And so my friends, we’ve at long last reached the end. Doing this series over the last year has made me realize how much I genuinely love creating lists on this website. I’m so glad that there are many people out there who share my enthusiasm for cinema, and hear what my favorites of all time are. It’s also been somewhat revelatory for me personally as I got a better idea of what I truly love in movies. Now, let’s get on to the final 10 of the Top 100.
#10: “Jurassic Park” (1993)
I totally envy the people who were able see Jurassic Park for the first time when it came out in theaters in 1993. From the first shot of the brachiosaurus to the final roar of the T-rex, you feel completely immersed in what Spielberg and CO. accomplished. John Williams’ legendary theme certainly helps with that. Every time I watch it, I’m still amazed at the seamless blend between Stan Winston’s practical effects and the then-groundbreaking CGI. This movie never needed any sequels because it was always perfect. Pure movie magic, plain and simple.
#9: “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1989)
No one director in the history of filmmaking does cinematic adventures like Steven Spielberg. His films are practically always imbued with a sense of fun and joyfulness, even when it can get rather dark in some of them. Nowhere does that feel more apparent than in Raiders of the Lost Ark, which also happens to double as George Lucas’ second-best creation. This is one of those films where most people probably know many of the iconic scenes, even if they haven’t actually seen it in its entirety. There’s a first time for everything, though, and few experiences are quite as rewarding both on the first watch and subsequent rewatch as this film.
#8: “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (1991)
This is neither the last nor best sequel that you’ll see appear on this list, but it’s still totally amazing all the same. James Cameron has practically built his career off of blowing away people’s expectations, whether it’s Aliens, Titanic, or the recently announced slew of Avatar sequels. When it came to following up The Terminator, it seemed nigh impossible, but he proved all off us so wrong. Terminator 2: Judgement Day has many of the quintessential action movie ingredients and spins them in beautifully with a fantastic time-travel story involving two of the deadliest robots you’ll ever see. Arnold’s one-liners actually feel both weighty and utterly badass, portraying one of the coolest movie characters ever.
#7: “Forrest Gump” (1994)
In recent years, I’ve seen this movie receive a lot of flak for allegedly promoting a conservative agenda. However, I’m convinced that Forrest Gump is actually a lot smarter than a lot of people realize. Whatever politics Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis subscribe to are almost irrelevant as the film asks us more to just appreciate the smaller things in life, even if you never know what you’re gonna get. Hilarious in one scene, heartbreaking in the next, and imminently quotable, (I can’t run a few miles without turning around and saying “I’m pretty tired, I wanna go home”) it so gracefully captures the zeitgeist of the mid-20th Century America.
#6: “The Godfather” (1972)
Masterpiece. Literally no other word exists to properly describe The Godfather whenever it’s brought into conversation. Pick any aspect of filmmaking you like, and Frances Ford Coppola’s got it down here. A relatively simple story with rich, complex characters, fantastic camerawork, a memorable score, and stark production design. On the off chance that you have not yet seen this classic, please go and rectify that situation. Like, right now.
#5: “Pulp Fiction” (1994)
The restaurant standoff. The gimp scene. The accidental bullet in the back of the car. The dance. Pick any single moment from this movie, and I’ll happily watch it over and over again. Quentin Tarantino’s certainly had an auspicious and storied career over the last 26 years, but his second feature remains the most perfect out of all of his films. The way that Pulp Fiction deftly weaves each story together in a way that is neither forced nor tacked on is highly inspired. There were undoubtedly waves upon waves of filmmakers that have tried to mimic the style after its release, most of which fell flat on their faces. Thankfully, Tarantino’s sophomore effort still remains as awesome and brilliantly written as ever. Odds are that I’ll pick at least two quotes from this movie to be engraved on my tombstone when I die.
#4: “The Dark Knight” (2008)
It’s truly a testament to director Christopher Nolan that in the 10 years since it’s been released, not a single comic book superhero movie has come close to topping this masterpiece. Going beyond just that, I’d also argue that few films really managed to tap into the post-9/11 American psyche quite like The Dark Knight, with its pristine observations on mass surveillance and domestic terrorism. This is one of the only films I’m genuinely mad didn’t get nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, but at least they rightfully gave a trophy to Heath Ledger’s inimitable, terrifying performance as the Joker. Every scene with him in it feels like a blessing.
#3: “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
Interestingly, it took me quite a few years to fully recognize that The Empire Strikes Back was the best film out of the entire Star Wars saga. The best thing that could possibly be said about it is that it ages like a fine wine, only getting better as you grow older. Because I can appreciate so many filmmaking aspects now as an adult and still get gitty like a kid whenever something great happens. Whether it’s the glorious yet doomed Battle of Hoth, the unique training session with Yoda, or the climactic final lightsaber battle, there’s never a moment that feels out of place. And I know I’ve already praised him, but John Williams is seriously a musical icon with no less than 3 amazing tunes in here. I liketh this package aplenty.
#2: “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)
And now for something completely different. Monty Python and The Holy Grail breaks virtually every single rule of cinema you can possibly think of, and laughs at them in the process. Any time I find it playing somewhere, I can’t help but quote and act out the whole damn thing until the end. It also genuinely has one of the most interesting and inspirational production stories ever, as Pink Floyd was wholly responsible for its existence. Without them, we could’ve never gotten this idiosyncratic, whole-party-off-the-beaten-path delight that geeks love around the world. The stream-of-consciousness humor only gets funnier and funnier as I grow older, and will never cease to school modern “comedies” in wringing out true laughter.
#1: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)
If someone had ever asked me to put a film in the dictionary for the word “epic,” that spot would easily go to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. I’ve yet to come across another feature film in my lifetime that so perfectly crystallizes all of the things that I love in movies. The rare 3-hour movie that makes me wish it were longer every time I watch it, there’s an inexplicable connection I have with this film (And its two predecessors) that clicks from the moment the first scene arrives. With an emotional weight that practically defines the term “life-affirming,” incredible large-scale battle sequences, groundbreaking visual effects, believable performances, an unforgettable score by Howard Shore, and one of the most thoroughly satisfying endings ever, every moment in this fantasy epic has been engrained into my memory. And I absolutely hope to share it with future cinephiles to come.
And so there it is, folks! My 100 favorite films of all time, ranked laboriously over the last 10 months or so. Do you agree with any of my picks from this batch or the previous ones? What are your Top 10 or Top 100 favorite films of all time? I’m more than willing to hear if you sound off in the comment section. And for more awesome content like this, be sure to Like this post and Follow my Blog.