Thursday, November 30, 2017

Let's Do It Again: My 100 Favorite Films of All Time #20 - #11

Finally moving into the top 20 here with my next batch of 10 favorites, a mix of horror, comedy, silent, epic, erotic and bizzare, cool, iconic and even a dash of superhero mixed in. Plus this list includes some back to back Oscar Isaac. Every list could use more Oscar Isaac.

20. Halloween

The original masterpiece that jump started a franchise, and the finest straight up horror film ever made, John Carpenter's Halloween is brilliantly paced and sublimely creepy and I have always admired the way the first half of the film utilizes daylight rather than Myers constantly lurking in the shadows, but because of the fact that he can get away with stalking the streets in a mask on Halloween, it never seems silly. Because of this, I have been terrified of the idea that a real maniac could roam nearby in costume on October 31st and no one would question it. I thank Mr. Carpenter for that fear, because it makes his film that much more effective.

19. The Passion of Joan of Arc

By the time I watched The Passion of Joan of Arc, a film by the legendary Carl Theodor Dreyer, I had already seen and loved plenty of silent cinema like the listed only two films ago Metropolis, some of the Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd greats, but this masterwork was the first to truly take my breath away. The lead performance from Maria Falconetti is one of the most powerful and perfect ever delivered, and when I watch it I think about the fact that she passed away over 60 years ago now and yet here I am, moved to tears by her own in 2017. What an incredible gift we received that people work so hard to preserve art so future generations can appreciate it.

18. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Before you think to yourself, this must mean that Return of the King is even higher on the list because this guy listed The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, let me just get it out of the way that The Two Towers is in my opinion easily the finest of the trilogy, and that Return of the King is actually the most flawed. Yes I said it.

The Two Towers has a flow to it that feels almost poetic, like every beat is in the perfect place and every musical note is in the perfect pitch and every line of dialogue is perfectly said, and here's the real kicker for me: this movie actually ends exactly when it should, unlike the third film of the trilogy. Even as much as I love Fellowship, it starts to wear out its welcome ever so slightly by the time it wraps up, but not The Two Towers. When this beauty ends, I want more.

17. The Dark Knight

You know how every single time a new superhero film comes out that gets outstanding reviews, a new batch of articles appear online questioning whether it will be the first of the sub-genre to receive a Best Picture nomination from the Academy? I love film awards and I follow them closely, but I don't get upset about any of them because frankly, who cares, love what you love regardless of who does or does not win a trophy...but The Dark Knight should have already been the first superhero picture to be nominated for that top award. Approaching the 10 year anniversary of this caped crime caper and still nothing comes close to topping it.

16. Take Shelter

A film I have watched maybe 4 or 5 times and I reflect upon each viewing with amazement over how perfectly and delicately handled the subject matter of mental illness is handling but the outstanding cinematic storyteller Jeff Nichols. He has made other great films but Take Shelter is his masterpiece, featuring supremely powerful and important performances from Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain.

15. Inside Llewyn Davis

Up to number 15 on the list and this isn't even my favorite Coen brothers film, so yeah, I'm kinda a fan of their work. Inside Llewyn Davis is a movie that continues to age like a fine wine, my love for it growing with each passing year and each subsequent rewatch. When I first watched it four years ago I don't think I even ranked it in my top 10 films of that year, and now I am putting it all the way up to 15th ever because there is so much to chew on beneath the surface and so much nuance to catch by watching it again.

14. Drive

I am not exaggerating when I say I have watched Drive ten or more times in the six years since the film was released, and yet my first reaction when I found the image above from the film was, man, I need to watch Drive again. A stylistic neo-noir crime masterpiece from director Nicolas Winding Refn, this baby cuts into your life in a lean 95 minutes and between the music, the visuals (and I include looking at Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan in perfect lighting when I say visuals), the style and the sleek, perfect direction from Refn, Drive is stunning. 

13. Eyes Wide Shut

I'm not usually much of a contrarian. I'm the guy who usually loves the films that dominate at the Oscars (important to note the word usually, because this is not always the case), but when it comes to Stanley Kubrick, my favorite of his films is many peoples least favorite. The final film of a legendary career is chalked up by many to be his biggest mistake, but man I love every second of this bizarre, beautiful beast of a picture, from the performances to the unnerving imagery and musical score. There is no moment of Eyes Wide Shut that takes a wrong turn for me.

12. The Godfather

I know exactly what you are thinking right now. You are thinking, Scott, please explain this film to me because I have never heard of it.

Kidding, of course.

No, what you are probably thinking is, of course The Godfather is ranked highly on a best of list, how typical. That's because it is iconic and easily one of the greatest achievements the medium has ever encountered. Nothing else needs to be said.

11. Gravity you hear that? Listen really closely. Do you hear it?

It's the sound of me sitting in the theater crying from four years ago. You can still hear it echoing off the depths of the universe because I couldn't control myself. 

Gravity was released at a time when my daughter had just turned 6 and this Alfonso Cuaron metaphor for overwhelming, incomprehensible grief set in space just punched me in the god damn gut. Something about it all clicked the first time through and I simply couldn't stop crying, and I loved every single second of it. 


  1. Oh man, another great addition! Definitely had some surprises like Take Shelter and others, but the top 10 is coming next! Hype!

    1. P.S.
      I agree about the Two Towers. Definitely my favorite of the three and probably the best paced.

    2. So rare to find a Two Towers lover like myself, usually it is the least recognized of the trilogy and that's so crazy to me. Such an excellent film and the only one of the three that feels like it flows perfectly without any drag