My Top 100 Movies – Part 8: #30 – #21
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.
30. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
This may be the straight-up funniest movie I’ve ever seen. Its clever and stupid all in the same breath. They clank coconuts instead of riding horses, argue about the speed of swallows, and say “Ni” a lot. Its just absurdist comedy at its best. Immensely quotable (to the point of annoyance, aye), but there is also humour with visual gags and even just the overall tone. So logically, because this movie weighs the same as a duck, it gets number 30 on the list.
There are a lot of movies set in the “not so distant” future, where a particular concept about why that future is unique is developed then explored. But Children of Men is the pinnacle of these types of movies and has set the bar which all others are to be measured. In this future where humans can no longer reproduce, every detail shows the consequences of that. It is a beautiful film despise how dreary is it, because amid all the depression and violence of this future, the movie is ultimately about hope.
28. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
A gorgeous film set in a somewhat historical, somewhat fantastical China where a young woman wishes to break free of her stuffy political life and become a warrior. This movie has a reputation for great fight scenes but it is so, so much more than that. The cinematography is incredible and the scope of the film feels very large, while the small detail make it feel very real. There are two different love stories, both great while being very different. The musical score is outstanding as well. Crouching Tiger is one of those movies that just grabs me by the heartstrings every time.
27. Rear Window
Rear Window takes all of Hitchcock’s skill at crafting a great suspense story and puts it there for us to experience. It starts off with a lot of charm and humour, and gradually moves into suspicion and JB Jeffrey’s, who is stuck watching his neighbours all day with a broken leg, suspects the man across the alley of murder. This movie set all from Jeffrey’s apartment has a very unique look and therefore creates a unique atmosphere. You will become enraptured with all of the neighbours on his block and what is happening with their lives, not just the murder plot.
26. Die Hard
Many, many films have tried to be Die Hard over the years, but none have succeeded. Die Hard took standard action films and gave them brains, wit, and style. John McClaine is a lead character who really makes this movie. He is relatable, which goes a long way here. Hans Gruber is also a great villain, not just some ordinary heartless tough guy but someone with a clear personality. Not to mention this movie looks great and the set pieces are no overdone and the payoffs are always earned. Die Hard continues to be awesome all these years later.
25. 12 Angry Men
How does a movie which is set in one room the whole time with the same 12 characters arguing about the same thing any good? Well, its not good, its great. And actually its so good that this may be my go-to film to try to encourage younger film fans to try out those “old black and white movies”. 12 Angry Men is full of personality, of great debate, of strong wills and strong drama.
24. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The second segment in the astounding Lord of the Rings trilogy saw the main characters going their separate ways. As such there was a lot of variety in this story. We get to watch a great dynamic between Frodo, Sam and the creature Gollum. But we also get a weird story with walking trees and the preparations of a grand battle. And what a battle! Helm’s Deep is the highlight of this film with amazing buildup, an amazing look, and amazing pacing. Two Towers is an outstanding middle segment of this trilogy.
23. The Silence of the Lambs
Serial killer thrillers don’t get much better than this. Silence of the Lambs is brilliantly shot in such a way that it feels like a movie of its time, but also feels timeless somehow. At the center of the story we have two amazing characters. First there’s Clarice Starling, a young agent in training who struggles to make her mark in the FBI. Then there’s Hannibal Lector, the infamous villain who is a genius in psychology but who also murders and eats his victims. And together they have a wonderful dynamic. This is a great, great suspense thriller.
22. Saving Private Ryan
Spielberg’s WWII film is a masterpiece. Of course everyone talks about the opening D-Day scene, and it deserves being talked about. Its just so visceral. But after that we follow a small band of soldiers and get to know them. Yes they are the typical stereotypes, but they dont really feel like stereotypes as you are watching them. Through their eyes we discover the western front of this war until one more grand battle to hold a bridge at the end.
21. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Make no mistake, this is a divisive film. It is certainly unique. Kubrick make s no attempt to spell out the mysterious things that are happening to the audience. As with much of Kubrick’s work, he distances the audience from what is happening. But man, you just know that something important is going on with this film. What is the black monolith’s purpose? What is happening with the astronaut at that end? What is going on?!
But this movie isn’t really about the story, other than that underlying feel that there really is something to figure out. 2001 is all about a visceral experience of sight and sound, cutting to the heart of cinema. The brilliance is that there is a reason for everything that is happening, you just may not know what it is yet. But honestly, dont worry about it. Just sit back and enjoy the sounds and silence, the slow pans and fast lights.