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100 Movies to See Again in 2014

This is the time of year people start making New Year’s lists, and if you’re in any respect a culture vulture that means making lists of works of art to “take in” that you haven’t managed to get to yet. But a bucket list is an almost comically awful way to approach art. You’re not just reducing art to a signifier (of taste, class, whatever) rather than letting it be the thing itself; you’re not just turning it into a commodity (something to be accumulated rather than experienced) and reducing it to its cash value; you’re actually turning it into something akin to cash itself, into a featureless line in a ledger.

But . . . I like lists. I find that a physical list of, say, places I’ve been actually jogs my memory, breathes life back into the experience of the place. Ditto with cultural experiences – ditto even with people I don’t see regularly enough.

Of course, flipping through names on Facebook isn’t the same as seeing somebody again. So: here’s a list of a different character. Not a list to make you feel bad about all the experiences you haven’t accumulated yet, nor to make you feel virtuous once you’ve checked them off. But a list of old friends to revisit.

It’s a list of movies to see again. Not because there are no new movies coming down the pike worth seeing – there will be piles of them – any more than because there are new places to see you should never sleep in your own bed. Not because 2014 is the right year to see this or that film, but because any year would be a good year. They’re just films you’ll enjoy seeing again. And again.

Some movies repay repeat viewing because the experience changes materially – and for the better – the second time around. “Fight Club [1]” is a good example – seeing it again once you know the big “twist” is a different and more even more enjoyable experience than seeing it for the first time. For others, you really have to marinate yourself in the film before you’ve truly experienced it. “The Big Lebowski [2]” is probably the template for that kind of film: the jokes get funnier once you know them, but also subtle acting and directing choices stand out that you might not have noticed before. Try watching the entire film paying closest attention to Donnie; it’s a whole new movie.

Sometimes you were just the right age. Like, the way I saw “Star Wars [3]” fourteen times the year it came out. Because I was seven and, you know, that’s what seven year olds do. I’m sure “Toy Story [4]” had a similar trajectory – I’ve certainly seen it over a dozen times, and I can tell you, existential crisis really doesn’t get old. Nor does Miyazaki’s perfect tale of maturation, “Spirited Away [5].”

The old television networks understood the importance of repetition. That’s why they aired “It’s a Wonderful Life [6]” every Christmas. And why they aired “The Wizard of Oz [7]” every . . . actually, I don’t remember when they aired it – but I understand it was very confusing for people back when most everybody had a black-and-white television. Anyway: they knew what they were doing. See them again, even though you don’t have to.

And then of course there’s “Groundhog Day [8],” which is in a class by itself in terms of demanding re-screening.

The Shining [9],” on the other hand, I would not recommend seeing over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Or you’ll wind up making a silly movie like this one [10]. Or, you know, chopping your family to bits. Ah, heck – it’s worth the risk.

That’s a bunch already. I’m going to list a few more, but I’m not going to get to 100. Not without your help anyway. So please – submit your additions to the list in the comments.

Withnail and I [11]” – legitimate contender for best buddy movie ever, certainly one of the best conjurations of the spirit of the late ’60s, British variant, and if nothing else, definitely a movie that will do something to your brain. And once it has done so, why would you want to do anything else to it? Why trust one movie more than another?

A tale of city boys in the country needs to be mated with a story of country boys in the big city. “On the Town [12]” – no, it isn’t as iconic as “Singin’ In the Rain, [13]” but it’s equally perfect as a movie, and it wears its perfection more lightly – and for that reason, becomes even more thoroughly enjoyable the more familiar it is. And the ending basically announces that you’re supposed to see it again. Come up to my place, and we’ll put it on.

And then, when it gets late, we’ll put on “After Hours [14],” a very different tale of the city. Martin Scorsese’s only “indie,” and his only film (I believe) to feature a cameo by Tommy Chong, it’s another film that announces the necessity of repetition with the ending, but it’s also so dense with visual jokes that it’s really impossible to absorb them all in one viewing.

More comedy! Everybody’s seen “The Princess Bride [15]” a hundred times – and with good reason. But how many times have you seen “The Court Jester [16],” Danny Kaye’s triumph of a mock-swashbucker? However many it is, it isn’t enough. Similarly, everybody’s seen “Some Like It Hot [17]” and “The Apartment [18]” – two Billy Wilder films that certainly merit re-watching. But his less-heralded Cold War comedy, “One, Two, Three [19],” has an ever greater density of jokes that never stop being funny. And the third act, lifted wholesale from Ferenc Molnar’s play, The President, only gets more outrageously unbelievable with each viewing.

The classic “comedy of remarriage” films from the 1940s are all ideal for perpetual revisiting – as someone smarter than me pointed out, they’re like Shakespeare. For my money, the two best are “The Lady Eve [20]” and “The Philadelphia Story [21].” And they make an excellent double-feature to boot; watching Barbara Stanwyck run rings around Henry Fonda is the perfect antidote to watching Kate Hepburn get pummeled emotionally by pretty much every male in the film.

Meanwhile, a more modern film very much in the spirit of the ’40s classics is “Flirting With Disaster [22],” David O. Russell’s sophomore effort and a personal touchstone. See, this is the kind of movie you make when you watch great movies over and over again until they sink into you. (Tarantino films, by contrast, are what you make when you watch junk movies over and over again until they sink into you.)

But you know, they don’t all have to be great movies. And a personal fave in the “not great but wonderful to see over and over” category is the ’80s Richard Pryor comedy, “Brewster’s Millions [23],” about a down-on-his-luck minor-league ballplayer who unexpectedly inherits $30 million dollars – with a catch: he has to spend it all in 30 days. It’s as funny now as it was when I was a kid – I’d say I don’t know why they haven’t remade it (again – the ’80s version is based on a Depression-era film, which is based on an even older novel) except I know they’d only ruin it.

Speaking of the Depression – one of the strangest musicals ever made is a disastrous love story set in the Depression. I’m talking about “Pennies From Heaven [24],” which, as a story of mental colonization by over-familiar popular art, is also a great one for revisiting over and over. And then you can visit the television miniseries [25] on which the movie is based – both are excellent, and quite different from one another.

