It's time for the second half of my favorite movies list. Feel free to check out the first half here if you haven't already. Before I get into the list, here are a few honorable mentions that just barely missed getting on it:
Blazing Saddles: One of the wrongest movies in existence and one of the funniest.
Ghostbusters: One of my Halloween staples (seriously, I could fill the whole list with just those).
Highlander: Modern day fantasy with Queen on the soundtrack. 'Nuff said. :-D
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back: A fun adventure that raised the stakes more than any other movie in the franchise.
The Last Starfighter:The Sword in the Stone meets Star Wars... doesn't that just sound awesome?
Now to my top 20!
This is my favorite guilty pleasure. Check out my previous review for more details. Any movie that can make a macho jerk likable deserves a spot on my list.
Tim Burton is at his best when he could just let his imagination run wild, and he was at his craziest with Beetlejuice. Every performance is memorable, especially Michael Keaton in the title role, and the insane stop-motion animation still impresses me today. As many times as I've seen them, the gags still get me busting up. Please, say the rumored sequel will be good...
Let's face it: Comedies have a shorter shelf life than any other genre. Once you know the jokes, most comedies aren't worth watching anymore. Police Academy beats that issue thanks to having memorable and lovable characters and a great story of rejects triumphing over adversity. The scenes with Tackleberry (David Graf) and Jones (Michael Winslow) still get me cracking up even now!
All of the Indiana Jones movies are as fun as adventure films can get, even Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. What puts Last Crusade over the others is the phenomenal interplay between Indy and his dad, played to perfection by Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. The last big set piece where Indy takes on the trap gauntlet to get to the Grail is one of the most suspenseful moments I've ever seen.
I've established that I'm a Star Trek fan who favors the darker stories, and the second film provides that in abundance. Even with the dramatic tale of vengeance, there is still a mix of fun thanks to the interactions among the crew. Khan (Ricardo Montalban) is still one of the greatest villains in movie history, not just Star Trek. This is one of the first movies I could remember watching, and it made me a Star Trek fan for life.
I know this vehicle for Jean-Claude Van Damme is a huge Enter the Dragon rip-off; it even has Bolo Yeung (who was in Enter the Dragon) in it! I know the facts from Frank Dux's life that formed the basis of the story are questionable. I don't care; this is still one of my favorite martial arts movies. It's just awesome to see so many different martial arts styles duking it out, and it never stops being awesome!
Of course, my favorite (and frequently derided) James Bond movie had to be in my top 20. Roger Moore may not approve, but I still love it! Click here to see why. (For the record, the 14th Bond movie being #14 on my list is pure coincidence.)
I'm indifferent about the remake with Johnny Depp overall, but the original movie based on Roald Dahl's book that I read as a kid still runs circles around it. Willy Wonka is still Gene Wilder's greatest performance, and the movie still looks and feels timeless. I don't care that it's nearly fifty years old; it's still one of the greatest family films of all time, and sharing it with my niece was one of my greatest joys.
I didn't care for horror movies for a long time; I thought of the genre just in terms of the dumbest slasher flicks my classmates were watching. The Shining changed my mind. There is no movie that presents greater atmosphere or more tension than this masterpiece. Yes, it deviates a great deal from Stephen King's book, but it is hypnotic in its own way. A whole genre that I originally dismissed when I was younger was opened up to me thanks to this movie. (For the record, I like the book, too.)
I love the fact that I could pull out this classic monster movie for Christmas and for Halloween! The characters are all likable (except for the ones you're supposed to hate like Mrs. Deagle), and it's awesome how much personality Joe Dante and company put into all those puppets. It even provides fantastic atmosphere in many spots like the first reveal of the gremlins. The sequel is a lot of fun, too, but the first will always be my favorite.
It was tough picking between the original Terminator and Judgment Day. While the sequel has some of the greatest action moments in movie history, the original has the tighter story and the better atmosphere. This is the only time Arnold Schwarzenegger got to look scary, and he nailed it! Also watching Linda Hamilton's character grow from an innocent college kid to the mother of humanity's last hope is always intriguing.
