As we get closer to the end of this list, I would like to think the personal charm of my list is starting to show. With this installment I hope my tastes especially shine through, as the intent of this list is not to show you how many movies I have seen, or to imitate any long standing list which spews the “greatest films ever made”. I intend to express my love of movies by displaying my personal taste with this list, which will, of course, sometimes include the classics.
#40 – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg, 1989)
The adventure on display in the Indiana Jones series is one of the main attractions of cinema for me. Indiana Jones was the one of my early gateways into the sheer enjoyment of movies, and The Last Crusade always stood out to me for its level of fun, led off by River Phoenix as young Indiana, and continued by a fun performance from Sean Connery as his father.
#39 – The Thin Red Line (Terrence Malick, 1998)
The return of master Terrence Malick to cinema brought the stars out in droves, but that is not the attraction of The Thin Red Line. Instead it is the endless beauty captured to juxtapose the harsh realities of war in the Pacific at World War II, and the rather existential musings of Malick in the form of voiceover.
#38 – Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1968)
Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns are among the best entries into the genre for their audacious and unrelenting approach to the “Wild West”. Once Upon a Time is a great combination of cool, harsh, violent, and highly entertaining. Taking Henry Fonda and making him a villain is a brilliant stroke.
#37 – The Sandlot (David M. Evans, 1993)
I could honestly argue that this film should be higher on my list. We all have that childhood film which, no matter the reputation, just happens to hold a very special place in our lives. The Sandlot is that film for me. A great film, I wouldn’t expect to see it on many All Time lists, but spending time with this group of kids, playing baseball? Nothing compares for me.
#36 – Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
Having another Indiana Jones film in such close proximity on this list only goes to show how close I hold these two films to each other. Ultimately, while The Last Crusade I may view as being more “fun”, Raiders of the Lost Ark built the foundation for the series, and is just a better adventure narrative, which is why it gets the edge.
#35 – The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
There were three things that got me into movies: Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Star Wars. Of the Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back was not always my favorite, but upon watching the series endlessly, it became apparent that it was the best of the bunch. It feels so much more cinematic than the others, and is truly a great film paired with a great story.
#34 – 12 Angry Men (Sidney Lumet, 1957)
The closed-room drama has never been better. As the setting grows within the confines of the four walls with which we are presented, the tension and suspense builds, we get to know these men a little better, and the mystery begins to slowly unravel. This is not just a courtroom drama, but a character study, and a powerful suspense.
#33 – Seven Samurai (Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
I must admit to having been none too impressed by Seven Samurai the first time I saw it. With a reputation like it has, it would have been hard to live up to my expectations. But upon seeing it again, something clicked, as things often do with rewatches. This film is a powerhouse of filmmaking, incredible from start to finish.
#32 – Harvey (Henry Koster, 1950)
I think only James Stewart could pull off such a film as this. A grown man with an 8-foot tall imaginary bunny as his friend, and yet it is charming, funny, and altogether an entertaining experience with a heart big enough to carry the picture.
#31 – Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927)
My experience with Metropolis is a unique one, which will never again be matched. When I first saw this masterful film, it was with a live DJ providing the score with modern Industrial style electronic music. For that viewing, the matching of the modern with the old, for a film so ahead of its time, was perfect. I have not seen the film since, but know that any subsequent viewing could never possibly live up to that wonderful, cinematic experience.