Over the next four weeks I’m going to unveil my 20 favorite films of all-time (at the moment), and hopefully after that maybe move on to favorite TV shows, books, albums, etc. When I say all-time favorites “at the moment,” I know that the list will change and evolve over time. I’m pretty confident most the films will be there five years from now, but you never know what old gems will catch your fancy and what new movies will come along.
The criteria is pretty simple, the movies I enjoy more than others. Rewatchability — to make up a word — is important. All these films I own on DVD and can and will watch maybe once a year. I’m not trying to do the “best movies,” that would be silly, it’s all a matter of perspective. These are the movies I like – enjoy:
20. L.A. Confidential (1997)
Starring: Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Kim Basinger
Director: Curtis Hanson
A labyrinth of a mystery overflowing with an excess of intrigue, an abundance characters, a terrific cast (Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, Kim Bassinger, Danny DeVito, James Cromwell, and many, many more), and a plot impossible to summarize (and that’s coming from a fan of the TV show Lost!). This film made Australian actors Pearce and Crowe, appearing as 1950s American detectives in Los Angeles, stars in the U.S. and deservedly so. I’ve seen L.A. Confidential a half-dozen times or more and every time I find something new.
19. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Starring: Matt Damon, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, Julia Stiles
Director: Paul Greengrass
The second installment of the amnesiac spy saga featuring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne blew the first film out of the water on every level. Director Paul Greengrass’ patented unsteady cam is a jarring device that works perfectly here, hurtling the audience into the action. I remember watching The Bourne Supremacy in the theater for the first time, feeling physically shaken during the demolition derby street chase in the finale. The emotional payoff at the conclusion is particularly poignant given the chaos that precedes it. Supremacy is the definition of a motion picture “experience” for my money.
18. The Three Amigos (1986)
Starring: Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Alfonso Arau
Director: John Landis
One of these is not like the others, one of these does not belong, as they say on Sesame Street. Yes, this is the Chevy Chase-Steve Martin-Martin Short comedy from the mid-80s, where the trio starred as silent film stars unwittingly and unknowingly engaged in a very real showdown with very real bandits. In my defense, I was eight years old when I saw The Three Amigos for the first time and every time I watch it The Three Amigos brings out the eight year old inside me. So many quotes and lines that have entered my family’s lexicon. “Sew, very old one! Sew like the wind!” “Would you say I have a plethora of pinatas?” “It’s a sweater!” “For us, El Guapo is a big, dangerous man who wants to kill us. . . ”
17. Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)
Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Alec Guinness
Director: George Lucas
Another childhood favorite. I’m talking about the fun, innovative, original that had moxie, models, and Muppets rather than a team of computer geeks creating digital blandness. I’m talking about George Lucas’ stilted dialogue being turned into movie magic by veterans like Alec Guinness and the breakthrough performance of Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Darth Vader is the ultimate villain. John Williams provides the ultimate musical score. This is the Star Wars where Han shot first, by the way. The more critically acclaimed sequel, The Empire Strikes Back may aesthetically and cinematically be the best of the series, but the original best encapsulates the joy that was Star Wars . . . before Ewoks, Jar Jar Binks, Hayden Christensen, and the soul-sucking “prequel” trilogy.
16. The Untouchables (1987)
Starring: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia
Director: Brian De Palma
Directed by Brian De Palma from a script by the amazing David Mamet, comes an epic crime drama about Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his war with notorious prohibition era gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro). How exactly does one wage war with Al Capone? Let’s get a word from our Chicago correspondent, Sean Connery: “You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way! And that’s how you get Capone.”
15-11 coming soon (ideally next Tuesday!).
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