I get asked quite often, “What’s your favorite film of all time?” After I tell the person, they usually ask, “What’s number two?” So I’ve decided to put together the list of my top ten favorite films of all time. Lists are always subjective, but I want to make it clear that this is a list of my favorite films, not necessarily the “best”. That doesn’t mean the two ideas are mutually exclusive. There are films that I enjoy because they are excellently crafted, but will probably never go back to. For example, even if I didn’t mention it, you’d probably notice that I don’t have any Quentin Tarantino films on my list. I love Tarantino films, and I think he is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time, but in order for a film to make my favorite list, I need to be able to revisit it. Tarantino movies are hard for me to re-watch and enjoy. This is just my opinion; there is no right way to have a favorite. So let me know what your favorites are!
10. The ‘Burbs
The ‘Burbs is on my list almost entirely based on nostalgia. I remember watching it with my mom and dad the summer it came out on VHS. Tom Hanks is at the top of his game as Ray Peterson. Ray is on vacation for the week and just wants to be lazy and relax. His new neighbors, the Klopeks, have a different idea. The supporting cast of Bruce Dern, Carrie Fisher, Rick Ducommun, and Corey Feldman is terrific. The ‘Burbs is unrelentingly funny and is a film that will always cheer me up.
Favorite Quote: “I’m telling you these people are Satanists. As I sit here, they are satanists. Look, look, the world is full of these kind of things – black masses, mutilations. Mutilations! The incubus, the succubus – I’m tellin’ you, Walter was a human sacrifice.” -Art Weingartner
Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite director. I love his shot selection and dialogue. Out of all his films, Magnolia has by far the best dialogue. Magnolia is an ensemble film that tells the interweaving stories of nine characters in San Fernando Valley. P.T. Anderson shows his love of the legendary director Roger Altman in Magnolia. The film is overflowing with rich characters and excellent acting. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Cruise give my two favorite performances, but there are several actors doing some of their best work. The 188 minute run time is scary, but believe me, it is worth every single minute.
Favorite Quote: “In this life, it’s not what you hope for, it’s not what you deserve – it’s what you take!” -Frank T. J. Mackey
8. The Dark Knight
The Heath Ledger version of the Joker has overshadowed the actual film itself. That’s okay though. I love when performances are so good that they cover the flaws of films. The Dark Knight is filled with plot holes and silly contrivances, but Heath Ledger makes up for what Christopher Nolan misses. Batman is far and away my favorite comic book character, and Christian Bale is great as the Caped Crusader. The Dark Knight isn’t even Nolan’s best film [That honor goes to The Prestige], but it is certainly his most exhilarating. Ultimately, it is Ledger that makes this film one of my favorites. He brought to life one of the best characters to ever see the big screen.
Favorite Quote: “All you care about is money. This city deserves a better class of criminal. And I’m gonna give it to them!” -The Joker
7. Dumb and Dumber
I’ve always said Dumb and Dumber is so dumb it’s smart. Even though I’ve seen this movie a million times, I always laugh. Admittedly, there is a huge amount of nostalgia with Dumb and Dumber, but the layers of comedy are undeniable. It’s remarkable how much the critics hated Dumb and Dumber when it came out. Critics would describe how much they laughed and then give it less than average scores. The best film critic of all time, Roger Ebert, said, “…there is a moment in Dumb and Dumber that made me laugh so loudly I embarrassed myself. I just couldn’t stop.” He then gave it 2/4 stars. Dumb and Dumber made Jim Carrey a superstar, but the movie is more than Carrey. The writing and directing of the Farrelly brothers are outstanding.
Favorite Quote: “Mary… I desperately wanna make love to a school boy.” -Lloyd Christmas
6. Die Hard
Die Hard was the first R-rated film I saw as a kid. I automatically fell in love. I would run through the house pretending to be John McClane. The character of John McClane is one of the most memorable and beloved of all time. Bruce Willis was coming off the movie Blind Date and the television show Moonlighting, both of which were comedies. Willis’s sense of comical timing is what makes Die Hard more than just another action film. Hans Gruber played by Alan Rickman is an amazingly well-written villain. He is the quintessential movie villain. The great comedic timing and awesome action beats make Die Hard one of my favorite films.
