As discussed in another thread, I’ve assembled a huge list of “Greatest Movies” by combining a bunch of “Greatest Movies” lists. The intent is that we, the Legion of Superfluous Heroes assembled, can use this list to 1) determine our own, personal movie Bucket List, 2) argue debate the merits of the various movies and 3) have fun.

Before we begin, I should illuminate my Methods & Practices so you know what you’re looking at.

While I always intended to combine lists (no single list would satisfy everyone), I discovered that it was an absolute necessity. Whether by virtue of who voted for entries (critics, fans, editors, etc.) or its venue (film institute, magazine, website, etc.), each list diverged widely.

For example, the British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound list was very Eurocentric, and provided a lot of foreign-language films. That’s good, because films like The Seventh Seal definitely belong here, if for no other reason than to understand films that lift from it, like Woody Allen’s Love and Death and Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life. But BFI also swooned over a lot of precious crapola that I wouldn’t watch with a gun to my head. Your mileage may vary, of course, but I am never going to watch Sátántangó, an “evocation of life in an isolated Hungarian village.” (Yes, it is in fact 7 hours and 19 minutes long.) Seriously, BFI?

Rotten Tomatoes was weirdly Millennial, listing mostly movies released 2015-2019, with a LOT of movies from 2017. This resulted in the list recommending, for example, two of the last three Star Wars movies while ignoring the original trilogy. That’s all kinds of wrong.

Wikipedia was weird in that its list was a list of toppers from other people’s lists.

Empire’s Top 500 seemed to have a soft spot for genre, with just about every major superhero/sci-fi franchise represented. Raiders of the Lost Ark even clocked in at #2! (I can hear the tut-tutting of snooty movie critics as I type this.) I’m grateful for that list, which is how many of my favorite movies got on here.

Oddly, Empire’s “Top 100” list differed sufficiently from the “Top 500” list that I included both.

While not as egregious, the other lists also skewed one way or another, depending on the factors listed above. By combining them (eight all together), I hope to have created a sufficiently rounded picture. The lists I used were the American Film Institute’s “AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies” (credited as AFI), the British Film Institute’s “The 100 Greatest Films of All Time” (BFI), The Chicago Tribune’s “100 Great Films, According to Critics” (Trib), Rotten Tomatoes’ “Top 100 Movies of All Time” (RT), The Hollywood Reporter’s “Hollywood’s 100 Favorite Movies” (THR), Empire magazine’s “The 100 Greatest Movies” (Empire) and “The 500 Greatest Movies” (Empire 500), and Wikipedia’s “List of Movies Considered the Best” page (wiki). I include “credits” for each entry to preserve the flavor of where that entry came from (and to explain the weirder ones).

There are still omissions, of course. Some of the Legionnaires’ favorite stuff is slighted, with few (or no) entries for many superhero franchises, 1940s Universal horror movies, Marx Brothers, Godzilla and friends, Star Trek, etc. I hope we will correct those omissions!

Lastly, I’m not thinking of this list as a Nerd Canon, but rather a generic, cinephile “greatest movies.” I foresee a second list for everything we think all nerds need to see to have street cred. I’ll get to work on the Nerd Canon pretty soon.

Enough drivel! Let’s get to it!

 

8½ (1963)

Federico Fellini triumphantly conjured himself out of a bad case of creative block with this autobiographical magnum opus about a film director experiencing creative block. A film about a director who can't make a film, this mixes childhood flashbacks, doomed relationships between Marcello Mastroianni and gorgeous women, and Fellini's love of circus-style bizarros — BFI, wiki, Empire 500

 

2 Days in Paris (2007)

Owing as much to Woody Allen as Richard Linklater, Delpy's French-gal/Yank-guy relationship piece is less earnest and funnier than the pleasures of Before Sunset/Sunrise. For romantic cynics everywhere. — Empire 500

 

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2008)

Set in 1980s Romania — where a communist regime has ruled birth control illegal and second-term abortion a crime punishable by death — this bleak social drama follows Găbița as she tries to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Given her lack of options, Găbița and a friend visit a male abortionist, who expects sexual favors in return. Thanks to its claustrophobic premise and minimalist style, the film whizzes by at the pace of a white-knuckle thriller. It won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, among numerous other awards. — Trib

 

12 Angry Men (1957)

Where it all started for one of America’s most enduring directors, tapping his TV roots for a claustrophobic courtroom thriller with Henry Fonda standing up for the best of America. Reginald Rose adapted his own award-winning teleplay when he penned the script for this taut drama about 12 jurors who argue over the fate of a suspected murderer. Initially, every juror except Juror 8 (Henry Fonda) finds the defendant to be guilty. However, as Juror 8 breaks down the evidence, he slowly steers the verdict toward innocence. In the process, the respective prejudices of his peers come to the surface, vicariously causing all the more tension inside the room. Sidney Lumet directed. — Trib, THR, Empire 500

 

12 Monkeys (1995)

Here's a crazy theory for you maverick genius Terry Gilliam, untamable and outspoken, a thorn in Hollywood's precious derrière since the last days of Python is a director who works best beneath studio colors. Take 12 Monkeys, with its weird-fangled, time-tripping script from David “Blade Runner” Peoples. Here, with a strong producer, big stars (Bruce Willis and a potty Brad Pitt) and a medium budget, was a film delivered on time, on budget, and which became a sizeable hit. Yet, it lost none of its necessary Gilliamness its dystopian Philadelphia underworld glistens with his classic Hieronymus Bosch-meets-Heath Robinson fabulation. It's worth thinking about just picking up those studio offers once in a while, Terry. — Empire 500

 

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Author Solomon Northup’s memoir provided the basis for this historical drama from Steve McQueen. In the film, Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is enjoying life as a free man up North, until he’s abducted by criminals and sold into slavery down South. What follows over the course of 12 years is nothing short of tragic, as Northup and his peers suffer a range of abuses at the hands of an alcoholic slave owner (Michael Fassbender). The movie won three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. — Trib, RT

 

28 Days Later (2002)

This film, a revival of the zombie apocalypse movie, shot fast and cheap and digital, instantly established a new style for low-budget horror, but has room for eerily depopulated cityscapes and character horror as well as ferocious monster attacks. — Empire 500

 

45 Years (2015)

True to its name, this 2015 drama centers on a couple who have been married for 45 years. As they plan to celebrate their upcoming anniversary, the husband (Tom Courtenay) gets word his first love — who disappeared decades ago — has been found dead in a melting glacier. The news has a discernible effect on the husband and causes him to act strangely, which consequently prompts his wife (Charlotte Rampling) to re-examine the man she thought she knew so well. — Trib

 

300 (2006)

Zach Snyder's buff, beefy comic adaptation slammed Sparta onto the cinematic map. With help, of course, from Gerard Butler's very shouty grasp of the obvious. ("This … is ... SPARTAAAA!") — Empire 500

 

The 400 Blows (1959)

Truffaut drew inspiration from his own troubled childhood for this classic account of a troubled adolescent looking for an escape route from an unhappy life. Jean-Pierre Leaud is Truffaut stand-in Antoine Doinel, here an unhappy child taking refuge in the freedom of the cinema and the bleakness of petty crime. Thematically grim, but joyous moviemaking. — BFI, Empire 500

 

1917 (2020)

April 6th, 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message that will stop 1,600 men from walking straight into a deadly trap. — RT

 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

It is arguably Stanley Kubrick’s greatest gift to cinema, an infinitely ambitious vision of a space-faring future whose narrative centers on the most pivotal moment in human evolution since some ape-man first bashed another ape-man with an old bone. Graceful, gorgeous, unwearied by time's passing. Rather like that monolith. Brilliant, befuddling: a sci-why movie as intelligent as it is pristine. Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick conjure an endlessly debatable epic. An effects landmark, too: no HAL, no Star Wars. — AFI, BFI, Empire, THR, wiki, Empire 500

 

Ace in the Hole (1951)

Billy Wilder gives free reign to his legendary cynicism in this, his first film as writer-producer-director, a caustic tale of media exploitation with Kirk Douglas in top, sleazy form as ruthless journo Chuck Tatum. It's a film that gets more relevant with every passing year. — Empire 500

 

The Addiction (1995)

Christopher Walken is a vampire; vein-draining is a drug metaphor; Abel Ferrara is an art-house and exploitation auteur. — Empire 500

 

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Sir Robin of Locksley (Errol Flynn), defender of downtrodden Saxons, runs afoul of Norman authority and is forced to turn outlaw. With his band of Merry Men, he robs from the rich, gives to the poor and still has time to woo the lovely Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland), foil the cruel Sir Guy of Gisbourne (Basil Rathbone) and keep the nefarious Prince John (Claude Rains) off the throne. — RT

 

The African Queen (1951)

In WWI Africa, a gin-swilling riverboat captain (Humphrey Bogart) is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary (Katherine Hepburn) to use his boat to attack an enemy warship. — AFI

 

Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972)

Klaus Kinski stars as a megalomaniacal soldier leading a group of conquistadores down river in search of El Dorado on Werner Herzog’s oblique study of madness. — BFI

 

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Steven Spielberg channeling Stanley Kubrick does Pinocchio in a dystopian future. A challenging hybrid of sentiment and wonder and coldness and perversity. Perhaps the most fascinating film of Spielberg's career. — Empire 500

 

Airplane! (1980)

