Those on Twitter or Facebook may have noticed a certain meme making waves or hashtags — #Thisisyourfilm — in the ether. Obviously, it’s another in a long list of “lists”. Specifically, one where you have to name your favorite film for each year of your life. Naturally, (ahem) the older you are, the more you have to consider. Instead of throwing mine onto social networks, gives me an excuse to have some activity going on Ye Ol’ Blog, such as it is these days.
Criminy, this gives away my age, so this is going to be long, but hopefully worth it.
Godzilla (Gojira) – The year of my birth, two versions of the film (the American version with Raymond Burr inserts and the Ishirô Honda classic) both seen and loved. Others considered, Seven Samurai, Sabrina (where I fell for the lovely Audrey Hepburn), and Them! (obviously, I have a thing for ’50s Sci-Fi/Monster flicks).
Bad Day at Black Rock – This one beats the killer Bs for that year (The Big Combo, The Big Knife, Blackboard Jungle), even To Catch a Thief and Mister Roberts won’t complain, I don’t think.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers – I still firmly believe the original the best with its film noir undertone mixing with that distinct ’50s Sci-Fi vibe. This one was tough as it kicked the likes of The Searchers and Forbidden Planet to the curb, but such is the point of these memes.
Throne of Blood – Alright, I pushed an Akira Kurosawa classic to the wayside with my first pick, but won’t with this. Just too bloody good. Hated leaving off the original and best 3:10 to Yuma version out there (you hear that, James Mangold?), along with The Enemy Below, but I can live with it.
The Big Country – More than happy my first western to list here will be William Wyler’s. Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Citizen Welles’ Touch of Evil are so very worthy, but let’s go with a “oater” that was a thinking man’s treatise on manhood…in other words, simply a classic.
North by Northwest – The first Alfred Hitchcock film lands here, which is fine by me as it remains my all-time favorite of his. Still, pushing aside the likes of Ben-Hur, Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, hell, even another favorite Cary Grant vehicle, Operation Petticoat, wasn’t easy to do.
The Magnificent Seven – Yeah, this is an American remake of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, what of it? It’s a great translation and cultural distillation, and has one of the all-time best casts and scores. Psycho and Spartacus just couldn’t overcome these western hombres.
The Guns of Navarone – None come higher in adventure and intrigue than this wide-screen motion picture gem, which offered my initial introduction to the works of Allistair MacLean. El Cid, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and even The Pit and the Pendulum will have to ride the bench this year.
Lawrence of Arabia – Just no way my all-time favorite epic takes a backseat the year it came out. Been in its thrall ever since I laid eyes on it. Beat out some fierce competitors, too: The Manchurian Candidate, The Longest Day, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and The Miracle Worker.
Charade – Why yes, this beat out the likes of The Birds, From Russia With Love, The Thrill of It All, Lillies of the Field, Fail-Safe, and The Haunting. But the best Hitchcock rom-com-thriller he never made bested them all. Especially since my two all-time favorite actors were together in their only pairing.
A Hard Day’s Night – Just no way in hell the film that cemented my love music and the cinema at the ripe age of 10 this very year is not going to make this list. Easily upending my favorite Bond…Goldfinger, black comedy…Dr. Strangelove, and my first Eastwood film…Fistful of Dollars.
The Sound of Music – That’s right, two musicals in a row. Yeah, it’s got singing Nazis…but the crooning nun more than makes up for this. I’m in the minority within my household with this one, but I remain steadfast. Beating out The Lads’ Help!, The Great Race, Von Ryan’s Express, and Thunderball.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – The second western on the list is far from a runner-up as there is. Still my fave Sergio Leone, topping the thoroughly under-appreciated like Richard Brooks The Professionals, the tongue-in-cheek classic Our Man Flint, and the lovely Rachel Welch in Fantastic Voyage.
The Dirty Dozen – Almost went with the breakthrough Bonnie and Clyde, but this one not only a spectacular war adventure but offered allegorical cinematic criticism of the Vietnam War already budding on evening news programs. Shout outs to Wait Until Dark and Hombre, besides.
2001: A Space Odyssey – Not much of a challenge to pick the film that stated, “My then young teen mind became totally enthralled with the incomprehensible and irresistible film.” Must be said, if it wasn’t for this, Bullitt, Planet of the Apes, or Night of the Living Dead would have been the pick.
The Wild Bunch – A year ago, I’d have gone with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, admittedly, but how 2017 is going, only Sam Peckinpah’s savage, bloody classic will do. Votes would also have gone to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and another Allistair MacLean work, Where Eagles Dare.