Favorite Quote: “Come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs…” -John McClane
If I were making this list a decade ago, Ghostbusters might have been at the top of this list. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis are an amazing trio. Ghostbusters was the brainchild of Aykroyd, who can we all just admit is one of the best minds in Hollywood. Aykroyd worked really hard to get this film off the ground. This is another film that has a large amount of nostalgia for me. When I was young, I proclaimed that I would name my child after Slimer. Ghostbusters blends three genres that I adore. It is funny, scary, and fully entrenched in science-fiction. Ivan Reitman’s direction isn’t heavy and lets his actors breath. Ghostbusters almost seems like a perfect storm. It has ingredients that rarely are combined to make something good. With a lesser cast and director, Ghostbusters would have been a failure. Fortunately, it was a huge success.
Favorite Quote: “She’s not my girlfriend. I find her interesting because she’s a client and because she sleeps above her covers… *four feet* above her covers. She barks, she drools, she claws!” -Peter Venkman
The horror genre is probably my favorite because you can make a bad horror movie, and it will still be enjoyable. This genre has gone through several changes over the decades. In the ’50s and ’60s, it was all about monsters like vampires, werewolves, and sea creatures. The ’70s were kind of a mashup of several themes, but things changed in 1978. Halloween was released, perfectly, on October 27th, 1978. The film was an instant classic and set the stage for all the ’80s slasher flicks. Halloween always scares me. Every time I see it, I become immersed in the story and the tension. John Carpenter’s score is classic and eerie. Out of every movie on my list, I can guarantee I will watch Halloween every year.
Favorite Quote: “I realized that what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… evil.” -Dr. Sam Loomis
David Fincher is such a great director. Seven is a movie that needed a director who wouldn’t focus just on the gore. Seven could have been a gory blood fest, but it is instead a subtle yet disturbing morality tale. Brad Pitt isn’t necessarily a great actor, but he knows how to pick roles that suit his strengths. Seven had the perfect role for Brad Pitt. Being teamed with Kevin Spacey, Gwenyth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, and David Fincher was the best thing that could have happened to his career. Seven is a horror film disguised as a cop drama, and that’s why I love it. The mystery of the case and the interactions of the characters mask the horror that is at the heart of Seven. Kevin Spacey enters the film late, but absolutely steals the show.
Favorite Quote: “We see a deadly sin on every street corner, in every home, and we tolerate it. We tolerate it because it’s common, it’s trivial. We tolerate it morning, noon, and night. Well, not anymore. I’m setting the example. What I’ve done is going to be puzzled over and studied and followed… forever.” -John Doe
2. Back to the Future
I can’t think of a more beloved film in my collection. I could watch Back to the Future on repeat, and that is saying something because I tend to watch most films only once. Robert Zemeckis had problems getting this film made, but once it was completed, the studios couldn’t wait for more. Back to the Future is fun and light, but at the same time has great lessons about family and self-respect. Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly is one of my favorite performances. Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and Crispin Glover as George McFly are just as important to the script and film as Marty. I doubt I need to sell this pick to anyone, but do yourself a favor and watch Back to the Future again.
Favorite Quote: “Wait a minute. Wait a minute, Doc. Ah… Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?” -Marty McFly
1. There Will Be Blood
This is hardly a surprise to anyone who knows me. There Will Be Blood is not only my favorite film, but it is also, in my opinion, the best movie I’ve ever seen. Daniel Day-Lewis is, unquestionably, the best actor on the planet and turns in his best performance as Daniel Plainview. Paul Dano as Eli Sunday is really the only other character in the film. This is a departure from other Paul Thomas Anderson films. As I’ve said many times before, P.T. Anderson is far and away my favorite director, but what makes him stand out in my mind is his writing. The dialogue for Plainview is so good and delivered so perfectly by Daniel Day-Lewis that I sometimes forget he’s acting. There Will Be Blood has an amazing score by Jonny Greenwood and even better cinematography. I am often hesitant to recommend There Will Be Blood to people because it isn’t necessarily a pleasant film. The film successfully explores the nature of man and the destruction of greed.
Favorite Quote: “I see the worst in people, Henry. I don’t need to look past seeing them to get all I need. I’ve built up my hatreds over the years, little by little. Having you here gives me a second breath of life. I can’t keep doing this on my own… with these, umm… people.” -Daniel Plainview