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
- (subtitled) The Hidden Fortress: Peasants, general, princess and lots of gold travel across borders, similar plot to Star Wars (R2D2 and C3P0 help Solo and Skywalker get Princess Leah to safety). Superb comedy, superb direction, love the scene where the generals fight with spears.
- 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.
- 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.
- King Kong: A pretty darned good modern remake of the original King Kong.
- North by Northwest: Hitchcock sure knew how to create a great entertaining thriller! This one will keep you enthralled from start to finish. If you've never seen it, you're in for a treat!
- (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.
- 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)
- 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!
- (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.
- 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.
- Big Fish
- The Bridge on the River Kwai: Epic tale of rebellion and sabotage by prisoners of war charged with building a bridge for the enemy.
- Bronco Billy: Clint Eastwood leads his ragtag circus ensemble from town to town and crisis to crisis.
- The Bucket List: Dying guys Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman decide to see stuff on their bucket lists before death.
- Edge of Tomorrow
- Ender's Game: Children are taught to be battle-ready through game-playing in order to defeat the alien Formics.
- Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: A search for closure after 9/11.
- Forbidden Planet
- Galaxy Quest: Very funny spoof of Star Trek, with a good story line and a nice strong message.
- (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
- Into the Wild
- Life of Pi
- The Martian: an astronaut stranded on Mars tries to survive.
- Men in Black
- Mission: Impossible - Fallout
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl
- Planet of the Apes
- The Prince and the Pauper
- Raiders of the Lost Ark
- Red River
- The Revenant
- The Right Stuff: The heroic story of the 7 original astronauts for NASA
- The Searchers: Macho John Wayne hunts down the Comanches that captured his niece through Monument Valley
- The Shape of Water: A cleaning lady at a top-secret government facility falls in love with the sea monster being studied.
- 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: 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
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- (subtitled) The Wages of Fear: Four men are hired to drive two trucks carrying a half-ton of explosive nitro-glycerine over terrible dirt roads in South America without the necessary safety equipment. Slow start but very intense second half.
- The Wizard of Oz
And finally, a few TV series which I've especially enjoyed, again in alphabetical order
- Lost In Space
- 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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