Speaking of series: when a new movie in a series comes out, sometimes it’s a good idea to see the previous installments, just to refresh your memory. But sometimes, it’s just a good excuse to revisit beautiful films, and experience how your relationship with them changes with age. Or maybe I’m just talking about one series in particular: Richard Linklater’s continuing “Before” saga, currently a trilogy: “Before Sunrise [26],” “Before Sunset [27],” and “Before Midnight [28].” May they keep coming, and keep providing me with excuses to watch them all. (And because we have to watch them all, we’ll count them as one entry in the list.)

With Linklater’s trilogy, a reason to revisit is to learn how our perspective on the films changes as we age. With Akira Kurosawa’s “Rashomon [29],” shifting perspective is substantially what the film is about. Which is an excellent reason to see it again and again – to experience how our understanding of each version of the story shifts the more familiar we are with the other versions.

If you’re Akira Kurosawa, you make great samurai films partly inspired by American westerns, and then what do the Americans do? They turn around and make American westerns inspired by your samurai films. So what’s a Japanese filmmaker to do but, as the late lamented Juzo Itami did, make a modern Japanese picaresque with all of these mutual borrowings hovering in the background. The result: “Tampopo [30],” one of the sweetest films I know, and one you’ll want to see again and again just to recall the taste of it.

Some meals are harder to swallow – acquired tastes, let’s say – but once acquired they can become addictive. “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover [31]” gets its primal energy from a political fury that is no longer relevant, but it endures as a stunning visual realization of its central metaphors of carnality. “La Grande Bouffe [32]” is, in its way, equally political, though much less overt about it, and is a much more terrible journey. But somehow it compels return visits.

There are terrible journeys, and then there are terrible journeys. One of the most harrowing I know is Charlie Kaufman’s magnum opus, “Synechdoche, New York [33],” a film which explicitly tries to contain all of life, and just about does so. It’s so painful, it’s almost unbearable to watch, but you have to watch it again, both to absorb all the details and because the memory of it will otherwise fade, and this film has something to teach us that we need not to forget.

That’s 25:

Seems like a good start. Your turn.

49 Comments (Open | Close)

49 Comments To "100 Movies to See Again in 2014"

#1 Comment By Displaced Californian On December 31, 2013 @ 11:50 am

To Be or Not to Be (the original with Carole Lombard). The Painted Veil; The Next Three Days; Children of Heaven; Hawaii, Oslo; The Spitfire Grill; Notorious; The Third Man; M (with Peter Lorre).

Maybe those are good enough. They are all either movies that I have seen (and enjoyed) several times, or movies that I saw once and thought that they were the kind to get better with a second or third viewing.

#2 Comment By Guilherme On December 31, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

– The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

– Some Came Running (1958)

– Sansho the Bailiff (1954)

– All that Jazz (1979)

– Mulholland Drive (2001)

– A Pure Formality (1994)

– Pat Garret & Billy the Kid (1972)

– City Lights (1931)

– Dead Ringers (1989)

– Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)

– L’Argent (1983)

– M (1931)

– Roma (1972)

– Sunrise (1927)

– Fanny & Alexander (1982)

– Rio Bravo (1959)

– Carlito’s Way (1993)

– The Leopard (1963)

#3 Comment By a spencer On December 31, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

film studies grad – look out below.

I rarely see new releases these days. I’ve always preferred watching one thing I like a dozen times rather than a dozen different doses of pablum. This list will probably be ‘heavier’ drama-wise than most people would watch on repeat. Realizing this is not a ‘favorites’ list, I’ll try to tone it down, but caveat emptor:

I’ve seen TENDER MERCIES (1983) two dozen times at least (“Mister, were you really Mac Sledge?” “Yeah, I guess I was”); for me, a number of Beresford-directed movies qualify for this list including BLACK ROBE (1991) and BREAKER MORANT (1980).

While you’re amusing yourself with Linklater’s BEFORE series, I’ll be enjoying SLACKER (1991), WAKING LIFE (2001) and DAZED AND CONFUSED (1993) – heck, even SCHOOL OF ROCK (2003). Linklater’s really good when you think about it. Oh, yeah, and A SCANNER DARKLY (2006), for good measure.

COME AND SEE (IDI I SMOTRI; 1985), pretty heavy for this list but if its on, I’ll watch it. Loaned my copy out and never got it back. Klimov lived another 25 years and never made another film, by his own choice. Like so many of its kind: banned by the Soviets, then released in the West. Hmmmm. I’m interested in this phenomenon; it happens with Iranian films today.

THE TERMINATOR (“in a hundred years, who’s going to care?”)

ANDREI RUBLEV – which I have only recently seen, but plan to watch over and over since its one of the best films ever made, I suspect; yes, I ‘enjoy’ long, ponderous Russian movies (where the title character takes a vow of silence two hours into a three-and-a-half-hour extravaganza). The Bell Sequence here I found to be riveting. Be forewarned, even though AR is largely about one man’s religious and artistic struggles, it can be extraordinarily violent since it takes place in pre-Tsarist Russia with Mongols ever present. Also interesting in a movie about early 1400’s artists: you rarely see them making art in this black-and-white movie, which illuminates the brilliance of its’ in-color ending, washing over you after the film’s exhausting narrative climax. Not for everybody, I suppose.

I’ll definitely be watching these Warner Brothers pre-Codes (the period prior to July 1, 1934, yielding fertile ground for forgotten films, most of which re-entered neither the academic nor Saturday afternoon repertoire until the last few years and even then only marginally) multiple times in 2014 and beyond, inshallah:
Anything starring Warren William, but particularly this; every time you think this movie has gone as far as it can, it ratchets up a little more; also starring Loretta Young, who had a successful Hollywood career as early as the mid-1920s as a teenager, for instance, in a terrific 1928 film worth watching again called LAUGH CLOWN LAUGH starring the original and affecting Lon Chaney.

W Wellman direction; electric scenes between Stanwyck and Gable as they were becoming huge stars in the early sound era.

