I have often wondered, what are my favourite films of all time. I managed to get 55 of them. I would like to share this list with you.
Here’s the earlier lists:
Ready when you are.
35. WHAT LIES BENEATH (2000)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Sarah Kernochan (Story), Clark Gregg
When Robert Zemeckis was making Cast Away, he had to shoot the film in two parts. He had to halt the shoot in order for the lead actor Tom Hanks to lose weight for the role he was playing. That meant that Zemeckis and his crew had time to shoot a quick film between the production of Cast Away. They wound up shooting a quick thriller called What Lies Beneath, and I think it became Zemeckis’ best film he made. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Claire Spencer, a wife to a scientist Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford). Claire’s daughter moves out to college leaving her mostly on her own in their big house by the lake. Soon Claire starts to experience unnatural things in the house and she starts to suspect that she’s being haunted. Or is she just losing her mind? Zemeckis has said that he wanted to make a film that was a film Alfred Hitchcock would’ve made with modern movie making tools. Although it’s a pastiche it’s not any less entertaining. It’s one master paying homage to another, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s obvious the film crew were having fun cracking different inventive ways to scare the audience. Computer graphics are used sparingly and it’s one of the best shot genre films ever made. The sound design is outstanding and Alan Silvestri’s score emulates Bernard Herrman here and there but still has its own identity. The movie benefits for having two charismatic A-listers carrying the film and Michelle Pfeiffer especially is spot on playing Claire with a classy demeanor. It’s almost like Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman were starring in a modern thriller. Zemeckis proves once again that he is the master of his domain, and his direction elevates What Lies Beneath to be the best thriller that I’ve seen.
What I Love About It: The slick direction, the scares, the moody music and sharp sound design.
Best Quote: “The first time I met you, all I wanted was to spend the rest of my life with you. Not gonna happen now.”
34. THE ABYSS (1989)
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron
The first time James Cameron took his cast and crew under the sea is also his best watery adventure and his second best theatrical effort (well, technically the third, but I’ll get to that later in the list). A rag tag bunch of civilian deep sea station crew is assigned to search a lost nuclear submarine. The search quickly turns more complicated when the group leader Bud (Ed Harris) learns that their team will be accompanied by her ex-wife (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and a bunch of Navy Seals, led by unstable Lt. Coffey (Michael Biehn). The Seal team are there to secure the nuclear warheads on board the submarine but their plans drastically change when the crew learns that there is a possibility that extra-terrestrial beings might be lurking in the deep dark ocean floor. What follows is a thrilling adventure under the sea. James Cameron whips the cast and crew to film his film under harsh conditions and the sheer physical challenges of the project are daunting in their own rights. The cast in generally likeable and the leads give solid performances, especially Ed Harris, who in my opinion gives his best performance here. Just watch the resuscitation scene because that shit is unbelievably touching. Ed Harris brings us such raw emotion it’s almost overwhelming. The action is thrilling, the suspense is exciting and the drama is sharp. The theatrical cut is solid, but the extended cut is diamond. Make sure you check that edition too.
What I Love About It: The duel of the mini-subs. the CPR scene.
Best Quote: “Goddammit, you bitch! You never backed away from anything in your life! Now fight! Fight! Fight! Right now! Do it! Fight goddammit! Fight! Fight! Fiiiiight!”