The greatest spoof ever made, taking every disaster-movie cliché and twisting it until all the comedy is extracted. All the more ingenious in comparison to the lame mess of sketches that is “spoof” today. — THR, Empire 500

 

Akira (1988)

Hyperviolent. Apocalyptic. Kinetic. Lurid. Akira is the definitive anime classic. — Empire 500

 

Aladdin (1992)

Heartland Disneytainment, best-loved by boys for having a roguish bloke rather than a princess at the center of things, best-loved by everyone for Robin Williams' show-stealing vocal whirl as the genie. — Empire 500

 

Alien (1979)

A sci-fi slasher film. A B idea, made great by Scott’s grimily industrial space program, H. R. Giger’s obscenely biomechanical monster and Sigourney Weaver’s sweaty feminism. On the one hand, re-watching Ridley Scott's deep-space monster-slasher (and it's a movie which can handle as many re-watches as you can throw at it) makes you appreciate why he keeps coming back to that universe: It's so intoxicatingly atmospheric and deeply compelling, it sticks to you like a parasite. On the other hand, it really does make you wonder why he feels the need to keep tinkering with new cuts. After all, he got it perfectly right the first time around. — Empire, RT, THR, Empire 500

 

Aliens (1986)

The genius of James Cameron's self-penned Alien follow-up was to not try to top the original as one of the greatest ever horror movies. Instead, he transplanted the Alien (and, significantly, Ripley) to a different genre, and created one of the greatest ever action movies. That's also a Vietnam metaphor. And also one of the most enduringly quotable films. Where Ridley Scott was all about slow-building tension, James Cameron creates a whirlwind of pure panic and violence. Probably the most exciting film ever made. — Empire, Empire 500

 

All About Eve (1950)

Despite being several decades old, this heralded drama simply oozes with perennial primacy, putting show business in its crosshairs and hitting the target with a bull’s eye. In the film, an obsessive actress named Eve (Anne Baxter) finagles her way into a Broadway theater company, where she comes face to face with her supposed idol, Margo (Bette Davis). As it turns out, however, Eve doesn’t plan to worship Margo as much as she plans to replace her. All About Eve is among the most Oscar-nominated films in history. — AFI, Trib, RT, THR, Empire 500

 

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)

A German youth (Lew Ayres) eagerly enters World War I, but his enthusiasm wanes as he gets a firsthand view of the horror. — AFI, RT

 

All That Jazz (1979)

Bob Fosse was one of the most exciting talents in musicals, and this is none more Fosse, giddy with invention and taking as many liberties with the genre as Moulin Rouge. — Empire 500

 

All The President’s Men (1976)

The Watergate scandal told with razor-sharp intelligence from the perspective of Woodward and Bernstein (realized via the opposing styles of Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford) — arguably the best film about the Fourth Estate. — THR, Empire 500

 

Almost Famous (2000)

A semi-autobiographical tale about sex, drugs and Rolling Stone based on Cameron Crowe’s teenage memories, this is to rock ’n’ roll what GoodFellas was to gangsters. — THR, Empire 500

 

Amadeus (1984)

The genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a bumptious rube, which is agony for the less-gifted but oh-so-aware composer Antonio Salieri. Tom Hulce practiced piano four hours a day for the role, but the music ended up being dubbed in anyway. — AFI, THR, Empire 500

 

Amazing Grace (2018)

The performance of Aretha Franklin recording a gospel album was shot over two days in 1972 at the New Bethel Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Because director Sydney Pollack failed to use clapper boards to synchronize the film’s video and audio, the footage originally could not be used. It was not until many years later that Alan Elliott found a way to sync the film and the sound. Appearing briefly are Rolling Stones’ musicians Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts who stopped by to hear Franklin sing. — Trib

 

Amélie (1999)

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's beautifully whimsical Parisian rom-com succeeded not only because he found the perfect good-deed performing imp-girl lead in Audrey Tautou, but also because his numerous surreal touches truly gave a sense that there is always magic in the world around us — if we only know how to look for it. — Empire, THR, Empire 500

 

American Beauty (1999)

An intricate, brilliantly acted dissection of dysfunctional family life, wunderkind Sam Mendes’ first movie was well-rewarded with a hatful of Oscars. Mendes made his movie career with his directorial debut, the story of Lester Burman: a man who turned his midlife crisis into a midlife resolution — even if his self-liberating antics would ultimately prove disastrous. It announced a bold new filmmaker in Mendes, and also got writer Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood) rolling. — Empire 500, Empire, THR, Empire 500

 

American Graffiti (1973)

George Lucas might be best known today as the man behind Star Wars, but in 1973 he released this nostalgic comedy, which couldn’t have been more different from the famous space opera in terms of tone and narrative. Set in the early 1960s, the movie follows a bunch of high school graduates as they cruise around town for one last time before heading off to college. Bringing their adventures to life is a range of comic exchanges and an endlessly listenable soundtrack of classic oldies. Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard and young Harrison Ford star. — AFI, Trib, Empire 500

 

American History X (1998)

Hugely controversial in its day, Kaye's black-and-white tale of neo-Nazi redemption has, scarily, only grown in relevance. Edward Norton, who re-edited amid a directorial spat, lends chilling reality to the idea of the intelligent brute. — Empire 500

 

An American in Paris (1951)

Three friends struggle to find work in Paris. Things become more complicated when two of them (Gene Kelly, Oscar Levant) fall in love with the same woman (Leslie Caron). AFI, RT

 

American Psycho (2000)

The appalling violence of Bret Easton Ellis' supposedly unfilmable early '90s novel was understandably toned down, but Christian Bale's Bateman (his arrival as a grown-up star) remains terrifying, and the critique of '80s avarice remains undiluted. — Empire 500

 

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

John Landis offers a still-amazing pre-CGI metamorphosis, observations on British strangeness, Jenny Agutter in the shower, nightmare Nazis and a witty set of moon-themed songs. — Empire 500

 

Amores Perros (2000)

It's a dog-eat-dog world in this superb, multi-stranded drama. Man's best friend (and one car crash) may provide the connection between three disparate people, but it's the director's assured control that keeps it all together. — Empire 500

 

Amour (2012)

Controversial director Michael Haneke puts a couple’s decades-long marriage to the test in this slow-moving, intricate work. Specifically, the movie centers on a pair of retired schoolteachers, whose loving marriage is manifested by a series of daily rituals. After the wife suffers a massive stroke, her condition deteriorates to the point that she’s no longer recognizable as the person she once was. Consequently, the husband must struggle with a range of emotions while acting as her loyal caretaker. — Trib

 

Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

A lawyer played by James Stewart comes out of retirement to defend a U.S. Army lieutenant accused of murdering a man (Ben Gazzara) who allegedly raped his wife (Lee Remick). George C. Scott plays the prosecutor in the story riddled with secrets. Jayne Mansfield turned down Remick’s part, and Gregory Peck was considered for the lead. The role of the judge was offered to Burl Ives and Spencer Tracy but in the end was played by Joseph N. Welch, a real-life lawyer who represented the U.S. Army in the 1954 anti-Communist Army-McCarthy hearings. He never memorized his lines and instead read them off a teleprompter, and it was his only movie role. — Trib

 

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Will Ferrell’s breakout vehicle homages the fashion, music and sexual politics of the ’70s, with a smarmily self-confident TV newsreader threatened by a female rival. Major plus — it’s not about a stupid sport. — Empire 500

 

Andrei Rublev (1969)

This Soviet-era Russian epic, which made Andrei Tarkovsky’s international reputation, dramatizes episodes in the life and times of a medieval monk with a gift for painting icons. Uniquely among artist biopics, there are no scenes of the hero at the easel and we don’t see his work — in radiant color after three hours of black-and-white — until the very end of the film. Indeed, Rublev (Anatoli Solonitsyn) tends to fade into the bearded, weatherbeaten crowd (for much of the running time he’s under a vow of silence) as various holy fools command attention. If Tarkovsky’s intense argument about God, talent and the human condition is as chilly as the steppes, the pre-CGI widescreen spectacle, depicting crowds of people and animals, is often breathtaking: the screen fills with Kurosawa-like action as Tartars sack a cathedral or a mad waif bosses a more experienced crew as they forge a church bell. — BFI, Empire 500

 

Annie Hall (1977)

A thriller named Anhedonia transformed into a rom-com where the antagonist is the lead’s own neurosis. More daring than Woody Allen is usually given credit for. Its other alternative title? It Had to Be Jew. — AFI, THR, Empire 500

 

The Apartment (1960)

On the surface, it’s the straight downtrodden-boy-meets-indifferent-girl formula, but Billy Wilder, who skipped Berlin as the Nazis took power, came possessed of a more savage view of the world’s workings. Jack Lemmon’s hypochondriac Baxter is a friendless corporate climber; the object of his affection, Shirley MacLaine, an unstable lift girl having an affair with the CEO. Their meandering path to romance twists between notions of prostitution (corporate and real) and even suicide. Meet-cute it is not. Yet, somehow, the film remains optimistic about their chances. During a break from filming, MacLaine made an uncredited cameo appearance in Ocean’s 11, which starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the rest of the Rat Pack. — AFI, Trib, Empire 500

 

Apocalypse Now (1979)

