Jeff's Favorite Movies

As of today, I've watched and rated 1,871 movies with a number between 1 (a waste of life) to 10 (loved it). Of course, this rating took place over many many years and I can't claim that my ratings have been consistent over the long haul; I'm sure that my tastes have changed during this journey. But although I'd like to, I can't watch all 1,871 movies over again to try and be more consistent, so for what it's worth, here is the list of the 50-or-so movies I've rated 9 or 10, followed by the 200-or-so-next-best films I've rated as 8.

I generally favor movies that are heavy in the plot department; there are many movies which are highly regarded on IMDB or by critics which I don't like at all. Breathless is one such example. To me, it felt like nothing happened, and I rated it a 4. Even the almighty Citizen Kane falls into that category; I rated it a 7 since although it might have introduced lots of new film techniques and had many interesting perspectives, the plot itself was totally boring to me. I didn't ever really care what "Rosebud" meant, so the rest of the film's goodness was lost on me. (unless, of course, if they stop making movies and I've memorized all the movies I've listed below, in which case I will watch Citizen Kane again). If you strongly disagree with both of these non-recommendations, you might as well stop reading here because my tastes don't align with yours. But if you tentatively agree, you may continue on to the next paragaph.

To rate a movie highly (that is, rate it as if I'd really enjoy watching it again, which is what my rating of 8 means), it has to have at least one of the following: a great plot, gorgeous photography, be a musical, contain beautiful music such as the way Kubrick used music, be a great science-fiction movie, or include anything about Italy, or especially Rome, for which I'm a total slut. I'm not at all adverse to non-American films; many of my 200-or-so-next-best films are black-and-white subtitled films. So if you're still reading and these things also tickle your fancy, here are my favorite 300-or-so movies out of the 1,871 I've watched.

I welcome any comments on my choices, which you can send to Jeff Bondono.

