I recently posted a top five list of my favorite books, which was fun to write and got me to thinking about other top fives I could share. Favorite kitchen utensils? Favorite paint colors? Perhaps I should dive head-first into the nerd pool and wax poetic about my favorite Rick and Morty episodes. Neat ideas, but let’s keep it simple for now and talk about my favorite movies.
This particular list was inspired by a recent chat with my wife. For the longest time, my favorite movie was Fight Club. It spoke to my twenties self more than any other media. I admired Tyler Durden, embraced the rebellious themes, and even wrote songs about them. But now, in the unbridled shit show that is 2020, the movie has lost a lot of its appeal. In fact, it comes across as whiny and self-important.
And so, the question arose: what are my current favorite movies? After a long and insightful debate, I have narrowed it down to the following top five.
Is there a better sci-fi classic? It is truly astounding to me that this movie was made in 1982, long before the polished effects of modern CGI. And even if some effects show their age, you barely notice because the performances are fantastic. They could have filmed this movie in a dirty parking lot and it would be just as compelling. I probably watch Rutger Hauer’s “Tears in Rain” speech a dozen times per year. Blade Runner is the very definition of standing the test of time. I am always in the mood to watch this film.
No Country for Old Men
Not only is this one of my all-time favorite films, it also contains my all-time favorite scene. The coin toss scene at the gas station (which I included below) could be plucked out of the movie and lauded as one of the best short films ever made. Javier Bardem’s performance as Anton Chigurh left such a lasting impression on me that I used him as a template for the Axeman in my sci-fi thriller Thursday Midnight. I cannot think of a more frightening and compelling villain in cinema. No Country is the Coen Brothers at their very best.
It was tempting to select the first film, which is one of the best haunted house movies ever made. However, it was Aliens that captivated my teenage years. It kick-started my obsession with science fiction and has been a staple of my rewatch list ever since. This movie is infinitely quotable thanks to one of the best ensemble casts ever put to film. Every character death was a vicious gut punch. Aliens also gave me my first cinematic crush, because who can resist the absolute badass that is Ellen Ripley?
What can I say about Jaws that hasn’t been said already? This was the film that taught me about film. Everything about this movie is perfect. Casting, tone, pacing, lighting, all perfect. Filming Jaws was catching lightning in a bottle, which gave us the first summer blockbuster. While it contains several career-defining performances, none were more powerful than Robert Shaw’s Quint. His USS Indianapolis Speech remains, in my opinion, the greatest monologue in cinema history. It frightened me more than the actual shark.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Another pitch-perfect movie that nails every note. Yes, Raiders of the Lost Ark is also a perfect movie, but it suffers from one teeny tiny problem: the lack of Sean Connery. In all seriousness, Connery as Indie’s father is one of the most inspired casting choices of all time. It created an iconic duo that is so much fun to watch. Last Crusade is one of the few films that can still make me laugh after the 100th viewing. “Don’t call me Junior!” “She talks in her sleep.” “I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers.” And, of course …
Honorable mentions: Snatch, The Departed, There Will Be Blood, Predator, The Terminator, Office Space, Galaxy Quest, The Matrix, Children of Men, Clerks, WALL-E, The Dark Knight, and pretty much anything by Kubrick, Tarantino, and the Coen Brothers.