The filmmaker go-to movie du jour. Gareth Edwards cited Francis Ford Coppola's vivid and visceral jungle trek as a major influence on Rogue One; Jordan Vogt-Roberts drew from it extensively for Kong: Skull Island, and Matt Reeves sees War for the Planet of the Apes as his own simian-related tribute. Hardly surprising; it's both a visually rich war movie and also a powerfully resonant journey into the darkest recesses of the human soul. — AFI, BFI, Empire, Trib, THR, Empire 500

 

Argo (2012)

Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1979. — RT

 

Army of Darkness (1992)

The third, and silliest, in Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy is notable for completely letting Bruce Campbell off the chin, sorry, chain. And that is a glorious sight to behold. — Empire 500

 

Army of Shadows (1969)

Jean-Pierre Melville recounts everyday heroism and horrors in a unique World War II thriller. Feels true because it is. — Empire 500

 

Arrival (2016)

Denis Villeneuve's empathic, perception-bending alien visitation drama is a delicately crafted modern rework of The Day the Earth Stood Still — except the extra-terrestrials are truly otherworldly and there's the sky-high obstacle that is the language barrier. With its message that open-minded communication enables us to realize the things we have in common with those who appear vastly different, it feels like genuinely compulsive viewing for these troubled times. — Empire, RT

 

Arthur (1981)

This daft odd-couple routine boozy aristo Dudley Moore romances flighty Liza Minnelli, while John Gielgud's starchy butler makes acidic comments proves surprisingly resilient. The answer could be in the delightful chemistry that all three very diverse actors cook up. — Empire 500

 

As Good as It Gets (1997)

With a catalogue of misanthropes and psychopaths filling up his résumé, Jack Nicholson fits the role of brash obsessive-compulsive Melvin Udall like a glove, and it’s his winning depiction of a man fighting his own neurosis that actually humanizes it. — Empire 500

 

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

The kind of satisfying, elegiac Western you thought died out with the '70s. Great performances by Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, but this is truly its director's work. — Empire 500

 

Atonement (2007)

Ian McEwan's devastating war romance is masterfully conveyed to screen by Joe Wright, whose taut stylistics, from the telling typewriter-clack of the soundtrack to that one-take, Steadicam Dunkirk shot, can't fail to impress. — Empire 500

 

Au Hasard Balthazar (1966)

Robert Bresson’s distinctive pared-down style elicits extraordinary pathos from this devastating tale of an abused donkey passing from owner to owner. It's proof of Bresson's power as a filmmaker that this, the tale of a donkey (albeit paralleled with that of a girl), says more about humanity our vices, our trials, our self-examination than a dozen Hollywood pictures. — BFI, Empire 500

 

Avatar

It's the highest grosser of all time, which explains the three sequels that will start rolling out in December 2016. — THR

 

Avengers (2012)

With Marvel's “Phase One”-concluding team-up movie, writer-director Joss Whedon not only pulled off a colossal character-juggling act, he also pushed the studio's commercial success to a much higher level. It's still one of the best-scripted Marvels, and we've yet to see a villain on more entertainingly nefarious form than Tom Hiddleston's Loki was here. — Empire

 

Avengers: Endgame (2019)

After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to reverse Thanos' actions and restore balance to the universe. — RT

 

Baby Driver (2017)

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. — RT

 

Back to the Future (1985)

Weird science and teenage dreams combine in a wish-fulfilment sci-fi lent heart by the fantastic Michael J. Fox. Part science-fiction caper, part generational culture-clash movie, part weirdo family drama (in which the hero has to rescue his own existence after his mother falls in lust with him, eww), Back to the Future still manages to be timeless despite being so rooted in, well, time. And it might just have the best title of anything on this entire list. — Empire, THR, wiki, Empire 500

 

Back to the Future Part II (1989)

After visiting 2015, Marty McFly must repeat his visit to 1955 to prevent disastrous changes to 1985 ... without interfering with his first trip. — Empire 500

 

Badlands (1973)

Loosely based on the real-life murder spree of Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, Malick’s debut is a tribute to the untamed wilderness and a hazy ode to crazy love. — Empire 500

 

Bad Taste (1987)

Filmed during four years' worth of weekends by Jackson and his mates, this cheerfully psychotic tale of human-eating aliens had its micro-budget funded in part by a New Zealand government grant. — Empire 500

 

Barry Lyndon (1975)

Stanley Kubrick’s exquisitely detailed adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s novel about the picaresque exploits of an 18th century Irish adventurer. — BFI

 

Batman (1989)

Burton's noir nightmare re-established the franchise for the '90s. Nicholson and Keaton are a star turn as freak villain and Gothic hero. Full of imaginative violence, clever re-thinking of familiar characters, astonishing sets and witty lines. — Empire 500

 

Batman Begins (2005)

Christopher Nolan’s Year One rebirth of the caped crusader is a grown-up comic-book movie that placed the Dark Knight himself, rather than his gaudy foes, where he belonged ... back in the spotlight. — Empire 500

 

Batman Returns (1992)

Easily the better of the two Burton Batmans, Returns was most notable for a certain feline, figure-hugging costume.  — Empire 500

 

The Battle of Algiers (1966)

A rare triumph of political cinema, depicting colonial oppression, terrorist strikes against civilians, Western occupying forces resorting to torture, and a general uprising without apparently taking sides. Still vivid and relevant. — BFI, RT, Empire 500

 

Battle Royale (2000)

Schoolkids wearing explosive collars forced to fight to the death? Fukasaku’s pic is a forceful comment on adolescent alienation. — Empire 500

 

Battleship Potemkin (1925)

A fixture in the critical canon almost since its premiere, Sergei Eisenstein’s film about a 1905 naval mutiny was revolutionary in both form and content. — BFI, Trib, wiki, Empire 500

 

Beau Travail (1999)

Loosely based on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd but with the action transferred to contemporary Djibouti and the French Foreign legion, Claire Denis’s film is balletic, oblique and photographically stunning. — BFI

 

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Disney was in the midst of a substantial comeback when it released this animated smash hit in 1991, about a cursed prince who’s doomed to exist as a beast, lest he finds true love and breaks the spell. While the movie is an indisputable classic with near-universal acclaim to show for it, some folks feel it conveys a bad message about tolerating unacceptable behavior. Of course, most would agree it’s a movie about learning to love someone for whom they are, and not for whom they appear to be. — Trib, THR, Empire 500

 

Before Midnight (2013)

Richard Linklater’s heralded “Before” Trilogy began in 1995 with Before Sunrise, and culminated with this 2013 effort. After dallying with romance during their previous encounters, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) have finally tied the knot, and by the time Before Midnight begins, they’re going on nine years of marriage. As they and their two daughters vacation in Greece, however, cracks begin to show in the relationship, forcing the couple to once again evaluate a range of emotions and ideas. — Trib

 

Before Sunrise (1995)

The soppy/sophisticated two-hander plays as affecting tribute to young love, lent real emotional heft in retrospect by the nine-years-later sequel. — Empire 500

 

Before Sunset (2004)

Before Sunrise, 10 years on. Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meet again, briefly, getting another chance to talk about love. How many sequels are made for artistic reasons and add meaning, rather than strip it away? — Empire 500

 

Being John Malkovich (1999)

A weird premise, courtesy of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, is spun into the archetypal “quirky” indie hit, with major stars geeking out, accessible in-jokes and a plot that surprisingly makes sense. Malkovich won major points for caricaturing himself as “John Horatio Malkovich.” — Empire 500

 

Being There (1979)

Heartfelt comedy and biting social satire with Peter Sellers (in his last role) as Chance, a guileless child-man whose simple pronouncements on tending a garden are taken as profound insights into the nature of the world. — Empire 500

 

Ben-Hur (1959)

Wyler's version of Lew Wallace's novel may have been the third adaptation to hit the big screen but, boy, was it the biggest. A huge budget and an exhausting shoot were rewarded with 11 Oscars and an epic for the ages.  — AFI, Empire 500

 

The Best Years of our Lives (1946)

This prescient drama tackles the re-adjustment of returning servicemen. Perhaps a little dated in its pressed emotions, Gregg Toland's Kane-like deep focus still gives it a wonderfully memorable look. — AFT, RT, Empire 500

 

Betty Blue (1986)

The original title for this steamy Gallic thriller — translated as 37°C, Two in the Morning — sums it all up. Hot, sweaty and passionate, it couldn’t be more French if it tried. — Empire 500

 

Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (1970)

Nudie-filmmaker Russ Meyer runs riot with a studio budget, assaulting Jacqueline Susann's trash novel with demented brio and kookily square psychedelia. — Empire 500

 

Bicycle Thieves (1948)

The theft of a bicycle becomes the catalyst for a father and son’s odyssey through the poverty-stricken streets of post-war Rome. One of the defining classics of Italian neorealism. — BFI, wiki, Empire 500

 

Big (1988)

These days, when a Tom Hanks film comes with a) an Academy Award win, b) a “Directed by Steven Spielberg” credit, and c) Meg Ryan, it’s easy to forget what a great comedic actor the man is. And perhaps the standout of his comedy canon is Big, the best ’80s body-swap movie, directed by Marshall and written by another Spielberg (sister Anne). Hanks beautifully plays Josh as a kid playing an adult, never losing sight of the childish delights and insecurities of being young. These days, he may specialize in everymen under enormous duress (Cast Away, The Terminal) but here he is deft, light-fingered and ultimately extraordinarily moving. — Empire 500

 

The Big Country (1958)

A cowboy epic, memorable for Gregory Peck’s lengthy fist-fight with Charlton Heston (in a rare, interesting bad- guy role) and expansive visions of wide, open spaces accompanied by a memorable hit theme tune. — Empire 500

