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) The Cremator: Wow, what a superb black comedy of the macabre, featuring great inventive camera work, lots of fish-eye-lens, modern fast-paced cutting, and turning quite horrific at the end. A very odd man runs his ‘Temple of Death’, a crematorium adjacent to a cemetery in Prague, and transforms from a pacifist not-quite-family man into something much darker.
  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. Fight Club: This movie is just so wacked out, so fresh and original, and so much fun to watch over and over, that I've gotta believe that once you watch it it'll become one of your favorites, too.
  4. It Happened One Night: An early romantic comedy from the 1930's that holds up pretty well 80 years later.
  5. Roman Holiday: This one's just the ultimate feel-good romantic comedy for me. I love the scenery, I think I've been everywhere except the police station and inside Joe's apartment, and wow, Audrey Hepburn's first movie! Gregory Peck and her enjoy a romantic weekend in my favorite city.
  6. White Christmas: One of the two greatest Christmas movies of all time, with "It's a Wonderful Life". But the advantage has to go to White Christmas, since it's an upbeat musical. And wow, what a great set of songs (and dances) are in this movie. Two army buddies team up to give their old General a great Christmas, and to find romance and snow in the meantime.
  7. (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 really enjoyable music are to be found in this totally over-the-top fantasy.

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. Airplane!: A slapstick comedy about the happenings on an airplane flight
  2. Annie Hall: Funny and touching romantic comedy about a neurotic New York comedian (Woody Allen) who falls in love with an insecure ditzy nightclub singer (Diane Keaton).
  3. The Apartment: Clerk in huge company is intimidated to provide his apartment to executives for their use to have sex with female employees, but becomes disgruntled with the arrangement when he learns that the elevator operator he likes is being had in his apartment by the company president.
  4. Arsenic and Old Lace: Comedy about a newlywed man who learns, while leaving on his honeymoon, that his two maiden aunts are serial murderers. Then his serial killer brother arrives on the scene.
  5. Baby Doll: A failed middle-aged farmer and his child bride live in a broken down home in this southern-drawl comedy, where he burns down the Cotton Gin of his competitor and loses the respect and affection of his wife.
  6. Back to the Future: Marty McFly, a typical American teenager of the Eighties, is accidentally sent back to 1955 in a plutonium-powered DeLorean 'time machine' invented by a slightly mad scientist. During his often hysterical, always amazing trip back in time, Marty must make certain his teenage parents-to-be meet and fall in love - so he can get back to the future
  7. Being John Malkovich: A puppeteer discovers a portal into John Malkovich’s mind in this very funny and clever movie.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Breakfast at Tiffany's: Audrey Hepburn falls in love with George Peppard in the New York of 1960.
  11. Bronco Billy: Clint Eastwood leads his ragtag circus ensemble from town to town and crisis to crisis.
  12. The Bucket List: Dying guys Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman decide to see stuff on their bucket lists before death.
  13. Carnage: One boy hits another with a stick on the playground and breaks two of his teeth. The parents meet in one couple’s apartment and spar with each other in a witty evolving battle.
  14. (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.
  15. Conspiracy Theory: Seemingly-crazy and paranoid cab driver Mel Gibson thinks everything around him is evidence of a conspiracy, and he loves Julia Roberts.
  16. (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.
  17. 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.
  18. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Satire about an insane General who orders a squadron of bombers to drop their nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union, and how the politicians, military, and diplomats in the War Room try to either intensify or stop the attack.
  19. (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.
  20. Foul Play: Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase foil a plot to murder the pope, with lots of terrific comedy mixed in.
  21. Galaxy Quest: Very funny spoof of Star Trek, with a good story line and a nice strong message.
  22. (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
  23. The Gold Rush: Very funny Charlie Chaplin comedy about a small bumbling man who participates in the Alaska Gold Rush, where all the burly men go. He falls in love with a dancer and befriends a man who strikes it rich in gold and shares the wealth. I prefer the 1925 silent version over the 1942 narrated remake. Filled with great scenes including eating a stewed shoe (at 17:30), dancing dinner rolls (at 58:00), and the cabin teetering on the edge of a cliff (at 1:14:40).
  24. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  25. Harvey
  26. His Girl Friday: Whirlwind comedy about a newspaper editor who wants to retain a woman as his star reporter and also as his wife.
  27. The History of the World, Part 1
  28. In Bruges: Dark comedy about two hitmen who botched their last job are sent by their ruthless boss to Bruges to cool down for a while, as they await their next assignment.
  29. (subtitled) Jean de Florette: A greedy landowner and his backward nephew conspire to block the only water source for an adjoining property in order to bankrupt the hunchback owner and force him to sell his farm to them so they can unblock the spring and grow carnations on the property. Beautiful music and cinematography. The sequel is Manon of the Spring.
  30. Jewel Robbery: Great comedy about a woman who is willingly swept off her feet by the robber that stole all the jewelry in the jewelry store she was visiting while her husband bought her a huge diamond ring.
