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) Last Year at Marienbad: A movie with polarized reviews. Many people hate it, thinking it's the epitome of pretentious French cinema. I happen to really like the film as a beautifully-photographed black-and-white masterpiece that is a real brain-twister. Sit back, enjoy the photography, the sounds, the mirrors, the talking, the circles that don't quite return to their starting point. For me, this one's a blast! Past, Present and Future are mashed together seemingly randomly. Mantras of the narrator are repeated over and over, sometimes with slight variations. A man tries to convince a woman who claims she doesn't know him that they met here last year and had an intense relationship. My first time watching resulted in sheer confusion. During my next few viewings, I tried to piece together a coherent story, reading articles on the internet (like these) for ideas. But there is no coherent story - each potential explanation makes sense for 80% of the movie, then fails miserably for the other 20%. Eventually, I found I enjoy the film best if I just sit back and enjoy the photography, the narration, the bits of story, and accept that this is abstract cinema at its finest.
- (subtitled) The Piano Teacher: A young student falls in love with his much older sadistic and masochistic piano teacher.
- (subtitled) The Umbrellas of Cherbourg: A musical (actually an OPERA, since all words in this movie are sung, none spoken) about idyllic young love interrupted by separation due to war, and the long-term impact of that separation on it’s young lovers.
- (subtitled) The Young Girls of Rochefort: Superb lighter-than-air pastel-colored musical about 3 couples searching for love in care-free Rochefort, France, during the construction and the weekend of a carnival. Lots of singing and dancing, humor, likable characters, a forward-moving plot, and some really enjoyable music.
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)
- (subtitled) Alphaville: A mix of sci-fi, film-noir, comedy, and over-the-top music
- (subtitled) The Battle of Algiers: The story of Algerian resistance fighters during their 1950s fight for independence from the French government.
- (subtitled) Carmen: Bizet's opera Carmen features great music and a story involving a soldier who falls into unrequited love.
- (subtitled) Cleo from 5 to 7: Two hours in the life of a gorgeous woman singer in Paris who is awaiting the results of a biopsy, fearful of a cancer diagnosis.
- (subtitled) Les Diaboliques
- (subtitled) La Jetee: The precursor to Twelve Monkeys
- (subtitled) Love Me If You Dare: Childhood friends taunt each other through life. The final 15 minutes will leave you reeling.
- (subtitled) Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog): Half-hour sobering holocaust documentary about the Nazi death camps, told by narration over high impact photos and videos of the actual camps
- (subtitled) Purple Noon: The original French version of "The Talented Mr Ripley", interesting to see the differences in interpretation of the story. I like both, but probably the American version better.
- (subtitled) Rififi: The perfect heist.
- (subtitled) Le Samourai: A hitman evades capture despite the police suspecting his alabis are faked
- (subtitled) The Soft Skin: Married middle-aged author meets single young stewardess and they have an affair. They spend more and more time together and this takes a toll on his marriage and also their relationship.
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- (subtitled) A Very Long Engagement
And finally, a few TV series which I've especially enjoyed, again in alphabetical order
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