 

The Big Lebowski (1998)

You've got to hand it to the Coen brothers. Not only did they make arguably the funniest movie of the '90s — which has since spawned a genuine film cult — they also managed to construct a kidnap mystery in which the detective isn't a detective and nobody was actually kidnapped. With bowling, marmots and a urine-stained rug. The Coens' colorful take on Raymond Chandler's L.A. noir is the shaggiest of shaggy dog stories, and evidently Joel and Ethan's most enduring by a long shot. Jeff Bridges' White Russian-downing 'Dude' is an iconic hero Empire, THR, Empire 500

 

The Big Red One (1980)

Sam Fuller had brought leather-tough visions of war to the big screen before, but The Big Red One is his hard-nosed masterpiece, based largely on the former crime reporter's own experiences battling across North Africa and Europe during World War II, and the project he'd held close to his heart for most of his filmmaking career. Legend has it that one studio wanted Fuller to cast John Wayne as the growling, indurate sergeant who, along with four privates (ultimately to include Mark Hamill), is one of the division's few survivors. Fuller opted not to make the movie rather than have the Duke headline it which sums up exactly what kind of war movie this is. When, eventually, he rolled, the part went to Lee Marvin, who carries the movie to its devastating concentration-camp-liberation conclusion without breaking a sweat. One suspects, also, that Steven Spielberg took notes during the gut-wrenching Omaha beach sequence. — Empire 500

 

The Big Sick (2017)

Pakistan-born comedian Kumail Nanjiani and grad student Emily Gardner fall in love but struggle as their cultures clash. When Emily contracts a mysterious illness, Kumail finds himself forced to face her feisty parents, his family's expectations and his true feelings. — RT

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)

Dismal box office sent a disillusioned Carpenter back to indie filmmaking, but this colorful action-fantasy remains a fan favorite. Kurt Russell is hilarious as one of cinema's least heroic heroes. — Empire 500

 

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Features a gloved murderer, kinky sex, lurid colors, politics and a great set-piece involving a glass cage. Vintage Dario Argento, then. — Empire 500

 

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

The Stoneman family finds its friendship with the Camerons affected by the Civil War, both fighting in opposite armies. The development of the war in their lives plays through to Lincoln's assassination and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan. — AFI

 

The Black Cat (1997)

Two of horror’s most looming icons, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, united for this post-World War I commentary wrapped in a cloak of terror. — Empire 500

 

Black Narcissus (1947)

The plot concerns a group of nuns in the Himalayas, toiling against cold forces without and lusty forces within, but it’s the images that make this essential. Astonishing visual storytelling. — Empire 500

 

BlacKKKlansman (2018)

Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events. — RT

Black Panther (2018)

T'Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country's past. — RT

 

Blade Runner (1982)

Rain-lashed, noodle-bar-packed streets shrouded in perpetual night, with giant adverts and neon signs doing the job you'd usually expect of the sun itself. ... The not-too-distant future had never looked cooler than in Ridley Scott's sci-fi gumshoe noir, and we're not sure it ever will. — BFI, Empire, THR, wiki, Empire 500

 

Blazing Saddles (1974)

Mel Brooks invented scattershot movie parody with this cowboy outrage (we get less grateful every time a Meet the Spartans or Disaster Movie opens). Highlights: a classic theme song and the Ben-Hur chariot race of flatulence scenes. — THR, wiki, Empire 500

 

Blow Out (1981)

Playing like The Conversation with added sound effects, Brian De Palma’s paranoia-packed piece finds John Travolta’s movie-effects technician accidentally capturing audio evidence of an assassination plot. — Empire 500

 

The Blues Brothers (1980)

The best in rhythm and blues meets the best in spectacular car-crash action meets the best in cult sunglass-wearing characters. — Empire 500

 

Blue Velvet (1986)

A young man’s curiosity draws him into the twisted criminal sub-culture operating beneath the placid surface of his cozy hometown. Never have David Lynch’s beautiful and bizarre visions been more unsettling than here, as he unearths the dirt that lies beneath a seemingly genteel American suburbia. At a stretch it’s a form of neo-noir. Then again, this is Lynch, and definitions never stick. — BFI, Empire 500

 

Bonnie & Clyde (1967)

Bored waitress Bonnie Parker falls in love with an ex-con named Clyde Barrow and together they start a violent crime spree through the country, stealing cars and robbing banks. — AFI, THR

 

Boogie Nights (1997)

The rise and fall of a skin-flick entourage is explored in intimate detail in Wes Anderson’s star-studded homage to the success and excesses of the ’70s porn industry. More a film about family than rutting on celluloid. — Empire 500

 

Booksmart (2019)

On the eve of their high school graduation, two academic superstars and best friends realize they should have worked less and played more. Determined not to fall short of their peers, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night. — RT

 

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Doug Liman's kick-off to the excellent Bourne series wasn't quite as accomplished as the sequels, but it was a morally murkier film and set up the mood that Paul Greengrass so rewardingly continued. — Empire 500

 

The Bourne Supremacy (2004)

A sequel which upshifts thanks to director Paul Greengrass applying what might well be the definitive 2000s thriller style to an edgy, paranoid chase format Matt Damon brings life to a zombie-like hero, and a Moscow car chase ranks with the great stunt scenes. — Empire 500

 

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

If you watch the third in the Bourne trilogy closely, you’ll notice that Paul Greengrass never stops the action to tell the story. The action tells the story. Now that is popcorn filmmaking. — Empire 500

 

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Heads the list of 20 all-time favorite non-fiction films selected by members of the IDA in 2002. wiki

 

Boyhood (2014)

While audiences really liked this Richard Linklater film, the critics absolutely adored it. Shot over the course of several years, the movie depicts the exploits of its protagonist, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he goes from a young boy to a young college student. Like a number of Linklater’s films, this one gets its message across through a series of naturalistic scenes, which don’t build up as much as they flow together. Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke co-star. — Trib, RT

 

Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Topped the "Top Black Films of All Times" poll from the November 1998 edition of Ebony magazine. wiki

 

Brazil (1985)

While the Orwellian influences are plain, the heart of this dystopian comedy is pure Terry Gilliam. The desire to fly free of oppressive bureaucracy is the crux of this story — and who can’t empathize with that? — Empire 500

 

Breathless (aka A Bout de Souffle, 1960)

Jean-Luc Godard’s precocious feature debut, the seminal Nouvelle Vague movie, is a hugely influential jazzy, noir-inflected crime drama. Jean-Paul Belmondo cops Bogart attitude as a cool, vicious petty crook; Jean Seberg models a major haircut as his American girlfriend, and Paris just shines. At once clever and exuberant. — Empire 500, BFI

 

Braveheart (1995)

Historically suspect, but so what? Mel Gibson wrenches out all the thrills and blood spills he can in this rowdy medieval epic, featuring one of cinema's most stirring battle scenes (The Battle of Stirling Bridge). Rousing stuff. — THR, Empire 500

 

Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)

While it has its flaws, there's no denying that Audrey Hepburn still looks ravishing and Henry Mancini's score still makes us swing. — Empire 500

 

The Breakfast Club (1985)

To anyone who was a teen in the '80s, this will forever be the "Oh my God, someone understands me!" movie. Kudos to Hughes for giving a generation a voice that felt true. — THR, Empire 500

 

Brick (2005)

Rian Johnson's impressive debut finds Hammett-style P.I. stories re-staged in a high school as the superb Joseph Gordon-Levitt sets about investigating the suspicious death of a former girlfriend. — Empire 500

 

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Boris Karloff returns as “The Monster” in James Whale’s expressionism-inflected horror: as iconic and distinctive as its anti-heroine’s lightning-streaked hair, and way better than the original. Makeup for Karloff and Lanchester reportedly took several hours to apply each day, and Lanchester used stilts that made her 7 feet tall. — Trib, Empire 500

 

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

An intelligent tale of misguided pride among a group of British POWs who have been co-opted into building a railway bridge for the Japanese army, this is David Lean mixing epic visuals with true complexity. — AFI, THR, Empire 500

 

Brief Encounter (1945)

One of the movies' greatest romances is understated and unconsummated. Writer Noel Coward camps slightly, but David Lean and the stars mean every perfectly enunciated syllable. — Empire 500

 

Brighton Rock (1947)

If you think of Richard Attenborough as that avuncular white-bearded gent, watch him in this seedy adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel about a two-bit criminal going to dastardly lengths to conceal a murder. Genuinely terrifying. — Empire 500

 

Brief Encounter (1945)

It was voted the best romance film of all time with 25 votes in a 2013 poll of 101 experts conducted by Time Out London. wiki

 

A Brighter Summer Day (1991)

Through a focus on one central male protagonist, an idealistic student who refuses to compromise his moral standards, Edward Yang’s historical memoir looks at growing up in Taiwan during the 1960s and the problems of military dictatorship, unemployment and immigration from mainland China. — BFI

 

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist (Cary Grant) is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress (Katherine Hepburn) and her pet leopard, Baby. — AFI

 

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Gay love story, end-of-the-trail Western, auteur work from Ang Lee, faithful literary adaptation and showcase for two hot male stars of 2005. Not bad. — THR, wiki , Empire 500

 

Bugsy Malone (1976)

