Sunday, August 2, 2009

The RB 100, Part I, 100-81

As promised (for a long time), the list of my 100 favorite movies. Some background: I've wanted to do this for around ten years, since the American Film Institute came out with their first list of the 100 greatest movies. Why couldn't I do that myself? It got thrown around as an idea for the old Reisterspound website, but never happened. It sat and sat and all the while I was always trying to decide what my favorite few movies were. Finally, over the last week or so, I began to compile a list and rank them. 376 movies, mostly pulled from the list at (IMDB was way too exhaustive). My methodology came down to three things: 1) how rewatchable is the movie; 2) how does the movie accomplish its goals (if a comedy sets out to be a gross-out comedy, how funny or gross-out is it?); 3) most importantly, what's my gut feeling on if I like it more than other movies on the list.

Each film will have a link to the trailer if it's available (and thanks to YouTube, I'm betting they all will be) and there will be some bonus scenes from films to go along with a quick write-up of why it's ranked where it is. After the list is done, I'll post a link to the Google Docs spreadsheet that has my complete rankings. In the meantime, I'll say that #101 is GoodFellas. Maybe I'm missing a movie, but I don't think so. Maybe you'll disagree with some of my rankings -- okay, not maybe, it'll definitely happen -- so you should make your own list and I'll be happy to post it, or air your beefs in the comments. In the end, it's my list and that will become apparent as we get to #100. And what better way to open this than with maybe my favorite opening scene of any movie. The curtain opens on June, 1938.

100. Superman: The Movie (1978): Hard to believe that they actually used the young, naked Kal-El in the trailer, but we start with Richard Donner's treatment of the iconic superhero. You get a little Brando, you get a lot of great Gene Hackman and Ned Beatty, you get a movie that set the standard for comic book adaptations for years to come. Okay, Christopher Reeve's Superman went back in time by reversing the spin of the Earth, but he also had some great one-liners and he became the image of the classic all-American goody two-shoes.
99. Airplane! (1980): Surely, this must be one of the funnier movies of all time. It is, and don't call me Shirley. This movie set the standard for slapstick comedy and almost every line is a classic. We'll just look past the part where it set in motion all of Leslie Nielsen's horrible, horrible movies.
98. The Natural (1984): Sports movies are generally not all that great. I have a very few on the list, starting with this adaptation of Bernard Malamud's really depressing novel. Robert Redford, in his prodigious prime, as Roy Hobbs in a story of promise, disappointment, and redemption. Yes, they changed the ending, but how glorious that ending was.
97. Rounders (1998): A TNT classic. Seemingly on perpetually and worth checking in with it every time. Damon and Norton, Turturro before he ruined his career in Transformers, Malkovich in maybe his most-quoted role. The World Series of Poker would not have become as popular as it is/was if not for this film.
96. Garden State (2004): There are just some movies that hit you at the right time of your life, and this is one of those movies for me. It helps that it's also well-written and well-acted. The teen angst of the '90s changed to the mid-twenties angst of the '00s and Zach Braff captured that beautifully and laid a pretty good soundtrack over top of it.
95. Fight Club (1999): I surprised myself by ranking it above another David Fincher movie, Seven, that didn't make the list. A weird trend in the last few movies of people who feel they are stuck in life and are looking for something extreme (gambling/a weird girl/beating the crap out of random people) to get them out of the funk. Strange, seeing as how I hated my job during the years in which these movies were released. Based on Chuck Palahniuk's novel of scathing social commentary, this film gave people a lot to talk about. And one thing you never talk about.
94. Apocalypse Now (1979): Martin Sheen on a quest to find a rogue, mad Marlon Brando and stop him. One particularly classic scene with Robert Duvall, a whole lot of introspection, and a horrifying ending. Bet this isn't the last time on the list that you'll see a Sheen traipsing through the jungles of Southeast Asia.
93. Beetlejuice (1988): Early Tim Burton with Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O'Hara, and a little Harry Belafonte music thrown in. Pretty good recipe for an '80s comedy. I find that people either love Michael Keaton or hate him. Count me among the former.
92. Battle Royale (2000, Japan): The first foreign film on the list is also probably the first that you've never seen or heard of. Pretty simple premise: get a bunch of kids on an island, give each a different weapon, and make them kill each other off. Is it brilliant? Is it so bad that it seems brilliant? See it for yourself and let me know. I just know that I was fascinated by it.
91. The Warriors (1979): Inarguably, the greatest so-bad-it's-good movie of all time. It is the perfect storm of awesome. Nothing else need be said.
90. Predator (1987): I would wager that, documentaries aside, no other feature film has ever included two past, present, or future governors. Still waiting for Carl Weathers to complete that trifecta. The movie starts out as just a standard war movie, but then the Predator appears and the film becomes a mano-a-mano battle between the alien and the greatest action star of a generation. I will always posit that a studio could make tons of money by just remastering this movie and releasing it wide during the summer.
89. Rocky (1976): The classic underdog tale with the non-Hollywood ending. It's still very hard to believe that Stallone wrote this movie, losing the Oscar to Network. Also, the moustache on the guy standing next to Rocky near the beginning of the trailer is phenomenal.
88. The Wizard of Oz (1939): It gets ranked here because it's so darn classic. I don't watch it often, but it sticks with you because it's such a big part of almost anyone's childhood. I said, "almost."
87. Wall Street (1987): The movie that taught us that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Well, it tried not to teach that, but who would rather be Bud Fox than Gordon Gekko? Oliver Stone made this when he was on a hot streak that most directors don't see. Unfortunately, they're making a sequel and he is no longer on that hot streak. Let's put that out of our minds and watch Douglas' classic monologue instead:

