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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Donnie Darko: Wierd wierd wierd sci-fi, watch it a few times.
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Another wierd sci-fi masterpiece. Can you erase someone from your past? Are you sure you want to?
- Inception: Top-notch sci-fi with great visuals, and plenty of mind-bending to make it worth several viewings.
- 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)
- King Kong: Great sci-fi, the way it used to be made.
- (subtitled) Metropolis: Silent 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.
- The Prestige: Watch carefully to this rivalry between two magicians.
- 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.
- 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.
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)
- Aliens: A sequel that's as good as the original!
- (subtitled) Alphaville: Fantastic mix of sci-fi, film-noir, comedy, over-the-top music, and the superb voice of the Alpha-60 computer. A secret agent posing as a reporter travels to Alphaville, a futuristic city in another galaxy, to destroy an evil scientist named Von Braun who has created the Alpha-60 machine which outlaws love and self-expression.
- 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.
- Back to the Future: The classic comedy/sci-fi in which Michael J Fox travels through time in the DeLorean Time Machine that Christopher Lloyd built.
- 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.
- The Butterfly Effect
- Colossus: The Forbin Project: Those damned computers! Give them superior intelligence and ultimate power -- what could go wrong?
- Contact: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence finally detects a signal; one with a difficult message to decode that leads to the journey of a lifetime
- Dark City
- The Day the Earth Stood Still: One of the great sci-fi films of all time. A space traveller has important news for Earth, but a hostile greeting from humans makes it difficult to deliver.
- Don't Look Up: A comet is discovered that’ll crash into Earth and destroy all life. Science tries to convince leadership to launch a deflection mission, but science-adverse leadership ignores them and sides with corporate interests instead. A satire that rings absolutely true in today’s world on so many levels, like governing for re-election alone, distrust of true science and promotion of fake science, attention to social media above all else, public belief of made-up news, etc.
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- Edge of Tomorrow
- Ender's Game: Children are taught to be battle-ready through game-playing in order to defeat the alien Formics.
- The Fly: Superb sci-fi horror movie with great character development, great acting, a love triangle, and a super-intense last half hour. A scientist has developed a teleportation machine that works great for inanimate objects. He must make adjustments to let it work on living flesh.
- Forbidden Planet
- Galaxy Quest: Very funny spoof of Star Trek, with a good story line and a nice strong message.
- Gravity: An accident on the space station threatens the lives of the astronauts
- I, Robot
- (subtitled) La Jetee: The precursor to Twelve Monkeys. An experimental film made with narration over still photos (except one video clip of the woman waking up) about experiments in the aftermath of WWIII to travel to the future to obtain what’s necessary for humanity to survive.
- The Martian: an astronaut stranded on Mars tries to survive.
- The Matrix
- Men in Black
- Minority Report
- Mission: Impossible - Fallout
- (subtitled) Open Your Eyes
- Planet of the Apes
- Spring: A young man, down on his luck, visits Italy and has an intense love affair, but then it seems like she changes... An oh, the Italian scenery...
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn: First installment in the unbroken story told in Star Trek II, III and IV. Superb space opera with the ultimate villain, Kahn, threatening the Enterprise and Kirk but without Kirk’s experience. Plus the whole Spock thing.
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home: Third installment in the unbroken story told in Star Trek II, III and IV. On their way home to Earth from Vulcan, a probe attacks Earth and the skeleton crew of the destroyed Enterprise, now on a Bird of Prey, must save the Earth from destruction by travelling to the past for a couple of whales.
- 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
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- (subtitled) Timecrimes
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- The Truman Show
- Twelve Monkeys: an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, based upon and greatly expanding La Jetee. A prison inmate is sent back in time to discover the roots of the man-made virus that has killed most of the human population on Earth.
- V for Vendetta
And finally, a few TV series which I've especially enjoyed, again in alphabetical order
- Black Mirror: a modern Twilight Zone
- The Expanse: Season 1 had a great story line and superb effects; shows great promise for a long-term great sci-fi show if they continue
- The Handmaiden's Tale
- Lost In Space
- Man in the High Castle
- 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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