Okay, open up another browser, warm up your Netflix queue, and let’s do this. Of course, you’ll want to print this out as well, but let me warn you, in Word it’s an approximately 22 page document. Ready? Seriously though, don’t print this… that would be madness.
I’ve been working on this list, in some sense or other, for about six months. I wanted to make a Top 100 Movies list, but as I started putting it together, I realized two things.
it was never going to happen
2) Top 100 Movie lists suck.
There are basically two sorts of Top 100 Movie lists, and the world doesn’t need another of either kind. The first are those created by critics, cinemaphiles, or groups of same. With the exception of one movie here or there, these lists are all exactly the same.
The other sort of list is one which is simply created by ordinary people voting. These lists are all the same (as each other) as well, except that they are filled mainly with really stupid movies and Citizen Kane and Casablanca (because that’s what you’re supposed to vote for).
Let’s be honest, when the AFI 100 list came out, did anyone get much out of it? Couldn’t you have predicted the entire list give or take maybe two or three movies?Well, I found the answer. This one goes to 200. Besides which, there are a great many movies that are list staples which youwon’t find here.
**Insert Disclaimer Here**
This list was created during a long span of 2003-2004, and was originally published in 2004.I have a couple movies that could be considered as “on this list,” but other than that I think the thing stands.There are actually a lot of movies I’ve liked pretty well since 2004, but if you are thinking you might make a serious argument that a movie less than five years old is one of the greatest ever… I’m not your guy.
Now, you can make an argument that it is better than some movies on this list, and I’ll probably agree with you rather quickly, but I’m not reworking a 200 movie list every time a good movie comes out.That said,Batman Beginsand Dark Knight may both be considered on this list.The thing is, if you want to know a good movie that just came out, that’s just not what this list is about.
I should tell you a little bit about how I created this list. First, I went to www.ratingzone.com (which is by now dead, or at least mostly dead) and rated a number of movies (a number I’m somewhat embarrassed to mention). After several months I’d rated every movie I’d ever seen (I think… seriously, you have no idea).
Once that was done, I figured I’d get a list of all the movies I rated 10, and I’d have a decent list. This was back when I was looking for 100 movies. That got me about 40 movies. No problem. Just add the movies I’d rated with a 9. (I’m no fool) This combination got me 87 movies. I have no idea how that worked out, but there it was. Well, it didn’t seem too hard to solve. Adding the 8s was obviously going to get me too many, but surely I could whittle things down.
Adding the 8s gave me 516 movies.
I was going to need some different criteria.
From that starting point, there are several ways to get on this list. There are stats at the end of this list, and there you’ll see that the best way to get on the list is to be a movie from the 80s or 90s. That’s somewhat problematic in itself. Surely, few people are going to say that the 80s and 90s are the Golden Era of film.
On the other hand, they are rather the Golden Age of being me, and that’s what I have to work with. You have your generation. I have mine. There are a great many movies that I appreciate a great deal, and realize are removed from me to a certain degree because of when they were made and when I was born. Apart from that, there are several things I took into account.
1) The extent to which I could watch the movie over and over.
2) The extent to which I felt the movie had mastered its attempt.
3) The extent to which I felt the movie made an attempt to break from the mold, do things differently, and generally push the envelope of film, genre, direction, or at least something.
4) The extent to which I felt the movie had a serious statement to make about the human condition without talking down to the audience or being ridiculously maudlin or sappy.
5) Outstanding performances, direction, or screenplay.
6) The movie became some sort of significant part of ‘the history of movies’ AND I can still stand to watch it.
Any combination of these might be the reason any specific movie is on this list. On the other hand, it might just be on the list because I really like it, and it’s my bloody list.
And, here’s another thing. Most Top lists have no fun at all. This list has some fun. Your standard Top list is about 80% drama with the remainder being made up by: comedies that have passed some sort of acceptability test, a Disney movie (probably Snow White), Nosferatu, and possibly M. This list is quite abit different. I tried to make thispretty rounded, and it turns out to be surprisingly Family Movie heavy. It also has a lot of low-brow comedies, and all manner of other oddities.