It sounds ghastly a gangster-themed musical populated entirely by kids but care of Parker's natty visuals, decent songs, splurge guns, pedal-powered sedans and, most remarkably, a non-revolting gaggle of kids, it remains a favorite. — Empire 500

 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

The cuddliest downbeat Western succeeds on canny miscasting. Newman and Robert are dead wrong as ageing outlaws, but perfect as 1969 defiant youth. — AFI, THR, Empire 500

 

Cabaret (1972)

Bob Fosse's Oscar-winner is about as far from the MGM tradition as you can get. The wartime Berlin setting and flawed characters makes the swaggering desperation of the tunes all the more powerful. — Empire 500

 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)

Hypnotist Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) uses a somnambulist, Cesare (Conrad Veidt), to commit murders. — RT

 

Caché (2005)

A married couple is terrorized by a series of surveillance videotapes left on their front porch. Michael Haneke's clinging paranoid thriller is that rare beast — an arthouse crowd-pleaser. Austere but virtuoso, the real achievement is exploring issues of guilt and complacency without stinting on the suspense. — Empire 500

 

Call Me by Your Name (2018)

In 1980s Italy, romance blossoms between a seventeen-year-old student (Timothée Chalamet) and the older man (Armie Hammer) hired as his father's research assistant. — RT

 

A Canterbury Tale (1944)

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's least-understood, most magical film. Its story may be incoherent and “unpleasant,” but its characters and moods are unforgettable and endlessly mysterious. — Empire 500

 

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The third "solo" Cap outing managed to be both intensely crowd-pleasing (with that whole airport battle, and the introduction of Tom Holland's Spider-Man) and also daringly intelligent, placing its superheroes in a believable geopolitical context that raised a valid moral issue: Who should be responsible for the deployment of such great power? — Empire

 

Carlito’s Way (1993)

Al Pacino shines as the eponymous ex-con, Brian De Palma mounts another terrific railway station set-piece and David Koepp’s script throws such cool lines as, "You think you’re big-time? You’re gonna die big-time!" — Empire 500

 

Carol (2015)

Based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith, this quiet film from Todd Haynes stars Cate Blanchett as Carol, a gay housewife trapped in a loveless marriage. After sparks fly between her and a young woman (Rooney Mara), the two find themselves breaking free from the conventions of their time. Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson co-star. — Trib, wiki

 

Carrie (1976)

Most horrors make their female lead the plucky, survivalist scream queen. Carrie stands out by making her meek, awkward and responsible for supernaturally charged mass-murder. — Empire 500

 

Casablanca (1942)

When you've got such a clear-cut good-vs-evil scenario as World War II, it takes guts to put out a film which lets its (anti-) hero lurk for so long in a grey area of that conflict — while said war was still raging, no less. Of course, Rick (Humphrey Bogart) eventually does the right thing, but watching him make both the Resistance and the Nazis squirm right up to the final scene is truly joyous. — AFI, BFI, Empire, Trib, RT, THR, wiki, Empire 500

 

Casino (1995)

Originally dismissed as a GoodFellas retread, Martin Scorsese's gangsters-in-Vegas chronicle has improved with age, a complex, terrifying, virtuoso look at Mob minutiae. And Sharon Stone upstages Robert De Niro. Fact. — Empire 500

 

Casino Royale (2006)

The ballsiest make-over any saga has ever undergone, this goes back to James Bond’s beginnings, finding previously skimped Ian Fleming elements, and fits the hero into a modern, post-Jason Bourne world. — Empire 500

 

Castle in the Sky (1986)

It was voted first place in a 2008 animation audience poll conducted by Oricon in Japan. wiki

  

The Cat Concerto (1947)

The 29th Tom and Jerry one-reeler is one of only three shorts to make the 500, and it's easy to see why. Eschewing the domestic setting of most T&J efforts, The Cat Concerto takes a simple, daft premise — Tom is a concert pianist trying to play Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No.2; Jerry, attempting to sleep in the piano, stops him and milks it for every last drop of comedy and invention. As ever, the violence is mouth-wateringly brutal, but there is a real playfulness here, too; watch Tom's pinkie elastically elongate to reach a top note. The key to its greatness, though, is the exquisiteness of the animation, be it realizing the snobbishness in Tom's maestro or perfectly matching the mayhem to music. The funniest, most beautifully realized seven minutes and 49 seconds you could ever have the good fortune to see. Bravo! — Empire 500

 

Children of Men (2006)

In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea. Grown-up sci-fi in a morass of kiddie blockbusters, Alfonso Cuarón's chilling vision of a dystopian London is gripping and original. If nothing else, see it for the barnstorming single-take action sequence. — Empire 500

 

Children of Paradise (1945)

The story of a 20th-century courtesan and her admirers was filmed during the Nazi occupation of France. Working on its crew were many members of the French resistance, and the production designer and composer, who were Jewish, had to work in secret and participate through intermediaries. — Trib

 

Chimes at Midnight (1967)

Orson Welles not only directs but stars as the Shakespearean character Sir John Falstaff, drawing from the plays Henry IV, Henry V, Richard II and The Merry Wives of Windsor. It was based on a play Orson Welles wrote called Five Kings, which flopped on its opening night in New York City in 1939. — Trib

 

Chinatown (1974)

Roman Polanski’s brilliant thriller stars Jack Nicholson as a private eye uncovering corruption in 1930s Los Angeles, a desert town where water equals power. Fiendish, perplexing noir with a killer, bitter twist. Somehow both a product of the Movie Brat ’70s and also strangely timeless, feeling like it belongs in the genre’s heyday. — AFI, BFI, THR, Empire 500

 

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

This sauntering chronicle of a boy’s love for cinema and a local projectionist should quiver the lip of any true-blue movie-lover, particularly in its montage of banned kisses. And then the wonderful ending should leave you a wreck. — Empire 500

 

Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles' game-changing fictional biopic, that managed to both launch his film career and ruin it at the same time (turns out it's not a good idea to piss off powerful newspaper magnates by viciously satirizing them to a mass audience). Not only did he use impressive new film-making techniques that make it feel like a movie far younger than its 76 years, but its power-corrupts story still resonates loudly. Now more than ever, in fact. (Captain’s Note: Citizen Kane didn’t show up in Empire’s Top 100 list. This is what the magazine said about the movie in its Top 500 list: “It may come as a jolt to film historians that Welles’ hallowed classic, so embalmed as the ‘Greatest Film Ever Made,’ has only just squeezed into the top 30. Has time finally caught up with it? While Welles’ achievement is never in doubt, it remains a film that appeals more to the academic and critic than the film fan, partly because of its reputation. Talked of with hushed voices and nodding heads by wise arbiters of film, for the non-acolyte it can feel like an enigma — a whopping cathedral of a movie, awe-inspiring, but too vast and ornate to love. If the list embodies only technical prowess and thematic power then its demotion is a shock, but is it a friend for life? A comfort?”) — AFI, BFI, Trib, RT, THR, wiki, Empire 500

 

 

City Lights (1931)

The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin) wins the affections of a blind flower seller (Virginia Cherrill) in this hilarious but heartbreaking comedy – one of Charlie Chaplin’s uncontested masterpieces. — AFI, BFI, Trib

 

City of God (2002)

A confident, complicated epic following decades of criminal life in a Rio de Janeiro favela, this is considerably more than “the GoodFellas of Brazil.” — Empire 500

 

Clerks (1994)

The no-budget, über-indie convenience-store comedy that struck gold and made Smith the man he is today — the heartfelt if profane chronicler of America's slacker belt. — Empire 500

 

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The controversy surrounding Stanley Kubrick's pop-art visualization of Anthony Burgess' dystopian meditation on violence and free will may have long since subsided, but the film's no less powerful. Especially that "Singin' in the Rain" sequence, which remains one cinema's most deeply upsetting. Kubrick’s dystopia of bowler-hatted glam yobbos is as scarily relevant in an era of ASBOs and no-go council estates as in the time it was made. — AFI, Empire, THR, Empire 500

 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The mashed-potato masterpiece, with Richard Dreyfuss’ Roy Neary one of Spielberg’s most complicated creations — a family man whose selfishness is out of this world. Love it? You are not alone. John Williams experimented with hundreds of five-note melodies before hitting on just the right impossible-to-forget theme. — AFI, THR, Empire 500

 

Close-Up (1990)

Drama-documentary, based on the true story of an unemployed movie buff who passes himself off as the celebrated movie director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, to a woman he meets on a bus. He leads her cinephile family to believe that they will appear in his next film. Eventually he ends up in jail where his trial is filmed by Kiarostam — BFI

 

Cloverfield (2008)

If this were the 500 Greatest Viral Marketing Campaigns, this would be number one. As it is, this most modern of monster movies is brilliantly handled handheld fun. — Empire 500

 

Coco (2017)

Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family's ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer. — RT

 

Collective (2020)

A determined group of journalists, activists and victims takes on corruption and fraud in Romania following a devastating nightclub fire that killed 27 people and injured 180. Dozens of burn victims died in the months that followed from infections they acquired while hospitalized. Former President Barack Obama listed the documentary as one of his favorite films in 2020. — Trib

 

The Color of Pomegranates (1969)

Sergei Parajanov’s lyrical evocation of the life of the 18th century Armenian poet Harutyan Sayatyan uses symbolic imagery patterned after Armenian icons and the folk theatre traditions of masque and mime, and is told through a series of titled episodes. — BFI

 

Come and See (1985)

