115+ OF THE BEST MOVIES, MINUS THE ONES I FORGOT, ROUGHLY IN ORDER.
01. THE ROYAL TENNENBAUMS
The beauty of Wes Anderson's movies is in the details: exquisite, meaningful, nonintrusive, and hardly ever mentioned within the dialogue. Plus, there hasn't been such an ample supply of "masturbatory Wilson" since Cast Away.
02. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (+ Star Wars and Return of the Jedi)
Has there ever been a more powerful moment than when Han Solo is frozen in carbonite? Wookiee got so sad.
03. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
If this movie was a teenage boy, I would get it drunk and date rape it. What?! I don't care. I fucking want it in me. I love it.
04. THE GOONIES
For centuries, our ancestors relayed all of history orally, passing from one generation to the next, until the invention of written language. And now there's my brother and me, quoting this movie line-for-line.
05. WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER
I won a costume contest when this movie made its second premiere last Halloween. I dressed as a refrigerator being "humped" by Christopher Meloni's "Gene" character. I got a standing ovation from a theater full of screaming kids who (unlike me) were not way too old to be dressing up in a box for attention. Paul Rudd told me I was "fucking rad," though, so, it was totally worth it.
06. WEIRD SCIENCE
Singlehandedly responsible for my inability to pronounce "baloney" without a faux British accent.
07. HAROLD AND MAUDE
It killed me to put this movie above Electric Dreams in my list. But as Bud Cort movies go, this is the one to see.
08. NIGHT OF THE COMET
Sir Thomas More envisioned Utopia as a patriarchal island kingdom that practiced religious tolerance, in which everybody worked, where all goods were community-owned, and violence, bloodshed and vice were nonexistent. I prefer one where a comet completely wipes out Earth's population, save for two gun-toting Valley girls, a Mexican truck driver, and some scientist-zombies.
09. PULP FICTION
Marks the beginning of the Samuel L. Jackson renaissance.
10. ELECTRIC DREAMS
The idea that a shitty Radio Shack PC could take over someone's entire life (in the days before the internets) may seem laughable, but as it turns out, if you spill champagne on the keyboard, your computer comes alive. Steal his girl, and he gets pissed! Stars a pre-Oscar-y Virginia Madsen and a pre-oblivion Lenny Von Dohlen, who I love.
11. THE EVIL DEAD/EVIL DEAD II
I asked Bruce Campbell to tell me something awesome about the making of the Evil Dead movies. He said, "To get the last shot of [EVIL DEAD] (where an evil entity races through the woods and runs into me) Sam Raimi mounted a camera on a motorcycle and rode it, full speed, into me. He screwed up his knees and I cracked a few ribs, but it's for art, right? Right?"
Reckless is a classic tale of bad boy meets good girl. Together they bang in a boiler room, destroy school property, and ditch their podunk surroundings. Add in a naked Daryl Hannah, a naked-er Aidan Quinn, and the best high school dance scene ever filmed, and what's not to love?
I cry when Old Yeller gets shot. I cry when Charlotte dies. I cry watching documentaries about coal miners on strike, people on death row, and victims of poverty or war. And I cry when a robot rescues some kids from space. That's just who I am. C-O-M-E-I-N-C-O-N-T-R-O-L...
14. BETTER OFF DEAD
For several years, John Cusack held the title of number one underdog-next-door type that every girl my age wanted to date when she got older. Unfortunately, sensitive, sweater-wearing, goofball fuckups aren't as awesome in real life.
15. RESERVOIR DOGS
Marks the beginning and end of the Michael Madsen renaissance.
16. THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY
Nerds everywhere rejoice.
17. CARRIE/THE FURY
I couldn't decide between Brian DePalma's two odes to telekinetic teenage girls. Carrie has that "Bible thing" that really used to scare me in the seventies (differently than the way it scares me now). Nancy Allen's character has to be the most loveable/hateable bitch in the history of movies. And PJ Soles' baseball cap should have won a Golden Globe.
Then again, The Fury has an exploding-headed John Cassavettes.
18. PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE
Paul Reubens is a genius. A dirty, dirty genius.
19. DR. STRANGELOVE…
Or how I learned to stop worrying and employ this milked-dry joke of "cleverly" changing this movie's subtitle. Hey!
20. THE OUTSIDERS
Whose names are funnier: the characters (Ponyboy, Sodapop, Two-Bit, Cherry), or the actors (Leif Garrett)?
21. LOGAN'S RUN
When my friends started turning 30, I gave them each a copy of Logan's Run as a birthday gift. Somewhere there's an inventory clerk wondering what the fuck could possess someone to buy 17 copies of this movie.
22. WINGS OF DESIRE/FARAWAY SO CLOSE
I've found that I am the only one who thinks it's funny to pronounce Wim Wenders' name with a "W" sound (as opposed to "Vim Venders"). Most of the time I get immediately corrected and summarily dismissed.
23. MY BODYGUARD
It's Moody's bike, now.
24. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
During filming, John Malkovich would make a suggestion about his character and Spike Jonze would respond, "No... I don't think that's something John Malkovich would do."
