Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

My Top 100 Movies – Part 7: #40 – #31

About the list

Please note that these are my favourite films, and as such some choices will be based on a personal sense of nostalgia (especially the top 5, once we eventually get there).  There are movies that I have connections to that may rank them higher than you might expect.  That being said, if there are films here you disagree with, don’t hesitate to argue them in the comments, and if there are choices you do agree with, feel free to show your support.  If you think something it too high or too low, let me know.  I’m not going to resort to the “well its my opinion” argument.

Keep in mind that this list is not made in stone, and some films in the future may go up or down in my estimation, as is wont to happen.  Also, there may be films that I haven’t seen yet which may take a spot on the list later.  I guess what I’m saying is that this is my 100 at the present time, though its a pretty good indicator of my taste in films.

40. Gravity


When I chose to make this list I debated with myself to have a certain cut off date for recent movies, for example not including any movies within the last year. The reasoning behind that being  that usually films need a little reflection before declaring them as one of your favourites.  But with Gravity I need no time buffer.  I haven’t fallen in love with a movie like I have with Gravity for years.  And to be honest, I was a little worried that I had become too critical and that I couldn’t be surprised by a movie anymore.  But Gravity proved to me that I could.

This movie looks and sounds so good that you feel you are right there in space with the characters.  The unerlying themes of the script work amazingly well, providing a lot of power behind this story.  I love Gravity, and to be honest the only reason it is as low as 40 is because of that time buffer issue.  but I have a strong feeling that this film will only go up the list as the years go by.


39. Inception

Inception is the cure to the “turn-your-brain-off” blockbuster.  It proves that you can have a great, exciting ride at the movies without having to lower your IQ.  Christopher Nolan and company have put together a wonderful movie filled with imagination, great action, and great characters.  They build the rules of the dream world so well that you can rely on them to all come together and make sense, without the plot getting too ludicrous.  There’s a hallway fight in zero gravity, a James Bond-esque mission to break into a winter compound, and a really great mystery at its emotional core.


38. Dances With Wolves


A grand, sweeping epic telling the tale of a soldier who comes to live with the Sioux people during Civil War times.  It is paced just right and has many great moments like the buffalo hunt scene.  I love historical epics and Dances with Wolves is one of my favourites to be sure.


37. The Shawshank Redemption

I think that this movie would be on a lot of people’s lists.  It just has that charm that draws people in, along with a great story of the human spirit.   It verges on sentimentalism but never tips over the edge.  It has some really great feel-good moments like when he plays the music for the prison or when he manages to score some beers for his buddies on the roof.  And the last 20 or so minutes is just the perfect way to end this great movie.


36. The Dark Knight


A masterfully crafted superhero film and the best of its genre.  Nolan’s Dark Knight became a phenomenon and for good reason.  The acting is awesome,, especially Heath Ledger’s Joker, the action scenes are spectacular, like the opening heist and the prisoner transport scene, and the plot is full-bodied.   I know some will think its too dour, asking “why so serious?”, but I like the tone established here and the lack of goofiness.  This is Batman to his full potential.  This is a superhero movie to its full potential.


35. The Social Network


Yes, the Facebook movie is one of my top 40 films of all time.  The combination of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin, one of my favourite directors and one of my favourite writers, is genius.  And Jesse Eisenberg’s performance really brings the script to life.  He is an asshole, but an asshole who is fun to follow through this whole story.  But what really makes Social Network great is that it is truly a film for our time.  Its about the new generation making success in their own way and shaping their own world.  Its a great film.


34. Platoon


Platoon used to be my favourite war movie, and though I’ve reassessed that thinking, I do still think its a powerful, tactile look at war and the loss of innocence it brings.  The counteracting characters of Barnes and Elias provides some great conflict with Charlie Sheen’s Taylor in the middle.


33. Bringing Up Baby


This is flat-out one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.  Screwball comedy at its finest.  Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn play great off each other; he a straight-laced scientist representing order, she an off-the-cuff socialite representing chaos.  Oh, and there’s a funny dog.  And a leopard.  And scene after scene of ludicrous situations and witty quips.  Damn I love this flick.  One of the best comedies ever made.


32. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King


Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy based off of J.R.R. Tolkien’s incredible novels changed the movie landscape.  And by the time the phenomenon reached the third film, the hype and excitement was palpable.  The stakes were raised incredibly high in the final installment as Frodo reached Mordor and the pother characters prepared for war in Gondor.  And incredible spectacle follows.  The battle of the Pellanor fields was outstanding, especially with the large Oliphants and the witch-king on his winged beast.  But the Mount doom scenes with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum were my favourite parts.  I felt like I was there with them, and it truly lived up to being an amazing climax.

Now I must admit that this third movie has some flaws, including an ending that wont end (though that doesn’t bother me as much as it does other people) and the ridiculous ghost army.  But otherwise, an amazing epic fantasy which raises the bar and reaches it.


31. It’s a Wonderful Life


Yeah yeah, call me a sap.  I don’t care.  I love this movie.  And its not because I used to watch it every Christmas and there’s a nostalgia with that, because I honestly didn’t see this until I got out of high school  Its just a genuinely great movie.  Its not gritty or hard-edged perhaps, but its just clean, heartfelt goodness.  And sometimes that can be really refreshing.

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