Under-seen but riding high on critics’ and filmmakers’ lists, this is the Russian Apocalypse Now, a dizzying, terrifying portrayal of brutality and genocide during the Nazis’ scorched-earth campaign through Belorussia. — Empire 500

 

The Conversation (1974)

A Watergate-era analysis of paranoid high-tech eavesdroppers, it’s also a great thriller with a clever plot twist and a riveting, underplayed central performance from Gene Hackman. — Empire 500

 

Cool Hand Luke (1967)

While cinema history is chock-full of renegade types who love to buck the system, none are as cool as Luke. Paul Newman at his charismatic, blue-eyed best. — Empire 500

 

Crash (2004)

A multi-stranded L.A. story about the challenges of multiculturalism and the woes of miscommunication. Paul Haggis' debut lays the message on thick, but boy, does he know how to pack an emotional punch. — Empire 500

 

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

Woody's best since his Manhattan heyday, it's a sophisticated, ambitious, dark meditation on murder and guilt that still manages to be uproariously funny. To wit: "A strange man ... defecated on my sister." "Why?" — Empire 500

 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Lee exceeded all expectations with this wushu masterpiece set in ancient China. A martial-arts opus packed with emotion, beauty and plenty of elegant ass-kickery, it's the ultimate fusion of action and art. — Empire 500

 

The Crow (1994)

Dripping with stormcloud-moody teen-Goth cool, Proyas' Hollywood debut brought glumster J. O'Barr's culty comic book to action-packed life. Infamous, of course, for the tragic death of star Brandon Lee. — Empire 500

 

Cyrano De Bergerac (1991)

There’s a moment in this sumptuous 17th century swashbuckler that sums up why the doughy-faced Gérard Depardieu is a star and a sex symbol. Blessed with a fierce talent for both war and words, his Cyrano is also cursed with a nose that precedes him by 15 minutes — so he dares not confess his love for the beautiful Roxane (Anne Brochet). After she asks his help to protect the gorgeous boy she loves, and commends his bravery in recently defeating 100 men, as she rushes out, he mutters, “Oh, I’ve been braver since then,” with such quiet heartbreak in his voice that it’d make a stone weep. The story’s been told many times — as Steve Martin’s Roxanne, The Truth About Cats & Dogs, even Ratatouille — but Rappeneau’s epic is the truest take on Edmond Rostand’s famous play. It may be melodrama, sweeping rather than creeping in its conclusions, but it’s a thing of brash, glorious, poignant emotion. — Empire 500

 

Dances with Wolves (1990)

Initially thought to be a costly folly, Kevin Costner put his career on the line for this frontier epic and was justly rewarded. It is a Western, certainly, but also a romance between a man and an idea of lost America. — AFI, Empire 500

 

Danger: Diabolik (1968)

Meet Diabolik (John Phillip Law), masked super-criminal, high-living sensualist and unmatchable pop-art icon. An archly eyebrowed, unrepentant thief, Diabolik is equally opposed to a bureaucratic government (on a whim, he destroys a country's tax records) and the Mafia, and addicted to risk when it comes to stealing fabulously valuable items (e.g. a 20-ton gold ingot) which are also useless. Director Bava, a cult hero on the strength of Gothic horror films (The Mask of Satan, Black Sabbath), was persuaded by Dino de Laurentiis to step away from the crypt for this one psychedelic masterpiece. It's as thin as a poster, but still amazing cinema — a succession of striking, kinetic, sexy, absurd images accompanied by a one-of-a-kind Ennio Morricone score that revels in its casual anarchy. Imagine if The Dark Knight were The Joker. — Empire 500

 

The Dark Knight (2008)

Heath Ledger’s performance is monumental. Best comic-book movie ever? Certainly the most talked-about. Easily as influential on the genre as that other summer 0f 2008 comic-book movie, Iron Man, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins sequel works wonders because he never saw it as a superhero film. It's closer to a Michael Mann crime epic — except instead of Pacino and De Niro in a diner, you get a bloke dressed as a bat and a psychotic clown in a police interrogation room. With, er, Aaron Eckhart as Val Kilmer. — Empire 500, Empire, THR, wiki

 

Darling (1965)

This bitchy Julie Christie vehicle flagged up the shallowness of celebrity long before Paris Hilton. — Empire 500

 

Das Boot (1981)

The most claustrophobic film on this list, charting the adventures of German U-boat U-96. A superbly crafted exercise in nerve-shredding tension, compelling characterization and the minutiae of submarine life. — Empire 500

 

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Inventive splatter and a savage political message make Romero's zombies-in-a-shopping-mall epic the most extraordinary of his initial trilogy. Watch out for FX genius Tom Savini as one of the bikers. — Empire 500

 

Days of Heaven (1978)

Terrence Malick's astonishing tone poem is a jewel of minimal dialogue and astonishing cinematography. Two years in the editing, the film exhausted Malick to the extent that he didn't direct again for 20 years. — Empire 500

 

Dazed and Confused (1993)

The plot, such as it is, concerns the last day of school in 1976 Texas, but it’s Richard Linklater’s capturing of teenage hang-ups that gives this eternally likable film cult classic status. — Empire 500

 

Dead Man's Shoes (2004)

Shane Meadows' small-town vigilante movie restages Get Carter with pathetic rural crooks harried by Paddy Considine's vigilante in a gas mask. "What are you looking at?" "You, you cunt!" — Empire 500

 

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)

If Die Hard has explosions, this Romanian masterpiece has faltering bureaucracy and stomach pains, as a dying OAP is refused admittance to numerous Bucharest hospitals. Black, bleakly funny, brilliantly Kafkaesque. — Empire 500

 

The Deer Hunter (1978)

Michael Cimino's bold, powerful 'Nam epic goes from blue-collar macho rituals to a fiery, Southeast Asian hell and back to a ragged singalong of America the Beautiful. Robert De Niro holds it together, but Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep and John Savage are unforgettable. — AFI, Empire 500

 

The Departed (2006)

Remakes are often infernal affairs — this one literally so, smartly casting Jack Nicholson as a mobster Mephistopheles in a picture that finally snagged Scorsese an overdue Oscar. Any argument about whether or not American remakes can ever be better than the foreign-language originals should be ended pretty quickly by mentioning this movie. Martin Scorsese's Boston-based reinterpretation of Wai-Keung Lau and Alan Mak's Hong Kong-set double-infiltrator crime drama Infernal Affairs is both respectful and unafraid to layer on extra detail. It's also perfectly cast: Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon as the facing-off moles, Nicholson as the Whitey Bulger-esque Mob boss and (arguably best of all), Mark Wahlberg as America's sweariest cop. — Empire, Empire 500

 

Delicatessen (1991)

Jeunet and Caro are, of course, very odd, but their attention to detail in this tale of love and cannibalism is wonderful. Like Terry Gilliam with more heart and a brighter palette. — Empire 500

 

Die Hard (1988)

One man using only his wits and whatever he can extract from his environment. A gang of bad guys terrorizing the locals. If Die Hard wasn't set in a skyscraper during the 1980s, it could easily be a Western. A Western which, in the form of Bruce Willis, not only convinced the world a TV comedy star could be an action hero, but also gave us one of our most seethingly charismatic big-screen villain-players: Alan Rickman. Empire, THR, wiki, Empire 500

 

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Let's see if we can get through this without any mention of "Baby" and "corner." Oh, bollocks. Great tunes, romantic wish-fulfilment and a '60s innocence make this an evergreen populist classic. — Empire 500

 

Dirty Harry (1971)

The great Clint Eastwood cop picture, introducing soulless San Francisco dick Harry Callahan, only bearable because the guy he is after is even worse. Features the best badge-tossing since High Noon. — Empire 500

 

Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988)

Sounds like kitchen-sink miserablism, but Terence Davies’ autobiographical tale of family life in ’50s Liverpool is unmatched in its visual lyricism — with a ferocious performance from Pete Postlethwaite. — Empire 500

 

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

Intended as a serious exploration of the Cold War, but the super-powers’ MAD policy (Mutually Assured Destruction) was so absurd, it had to be a comedy. — Empire 500, AFI, Trib, THR

 

Doctor Zhivago (1965)

Peter O'Toole turned down the title role, so David Lean settled on another Lawrence of Arabia star, which is how Omar Sharif went from playing an Arab prince to a Russian physician. — AFI, THR

 

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

A riveting character study (Al Pacino makes his bank robber fuck-up extraordinarily moving), a penetrating exposé of a media feeding frenzy, or just a great heist-gone-wrong flick. Any way, it's brilliant. — Empire 500

 

Donnie Darko (2001)

An '80s-nostalgia high-school movie with Lynchian atmospherics and a time-travel twist. A film to constantly revisit because it makes you think and feel while you try to figure out the nutty narrative.  Richard Kelly's time-looping, sci-fi-horror-blending, high-school movie is the very definition of a cult movie. It was a struggle to get made, it flopped on release, then it found its crowd via word of mouth and a palpable sense that its creator really, you know, gets it. And let's not forget how goddamn funny it is, too. — Empire, Empire 500

 

Don't Look Now (1973)

Arty, scary, sexy. An air of dread, unrelieved by the famous sex scene, paid off with one of the scariest serial killers in cinema. A married couple played by Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland are mourning the death of their daughter when they meet a psychic in Venice who says she can see their lost child. The two leads met initially on the set, and the first scene they shot was the film’s well-known sex scene. The scene was removed by censors when the movie was released in Ireland, and it had to be cut by nine frames, which was less than a half second, to avoid being rated X in the United States. — Trib, Empire 500