25. DRESSED TO KILL
There's a weird scene at the end where Nancy Allen explains to Keith Gordon that when a man has a sex change operation its called "vaginoplasty." Incidentally, this is important information for anyone who wants to make the joke that, conversely, a woman getting a sex change operation would receive an "addadictomy."
26. BLADE RUNNER
For everyone who wanted to see Han Solo hunt C-3PO.
27. THE BREAKFAST CLUB
28. VELVET GOLDMINE
Todd Haynes got it right. He put the juiciest bits of glam-rock history in a blender and whipped up this mock-u-rock-you-mentary full of hot dudes in hot clothes. At it's heart it's a love song, but it's got a face of pure sex.
At ten years old I saw this movie and was terrified. As soon as it was over I watched it again.
30. REVENGE OF THE NERDS
I can't believe they are remaking this. It's a classic; so timeless! Although it would be nice to hear Snoop pay tribute to the best rap ever.
31. STREETS OF FIRE
Walter Hill's "another time, another place" is one with a Sci-Fi feel and 1950's style. The familiar mood (and similar action) make it (unofficially) a Rock and Roll sequel/prequel to The Warriors.
33. COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER
I was driving through Nashville and saw a sign for the Lorretta Lynn Dude Ranch and had to make a detour. A few hours later I left with what is now my mom's most prized posession: some "I Love Loretta Lynn" nail clippers. A few years later, Jack White drives through Nashville and sees the same sign. He leaves with a Grammy Award. In retrospect, I think I aimed a little low.
In real life, I probably would have been scared to have a robot living in the house.
35. HARLAN COUNTY USA
Extremely well done; essentially timeless.
36. THE PRINCESS BRIDE
Even my mom quotes this movie. So seriously, stop.
37. THREE O'CLOCK HIGH
Why isn't this movie properly recognized by the authorities?
38. SIXTEEN CANDLES/FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF
39. SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL
The way I heard it, there was such an outcry after Pretty in Pink's Andie gave Ducky the cold shoulder that John Hughes immediately re-wrote the same movie, but gave it the proper overlooked-best-friend-wins ending. And as a result, the world was given Elias "this-is-what-my-girlfriend-would-look-like-without-skin" Koteas. Thank you.
40. TEEN WOLF/TEEN WITCH
In 1986 I moved from small town Texas to Palm Springs, California with just a few weeks left in the school year. I had just enough time to become the universally-hated new kid before school was over, leaving me lacking in summertime activities. So I watched Teen Wolf 42 times in a row. I don't remember much else about that summer.
As for Teen Witch, I believe the Academy was severely misguided in overlooking it for a "Best Girl/Guy Rap Fight Ever" award. Once my mom found me watching this movie and asked, "Is this like Teen Wolf with a girl?" I was appalled. "NO. It is NOT. It's about this girl who finds out in high school that she has special powers, and she uses them to become popular, but then she realizes... oh."
"Yeah, it's like Teen Wolf with a girl."
41. BADLANDS/TRUE ROMANCE
Who couldn't love a pie-eatin' ass-kicking former call girl (there's a difference) named Alabama?
42. WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
43. THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU
There are a hundred things I loved about this movie. But the one that keeps coming to mind is Klaus (Willem Dafoe's character) not-so-successfully attempting a "not-if-I-see-you-first" come back. You're so cool.
44. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE
As a kid I had to stay up late at night and sneak downstairs to catch this on cable. It was worth it.
45. THE JERK
46. STAND BY ME
I admit, I did freeze-frame River Phoenix in underwear a couple of times when I was twelve. That's why God invented VCRs.
A movie with a central theme of, "Be yourself, but whore-ier." It's fucking genious. Stockard Channing became a modern-day slut-icon for every girl my age; we so sympathized as she sweetly crooned, "There Are Worse Things I Could Do."
Years later she proved it with Practical Magic.
48. MAGNOLIA/BOOGIE NIGHTS
50. BREAKIN'/BREAKIN' 2
If movies from the 1980s taught me anything, it's that you can fight everything with dancing. You can save the youth center, you can win the gang fight, you can rescue Baby from the corner... If you were good at either dancing or video games, you were untouchable.
51. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION
52. GHOST BUSTERS
They say that time-travel technology could be dangerous in the wrong hands. If I had it, I'd use it to go back to 1984 and make out with Harold Ramis. I guess they have a point.
Still has the best exit line of any movie ever made (even better than "Rosebud"). Surrounded by garbage, Alexandra Paul turns to John Stockwell with a resigned, "God I hate rock and roll."
54. ROCK AND ROLL HIGH SCHOOL
I wish I had lost my virginity while watching this movie.
55. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FABULOUS STAINS
56. THE SHINING
57. MIDNIGHT COWBOY
58. SHE DEVILS ON WHEELS
59. SOUTH PARK/TEAM AMERICA
60. DEADLY FRIEND/CHOPPING MALL
You can build a robot to be your best friend, your girlfriend, or your mall security guard--doesn't matter. Eventually it will always kill.
61. A CHRISTMAS STORY
62. VALLEY GIRL/FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH
That scene in VG where Tommy kisses, then disses Elizabeth Daily's character is so sad. Even sadder is that one-piece jumpsuit she's wearing.
