All-Time Top 10
I couldn’t do it. Even what I’ve come up with below is full of compromise and ignores so many films that I feel guilty leaving out.
But, in its limited way, this list below is a decent representation of what sort of filmgoer I am.
1. Stalker/Andrei Rublev/The Killers
Tarkovsky is the greatest. There is no one greater, living or dead. I’ve seen all of his films except for The Sacrifice, Nostalghia, and Voyage in Time (and a couple of his student films that are impossible to find). Stalker is my favorite film. It pleased me a great deal to read Jonathan’s comment above. Andrei Rublev is glorious in its celebration of life and art and spirit. Tarkovsky’s The Killers is probably the best screen adaptation of anything Hemingway that I’ve ever seen.
2. Return to Oz/The Empire Strikes Back/Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
I was born in 1979. These three films were the most beloved films of my childhood. I can’t approach them with anything other than familiarity and adoration. Say what you will about them, these films won’t leave me.
3. There Will Be Blood/Treasure of the Sierra Madre/Aguirre: The Wrath of God
I’ve seen several films multiple times at the theatre, but There Will Be Blood is the only film that demanded that I stay in the theatre for an immediate second viewing (with a third to follow a week later). I’ve read much of the criticism written against this film. Some of it is fair. A lot of it misinterprets the film and is just plain wrong. It’s one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. After watching it, I thought about how much it reminded me of two of my favorite films, Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Aguirre: The Wrath of God. It felt good to hear an interview with Anderson later in which he states that he had been watching the Huston film every night while making Blood.
4. Terror in a Texas Town/3:10 to Yuma/Rawhide
These might not be perfect Westerns or always high up in any official canon, but each has exactly what I want out of a Western. It should go without saying, but, yes, that’s the Delmer Daves 3:10 to Yuma.
5. Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind/Pinocchio/Duck Amuck
I had the butchered Warriors of the Wind VHS version of Nausicaa when I was young. It’s been wonderful sharing movies with my children. Nausicaa has been my oldest (almost 7) daughter’s favorite movie for a couple of years now. Pinocchio was the most important Disney film for me as a child. Duck Amuck stands in for too many shorts to mention.
6. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge/Les Carabiniers/Ivan’s Childhood
Owl Creek Bridge is pretty perfect. Les Car is the greatest war movie I’ve ever seen and Ivan’s Childhood is here just as an excuse for me to list Tarkovsky here again.
7. The Hustler/On the Waterfront/Force of Evil
It seems like most of my favorite American films are about moral compromise.
8. Badlands/Days of Heaven/The New World.
Malick is our (America’s) greatest living filmmaker.
9. Samurai Rebellion/Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai/Throne of Blood
I’ve recently become more interested in samurai films, but I’m still very ignorant. (and I had to sneak a Jarmusch film in somewhere on this list)
10. Roman Holiday/Minnie and Moskowitz/The Good Fairy
Roman Holiday and Minnie and Moskowitz are my two favorite romantic comedies (yes, Cassavetes made a great romantic comedy!), a genre that is so full of bad movies that the good ones shine extra bright. The Good Fairy is the last romantic comedy I watched, so it gets a place here just for being the last movie to really make me smile and also gets to stand in for other zany screwball types.