M•A•S•H – Seriously gave thought toward the other war classics this year, Patton, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and the often forgotten by too many, Catch-22, but Robert Altman’s brilliant, blackly humored anti-war film is simply too great to ignore.
The Hospital – Maybe it’s the fact that I’d end up working in healthcare, this black comedy (which the ’70s had a knack for) gave me a preview of what lay ahead for all of us. The Paddy Chayefsky script presaged his later masterwork and overtook The French Connection, Dirty Harry, and Play Misty For Me.
The Godfather – If you came looking for upsets, you won’t find it this year. The best movie I ever saw at a drive-in was easily this crime classic, and as great as What’s Up Doc?, Deliverance, Jeremiah Johnson, and The Getaway were that year, they weren’t ever going to displace this pick.
The Exorcist – With all due respect to The Sting, this “event” film still is. Few have managed such a feat, and we’re still in its wake all these decades later. That what was picked as Best Picture, Serpico, Charley Varrick, and my all-time favorite Vincent Price feature, Theatre of Blood, all give way to this.
Young Frankenstein – Yes, The Godfather Part II is among the best sequels ever, but Mel Brooks greatest comedy still edges it out at the tape. His other masterwork, Blazing Saddles, Aldrich’s The Longest Yard, (get away from me Adam Sandler), and the original The Taking of Pelham One Two Three also close by.
Jaws – My longstanding journey with this one began when the blockbuster was defined by Spielberg in the summer of this year. Really, can’t pick against it. No matter if the likes of Shampoo, Dog Day Afternoon, and Hard Times happened to land the exact same annum.
The Outlaw Josey Wales – I’d actually project this unlikely western, first-run, and it’s never left me. Yes, I picked it even over Chayefsky’s brilliant Network (which my ’71 pick telegraphed), Taxi Driver, the unappreciated The Eagle Has Landed, and the deviously funny Murder by Death. So?
Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Probably sacrilegious to pick against Star Wars, and this was very close (pun), but I have to go with my gut to what it meant going into the most tumultuous period awaiting me. Give shout-outs to The Late Show and Sorcerer, as well.
Superman – The gut-punch year that marked me, and where I had to grow-up fast, closed out with the forerunner comic-book superhero film, which has become a stable today. Oh yeah, Heaven Can Wait, The Driver, and a little movie called Halloween also symbolized the year. I can think of them now, little then.
All That Jazz – Closing out the ’70s with a musical, but not one you’d expect in the genre for this kind of turbulent period. Maybe that’s why it’s the perfect send-off for a decade such as this and the depth of its best in cinema: Apocalypse Now, Being There, Time After Time, The Warriors, The Black Stallion…hell, even Alien.
The Empire Strikes Back – Still the very best of the entire Star Wars franchise, bar none (which include the very first one). Heck of a way to start a new decade, too. What with the promising likes of Airplane!, Breaker Morant, The Fog, The Ninth Configuration, and The Changeling debuting.
An American Werewolf in London – Sure this will upset some, maybe even a whole lot, what with Raiders of the Lost Ark, followed closely by Escape From New York, S.O.B., heck, even The Howling, weighing in during Reagan’s first year. Yet, this was a true game-changer and remains a downright favorite of mine.
The Thing – Know what I said for the last entry? Just repeat it here, simply with more jaw-dropping emphasis. Criminally ignored in the wake of E.T., Tootsie, Star Trek – The Wrath of Khan, Poltergeist, 48 hrs., and the glorious The Year of Living Dangerously, but no longer, boyo.
The Right Stuff – Another that was woefully neglected this year come awards time, and which shouldn’t have been. Still don’t get Terms of Endearment, but certainly do for Blue Thunder, A Christmas Story, and the supremely transfixing Carmen (and oh, that ending).
Splash – The year The Olympics were hosted in my hometown, and plainly filled with a number of fun favorites: Ghostbusters, Romancing the Stone, The Terminator, Gremlins, The Natural, Purple Rain, Starman, Tightrope, and Streets of Fire. So I went with the film that continues to warm this old ticker of mine.
Back to the Future – Why not pick the first film in what’s probably my favorite film trilogy, and don’t get me started on Out of Africa as best picture. Just don’t. Others worth noting: Witness, Runaway Train, Prizzi’s Honor, The Color Purple, and of course my other annual viewing, Murphy’s Romance.
Aliens – Yes, the second time here a sequel registers when its original didn’t quite. Arguably, it shouldn’t happen, but I still love this. Especially, when we’re talking about its Director’s Cut. Stands tall even against Michael Mann’s take with Manhunter, Reiner’s Stand by Me, or the surprising Big Trouble in Little China and The Name of the Rose.