63. THE BAD NEWS BEARS
64. HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
65. TO SIR WITH LOVE
To this day, people are still using "Joshua" as a password.
67. PLANET OF THE APES
68. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST
70. DREAM A LITTLE DREAM
This movie is terrible, and yet, if you watch it 275 times over the course of a year, it grows on you.
71. PUNCH DRUNK LOVE
I overheard this half-conversation once: "Dawg, you KNOW if Adam Sandler's in it it's gonna be funny... Naw, man, I didn't see Punch Drunk Love... I don't know - I think that was his attempt at being 'serious' or whatever... Yeah! I LOVED The Hot Chick!! That movie was da bomb!!!"
72. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Oh, whatever. I know... There was a time when I, too, would make fun of myself for loving it. But then an angel showed me what the world would be like if this movie had never been born.
73. PURPLE RAIN
74. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
76. LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT
77. THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH
79. DOGS IN SPACE
I suggest that if you don't like Nicholas Roeg, smoking, or skinny, wet rock stars in bathtubs, you should consider dropping out of film school.
80. THE NINTH CONFIGURATION
Try substituting one of this film's signature lines ("Colonel, what are you holding?") for lyrics in any Smiths song. If you are as entertained by this as I am, please call.
81. THE CANNONBALL RUN
Jackie Chan makes one of his first US film appearances in this movie and was inspired to include bloopers during the closing credits of all his future films. Even more inspired: the cast of MTV's The State re-enacted the exact Cannonball Run bloopers during the closing credits of their own show.
82. THE MONSTER SQUAD
For ratings' sake, the kids weren't allowed to say "nuts" and they weren't allowed to say "nads." And so the child exclaimed, "Wolf-Man's got nards!" And the rest is history.
84. ROSEMARY'S BABY
85. SID AND NANCY
Courtney Love auditioned for the role of Nancy Spungen. She didn't get the part, but she's been living it ever since.
86. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
87. (the first half of) STRIPES
As far as I'm concerned, the credits can roll after "That's the fact, Jack!"
88. THE KARATE KID
89. MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO/DRUGSTORE COWBOY
90. WAITING FOR GUFFMAN/BEST IN SHOW
91. LITTLE DARLINGS/FOXES
FOXES is about a group of teenage girls living like adults--sort of an urban, female, Lord of the Flies. LITTLE DARLINGS actually has girls betting on who'll lose her virginity first. It's the next logical step from Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
92. THE THIN BLUE LINE/ROGER AND ME
94. CRY BABY/HAIRSPRAY
I just realized how many Chris Makepeace movies are on my list. What the hell happened to him?
97. THE LAST STARFIGHTER
98. THE WARRIORS
Whose idea was the Baseball Furies? That was brilliant.
99. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
Denton, TX, was the temporary home to several famous musicians and actors; Pat Boone, Peter Weller, Don Henley, and Norah Jones, to name a few. Once I met Thomas Hayden Church's dad in an apartment complex parking lot. For real!!
But the town also has it's share of local mythology, including being named as "the best place to buy drugs" by some DEA agent in an interview with David Letterman, and that RHPS writer Jim O'brien set his story in the fictional "Denton, OH" after spending time in this Texas town. Yes, cast member Meatloaf does come from nearby Dallas; and granted, I did buy a lot of drugs there. Still, with no further proof, I have chalked these rumors up to suburban legend.
100. TUFF TURF
James Spader and Kim Richards do a lot of dancing for two supposedly street-tough teenagers. This was one of the few high school roles in which Spader's character wasn't a rich manipulative asshole.
102. JUST ONE OF THE GUYS
Wins some kind of prize for the line, "Dresses like Elvis Costello, looks like the Karate Kid. I'm gonna get him." You know, I saw Billy Jacoby in a commercial the other day and it just killed me. He should be in every movie ever made.
103. MAZES AND MONSTERS
Before parents were worried about the dangerous influence of rap music and video games, they obsessed about the possibility that D&D might provoke their kids to commit suicide. Turns out, it's retarded parents that are generally to blame.
105. KILL BILL (1+2)
Like many fans, I waited anxiously for the release of Part II. Unlike most, I had a lifelong dream of hearing Michael Madsen say "Wakey wakey, eggs and bac-ey"
106. BACK TO THE FUTURE
107. THE VIRGIN SUICIDES
Years later when I re-watched this movie, I got really excited during one particular scene when I realized the older brother was singing an Elvis Costello song. It's stupid the things that make me happy, but there you have it.
110. EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY
111. RAISING ARIZONA/FARGO
112. BEST BOY
113. ARIZONA DREAM
This was the first movie I ever saw Vincent Gallo in, and I thought he was brilliant (and hot). Then his personal hype machine took over and I kind of lost interest. I once asked him what it was like to work with Jerry Lewis--he said "asshole" so many times the word lost all meaning.
114. THE HUNGER
115. A GNOME NAMED GNORM
God, what I wouldn't give to go back in time and be present for the pitch meeting for this movie. "You see, it's kind of like a buddy cop flick--only one of the cops is Anthony Michael Hall, and the other is a gnome. It's brilliant!"