My favourite movies of all time: 20 to 16

Top 55

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:

55-51

50-46

45-41

40-36

35-31

30-26

25-21

Let’s keep going!

Die Hard Poster

20. DIE HARD (1988)

Director: John McTiernan

Writer: Jeb Stuart & Steven E. DeSouza

This is hands down the best action movie ever made. It’s also my favourite Christmas movie. Bruce Willis is great as John McClane, the regular New York cop who travels to Los Angeles trying to get back with his estranged wife. His meeting with her at her work place doesn’t go as well as he’d hoped, but it doesn’t matter because 12 guys armed to teeth invade the Nakatomi building taking everyone as hostages. Everyone but McClane that is. It’s up to John to free his wife and the rest of the hostages and stop the presumable terrorists before it’s too late. The script is really good and the characters, especially McClane and the lead villain Hans Gruber are memorable. It’s hard to believe that the guy who later wrote Street Fighter also had his hands on this scipt. John McTiernan’s direction and Jan DeBont’s camerawork is truly spectacular and several set pieces are still jaw-droppingly gorgeous, like the rooftop explosion and McClane’s daring jump from it using a fire hose. Again, Bruce Willis does excellent work as McClane, and I declare that Willis’ first leading role in an action film is also his very best. This film succeeds mainly because of his charisma and his smirky persona makes the lead character so relatable and likable. And I have to give a shout out to Alan Rickman as the insanely alluring bad guy Hans Gruber. If it were not for Bruce Willis, the audience would be rooting for this guy even when he straight up murders a guy, just because Alan Rickman is so goddamn fun as the sarcastic and well-educated German extremist gone rogue. Often imitated but never surpassed, Die Hard is genre film making as its finest.

What I Love About It: Willis & Rickman. Michael Kamen’s score. Jackson DeGovia’s production design. Uli. Hell, almost everything!

Best Quote: You’d think that I would pick “Yippee-Ki-Yay, motherfucker” said by Bruce Willis. Well, not exactly. That’s the line, but I prefer it when Alan Rickman utters it at the end: “What was it that you said? Oh yes…Yippee-ki-yay, madafaka”.  Yep, that’s the one.

Amelie poster

19. LE FABULOUX DESTIN D’ AMÉLIE POULAIN (2001)

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Writers: Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillaume Laurant

One of the most well-known French films of all time, Le Fabuloux Destin D’ Amélie Poulain (I just call it Amélie from now on, ok?) tells a sweet story about a kind-hearted and naïve Amélie, who lives in Paris and one day decides to improve the lives of her neighbors, relatives and friends by interfering with their daily activities in relatively small but meaningful ways. She also stumbles onto a mysterious and interesting stranger (Matthieu Kassovitz) who steals her heart. Her interference with other people’s lives has mostly positive outcomes, but she’s unable to get her own life in order. Can she change it on her own, or does she need help form others?  Ah man is this flick adorable. Yes, this is the most adorable film I’ve ever seen. The visuals are flawless and so is Audrey Tautou as Amélie. Her ventures into different situations are imaginative and intriguing and even the romance between Amélie and the stranger is handled aptly, especially considering they don’t exchange any dialogue when they are together in a scene. Jean-Pierre Jeunet had a falling out with his directorial partner Marc Caro somewhere around the making of the unnecessary and underwhelming Alien: Resurrection and here Jeunet makes his first French film alone without Caro. Somehow the results are even better without Caro (I supect that Caro is the dark side of Jeunet, because this film is so very light in tone) and Jeunet directs with such confidence. A magnificent piece of world cinema and a definite feel-good film, Amélie, both the film and the character leaves you with the widest smile and the warmest feeling in your heart.

What I Love About It: Yann Tiersen’s adorable score. The adorable visuals. The adorable adorability.

Best Quote: “It’s better to help people than garden gnomes.”

