You can blame fellow writer and former Weekly Crisis colleague Ryan K. Lindsay for this one. He posted a list of his Top 10 Movies on his website today and that inspired me to start posting some lists of my own. Anyone who knows me fairly well knows that I am an obsessive and completely neurotic list maker. Normally whenever anyone asks me what my favorite anything is, I’ll have to give them a Top 5 list at the very least and, most likely, I’ll break it down into sub-categories. It drives my wife nuts. Since I was looking to add more content to the site, including some stuff that isn’t just about comics but rather about my “creative mind” in general, I’ll start posting Top 10 lists every Monday on various topics. If nothing else, it will show you what types of things inspire me. So, without further delay, here is my Top 10 Movies of All Time.
Please note that this list is based on this exact moment in time and is likely to change the moment that I post it, since this is a painfully difficult list to create. Also, please note that I didn't include any animated movies because that would be completely impossible to integrate. I’ll do a different list for that at a later time. I also kept it to just one movie per director to avoid flooding this list with Tarantino movies.
10. Shaun of the Dead (2004) Edgar Wright’s bizarre zombie comedy just barely edged out Big Trouble in Little China to claim the last spot on the list. Not only is one of the best hands-down best zombie movies ever made, it is also my absolute favorite romantic comedy (though Love, Actually is a pretty close second).
09. Clerks (1994) Clerks is just as funny and insightful to me now at age 30 as it was to me when I first saw it at age 13 (a few years after it was released), which says a lot about the film considering most of what I dug in my early teen years makes me want to punch my younger self in the face. Amid the crude humor is the quintessential film about feeling aimless amid the mediocrity of daily life. It’s smarter than people give it credit for and is easily the funniest of Kevin Smith’s films.
08. Goodfellas (1990) I’m a sucker for a good mob movie and there are few directors that consistently impress me as much as Martin Scorsese. I know that everyone loves The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, and I’ll admit that I love Coppola’s masterpieces as much as anybody, but to me, the best mob movie is still Goodfellas. From Ray Liotta’s fantastic performance to the amazing soundtrack, there are few movies that can suck me in quite like this one.
07. Evil Dead (1981) I’m going to cheat here and pretend that this actually stands in for the entire Evil Dead trilogy, including the remake/sequel Evil Dead 2 from 1987 and the hilariously weird Army of Darkness from 1992. Raimi literally redefined the horror genre with this movie. His inventive techniques have been borrowed by nearly every good horror movie since its release. Also, as a side note, the remake looks absolutely fan-fucking-tastic.
06. Rocky (1976) Perhaps the single most inspirational film of all time, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky is damn near perfect from start to finish. It spawned some mediocre sequels (Rocky II-IV), an awful sequel that I refuse to admit actually exists (Rocky V), and one surprisingly great sequel (Rocky Balboa), but more importantly it made you believe that literally anything was possible and has the single most impressive ending of any inspirational film. Rocky didn’t win—he just went the distance. To me, showing an underdog that beat the odds and simply finished is far more realistic and inspiring than a saccharine ending where the underdog wins over someone that is considerably more capable than him.
05. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) I love westerns and it makes me really sad that the genre has all but gone extinct. While there are some classics that narrowly missed this list (The Searchers, Unforgiven, both versions of True Grit, pretty much anything by Sergio Leone), to me The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is the epitome of what the genre is capable of. All you have to do is look at the cast—John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, and Lee Marvin alongside Edmond O’Brien, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Woody Strode, Lee Van Cleef, and Vera Miles (all under the direction of the legendary John Ford)—to know that this movie is simply western perfection.
04. The Big Lebowski (1998) The Coen Brothers are one of those creative teams that rarely miss. Their resume is among the most impressive in Hollywood history, but my personal favorite for a variety of reasons is The Big Lebowski (so much so that I named my dog Lebowski. Hilarious and at times heartbreaking, The Big Lebowski is just fantastic. It’s not groundbreaking cinema by any means, but is there any character more unforgettable than The Dude?
03. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Much like the placement of Evil Dead above, this ranking is really meant for all of the Star Wars films. And yes, I do mean ALL of them. I take a lot of flak for enjoying the prequels as much as I do, but no one can argue that Empire Strikes Back is anything but fantastic film making Even from an unbiased standpoint, Empire is just a great film. It’s well written and has an utterly fantastic score, plus it’s really the only Star Wars film where the acting is actually impressive. Filled with action, romance, and intrigue, it’s the pinnacle for the franchise.
02. Reservoir Dogs (1992) When I was in college, the Resident Assistants were required to put on two programs per semester, one social and one educational. For one of the social programs, another RA and I put together a film series we dubbed as “The Greatest Films of All Time (According to Schrodt and Underwood).” To create the list, we each wrote down ten films we loved and the first four that appeared on both lists were our film series. The first movie we both selected—Reservoir Dogs. I could easily have put any of Quentin Tarantino’s movies on this list as they are all pretty damn amazing in their own right, but this is the one that started it all and, in a lot of ways, is his finest work.
01. Casablanca (1942) This movie is perfect. That’s it. It is just the perfect movie.
What are your favorites?