LADY FOR A DAY (1933; early Capra)
THREE ON A MATCH (1932; well, anything with Joan Blondell, like…)
GOLD DIGGERS OF 1933 – remembering that “gold digger” was a stock character – could be good, could be bad – in pre-Code Depression Era storytelling. The humor here is J Blondell and Aline MacMahon taking apart W William and Guy Kibbee out of revenge and because they can. Oh, and there’s that opening Ginger Rogers’ number. We can correctly say movies aren’t made like this anymore and some of that has little to do with the Code, many people frankly don’t miss them, I wouldn’t trust most contemporary filmmakers to try to duplicate them. They were a product of a specific kind of studio system that was more like a factory. Joan Blondell appeared in 50 movies in less than a decade; Daniel Day Lewis won’t appear in 50 movies in his career. We could debate Busby Berkeley’s influence on Baz Luhrmann’s work… if I had seen Luhrmann’s work.

If it was available on trustworthy video, I’d repeatedly watch this one with Loretta Young-as-pregnant-felon-in-maternity-ward: LIFE BEGINS (1932), also starring A MacMahon (who wound up on the Hollywood Blacklist in the ’50s), edgy Glenda Farrell and interesting Eric Linden – but its not available to my knowledge, so seeing it requires careful study of the TCM schedule, which we do anyway, right?

Not pre-Code, but close:
PETRIFIED FOREST (1936; Archie Mayo, direction; starring L Howard, B Davis & H Bogart)
…actually, watching *every* Leslie Howard movie *except* GWTW should be a film buff’s quest…
especially PYGMALION (1938), A FREE SOUL (1931; featuring early Oscar nominee Norma Shearer, who won the same year for THE DIVORCEE; AFS also stars L Barrymore and C Gable) and a very early sound, but worth-the-time set piece with a bit of expressionism to separate it from its obvious Broadway origins, OUTWARD BOUND (1930).

sorry, one more from Leslie Howard, whose life story is worth looking up if you’re not familiar – BRITISH AGENT (1934). Kay Francis looks remarkable of course in this M Curtiz-directed (CASABLANCA among hundreds) espionage potboiler/romance. Its far from perfect and you have to swallow hard sometimes to accept K Francis as A Flaming Red, but the fact that its was produced between “the wars” makes its political context historically rewarding even as a romantic entertainment vehicle. There are a lot of movies made between WWI and WWII that reveal fascinating things about our past. Anyone see GABRIEL OVER THE WHITE HOUSE (1933)?

The only movie beloved actor Charles Laughton ever directed; its response at the time allegedly broke his heart. Laughton died six months later. The film is now registered in the Library of Congress and cited for its post-war Expressionism; Robert Mitchum + Shelley Winters + James Gleason + Lillian Gish + Peter Graves? wow


The movie Coppola made between THE GODFATHERs – and better than those in my opinion; G Hackman’s best performance? Noted support from John Cazale – look up his bio.

After the first season of TWIN PEAKS (1990-91) and especially during the second, indeed throughout the ’90s, Lynch came in for some serious criticism for the treatment of his female characters. Say what you want about Lynch but I think he took it to heart; he probably meditated on it. Anyway, I thought the criticism in the ’90s was legitimate, but between MuD and INLAND EMPIRE (2006) – both of which Lynch intended as long form television products like TWIN PEAKS – there’s an introspection th- who am I kidding, Lynch doesn’t even care to explain his own stuff, why should I? Lynch, like another unpopular but watched director, Lars von Trier (DOGVILLE; 2003/ANTICHRIST 2009), he does things that can’t be ignored.



a number of Gus Van Zant films, including ELEPHANT (2003; I know, too heavy for this)


Japanese horror/ghost stories of the last 15 years

WHITE RIBBON (2009, among other Haneke films, like CACHE; 2005/some of you like the original FUNNY GAMES, I haven’t seen it)

ROBOCOP (1987; apparently being redone? WHY?)

If we’re including TV series, I’ve seen THE WIRE (2002-08) in its entirety five times including its first run and would watch it again right this moment.

Any and every Luis Bunuel movie, except CHIEN ANDALOU ’cause I don’t need to see ‘that shot’ again, but Mark Cousins’ recent 15-hour documentary/essay/harangue STORY OF FILM (2011) reminded me of the ease with which I watch Bunuel’s films. I should remember where I’m posting.

The Coens belong in a class of “any and every”, even when they miss, but my fave is A SERIOUS MAN (2009); watch the first 20 minutes and ask yourself, “what is this about?” Intuitively, instinctively, the individual viewer can know if they’ll only admit it. Does the continuing search for F TROOP (1965-67) on UHF carry as much moral weight as Larry’s existential late ’60s suburban Minnesota anxiety? Only Schrodinger’s Cat knows. “Larry, look at the parking lot!”

Early Betty Thomas-directed (she played Sgt. Bates on Hill St Blues; 1981-87) made-for-cable/B movies like THE LATE SHIFT (1996; the one about Letterman and Leno vying for Carson’s job) and THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE (1995). These movies don’t get much attention but they’re kind of their own meme and highly entertaining.

I’ll repeatedly watch Sayles & Jarmusch movies, such as:
LONE STAR (1996)/MATEWAN (1987)/EIGHT MEN OUT (1988), PIRANHA (thought I’d slip that in there – 1978 – Sayles wrote it for Roger Corman)
MYSTERY TRAIN (1989)/GHOST DOG (1999)/I only saw DEAD MAN (1995) once but I’d watch it again if it re-appeared.

Of the many Iranian movies I enjoy, OFFSIDE (2006) – the story of a group of girls who dress as boys attempting to enter 100,000-seat Azadi Stadium in Tehran to watch a World Cup qualifier against Bahrain (the bathroom sequence is a hoot) – sometimes resides in my player for long periods of time. Its my understanding director Jafar Panahi is still under arrest for general filmmaking. No joke.

An Iraqi film that takes place in Kurdish Iran came out last year that I would love to see again (and since I liked it, again and again, and then mythologize it for you here) is called ABOUT 111 GIRLS.

You might want to check out this guy Hitchcock. 🙂

this could go on forever. oh look, Syfy is doing its’ holiday TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964) marathon!

