IMDB Top 100 Movies and Me

About 3.5 years ago, I sort of reviewed the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movies of All Time or whatever, which, I was later informed, constituted a crime against humanity. Such power. With that in mind, I’ve kind of been thinking I ought to do the same thing with the IMDB list since, you know, it’s all crowd-sourced and all. Plus, IMHO, there just aren’t enough movie panning-related crimes against humanity on the Internet nowadays. Turns out I like the crowd’s unmitigated wisdom a lot better than the AFI’s. FWIW. And I’ve seen a lot more of these. (This IMDB Top 100 is as of January 16, 2011 at 10:18 PM Eastern.)

  1. Shawshank Redemption – Loved it; in my personal top 10. Speaks to the idea of hope without feeling cloying; the characters deserve the ends they get.
  2. The Godfather – I just don’t care about gangsters. That said, it’s a very compelling, interesting movie and I have a hard time arguing with its belovedness.
  3. The Godfather II – Ibid.
  4. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – I liked it. It’s not my fourth-favorite movie or anything and the Italian extras trying to play civil war soldiers are, IMHO, unintentionally funny. But I liked it a lot. Eli Wallach ftw.
  5. Pulp Fiction – A lot of fun and violence. I should probably watch it again and see if there’s anything more to it than that, but, you know, fun and violence are good either way.
  6. Schindler’s List – Overrated, under-interesting. Any PBS or History Channel program on the holocaust is more moving (if perhaps only due to lack of editorial). Little plot, no surprise, and the black-and-white is, I think, just an attempt to make the masses think they’ve watched and comprehended something “arty”. Life Is Beautiful was way better, frex. It had a plot and some emotional resonance.
  7. Inception – Haven’t seen.
  8. 12 Angry Men – Kind of cool. It’s sort of a small movie, but it’s a good lesson about how a group of people who are foolish in the first place can easily get brow-beaten by Henry Fonda. Wait — that *was* the message, right?
  9. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Kind of boring. Not much happened. Didn’t see any reason to care about any of the characters. Now what?
  10. The Dark Knight – There was a fantastic 90-minute brainless action movie in here just trying to get out. Alas. [My earlier review.]
  11. The Empire Strikes Back – Given its iconic status and that I loved it as an eight-year-old, calling it “still watchable” should probably serve as high praise.
  12. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – Awful on many, many levels. In Peter Jackson’s defense, most of the flaws came from the source material. Why didn’t the eagles come at the *start* of the journey? How come it hadn’t occurred to anyone any earlier that a bunch of ghosts owed Aragorn a favor? Why were the main characters so blasé about everybody in their army dying such that they were making jokes about how many bad guys they’d killed? Who thought it was a good idea to include a scene where a hobbit sings while some dude eats tomatoes with his mouth open? How come Gandalf could only see the future in ways that didn’t matter? Why were there eight different endings, none of which were the right one? Man. As Terry Brown once said, this was the first movie that won Best Picture based on quantity of work rather than quality.
  13. Seven Samurai – Haven’t seen.
  14. Star Wars (A New Hope) – Wooden characters, stilted dialogue, loved it when I was five years old, but now it’s unwatchable. Yeah, I know, I’m worse than Hitler.
  15. Fight Club – Haven’t seen.
  16. Goodfellas – Haven’t seen.
  17. Casablanca – It’s okay. In 2008 I typed: Some great one-liners, but the plot’s unclear. Is Rick the main character? What’s he trying to achieve? Should I be happy at how it ends? I probably would have liked it better if I hadn’t been told it was the third greatest movie ever. I probably would have.
  18. City of God – This is my cousin’s former favorite movie. It was pretty good, although it sort of felt like every movie I’ve seen about violence in poor neighborhoods.
  19. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – I still kind of like this one. There’s so much potential in here. The scary parts are actually kind of scary. The characters are dynamic. Their actions seem to matter. It’s a beautiful movie on the screen and in 5.1 surround and it’s nice how it doesn’t insult you at every turn.
