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
- 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.
- It's A Wonderful Life: The best Christmas movie ever stars Jimmy Stewart as George Baily, Donna Reed as his wife, Lionel Barrymore as the town grinch, and Henry Travers as George’s guardian angel, sent to Earth to earn his wings by helping a man in ruin by showing him how much worse the world would have been if he’d never been born, despite the fact that George never was able to live the life of his youthful ambitions.
- (subtitled) The Seventh Seal: A knight and his squire return home from the Crusades through a Europe ravaged by Black Plague, while Death threatens that the knight’s end is near. He buys time to do one last good deed by playing a game of chess against Death and uses that borrowed time to save a young family. A superb movie filled with never-to-be-forgotten scenes, great photography, some humor, several memorable characters, and an intense message.
- 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.
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)
- 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.
- Being John Malkovich: A puppeteer discovers a portal into John Malkovich’s mind in this very funny and clever movie.
- Big Fish
- The Box: Married couple receives the Box with a button inside. Push it and someone dies, you get a million dollars, and by the way your life will become hell.
- Brand Upon the Brain: Experimental black-and-white imitation-silent film with narration (choose audio track from 8 different narrators) about a man who goes back to paint-over his childhood home to erase the memories that he recalls while doing so. Not for those who dislike or don’t appreciate silent films like Metropolis or The Passion of Joan of Arc.
- 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.
- Curious Case of Benjamin Button
- E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- Ender's Game: Children are taught to be battle-ready through game-playing in order to defeat the alien Formics.
- Life of Pi
- The Lost Room
- Men in Black
- (subtitled) Pan's Labyrinth (Laberinto del Fauno)
- (subtitled) Persona: Gorgeous abstract film something like Last Year At Marienbad in that there is no way to make complete sense of the movie, you can attempt several theories but none of them work correctly to explain the entire film. The closest, for me, is that an insane woman actress, who didn’t want children and wished her newborn son would die, goes crazy, and splits into two personalities who argue the facts of her life to try and reconcile her insanity. Roger Ebert, on the other hand, argues for a literal interpretation: the actress Elizabeth suddenly stops talking in the middle of a play, is committed to a psychiatric hospital, and nursed and cared for by the chatty Alma at a summer house on the water, where the two women somehow merge. Regardless of interpretation, this movie contains many many gorgeous photographic compositions and is an interesting romp through unreality. Plus, we get to watch two beautiful women for 90 minutes.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl
- Russian Ark: A single-scene steadicam walk through The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia
- The Shape of Water: A cleaning lady at a top-secret government facility falls in love with the sea monster being studied.
- Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi
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- What Dreams May Come
- The Wizard of Oz
And finally, a few TV series which I've especially enjoyed, again in alphabetical order
- Outlander: Season 1 is quite good. Beyond that, not so much. A happily-married English woman on vacation in Scotland with her husband visits a stone circle, touches a stone, and is transported back 200 years to the time of Scottish Clans, with some people planning rebellion against England, and a constant struggle between the fiercely independent people and the British occupying forces, led by a Sadistic captain who is dedicated to punishing her new Scottish husband.
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