Here are my Top 10 Films of all Time (in no particular order):
1. Pulp Fiction (1994, dir. Quentin Tarantino)
My go to film every time someone asks me, “what’s your favorite film?” This is as close as anyone will ever get to a perfect film. One of the best screenplays ever written. When I saw this film at the age of 12 I was blown away. Ten years later and on countless rewatches it still blows me away. This is the film that made me want to become a filmmaker. This is also the film that opened my eyes to what Cinema can really do.
My favorite scene (the ending *Spoiler*!!!):
2. The Shining (1980, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
Another film that blew me away in my preteen years. I remember going to my dad after watching it for the first time and asking him what the ending meant. His response to me is that it is open to interpretation. He said, “It’s art, the ending doesn’t have to make sense.” This was a hard idea for me to understand because I was used to movies spelling everything out. Nevertheless, this was an important lesson. I even read the book to try to understand the ending, but of course the book is much different. This is a beautiful work of art and one of the best horror films ever made. Kubrick is also my favorite filmmaker.
3. Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese)
Another beautiful work of art. This film showed me the importance of character. Travis Bickle is one of the greatest film protagonists ever. Robert De Niro gave a career defining performance and showcases why he is one of the best. The themes of isolation and longing for escape, struck a big chord with my teenage self. Watching Bickle dissent into madness is something every film fan must experience.
It also has a terrific theme:
4. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, dir. Sergio Leone)
This film has some of the greatest cinematography of all time and is one of the best examples of the greatness of the Spaghetti Western genre. This film blew me away the first time I watched it, and every time I go to rewatch I find myself wondering how they put this film together. It is a visual masterpiece and tells a terrific Western tale. Not to mention the great score by master musician Ennio Morricone.
One of the many great score tracks:
5. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001, dir. Peter Jackson)
I saw this film when I was six years old and it blew my mind. The way Peter Jackson brought Middle Earth to the screen is unbelievable, even today. My favorite Lord of the Rings film growing up was always Return of the King, but as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that Fellowship is the one true masterpiece. As much as I love Star Wars, this was to me what Star Wars was to my parent’s generation of filmmakers.
6. The Seventh Seal (1957, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
I started digging deeper into film history and foreign Cinema during my undergrad years. The Seventh Seal was a defining movie of that time period. Not only is the film beautifully photographed, acted and directed, it is also one of the most deeply touching films I’ve seen. This film got me on a philosophical as well as cinematic level. It stuck with me long after the viewing, which is something most modern American Cinema fails to do.
7. Stalker (1979, dir. Andrei Tarkovsky)
This is another film that opened my eyes to World Cinema during my undergrad years. The beautiful cinematography is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a deep philosophical film that is difficult to put into words. It will haunt you for days after you watch it. Tarkovsky is a master filmmaker, and one of the greatest to ever live. I believe Stalker is his masterpiece.
8. The Big Lebowski (1998, dir. Coen Brothers)
I love this movie. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen it, but this is a film that begs rewatching. It has a great cast of characters. It’s endlessly hilarious, but also surprisingly touching. The Coen brothers took the traditional noir style narrative and flipped it on its head by making the Dude our protagonist. He takes us on a crazy journey through Los Angeles that never fails to entertain. But like most Coen films, there is a lot going on underneath the surface, that makes rewatches even better. If you haven’t seen this film, what are you doing with your life?
9. The 400 Blows
This film also touched me personally. It was a personal film for Truffaut, and I think many audience members can relate to Antoine and his childhood struggles. I know I did. This is easily one of the best coming of age films that I’ve seen. I loved the cinematography and style of the film. It is also one of the films that jump started the French New Wave. The film also has one of the greatest endings of all time.
10. Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972, dir. Werner Herzog)
Last but not least is Herzog’s masterpiece Aguirre, the Wrath of God. This was another defining film of my undergrad years. I’ve never quite seen another performance like Kinski’s. He truly was a brilliant actor. The film also makes great use of its location to further its tense narrative, which ends on a heavy down note. The film also touches on many philosophical ideas that are still relevant in today’s landscape. This film inspired me on first viewing, and continues to inspire me today.