  20. Once Upon a Time in the West – A little long and the music was kind of cheesy, but there are some really beautifully put-together scenes in here (e.g., the opening) and I like it enough to own it.
  21. Rear Window – Every Hitchcock movie is sort of the same to me. Fun to watch the first time, not much reason to go back to it.
  22. Raiders of the Lost Ark – Some time between 1981 and 2006 this movie became unwatchable for me. Sad.
  23. The Matrix – Cool concept. Characters and story were flat, but the concept — the *concept*!
  24. Psycho – Haven’t seen.
  25. The Usual Suspects – Not bad. I think the twist is unfair, though. There’s no real way to suspect who the bad guy is, which left me feeling like someone had just been yanking my chain the whole time. And it has one of the untalented Baldwin brothers in it, which isn’t a plus.
  26. Silence of the Lambs – Haven’t seen.
  27. Toy Story 3 – Very funny movie, although I think I liked the first two better.
  28. Se7en – Haven’t seen.
  29. It’s a Wonderful Life – Haven’t seen.
  30. Memento – Kind of a challenge to keep up with, which I liked a lot.
  31. Lord of the Rings: Two Towers – Atrociously awful. Three hours of filler, none of which impacted the overall story of the trilogy. No character development and nothing important happened. CGI for its own sake. Rancid.
  32. Sunset Blvd. – A role where William Holden’s overacting actually fits the character. Fun and dark and full of implication about what Hollywood in the 1950s was probably like.
  33. Forrest Gump – Meh. I liked it a lot the first time through. Upon further review, it seems utterly cynical in its message that, in order to get ahead in life the key thing to do is not try very hard and let things fall into your lap. Forrest should have let Lt. Dan die. OTOH, this is where I first heard the story of Nathaniel Bedford Forrest, which I encountered again in Tennessee last year.
  34. The Professional – Haven’t seen.
  35. Dr. Strangelove – I think I like this one a lot, although part of me thinks that I only like it because I feel like it’s a movie that I *should* like. ::shrug:: I enjoyed seeing George C. Scott do comedy and there are a number of lines from this movie that stick with me.
  36. Apocalypse Now – Also in my personal Top 10. Awesome characters and does a brilliant thing in weaving an actual story into an absurd and wacky setting with so many messed-up characters. I felt like I learned a few things about human nature from this movie (e.g., “F—, man, this is better than Disneyland!”).
  37. Citizen Kane – Lovely camera angles. Banal plot, but, you know, *lovely* camera angles.
  38. North by Northwest – Seriously, all of Hitchcock’s movies run together. Yeah, I know, Mt. Rushmore and the plane in the corn fields. I liked it the first time I watched it.
  39. American Beauty – Haven’t seen.
  40. American History X – Didn’t feel like a complete movie to me, but I remember liking a lot about it. Felt like it pulled its punches toward the end maybe.
  41. Taxi Driver – Haven’t seen.
  42. Terminator 2: Judgment Day – Haven’t seen.
  43. Saving Private Ryan – I have mixed emotions about it. I loved it the first time I saw it. The D-Day montage is jaw-dropping, but having since read enough about WWII to know better, seems a little disingenuous (in the sense that no one person would have seen a tenth of the extreme instances shown in these 15 minutes of the film). I also think that the ending is a little contrived and too conventional. A lot of the in-between sticks with me, though. Also importantly: the pinnacle of Vin Diesel’s career. Giovanni Ribisi’s too. Probably Nathan Fillian’s and Ted Danson’s also. Huh.
  44. Vertigo – Hitchcock. See above.
  45. Amélie – Haven’t seen.
  46. Alien – Haven’t seen as such.
  47. WALL-E – Liked it, especially the first half-hour. I thought it was amazing how much character, setting, and plot were conveyed during that time of no dialogue. Things got a little silly and slow once they got in the ship, though. IMHO.