#4 Comment By Jack Ross On December 31, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

This past year has actually seen a lot of reacquaintance for me – particularly with Mel Brooks, largely for the first time since college at least. Also last month watched Fiddler on the Roof for the first time since I was a kid, partly spurred by your excellent review of the Stratford production.

In the coming year, I think I’ve finally outgrown (per C.S. Lewis) the childish aversion to things of childhood and may therefore care to reacquaint with some of the better Disney films. It’s also been too long since I watched my favorite historical epics – Doctor Zhivago, Gandhi, Reds. A favorite from my college indie-fanatic days that’s also been a while is Stephen Fry’s Bright Young Things.

Finally, in just the last couple if weeks I’ve been taking in a large dose of the Marx Brothers, but feeling the limits of only owning the early Paramount films. I therefore hope soon to snap up dirt-cheap DVDs of A Night at the Opera, A Day at the Races, etc.

#5 Comment By md On December 31, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves.
The most harrowing experience. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days, but it made me fearful to see his other movies.

#6 Comment By Dapa1390 On December 31, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

Young Frankenstein, Tremors, Point Blank (Lee Marvin), Duck Soup, Wings of Desire, Road Warrior, Midnight Run, Bad News Bears (Walter Matthau), Mona Lisa.

That’s a solid 10.

#7 Comment By Asher Gelzer-Govatos On December 31, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

I really liked this list, but as I went over it I was dismayed to then jump to your post on The Shining and Room 237. I feel like you completely missed the point of the documentary, which is so fascinating because it is a film which is about how we view movies. Rodney Ascher is not endorsing any of the viewpoints he presents, but neither is he merely mocking them. The key aesthetic choice he makes is to do no talking head footage, instead only presenting images from The Shining (and a few other films). This leaves the focus squarely on the obsession behind the various viewings. You may find the interpretations silly (which, of course you do, because they are), but the film itself is a masterful documentary.

#8 Comment By Peter Attwood On December 31, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

The Battle of Algiers

#9 Comment By Charlieford On December 31, 2013 @ 7:42 pm

Mine would be the same as my favorite movies (always originals when there are remakes). No order.

1. Modern Times
2. Casablanca
3. The Searchers
4. Paris, Texas
5. The Third Man
6. The Killers
7. The Lost Weekend
8. In a Lonely Place
9. Sunset Boulevard
10. The Night of the Hunter
11. 12 Angry Men
12. Cape Fear
13. The Wild One
14. The Wild Bunch
15. La Dolce Vita
16. Amacord
17. The Bad Sleep Well
18. Apocalypse, Now (2001)
19. Go Tell the Spartans
20. Hurt Locker
21. Restrepo
22. The Marriage of Maria Braun
23. Hud
24. Rashomon
25. Full Metal Jacket

#10 Comment By Jesse On December 31, 2013 @ 11:55 pm

I would rather watch There Will Be Blood 100 times

#11 Comment By David Naas On January 1, 2014 @ 12:22 pm

Oh My!
Abe Lincoln in Illinois – Howard daSilva as a young buck
1776 – Howard daSilva as an Old Guy
Best Years of Our Lives – yup, they were
Between Two Worlds – underrated Paul Heinreid movie. And George Coloris as a great villain (and with Sydney Greenstreet to boot)
Pygmalion — because, you know, Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard as the BEST Higgins
Murder on the Orient Express – because, Dame Wendy Hiller
The Cowboys – Bruce Dern at his slimiest, and Mr. Nightlinger, “Forgive me for those men I have killed in anger, and those I am about to…”
The Four Feathers – the 1939, not the recent #%&[email protected]**
Dogma – yeah, a lot of cussin’, but funny as “heck”
The Day The Earth Stood Still – Klaatu barata nicto
Tombstone – I’m your huckleberry.
The Great Race – Wile E and the Roadrunner across three continents
The Great Escape – even the bit players did their bit for King and Country
The Great Dictator – Chaplin’s closing speech!!!
Friendly Persuasion – She’s a pure pet!
Frisco Kid – Oy Gevalt!!!
The Way – Dorothy and the three companions… or, didn’t you notice that??
Hero – “Thank you for saving my life.” “You’re welcome.”
Red River – because!
Les Miserables (the musical) – because, WOW!
Gandhi – Ben Kingsley hasn’t done nearly as good since, but no matter, he did this one.
Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean – “Who the hell are you?” “Justice, you sons-a-bitches!”
The Incredibles – because we all need the Supers
UP! – the no-dialogue trek through Carl and Elie’s life will tear your heart out.
Yentyl – and, why shouldn’t a woman study Talmud?
McLintock – OK, male chauvinism at its best, but I won’t hit you Pilgrim, I wouldn’t…
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence – He was the bravest of them all.
Fargo – all for just a little money.
Casablanca — most romantic movie EVER

#12 Comment By Russell Arben Fox On January 1, 2014 @ 7:04 pm


I actually maintain a pretty extensive list of films I want to re-watch, mixed in with those that I haven’t seen yet and want to watch. Here’s 20 movies from my current (and regularly updated and changed) “re-watch” list:

Blue Velvet
The Boys from Brazil
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Hustler
The Long Walk Home
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Philadelphia Story
The Player
The Pledge
Rio Bravo
Seven Days in May
The Seventh Seal
Throne of Blood
Wild Strawberries
Wings of Desire

#13 Comment By scottinnj On January 1, 2014 @ 8:13 pm

Would include the Big 4 of Mob Family Films:

Godfather II
Once Upon A Time in America

As to comedies, the following do not get state:

Trading Places
Spinal Tap
The Princess Bride

And I have to include the following Disney gems:

Beauty & The Best (amazing sountrack)
Up! (my wife and I bawled at the silent beginning and later in the movie when the old guys finds his wife’s scrapbook…I’m tearing up again)
Toy Story III (when Andy gives away Buzz and Woody another total cry moment)

#14 Comment By Informant On January 1, 2014 @ 11:58 pm

Here’s a randomly organized selection of films that I enjoy re-watching that (as of the time I’m submitting this) excludes movies other people have already listed above:

