The List, Part 2: Greatest Movies Ever


Today I present my Top 10 Movies of all time:

10. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

They just don’t make movie stars like Humphrey Bogart anymore.  He’s such a bad ass, such an asshole, how can you not love him?  And The Maltese Falcon is one of his best roles.  The plot doesn’t even make that much sense, but this film is the very essence of film noir and the genre of the hard-boiled detective.  And that’s good enough for me.

9. Wedding Crashers (2005)

The best comedy ever made.  Vince Vaughn has done a ton of great movies dating back to Swingers, but this is his best.  Most comedies struggle to keep a storyline compelling enough to bridge the gap between jokes.  Wedding Crashers has no such problem, providing laughs from beginning to end.

8. The Lives of Others (2006)

A brilliant and disturbing look into the East Germany secret police, the Stasi.  This film gives just a glimpse of the evil that was the communist system and its state security apparatus charged with controlling the masses.  In reality, the Evil Empire was much, much worse than portrayed in the film, but after a bajillion movies about how terrible the Nazis were it’s nice to see at least a glimpse of the terror that resided behind the Iron Curtain.  Of course it’s a German film; no way Hollywood would make such an ardently anti-communist film in this day and age.  Hope you don’t mind subtitles!

7. Casablanca (1942)

Bogart returns, this time in a beautiful piece of pro-American, pro-war propaganda.  Too bad Hollywood doesn’t make films like this anymore.  A great story of love, sacrifice and standing up to the evils of the world.  My only complaint is that that sniveling Vichy Frenchman Captain Renault doesn’t get what’s coming to him.

6. The Godfather, Part III (1990)

The final installment of the greatest cinema story ever told.  The tragedy that is Michael Corleone’s life comes full circle in this gut-wrenching spectacle.  It’s not as good as the first two, but it’s still pretty fucking amazing if you ask me.  Andy Garcia does a spectacular job replicating the mannerisms of James Caan, the illegitimate father he never knew.  Al Pacino’s pain and guilt is palpable, and the tie-in to the actual death of Pope John Paul I is a clever twist as well.

5. The Usual Suspects (1995)

One of the most brilliantly written films ever.  You can watch this movie a hundred times and you’ll spot something new every time.  Trust me, I’ve seen it almost that many times.  Brilliant performances by Kevin Spacey, Benicio Del Toro and really everyone else.  Keyser Soze will forever be the boogeyman as far as I’m concerned.

4. Conan the Barbarian (1982)

No, not the crappy remake from last summer.  The original, back when Arnold Schwarzenegger could barely speak English, is an action classic.  Blood, gore, sex and a healthy dose of not-so-subtle conservative ideology.  What more could a man ask for?  Director John Milius is a genius, and James Earl Jones is creepily good as the head of the snake cult of Set (who wouldn’t be taken in by that voice??).  If you haven’t seen this movie, go watch it immediately.  However, stay away from the sequel, Conan the Destroyer.  I’m not sure there’s ever been a bigger drop off from original to sequel.

3. The Godfather, Part II (1974)

The saga of the Corleone Family continues in this beautiful and haunting epic that stretches from Nevada to New York to Cuba.  I love how it takes the real life events of the Cuban Revolution and the Senate hearings on organized crime and weaves them into the fictional story.  Watching Michael Corleone deteriorate into a paranoid, vicious mob boss is equally sad and terrifying.  One of my favorite quotes in movie history comes from this film: “I don’t feel I have to wipe everbody out, Tom.  Just my enemies.  That’s all.”

2. Seven (1995)

David Fincher is one of my favorite directors, with films like The Game and Fight Club to his credit.  But Seven is his masterpiece, dark and raw and utterly disturbing.  Amazing performances by Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman and an uncredited role by Kevin Spacey.  I usually find serial killer films to be kinda corny, but each murder in this film serves a purpose in the story, building to a devastating climax. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this film, and the ending still gets my heart pounding.

1. The Godfather (1972)

It’s really hard to make a top 10 list when three of your ten are all part of the same series.  The original Godfather is so good nothing else even comes close.  There isn’t a bad performance or a slow scene in the entire movie; James Caan, Robert Duval and Al Pacino all got Supporting Actor Nominations, splitting the vote and no doubt costing each other the Oscar they all deserved.  One of the rare movies that is better than the novel (which ain’t bad either).  I could watch this movie on loop for the rest of my life and never get bored.

Honorable Mention: Apocalypse Now (1979); Dr. Strangelove (1964); The English Patient (1996); The Game (1997); Man on Fire (2004); Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985); Spy Game (2001); Swingers (1996); V for Vendetta (2005)

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6 Comments

  1. Sorry to say I have only seen 2 of those movies….. Casablanca and Seven. I was probably too young for Casablanca when I saw it because I didn’t enjoy it much.
    I will look some of these up on Netflix. Redbeard would probably be happy if we watched the Godfather movies and the Usual Suspects

  2. Seen them all, and loved nine of them. GF III was erratic, and Sofia was awful in it.

    As to the honorable mentions, I enjoyed most of them. I have issues with V and <Apocalypse for obvious reasons, but otherwise great list 🙂

    • I think Part 3 gets a bad rap. Sofia was mildly annoying, but she reminded me of Diane Keaton in the first two when she was all whiny. Pacino as a broken man is fascinating, and I love Andy Garcia’s portrayal of Sonny’s bastard son; he’s so full of his father’s anger yet so determined to be a loyal son to Michael.

      No doubt Hollywood tried to turn V and Apocalypse into commie propaganda, but they’re so stupid they couldn’t even do it right. Apocalypse Now is based on a 19th Century novel set in the jungles of Africa; the story actually has almost nothing to do with the Vietnam War, which is why I like it. (With the exception, in the Redux, of the French Plantation scene, which shows a pro-western side of the war that was probably unintended. 🙂 As for V for Vendetta, it’s no doubt it’s supposed to be anti-American, but the bad guys are all evil Brits who start the movie by badmouthing America, so I have no trouble hating them; and V’s line “People should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people” is my favorite quote ever. The guy who wrote the V comic books, ironically, is an avowed anarchist who hates all government, wrote the comics as a commentary against the Thatcher government, but disavowed the movie because of it’s obvious pro-leftist government stance (wasn’t anarchist enough for him I guess!).

  3. I would argue that ALL of The Godfather was slow, but in a deliberate sense that makes it perfectly acceptable. Bad movies are slow, good movies are deliberate. Although I’m curious what two you would add to the list is you simply lumped all the Godfather movies into one spot.

    • Wow, you’re puttin’ me on the spot. My Honorable Mention list is at the bottom, never really thought to rank them though. Off the top of my head I think I’d go with Swingers and Apocalypse Now. Although The English Patient might have to get a vote.


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