  48. Spirited Away – Haven’t seen.
  49. The Shining – I like Stanley Kubrick and this movie is effective for me. The masks haunt even still.
  50. Paths of Glory – Haven’t seen.
  51. Lawrence of Arabia – Remember liking it when I watched it, but then again I watched it when I was in high school as part of a class and I may have just been happy to not be having to sit through a lecture. Do high school teachers give “lectures”? Whatever it is they do. At this point I mostly just remember the Turkish guy coughing.
  52. Black Swan – Haven’t seen. IMDB users often overrate newer movies.
  53. Double Indemnity – Haven’t seen.
  54. The Pianist – Haven’t seen.
  55. A Clockwork Orange – Really, really effective. I don’t know that I can say I “like” a movie like this, but — yeah. I like how effective it is; another one that haunts and sticks.
  56. To Kill a Mockingbird – Saw in ninth grade, I think.
  57. The Lives of Others – Liked a lot; kind of surprising it’s rated so highly, it being foreign and all. The ending felt like it was a little drawn out the first time I watched it, but I didn’t feel that way the second time. Tense and captivating.
  58. City Lights – Haven’t seen.
  59. M – Haven’t seen.
  60. The Departed – Poster boy for everything I don’t like about Martin Scorcese. Scorsese. Whatever. Want more on why this movie sucks? Here’s a blog post I wrote in 2007 entitled “The Departed Wasn’t a Very Good Movie“.
  61. Aliens – Haven’t seen.
  62. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – I liked the concept and it seemed like the movie almost lived up to it (but not quite).
  63. Requiem for a Dream – Haven’t seen.
  64. Das Boot – This might be the first war movie that I really liked. I still really like it, I think. I imagine the inside of that submarine didn’t smell very good.
  65. The Third Man – Haven’t seen.
  66. Reservoir Dogs – Haven’t seen.
  67. L.A. Confidential – Also probably in my Top 10. Loved it; better than Cats.
  68. Chinatown – Felt tired and like something I’d seen a thousand times before. I’ve been told that this is only because Chinatown was the first-ever movie like this. Fine, but now it feels tired and like something I’ve seen a thousand times before. OTOH, includes some stunning footage of the LA River…
  69. Modern Times – Tried to watch; failed due to lack of patience. I’m not a film student, no.
  70. Treasure of the Sierra Madre – To quote myself: A painful experience. That crazy old guy alone would have been too much to take. Boring dialog and no reason for me to care about the characters.
  71. Life Is Beautiful – Fortunately they were sent to the concentration camp because I couldn’t take any more of that self-indulgent Italian guy trying to act “funny”. Once they got to the camp, though, this movie rawked.
  72. Back to the Future – I worry that if I watch this movie again I’ll end up hating it just like I now have to hate Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Right now my memories of it are still innocent and pleasant.
  73. Monte Python and the Holy Grail – There were maybe ten years in my life when I thought Monte Python was funny. Those are in the past now.
  74. The Prestige – Haven’t seen.
  75. Pan’s Labyrinth – Meh? Spanish girl. Some guy gets his mouth slit open, but he was kind of a jerk, so maybe that was all right. Yeah, meh.
  76. Raging Bull – Way better than The Departed. A little over-long maybe, but otherwise compelling.
  77. Cinema Paradiso – Haven’t seen.
  78. Singin’ in the Rain – Haven’t seen. Probably now too tainted by A Clockwork Orange to watch with an open mind.
  79. Some Like It Hot – Haven’t seen.
  80. The Bridge on the River Kwai – Top 10 list probably. William Holden is a little hard to stomach, but I love the contrasts between Americans, British, and Japanese. “I thought you were the enemy, sir.” “Well I’m an American if that’s what you mean.” Yeah.
  81. Rashomon – Haven’t seen.
  82. All About Eve – Haven’t seen.
  83. Amadeus – It’s a very 80s movie, but I still probably like it.
  84. Once Upon a Time in America – Haven’t seen.
  85. The Green Mile – Felt like a movie that was trying to cash in on Shawshank Redemption‘s halo. It was all right I guess.