Okay, on to the list. First, here are a couple quick facts I thought I’d mention.
2 nominees for the ’95 Best Picture Academy Award are on this list, but not the winner, the horribleForrest Gump.
Every Best Picture Nominee from 1976, except the winner One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is on this list.
3 of 5 Nominees for Best Picture in 2002 are on the list. The two not included? In the Bedroom, and the winner of the award A Beautiful Mind.
Here we go.
I’ve included award information for the films. This information should not be considered an exhaustive account of the awards won by the film. If the movies have info, there may be more awards they won or were nominated for, but I just left it out for one reason or another. If a movie has no award info, this does not mean the movie didn’t win or get nominated for anything. Also, if the type of award is not specified, then it is Academy Award info.
A smattering of info also follows each title per this formula –
Title (Year of Release. Director. Actor. Actor. Actor)
When I got to the third movie written by Tom Stoppard I rather began to wish I had kept track of that as well, but I didn’t.
Finally, this list is not ranked, it’s in alphabetical order. I may or may not have something to say about the film. Probably not. Dude, there’s 200!
1. About a Boy
(2002. Chris & Paul Weitz. Hugh Grant. Toni Collette)
Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay.
(1980. Jim Abrahams & David Zucker)
Nominated Best Adapted Screenplay – BAFTA.
Nominated Best Musical or Comedy – Golden Globes.
3. All That Heaven Allows
(1956. Douglas Sirk. Rock Hudson. Jane Wyman)
(1984. Milos Forman. Tom Hulce. F. Murray Abraham)
Won Best Actor (Abraham), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best MakeUp, Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nominated Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Actor (Hulce).
(2001. Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Audrey Tautou)
Nominated Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Sound, Best Original Screenplay.
Won Best Original Screenplay – BAFTA
6. The Amityville Horror
(1979. Stuart Rosenberg. James Brolin. Margot Kidder)
Nominated Best Music, Original Score
7. The Apartment
(1960. Billy Wilder. Jack Lemmon. Shirley MacLaine. Fred MacMurray)
Won Best Art Direction, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay.
8. Atlantic City
(1980. Louis Malle. Burt Lancaster. Susan Sarandon.)
Nominated Best Actor (Lancaster), Best Actress (Sarandon), Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay.
(1995. Chris Noonan. James Cromwell)
Won Best Visual Effects.
Nominated Best Supporting Actor (Cromwell), Best Art Direction, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
10. Baby Boom
(1987. Charles Shyer. Diane Keaton. Sam Shepard)
Nominated Best Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical (Keaton) – Golden Globes
Okay, I’ll give you that this is a weird choice. It made it on my well-rounded list because it’s in the Romantic Comedy general area, but it’s very clever, not god-awful sappy, and at just about any given point I wouldn’t mind watching it. I don’t love the fact that I’m saying those things either.
11. Bad Day at Black Rock
(1955. John Sturges. Spencer Tracy. Ernest Borgnine. Lee Marvin. Anne Francis. Walter Brennan)
Nominated Best Actor (Tracy), Best Director, Best Screenplay.
12. Bad News Bears
(1976. Michael Ritchie. Walter Matthau. Tatum O’Neal)
Nominated Best Actor – BAFTA
Won Best Original Comedy Screenplay – Writers Guild of America Awards
Family movies could be on a list.
13. Barry Lyndon
(1975. Stanley Kubrick. Ryan O’Neal. Marisa Berenson. Patrick Magee)
Won Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Music.
Nominated Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay
(1989. Tim Burton. Michael Keaton. Jack Nicholson. Kim Basinger)
Won Best Art Direction.
Nominated Best Supporting Actor (Nicholson), Best Costume Design, Best Make Up Artist, Best Production Design, Best Sound, Best Special Effects – BAFTA
I know, but see it still pretty much works for me. I remember being there when it came out, and it may not be Dark Knight, but it was doing things different for back then.