 

Do the Right Thing (1989)

A Molotov cocktail of a movie, this long hot summer's day in Brooklyn has it all: energy, comedy, great tunes and a simmering sense of anger that boils over. Still Spike's best joint. — Empire 500

 

Double Indemnity (1944)

Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck plot murder, but Billy Wilder makes sure they suffer for it — with Stanwyck at her sexiest, crackling Raymond Chandler dialogue, and a perfect mix of scalding sunshine and the shadowed L.A. night. In this noirish thriller from Billy Wilder, an insurance agent (Fred MacMurray) gets lured into a murderous scheme by his client’s wife (Barbara Stanwyck). Not only do the pair plot the murder of the woman’s husband, but thanks to a double indemnity clause in the victim’s insurance plan, they hope to walk away with twice the fortune. When adapting James M. Cain’s novel for the big screen, Wilder brought mystery legend Raymond Chandler on board as a co-writer, though the two men reportedly hated working with one another. Nevertheless, the script would go on to receive an Oscar nomination, while the film endures to this day as a genuine classic. — AFI, Trib, RT, Empire 500

 

The Double Life of Véronique (1991)

Post-Dekalog and pre-Three Colours, Kieslowski turned in this fantastical stand-alone doppelgänger tale. Irène Jacob is stunning in the dual role of Weronika/Véronique, and Zbigniew Preisner's haunting score is simply breathtaking. — Empire 500

 

Downfall (2004)

With his feature debut, the shocking Das Experiment, German director Oliver Hirschbiegel arrived as the European filmmaker to get excited about. Not one to steer clear of controversy, implicitly Das Experiment was about the rise of the Nazis, and for his next trick he went the whole hog — depicting Hitler’s final days in his Berlin bunker, the Führer tipped into a hyperbolic frenzy by the fall of his kingdom. Giving evil a human face, Hirschbiegel dares us even to sympathize with the collapsing Reich. That is, until you see Frau Goebbels icily poison her own children. It makes Hirschbiegel’s crash-and-burn in Hollywood — The Invasion — all the more galling. — Empire 500

 

Drive (2011)

Somehow simultaneously glossy and gritty, Nicolas Winding Refn's '80s-infused vehicular noir was an easy movie to fall in love with — despite a few outbursts of spectacularly horrific violence. It was aided no end by a toweringly charismatic central performance (with very few lines of dialogue spoken) from Ryan Gosling, who improbably rocked a silver, quilted silk jacket with a gold scorpion on the back. We all still want one. — Empire

 

Duck Soup (1933)

The Marx Brothers took their anarchic comedy to a whole new level with this delirious blend of physical foolishness and astonishing wordplay. It marked the end of their time at Paramount, but what a way to bow out. — AFI, Empire 500

 

Dumb And Dumber (1994)

A high (or low) watermark in the history of gross-out, scrambling the frenzied talents of Jim Carrey and the Farrelly brothers, with Jeff Daniels gamely pitching in. — Empire 500

 

Dumbo (1941)

Dumbo is the beloved story of a baby elephant ridiculed for his giant ears. It was Disney’s most financially successful movie at the time, following the costly productions of Pinocchio and Fantasia. Cels from the movie are extremely rare. Most were fragile and were destroyed. — Trib

 

Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan’s gripping World War II drama recounts the Battle of Dunkirk when hundreds of thousands of Allied troops were forced to evacuate a French coastal town as the German enemy closed in. From the first scene to the last, the film delivers a pulse-pounding ride, pitting various soldiers against what seems to be their inevitable demise. Some journalists criticized the film for its supposed inaccuracies, but critics and audiences definitely didn’t mind. — Trib, RT

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I'll only comment on the films I've seen, with maybe one or two exceptions.

12 Monkeys (1995)  A good movie.  Gilliam took glee in casting the Riddler as the director of a mental hospital.

 

28 Days Later (2002) Good stuff. Funny seeing Eccleston in this after his run as the Ninth Doctor.

 

300 (2006) Overrated. Less enjoyable once you learn that the Spartans were essentially ur-fascists.

 

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Good stuff.  Saw this in the theater when I was five, and I was like "Ape-men! Space ships!", and I still feel pretty much the same way.

 

Airplane! (1980) Amusing but overrated.  Re-watched this recently and it hasn't aged well.

 

Akira (1988) OK. Not one I'd watch over and over.

 

Alien (1979)  Great stuff. 

 

Aliens (1986) More great stuff.

All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) I know I've seen this, but don't remember much about it.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)  Good stuff.

Apocalypse Now (1979) Ah, the feel-good movie of 1979! Fun stuff.

Army of Darkness (1992) My favorite of the Evil Dead movies.

Avengers (2012) The "puny god" scene is my favorite.

Back to the Future (1985)/Back to the Future Part II (1989)  OK

Batman (1989) OK.

Battle Royale (2000) Great stuff.  A personal favorite.  You may safely skip the sequel.

Batttleship Potemkin (1925) OK. Been a while since I watched it, should break it out again.

Ben-Hur (1959) Not bad, but not as amazing as it's made out to be..

The Birth of a Nation (1915) Hugely overrated picture, and of course, toxically racist.

(Note: Haven't seen this, but this date can't be right.

The Black Cat (1997)

Two of horror’s most looming icons, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, united for this post-World War I commentary wrapped in a cloak of terror. — Empire 500)

Blade Runner (1982) OK, but overrated.

Blazing Saddles (1974) Fun stuff.

The Blues Brothers (1980) Another personal favorite.

Brazil (1985) OK, but overrated.

The Breakfast Club (1985) A favorite of my younger days, I don't re-watch it because I suspect it didn't age well.

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) OK, but Ernest Theisger's Pretorius drags this picture down. Impossible to watch the scene with the hermit without thinking of Gene Hackman .

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)  Seen it but don't remember it.  The eponymous cabinet was one of the inspirations for the TARDIS.

Captain America: Civil War (2016) Good stuff.

Citizen Kane (1941) OK, but not as amazing as it was made out to be.

Clerks (1994) Both this film and Kevin Smith are hugely overrated.

A Clockwork Orange (1971) OK, but not overwhelming.

Cloverfield (2008) Overrated.

Danger: Diabolik (1968) This film was featured in the final Sci-Fi Channel  episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and that's where it belongs. I cannot imagine watching an un-MSTed version of this tripe.

The Dark Knight (2008) Good, but overrated.

Dawn of the Dead (1978) Good stuff.  The re-make was good, too.

Die Hard (1988)  OK, but overrated.

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Great stuff.  Maybe a little creaky in parts.

Duck Soup (1933) Another personal favorite.

Captain Comics said:

Amazing Grace (2018)

The performance of Aretha Franklin recording a gospel album was shot over two days in 1972 at the New Bethel Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Because director Sydney Pollack failed to use clapper boards to synchronize the film’s video and audio, the footage originally could not be used. It was not until many years later that Alan Elliott found a way to sync the film and the sound. Appearing briefly are Rolling Stones’ musicians Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts who stopped by to hear Franklin sing. — Trib

Not only was there the issue about the sound and video not syncing, there are several moments when the images are out of focus and when the camera doesn't seem to know what to look at. Given that Sydney Pollack was the director, I was appalled. 

Captain Comics said:

Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan’s gripping World War II drama recounts the Battle of Dunkirk when hundreds of thousands of Allied troops were forced to evacuate a French coastal town as the German enemy closed in. From the first scene to the last, the film delivers a pulse-pounding ride, pitting various soldiers against what seems to be their inevitable demise. Some journalists criticized the film for its supposed inaccuracies, but critics and audiences definitely didn’t mind. — Trib, RT

Speaking of inaccuracies about Dunkirk, Our Army at War #197 (September 1968) featured Sgt. Rock and the Combat-Happy Joes of Easy Company participating in that adventure ...

... a neat trick since that whole episode happened a year and a half before the United States entered World War II, as several letters published in issue #200 pointed out. (Since Russ Heath drew the story, at least it looked good.)

Did Sgt. Rock meet Sgt. Fury at Dunkirk, CK?
Bob, your responses are awesome. I plan to do the same when I get a chance.

Captain Comics said:

Did Sgt. Rock meet Sgt. Fury at Dunkirk, CK?

They were probably in the same LST with Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders.

I think the camera angles in Citizen Kane inspired a  lot of comics artists, not the least of which was Will Eisner. 

The film RKO 281 (1999) tells the backstory of the making of Citizen Kane, especially how Hearst reacted when he discovered that the disguised production title RKO 281 was what we now know as Citizen Kane. Allegedly he was particularly incensed by the use of the name Rosebud, which had an intimate meaning to Hearst.

The film The Cat's Meow (2001) is aboard Hearst's yacht of the same name, on which a murder occurred that almost took out Charlie Chaplin.

Both are well worth watching.

Do the Right Thing (1989)

A Molotov cocktail of a movie, this long hot summer's day in Brooklyn has it all: energy, comedy, great tunes and a simmering sense of anger that boils over. Still Spike's best joint. — Empire 500

The fact that Driving Miss Daisy won Best Picture in 1989 while Do the Right Thing wasn't even nominated in the category says a lot about the Academy.