1. Death Becomes Her (1992)
2. Pi (1998)
3. 12 Monkeys (1995)
4. Run Lola, Run (1998)
5. Stray Dog (1949)
6. Tropic Thunder (extended cut) (2008)
7. Dark City (theatrical cut) (1998)
8. The Dark Knight (2008)
9. Inception (2010)
10. The Usual Suspects (1995)
11. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
12. Moon (2009)
13. The Prestige (2006)
14. Taxi Driver (1976)
15. Chinatown (1974)
16. Blade Runner (1982)
17. Back to the Future (1985)
18. Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
19. Ghostbusters (1984)
20. A Bridge too Far (1977)
21. The Ghost and the Darkness (1996)
22. Schindler’s List (1993)
23. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
24. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
25. Kontroll (2003)

#15 Comment By C. S. P. Schofield On January 2, 2014 @ 2:16 am


The Lion In Winter


S.O.B (Ok, it’s a trashy temper tantrum, but Robert Preston as a Hollywood Quack Doctor!)

Gotham (a film noir ghost story)

36th Chamber of Shaolin (best Hong Kong Kung Fu film from the classic era)

All three Lord Of The Rings films (they were so much better than anyone had any right to expect)

Bugsy Malone (shouldn’t have worked, but did)

Ghost In The Shell (and the TV series GITS Stand Alone Complex, both seasons)

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Casino Royal (the middle one. No, it doesn’t make sense. It’s still wonderful, and where else do you get James Bond saying “It’s depressing that the term Secret Agent has become synonymous with Sex Maniac)

My Man Godfrey

El Dorado (how many times did Wayne co-star with somebody with as much screen presence?)

My Name Is Nobody (best send-up ever of the spaghetti western …. and Sergio Leone helped make it happen!)

Pacific Rim

Destroy All Monsters (the Godzilla movie as a tag-team wrestling match)



gotta go to sleep now.

#16 Comment By Floridan On January 2, 2014 @ 10:15 am

Pulp Fiction

#17 Comment By kgaard On January 2, 2014 @ 11:49 am

Here you go, Noah (some of these previously mentioned, and for good reason):

Arsenic and Old Lace–a lot of these, like this one, will be childhood favorites
The Third Man
Singin’ in the Rain–I came to this one late but happily
Touch of Evil–oddly, I didn’t really like this one the first time I saw it, but I came around
2001–the ur-Kubrick
Once Upon a Time in the West
Night of the Living Dead
(By the way, how good was 1968 for genre pics? A sci-fi, a western, and a horror classic all in one year!)
Aguirre, the Wrath of God–Herzog and Kinski at their insanest
The Wicker Man–the original Edward Woodward/Christopher Lee version, of course–it’s a same that the director’s original version is probably gone forever under a British motorway
Young Frankenstein/Blazing Saddles–thought of choosing one, but they came out in the same year; why not a double feature?
The Conversation–agree with the previous comment that this is superior to the (themselves excellent) Godfathers.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail–knowing all the lines just enhances the experience
Watership Down–perhaps not as good as the book, but still great
The Muppet Movie–I must have watched this 50+ times as a kid; still not sick of it
Time Bandits
The Thing
Re-Animator–if only for the spindle joke
Highlander–they don’t have to be good, just rewatchable; plus, Queen soundtrack!
Planes, Trains & Automobiles–almost but not quite too sweet
GalaxyQuest–I’m still sort of amazed at how good this is
Hedwig and the Angry Inch–don’t screw it up, NPH
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind–the best movie from our best screenwriter

#18 Comment By PA15017 On January 3, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

All of these great movies, and nobody said “Stalker”. I’ll say it: STALKER. And also, EXIT, a recent Australian kinda-ripoff of Stalker that is also pretty enjoyable.

#19 Comment By Viking On January 4, 2014 @ 5:20 am

I have three specific choices, which I don’t believe anyone else has mentioned. I’ve seen two: the great film noir, Double Indemnity, and the hugely enjoyable Irish tale, The Quiet Man. The third is one I’ve always aspired to seeing: My Dinner With Andre.

A not quite so specific suggestion is to take a seriously humorous look at the silent film comedies of Chaplin, Keaton, and probably Lloyd. (I’ve had no extensive exposure to the last, unlike the first two, hence my qualification.) Chaplin’s City Lights, (mostly silent) Modern Times, and talkie The Great Dictator have all been mentioned. But there’s so much more in CC’s repertoire: The Kid, The Gold Rush, The Circus, the talkie Monsieur Verdoux, not to mention some superb shorts such as A Dog’s Life and The Idle Class.

Buster Keaton’s big two are apparently considered The Navigator and The General, but I’m very fond as well of The Playhouse, Sherlock Junior, and my favorite, (the ironically titled) Our Hospitality. Keaton didn’t have quite so many shorts as Chaplin did, if memory serves, but they were quite good.

The only silent by Harold Lloyd I’ve seen is Safety Last, where he scales a skyscraper – but that is superb. I’ve never seen a thing by Harry Langdon, but some critics put him in with the other three non-talkie comics.

A word about Pygmalion and Leslie Howard as the best Henry Higgins: NO! HH, in my conception, should be fairly overbearing, and Howard was just too much the mannered Englishman, despite his Hungarian roots. And those “thrillingly beautiful tones” he was supposed to deliver to Eliza at one point were nothing of the sort, and not even given in the right posture. And while I’m being snarky, if the Watership Down to which kgaard refers was the same animated feature which I saw, that wasn’t even in the same category as the book itself. IMTO, of course. T = testy.

#20 Comment By a spencer On January 4, 2014 @ 10:53 pm


For me, Howard’s straight-edge arrogance in the parlor scene, sans music, after the (ball/derby?) where Eliza hears all, made me forget there would later be a ridiculously popular Broadway-style musical version of PYGMALION.

I typically hate musicals but for whatever reason MY FAIR LADY made a huge impression on me as a kid and it wasn’t until I saw Howard play the part that I realized how haughty the musical version of the role is often performed. I think there’s a difference between arrogance and haughty. I could be wrong.