15. Before Sunrise
(1995. Richard Linklater. Ethan Hawke. Julie Delpy)
Won Silver Berlin Bear Best Director – Berlin International Film Festival
16. Being There
(1979. Hal Ashby. Peter Sellers. Shirley MacLaine. Melvyn Douglas)
Won Best Supporting Actor (Douglas).
Nominated Best Actor (Sellers).
Won Best Screenplay – BAFTA.
Nominated Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Film – BAFTA
17. The Bicycle Thief
(1948. Vittorio De Seca. Lamberto Maggiorani.
Nominated Best Screenplay.
Honorary Award – Voted by Academy Board of Governors as most outstanding foreign language film released in the U.S.
Won Best Film from any source – BAFTA
Won Best Foreign Film – Golden Globes
(1988. Penny Marshall. Tom Hanks.)
Nominated Best Actor (Hanks), Best Original Screenplay.
Won Best Actor Comedy/Musical (Hanks) – Golden Globes.
19. Big Night
(1996. Campbell Scott & Stanley Tucci. Stanley Tucci. Tony Shalhoub. Minnie Driver. Isabella Rosellini)
Won Best Supporting Actor (Shalhoub) – National Society of Film Critics Awards.
Won Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award – Sundance Film Festival.
Won Best New Director – New York Film Critic Circle Awards.
Not only does this film include one of the all-time best scenes, but also two of the best performances, and a screenplay that would be worthy of this list on its own.
20. The Big Sleep
(1946. Howard Hawks. Humphrey Bogart. Lauren Bacall)
21. Blazing Saddles
(1974. Mel Brooks. Cleavon Little. Gene Wilder. Madeline Kahn)
Nominated Best Supporting Actress (Kahn), Best Film Editing, Best Original Song.
Nominated Best Newcomer (Little), Best Screenplay – BAFTA
Not the only Mel Brooks film on this list, but the best. Well…, in the top two… damn.
– Call this the whole Three Colors Trilogy. I might have put it under Three Colors, or I might have listed them all individually if I were making the list of 1,000 movies. Because this should be considered as the whole trilogy, I’ll include info for all three. – (1993. 1994 Krzysztof Kieslowski. Juliette Binoche. Julie Delpy. Irene Jacob)
Nominated Best Cinematography (Red), Best Director (Red), Best Original Screenplay (Red). Nominated Best Actress (Jacob), Best Screenplay (Red), Best Non-English Film (Red), David Lean Award for Direction – BAFTA
Nominated Best Foreign Language Film (Blue, Red), Best Original Score (Blue), Best Actress (Binoche) – Golden Globes
Won Silver Berlin Bear Best Director (White) – Berlin International Film Festival
23. Blue Velvet
(1986. David Lynch. Kyle MacLachlan. Dennis Hopper. Isabella Rosellini)
Nominated Best Director.
Nominated Best Supporting Actor (Hopper), Best Screenplay – Golden Globes.
Won Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film, Best Supporting Actor (Hopper) – National Society of Film Critics Awards.
24. The Blues Brothers
(1980. John Landis. John Belushi. Dan Aykroyd)
See, a lot of people would think that if I was going to go this sort of direction I’d have ‘Animal House’. That’s a great film really, and should perhaps be required reading, but that’s sort of ‘Moby Dick’ required reading, and this is ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ required reading (which of course isn’t actually required reading anywhere), and I like ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ better.
25. Bonnie and Clyde
(1967. Arthur Penn. Warren Beatty. Faye Dunaway. Gene Hackman. Michael J. Pollard. Estelle Parsons)
Won Best Supporting Actress (Parsons), Best Cinematography.
Nominated Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (Pollard, Hackman), Best Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay
(1985. Terry Gilliam. Jonathan Pryce. Robert De Niro. Ian Holm. Bob Hoskins. Jim Broadbent)
Nominated Best Art Direction, Best Original Screenplay.
