Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Favorite Movies

When people send around those lists of the top 100 movies or the top 50 movies or the top greatest movies, I have to admit that I have seen nearly every single one of them. I started watching great films at the Student Union at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill -- for a few dollars, you could sit in a grungy auditorium, eat stale popcorn and watch old classic films and all the foreign stuff. I shared this love with most of the boys I dated, so I spent many a two hour bit of time, holding hands and romanticized by either the boy or the movie or both. In fact, while many of my top twenty or so movies are included regularly on those lists of the best movies of all time, many of those on my list are so deeply entwined with my life at the moment that I watched it, that judging them as good or bad is ridiculous. Even though I can't remember much about the movie Diva, other than the spectacular aria sung by the diva and the scenes where the Asian girl skates around and around a living room, it goes on my top list because after I saw it in a theater in Newport, Rhode Island, I ran in the rain to my car with the boy I loved most in the world who had come back to me. Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal introduced me to real angst and the torture that comes with questioning religion. I went on to watch all of his movies, some ponderous and many soaring, but I never got over the scenes in The Seventh Seal, Max Von Sydow playing chess with the Grim Reaper during the Bubonic Plague, the pure-hearted carnival family, the final scene of linked arms and dancing on top of a hill. I went through a serious Jack Nicholson phase after seeing him in Five Easy Pieces, continuing to have ridiculous dreams about him well into my middle agehood --  And then there's Marcello Mastroianni in all those Fellini films, but mostly 8 1/2, Daniel Day Lewis, Javier Bardem, Marlon Brando, Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, and Juliette Massima -- well, I could go on and on, but I won't.

My Top 22, In No Particular Order:

Wings of Desire

The Seventh Seal

8 1/2

The English Patient

Harold and Maude

The Graduate

The Secret of Roan Inish

Annie Hall

On the Waterfront

La Strada

Pan's Labyrinth

Tess of the D'Urbervilles

The Sea Inside

Bonnie and Clyde

Breakfast at Tiffany's

The Philadelphia Story


Five Easy Pieces

Days of Heaven


The Secret Garden

All About My Mother

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Wasn't that fun? Reader, tell me some of yours.


  1. the Secret of Roan Inish is my current forever favorite.

    i also -- off the top of my head -- love (oddly, most of these are extremely American):

    The Blues Brothers
    Man on Wire
    House of Games
    The Killing of the Chinese Bookie
    Dog Day Afternoon
    Ghost Dog
    Big Night
    A History of Violence
    to name just a few....

  2. ahhhh, movies.
    They're like wonderland, aren't they?

    Just a few that have permanent lodging in my mind:

    The Red Balloon

    Il Postino (about poet Pablo Neruda)

    Hud (for the glory of Paul Newmans' perfect face)

    The Misfits (she was perfect)

    Sabrina (she was so young - so fresh)

    An American in Paris

    Brief Encounter

    Rose Tatoo (Anna Magnani is glorious!)

    Just of a few that I can bring to mind.

    But what I want to know is how you have such clarity of memory at such an early hour in the morning??

  3. I love about half of these, and the other half I haven't seen. Some recent favorites of mine are Hanna, Mother, Let the Right One In (the Swedish version), Far North, Children of Men, and Ponyo. And oh lord, Spirited Away.

  4. I also really love the Kill Bills and the Big Lebowski. And Drive. I really liked Drive.

  5. Thank you for this post! With my nest about to be empty I shall work my way through every one of these movies. I am sure I will love most of them. I have actually only seen about a third of them, so my education shall continue.

    Whenever anyone asks my favorite movies, the only one I can come up with is The Fisher King. Gosh, I loved that film.

  6. I loved the Secret of Roan Innish - I'm glad it's on your list. I just got netflix, so this is a great resource.

    Fisher King was awesome too.

  7. Wings of Desire
    The Unbearable Lightness of Being (everyone was so beautiful in that movie)
    Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
    Pillow Talk
    Mr. Hulot's Holiday
    Mon Uncle
    Monsoon Wedding
    Billy Elliott
    The Girl With the Pearl Earring (book was better, of course, but beautifully shot)
    Allegro Non Troppo
    The Philadelphia Story
    Bringing Up Baby (while we're on a Hepburn kick)
    Edward Scissorhands
    Run Lola Run
    The Talented Mr. Ripley
    Waking Ned Devine
    In the Name of The Father
    Into the West
    Breaking The Waves

    Okay that's plenty enough.

  8. You'll laugh. Please don't laugh: White Men Can't Jump. I can't help it! I love it!
    There are more, of course, and ones I love much more than that but I just had to admit it. My not-so-secret shame.

  9. L'Atalante
    The Last Laugh
    I agree with The Misfits--an amazing film in which everyone seems to be playing themselves.
    And--triggered by Ms Moon's pig and pork chop posts, there's a little movie called Big Night that's worth seeing...

  10. Wow. I consider myself a movie fan, but there are several films here I've never seen: The Secret of Roan Inish, for example. I need to get cracking!

    I'm so glad you have The Graduate on your list. It's my absolute favorite movie ever, one of those rare films in which every component -- casting, music, cinematography, script -- is just perfect. Ann Bancroft, so predatory and sad at the same time. Fabulous.

    If you liked The Sea Inside, check out Bardem in Before Night Falls. I think it's his best film.

    Among my other faves: Muriel's Wedding, Spirited Away, and for pure camp value, Valley of the Dolls.

  11. why am i not surprised that we have such crossover in the movies we love. problem is i don't remember them when asked. here are a few more:

    the thin red line
    cool hand luke
    stand by me
    to kill a mockingbird
    the old man and the sea
    what's eating gilbert grape
    grapes of wrath

    and i could go on and on, too.


  12. Thank you for helping us to solve our Netflix queue problem (nothing good to watch) - now we can go through your list!
    We are not big movie fans. We tend more toward British TV - mystery, comedy, biography, history - very nerdy of us. Perhaps we may be a little dull...My taste in movies has been largely shaped by having children; it would take me a long time to make a good list for you, but here are a few:

    High Society
    The Court Jester
    The Sound of Music
    White Christmas
    The Devil Wears Prada
    It's Complicated
    The Departed
    Casino Royale
    Lost in America
    The first two Harry Potter movies

  13. Oh, my goodness, you are high class with these films! I decided awhile back that I really love movies that are fun--not movies that make me think that much. So:

    Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    The Lord of the Rings movies

    Truly, these are my favorites. We rewatch them at least once a year.

  14. I'll resist the temptation to shout "Me Too!" and repeat others' picks (English Patient!) so will just add:
    Cinema Paradiso
    Dangerous Liaisons (the one w/John Malkovitch)
    PharLap & The Man from Snowy River.
    The Big Blue (the original one)
    Top Secret & Real Genius, from Val's better days
    anything with Humphrey Bogart.
    and almost any cops/robbers/mobster/action/end of the world (Deep Impact - NOT Armageddon though) popcorn flick.

    I think that list pretty clearly reveals my age, doesn't it?

  15. Your comment today reminded me you'd posted this... now THIS is a list I can use!

  16. Bicycle Thieves (1948)
    Let the Right One In (2008)
    Pather Panchali (1955)
    Do Bigha Zamin (1953)
    The English Patient (1996)
    The 400 Blows (1959)
    Jules and Jim (1962)
    22 Shraban (1960)
    The Dreamers (2003)
    Finding Nemo (2003)
    Dev.D (2009)
    M (1931)
    Pulp Fiction
    Cold Mountain
    American Beauty



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