My 10+ Favorite Movies
Updated: Aug 16
Movies! channel ran a couple of Thin Man movie marathons this past week. Although I own the entire series of films on DVD, I found myself watching them whenever I was flipping channels and one happened to be on.
It gave me the bright idea to make a list of my all-time favorite movies. Hopefully, someone will 'discover' a movie that the enjoy or find this list interesting in some way. Doing my best to avoid spoiling anything for anyone who hasn't watched these films yet, I made a comment or two about each film.
I realize that movies, like all art, is subjective, so remember this is a list of MY favorite movies right now. It could change next month.
10. A Time to Kill (1996)
The story has a lot of material that is difficult to stomach, but the top-notch cast is able to navigate the viewer on a journey that runs a myriad of emotions. Matthew McConaughey and Samuel L. Jackson are amazing in this film, and I believe Mr. Jackson's performance should have earned him an Oscar.
9. The Big Sleep (1946)
Raymond Chandler is my favorite author, so it only makes sense that at least one of the movies based on his iconic detective, Philip Marlowe, would be on this list. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are Hollywood royalty, and this film is a prime example of why.
My favorite story associated with this film is that director Howard Hawks allegedly wired (an old school form of texting for any young folks who may have stumbled upon this list) Chandler and asked him who killed a particular character, as it is not made clear in the book. Chandler responded, "How the Hell should I know?" or so the story goes.
8. Lethal Weapon (1987)
Westerns, hard-boiled detective'/film noir, and buddy cop movies of the 80's are my weakness. Lethal Weapon is the king of buddy cop movies. and I love every film in the franchise. Mel Gibson's manic loose cannon Riggs and Danny Glover's cynical Murtaugh are the perfect on-screen partnership. I often find myself quoting Murtaugh's "I'm too old for this shit."
7. Rocky (1976)
Who doesn't love Rocky? I'm sure there is some curmudgeon somewhere who doesn't appreciate this film, but I am quite certain they are in the very microscopic minority. Mr. Stallone created a prototype for sports films that has been copied for decades with no one coming close to matching the authenticity of this classic.
6. El Dorado (1966)
Having to pick one John Wayne film is an extremely difficult task for me. I went with El Dorado because I can watch it over and over without getting tired of it. The plot is almost identical to that of Rio Bravo (1959), but I prefer El Dorado for some reason. Joining Mr. Wayne in this amazing cast is James Caan, Robert Mitchum, Arthur Hunnicut, Ed Asner, Paul Fix, R.G. Armstrong, and Christopher George.
One interesting piece of trivia is that Olaf Wieghorst, who played Swede Larsen, was an accomplished artist whose paintings were featured in the opening credits of the film.
5. The Thin Man (1934)
I could say that all six of The Thin Man films are on my list of favorite films, but for the purpose of this list, I will single out the first of the series. William Powell and Myrna Loy together on screen is pure magic. The witty exchanges between the two of them and other characters are fantastic and sorely lacking in today's cinematic offerings.
4. True Grit (2010)
As a major John Wayne fan, it almost makes me feel dirty to put a remake of one of Duke's films on this list, but I have to. Don't get me wrong I love the original True Grit (1969), but Jeff Bridges does a phenomenal job at re-imagining the character of Rooster Cogburn and Hailee Steinfeld is fantastic as Maddie Ross.
3. Murder, My Sweet (1944)
Another film based on Chandler's Philip Marlowe. This time Dick Powell portrays Chandler in a film based on the book, "Farewell, My Lovely". Powell was known for his performances in musicals in the 1930's and early 40's. His performance in this film gave him a renewed career in the film noir genre.
2. Tombstone (1993)
Westerns are among my favorite movie genres and Tombstone is one of the very best. Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday is one of my favorite cinematic performances of all time. His line "I'm your huckleberry" is so renown that it has become a part of the English lexicon.
The entire cast is beyond phenomenal, with Kurt Russell, Sam Elliot, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, Jason Priestly, Billy Zane, Dana Delaney, Stephen Lang, Paula Malcolmson, Billy Bob Thorton, Michael Rooker, Thomas Hayden Church, John Corbett, Frank Stallone, and Terry O' Quinn all delivering tremendous performances.
Some very cool choices in supporting roles done as a nod to classic Westerns made Tombstone even more iconic; Harry Carey Jr. (appeared in many John Ford films; Marshall Fred White), Wyatt Earp III (as Billy Clairborne), Buck Taylor (as "Turkey Creek" Johnson; played Newly on Gunsmoke and was most recently on modern Western Yellowstone), Charlton Heston (as Henry Hooker), and Robert Mitchum, who narrated the film.
There is a line in the movie that I have prominently tattooed on my back (although it was in the Bible first). I can neither confirm nor deny that my affinity for this film lead to the tattoo.
Before we get to my favorite movie, here is a list of Honorable Mentions (any of which could have been #10 on this list: The Nice Guys (2016), Gladiator (2000), Chinatown (1974), The Equalizer (2014), 48 Hours (1982), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Captain America: The First Avenger (2012), Unforgiven (1992), True Grit (1969), Blood Work (2002), Heartbreak Ridge (1986), The Mighty Quinn (1989), Kiss the Girls (1997), GoodFellas (1990), Cop Land (1997), The Shootist (1976), Sons of Katie Elder (1965), Gran Torino (2008), Devil in a Blue Dress (1995), Beverly Hill Cop (1984), Training Day (2001), The Dark Knight trilogy, and all of the Indiana Jones films.
1. Man on Fire (2004)
I am a huge fan of Denzel Washington. To that point, this list could have easily become a Top 10 list of my favorite Denzel Washington films. I had to mentally challenge myself to not comprise this list entirely of Mr. Washington's films.
That being said, Man on Fire is my absolute favorite film. Denzel Washington is amazing in his role as an emotionally damaged, alcoholic bodyguard with a shadowy past hired to protect a precocious young girl (played by Dakota Fanning) in Mexico City. Without spoiling anything for those that may not have seen it yet, the relationship between Washington and Fanning's characters is the catalyst for the movie's plot. On one hand, it is a sweet story of finding redemption in an unlikely way. On the other hand, it is an extremely violent story of vengeance. Both hands grab the viewer and never let go as Creasy (Washington) does what anyone in his situation would do.....or wishes they could do.
I hope you have enjoyed this list. Thanks for reading!