set of audiences, but it’s a great addition to the late Kubrick’s filmography.
16. V for Vendetta (2005)
Every November 5th, I watch this movie (If you’ve seen the movie you know why). Based off of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, V for Vendetta takes place in a dystopian UK where a disease contracted by the government causes England to spiral out of control and fall into a dictatorship under one supreme chancellor. The movie shows what happens when one figure, as a symbol stands up for what is right and how that man can form an army of supporters. There are a lot of great quotes and interactions that go around throughout the movie and it sends a message that the people should not be afraid of their government; but the government should be afraid of their people. It’s a fantastic adaptation and can even stand on its own as an original film.
15. Toy Story (1995, 1999, 2010)
Toy Story started the age of Pixar films. As a kid who constantly ditched his friends to play with his action figures on his bedroom floor, I relate to this movie greatly. Children really do create this world for their toys when they play with them and it drives them to be creative and think outside the box. I really do think a great deal of my imagination stems from this. Even in Toy Story 2, when Andy goes to summer camp and comes back to see his toys all dusty, I can relate to that. Yet we pick them up, blow the dust off, and keep playing like we never skipped a page or anything. The third film really hits you in the feels when Andy goes off to college. I remember when I had to give my toys away and it is a hard moment, watching your childhood leave you… Toy Story indeed started and ended my generation of Pixar films. It speaks to others, and me I’m sure. Also if you don’t tear up during Andy’s monologue in the last scene of Toy Story 3, you don’t have a soul.
14. Casino Royale (2006)
By far my Favorite James Bond movie, Casino Royale reboots the franchise in a big way by bringing on Daniel Craig as the MI6 spy and gives him a dark and cold-blooded origin story as to how he became 007. Not only does this movie have some of the best action in the series, but it also remains true to the fan base with quirky one-liners, suspense, cool cars, hot babes, and even Dame Judi Dench reprises her role as M. Casino Royale proved that there is still life left in this franchise and that even if it is grittier than the likes of Roger Moore and Sean Connery’s takes as James Bond, it can still hold up to its predecessors with precise execution.
13. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Hollywood, in all its glory in the 1930s. Vast studio sets, big budgets, a star-studded cast, and sing-alongs that just scream, “American cinema is the best!” My mother grew up watching this movie like every weekend, and it only seemed appropriate to her that I do the same. In a year of very awe-inspiring movies, The Wizard of Oz stands the test of time as one of America’s greatest accomplishments in cinema. The unsung hero, in my opinion, is the late Margret Hamilton who plays the wicked witch of the West. Not to say the late Judy Garland isn’t great as well, or the late Ray Bolger who plays The Scarecrow (My favorite character). Not to mention it has expressed one of life’s greatest themes – there’s no place like home.
12. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
There are three movies that every Jew needs to see in their lifetime. Most will say only two, however. Those two are Fiddler on the Roof (1971) and Schindler’s List (1993) I add Basterds to the list because, to be blunt, it’s the most fun movie to watch American Jews kill and scalp Nazis. Beyond that, though, this is my second favorite movie directed by Tarantino. Some of the best scenes in this movie are the ones where two or three characters are simply sitting at a table and talking as you wait for the scene to come to a bloody climax. Yet, you’re so invested in the dialogue that when it finally does happen, you are knocked completely off your feet. Christoph Waltz is incredible in this movie as Col. Hans Landa AKA the Jew Hunter; and Brad Pitt gives a great performance as a ruthless American Jewish soldier just looking to kill Nazis because it’s the closest they ever get to going to the movies. It’s beautifully filmed and stupendously edited by Tarantino’s longtime editor, Sally Menke. Unfortunately, this was her last movie that she edited for Mr. Tarantino, having died by a heart stroke the following year. Definitely check this out at least out of respect for her and her stunning work on this film.
11. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
Using cross editing to tell the story the beginning and end of Tom’s (Joseph Gordon Levitt) relationship with Summer (Zooey Deschanel) over the course of 500 days, this is one of the best love stories that isn’t a love story – it’ll make sense once you watch it. It’s not only a story about boy meets girl, it’s a story about two people trying to discover who it is they are, and what exactly it is they want in their lives. Sometimes it benefits the other, and often it doesn’t. But as much as it hurts to let someone you love down, is it worth it at the expense of your own happiness? I love this story and the way it’s told. It conveys so many emotions that everyday people feel, backed by two great actors and a stellar soundtrack feauturing Regina Spektor, a personal favorite of mine.
Tomorrow is the big one, Top 10!
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