Won Best Director, Best Picture, Best Screenplay – L.A. Film Critics Association Awards
There’s a sense in which I fairly seriously believe that if you haven’t seen Brazil you haven’t seen any movies at all.
27. The Breakfast Club
(1985. John Hughes. Judd Nelson. Molly Ringwald. Emilio Estevez. Ally Sheedy. Anthony Michael Hall)
Look, I said, you have your generation, and I have mine. You know why this movie stands out? Well, the quick answer anyway. Everything else remotely in the same category (and most things that come out in any category) ends up a movie about some kids who supposedly aren’t stereotypes, but they are. This one is about kids who supposedly are stereotypes, but they aren’t. Hey, I was 14 when this came out.
(1960. Jean-Luc Godard. Jean-Paul Belmondo. Jean Seberg
Nominated Best Foreign Actress (Seberg) – BAFTA.
Won Silver Berlin Bear Best Director – Berlin International Film Festival.
29. Brotherhood of the Wolf
(2001. Christophe Gans. Samuel Le Bihan. Mark Dacascos)
You didn’t laugh when The Amityville Horror was on the list. Oh. You did?
30. Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid
(1969. George Roy Hill. Paul Newman. Robert Redford. Katharine Ross)
Won Best Cinematography, Best Music Original Score, Best Music Original Song, Best Original Screenplay.
Nominated Best Director, Best Picture, Best Sound.
Won Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music (Burt Bacharach), Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Direction, Best Film, Best Film Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Soundtrack. Nominated Best Actor (Newman) – BAFTA
(1972. Bob Fosse. Liza Minelli. Michael York. Joel Grey)
Won Best Actress (Minelli), Best Supporting Actor (Grey), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music Score, Best Sound.
Nominated Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay.
(1980. Harold Ramis. Chevy Chase. Bill Murray. Ted Knight. Rodney Dangerfield. Michael O’Keefe)
(1967. Joshua Logan. Richard Harris. Vanessa Redgrave)
Won Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Music Score.
Won Best Actor Musical or Comedy (Harris), Best Original Score, Best Original Song – Golden Globes.
(1970. Mike Nichols. Alan Arkin. Martin Sheen. Bob Newhart. Jon Voight)
Nominated Best Cinematography – BAFTA.
You know what’s funny about being born the year after this came out, and of course some more years than that after the book. It takes until you’re somewhere between 17 and 20 before you realize people haven’t just ALWAYS said that.
Seriously though, I could tell you why this is on the list, but if I want to tell you why it’s on the list…
(1933. Frank Lloyd. Diana Wynyard. Clive Brook)
Won Best Art Direction, Best Director, Best Picture.
Nominated Best Actress (Wynyard)
This movie surprised the hell out of me, though I saw it for the first time only about five years ago. It surprised me, and I mean it really, really struck me, because of the complete lack of that whole generational thing I’ve talked about before. I felt bizarrely old watching it, and it’s just brilliant.
36. A Christmas Story
(1983. Bob Clark. Peter Billingsley. Darren McGavin. Melinda Dillon)
Nominated Best Comedy adapted from another medium – Writers Guild of America
See, you just aren’t going to get this on any other Top lists. A fact, by the way, which quite simply negates all other lists.
37. Cinema Paradiso
(1989. Giuseppe Tornatore. Philippe Noiret. Salvatore Cascio)
Won Best Foreign Language Film.
Won Best Actor (Noiret), Best Supporting Actor (Cascio), Best Non-English Film, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay – BAFTA
Won Grand Prize of the Jury (Tornatore) – Cannes Film Festival
Yeah. Tell me all about how you don’t like this movie.
38. Citizen Kane
(1941. Orson Welles. Joseph Cotten)
You know enough about it. If this list were ranked, you’d be surprised how far down you’d have to go to get to this. But, it’d be here… ummm… obviously.