#21 Comment By Cliff On January 5, 2014 @ 1:57 pm

Many of those already mentioned, and…

“The Name of the Game” — the best upstairs/downstairs movie I’ve seen, far better that “Gosford Park” or “Downton Abbey”.

The 1994 Susan Sarandon / Winona Ryder “Little Women”.

“Heathers” — talkin’ ’bout my generation (well, no, I’m older than that, but it felt that way).

“Borderline” — tough guy Fred McMurray in Mexico.

“Midnight Cowboy”, “Catch 22”, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”! “Big Night”! And that amazing Peter Weir movie with Jeff Bridges as a plane crash survivor, what is its name? I could spend the rest of my life watching movies I’ve already seen. But not “Lilya 4-Ever”, the best movie I never want to see again.

#22 Comment By Richard Parker On January 5, 2014 @ 4:42 pm

Am I the only guy in the room who doesn’t like Hitchcock? I don’t know, I find his movies to be too ‘Hitchcockian’ for my taste. I can never sit voluntarily through any of his movies.

I would like to see ‘Life of Pi’ again in the Big 3D theater again as a visual experience. As for content, the film is thin and the actual ‘book’ is even thinner. But God does tell the same story in many different ways.

#23 Comment By Ray On January 5, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

“Cinema Paradiso” – Guiseppe Tornatore’s moving 1988 masterpiece chronicling the story of a great film director and the influence upon that story of the grizzled old projectionist who befriended him and thereby first kindled his love of cinema. It should always remain a timely reminder that our present-day obsession with child abuse and padeophilia should never blind us to the wonderful symbosis that can exist between a curious child and an kindly, instructive adult.

Also “Sex Mission” – Polish director Juliusz Machulski’s futuristic soft-porn comedy. No doubt when it debutted in 1984 Poland’s state censors were so busy belly-laughing at the semi-naked women pursuing Machulski’s two male anti-hero’s that they never spotted the underlying message of a film that to this day remains truly one of the all-time most devastating critiques of the cruel and cynical fraud that was communism.

#24 Comment By channelclemente On January 5, 2014 @ 8:49 pm

Just a few..

‘The Hanging Tree’ (1956?) Gary Cooper

‘Out of the Past’ (1949) Robert Mitchum/Gene Tiernay, Kirk Douglas

‘Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia’ (1970’s) Warren Oates

‘Ice Harvest’ (2005) John Cusak, Billy Bob Thorton, Randy Quaid

Faster (2010) Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton

#25 Comment By peter On January 5, 2014 @ 11:28 pm

1.Blade Runner
2.Last of the Mohicans
4.The Wild Bunch
5.The Hustler
7.McCabe and Mrs. Miller
8.The Friends of Eddy Coyle
9.The Bridge on the River Kwai

#26 Comment By davidgswanger On January 6, 2014 @ 12:32 am

Cliff, I think you mean “The Rules of the Game” by Renoir, not “The Name of the Game”, n’est-ce pas? (You’re right about how great it is, though, and not just in its genre; it often shows up in Top Ten ever lists.)

I believe the Weir movie you’re thinking of is “Fearless”.

Hope this helps!

#27 Comment By Richard Parker On January 6, 2014 @ 2:47 am

I could never sit through ‘The Wild Bunch’ a second time.


‘Galaxy Quest’ has held up well with repeated viewings. I know most of the dialogue by heart.

#28 Comment By a spencer On January 6, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

We all go through Hitchcock Revisionism. Then, by remote, we randomly cycle onto PSYCHO, THE LADY VANISHES or SHADOW OF A DOUBT.

#29 Comment By HeartRight On January 6, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

Most of the Truly Great Stuff has been mentioned – but there still are some worthwhile scraps left on the table.

La vita e bella
Les invasions barbares
The name of the Rose

#30 Comment By John M. On January 6, 2014 @ 10:30 pm

Master and Commander, the Far Side of the World is a beautiful film. I’ve watched it countless times and still find it fresh.

#31 Comment By southpaw On January 7, 2014 @ 2:13 am

If I may:

The Magnificent Seven — Can you hear the theme in your head?

Caddy Shack — Bill Murray’s best

American Graffiti — both of them, you heard me: both I and II

The French Connection — Introducing Gene Hackman

Saving Private Ryan — if you can stomach the slow stabbing scene, gave me nightmares

To Live and Die in LA — greatest car chase scene ever

Full Metal Jacket — best war movie after Ryan

Blow — Johnny Depp’s best

Apocalypse Now — it smells like…victory

A Clockwork Orange — good old ultraviolence, droogs

#32 Comment By Dodgy Geezer On January 7, 2014 @ 6:49 am

I scrolled down here to comment that 2001 wasn’t on the list.

But it actually is. Mentioned TWO times! What is happening? Normally it’s completely ignored.

However, all is not lost. I couldn’t see Lawrence of Arabia or Zulu anywhere, so some good movies are still hidden.

For a little gem, find ‘Hoffman’ – starring Peter Sellers in one of his few straight roles. He hated the film because he felt the character he played was too close to him in reality. But I think it’s his best. And the music is haunting.

Actually, that reminds me of Roger Moore’s ‘The Man Who Haunted Himself’ – gripping, and also a musical treat.

And for a well-structured romp, why not try ‘Cockneys vs Zombies’? Again, hidden, not publicised, and brilliantly acted…

#33 Comment By George On January 7, 2014 @ 8:09 pm

Richard says he could never sit through The Wild Bunch twice. I sat through it twice the first night I ever saw it and have seen it countless times since. It will always be at the top of any list of mine, along with:
The Big Sleep
Gone with the Wind
Silent Running
Arsenic and Old Lace
Cross of Iron
Once Upon a Time in the West
Warlock (the Henry Fonda western)
Between Two Worlds
National Lampoon’s Vacation
It’s a Wonderful Life
Rear Window
The Getaway (the Peckinpah version, of course)
The Bride Wore Black
Lonely Are the Brave
The Flim Flam Man
The Maltese Falcon
The Reivers
Where Eagles Dare

#34 Comment By sjm On January 7, 2014 @ 8:45 pm

Dr Strangelove

All Quiet on the Western Front.

War and Peace (Russian)

The Wages of Fear.

Sunset Blvd.

