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Another Top 20 List…

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The challenge went out: Name Your Top 20 Movies Of All Time.

There is a lot of ways to go about this- do you go with “the canon”?  You know, the movies that are recognized as the de facto “best”, always at the top of every critics list? Do you pick the movies that have made an impact on society? Movies that are important, whatever that means?

The only criteria I had was that each of the movies in the top 20 had to mean something to me personally. I’m sure there are “better” movies out there, more “meaningful” movies.  There are no foreign films on this list, even though there are many that I admire, if not outright love. Also missing are any movies before 1959, although I’m a huge fan of, say, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, and The Wizard of Oz.

These may not be the “best”, but they are my favorites.  These are the 20 movies that are the ones the most to me, at least right now.  I could defend each and every one of these movies as great, and maybe I will someday.  But for now, the list:

  1. Jaws (Spielberg)- 1975
  2.  Raiders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg)- 1981
  3.  The Godfather (Coppola)- 1972
  4.  The Empire Strikes Back (Kirshner) – 1980
  5.  Goodfellas (Scorsese)- 1990
  6.  The Big Lebowski (Coen Bros.)- 1997
  7.  This is Spinal Tap (R. Reiner)- 1984
  8.  Rocky (Avildsen)- 1976
  9.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Hill)- 1969
  10.  Dazed and Confused (Linklater)- 1993
  11.  The Godfather II (Coppola)- 1974
  12.  Chinatown (Polanski)- 1974
  13.  North by Northwest (Hitchcock)- 1959
  14.  Manhattan (Allen)- 1979
  15.  Halloween (Carpenter)- 1978
  16.  Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cameron)- 1991
  17.  Taxi Driver (Scorsese)- 1976
  18.  Alien (R. Scott) – 1979
  19.  Pulp Fiction (Tarantino)- 1994
  20. The Outlaw Josey Wales (Eastwood)- 1976



  • Of the top 20, 10 are from the 1970s (easily my favorite decade for movies).  The ‘80s are represented with 3 entries, the ‘90s have 5 entries, and the ‘50s and ‘60s each have one entry a piece.
  • Spielberg holds the numbers 1 and 2 spots on my list.  That, I think, speaks to what a big influence this guy had on my “movie-appreciation” development.
  • As someone who came of age in the 1980s, I would have expected more “summer blockbuster” action.  Despite the (rightfully) bad reputation of the recent summer movie crop, I unabashedly loved many a movie released between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But only four movies on the list (Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, and Terminator 2) qualify as summer blockbusters.
  • Sequels! I know, they are supposed to suck, but three sequels make the cut: The Empire Strikes Back, Godfather Part II, and Terminator 2.  Granted, these are three that usually make the “Great Sequels” list that pop up from time to time, but still…

Tied for #21 (in no particular order):

Lawrence of Arabia (Lean), Silence of the Lambs (Demme), 12 Angry Men (Lumet), The Apartment (Wilder), Rear Window (Hitchcock), The Shining (Kubrick), Anchorman (McKay), Lost in America (Brooks), Ghostbusters (Reitman), True Romance (T.Scott), Goldfinger (Hamilton), Fargo (Coen Bros.), To Kill a Mockingbird (Mulligan), Toy Story 2 (Lasseter), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Hughes), Dirty Harry (Siegel), Road Warrior (Miller), Midnight Run (Brest), Airplane (Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker), Wonder Boys (Hansen), Back to the Future (Zemeckis), Unforgiven (Eastwood), Crimes and Misdemeanors (Allen), The Jerk (C. Reiner), Psycho (Hitchcock), Double Indemnity (Wilder), Vertigo (Hitchcock), The Shawshank Redemption (Darabont), Dog Day Afternoon (Lumet), The Bridge on the River Kwai (Lean), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick), Star Wars (Lucas), Raising Arizona (Coen Bros), Paths of Glory (Kubrick), L. A. Confidential (Hansen), South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (Parker), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  (Hooper)


2 responses »

  1. 1) The Godfather II
    2) Raiders of the Lost Arc
    3) The Godfather
    4) This Is Spinal Tap
    5) Pulp Fiction
    6) The Big Lebowski
    7) Silence of the Lambs
    8) GoodFellas
    9) The Shawshank Redemption
    10) Terminator 2: Judgment Day
    11) True Romance
    12) Point Break
    13) North by Northwest
    14) Rear Window
    15) Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
    16) Jaws
    17) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
    18) Dog Day Afternoon
    19) Se7en
    20) Lethal Weapon 2

  2. I’m not sure how that strange emoticon got on there, but GoodFellas is 8


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