33. THE EXORCIST (1973)
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: William Peter Blatty
Now 40 years old, The Exorcist still stands tall as the scariest horror movie ever made. Based on a novel written by William Peter Blatty, now adapting his own material as a screenwriter, The Exorcist is about an actress whose 12-year old child Reagan is suddenly possessed by an evil entity. The modern medicine can’t help Reagan’s agony, so the mother turns to Father Karras, a priest who’s struggling with his own lack of faith. Karras studies Reagan and decides that she’s the real deal and in order to successfully exorcise the demon out of her he needs to get help from a more experienced priest, Father Merrick. However Father Merrick is not eager to do the exorcism, because it’s not the first time Merrick’s dealt with the demon that possesses Reagan. From the first frame you know you’re in for something truly sinister and the movie never let’s go. The opening in Irak gives the movie global scale the movie needs when it goes into more intimate gear. Father Merrick meeting his nemesis in the barren desert raises the stakes and introduces us to the evil that is soon coming. It’s easy to look at the movie as an allegory for Reagan’s budding womanhood and the resentment the aging mother feels for this young woman that once was her young child. But you know, screw that, because allegories are for pretentious dicks. The movie scares the crap out of you and that’s what the movie primarily wants to do and it does just that with an incredible ease. The make-up work is rightly praised, but the subtle onscreen (and offscreen) effects still hold up surprisingly well. The cast is good and the mood is suitably grim. And don’t get me started with that demon face coming out of the dark. That face haunted me in my nightmares.
What I Love About It: The films ability to turn me into a bed-wetting pussy.
Best Quote: “What an excellent day for an exorcism.”
32. THE BIG HEAT (1953)
Director: Fritz Lang
Writer: Sydney Boehm
Based on a Saturday Evening Post serial by William P. McGivern, The Big Heat oozes with style introducing us with cool dames and tough as nails male characters, snappy dialogue and dark noir look that make the film an enjoyable revenge flick film fans should see. Glenn Ford plays Bannion, a cop after a group of gangsters. After he starts to suspect that his fellow detectives might be on the payroll for the gangsters an attempt to end his life ends up killing Bannion’s wife instead. Fueled by rage, Bannion goes on a vendetta planning to take out anyone involved in the killing of his wife. His only ally is the girlfriend of the gangster boss, a femme fatale Debby Marsh. Together they are determined to take out the criminals or die trying. This flick shows its younger brothers how it gets done. Fritz Lang is keeping the film in a tight leash and The Big Heat is one of the most brutal and tough films I’ve seen. The methods Bannion use to get vigilante justice is almost as horrifying as what the bad guys are doing. I said almost, because there’s one scene where Lee Marvin’s evil enforcer character does something very unnerving with a pot of coffee. That scene left me speechless. I couldn’t believe they went there. The fictional city of Kenport is a gloomy place and the set design is very well done and lit perfectly. I can’t recommend it enough. See it ASAP.
What I Love About It: The no-bullshit -attitude of the hero. Gloria Grahame as the awesome Debby Marsh. Lee Marvin. Fritz Lang’s direction.
Best Quote: “Well, you’re about as romantic as a pair of handcuffs.”
P.S. I usually tend to favor the original artwork for the posters, but this rerelease poster was too damn cool to pass by.
31. Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982)
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Writers: Jack B. Sowards and Harve Bennett (Story)
After the critical failure that was Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the makers changed the course and made a film that was not really a successor to the previous movie, but a sequel to 1960’s TV show Star Trek, namely a sequel to an episode called ‘Space Seed’. At the end of that episode Kirk and crew subdued a genetically engineered supersoldier named Khan from the 20th century deporting him on remote planet. After fifteen years, Khan manages to escape the planet and seeks revenge on his old enemy, Captain James T. Kirk. If you know me then you know how much I think of this film. Iconic characters against their most dangerous enemy yet makes a very compelling space fantasy which has some unbelievable space battles and clever things to say about aging, the inevitability of death and making peace with your past mistakes. See, I like the fact that Khan is sort of justified in his vengeance. Kirk did leave Khan and his crew on a desolate planet and never bothered to check up on them, or at least had someone else to do it. Kirk made an arrogant mistake and this time he has to take responsibility for it. The conflict ends up killing one important character (hint: the next film isn’t named Star Trek III: The Search For Chekov) and the goodbye scene with Kirk and his friend is really touching. The second theatrical flight of the Enterprise is a glorious one, and made me a fan of the franchise. Clear all moorings, warp five!
What I Love About It: Ricardo Montalban’s chest. James Horner’s flawless score.
Best Quote: “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNN!!!”