I wrote this back in Jan 2003, and recently found it and re-read it. What was most interesting to me is that I stil agree with my choices.
What qualifies as a great movie for me? It’s going to be a movie that I am inspired to watch repeatedly. It’s a movie that has a story that will hold up under repeated watching. It’s a movie that, each time I do watch it, I pick up something new I did not notice before.
There are movies that are dear to my heart, such as the Star Wars movies or any James Bond flick. As treasured as these movies are to me, they do not qualify as great in my opinion. As fun as these movies are and as colorful as the characters are… and I certainly do watch these movies over and over… they simply are not what I would qualify as being “great.”
So, here is my list of Great movies, ranked with the most influential first. I will not go into the details of what the movie is about, but will attempt to convey what it is about the movie that motivates me so.
- Koyaanisqatsi – I’ve seen this movie at least twenty times, and I still do not think I have witnessed the full statement that it makes. It’s beautiful and inspiring. It is awesome and threatening, and watched with a person who has the remarkable capacity to appreciate a film that is such a departure from the norm, it can promote some very thoughtful and satisfying conversation. This movie is true art. There are two sequels to this movie that fall short of the first.
- Fight Club – Incredible movie. The cinematography is truly masterful, and the movie holds very true to the novel it is based on by Chuck Palahniuk. There is a lot to be said for a movie that packs so much content into every piece of dialogue. The statements made in this movie challenge my naiveté and force me to re-evaluate what I’ve believed. To me, this is not a movie. It is a cultural icon.
- Big Lebowski – Great story-telling and characters that keep me coming back for more. It’s entertaining and funny and the continuity just flows with perfection. I love this underappreciated movie. This is not one movie, it is four movies, and each one is faultless.
- Singin’ In the Rain – I can only explain this choice as sheer nostalgia. The music, the dance numbers, even the light-hearted humor and thread-bare storyline make this movie a genuine escape from reality for me. I love it.
- Unbreakable – A movie about the incredible, told in a plausible way. Great pay-offs in this movie. I always feel rewarded every time I watch this movie. I think the cinematography creates the perfect mood for a fun and significantly deep film.
- Good Will Hunting – A great story, well told. The pacing in this is dead-on. Nothing incredible happening here, but the performances are all excellent. When it finishes, I think, that’s what I wanted to happen.
- Jerry McGuire – For all the same reasons as I like Good Will Hunting, I like Jerry McGuire.
- Dumb and Dumber – It’s sophomoric and stupid, but this movie is just so funny. This is Jim doing what he does best, but the real surprise is Jeff’s performance, which is hysterical. They are a great comedy team.
- Two Days in the Valley – This movie is too often dismissed as being a Pulp Fiction wannabe. It’s not. It’s a solid and complicated group of stories told independently, and then skillfully intertwined. Great soundtrack, too.
- Highlander – The first movie. Not the sequels and not the TV series. Great story, great dialogue, and phenomenal cinematography. This movie wound up nicely but it became a sort of underground cult hit, so they started trying to revitalize it with sequels, which only serve to dissipate the prominence of this movie.
Conclusion: Being that you are a different person than I, you are bound to disagree with my choices, probably on multiple levels. I could go on to list a “Honorable Mentions” group of films, but I will not. I could go on to define why I do not have a Kevin Smith movie in my top ten, but I won’t. And if you attack me for my choices, I could respond, but I won’t.