  86. Full Metal Jacket – Two movies in one! I liked the first one a lot better than the second one. The second one just felt like a generic Vietnam War movie. Having a character named “Animal Mother” doesn’t make a movie interesting in itself. IMHO. R. Lee Ermey ftw though.
  87. Bicycle Thieves – Haven’t seen.
  88. 2001: A Space Odyssey – I mean, yeah. It’s slow and mostly plotless. Interesting-enough vision of the future, but, you know, none of that vision has come true. Maybe HAL still will. I’ll give it some more time. Not my favorite Kubrick movie; I liked Barry Lyndon better, frex.
  89. The Great Dictator – Tried to watch recently; failed. Chaplin is just too twee for me. I mean, it’s 2011, of course he is.
  90. Inglorious Basterds – Haven’t seen.
  91. Braveheart – I really loved this movie back in the day. I think I started liking it somewhat less when I found out that by “freedom” in the end, they meant that the Scots won the war. I liked it better when I used to think that they all died in the end and were in that sense “free”. Regardless, a lot of very nice violence.
  92. The Apartment – Haven’t seen.
  93. Downfall – I wanted this to be better than it was. I didn’t hate it, just didn’t think it was special. Came across as a little dry maybe. Could be I know too much history to find sufficient novelty in the story or characterizations, but whatever. I mean, it had occurred to me before watching this movie that Hitler was, in fact, also a human.
  94. Up – It was okay. A little bit more of a downer than I wanted it to be. Also didn’t really like its message that taking out the garbage every Thursday *is* an adventure. It’s not, I swear.
  95. Gran Torino – Haven’t seen. Mean to.
  96. Metropolis – Heh. I mean, you know. It’s hard to watch this as a 2011er. You have to watch it with context, which, I dunno, seems a bit much. Frex, you can watch and enjoy Mozart’s Don Giovanni and not have to keep telling yourself that, you know, this is *really novel* for 1787! Metropolis, by contrast, comes across like simplistic, socialist (or fascist?) political scree. There’s little emotion in it and the plot and characters serve only the message. Maybe it was novel for its time, but, again: not a film student, don’t have to care.
  97. Gladiator – Loved it when it first came out. Like it less now. I still love, though, the recurring theme of the guy dragging his hand through the wheat, which doesn’t have a lot of meaning early on in the movie, but by the end is very, very powerful. The Danish woman who played, well, the woman, had kind of a crappy accent and wooden delivery. Joaquin Phoenix was fun to watch. Ridley Scott spent a lot of time in his commentary talking about how much money he saved by reusing sets.
  98. The Sting – Haven’t seen.
  99. Unforgiven – Greatest movie of all time. All the movies Eastwood directs have great scenes in them. This is the one where the scenes all work together. Has some fantastic, memorable lines in it. The scene where they shoot the first cowboy is the most uncomfortable assassination ever. “Take away all he’s got, and all he’s ever gonna have.” It’s an unusual movie that can pay homage while debunking mythology.
  100. The Maltese Falcon – No. Just no.

~ Fin ~



  • Mr. Telkontar

    To continue the running battle about movies, I comment on the list, too. I believe I am more correct in my opinions than BKD is in his.
    1. No reason for it to exist. Don’t like anything about it.
    2. I remember the dead horse’s head. That’s all. And pop cultural references.
    3. Saw it; don’t remember a thing. I, too, hate gangster movies.
    4. I liked it. Clint got better.
    5. Weird and forgettable. He diminished the Batuzi forever.
    6. Boring as a story. I, too, thought the B&W was pure affectation (like Ansel Adams’s B&W).
    7. Got it for Christmas, though the wife is the one who wanted to watch it.
    8. An excellent movie for high schoolers. It did precede most integration.
    9. Never saw all of it. No reason for it to exist.
    10. A top 10 for me – I meet the list on its own terms. Moral quandaries and personal sacrifices for the good of the polis abound. And Gotham is Chicago.
