Jeff's Favorite Movies

As of today, I've watched and rated 2,800 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 2,800 movies over again to try and be more consistent, so for what it's worth, here is the list of the 70-or-so movies I've rated 9 or 10, followed by the 320-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 email with any comments on my choices.

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My Favorite 60 or so Movies, listed alphabetically

  1. (subtitled) Cinema Paradiso: A sweet love story to the movies, about a very young boy whose father was killed at war but was given fatherly love by Alfredo, the movie theater projectionist in his small town in Sicily. He idolizes Alfredo and the movies he shows and grows to replace him as projectionist after an accident forces Alfredo into retirement. He finds love but it’s ended abruptly by the girl’s parents who don’t think he’s good enough for her. He serves in the military and comes back to town disillusioned. We jump forward 30 years to when he’s a successful film maker in Rome and receives a call that Alfredo has died, whereupon he returns to his hometown to attend the funeral, reminisce and receive a gift from Alfredo. Bring kleenex. If you're reading this you probably love movies, as I most assuredly do, so you owe it to yourself to watch this love story to the movies.
  2. (subtitled) La Dolce Vita: Just a great glimpse of 1960's Rome, the story of a stale reporter attempting to enjoy 'the sweet life', but not really enjoying anything at all. Great Italian music, plus, a thousand bonus points just for being an Italian movie set in Rome.
  3. (subtitled) The Great Beauty: You've made it to my absolute favorite movie of all time (so far). It's a love story to Rome, with gorgeous cinematography, an incredible soundtrack, and all-to-brief visits to many of the incredibly beautiful places I love in Rome. I wish I could meet Stefano, who has the keys to all the best places in Rome. And if none of this was enough, this movie has the best, most peaceful closing credits in any movie from any era. This is modern Italian cinema at its very best. Plus, a thousand bonus points just for being an Italian movie. If I've convinced one reader to watch this movie, then I'm happy, because this movie deserves to be watched over and over 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)

  1. (subtitled) The Adventure (L'Avventura): First movie in the series about alienation (L'Avventura, La Notte, L'Eclisse, Red Desert) by Antonioni. A group of friends takes a yacht to a small uninhabited volcanic island. One of the women disappears. Her girlfriend and boyfriend hook up, but he's unwilling to commit. Loaded with gorgeous photography, superb compositions, and a quite beautiful leading lady.
  2. (subtitled) The Bicycle Thieves: Great story of the desperation of a man struggling against society in post- WW II Rome.
  3. (subtitled) Divorce Italian Style: A 40-year-old Sicilian man wants to divorce his wife since he now loves a 20-year-old hottie, but of course, divorce is not allowed in Catholic Italy. So he sets her up to cheat on him with the intent to kill her in a fit of rage and get a short jail term for the crime of passion, then marry the hottie.
  4. (subtitled) 8 1/2: The surrealistically-told story of a film director with director’s block, who is under pressure to make a movie but has no idea what it’s about, who the characters are, who the actors will be, or what they will say, constructed from episodes from Fellini’s lifetime, with dreams and fantasies seamlessly interwoven with reality.
  5. (subtitled) Le Notti Bianche: Romantic story of a love triangle, with superb filming and compositions, beautiful sound track, and some unforgettable scenes, set in a small neighborhood of Venice.
  6. (subtitled) Il Postino: The Postman gets an education about poetry, love and friendship.
  7. (subtitled) Seduced and Abandoned: Superb Italian comedy about a Sicilian father whose 15-year-old daughter was impregnated by his older daughter’s fiance, and tries to salvage the family’s honor.
  8. (subtitled) Il Sorpasso: A loud-mouthed intensely dislikable braggart takes a shy introverted law student on a very humorous 2-day road-trip through Rome to the Tuscan countryside, visiting relatives and friends, convincing him to enjoy life the way the braggart does. Will they ever make it back to Rome?
  9. (subtitled) The Tree of Wooden Clogs: A gorgeous and very slow-paced view of a year in the life of several families of Italian farm peasants who live in landlord-provided housing at the end of the 1800s. Their daily routines are shown in detail, one young son becomes among the first sent to school, a marriage and wedding night in a convent results in an orphan being adopted the next day. They gather at night to tell horrific stories and scare each other silly, breaking out in laughter. I found their lives fascinating to learn about, and felt at the end like I knew these people very well. A second watching 4 years later made me like it even more.
  10. (subtitled) Umberto D: A retired man apparently cast-out by society struggles to survive financially in Rome, along with his dog Flick.
  11. (subtitled) The White Sheik: An early Fellini comedy, in which a newlywed wife leaves her husband for an hour to meet a movie star she admires, until it turns into much more than an hour.
  12. (subtitled) Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

And finally, a few TV series which I've especially enjoyed, again in alphabetical order

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