My Favorite 56 Movies (and counting...), listed merely alphabetically

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey: Stanley Kubrick brought us the ultimate sci-fi movie, filled with spectacular pre-CGI graphics accompanied by a beautiful soundtrack of classical music. This movie above all others gives me a sense of what it might be like to travel through space: breakneck speed in a slow motion reality of what it's really like to fly through the aether. Sit down in your recliner for this one, slow down your heartrate, turn up the volume, and let the beautiful images and sound wash over you as you figure out the storyline.
  2. The Adventures of Robin Hood: This is a movie from my own Dad's childhood, almost 20 years before I was born. Wow, could they ever make a fun movie back then. When you think today's action movies are spectacular, sit down with this one and watch how they did it just as well back then. Plus, you get to enjoy a soundtrack by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, one of my favorite modern composers.
  3. Alien: Terrific sci-fi horror film. A distress signal brings a spacefaring crew to a planet where the horror begins. Be sure to watch this one, and at least the first sequel, Aliens
  4. Avatar: The first great non-gratuitous 3D movie. A fun plot, good morals, bad guys who are easy to hate, and pleasing graphics to boot. Watch it in 3D if you can.
  5. The Best Years of Our Lives: Three World War II veterans return home after the war with difficult adjustments to make. This movie touches a lot of people, including me, and shows a time capsule of an America long gone. Plus, geez, that musical score is just delicious.
  6. The Big Parade: In my opinion, this silent film is the best ever made demonstrating the horrors of World War I, especially after the innocence and idylism of the first two acts. Difficult to find, but if you come across it, don't miss it.
  7. The Birds: A classic Hitchcock horror flick. It'll leave a lasting impression on you that you'll contemplate whenever you see an electric power line where a flock of birds are perching. Yikes it maes me shiver just to think about it. Watch this movie!
  8. Blade Runner: The best science-fiction movie ever made. What a spectacular view of the future of Los Angeles, great accompanying sound track by Vangelis, and adaptation of a short story by one of the greatest sci-fi authors ever, Philip K. Dick. One of the last movies made with entirely in-camera effects, before CGI took over.
  9. Blade Runner 2049: The sequel.
  10. Das Boot: Settle down for the slow pace of this movie, with the pay-off that you'll gain an understanding about life in a submarine during wartime.
  11. Brief Encounter: The story of an affair, proficiently told with beautiful photography, perfect pacing, great acting by two every-people, and accompanied by Rachmaninov's great Second Piano Concerto. Sit down and enjoy 90 minutes of well-told romantic indulgence.
  12. Charade: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and other merely great actors in a who-dunnit with plenty of twists and turns.
  13. Cinema Paradiso: If you're reading this you probably love movies, as I most assuredly do, so you owe it to yourself to watch this love story to the movies. Plus, a thousand bonus points for being an Italian movie.
  14. A Clockwork Orange: Every Kubrick movie is great, but a few are even greater than the others. This one's about violent youth, and society's way to deal with them, with a typically-superb Kubrick soundtrack. (if you haven't already watched every single movie that Stanley Kurbrick directed, you should stop here and watch them all. Every Kubrick movie is exceptional. After you've watched them all, please continue)
  15. Crash: I like movies which weave seamingly-disparate stories into a unified theme, and this one does it superbly, with a compelling soundtrack that builds to the climax.
  16. Donnie Darko: Wierd wierd wierd sci-fi, watch it a few times.
  17. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Another wierd sci-fi masterpiece. Can you erase someone from your past? Are you sure you want to?
  18. Fargo: Jeez I hate that I like this movie so much, but a lot of people do so I guess it's all right. Crime mystery, great likable cops, terrible aweful murderous criminals, the climactic scene has stuck with me for a long time now, makes me squirm in my chair as I write this. Maybe that's part of what makes a movie great?
  19. Fiddler on the Roof: This one's probably my favorite musical of all time. The songs are fantastic, Topol was born to play the part of Tevye, the other actors are also great, the photography is beautiful, and I can identify with Tevye's loss of control over his children. It's a lesson of humility many of us must learn.
  20. Fight Club: This movie is just so wacked out, so fresh and original, and so much fun to watch over and over, that I've gotta believe that once you watch it it'll become one of your favorites, too.
  21. Forrest Gump: One of the few best movies of all time. We just weave through Forrest's life, the mundane, the improbabilities, the impossibilities, and all the while we admire the plain and simple value of being good.
  22. The Great Beauty: You've made it to my absolute favorite movie of all time (so far). It's a love story to Rome, with gorgeous cinematography, an incredible soundtrack, and all-to-brief visits to many of the incredibly beautiful places I love in Rome. I wish I could meet Stefano, who has the keys to all the best places in Rome. And if none of this was enough, this movie has the best, most peaceful closing credits in any movie from any era. This is modern Italian cinema at its very best. Plus, a thousand bonus points just for being an Italian movie. If I've convinced one reader to watch this movie, then I'm happy, because this movie deserves to be watched over and over again.
  23. The Green Mile: A faithful adaptation of a Stephen King book about the inmates and guards on death row. One of the inmates has a special power which the guards discover.
  24. Hunt for Red October: A great submarine thriller filled with suspense.
  25. Inception: Top-notch sci-fi with great visuals, and plenty of mind-bending to make it worth several viewings.
  26. Interstellar: Superb sci-fi thriller depicting the search for a new home for humanity after we've finished ruining the Earth due to the poor decisions made during the Trump administration. (I hope I'm wrong about this, but truly fear that the election of this moron is the tipping point)
  27. It Happened One Night: An early romantic comedy from the 1930's that holds up pretty well 80 years later.
  28. It's A Wonderful Life: One of the two best all-time Christmas movies, along with White Christmas (see below). This one beautifully tells the story of a desperate man being shown what the world would have been like without him. Brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.
