Jeff's Favorite Movies
As of today, I've watched and rated 2,319 movies, assigning each a numerical rating 1 (a waste of life) and 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 2,319 movies over again to try and be more consistent, so for what it's worth, here is the list of the 60-or-so movies I've rated 9 or 10, followed by the 300-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 the Internet Movie Database 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 (I've since re-rated it as 7, because I now better appreciate it's allure, but it's still not a favorite). Even the highly-regarded 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. So those are two movies that don't quite make it onto my list of favorite movies. 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, keep reading.
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 300-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 2,319 I've watched.
I welcome you to send me an email with any comments on my choices.
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My Favorite 60 or so Movies, listed alphabetically
- 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.
- (subtitled) 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. A German U-Boat crew terrorizes British convoys and pays a heavy price for their actions.
- Charade: A young woman’s husband is killed by a small gang who believes he made off with all the loot from their robbery. They assume she has the loot and they now want their fair share, regardless of who gets hurt. Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and other merely great actors in a who-dunnit with plenty of twists and turns.
- Hunt for Red October: A great submarine thriller filled with suspense.
- Inception: Top-notch sci-fi with great visuals, and plenty of mind-bending to make it worth several viewings.
- King Kong: A pretty darned good modern remake of the original King Kong.
- (subtitled) The Seven Samurai: This is another superb Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa and featuring Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, as is Rashomon. In this one, seven unemployed samurai soldiers are hired in 1587 by a small peasant farming village to defend the village from impending attack by bandits. It took me a few viewings (and listening to the DVD commentary tracks) to understand the Japanese culture and history in this movie, but once I did so the movie advanced from a really fun action movie into a masterpiece. It's been imitated many times, but never bettered.
- 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...
- Star Wars IV: A New Hope: This, the first movie released in the Star Wars series, will always 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.
- 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.
In case you agree with my list of favorite movies, here are my 300-or-so-next-best films that you might also enjoy, again listed alphabetically
(The best 34 in this bunch are in bold font)
- 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.
- Aliens: A sequel that's as good as the original!
- Angels & Demons: A thriller at the Vatican
- (subtitled) Apocalypto: I enjoyed the heart-pounding action from minute one through minute 139. There's very little dialog, so the subtitles are pretty easy to keep up with.
- 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.
- Blade Runner 2049: The sequel to Blade Runner, not as superb as the original, but still quite good.
- Brazil: Highly inventive dystopian sci-fi comedy about a worker in a senseless super-bureaucratic government who becomes just another terrorist enemy of the state while trying to free a wrongfully-arrested man and chasing after the woman of his dreams.
- Bronco Billy: Clint Eastwood leads his ragtag circus ensemble from town to town and crisis to crisis.
- Cloud Atlas
- Conspiracy Theory: Seemingly-crazy and paranoid cab driver Mel Gibson thinks everything around him is evidence of a conspiracy, and he loves Julia Roberts.
- Crimson Tide
- The Dark Knight
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Satire about an insane General who orders a squadron of bombers to drop their nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union, and how the politicians, military, and diplomats in the War Room try to either intensify or stop the attack.
- Edge of Tomorrow
- Ender's Game: Children are taught to be battle-ready through game-playing in order to defeat the alien Formics.
- Eye in the Sky: How to deal with civilians during wartime?
- Falling Down: Michael Douglas, a successful engineer, suddenly snaps.
- Forbidden Planet
- The Game
- (subtitled) The General: Very funny silent film, with lots of action, lots of outright humor, and tons of subtle humor in Buster Keaton's acting
- (subtitled) Harakiri: An aging ex-Samurai comes to a clan’s headquarters, asking them to let him commit suicide in their courtyard. They tell him the story of another Samurai who did the same thing a few weeks ago. He slowly reveals the family relationship between him and that prior samurai, and the revenge he’s extracted for the cruelty of that prior suicide. Gets a bit silly during the final battle scene, but other than that an intense drama.
- (subtitled) Headhunters
- I, Robot
- (subtitled) Infernal Affairs: This is the original version of 'The Departed", and is a much tighter film than the remake, being more cinematic, with a great succinct plot. A gangster infiltrates the police and a policeman infiltrates the gang. Each team wants to find and eliminate the traitor.
- The Lost Room
- Man on a Ledge
- The Matrix
- Men in Black
- Minority Report
- Mission: Impossible - Fallout
- The Next Three Days
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Red River
- Red Sparrow: The masochist in me loves the training of this Russian agent.
- The Revenant
- Source Code
- Spartacus: Kubrick tells the story of Spartacus, a slave of Rome who becomes a gladiator trainee, then escapes the training camp and leads an army of freed gladiators and other slaves in a revolt against a decaying Roman Republic in the 1st century BC.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
- Star Trek: Superb reboot with tons of action and great humor. Vulcan destroyed by Romulans, Kirk prevents them from destroying Earth too.
- Star Trek Beyond
- Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
- Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
- 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.
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- 3:10 to Yuma: (2007)
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- Unknown: Liam Neeson thriller, set in Berlin, with Bruno Ganz and Sebastian Koch. A scientist and his wife travel to Berlin so he can make a presentation at a conference. He is separated from his wife and another man takes his place; his wife disavows knowing the scientist; and then we learn there’s a lot more at stake here than a scientific presentation.
- V for Vendetta
And finally, a few TV series which I've especially enjoyed, again in alphabetical order
- Star Trek: The Original Series: the best sci-fi ever
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: the other absolute best sci-fi ever, or do I have these reversed
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