Robocop – Shouldn’t surprise how well Paul Verhoven’s film, particularly in this day and age, still strikes home. Saw it again recently, and I’m even more sure of it. Stiff competition, too, what with Moonstruck, The Untouchables, Lethal Weapon, The Last Emperor, Angel Heart, Predator, and The Princess Bride in the mix.
Midnight Run – I’m probably most surprised myself with this pick. But what is the most unanticipated buddy movie stands up to repeat view like nobody’s business. Who would have thunk I’d have picked it over the popular Die Hard, Beetlejuice, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Working Girl, and personal fave Tequila Sunrise.
Field of Dreams – Okay, back to a safe bet that others doing this meme probably picked, as well. But, of course, I did, too. And I went with this in the same year of Tim Burton’s Batman, even the more daring Miracle Mile, The Abyss, or Sea of Love fanship. So there.
Goodfellas – I do appreciate Dances With Wolves, don’t get me wrong, but Scorsese’s film upended so much aura within the genre and has to land here. Still, quite a year and start for the new decade with Total Recall, The Hunt for Red October, Exorcist III, Tremors, Darkman, and Misery also afoot.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Continuing the trend whereby a sequel makes the grade the original hadn’t, a Cameron follow-up once again scores. But let’s hear it for The Silence of the Lambs, JFK, Thelma & Louise, Bugsy, and Star Trek – The Undiscovered Country, shall we?
Unforgiven – One of the few times during this post where I’ll match up with the vaunted Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, and it’s certainly more than worthy. And I’m not saying because it has Clint starring and at the helm. A Few Good Men, One False Move, Reservoir Dogs, and Malcolm X pushed it.
Schindler’s List – I can count the times I’ve screened this on one hand…it’s just a very tough watch and I certainly have to steel myself for it. Yeah, Jurassic Park, True Romance, and Tombstone are simply more fun, but I just cannot not pick Steven Spielberg’s.
Pulp Fiction – I fully admit I hated this movie when I initially encountered it. There, I said it. But have changed my mind in the years since. And I’m becoming predictable, I fear. So big cheers for Speed, Ed Wood, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Stargate.
Heat – For a year that boasted the likes of Toy Story, Apollo 13, Braveheart, Se7en, Get Shorty, The Quick and the Dead, Rob Roy, and Casino, Michael Mann’s crime saga masterwork still beats them in my estimation. Just look at the title of this blog, if you hadn’t a clue already.
Fargo – Or as I like to say, “Anything but The English Patient!” How I hate that movie, let me count the ways, Academy. Okay, not the greatest of film years, but Mission Impossible, Ransom, The Rock, and The Long Kiss Goodnight all have something special…the least of which, they are not The English Patient!
L.A. Confidential – Okay, I’m so passed and recovered from my Titanic hangover that I do everything in my power to erase the memory that this didn’t get Best Picture. Also taking repeat nibbles of this, along with The Fifth Element, Face/Off, Contact, Gattaca, and especially Starship Troopers and Jackie Brown, helps.
Out of Sight – Yes, yes, Saving Private Ryan is a whole lot better than Shakespeare in Love. That’s pretty straightforward. What’s not is the sheer and out-in-out pleasure of one of the great Elmore Leonard adaptations by Steven Soderbergh. Ronin and Dark City are also not to be missed.
Toy Story 2 – Rightly, you’ve spotted a pattern when it comes to this list of mine. Many more follow-ups are getting the nod. Can’t explain it other than, they, like this one, are just that good. Not to say The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, The Insider, Galaxy Quest, The Iron Giant, and The Thirteenth Floor are chopped liver.
Gladiator – Director Ridley Scott was robbed, robbed I tell you, when he didn’t get Best Director the same year this won for Best Picture. And it still stands up to repeated viewings. As do Unbreakable, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and 28 Days Later, in the new millennium, but let’s not make a big deal about it.
Memento – My first Christopher Nolan and it couldn’t have been better. Who have thunk L.A. Confidential‘s Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) would have me told me the tale in reverse. All the while LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring, Monsters, Inc., The Others, Ocean’s Eleven, and Black Hawk Down were in the wings.
LOTR: The Two Towers – If I wasn’t fully invested with the first in the Lord of the Rings trilogy the previous year, the follow-up, once again, did the trick. Go figure. With Spielberg’s Minority Report and Catch Me If You Can double close by, along with Frida, Blade II, and The Bourne Identity reboot, it was quite a year.
Finding Nemo – With such dark fare like Mystic River, Kill Bill Vol. 1, and the criminally ignored Dark Blue, and till this year my all-time favorite X-Men movie, X2, how’d I settle on this Pixar animation feature? Answer: the film has an enormous and well-rounded heart. It’s that simple.
Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban – The movie’s tagline applied to me, “Everything Will Change.” The one that made me a believer in the series and director Alfonso Cuarón. Beating out Spider-Man 2, The Incredibles, The Passion of the Christ, Million Dollar Baby, Shaun of the Dead, Kill Bill Vol. 2, and Collateral.
Good Night, and Good Luck – Something then and now we need a good bit of via Actor/Director George Clooney’s tribute to truth and decency. This is still much underrated, I think. Batman Begins, A History of Violence, Serenity, The Ice Harvest, Brokeback Mountain, The Constant Gardener, and Munich also considered.
Children of Men – Once more, my initial reaction wasn’t this high, but thankfully I came around on a second viewing. Alfonso Cuarón convinced me this the Blade Runner of this millennium. Same year as Casino Royale, Inside Man, United 93, Miami Vice, The Prestige, Deja Vu, and guilty fave Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
Michael Clayton – I anticipated the real-life crime dramas American Gangster or Zodiac would have taken the lead this year, but damn it, Tony Gilroy made me a believer with this one-of-a-kind legal thriller. Shout outs to Hot Fuzz, Eastern Promises, and wonderfully dark Halloween anthology, Trick ‘R Treat, though.
WALL•E – You’re just not going to ever convince me awesome works like The Dark Knight, Iron Man, In Bruges, even Slumdog Millionaire and the undervalued The Bank Job could ever beat out my all-time favorite Pixar film and its cold of metal, but warm of (animated) heart story. Just no f-ing way, folks.
Fantastic Mr. Fox – I seriously considered another animated film, Up, along with Sherlock Holmes, Up in the Air, Inglourious Basterds, Watchmen, District 9, Zombieland, Invictus, heck even Avatar for this. But this Wes Anderson stop-motion work convinced me, for it and him as a preferred filmmaker.
Inception – My second Christopher Nolan to make it on the list is simply jaw-dropping in idea and execution. I had thought Toy Story 3, to complete an awesome trilogy would have been it, but this work snuck by. Kudos to the likes of Secretariat, The Social Network, Let Me In, and Black Swan, though.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Having read the Stieg Larsson novel, seen the 2009 Swedish original, no one is more surprised how much I enjoyed David Fincher’s remake. And against The Descendants, The Artist, Drive, The Grey, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and The Raid: Redemption, too.
Argo – Continue to go back and forth with Zero Dark Thirty and this, especially with each of their modified real history. Decided upon the most enjoyable fictionalized account, ultimately, says the guy who actually “liked” John Carter and Dark Shadows. The Avengers, Skyfall, and Django Unchained, for that matter too.
Gravity – I anguished not having a film like 12 Years a Slave here, but again went with my gut (says the dolt who liked The Lone Ranger, problems on all). Okay, I also enjoyed Prisoners (after a long stew about it), Saving Mr. Banks, and American Hustle. Oh, and I hated The Wolf of Wall Street, by the way.
Captain American: The Winter Soldier – A comic book superhero movie, of all things, that had something to say about our security state (post-9/11) and loss of privacy. Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, Whiplash, Selma, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow, Gone Girl, too. A return of ’70s cinema.
Sicario – Still scratching my head Denis Villeneuve’s superlative film all but ignored come awards season. Much like our country’s failed drug war, which has gone on for about a century1. Include Inside Out, The Martian, Spotlight, Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies, The Hateful Eight, Man Up, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Big Short.
Deadpool – A comically irreverent, foul-mouth, but emotionally keen rated-R treatise on cancer and comic book superhero movies that keeps on giving (healing factor, or no). Even with Rogue One, Captain America: Civil War, The Nice Guys, Arrival, Sully, Moonlight, the trouble with La La Land, and Hidden Figures here, too.
2017 so far…it’s Logan.
Always feel the need to do a breakdown whenever I summarize things:
Guess I shouldn’t be shocked that dramas led the way, but nicely surprised that sci-fi/monster film came in a hearty second, with westerns, comedy, and animation next in line.
Of these, here are the directors that led the way:
- Three films a piece – Steven Spielberg and Alfonso Cuarón; expected the former, but pleasantly surprised with the latter.
- Two films a piece – John Sturges, Clint Eastwood, James Cameron, Andrew Stanton, and Christopher Nolan; their fine western, sci-fi, animation, and drama work well represented.
- One film – Ishirô Honda to Tim Miller, with Hitchcock, Fincher, the Cohen and the Russo set of brothers, Lasseter, Tarantino, Mann, Scorsese, Hanson, Soderbergh, Villeneuve, and a great many others in between.
- Read Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari ↩