  29. The King and I: I just love the songs in this musical. The story is cliche, the acting might not be the best, but wow I do love the music.
  30. King Kong: Great sci-fi, the way it used to be made.
  31. King Kong: A pretty darned good modern remake of the original King Kong.
  32. Koyaanisqatsi: A 90-minute-long music video of time lapse fast motion and extreme slow motion photography with themes of nature, man, and the conflict between them. Accomanied by a Philip Glass score. Highly recommended.
  33. La Dolce Vita: Just a great glimpse of 1960's Rome, the story of a stale reporter attempting to enjoy 'the sweet life', but not really enjoying anything at all. Great Italian music, plus, a thousand bonus points just for being an Italian movie.
  34. Memento: Wow, I've finally found a guy with a worse memory than mine. Q: What happens if you can't remember a thing, and you tell the story backward? A: You get a great movie!
  35. Metropolis: Silent-film-era sci-fi film which wrote the book on science fiction in the movies. Watch this film and consider how many of its scenes have been copied over and over again, even still in modern sci-fi movies.
  36. North by Northwest: Wow, Hitchcock sure knew how to create a thriller! This one will keep you enthralled from start to finish. If you've never seen it, you're in for a treat!
  37. Once Upon a Time in the West: A spaghetti western with gorgeous photography, beautiful music and soundtrack, and a good-enough story line to keep it interesting. Clear your mind and enjoy the craftsmanship on this this often-slow-paced film.
  38. The Pianist: A terrific holocaust movie that will leave you a changed person. Beware that this will be depressing and disturbing, but it's a film you won't forget.
  39. The Prestige: Watch carefully to this rivalty between two magicians.
  40. Rashomon: A crime is recalled from three different points of view by three people taking refuge under the Rashomon Gate during a pounding rainstorm. This 1950 Japanese movie, directed by Akira Kurosawa and featuring Toshiro Mifune, is a true classic, along with The Seven Samurai.
  41. Roman Holiday: This one's just the ultimate feel-good romantic comedy for me. I love the scenery, I think I've been everywhere except the police station and inside Joe's apartment, and wow, Audrey Hepburn's first movie! Gregory Peck and her enjoy a romantic weekend in my favorite city.
  42. Run Lola Run: Lola run through Berlin to help her criminal boyfriend, and you gotta love it. Rinse & Repeat. All with fast-paced nearly non-stop action. My favorite non-war-related German movie.
  43. Schindler's List: The very best holocaust movie ever made. You will never forget this one.
  44. Se7en: Detectives chase a serial killer who picks his victims according to the seven deadly sins. Terrific thriller. Shocker of an ending.
  45. The Seven Samurai: This is another superb Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa and featuring Toshiro Mifune, as is Rashomon. In this one, seven unemployed samurai soldiers are hired by a small village to defend the village from impending attack. As an American who doesn't understand Japanese culture as a native would, this film will take a few viewings to understand and make sense out of, but it's worth it. The DVD commentary tracks are very helpful.
  46. The Shawshank Redemption: This is one of the very best movies of all time. Based on a Stephen King short story, a man is wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. The characters he meets and friends he makes there will pull at your heartstrings. Perhaps it's all a bit contrived and unrealistic, but it's a terrific way to spend 2 hours or your life. Or 4, or 6, or...
  47. The Shining: The ultimate horror movie, based on a book by the master of horror, Stephen King.
  48. A Simple Plan: Three guys happen upon a stash of lost cash and decide on a simple plan to keep it for themselves. Things unravel and become less and less simple as time goes on.
  49. Star Wars IV: A New Hope: This, the first movie released in the Star Wars series, will alway be the best Star Wars film of all time. Period. It was such a shock to see when it came out; we'd never seen anything like this before. Later we learned that much of this was put together in a computer, and that CGI just continued to improve and get more complex and overwhelming with each new movie; that trend continues today. For the story and the characters and the action in this Star Wars series, this original movie has stood the test of time quite nicely. They even tried copying the story, essentially word for word, in 2015's The Force Awakens, but BB8 is no R2D2, and there wasn't even a Wookie. Watch the original again.
  50. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans: This silent film tells the story of a farmer and his girlfriend who plan to murder the farmer's wife. Be careful what you wish for! This is a great example of a well-done silent film: the musical soundtrack is perfect, and the story is so well told visually that very few intertitles are needed.
  51. Titanic: Spectacular disaster film meets love story meets standing on the bow of a ship and flying through the air. What could be better? If you're the person who hasn't seen this yet, you should watch it.
  52. To Kill a Mockingbird: A father teaches tolerance to his children by example. If only this lesson had been learned back in 1962 instead of still not yet...
  53. Twelve Angry Men: No color, no special effects, almost completely one setting, but superb acting and great storytelling combine to show how a great movie was made back in the day.
  54. Wait Until Dark: This thriller about a blind lady (Audrey Hepburn) and a band of thugs builds ever so slowly into one of the best horror climaxes of all time.
  55. West Side Story: Everybody knows the musical about the Jets against the Sharks, right? Romeo and Juliet in 1960's New York. Great music by Leonard Bernstein, great dancing, great singing.
  56. White Christmas: One of the two greatest Christmas movies of all time, with "It's a Wonderful Life". But the advantage has to go to White Christmas, since it's an upbeat musical. And wow, what a great set of songs (and dances) are in this movie. Two army buddies team up to give their old General a great Christmas, and to find romance and snow in the meantime.
  57. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Wow, if there was an opposite of White Christmas, it's this one. A bitter married couple tear each other apart during a night of drinking. Be prepared to be depressed and to hate the characters, but Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton do a heck of a job of acting in this one.

