Some months back we published an article outlining my favorite TV shows of all time: My 6 All Time Favorite TV Shows
Now I’m back with my all-time favorite movies. Movies are probably even more subjective than TV shows, with so many great movies to choose from it’s not an easy assignment. So, this time I’ve decided to select my favorites per genre.
My All-Time Favorite Western
I love westerns and there are so many excellent movies to choose from — anything with John Wayne or Clint Eastwood could have easily been chosen. In the end, I opted for the original The Magnificent Seven, for two main reasons:
- The stellar cast: I doubt there has ever been a western made that featured so many “stars” of the day. Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughan, Eli Wallach — man, what a lineup.
- The Simple Plot: Arguably the epitome of goodies versus baddies — and who doesn’t like to see the goodies defeating the baddies?
I love the way the story evolves, with a rag-tag bunch of macho cowboys banding together to protect a village of simple farmers from an evil gang of marauding bandits. Great fun and, although made in 1960, still stands the test of time.
My All-Time Favorite Sci-Fi
Avatar: I do very much enjoy sci-fi movies and, again, no easy choice. However, the brilliant Avatar tops my list. Best special effects ever (in my opinion) plus a terrific storyline that challenges the imagination and tugs at the heartstrings. Plus, of course, that unbeatable goodies versus the baddies element. I loved Avatar so much I bought the Blu-ray version to add to my library of movies and have watched it many times over.
Special mentions for the original Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford, Jurassic Park, Independence Day, and the early Star Wars movies (pre-Disney). Great movies too but you can’t pick ’em all.
My All-Time Favorite Revenge Movie
Payback: Mel Gibson can be a tad hit and miss but he is at his very best in this story of a one-man-army taking on the “Outfit”. Ably assisted by the ever-gorgeous Maria Bello and Kris Kristofferson in the unlikely role of mafia head honcho. There are lots of cameo performances to enjoy in this terrific movie, faces you will recognize but likely not be able to put a name to. One of those is actor Gregg Henry who plays the despicable Val Resnick to absolute perfection. Not one of Mel’s better-known movies but, in my opinion, one of his very best.
My All-Time Favorite Crime Movie
The Departed: directed by Martin Scorsese and with a cast to make anyone’s mouth water, The Departed is a crime/action tour de force, including magnificent performances from the great Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg (one of my favorites), and Alec Baldwin. A story of two men on opposite sides of the law with each playing duplicitous roles in the South Boston state police’s war on Irish-American organized crime. An absolute must-see.
L.A. Confidential: I cannot split The Departed and L.A. Confidential, I like them both equally so they’ll have to share the top spot. L.A. Confidential is probably more neo-noir with great lead performances from Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, and Kevin Spacey playing the roles of very different cops all chasing the same truth. With the lovely Kim Basinger and diminutive Danny DeVito in terrific supporting roles. A tale of corruption and murder set in the 1950s with plenty of twists and turns. Great movies both.
My All-Time Favorite Comedy
Uncle Buck: I must admit when it comes to comedies I am quite fussy. With all due apologies to our American readers, I am not generally a fan of U.S.-produced comedies which I often find a little too slapstick for my taste. Are there any Will Ferrell fans out there? Geez, I cannot stand that man, he is about as funny as a trip to the dentist.
Anyway, I digress. Uncle Buck is the exception to the rule, a very funny movie that actually makes me laugh out loud. The big feller, John Candy, makes the movie with his brilliant portrayal of an irresponsible but good-hearted layabout who, out of sheer desperation, is tasked with minding his young nephew and nieces.
The movie includes many memorable comic situations including the classic scene when Uncle Buck is called into the school for a chat with the headmistress who just happens to have a very large growth on her face which blusters poor Uncle Buck no end. The ensuing conversation is comedy genius. A truly “funny” comedy with a very enjoyable story.
My All-Time Favorite Rom-Com
Pretty Woman: I am not particularly fond of rom-coms but I have been married for 55 years so, as you can well imagine, I have watched my fair share. The strange thing is, I am not really a fan of either Julia Roberts or Richard Gere. However, their on-screen partnership in Pretty Woman just works, so much so that I could not imagine anyone else playing the roles. I do not usually think Julia is overly attractive but in this movie, she exudes sexiness and is quite stunning. Richard Gere has always been good at “suave” and the two diverse characters, down-on-her-luck hooker and wealthy businessman, gel to perfection.
Laura San Giacomo nearly steals the show as Julia’s irrepressible hooker/mentor and Jason Alexander of Seinfeld fame is terrific as the villain of the piece. Many memorable scenes — my lovely wife still quotes Julia as she (Julia) marches into the fashion store that originally refuses to serve her with an armful of mega-expensive garments in tow… “Big mistake, huge!“.
My All-Time Favorite Action Movie
Taken: One has to approach all action movies as a source of fun rather than believability. One thing about Liam Neeson is that he at least has the physical presence to play these types of roles and he is terrific as retired special agent Brian Mills who single-handedly takes on a gang of ruthless Albanian human traffickers who have abducted his daughter. Sure, it’s all far-fetched but I am not one who expects these types of movies to be realistic — they are meant to entertain after all — and Taken is extremely entertaining. I love the way Brian Mills summarily deals with the protagonists, no mucking about, just quick and deadly retribution. The movie produced one of the most quoted moments when Brian Mills is on the phone with his daughter’s captor he makes a promise:
What I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that will be the end of it – I will not look for you, I will not pursue you… but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you… and I will kill you.
Special mentions for Bruce Willis’s original Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon movies (which I do love), and more recently, The Equalizer with Denzel Washington. Oh, and my wife loves Jason Statham. So many to choose from.
My All-Time Favorite Prison Movie
Two great movies here that, again, I am unable to split. Both are fantastic screen adaptions of Stephen King novels.
The Shawshank Redemption: Starring Tim Robbins as the one prisoner who is genuinely innocent of the crime he has been incarcerated for and Morgan Freeman as the savvy long-term prisoner who becomes his friend and mentor. A brilliant movie with a great twist.
The Green Mile: Set on death row and starring Tom Hanks and the huge Michael Clark Duncan, The Green Mile is an emotional tour de force with the clear message that justice isn’t always just and miracles can happen even under the most unexpected of circumstances. A truly magical journey.
You will notice the absence of any Marvel/Superhero type movies, definitely not my cup of tea. I guess that’s an age/generational thing. Still, there are so many terrific movies to choose from and I am sure I will have missed some of your favorites. Let us know in the comments.