Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The 25 Best Movies of All Time Part 1

Starting today, I am going to rank what I consider to be the 25 best movies I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. Some of these films are classics, some of them are modern, some of them are of questionable quality, but hold a special place in my heart. This is an entirely subjective list, with a flexible ranking system. I often say of a film that it's in my top five or top ten, but I would never freeze it into a spot, as my tastes often change. Scorsese writes in the introduction to Ebert's book on Scorsese
Movies, like any other works of arts... don't change. ...[M]ost movies are destined to live their lives in the form in which they were first released. But the people who watch movies do change. They grow up-or at least grow older-and their perceptions of a particular movie change. Movies we loved as young people sometimes seem less lovable when we revisit them years later. The opposite is also true: sometimes we need more experience to appreciate full the subtlety of movies we saw for the first time in the distant past. What's true of us, as individual moviegoers, is also true of the world at large.
I couldn't have said it any better. The ranking system herein isn't arbitrary, but it represents a unique snapshot of my tastes and my state of being in terms of film at this given moment. That isn't to say that the list will drastically change in five minutes. Rather, in five years, a couple may have dropped off, and a couple may have been added. The skeletal list, the venerable mainstays will still be there.

Without further ado, I give you the top 25 Best Movies of All Time part 1

25. The Bourne Ultimatum
The action scenes, done in a documentary style, are some of the best on this list. I adore the Bourne films, but the third stands as the most refined and lean of them all. Include a pitch-perfect performance from the cast and you got yourself a great modern action movie.

24. Wall-E
Makes me be in love with love. This is a tender and beautiful love story buried in a cynical and hilarious satire of the future of the human race. I've never seen a children's film so cynical.

23. Collateral
From the amazing digital camera work to Jamie Foxx's subtle performance to Mark Ruffalo's engaging screen time, this is a classic movie. It's a perfect synthesis of music, visual, and character.

22. The Sting
Here's a movie that is just plain fun. It's hard not to like Redford and Newman's characters, as they set up a fairly cliched con. But it's the set up that's most entertaining, rather than the execution or denouement. The con movie that sets the bar for all others.

21. Zodiac
Another amazing performance from Mark Ruffalo (who's also very strong in Shutter Island) and strong strong direction from the notorious perfectionist Fincher. The theatrical version is great, but the more subtle director's cut is supreme. I love that this movie is a direct reaction to Fincher's previous movie Seven. Instead of an ending with a bow-tie it's so wrapped up, Zodiac prefers ambiguity. It's confident and daring.

20. Heat
Speaking of confident, Michael Mann gets a second appearance on this list for his magnum opus, and one of the more influential crime films of the past fifteen years. This is a great movie filled with great acting, great action, and some amusing tangents. Very impressive.

19. The Aviator
Scorsese, who will appears on this list again, I assure you, gets Leonardo DiCaprio to give his best performance ever as Howard Hughes. I love the cameos and the different colour schemes that Scorsese uses. I love the stunner of an ending and the way it builds from the past two hours.

18. Princess Mononoke
Heart-breaking, gorgeous and amazing. I love Miyazaki's confidence in his audience, that we will follow along, take his hand be lead to where ever the movie goes. This is an astonishing piece of animation, and proof that anime isn't just kids' fare.

17. Traffic
I walked into the theatre for this knowing practically nothing, and I was just blown away. The raw emotion of the last twenty minutes just rips through you. This is a film made by a master.

16. Into the Wild
Every time I watch this, I'm overcome with the same desire over and over, an emotion so strong. This is the mark of a successful film, one that makes me want to see it over and over and over again. Emile Hirsch's performance as Christopher McCandless is breathtaking. I was with him every step of the way.

15. Inglourious Basterds
My favourite movie of 2009 and one of my favourite movies ever. It's like Kill Bill, but it's more focused on plot, moving all the pieces across the board. But really, it's just a collection of set pieces, all of them awesome.

14. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
I know a lot of people prefer the first Indiana Jones, and I'm not one to disagree. The first is the best, technically. My personal preference? The third. It's the funniest, with the best special effects, and some great character work. It's just so damn entertaining.

13. Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
The darkest and most cynical of all the things those boys ever did, which is saying a whole hell of a lot. It's also extremely funny. Not a wasted moment in the movie.

12. Kill Bill, Volumes 1 and 2
Some consider this two movies. I say shut up, it's one movie. One awesome, balls to the wall, exciting riveting and fun movie. Parts of chop suey movies, kung fu, samurai, westerns and showdowns after showdowns, all distilled by Tarantino's unique and protean vision.

11. Ghostbusters
I've seen this movie probably a hundred times. It's perfect.

Tomorrow, we'll look at the top ten. Join me, will you?

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