#35 Comment By Quimbob On January 8, 2014 @ 10:35 am

Blade Runner
Greaser’s Palace
Visitor Q
A Clockwork Orange
Spinal Tap
Shapes of Things to Come
Lonely Are The Brave
Circle of Iron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
The Loved One
Mystery Train
Last Rites for the Dead (Zombies Anonymous)
Vanishing Point
House of 1,000 Corpses

#36 Comment By a spencer On January 10, 2014 @ 7:20 pm

movie threads all over TAC – woo hoo!

If you don’t mind humoring me for a moment, not that anyone cares, nor that I have any insight other than what appeals to me, and maybe Noah would rather let this die than turn it into a ‘talking’ thread, but its Friday.

Other folks reminded me of movies I (wished I) would have included – or ones that I keep hearing about. Hey, if someone wants to defend AMERICAN GRAFFITI *TWO*, more power to them!

2001, SPINAL TAP, THE THIRD MAN, BLADE RUNNER and SUNSET BLVD seem to lead the multiple entries category so far, among others.

random thoughts on other people’s lists, spoilers:

Here’s my issue with BLADE RUNNER; unless you’re giving the impression its like SUNSET BLVD, there’s very little reason for Harrison Ford to have a voice-over here.

Noah’s list, lots of great entries, GROUNDHOG DAY is addictive, as is BIG LEBOWSKI. Love that you put SYNECDOCHE, NY out there – not everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought it was brilliant. I’m in a minority of one, but I’ll part with you on FIGHT CLUB, just didn’t do much for me.

Displaced Californian: if its the Iranian CHILDREN OF HEAVEN involving the kids and the shoes, yes, thanks for the reminder. Wonderful film. This type of storytelling should be taught to young filmmakers before they’re allowed to make something explode.

Guilherme: THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER is one that keeps making historical best-of lists and I’m embarrassed to say I hadn’t heard of it until recently. Also, you should win the Cinephile Award for SUNRISE, one of the best examples of where filmmaking was headed prior to the advent of sound, which stunted the development of tracking and dolly shots for years while the camera settled into theatrical setups before widespread use of the boom mic was introduced (by Dorothy Arzner?). But you knew that. 🙂

any and all Marx Brothers…

I’ve had some debates about ROOM 237 – I kept wanting it to be even more absurd, but with one ‘legitimate’ perspective for contrast. No one agrees with me. Everyone enjoys it, though.

THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS – embarrassed to say I haven’t seen it.

I love some of the combinations people have, like HURT LOCKER and THE MARRIAGE OF EVA BRAUN. I’m also a sucker for THERE WILL BE BLOOD and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, difficult choice for Oscar that year. Also, CASABLANCA, who turns it off? By the same token, how many of us turn off CLOCKWORK ORANGE?

Charlieford: HUD might be the best and last serious American movie made before Vietnam.

Cliff, I’d like to re-watch HEATHERS.

THRONE OF BLOOD – yeah, wow, apparently Kurosawa hired expert marksmen to shoot arrows at Mifune. I used to watch WINGS OF DESIRE repeatedly on VHS. Wore out the section where Nick Cave performs “From Her To Eternity”.

Quick plug for the film that 12 MONKEYS was based on – LA JETEE, by Chris Marker, done entirely in still photographs, with one notable exception. Great sci-fi in about half an hour.

Interesting to see the Japanese well-represented. Mark Cousins declared Japanese cinema as the “classic” form of the medium that other movies should be judged by when employing the term, as opposed to, well, CASABLANCA (which no one associated with the production knew would become a ‘classic’). About Cousins’ opus, there’s a lot that made me pull my hair out, but for the sheer pluck and audacity, its a monumental achievement. Maybe he missed Filipino/Indonesian cinema of the 70s – ha! – but he referenced almost everything else, whether you care for the context he put it in or not. I was unaware of Mexican cinema prior to the arrival of Bunuel. Lots to critique about Cousins’ take, but that’s a good thing.

Seriously, someone tell me they’re not remaking ROBOCOP, a perfectly well-done movie that caught people off guard, but came out exactly the right time (1987).

kgaard – I’m curious about the story of the original WICKER MAN, a fine film. Lost director’s cut? Also, which THE THING? The 1951 version is on TCM tonight by the way – I’m a big fan of Carpenter’s version with Kurt Russell and Keith David, not to be confused with David Keith. (KD does the voice over for the military recruitment ads on TV among his many supporting roles).

PA – didn’t want to overload with Tarkovsky, but yes on STALKER. I think SOLARIS might be on TCM tonight, as well. I promise I’m not paid by TCM. Hadn’t heard of EXIT.

Viking – MY DINNER WITH ANDRE is another that should be taught to people about the loaded weapon of storytelling before they actually try it. Great call. Also, Chaplin, Keaton, Lloyd – immensely entertaining, I hope people don’t shy away because the era might seem anachronistic. Pretty sure none of them had union protection or stunt doubles during most of their performances.

Ray – SEX MISSION – never heard of it. Good to know!

Haven’t seen LIFE OF PI, either, sounds good.

Robert Mitchum keeps turning up, deservedly so. I guess that pot bust didn’t hurt him in the long run. channelclemente also mentions Billy Bob Thornton and I’m reminded I forgot BAD SANTA. Mitchum, Thornton, Newman (in HUD): anti-heroes, or more accurately, straight-up antagonists? is there a difference? three pages, double-spaced.

peter – CHINATOWN will live on and on, no doubt. Additionally, I can get behind Nolan’s choices based off MEMENTO. Interesting that DARK KNIGHT can garner so many Oscar nominations in technical achievement – cinematography, art direction, sound mix, editing, even Supporting Actor (H Ledger), all the fundamentals of a strong film, but not one for director or best picture. A lot of people didn’t care for it, I guess, but I thought it was awfully good, despite its flaws. Better than the first or third of Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

Ashamed to say I haven’t seen all of GALAXY QUEST, which friends swear by. Reminds me I should have included SHAWN OF THE DEAD.

Glad George included BULLITT, ’cause *that’s* pretty much the best car chase ever, innit?