86. The Outsiders (1983): Another Coppola film with a fantastic cast. Another movie that just seemed to hit me at the right time. To get this many great actors when they were young was quite a casting coup.

85. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000): I love the Coen Brothers and everyone loves this film. It's so smart and funny that it even made bluegrass music popular for a while. If Clooney rescued his career from Batman and Robin hell with Out of Sight, he cemented it with his near-perfect performance in this movie.

Mission: Impossible (1996): I'm a big Tom Cruise fan and this is the second, but not last, of his movies to show up on the list. This film moves quickly, it has great characters and classic scenes, it's great for background when you're doing something else. I'd call that rewatchability, and that's why this scores fairly high in the rankings.

North by Northwest (1959): How freaking great is that trailer? The first Hitchcock movie on my list features one of the most classic scenes in movie history, involving a cornfield and a plane. I can never get over how much of an a-hole Cary Grant is in this. Gotta love him.

The Departed (2006): It's probably not Scorsese's best film, but it's the one that landed him the long-elusive Oscar. It's a gangster movie with twist after twist and it's driven by the acting of Damon, DiCaprio, Nicholson, and Wahlberg. The key moment here is the opening credits, coming relatively deep into the movie, and with the killer Dropkick Murphys song "Shipping Up To Boston" blasting. Scorsese sets the characters, gets you psyched up with the credits/song, then unleashes his characters to eventually shoot each other in the head as many times as possible.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991): It won Oscar after Oscar, but I was initially not that impressed because I liked the book so much more. On a second watch? It's pretty darn good. It's scary, Jodie Foster is very good, and who doesn't like to say, "It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again," to joke about a creepy friend/co-worker? Most of all, on the list of best-ever acting performances (which I am not about to compile), where does Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter rank? Pretty high, one would guess.

So there you have it, the first twenty. Coming tomorrow, #s 80-61, including a deaf lady, a dead lady, and some guy named Virgil.


angie said...

Hmmm, can't comment too much today since I've only seen six of those 20 movies...

Roy said...

Like the list so far. I've seen 15 of 20, which I think is pretty good for something like this. I love that the list lacks so much of the pretentiousness of the AFI type lists, so that Rounders and Garden State fit with Apocalypse Now and Wizard of Oz.

I'd love to argue over GoodFellas, which would make a top 50 for me if I ever made a list, but it's your list. Plus 101 is pretty strong. I assume one per series means no appearance of Rocky V, M:I 2, or Hannibal Rising. For Shame!

Josh said...

Thanks. There is not necessarily a one-per-series rule.

Elisha said...

I've also seen 15 of the 20 - I won't be able to weigh in on where I would have put specific movies since we don't know what's coming yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Here's hoping the blog posts take you less time the rest of the week - two hours last night, crazy!

Marissa said...

I've seen 17 out of the 20. Let the disagreements begin - I'd put The Natural and Airplane ahead of probably ten or so of just these movies,and I shudder at the fact that Mission Impossible was even in consideration for the top 100.

Anonymous said...

I've also seen 17 of these. Obviously our lists would differ, but I like all 17 of those movies, so no complaints...yet. :)


Jaimie said...

OK, I've seen 13. I'm a little disappointed with myself.