    11. A more serious sequel; not as entertaining as the original, but the kids did grow up a little.
    12. Watchable, but I now fast forward through a lot. Captions are great on DVDs. But why didn’t the US enter either WW at the beginning? Ghosts aren’t always so mobile to summon to an oath. Warriors and pirates and Bands of Brothers don’t get too attached to individuals – devotion to the cause is important. “Still only counts as one,” still makes me laugh to think about it. The tomato scene was atrocious – we agree! There would be no personal growth if the whole future were revealed – see the words of Midgard’s wise: “Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succor of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have a clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.” And the only ending should have been “crown the new king and live happily ever after.”
    13. You discriminate against great Japanese cinema. 7 Samurai is not as fun as the Magnificent Seven, but I like Westerns. Even the space version with John-boy Walton and The Man from Uncle was fun. Mercs make great material for movies, man.
    14. There is your first love, the one you marry, and the one you never forget. This movie was probably my first love (though Disney’s Robin Hood was pretty awesome).
    15. Just weird. No reason to make a schizo-doppleganger movie like this.
    16. Another gangster movie never seen. (I did like the original Punisher with the Yakuza AND Cosa Nostra.)
    17. No reason for this movie to exist. A B-movie in many ways (Umberto Eco said so!). It could never live up to the hype.
    18. Never saw.
    19. The Hobbits did not look like Hobbits. A fine lead-in to Part 2 – the best of the 3.
    20. A strange Western and forgettable.
    21. Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly? That is worse than Hitler and almost as bad as the Man who Shot Liberty Vance.
    22. Perhaps this is the one I’ll never forget. I felt a strange stirring the first time I saw the trailer for #4 when the fedora blows in and the theme music started.
    23. The physics lost it for the concept. It would take more food to feed the bodies than the energy that could be produced thereby – kind of like ethanol. “The world is fake” concept was stolen from the Far Side comic book, thru the Truman Show movie.
    24. Psycho is psycho. No reason for it to exist. I found it not cathartic at all.
    25. I enjoyed being manipulated – mostly how the story unfolded itself. When it twisted back on itself at the end, it was clever – like a velociaptor.
    26. Haven’t seen. I have no respect for an actor playing a cannibal.
    27. Hated all 3 Toy movies. Tom Hanks is annoying.
    28. A fine TV mystery movie; the ending was prolonged. If he was going to shoot, he would have done it immediately. The fact that he stopped to consider it at all would have stopped him. He was OK as Achilles – properly petulant.
    29. Haven’t seen. We must be the only 2 Americans not to have seen it. Stewart can’t speak.
    30. Never seen.
    31. Best of the lot. Battles. Desperate battles for survival. Mothers sending the kids on the horse to escape marauders while walking. Men fighting against desperate odds. Trying to inspire disheartened men to think they have a chance. Orcs falling into the arrows and falling off the bridge. OK, only the 2nd half was good, but I like battle scenes. Last ditch stand in desperation. Heard of the Battle of the Bulge? The Hornets Nest?
    32. Never seen.
    33. One of the dumbest movies ever. Don’t like Hanks in anything.
    34.Professional killers can be fun, but this was slow.
    35. Nuclear bombs were not fun and the political satire seems dated.
    36. Interesting film. Own it, but don’t watch it.
    37. BKD liked more of the movie than I did. The Simpsons did it in 24 minutes.
    38. At least a little action in a Hitchcock.
    39. Saw part. All suburbanites are mocked and only drug dealing teens are balanced people. Popular in Hollywood, of course, since it is divorced from reality.
    40. Never seen.
    41. Never seen.
    42. Watchable – once.
    43. The D-day Landing was good, but not as good as riding the landing craft movie at Cantigny’s Museum of the 1st Army Division. Longest Day is far better.