39. Cold Comfort Farm
(1995. John Schlesinger. Eileen Atkins. Kate Beckinsale. Stephen Fry. Joanna Lumley. Ian McKellen. Rufus Sewell)
So, John Schlesinger is on this list, but not with Top List staple Midnight Cowboy??? Not even maybe Marathon Man??? Well… yep. To tell the truth, Marathon Man is quite good. Midnight Cowboy is like Marc Eastman specific Nytol.
Here’s the real scoop. This movie came out, it has low-ish budget written all over it, it has some very good actors, and no one has any idea what the hell it’s about. Go read a bunch of reviews. “Well, there’s this farm, and a girl, and somethig in the woodshed… pfff… I dunno.” So, okay, read that review, and is anyone going to go see it?
(1963. Jean-Luc Godard. Brigitte Bardot. Jack Palance. Michel Piccoli)
Come on. You laughed. You cried. You wondered what the heck was going on.
41. Cool Hand Luke
(1967. Stuart Rosenberg. Paul Newman. George Kennedy)
Won Best Supporting Actor (Kennedy).
Nominated Best Actor (Newman), Best Music Score, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Paul Newman’s best and worst performance. Discuss.
(1998. Mike Hodges. Clive Owen)
Would someone watch this movie for God’s sake!?! (Don’t you wish the interrobang would make it to HTML? Don’t you!?!)
It’s okay if you go look up interrobang.
43. Dances with Wolves
(1990. Kevin Costner. Kevin Costner. Mary McDonnell. Graham Greene)
Won Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Music Score, Best Picture, Best Sound, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Nominated Best Actor (Costner), Best Supporting Actor (Greene), Best Supporting Actress (McDonnell), Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design.
Fine. Don’t like it then. Get off my back.
44. Dark City
(1998. Alex Proyas. Rufus Sewell. William Hurt. Kiefer Sutherland. Jennifer Connelly)
Make a better movie and you’ll be on this list as well. Good luck.
45. Das Boot
(1981. Wolfgang Petersen. Jurgen Prochnow)
Nominated Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Effects Sound Effects Editing, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Adapted Screenplay.
46. The Day the Earth Stood Still
(1951. Robert Wise. Michael Rennie. Patricia Neal)
Won Best Film Promoting International Understanding – Golden Globes
I’m not making that award up.
47. Dead Man
(1995. Jim Jarmusch. Johnny Depp. Crispin Glover. Gary Farmer)
Nominated Golden Palm Award (Jarmusch) – Cannes Film Festival.
Won Screen International Award – European Film Awards.
Won Best Cinematography – New York Film Critics Circle Award
48. Dead Poet’s Society
(1989. Peter Weir. Robin Williams. Robert Sean Leonard. Ethan Hawke)
Won Best Original Screenplay.
Nominated Best Actor (Williams), Best Director, Best Picture.
Won Best Film, Best Original Score.
Nominated Best Actor (Williams), Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay – BAFTA. Won Best Foreign Film – Cesar Awards, France.
You aren’t fooling anyone with your macho dislike of this movie.
49. The Decalogue
(1987. Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Won Best Foreign Language Film – Chicago Film Critics Association Awards.
Won Best Foreign Film – French Syndicate of Cinema Critics.
Won Outstanding Achievement in Foreign Film (2000) – National Board of Review USA.
If you don’t know this work, it’s somewhat shy on awards largely by way of being made as ten individual productions for television. That’s the story I’m sticking with anyway.
(1972. John Boorman. Jon Voight. Burt Reynolds. Ned Beatty)
Nominated Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture.
This film is notable, among things on this list, because I’m never going to watch it again, and it’s still here. If you watch it (which you haven’t, don’t lie) you’ll get a lot more out of the ‘Dueling Banjo’ references people use all the time. I mean, you think you get it because people have explained it to you…. but you don’t!
You made it through that much anyway. Stay tuned for the next 150 in 50 each installments — it’s the intro that was tricky, and you survived it.