  31. Kind Hearts and Coronets: Great comedy about a man who’s aristocratic family has snubbed his mother and himself, so he decides to murder them all. Then he is accused of murdering is first love’s husband and while on death row, where he writes his memoirs, including the story of all the murders he really performed.
  32. La La Land: Music and aspiring performers in today's Los Angeles
  33. Little Children: Sarah & Brad and their small children, and their spouses and friends, and the town pervert and an ex-town-cop intersect and build to a crashing climax.
  34. (subtitled) Love Me If You Dare: Childhood friends taunt each other through life. The final 15 minutes will leave you reeling.
  35. Love Me Tonight: A very funny comedy romantic musical with memorable tunes and clever lyrics. A Parisian tailor poses as a baron to collect the large amount owed him by an aristocrat, and meanwhile falls in love with a princess. If you can get past the age of this 1932 film and the over-the-top acting of Maurice Chevalier, you’re in for a real treat with this one.
  36. Manhattan: A Woody Allen romantic comedy about friends in New York and a midlife crisis.
  37. Marriage Story: Couple (director and actress in New York plays) with a young child, decides to get divorced. Wife and child move to LA for her to act in a TV show, and the divorce turns ugly.
  38. Men in Black
  39. (subtitled) Modern Times: Silent Charlie Chaplin comedy
  40. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: The nice-guy (Jimmy Stewart) finishes first for once.
  41. The Music Man: In the early 20th century, Harold Hill poses as a professor of music to con the townspeople of an Iowa town into spending their money to buy musical instruments, uniforms, and music for their children to form a marching band.
  42. My Fair Lady: Henry Higgins takes on the challenge to teach Eliza Dolittle how to speak properly and behave like a lady in this really funny musical with clever lyrics.
  43. My First Mister
  44. My Man Godfrey: Slapstick comedy about a woman who takes in a homeless man to be her butler just to defeat her sister in a scavenger hunt, but falls in love with the disinterested butler.
  45. My Winnipeg: Extremely funny pseudo-documentary about the director’s home town of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and his understanding of the people there, his family when he was growing up, the hockey and how it was destroyed by the evil NHL, and the heroic woman who will restore Winnipeg to its rightful past glory once again.
  46. Ninotchka
  47. (subtitled) No Man's Land: Two soldiers from opposing sides of the Bosnia/Serbian war become trapped in a no-man’s-land trench between their respective front lines, while a third soldier becomes a living booby trap. UN Peacekeepers don’t handle the situation effectively, and reporters become scavengers.
  48. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of Black Pearl
  49. (subtitled) Il Postino: The Postman gets an education about poetry, love and friendship.
  50. The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming: A New-England town easily convinces themselves that the Russian sailors who ran aground are actually a deadly invasion force in this excellent comedy
  51. (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.
  52. Seems Like Old Times: Chevy Chase is forced to help bank robbers, then begs his ex-wife, Goldie Hawn, a defense attorney, to help him out with food and a place to sleep.
  53. Shop Around the Corner: Jimmy Stewart is a clerk in store in Budapest, and falls in love with a pen pal he writes to, who he learns is a fellow clerk in the store. Lots of good comedy in this feel-good Christmas movie.
  54. Some Like It Hot: Jack Lemon and Tony Curtis, musicians in a jazz band, need work and have to hide-out from gangsters, so they take a job in a female-only band that's to perform for 3 weeks in Miami. Dressed in drag and with their falsetto voices, they meet Marylin Monroe, the band's singer, and Tony Curtis tries to woo her, imitating a rich oil baron. Wow, what a fabulous nearly-see-through dress she wore during their date! This very funny comedy is well worth a couple hours of real fun.
  55. (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?
  56. Stalag 17
  57. 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.
  58. (subtitled) Tampopo: A comedy about eating, with several stories, the main one being about a truck driver who stops off at a small floundering ramen shop and decides to help the pretty proprietress, Tampopo, revamp the recipes, menu, and the store itself to make it the most popular ramen shop in the area.
  59. The Truman Show: Unbeknownst to him, an insurance salesman lives his life while it’s being broadcast to the public, the most popular reality show on television.
  60. Unfaithfully Yours: Hilarious story about an orchestral conductor who believes his wife has been unfaithful, therefore he plots his revenge.
  61. (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.
  62. (subtitled) Wild Tales: An excellent Argentinian movie made of 6 unrelated short stories about people under extreme stress.
  63. (subtitled) Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

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

  1. All in the Family
  2. The Andy Griffiths Show
  3. The Dick Van Dyke Show
  4. Green Acres
  5. I Love Lucy
  6. M*A*S*H
  7. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: An extremely funny series about a housewife and mother of 2 young children who discovers she has a talent for stand-up comedy after her husband leaves her. Both her parents, her ex-husband's parents, and her agent are also super-quirky and funny.
  8. The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  9. Saturday Night Live: The first several years; after that it faded, IMHO
  10. Schitt's Creek: Very funny comedy series about a wealthy family of eccentric people who lose all their money and have to regroup by moving to the armpit town of Schitt’s Creek, their only remaining asset, which they once bought as a joke. Though the series initially earns your allegiance by virtue of it's comedy, it will make you love and root for its unusual characters, and perhaps teach you a bit of tolerance along the way.

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