I love Mel Brooks' movies, and this one barely beat out Blazing Saddles as my favorite. Every sci-fi cliche gets ripped apart and still gets me laughing until I hurt. I especially love how the movie absolutely demolishes the fourth wall. The scene when the villains try to find the heroes by watching the movie is one of the funniest moments I had ever seen!
I could rattle of a whole list of reasons why this time-travel adventure is on my list from the amazingly tight plot to the fact that the time-traveling DeLorean is one of the coolest vehicles in movie history. However, what put it over the top for me is Michael J. Fox. He is my favorite actor because his comic timing is perfect and he is always one of the most likable people you'll ever see on screen. Those qualities are shown more here than any other movie he'd been in.
This one hits close to home for me since I tend to be pretty nerdy (I know, big shock). Seeing all these geeks and outcasts claw their way to the top is always satisfying for me. It's the same reason I like Police Academy, but Revenge of the Nerds connects with me even more. Fun fact: this was the very first R-rated movie I ever saw when I was a little kid. Even though I didn't get the sex jokes at that young age, I still rooted for the geeks beating the Alphas then, and I still do now.
This is my favorite animated film simply because there is nothing like it (apart from its lame sequel). Fantasia is just a mix of some of the most gorgeous animation ever drawn with some of the greatest orchestral compositions ever performed. The combination is outright hypnotic. It is one of the most amazing things Walt Disney ever put his name on, and watching it again is always a joy.
This is, quite simply, one of the most perfect movies I had ever seen. Tim Burton created a look and tale that is bizarre and beautiful in equal measure. Johnny Depp gave the greatest performance of his entire career, and everyone else was excellent, too. As the frequent oddball, the story resonates with me on a very deep level. I never let a Christmas go by without watching this masterpiece.
This is one of the greatest action/comedies ever made. The plot is tighter than many cop films, and every single joke lands. Eddie Murphy has never been better than here, and John Ashton and Judge Reinhold keep up with him effortlessly. The action scenes are outstanding, too, even more impressive when you consider the people involved are known more for comedy. From the chase in the cigarette truck to the mansion shoot-out, I'm hooked.
This is my pick for the greatest family film ever made. Unlike a lot of such movies which dumb things down for kids, The Neverending Story actually challenges them, scares them some, and instills wonder and hope in them. Every character and scene is unforgettable, and it still enchants me even after dozens of viewings. When I first showed this to my niece, she was absolutely spellbound. There's talk of remaking this one... please, Warner Brothers, don't. It's perfect the way it is.
I've established that I love stories involving outcasts rising to the challenge, and The Karate Kid is my favorite example of it. The bond between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) is one of the greatest relationships ever put onscreen. The fights aren't flashy, but they're still thrilling because of the connection built to the characters. There's a reason I'm stoked for Cobra Kai, you know! :-)
It always surprises people when I call this gory sci-fi/action masterpiece my favorite movie of all-time. Even my girlfriend asked why when I first told her. I could name tons of moments that grabbed my attention when I was younger and still hold it now. However, I can name two big reasons why it's my number one. First, it is the most approachable movie ever made. It is the kind of film that can be enjoyed on a surface level, just getting a kick out of the quotable dialog and the bloody shoot-outs, or it can be enjoyed on a deeper level, catching the barbed satire and criticism of privatization and Reaganomics among other things. Whichever way the audience chooses to watch the movie, it still satisfies. The second reason is that, even after countless viewings, I still find new things to appreciate. Paul Verhoeven created an amazing world in every detail, and I still find touches I never noticed before even now. RoboCop is the greatest prolonged joy I had ever gotten out of a single movie, and it easily deserves my top spot.
What do you think of my top 40? Thrilled? Surprised? Disgusted? Let me know, and take care!