In case you agree with my list of favorite movies, here are my 200-or-so-next-best films that you might also enjoy, again listed alphabetically
(The best 34 in this bunch are in bold font)

  1. 10 Cloverfield Lane: A woman is held in a basement without her consent, for her own good (?), and then escapes into a totally different genre of a movie.
  2. 12 years a slave: A free black man is sold into slavery.
  3. The 11th hour: A documentary about global warming.
  4. 25th Hour
  5. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
  6. 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
  7. The Abyss
  8. Ace in the Hole
  9. Advise and Consent
  10. Airplane!: A very funny movie.
  11. Aliens: A sequel that's as good as the original!
  12. All Quiet on the Western Front: World War I disillusionment.
  13. All the President's Men: The Watergate scandal
  14. Amadeus: Mozart's life story
  15. American Beauty: Disturbing drama of suburban America
  16. American History X
  17. Amores perros: A Spanish film similar to Crash
  18. Angels & Demons: A thriller at the Vatican
  19. Annie Hall
  20. The Apartment
  21. Apocalypto: I enjoyed the heart-pounding action from minute one through minute 139.
  22. Arlington Road
  23. Arsenic and Old Lace
  24. Ashes and Diamonds
  25. Atonement: The 5-minute steady-cam scene of the British retreat from the Germans at Dunkirk is spectacular, but the entire movie is a beautiful masterpiece. Maybe that's why it won an Oscar and was nominated for 6 others?
  26. Awakenings
  27. Back to the Future
  28. Baraka: Second installment of the art-film trilogy of Chronos and Baraka and Samsara (below), successors to Koyaanisqatsi (one of my top-50). Baraka and Samsara are very similar; Baraka has perhaps more incredibly beautiful scenes; Samsara has perhaps more of a message and is techinically better.
  29. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
  30. Ben-Hur
  31. The Bicycle Thieves
  32. Big Fish
  33. Black Book
  34. Black Hawk Down
  35. The Box
  36. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  37. Breach
  38. Breakfast at Tiffany's
  39. Bridge of Spies
  40. The Bridges of Madison County: all right, maybe it's a glorified soap opera, but it sure did leave a silky milk chocolate taste in my throat.
  41. The Bridge on the River Kwai
  42. Brigadoon
  43. Bronco Billy
  44. The Butterfly Effect
  45. Carmen
  46. Carnage
  47. Cinderella Man
  48. Cloud Atlas
  49. Collosus: The Forbin Project
  50. Conspiracy Theory
  51. Countdown to Zero: A sensible and sobering documentary urging the reduction in nuclear weapons.
  52. Cranes are Flying
  53. Crimson Tide
  54. Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  55. Dancer in the Dark: Wow, I watched this for the first time in December of 2016, and it's the most unique musical I've ever seen (and I've seen a lot of them). I recommend this one very highly if you want a unique instance of the genre, along with some superb music and dancing.
  56. Dark City
  57. The Dark Knight
  58. The Day the Earth Stood Still: One of the great sci-fi films of all time.
  59. Deadfall
  60. Les Diaboliques
  61. The Disappearance of Alice Creed
  62. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  63. Divorce Italian Style
  64. Dodsworth
  65. Dog Day Afternoon
  66. Dogville: This one offers a fresh way of storytelling, and is worthy of a watch if only to enjoy great art expressed through creative filmmaking. If you have the attention span for this one, there is a nice pay-off.
  67. Don't Breathe
  68. Downfall
  69. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
  70. Dunkirk
  71. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  72. Edge of Tomorrow
  73. The Edukators
  74. Ender's Game
  75. The Escapist
  76. The Exorcist
  77. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  78. Eye in the Sky
  79. Eyes Wide Shut
  80. Failsafe
  81. Falling Down
  82. Femme Fatale
  83. Fermat's Room
  84. A Film Unfinished
  85. Finding Vivial Maier
  86. Firewall
  87. Forbidden Planet
  88. Forks Over Knives
  89. Full Metal Jacket
  90. Galaxy Quest
  91. The Game
  92. Gattaca
  93. The General
  94. Ghost World
  95. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  96. Gladiator
  97. The Godfather
  98. Gone Girl
  99. The Good Earth
  100. Good Will Hunting
  101. Grand Canyon
  102. Gravity
  103. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  104. Harvey
  105. Headhunters
  106. High and Low
  107. His Girl Friday
  108. The History of the World, Part 1
  109. Hotel Rwanda
