Wednesday, February 1, 2012

101 Films

A friend recently asked me to make a list of "essential" films everyone should see.


I can't imagine why I agreed to this. But it was impossible to stop once I'd started. It was also virtually impossible to finish. So I set some parameters, and defaulted on some disclaimers, and produced a list of 101 movies.

Parameters: No animated films, and no documentaries, and only "foreign" films that have broadly and thoroughly permeated the American cinema aesthetic. **UPDATE: After several people called me out on this, I realized I should clarify. I have a deep respect for documentary and animation, but felt that I needed to narrow the scope of this "survey" of films. Animation and documentary each deserve their own lists, but I feel even less capable, let alone qualified, to make them.**

Disclaimers: This list is completely subjective. I didn't include films I don't like, though they may be important. It is also totally inadequate. But I did my best, without sinking more than a few hours into the project. It is also alphabetized, because I think it would be unreasonable to try to order these movies in a qualitative way.

Without even blinking, you could probably name a dozen films that, by their absence, prove I'm an absolute idiot. Oh well. Enjoy!

  1. 12 Angry Men (1957)
  2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  3. The 400 Blows (1959)
  4. Alien (1979)
  5. All the President’s Men (1976)
  6. Amadeus (1984)
  7. Amelie (2001)
  8. Avalon (2001)
  9. Babette’s Feast (1987)
  10. Back to the Future (1985)
  11. Ben-Hur (1959)
  12. Better Off Dead...(1985)
  13. Blade Runner (1982)
  14. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
  15. Casablanca (1942)
  16. Casino Royale (2006)
  17. Citizen Kane (1941)
  18. City Lights (1931)
  19. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
  20. Cool Hand Luke (1967)
  21. The Dark Knight (2008)
  22. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  23. Dead Poets Society (1989)
  24. Deep Impact (1998)
  25. Die Hard (1988)
  26. Double Indemnity (1944)
  27. Dr. Strange-love (1964)
  28. Dumb and Dumber (1994)
  29. Edward Scissorhands (1990)
  30. The Elephant Man (1980)
  31. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
  32. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  33. Field of Dreams (1989)
  34. Forrest Gump (1994)
  35. The Fall (2006)
  36. The Fugitive (1993)
  37. Galaxy Quest (1999)
  38. Gladiator (2000)
  39. Godfathers I & 2 (1972, ’74)
  40. Gone with the Wind (1939)
  41. Good Will Hunting (1997)
  42. The Great Dictator (1940)
  43. The Great Escape (1963)
  44. Groundhog Day (1993)
  45. Harry Potter 
  46. Hero (2002)
  47. High Noon (1952)
  48. The Hurt Locker (2008)
  49. Inception (2010)
  50. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  51. Jurassic Park (1993)
  52. Life Is Beautiful (1997)
  53. The Lord of the Rings (2001, ’02, ’03)
  54. Malcom X (1992)
  55. The Man in the White Suit (1951)
  56. The Matrix (1999)
  57. Men in Black (1997)
  58. Metropolis (1927)
  59. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
  60. Napoleon Dynamite (2004) 
  61. The Night of the Hunter (1955)
  62. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
  63. On the Waterfront (1954)
  64. Ordinary People (1980)
  65. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
  66. The Patriot (2000)
  67. The Philadelphia Story (1940)
  68. The Pianist (2002)
  69. The Princess Bride (1987)
  70. Psycho (1960)
  71. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  72. Rashomon (1950)
  73. Rear Window (1954)
  74. Rocky (1976)
  75. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
  76. Serendipity (2001)
  77. Seven Samurai (1954)
  78. The Seventh Seal (1957)
  79. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  80. Sherlock Jr. (1924)
  81. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  82. The Sixth Sense (1999)
  83. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
  84. Social Network (2010)
  85. Some Like It Hot (1959)
  86. The Sound of Music (1965)
  87. Spartacus (1960)
  88. Star Trek (2009)
  89. Star Wars (1977-83)
  90. The Sting (1973)
  91. Take Shelter (2011)
  92. The Terminator (1984)
  93. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  94. Thank You for Smoking (2005)
  95. The Tree of Life (2011)
  96. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  97. V for Vendetta (2005)
  98. West Side Story (1961)
  99. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)
  100. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  101. Zombieland (2009)

4 comments:

  1. Two questions:

    1) How does Babbette's Feast qualify as a foreign film that has "broadly and thoroughly permeated the American cinema aesthetic"?

    2) Why do Godfather 1 and 2 count as one film, but Terminator 1 and 2 count as two films?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Terminator II, and V for Vendetta are all WILDLY overrated. Off the list, I say!

    Oh, and how on earth did Deep Impact sneak its way in with the good movies? It was garbage.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You finally saw Avalon?? Hurray!! What did you think of what I consider to be something of a documentary of our Lithuanian roots?

    PS: Eric, I feel sad that you are so desperately confused--"Deep Impact," in particular, is a profoundly important and humbling catastrophe movie and I'm sorry you're unable to see that yet. Perhaps later? And "Close Encounters" was one of the first humanizing and empathetic movies ever made on behalf of aliens, taking steps to overcome our tendency to automatically demonize the "other."

    ReplyDelete
  4. ^ Also with regards to the other movies you mentioned.

    I think you did mean to put one very important movie on there, 'Moon', which could easily fit should you combine the Terminator movies.

    Good list btw.

    ReplyDelete

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