28 Days Later - Heh, my brother bought this for me years ago, and I still haven't watched it.

2001: A Space Odyssey - I saw this in the theater about 7-8 years ago. I liked it, and they kept the intermission which was odd for me.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence - I barely remember this

Airplane!- I think it is still funny

Akira - I've seen this probably 3 times now, and I just don't get it. Its just really boring.

Alien & Aliens - I saw Aliens years before I ever saw Alien. Both line up to the hype.

All That Jazz - Another one I've seen but hardly remember. I do remember that my parents took me and my brother to this and Kramer vs Kramer. Neither are appropriate for kids.

Almost Famous - Good, not great.

Amazing Grace - I saw this last year on Hulu. It is freaking awesome. I'm not a huge fan of gospel music, but this is totally worth it.

American Beauty - I liked it, but its overrated.

American Graffiti - I have a strong affinity to both this and Blues Brothers. My dad always stopped down for both of those movies when he saw them on cable. Both are legitimately great.

American History X - A very powerful film. I love it.

American Psycho - Its okay...

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy - I fell asleep trying to watch this. I'm just not a big Will Ferrel fan

Annie Hall - He has a ton of fans, but I've never gotten Woody Allen. Hard pass.

Apocalypse Now - I dig it. It has a great cast.

Army of Darkness - I saw it in the theater once. Its fine.

Arthur - I re-watched this last year. It does not hold up.

As Good as It Gets - This might be underrated at this point. I saw this again a couple of years ago, and I thinks its really good.

Avatar - Terrible

Avengers - This like most Marvel films have very little re-watch value to me.

Avengers: Endgame - See above

Baby Driver - Good, but overrated.

Back to the Future - I love this movie, probably one of the first films I saw more than once in the theater.

Back to the Future Part II - I've seen it once, and that is good enough for me.

Batman - I would put all 3 Batman movies listed here as good, but not great. I did enjoy them all

Battle Royale- I've only seen the last 30 minutes or so. I've read the book and the manga though, so I need to watch this all the way through at some point.

Big - I thinks it pretty great. I don't know if it holds up as I haven't seen it in years.

The Big Lebowski- I absolutely hated this movie. As I said when I saw it a few years ago, I would only have been happy if all of the characters died, spoiler warning, they don't. If me and my buddy had talked while we were watching it, we would have walked out. he hated it just as much as I did.

The Big Red One - Its been al  long time since I've seen this movie too. It used to be a staple on cable, and I remember really liking it.

Big Trouble in Little China - I love it myself.

Black Panther - One movie I wanted to love as Black Panther is one of my favorite characters, but I just thought it was very average.

Blade Runner - One of my favorite sci-fi films

Blazing Saddles- Its funny, but still a bit overrated.

The Blues Brothers- See American Graffiti

Bonnie & Clyde - I love it.

Boogie Nights - Its really good, another movie with an incredible cast.

Booksmart- It had a few good scenes, but not a "must see"

Original Bourne Trilogy - These are all strong  entries.

Boyz n the Hood - Terrific!

Braveheart - Overrated..and way too long.

Breakfast At Tiffany's - It is pretty darn good.

The Breakfast Club - Its good, but gets a little sappy.

The Bride of Frankenstein - I haven't seen this is years. I barely remember it.

The Bridge on the River Kwai - Own it, but never seen it.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - I love the chemistry between Newman and Redford. Great flick.

Captain America: Civil War - See Avengers above

Carlito’s Way - I've never actually finished this movie, so I guess that is a review in itself.

Casablanca- A classic that lives up to the hype to me, and it is a tightly packed movie.

Casino- Really good, if a little too long

Casino Royale - This movie got me back into James Bond for a little while at least.

Children of Men - Seen it, barely remember it.

Chinatown - Greatness!

Clerks - The first time I saw this one video, I immediately re-wound it and watched it again. I was working retail at the time, so I totally got this. I love this one.

The Conversation - Kind of a slow burn. Gene Hackman is great in this.

Cool Hand Luke - Another great film.

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - I watched this again last year, and it is still terrific. Great story with great special effects. A hard combo to pass up.

The Crow - Always makes me wonder "what could have been" with Brandon Lee. He was just so charismatic in this moody, goth, noir film.

The Dark Knight -  A lot of people share my opinion that this is the best Batman film.

Das Boot - I remember liking this, but I haven't seen this in forever.

Dazed and Confused - This had like a 3 week run in most theaters. It ran for about a year in Austin. This has a lot of American Graffiti in it, and I really like both.

The Departed - I thinks its great. When Scorsese still had his fastball, IMO.

Die Hard - For me, this is my favorite action flick. Maybe the movie I've seen the most times on this part of the list.

Dirty Dancing - I've never seen this all the way, BUT this was my mom's all-time favorite movie. I needed to give this a little live.

Dirty Harry - Another one I've seen, but hardly remember. Probably deserves a re-watch.

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - Greatness! I really dig this one.

Donnie Darko- Pretty weird, and definitely not for everyone.

Do the Right Thing - See Dirty Harry.

Drive- Its okay. I think easily skippable.

Dumb And Dumber - Dude, its funny.

Dunkirk- A discombobulated tale. It meanders, and doesn't give you any characters you care about. In other words, I thought it sucked. Although, I am clearly in the minority.

Airplane! (1980)

The greatest spoof ever made, taking every disaster-movie cliché and twisting it until all the comedy is extracted. All the more ingenious in comparison to the lame mess of sketches that is “spoof” today. — THR, Empire 500

This was a direct parody of Zero Hour (1957), involving a WWII leader of a squadron of fighter pilots. Something he did caused them all to die, causing him severe trauma and fear of piloting a plane. All the scenes in Airplane are direct parodies of scenes in Zero Hour, as is much of the dialogue. The casting of popular basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as one of the pilots is a nod to the casting of popular football player Elroy 'Crazylegs' Hirsch as one of the pilots in Zero Hour. The dialogue is so on-the-nose that I laughed out loud a few times at the serious movie.

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

John Landis offers a still-amazing pre-CGI metamorphosis, observations on British strangeness, Jenny Agutter in the shower, nightmare Nazis and a witty set of moon-themed songs. — Empire 500

A true gem! The concept of the dead victims haunting the werewolf and, even as ghosts, continuing to decompose while expressing their resentment. The various “moon” songs are great as is Jenny Agutter (who was also the best thing in Logan’s Run).

BlacKKKlansman (2018)

Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events. — RT

The true story of a black officer who, on the phone, tricks infamous KKK leader David Duke into thinking he is a prime candidate for membership. When he has to show up in person to join up his (Jewish) coworker stands in for him. If it wasn’t true nobody would believe it. A very good movie.

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Inventive splatter and a savage political message make Romero's zombies-in-a-shopping-mall epic the most extraordinary of his initial trilogy. Watch out for FX genius Tom Savini as one of the bikers. — Empire 500

My favorite scene is when the “helicopter zombie” (having an exaggeratedly high head) walks into the helicopter blade, slicing off the top of his head. It was such an obvious set-up that I laughed out loud in the theater. No one else did.

Blade Runner (1982)

Rain-lashed, noodle-bar-packed streets shrouded in perpetual night, with giant adverts and neon signs doing the job you'd usually expect of the sun itself. ... The not-too-distant future had never looked cooler than in Ridley Scott's sci-fi gumshoe noir, and we're not sure it ever will. — BFI, Empire, THR, wiki, Empire 500

As much as I love this movie, saying this future looked cool, with constant acid rain and general misery, is a stupid statement.

8½ (1963)

Federico Fellini triumphantly conjured himself out of a bad case of creative block with this autobiographical magnum opus about a film director experiencing creative block. A film about a director who can't make a film, this mixes childhood flashbacks, doomed relationships between Marcello Mastroianni and gorgeous women, and Fellini's love of circus-style bizarros — BFI, wiki, Empire 500

Thanks for putting this together, Cap! These lists are so long, I'm not quite sure how to engage with them, but I'll probably just pick out a movie now and then and write a little bit about it. And we might as well start with one of my favorites, 8½. 

God, I just love this movie. I love the setting -- a resort/creative retreat that a whole movie company has moved into to make the next (presumed) masterpiece from Guido Anselmi, a famous Italian film director. Marcello Mastroianni plays him with charm and wit, but also anguish and indecision. He's blocked on his next science fiction spectacle, and he's trying to unlock it by looking into his past, and the women in his life. 

I love the idea of creative retreats. As a theater guy, I love the feeling of everyone pulling together on one project. And creative block is the biggest villain of all... even if the way to defeat it is always the same, by Doing It Anyway. He can't find anything honest to say... but fundamentally, he's not an honest man. Anyway, Guido gets into all sorts of hot water with the various women in his life, and he's mesmerized as well by fantasies of the women in his past, but ultimately he finds a way to put it all together in a way that's climactic and thrilling, and very, very satisfying (to me, at least). There's ultimately an embrace of his past, his present, and all the contradictions and conflicts of his life that comes to this spectacular visual life. 

But before that, you get to see Guido be a pig and a cad, and his friends & collaborators enjoy a monthlong party while he struggles with what he wants to say with his movie. 

Plus, there's a shot where Guido's friend Mario does a happy little shuffle toward his new girlfriend, clearly out of his league, full of youth and sex and mystery. He looks as happy as I've ever seen anyone. There've been moments when I've felt that kind of drunken bliss, and my mind always locks onto that image. There are plenty of reasons for me to love this movie, but that shot, I carry close to my heart.

 

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