  110. The Hurt Locker
  111. Ikiru
  112. In Bruges
  113. An Inconvenient Truth
  114. Inside Man
  115. Into the Wild
  116. The Killing
  117. The King of Kings
  118. Kramer vs. Kramer
  119. L.A. Confidential
  120. La Jetee: The precursor to Twelve Monkeys
  121. La La Land
  122. Last Year at Marienbad
  123. The Life of David Gale
  124. Life of Pi
  125. The Lives of Others
  126. Lolita
  127. Looper
  128. The Lost Room, the
  129. M
  130. Magnolia
  131. The Maltese Falcon
  132. Man on a Ledge
  133. Marnie
  134. The Martian
  135. The Matrix
  136. Men in Black
  137. Minority Report
  138. Modern Times
  139. Moulin Rouge!
  140. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  141. The Music Man
  142. My First Mister
  143. My Man Godfrey
  144. The Next Three Days
  145. Nightcrawler
  146. Ninotchka
  147. Nocturnal Animals
  148. The Notebook
  149. Night and Fog
  150. Olive Kitteridge
  151. On Golden Pond
  152. On the Waterfront
  153. Open Your Eyes
  154. Ordinary People
  155. The Painted Veil
  156. Pan's Labyrinth (Laberinto del Fauno)
  157. Paranormal Activity
  158. Particle Fever
  159. The Passion of the Christ
  160. The Past
  161. Paths of Glory
  162. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl
  163. A Place in the Sun
  164. Planet of the Apes
  165. Platoon
  166. Prince and the Pauper
  167. Prisoners
  168. Project Nim
  169. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  170. The Railway Man
  171. A Raisin in the Sun
  172. Rear Window
  173. Red River
  174. Reign Over Me
  175. Rendition
  176. Requiem for a Dream
  177. The Revenant
  178. Rififi
  179. The Right Stuff
  180. Rocky
  181. The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming
  182. Russian Ark
  183. Samsara: Beautiful third installment of the art-film trilogy of Chronos and Baraka (above) and Samsara, successors to Koyaanisqatsi (one of my top-50). Baraka and Samsara are very similar; Baraka has perhaps more incredibly beautiful scenes; Samsara has perhaps more of a message and is technically better.
  184. The Sea Inside
  185. Seance on a Wet Afternoon
  186. The Secret in their Eyes
  187. Seems Like Old Times
  188. A Separation
  189. Seven Pounds
  190. The Seventh Seal
  191. Shadow of a Doubt
  192. Shoah 9-hour documentary about the Holocaust, told through interviews with witnesses, survivors and perpetrators.
  193. Shutter Island
  194. The Sixth Sense
  195. Sleep Tight
  196. Some Like It Hot
  197. Something the Lord Made
  198. Sophie's Choice
  199. The Sound of Music
  200. Source Code
  201. Spartacus
  202. A Special Day
  203. Speed
  204. Splendor in the Grass
  205. Stalag 17
  206. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
  207. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  208. Star Trek Into Darkness
  209. Star Trek Beyond
  210. Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
  211. Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
  212. Stonehearst Asylum
  213. Strangers on a Train
  214. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  215. Synecdoche, New York
  216. Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
  217. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  218. Timecrimes
  219. Tristan und Isolde: If you'd like to try out opera, but have always been afraid, then this opera by Wagner, or 1984's Carmen by Bizet would be a great way to dip your toes into the water. Tristan und Isolde if your a bleeding Romantic like me, Carmen if you're not. This particular version of Tristan und Isolde is in great sound, unlike other DVDs of great performances you might find.
  220. True Grit
  221. The Truman Show
  222. Twelve Monkeys
  223. Umberto D
  224. Umbrellas of Cherbourg: This is a non-hollywood musical about a girl and her boyfriend who goes to war. There is no dialog, every word is sung, which makes this an opera in disguise, right? This one's a favorite, like Dancer in the Dark, because it's just so original.
  225. United 93
  226. The Usual Suspects
  227. V for Vendetta
  228. Valkyrie
  229. Vertigo
  230. A Very Long Engagement
  231. Water for Elephants
  232. What Dreams May Come
  233. Wild Tales: An excellent Argentinian movie (in Spanish) made of 6 unrelated short stories about people under extreme stress.
  234. Witness for the Prosecution
  235. The Wizard of Oz
  236. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

And finally, a few TV series which I've especially enjoyed, again in alphabetical order

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