I guess I am a list maker. Ranking, rating, reviewing. Love it. And conceding that this is the case, and that my love of entertainment and fun has left me swirling in a vortex of lists, I had better include the most ubiquitous one there is: The Greatest Movies of All-Time! [echo, echo, echo!]
So here it is, my highly subjective list that is based on criteria including:
- Star Power
- Quality Performances
- Quotable Lines
- Clever Writing
- General Enjoyment
Notice what isn’t on this list: Award and box office numbers. Toss out academic ideas about what was most influential on other filmmakers, which movies defined certain eras, or which roles were the high watermark for a certain performer’s career. I care little about benchmarks or importance, and more about the personal experience–specifically, my personal experience. In fact, the last criterium on my list–“General Enjoyment” is probably the most heavily weighted. Even if a movie is considered a cinematic pile of shit, if it is ceaselessly entertaining, then it matters. A lot. (This is something the Academy Awards will never understand.)
So without further drudgery, I submit to you my list of the greatest movies ever made, according to my own completely subjective, yet excruciatingly perfect opinion:
1. The Godfather & The Godfather Part II
Fredo’s banana daiquiris, Sonny’s bridesmaid, the cannoli, Kate’s willful ignorance, Moe Green’s eyeball, the priest renouncing satan, Michael reaching behind the chain toilet, a young Clemenza helping himself to a rug.
2. The Big Lebowski
The caucasian cocktails, Jesus bowling over the line, the lingonberry pancake-eating nihilists, the porno sketch on the notepad, Dude dancing to a Willie Nelson song, the ferret in the bathtub, and the fucking rug that tied the room together.
3. Spirited Away
The soot sprites collapsing under their coal, the alarmist frog being eaten and spat out, the valuable railway ticket, the giant baby hidden in the pillows, the soak tokens for the big tub, the paper birds hitching a ride, a young girl who loves a river spirit, and our beautiful No Face who needs to stay with Granny for his own good.
The doo-wop music, the garlic sliced really thin, the painting of the bearded man in the rowboat with his dog, Karen screaming that Janice Rossi is a whore, Maury’s horrible rugs staying on while he jumps in the pool, Spider landing on the wrong side of Tommy’s temper, the helicopters chasing Henry, remembering to stir the sauce, and Jimmy the Gent ushering Karen to just go around the corner for some dresses.
5. The Big Chill
The pipe organ at the funeral set against the creepy preacher’s ramblings, a whole lot of drugs, JT Lancer biffing his leap into the convertible, Nick taking a wrench to what’s stashed under his bumper, the Motown music, Harold grabbing a tennis racket to chase a bat in the attic, Chloe’s unreal stretches, Nick’s video camera confessions, and Harold’s disturbingly short jogging shorts.
6. Raiders of the Lost Ark
The whip, the idol, Reggie the snake going for a plane ride, Marion drinking a big sweaty dude under the table, the melting face, the staff catching the sunlight, Marion in her beautiful white dress nearly attacked by a folding Nazi hanger, the melting face, the monkey riding around with Marion and the shuffle of baskets in the marketplace. And that triumphant theme music.
7. Howl’s Moving Castle
The sweet soundtrack of a senseless war and a squeaking, hopping little dog. Calcifer cooking a big breakfast and munching the eggshells, Sophie cleaning the house and the hat shop where everything goes wrong. Howl melting in his own vanity. And Turnip Head, sweet Turnip Head.
8. The Princess Bride
The Cliffs of Insanity, Count Rugen’s painful research (for posterity), Vizzini’s dizzying intellect at a game of poisoned cups, the R.O.U.S.s, Miracle Max interpreting Westley’s reason to live and his witchy wife setting him right. Inigo Montoya’s quest for the six-fingered man. The shrieking eels. Inconceivable! And, of course, there is Westley’s quiet expression of love: “As you wish.”
The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and Egon’s Twinkie. The librarian specter blowing her nose all over the card catalog, and Egon wanting to keep it. Pete putting the moves on Dana and Gozer. Ray loving a fire pole and the “bear” that terrorized the little accountant’s party. Ray’s weird ghost fantasy that unzipped his pants, and Slimer eating hot dogs and room service.
The holiday roast that was flung into the ocean, and Mr. Hooper’s bottles of wine that really need time to breathe. Quint’s nails on the chalkboard and Chief Brody’s bad Amity accent. The mayor’s billboard woes and the poor little Kintner boy spilling all over the dock. The little boy’s wish for coffee ice cream and his toy cars and the magnificent tale of Quint delivering the bomb–the Hiroshima bomb. And of course, the shark’s eyes, lifeless eye, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes that don’t seem to be livin’ ’til he bites ya and those black eyes rolllll over white.
And The Runners-Up:
11. Blues Brothers
12. The Right Stuff
13. Back to the Future
14. Rosemary’s Baby
15. Seems Like Old Times
16. The Great Escape
18. The Darjeeling Limited
20. Army of Darkness
Plus Some Honorable Mentions
Best Horror Movie: The Shining
Movie Most Likely to Make Me Cry: What Dreams May Come
Best Musical: 1776
Best Tim Curry Movie: Tie–Rocky Horror Picture Show and Clue
Funniest Movie Not on this List: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Best Mel Brooks Movie: Tie–Blazing Saddles and To Be or Not to Be
The Movie You Should Be Watching Instead of Braveheart: Rob Roy
The Movie You Should Be Watching Instead of Apollo 13: The Right Stuff
Best Christmas Movie: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (but, special nod to The Ref and Die Hard)
Best Halloween Movie: Halloween
Best St. Patrick’s Day Movie: The Fugitive
Best Thanksgiving Movie: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Best Valentine’s Day Movie: Fargo
Movie Ending Most Likely to Make be Break Things: Serenity
Please do feel free to set me straight below in the comments section regarding the gems that I have obviously overlooked, mostly because I walk around like Mrs. White most of the time. What have I forgotten?