I didn’t include Kubrick or Scorsese because it feels like preaching to the choir on these sorts of lists, but their work can and should be used like textbooks.

Good to be reminded there are many big name *and* obscure titles yet to see.

but, first, SATANTANGO.

#37 Comment By a spencer On January 10, 2014 @ 8:15 pm

oh, yeah, someone mentioned POINT BLANK. I bought two copies for Christmas – one for my brother, one for myself. 45 years later, its pretty epic when you look back on the trajectories of those involved, including Lee Marvin; also Margaret Booth, MGM’s venerable executive-in-charge of editing at the time, who stood behind Henry Berman’s final cut.

#38 Comment By Fulton On January 11, 2014 @ 9:34 am

I have re-watched The Good, The Bad and The Ugly many times. Still love it, it’s the Western as opera and you can’t beat that Morricone score. Loved Chariots of Fire when I was a kid, and Rocky. Both films with good scores as well come to think of it. I’d say The Bourne Identity of more recent movies has been my favorite re-watch, never fails to thrill.

#39 Comment By Maro On January 11, 2014 @ 12:52 pm


#40 Comment By the unworthy craftsman On January 12, 2014 @ 8:15 am

Most of my favorite movies seem to have been made in a little window of time in the late 70s or early 80s

Blade Runner
The Road Warrior
Dawn of the Dead

then there’s

Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Glen Gary Glen Ross

#41 Comment By Mark On January 12, 2014 @ 9:38 am

Three Kings, great movie that I think a lot of people missed

#42 Comment By Jeremy Daniels On January 12, 2014 @ 9:08 pm

An excellent list but I can add a few more and some repeats.

Stand By Me
The Goonies
The Sandlot

Some TV and animation

Ma and Pa Kettle, Tarzan (B/W, silent), The Honeymooners, Tom and Jerry(40-60’s), Merry Melodies, Darkwing Duck, Megamind, MASH.

Epic and fun movies
A Knights Tale, Prince of Persia, Kingdom of Heaven, Lawrence of Arabia.

Zombieland, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Drama, Action etc…
Million Dollar Baby, Trouble With the Curve, Grand Torino, True Grit(both versions), Shashanks Redemption, The Hudsucker Proxy, Seabiscuit, Seven Samurai, The Warrior Way(ninjas vs cowboys), The Avengers.

One thing that this list indicates is the abundance of brilliant cinema.

#43 Comment By Jason On January 13, 2014 @ 7:12 am

Full Metal Jacket
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
The Shawshank Redemption
The Green Mile
Batman- Keaton

#44 Comment By Sean Gillhoolley On January 13, 2014 @ 9:48 am

I definately think you hit some of the great ones, and some I did not expect to be mentioned. Tampopo is one of my favourites as well. Here are some others that I consider must-see movies, in no particular order.

1) Soylent Green
2) Rollerball (the original, NOT the “remake”)
3) Rabid
4) Dawn of the Dead (the original)
5) Them (really old, really awesome)
6) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (I like the 2nd one, made in the 70s)
7) Raiders of the Lost Ark
8) The Warriors
9) The Seven Samurai (B&W, 4 hours+, awesomeness)
10) Blade Runner (one of the best movies EVER made)

#45 Comment By Bob On January 13, 2014 @ 6:24 pm

The Searchers
8 1/2
The Leopard
Raging Bull
It Happened One Night
Cloud Atlas
The Night of the Hunter

#46 Comment By Baron Stein On January 14, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
The Wild Bunch
The Long Riders
The Sting
Paths of Glory
Dr Strangelove
Full Metal Jacket
Gone with the Wind
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1920)
Miller’s Crossing
The Big Lebowski
The Godfather (Parts 1 and 2)
Goodbye Lenin
Colonel Chabert
1492 The Conquest of Paradise
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgousie
The Trial
The Bride Wore Black
The Woman Next Door
The Maltese Falcon
Sunset Boulevard

#47 Comment By a spencer On January 27, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

Pure contemporary arrogance had always diverted me from seeing one that I just saw and, having seen it, became an instant favorite that I’m sure I’ll enjoy again and again, highly recommended if you’re into this sort of thing:


I could give you the scenario and you could predict its outcome on the back of a bar napkin and be correct, but its a reminder what script, ensemble acting and solid direction can achieve. Indeed, the humor derives from that era’s audience sensibilities about Accepted Morality.

Sidney Sheldon – yeah, that Sidney Sheldon – deservedly won the Oscar for his script. Someone named Irving Ries was responsible for the direction, yet there’s precious little about him on the web apart from experimental radio and his resignation from a film called HITLER’S CHILDREN (1943). There’s gotta be a story about this guy.

Of course, most movie-goers care only about the faces on the screen and this cast is pitch-perfect.

Cary Grant really can’t be duplicated, can he? Someone might say George Clooney, but can you imagine Grant playing GC’s part in OH BROTHER that way? Grant was his own brand and it worked.

Its odd that there are people who today claim that “women aren’t funny”. So many of the most popular movies of the first, say, forty years of Hollywood film have women as top-billed comedians. Myrna Loy is a treasure who absolutely knew where and how to get her laughs. Off the top of my head, I’m trying to think of a single female star of that era that wasn’t also assumed to have comedic capabilities, including Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, both of whom have laugh out loud moments in their movies. Heck, Vivien Leigh has laugh lines in GWTW.

Shirley Temple, almost 20 years old when this film was made, is hilarious. For younger viewers, THE BACHELOR AND THE BOBBY-SOXER provides an instructional manual on the “friend zone.”

The rest of the cast, the sound cues, the “You remind me of a man” sequences, and the overall alchemy of this movie makes it worth watching again. Yeah, there’s probably a contemporaneous way of mocking the ‘antiquated’ nature of movies like this, but its really not worth it. A modern adult should be able to place it in its proper context. Enjoy.

#48 Comment By a spencer On January 27, 2014 @ 3:51 pm

Irving *Reis*, sorry.

#49 Comment By a spencer On February 15, 2014 @ 8:04 pm

RIP, Shirley Temple.

Sid Caesar.

Ralph Waite.

There’s a really good one-act play right there.