Der Untergang poster

18. DER UNTERGANG – DOWNFALL

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel

Writer: Bernd Eihringer (2004)

Traudl Junge was Adolf Hitler’s last personal secretary. She survived the WWII and later wrote her memoirs about the time spent with the infamous dictator. The film version of those last days she spent under Hitler’s regime is a fascinating war film, character study and seemingly accurate piece of history. Alexandra Maria Lara plays Traudl who is hand-picked by Hitler (amazing Bruno Ganz) himself to be her personal secretary and she gets to witness the last days of Hitler’s regime when Adolf and several members of his staff have to retreat to an underground bunker in Berlin at the end of the war. Hitler fights a losing battle and his spirit is steadily crumbling. At the end he is only a shadow of his former self and it is fascinating to see this once great man slowly accepting his downfall. Oliver Hirschbiegel directs the hell out of this film and the authenticity is palpable. All of the actors do great work (like Ulrich Mattes as Goebbels, Christian Berkel as Schenck and Alexandra Maria Lara as Traudl Junge) but it’s Bruno Ganz’s film and he gives the best portrayal of Hitler ever done in film. He is strong and manic but also weary and fragile. He is just spectacular. This German made war film is important and captivating and you would do yourself a great disservice by not watching this.

What I Love About It: Bruno Ganz and the awesome cast, the production design and the costumes.

Best Quote: “In a war as such, there are no civilians”.

Carlito's way poster

17. CARLITO’S WAY (1993)

Director: Brian DePalma

Writer: David Koepp

Carlito Brigante, a Puerto Rican convict gets out of prison and heads back to his former hoods. He quickly finds out that he is more than welcomed to rise back up to be the criminal kingpin around the block, but he doesn’t want that. He wants to settle down and get back with his former girlfriend Gail. But things are not that simple. Slowly Carlito is forced back to the life of crime, mainly pushed by his slimy lawyer and friend Daniel Kleinman, who wants to live the gangster lifestyle. Kleinman’s reckless attitude gets them both in a terrible jam and Carlito has to use all his skills and wits if he’s to survive from the clutches of gangsters who seek bloody revenge. Both DePalma and Pacino made the crime classic Scarface 10 years earlier and this film is a sort of a companion piece to that. However, the lead character is more mature and contemplating compared to that hothead cartoon character Tony Montana which makes Carlito Brigante more interesting and three-dimentional. And Scarface didn’t have Sean Penn. Mr Penn plays that asshole Kleinman so well that I hated the actor for ten years. He is that good in this (SPOILER WARNING: the scene where Kleinman gets shot in the head is one of the most satisfying onscreen deaths ever). But the reason this movie really gets so high up on my list is the end chase. In that scene Carlito escapes from his nightclub to a subway station and from there he takes the subway train to the Grand Central train station while his chasers are hot in his trail. This scene takes close to ten minutes and the whole scene is done with (seemingly) ONE FUCKING TAKE. There’s this heart-pounding action scene and DePalma and director of photography Stephen H. Burum craft this scene so perfectly that there’s no comparison. And Patrick Doyle’s brass-heavy action cue antes up the suspense. Folks, there’s no action scene that I love more than this scene. Thank you DePalma. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

What I Love About It: THAT ONE-TAKE ACTION SCENE!

Best Quote: “Hey remember me, Benny Blanco from the Bronx?”

the shawshank redemption poster

16. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)

Director:  Frank Darabont

Writer: Frank Darabont

The Shawshank Redemption holds the number 1 spot at the top 250 list at imdb.com, and yeah, it’s really brilliant. A great prison movie based on Stephen King’s okay short story follows the wrongfully imprisoned banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) who befriends a long time convict Red (Morgan Freeman who here is still one movie away from a career-defining role in Se7en) who has his parole applications turned down for many years. Andy, a reclusive and timid man is expected to perish either in the hands of violent rapists or the dangerous prison guards, but against all odds he finds his own way to handle the everyday threats quite admirably. His hope for a better life keeps him on his toes and enables him to scheme a plan for a brighter future. But the years may still crush his spirit and make him end his life by his own hands, like so many others who suffered the same fate. Deeply emotional, cleverly written and lovingly crafted, this is a prison movie that captures the heart of audiences world-wide (well, except when it was originally released theatrically), A must-see for many, this definitely earns its high rank at the top of almost any list.

What I Love About It: Morgan Freeman, Thomas Newman’s iconic score. The production design.

Best Quote: (Carved on wood) “BROOKS WAS HERE”

Next: 15-11

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