    44. Saw part of it the day of my son’s birth. I think BKD is right about Hitchcock films blurring together.
    45. Never seen.
    46. Never watched in one sitting. Too much horror.
    47. Wonderful commentary on American life (as opposed to American Beauty). Kind of Thoreauvian.
    48. Magnificent anime about a 10-year old girl coming of age. Interesting visuals. It’s no Princess Mononoke, though.
    49. Only seen small scenes. Don’t like scary movies.
    50. Never seen.
    51. Hard to watch in this era. Slow. Some great cinematography, a few leadership lessons, a sweet memory of a girl who was willing to watch it all with me.
    52. Sounds dumb to me.
    53. Blurred film.
    54. Never seen.
    55. Strange movie. Made me physically ill to watch – I wondered how bad such an old movie could be from a rating perspective. For some reason, I always wanted to see it when we drove by Midway Drive-in and it was on the billboard. Now I know better.
    56. Never seen.
    57. Interesting peak into the former East Germany.
    58. Haven’t seen.
    59. Haven’t even heard of it – it’s not the guy from James Bond?
    60. Never seen.
    61. Great action movie of internal backbone and mental toughness being the key to survival when confronted by hordes of insectoid aliens and a testy mother alien protecting her eggs. The 7-year old girl and Sigourney Weaver survive.
    62. Never seen.
    63. Never seen.
    64. Helped me see “the bad guys” as humans. Well-crafted cinema.
    65. Never seen.
    66. Never seen.
    67. Copycat film noir is not that interesting. Throwaway couple hours, but not painful.
    68. The original film noir. Interesting to see, but forgettable.
    69. I would only watch it as a cultural experience. I have not yet tried.
    70. Overrated. No need to watch.
    71. Never seen.
    72. I’ll stop to watch scenes if I am surfing channels or something. Funny set up, but I bet it would drag if I watched it through again.
    73. It is still funny, but on a different level. Since my daughter wants to sword fight with me, I tend to be diminished to the point where I must threaten to bite here kneecaps off. “Let’s start over, Dad.”
    74. Never seen.
    75. Never seen.
    76. Never seen.
    77. Never seen.
    78. Never seen. I think my kids might like it. They like *shows* at Disneyworld.
    79. Never seen.
    80. Haven’t seen all of it. Maybe soon on Netflix.
    81. Kurosawa. Mifune. Subarashii. Enough said. Viewpoints are subjective. Important lesson in life.
    82.Never seen.
    83. Only seen scenes of Gottlieb.
    84. Never seen.
    85. Never seen.
    86. Never seen.
    87. Never seen.
    88. Interesting at the time for outer space visuals. One interpretation of intelligent design. Fine introduction to waltz music.
    89. Never seen.
    90 Never seen.
    91. Brutal. Fine to watch; not much interest to see it again.
    92. Never seen.
    93. Never seen.
    94. Fun movie with kids, but no reason to be on this list. BKD is right – immediacy rules sometimes. BKD is also right that taking out garbage on Thursday is extremely boring and not as satisfying as taking out garbage on Monday. I’ve done both in the past year. Monday is definitely better on so many levels.
    95. Haven’t seen.
    96. Interesting even in 2009. So what if the characters are cardboard.
    97. Any movie with Marcus Aurelius shown in a positive light must be magnificent. Action scenes were good. Politics were interesting. Connie Nielsen is always good to watch. The Elysium symbolism was matched by the tattoo symbol.
    98. I believe you err. 1973. Midway Drive-in. Ford Galaxy 500. Yellow Dog. Maybe you were sleeping.
    99. I think you need to explain your enthusiastic conclusion a little more clearly. Artistically, it matches the Searchers among Westerns. Perhaps edifying in a manner that may appeal to the wiser sort. Any posse worth its salt would have perforated Munny on the misfire. We’ve all got it coming.
    100. It works. It entertains. It feels like a TV movie nowadays, but tough guy is a fine genre, even if not as funny as The Thin Man.