Movie Favorites

We always hear about end-of-the-year Top Ten Best Films, the Ten Best Films of All-Time, and on and on.  When the subject comes up, because I know of and have seen so many films and now am making the, I am always asked what mine are.  And that’s a difficult answer:  Do you respond with the best films you’ve ever seen or the films that are your personal favorites?  The Seven Samurai is, undeniably, one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen – and am grateful to PBS for having introduced it to me when I was fifteen.  That said, it’s not a film I find myself watching as often purely for pleasure or the emotional memory that may be attached to it.

So below I am going to list my favorite films in a variety of different categories.  When you’ve seen several thousand movies it’s note easy to keep it to just Ten, so bear with me on my lists and reasons.

Hopefully, you’ll take enough interest to check them out yourself.

(F.Y.I. – This page is an on-going progress. And will probably become very long!)

Ten Best Films

These are the films I have seen that are of such mind-numbing greatness that their impact and influence have stimulated my mind and influenced my thoughts on cinema and life.

1 War And Peace U.S.S.R.  1967  dir: Sergei Bondarchuk
This film came out during the height of the Cold War and was ironic for it’s day to have been made as a prestige picture by the Soviet Union for its own people and for the world.  It is six hours long and was released in two three-hour parts.  It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1967.  Two years later ABC-TV ran it over four nights as a summer time mini-series.  From the first frames I was magnetized.  Watching this film, and then reading the 1,200 page book changed my views of life, people, human development and personality complexity.  The filmmaking was of a scale, both huge, sweeping battle sequences, and intimate and even intellectual observations of life — captured with a liberated camera-work that took on the dimensions of being a character in itself.  The book and the film has impacted my every opinion of the world, life and cinema.

2 Lawrence Of Arabia U.K.  1962  dir: David Lean
Perhaps the most perfect film I’ve ever seen.  This is the first film I can remember seeing on the big screen.  I was a little kid and it was a re-release on a second billing with Dr. Strangelove.  We got there for just the tail-end of the final War Room sequence, then Lawrence started.  Again, from the opening music and the overhead shot looking down on a driveway as Peter O’Toole crosses the diagonally-sectioned cement, like the complex and fractured personality of T.E. Lawrence, I was hooked.  The acting, shot-to-shot arrangement and lighting, costuming, music and editing are atext book example of perfect motion picture craftsmanship.

3. 2001: A Space Odyssey USA/UK  1968   dir: Stanley Kubrick
If anyone was of age to see this movie when it first was first released, then you can remember the jaw-dropping experience of seeing something the likes of which you had never seen before.  From the subtlety of performance and story, to the strikingly original visuals and compositions, even the colors, to the special effects, which I don’t think have ever been equaled.  It’s the rare film that you watch and feel smarter for having seen it.

4    Wonderland UK  1999  dir: Michael Winterbottom

5    The Godfather & The Godfather Part Two USA  1974 & 1977  dir: Francis Coppola

The Black Stallion USA  1978  dir: Carroll Ballard

The Seven Samurai Japan  1953  dir: Akira Kurosawa

Apocalypse Now USA  1980  dir: Francis Coppola

 

Favorite Films

These are the films I find myself watching over and over.  That make me feel good or that have some emotional connection — to where I was at the time I first saw it or where the film took me to.

Zodiac USA  200  dir: David Fincher

In This World UK  2002  dir: Michael Winterbottom

In Harm’s Way USA  1964 dir: Otto Preminger

The Best Years of Our Lives 1946  dir: William Wyler

The Big Country USA  1958  dir: William Wyler

On The Beach USA  1959  dir: Stanley Kramer

And Now, My Love France  1973  dir: Claude Lelouch

A Man And A Woman France 1966  dir: Claude Lelouch

Roman de Gare France  2007  dir: Claude Lelouch

In Cold Blood USA  1967  writer-dir: Richard Brooks

The Professionals USA  1966  writer-dir: Richard Brooks

Prince of the City USA  1981  dir: Sydney Lumet

The French Connection USA  1971  dir: William Friedkin

A Clockwork Orange UK  1971  writer-dir: Stanley Kubrick

Barry Lundon UK  1975  writer-dir: Stanley Kubrick

The Deerhunter USA  1978  writer-dir: Michael Cimino, dp: Vilmos Zigsmond

Coming Home USA  1978  dir: Hal Ashby, dp: Haskell Wexler

Bound For Glory USA  1976dir: Hal Ashby, dp: Haskell Wexler

The Landlord USA  1970  dir: Hal Ashby, dp: Gordon Willis

The Aviator USA  2004  dir: Martin Scorsese

The Thomas Crown Affair (Steve McQueen) USA  1968 dir: Norman Jewison, dp: Haskell Wexler, editor: Hal Ashby

Bullitt USA  1968  dir: Peter Yates

The Landlord USA  1970  dir: Hal Ashby

Bound For Glory USA  1976  dir: Hal Ashby, dp: Haskell Wexler

The Loved One USA  1967  dir: Tony Richardson, dp: Haskell Wexler

28 Days Later UK  2002  dir: Danny Boyle

Slumdog Millionaire UK  2008  dir: Danny Boyle

Guilty Pleasures

R.P.M. USA  1969  dir: Stanley Kramer

Peyton Place USA  1958  dir: Mark Robson

The Best Of Everything USA  1959  dir: Jean Negulesco

The Cardinal USA  1963  dir: Otto Preminger

Hurry Sundown USA  1967  dir: Otto Preminger

Such Good Friends USA  1971  dir: Otto Preminger

$ (Dollars) USA  1972  writer-dir: Richard Brooks

The Year of the Dragon USA  1985  dir: Michael Cimino